My Son Is Learning to Pursue

Following up with my previous post, Men Must Pursue . . .

Not only are we (men) called to pursue, but we must help our sons do the same. The innate, core sin of all males is passivity. We naturally shy away from taking responsibility and action.

Want to read some examples of how I'm helping my son learn to pursue? Check out my guest post, How My Son Is Learning to Pursue.

Not only that, you'll learn how the gospel is connected to our call to pursue.

PS -- Thanks again to Family Matters for allowing me to guest post!

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**image courtesy of Family Matters

Your Kids Don't Expect You to Be Perfect

From Joel Beeke:
What children need to see is not a perfect mom or dad, and certainly not a mom or dad who never says, “I’m sorry.” They need to see in us an unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ, an unconditional love for them, and a strong bond of love for each other as husband and wife.
They need to see a mom and dad laboring shoulder to shoulder, of whom the children can say: “My mom and dad hate sin, they love God, and their only hope is in Christ Jesus. . . . I want the God of my father and mother to be my God.” 

In particular, godly modeling should instill in our children the conviction that the Christian life is the way to live and that it brings true joy, true purpose, and true meaning in life, and awaken in them a kind of holy jealousy to want these things for themselves.

Be sure to read the full article, Children Are Not Looking for Perfect Parents.

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The Blessings of Public School

Yes, there are many Myths and Lies about Homeschooling. If you are a homeschooling family like we are, you may also be like us in how we can get defensive about our education choice.

But just as irksome (or more!) are those homeschoolers who bash public schools.

Here are some myths and half-truths that I have seen homeschoolers express, either overtly or covertly:
  1. Homeschooling is THE biblical way to educate your child. I dealt with this in Response to "A Case for Homeschooling."
  2. Our country would be better off if more families, or more "Christian" families homeschooled. This ignores the great things that are going on in public schools.
  3. I need to be concerned with my own children. While this may be primarily true, we also have the responsibility to pursue the well-being of others. (See Philippians 2:4).
  4. Every family has the choice whether or not to homeschool. While this may seem true in theory, in practicality it is not. At least, that is what we have found to be true as we've lived in Allendale, SC, and have been very involved in the local schools and the families who depend on them. 
  5. Public schools are out to ruin my child's faith. This statement made me lose respect for one candidate for the State Superintendent of Education. Believing this is a result of parenting out of fear, instead of out of faith.

Maybe I'm thinking about this because our oldest child (our daughter, Hannah) is entering in the 8th grade. She has expressed interest of going to a "regular" high school. In her words, she feels that it will best help prepare for for college.

And while we have loved having her at home, and my wife has seen the blessings of being her primary teacher, Hannah is probably correct. It will be a honor and pleasure (if not a challenge) to walk with her as she more and more engages the "real" world.

I appreciate this post from Tim Challies, 10 Lessons from 10 Years of Public Schooling. You'll want to read the full-article (no matter where you fall on the education spectrum), but here are the ten lessons that they have learned.
  1. Develop and deepen convictions.
  2. It is possible.
  3. The family goes to public school. 
  4. Don't send your kids as evangelists.  
  5. Be open to alternatives. 
  6. It takes a church. 
  7. Your teachers are your friends. (Great counter to point #5 above.)
  8. Prepare for difficulty.
  9. We are all homeschoolers. 
  10. Enjoy it. 
It's a enlightening and gracious article, and you should check it out.

What about you? What has God taught you about your education choices? I would love for you to share your thoughts, even if we don't agree!

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**image courtesy of mokra via

She Said "Yes" to This Adventure. I'm Serious.

It was July 17, 1999. It was before our church had a permanent building, so we would have to set up and tear down every week. Like a busy beaver, I enjoyed being a part of the regular set-up crew.

For a season, we would set up at the YMCA on Saturday nights, and the worship team would practice after we set up the staging and sound equipment. My (then-) girlfriend Joanna was one of the singers on that team, and was there that night.

I picked up the engagement ring earlier that day, and had the ring with me that evening while setting up, and the next day at church. I didn't want to be away from it until I would ask her to marry me during a Sunday evening dinner at Furman University (at a picnic shelter that no longer exists on the backside of the lake).

Another guy on the set-up team and I had to buy some batteries that Saturday night. On the ride out there, I told him that I had the ring, and that I was going to pop the question the next day.

He asked, with all seriousness, "What do you think she'll say?"

I stared at him and then replied, "If I didn't know that she'd say 'yes,' I wouldn't ask her."

"Are You Serious?"

People laugh when we tell them that we had Bojangles fried chicken for dinner. Not the most romantic pre-engagement meal, is it? But since I was a poor graduate student, I knew that if I did anything too fancy, she would know that something was up.

And I did totally catch her by surprise. I found out later that while she was thinking about marriage, she thought that we would get engaged in the fall, and married the following spring. After all, who starts dating in March, and gets married that December?

