I grew up attending churches that are considered charismatic or Pentecostal or continuationist. They believe that all of the spiritual gifts, including the more extraordinary gifts like tongues, prophesy, and healings are still in operation today. My intention of this post is not to belittle anyone or any group of people. I share this with the hope of preventing others from experiencing the chaos and confusion I felt as a charismatic. Throughout this post it may seem as though I’m making general statements about all charismatics. Please keep in mind that I’m of course not referring to every single charismatic, but a large number of them.
I think charismatic churches are appealing to a lot of people because, for one, every Christian wants to be close to God. Charismatics teach that we can hear his voice and know his specific will for our lives. People are also fascinated by miracles, and charismatics seemingly experience God’s miracles on a regular basis. People also get bored easily. Charismatic services have dancing, shouting, loud music, the mysterious speaking in tongues, the casting out of demons, people being slain in the spirit (that means falling over because the power of the Holy Spirit has overcome you), sobbing, running laps around the sanctuary…pretty much anything goes, and every service is different. That’s exciting to a lot of people. Also, not a lot is expected of anyone, intellectually. In my experience, theological discussions were avoided. I even remember pastors making fun of theologians because they “rely more on their minds than their hearts,” as if anyone can discern another person’s heart. This leads me to my first reason.
1. Spiritual Pride and Lack of Intellectualism
In addition to looking down on theologians, charismatics poke fun at non-charismatics (in a lighthearted way, usually). But it came across to me as spiritual pride. They also preach in a way that leads people to believe their interpretation of scripture is the right one. I know that preachers of all denominations can be guilty of this, but I noticed it a lot among charismatics. I have since met preachers who don’t interpret scripture for you. Instead, they discuss the different theological explanations Christians have about a particular passage, and might give their opinion too, but they make it clear that it’s their opinion and encourage you to study God’s word for yourself. That’s spiritual humility, and it’s something I rarely saw among charismatics. In fact, they’re often offended if you question their beliefs and actions and will try to convert you to their thinking. If you still aren't on board you'll be viewed as a baby Christian, lacking in faith, and “quenching the spirit." Charismatics need to break away from the mindset that they are marginalized and misunderstood by other Christians. That is the sort of thinking that leads to cult-like behaviors.
Charismatics have an unhealthy preoccupation with dramatic, supernatural experiences. This is sensationalism and one of its main flaws is that it devalues the ordinary things of God, like sound teaching, sacrifice, service, and sacraments.
At a revival I once attended, everyone in the congregation who desired baptism in the Holy Spirit was asked to come forward. So I, along with every single other person in the congregation (probably 30 of us), made my way to the altar. The revivalist had us line up and he started at one end of the line, laying hands on each person and praying in tongues. One by one people either fell over, spoke in tongues, or jolted as if an electric shock ran through them. But when he got to me, nothing happened. And I felt the dude trying to push me! He quickly realized I wasn't falling over so he moved on to the next person. I felt totally disregarded. If he really cared about my baptism in the Spirit couldn't he have kindly prayed with me for a few seconds to receive the baptism at some point in the future, rather than moving on as if I were unworthy of his time? There were just a handful of people who didn’t have anything sensational happen to them, and they cried quietly to themselves, probably because they didn’t feel spiritual enough.
Why, in all of my years of being "open to the Spirit," did the Holy Spirit’s power never come on me? I believed the supernatural gifts were for today and I would have defended that position to doubters. I have always loved God and strived to live a life that is pleasing to him-not because I feel it's a requirement for salvation, but because I want to. I’ll tell you why nothing happened to me- because for many charismatics, it’s a big show. They jump. They yell. They fall over. They convulse. Someone is always on the keyboard, ready to set the mood for the Holy Spirit to “move in this place.” Prayers are fast and loud, adding a lot of filler words like “Lord Jesus.” They babble and sway back and forth and bend over like they have appendicitis. I remember as a teenager feeling like my prayers weren’t powerful enough because they were quiet, slow, and spoken as if I were talking to a friend. Once, a preacher's wife even took it upon herself to pray for me at the altar to be cured of my introversion so the Spirit's power could move through me. Does that mean God plays favorites based on personality type? I spent hours and hours of my life praying and waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (you’ll know when that happens because you’ll speak in tongues, they say). Never happened. I guess I’m not a sincere Christian. I guess I don’t love God enough. I guess I’m doing something wrong. Those were the thoughts I constantly wrestled with as a charismatic.
