If you know me, or have read my “about” page, you know that I am a homeschooling father of four. Over the last twelve years I have heard a variety of different responses to pregnancies of my wife and to the children that I have. I remember the jubilation that Dawn and I felt when we heard that she was first pregnant in the summer of 2002. I cannot even put into words the joy we felt that afternoon. I also remember rushing off to my mom and dad’s to tell them our wonderful news. The joy in their hearts seemed to match the joy in mine, as my 1st born child would be their first grandchild. Two and half years later Dawn and I learned that our second was on the way. I remember praying earnestly for a son, which is the reason why his middle name is Samuel. I remember the joy I felt holding my son for the 1st time. I likely remember his birth better than my firstborn because I held him a lot more than Dawn as she was exhausted following the delivery and slept for most of that day. Me, I couldn’t put him down. I hadn’t slept, but I couldn’t imagine trying. Most people were excited for us. We have two kids; a boy and a girl. Our third came another two and a half years later. At this point I think most of the joy that others expressed was that it was the 1st baby they got to experience with us. Three kids were not out of the ordinary, after all the American dream said that we were to have 2.5 kids. Someone had to have 3 to bring that average up right? 3 years later, our youngest was born. It is amazing the different looks you get when you have four kids with you. I took all four of them to see a movie earlier this year and the looks I got were priceless. The people had this stunned look of how can a Dad handle four kids on his own? Why does he have four kids? What was he thinking?
Over the last four years I have paid more attention to how people talk about others with big families. It baffles my mind how so many people can have an opinion about the number of kids I and my wife choose to have? It is not like they are starving. We even home school them, so the government doesn’t even have to pay for their education so they aren’t a drain on our economy. (In fact, I assist the economy with how quickly they grow and how much food they eat.) But, perhaps the most frustrating thing I have heard through the years is whether or not we are done. Don’t you have enough kids already? Maybe. Maybe not. I know in my heart there is plenty of room for more children to love. The truth is, my grandmother raised her family in a home much smaller than mine and she had six children. So, not only is their plenty of room in my heart, there is plenty of room in my home. I do know for certain is that my quiver isn’t full. God certainly has been good to me. He has blessed me with four beautiful, compassionate, and kind children. (Yes I am partial… I’m a dad, what do you expect). And if God chooses to bless me some more, than let the blessings poor forth. My heart can take it.
This is a phrase I have been hearing a lot lately. This morning, as I hit the treadmill for a quick mile run I watched the morning news and heard more of these homegrown terrorists. They spoke of these “lost souls” that feel some form of connection to ISIS and other Al Qaeda related groups. As I began listening to the various talking heads I was shocked to learn what types of people were flocking to these organizations. Namely, in Europe, there are lots of woman siding with these Islamic extremists. How can this be? Islamic extremists have little to no respect for women. Woman are viewed as possessions by these radicals. In fact, I have often wondered if they would treat their animals better than they treat their wives. And yet, people believe in their message. They believe in their cause. Why? What could possibly convince a person that such tactics as blowing up your enemies even if it means blowing yourself up is a good idea? In a word… conviction.
While I do not pretend to know the mind of a terrorist, nor do I really want to think like one, these people believe in what they are fighting for. They are fighting for their faith. Let that sink in for just a minute. They are not fighting for oil. They are no fighting for freedom. They are not fighting for more territory. They aren’t even fighting for world domination. They are fighting for faith. They believe that the western way of life is a threat to their way of life. And in many ways they are not wrong. (I am not saying their ways are right, I am merely pointing out that our ways conflict with theirs). They have a strict adherence to modesty, prayer, woman’s roles, etc. They are deeply convicted that any negative depiction of their religious leaders, namely Muhammad is blasphemy. While I may not agree with their tactics, their form of faith, I have to admit that they should be upset that their faith gets kicked around by western culture. Look at what western culture has done to Christianity. Modesty has been all but removed. Our courts actually protect the right to expose yourself and then sell it to millions. Our government has already banned praying to God in schools (although you can still pray to Allah). And programs like Family Guy and South Park routinely mock Christ. And because they are still on the air it makes me wonder if Christians don’t really care! If there really are as many “born again” Christians watching TV as the Nielsen ratings system says there are, then programs such as South Park would have been canceled long ago. The sad thing is, I think there are many so called Christians watching such filth and thinking nothing of it because it is just a TV show, or just a movie, or just a song. Who cares? I can tell you right now, a Muslim would never tolerate such mockery of their founder.
People are flocking to these extremist groups because they are not hypocrites. They know what they believe. They are willing to die for what they believe. When is the last time the same could be said of a group of Christians? Conviction is lacking in Christians today. Going to church on Wednesday has been replaced with the basketball game. Going to church on Sunday has been replaced with preparing for the big game or race Sunday afternoon. Preparing for bible class has been replaced with partying and staying up late on Saturday night. Yes, my friends we lack conviction. If we hope to help these lost souls, maybe we should stop trying to turn Christianity into an episode of the Simpson‘s and make it holy, sanctified, and pure. Instead of trying to blend in with American culture, we ought to be convicted enough to stand out in a crowd.