I caught her so much by surprise, that after I asked her to marry me, she immediately asked, "Is this for real? Are you serious?"

Who is the non-romantic now?

And after I assured her I was serious, she did say, "Yes." Just like I knew she would.

15 Years Later . . .

She said "yes" fifteen years ago. She agreed to marry me, and to do life together.

Little did she (or I) know the adventure that God would have for us. Fifteen wonderful years together. Three fantastic children. A career journey of chemist to pastor to "missionary" in Allendale.

And next week, we begin the next step in our adventure, as we will be moving back to Greenville.

I knew she would say "yes," but I'm still so glad that she did. And I'm glad that she understood that I was, in fact, serious.

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**photo courtesy of

Men Must Pursue

What is a man?

This question may be answered in a thousand different ways, depending on how your perspective. But here are two great definitions of manhood (both of which I got in some form from Grace Church):

A real man is one who:
  • Rejects passivity
  • Accepts responsibility 
  • Leads courageously 
  • Expects God's reward

Alternatively . . . the calling of a man is to pursue, provide, and protect. (The Art of Manliness blog substitutes procreate for pursue, but I prefer the latter.)

Men are called to pursue, not just in marriage, but in all areas of their life. Want to learn more? Check out the guest post I had on Family Matters, called Men Must Pursue.  And I'd love for you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment on the Family Matters blog.

PS -- Thanks to Family Matters for allowing me to guest post!

PPS -- Here is part 2 -- My Son Is Learning to Pursue.      

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Why I Chose to Be Baptized

"John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."  Mark 1:14

I was in college, and had been a Christian just over a year. I told my mentor that I didn't need to be baptized. And he agreed.

In a sense I was right. Baptism (as with any other good work) could not earn me any more favor with God. I was saved by faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and since there was no huge benefit for being baptized, I logically reasoned that it wasn't worth it.

To his credit, the man in our church who was mentoring me didn't push hard or try to make me feel guilty. He explained that baptism was a way to identify with Jesus, and to publicly proclaim what God had done in my life. And then he calmly said, "I just want you to give it some thought and prayer."

I agreed, and we left it alone.

"Did You Hear?"

Months later, after a weekend retreat led by a Christian organization, I was studying one evening (as I spent plenty of time doing while at Furman).

A friend brought a welcomed interruption, and sat down at my table. Almost immediately, she asked me, "Did you hear the great news? A_____ became a Christian during the weekend!" She was grinning ear-to-ear.

I was confused. "I thought she already was?"

"No," she answered, "She accepted Jesus as her Savior on the last day. Isn't that awesome?!"

"Umm. Yeah. Of course it is."

Easily Mistaken

Our mutual friend, A_____, had been a part of that Christian group all year, and was at every weekly meeting, as far as I knew. So I just assumed she had been a Christian.

But the only reason she came each week was because the invitation of that teammate. She wasn't a believer, and I never knew.

That's when it hit me. How many people didn't know that I was a follower of Jesus? Are there others who think I'm just going through the motions?

The next time I met with my mentor, I told him, "I need to be baptized. I need to be as clear as I can that I am a Christian."

He smiled as I told him the story of my friend A_____.

I was baptized at our young church's first baptism, on July 13, 1997.

I'd love to hear from you: Have you been baptized as a follower of Jesus? When?

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:3-7)

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Homeschool Families: Myths and Lies

We have homeschooled our children ever since our oldest began kindergarten. We are grateful that we have had this opportunity.

In no way do I claim that homeschooling is "God's way" (see my response to this claim), or that it's the best way. I do know that it has worked great for our family. We love the teacher-to-student ratio, the flexibility, and even the ease of moving in the middle of a school year.

Before I was married, I had a lot of assumptions about homeschoolers, usually centered around the word "weird." Thankfully, God brought some very positive examples of families who chose to homeschool children.

Do you have some presuppositions about (or maybe some bad experiences with) homeschoolers? You are not alone.

Maybe these resources will help clear some things up:

5 Myths About Families that Homeschool

  1. Homeschooled kids are socially backwards.
  2. As the teacher, homeschool moms create curriculum and give all instruction.
  3. Homeschooled kids goof off all day and do not receive a proper education.
  4. Homeschool families grind their own wheat, sew their own clothes, and drive horse and buggies.
  5. Homeschool families don't have TV, play video games, or in general, live in the real world.
You should read the article for clarifications. I like how the author explains that each of these points could be true, but these descriptors are far from uniform among all homeschool families.

7 More Lies About Homeschoolers (Debunked)

A follow-up from this video from Blimey Cow. Here is a humorous take on stereotypes about homeschooling:

And, yes, we are guilty. Our kids love Minecraft.