This is part one of a three-part series. Check back in a few days for part two!
I know, it's 2017 and you're wondering why I'm just now posting about the 2015-16 school year. Well, that year was some work! I was homeschooling my two nieces (3rd and 5th grade) in addition to my own two (kindergarten and 1st), and I had a baby. I had no time or energy to blog that year. I'm back to homeschooling my kids only now which has been such a relief! I'm thankful for last year though, because it introduced me to new curriculum. Allow me to share what I loved and what I could do without.
After completing about 1/3 of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading we stopped (it was boring) and started Explode the Code workbooks instead. Explode the Code is a complete phonics program and also provides handwriting and spelling practice. It has been phenomenal. There are 16 workbooks, each covering different phonics rules. My kids have almost finished the series. I will miss Explode the Code.
I love BJU Spelling for the variety of activities. It includes word study, proofreading, dictionary skills, and writing. Each lesson takes approximately 10-15 minutes. The student workbook is not too expensive, and I don't buy the teacher's manual.
I'm not as in love with BJU English as I am their spelling, but it is the best program I have found. Chapters alternate between writing and grammar. The grammar is thorough and the writing is sufficient for the younger grades, when they are just beginning to write. When my kids are older, though, I will need to find something more challenging for writing. I've heard a lot of good things about IEW but it's too expensive for us right now. I do buy the teacher's manual for English because it includes a CD with a lot of extra worksheets.
Apologia's Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology was intensive! There were so many activities in the text and the notebooking journal that we were spending half of the day doing science! Although Apologia is thorough, from now on we will not use a science curriculum. There are many free and inexpensive resources at the library, online, and in our community.
I wasn't impressed with Christian Light Reading. The stories in the reader were okay. Nothing exciting. The workbooks that went along with the reader seemed like busy work. I'd rather just have the kids read stories they will enjoy and create my own comprehension and application questions.
Galloping the Globe is a world geography unit study, full of information, activities and recommended reading for each country. It contains a wealth of information and it can be overwhelming at first. This book really isn't necessary for a world geography unit study, though. There are plenty of free resources online and at the library.
My kids and I enjoyed Harcourt Grade 1 Math. It was a nice intro to math and I liked that the pages were colorful. I also liked how cheap it was! We found one at a thrift store for a few dollars, and I bought another one for my other child on eBay, for about $10. The one thing that I didn't like, though, was that there was hardly any review. For example, once you complete a chapter on money, you rarely see anything about money again.
This year we are using Christian Light (CLE) math, which is what I used with my nieces last year. It has the perfect balance of new material and review. Every lesson includes a variety of problems, including time, money, stories, geometry, number sense and math facts. My kids actually ask to do math!
This year, when looking for new Christmas books to read with my kids, I decided to keep other countries and cultures in mind, since we're studying world geography. I found a bunch of great books at the library, but these eight are my favorite.
1. Jotham's Journey. I loved the suspense of this advent book. My kids looked forward to reading it each day. Some themes throughout the book were a bit more mature than I had expected though. I had to skip some parts when reading it with my five-year-old and seven-year-old. We will probably read it again when they are a little older. I'd say nine and up would be a good age range for this book.
2. Cobweb Christmas. A cute German Christmas folktale.
3. An Amish Christmas. Who doesn't enjoy reading about the Amish way of life?
4. The Legend of Old Befana. In Italy an old witch named la Befana travels to each child's home on Epiphany Eve (Jan. 5th) in search of baby Jesus, and leaves good boys and girls gifts and treats.
5. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. We read this every Christmas. It's my favorite Christmas book because it explains that Saint Nicholas was a real Christian man who gave generously, often in secret. You see, Santa is real.
6. Las Posadas: An Hispanic Christmas Celebration. This book has so much information about the Spanish tradition of Las Posadas. What a great way to keep the focus on Christ!
7. Reindeer: A New True Book. Although it's not necessarily a Christmas book, it begins with a bit of history behind Santa Claus and his reindeer. Did you know that Santa's sleigh-pulling reindeer are based on the Lapp people of northern Scandinavia? This book offers a lot of great info about reindeer!
8. An Ellis Island Christmas. This is about a girl's voyage with her family from Poland to America. She finally arrives on Ellis Island on Christmas Eve. The illustrations are beautiful.
What are some of your favorite Christmas books? Let me know in the comments below! I need some suggestions for next year!
We’re six weeks into the school year and here is a look at some things we did our first month.
For science we completed chapter one of Apologia Anatomy & Physiology, which is about cells, microscopes, and what ancient cultures knew about the human body. I recommend purchasing the notebooking journal that goes along with the textbook because it has a lot of activities to help the kids remember what was discussed. In addition to the activities in the notebooking journal we looked at pictures of cells and other microscopic things on these websites:
And we watched a lot of neat YouTube videos of cells under the microscope. The kids' favorite video, though, was this animation of the cell's immune system:
We also did an experiment to determine which preserving agent did the best job of preserving an apple (the apple represents an Egyptian mummy). Then we made a chart to record our findings.
We learned that salt is a good preserving agent.
And baking soda is not.
The highlight of this chapter was making an edible cell with different fruits, and Better Bowls Strawberry Gelatin.
For geography we started off by reading Me on the Map, and creating a map flipbook to develop a better understanding of the relationship between continents, countries, states, and cities. Then we labeled the continents and oceans on a world map, and put together a world puzzle. I like GeoPuzzle because many of the puzzle pieces are shaped like the country.
Then we began our unit on Kenya. I knew nothing about Kenya before this study, but now I feel like a Kenya expert! Before teaching the kids anything, I read Enchantment of the World: Kenya. This taught me all about the country’s history, geography, wildlife, culture, and more. Some books I read to the children were Uncommon Traveler, Koi and the Kola Nuts, and Where Are You Going Manyoni? These were books about Africa, but weren’t necessarily specific to Kenya. We also watched Globe Trekker: Kenya. I would suggest watching this before showing it to your kids because there is one potentially troubling part that we ended up skipping. While they were watching that I had them color the country’s flag and do a map activity, labeling the country's major cities, mountains, and rivers. The kids also looked through books on wild animals in Kenya, and completed a notebooking page listing different facts about the animals and drawing pictures of them. They used a Draw Write Now book to see how to draw these animals.
They also painted some paper plate necklaces to resemble those worn by many tribal people in Kenya.
And then they learned an African dance from this video:
But the best part of this unit was the Irio, which is a dish made in Kenya that includes spinach, peas, corn, and potatoes. I really had no idea if the kids would like it or not. I figured they wouldn’t. It didn’t sound all that appetizing. But they loved it! They were asking for seconds and even thirds! I meant to take pictures before we ate almost all of it!
There's not much to show for language arts and math, because we use workbooks for those subjects. But I'll give you a little review of the curriculum so far.
BJU English is very open-and-go, which is great for me since science, geography, and Bible require a lot of prep work. The lessons take just the right amount of time to complete and provide an adequate amount of guided and independent practice. I take breaks from the curriculum here and there if I feel like we need to focus on other English topics for a while.
I like BJU Spelling too, because of the way each week's words are grouped together by spelling patterns. For example, week four had words that made the "oo" sound, but were spelled with different vowel pairs (cougar, soothe, steward). I also appreciate the variety of activities in the workbook. It includes word sorts, analogies, dictionary skills, and more.
So far I like Christian Light math, which I’m using for my nieces, who are eight and ten. It covers all of the necessary topics and incorporates review into each lesson. It’s a pretty solid curriculum, and you can’t beat the price! For my kids, who are five and seven, I use Harcourt, and it’s doing a nice job of explaining addition and subtraction concepts because it shows several different ways to solve the problems (pictures, dominoes, number lines, etc.). Now that they understand those concepts we have begun using the Medieval Math Battle app on my phone to work on memorizing math facts.
For Bible I'm using the Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool New Testament reading plan. That's basically all it is- a reading plan with a couple of discussion questions. I have to read the passage ahead of time to make sure I understand it before teaching it to the kids. Many times I end up pulling out some commentaries, and sometimes I'm doing a full-blown Bible study for a few days to make sure I understand it well enough to teach to the kids. And then once I have a firm grasp on it I have to figure out how to explain it in kid terms. It's probably good for me, but sometimes I wish I had a Bible curriculum that was geared toward little kids.
We're also doing a hymn study. We learn one hymn per month and perform it at the end of the month in front of family members. The kids really enjoy this, and it's especially good for my two kids who tend to dislike the spotlight.
In a couple of weeks we’ll be finished with our second month of school and I’ll let you know how that went too! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I'd love to know how your school year is going too!