If I would add a couple of additional myths, from our experience:
  1. Homeschoolers have it all figured out, and resist changing methodologies. 
  2. There is only one way to homeschool well.

For more on this topic, check out some of these posts:

Patriotism and the Church

Between Memorial Day and Flag Day and Independence Day, thousands of churches across the US have celebrated (or will celebrate this coming Sunday) some sort of "patriotic day" during their weekend services.

And I think it's entirely wrong.

No, I'm not a communist (probably what I would have been accused over 50 years ago). And I'm not against asking God to bless America.

I think "patriotic days" are wrong in that they miss the point of what a church service should be about. A worship service needs to be focused on glorifying Jesus, not praising a government. The sanctuary is where worship takes place, not where patriotism takes place.
"Every element of the worship service should direct our focus to the praise and worship of God, so I felt that this song ["Proud to Be an American"] had no place in the time of worship since it primarily exalts the nation." Matthew Kelley (Arlington UMC, Nashville)

Church vs Government

I don't believe that it is inherently sinful to be patriotic, and I definitely think that today's liberal understanding of the "separation of church and state" has been misinterpreted and wrongly applied.

But in promoting Sunday morning patriotism, many churches draw a sharp line between the "holy" church and a "pagan" government. They reflect back (with a biased viewpoint) on days when there was a "Christian America" (though I don't think there ever was one). And in defense, they want to form a safe huddle under a steeple.

The problem is that we don't see this separation (holy people vs pagan government) in the Bible. We see Mordecai go out of his way to do the right thing and save the life of a pagan king (Esther 2:21-23); and later, we see God use this righteous deed for an even greater good.

And more specifically, Paul (in Romans 13) commanded the early church to submit to the government's laws. Peter told them to honor the king. But did the early church celebrate "patriotic days"? And if they did, should they have?

I don't think so, in either case.

For Jesus, or For Country?

Yes, Christians should be engaged in the political process, in love and humility. But let's not just pull in Jesus and attach him to our patriotic and political leanings.

Our primary citizenship is in God's kingdom, not under any government on earth. And when we sing the 4th stanza of My Country, 'Tis of Thee or the 3rd stanza of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, we must remember that Jesus really is focused on liberty. But He is most concerned with our spiritual liberty from sin, and not any physical or political liberty. Don't you remember what he did first for this paralyzed man?

So, should a church choose to recognize some sort of patriotic day? Maybe. Maybe it's not such a big deal. In itself, that's neither wrong or right.

However, it might point to a bigger picture of what that church deeply believes about the supremacy of Christ. Church members in the US need to remember that before they are American, they are Christian.

When we promote patriotism, we may be
  • sending out a confusing message to the saved and unsaved, 
  • missing an opporunity to equip Christians, and
  • neglecting a proper focus for the worship service.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments: Did your church celebrate a "patriotic day"?

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**image courtesy of bosela via

Favorite Tweets from June

We are wrapping up our season of living in Allendale. We are thankful for so many great memories. And, apparently, some folks are thankful for us.

Here are some of my top Tweets from the past month. You can connect with me at @EspinosaJoey.

By the way . . . beginning next week, I will have a slightly different schedule for blog posts. It won't change this blog much, as I will now be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays (instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays). I will occasionally post on Wednesday or Saturday.

The biggest change will be on my Mission: Allendale blog, which will now have only two posts per week -- Mondays and Thursdays. And, since we will be moving next month, I plan to phase that blog out entirely before too long.

If you don't have any questions about that (you can leave a comment or contact me), on with the tweets!

From Others:

@artofmanlinessMan is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is fundamental thing in him, & grief superficial. G.K. Chesterton 

@thescottbleckler:  after reading the State paper's "Candidates at a glance," it's obvious that about half of them are clueless politicians.

@FallonTonightJust in time for Father’s Day, Jimmy reads your tweets:

@ShawnUpchurch“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” ~Winston Churchill

@Krafto:  "I've never met a confused, productive employee" (). If you want to be productive, you have to know your goals. 

@Gospel_ProjectGod communicates His commands, and then He breathes His Spirit into our hearts, enabling us to learn, live, and love.

@CoachMotto:  There's nothing wrong with losing unless you learn to accept it. – Paul Brown

@JamieTheVWM I'm an amazing writer when I'm in the shower.

From Me:

Hardee's was slam-packed at lunch today, because, you know, where else are you gonna' go?

Why provide books? Disadvantaged children are less likely to have access to books at home or libraries.

"God is committed to our righteousness, because it shows others that He is a perfect Shepherd." , ,

5.04 miles in 41 minutes. Maybe my last long run in .

"I didn't have to put my brain on hold to become a Christian. But I did have to overcome my pride." (The Case For Faith)

If I am going to spend $8.29 on lunch, I promise it won't be at Long John Silvers.   

Everyone check out the hashtag for great moments from the -led trip to Charleston for students.