Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lord, Have Mercy

I almost never watch the morning news shows, but they are on the overhead TVs when I go to the gym to exercise.  Usually I ignore them, but for some reason today one caught my attention, and after watching segment after segment, story after story, when I left I felt so heavy hearted, I sat in my car and wept. 

Come, Lord Jesus. Have mercy on this generation. May I be bold enough to speak the truth in love, to act in real love, and may I live as a light in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation. Lord, please have mercy!

Everywhere you look, we are reaping the whirlwind of the false wisdom that says to ‘follow your heart’ and be true to ‘your truth.’ If I follow my heart, it will surely lead to destruction. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” We are reaping the whirlwind of the original lie from all the way back in the Garden of Eden, “Did God actually say…..?” What a destructive thing it is to say we all have our own truth. When we say, “What’s true for you is great for you, but it’s not true for me,” ultimately, we have lost the meaning of the word, ‘truth.’ Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Him, HEAR HIM. 

In the book of Judges, we are told that everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Y’all, this was not a good thing. 

On days like today, when the weight of the world is heavy and the evil seems so pervasive and insidious, and when the world calls evil what is good and calls good what is evil, I think it is appropriate to weep and pray. Because in Christ alone is hope truly found. Jesus wept. He wept over sin and death. And Jesus did something about it. He is the only One who truly could. He is God With Us, our Redeemer and Priest and King. Jesus lived a sinless life, fulfilled the Law of God, died on the cross to atone for sinners who could never earn God’s favor because of their broken sinful lives, and He rose again, the proof of the perfection of His sacrifice on behalf of sinful people. Praise God that when I weep, there is hope. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” - 1 Peter 1:3-9

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love Is....

I’ve been thinking about something recently. Have you noticed lately that people in our culture seem to have lost the niceties of social graces? People say whatever pops into their heads, whether it’s appropriate or not, with no thought for how their words may affect the other person. Rudeness reigns. The sad part is that it seems that many do not even realize they are being rude. Then, on the other hand, we also live in the society of the perpetually offended. Everything is seen as an offense, it seems. That can be a rather toxic mix.

Perhaps someone says something that, in my sinful flesh, I find to be rude and have to fight not to take offense, and my unkind gut reaction thought is, “Really, you just met me and you went with that?” Am I going to chose not to be offended and put the best construction on it? Or perhaps someone tailgates me the whole way through the neighborhood when I’m going the speed limit or cuts me off in traffic, and my gut level reaction is a flare of anger. Will I choose to think the best and fight off that unrighteous anger or will I let that anger ruin my afternoon? Or suppose someone says something on my social media feed that just irritates me. Will I scroll on by and ignore it or even say something kind in response, or will I engage in one of those ugly internet comment wars and assume the other person’s intent is evil and insist that I must be right and have the final say? Or, what if someone in my family says or does something that just plain gets up my nose? Will I choose to be offended or lash out in anger or give them the cold shoulder, or will I choose to love and extend grace and seek to look beyond the behavior to the heart and lovingly address heart issues? 

As someone who wants to follow Jesus, and who sees Him as more important than anything else, I don’t have the right to be offended at trivial things, not even at a lapse in social graces. If possible, as much as it depends on me, I must be at peace with all (Romans 12:18-21).  I am not to think more highly of myself than I ought to think (Romans 12:3). Love is to be genuine, and I’m to love others with brotherly affection (Romans 12:9-10). I’m to keep loving one another because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). I’m to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than myself, looking not to my own interests but to also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). I am to entrust myself in the midst of unjust treatment (real or perceived) to the One who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).   Preaching the truth to my heart and mind. 

The hard thing of it is, when given the opportunity to remember these things, I find there is still so much of that monster, pride, in my heart. If I’m really honest, deep down I want to say something to correct the rude comment or treatment and to enjoy my self-centered sense of offense and stew over it for a bit or even to exaggerate its offense in my mind. True confession, there is much more of that in me than I want there to be. To walk with Jesus is to die daily to ourselves. In times like this, that self that rears up in me is just downright ugly. But Jesus says we are to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. (Luke 6:27-28) That little unintentionally rude comment or misbehavior in traffic or internet comment or frustrating behavior was NO WHERE NEAR as bad as any of those things, so who am I to hold a grudge or refuse to overlook it? 

So, in this day of lost social graces on the one hand and perpetual offense on the other, here’s where I must choose to camp and ponder and park: 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Easy? No, it’s not easy to die to what I want, especially when it’s a deep-seated, self-centered want. But when I am praying for God to lead me in the path of righteousness for His Name’s sake, it is right. How thankful I am for Jesus, my great High Priest who is ever interceding for me. By His grace, and only by His grace can I walk the road He leads me on. And here there is joy. Why joy? Because my ultimate aim is to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called me out of darkness into light. I have received such mercy from God (1 Peter 2:9-10). I have entrusted myself, my wayward, wandering sheep of a self to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul (1 Peter 2:25). Ponder that for a moment. There is joy unspeakable in knowing such a Savior, who has made me clean and who empowers me to slay that monster pride every time it rears its ugly head. And I want other people to know that joy and to walk in His light, too. 

In this day of lost social graces and perpetual offense, let us choose love, the love that dies to self and lives to Christ. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

My Reading List From 2017

As has become my custom, here is the list of books that I read during 2017. I feel like my blog is languishing over here, but this one thing I still keep up with. Here's to hoping I get with it for more blogging in 2018.  I also read the Bible through this year, which is a treasured habit I've kept for many years now.  For 2017,  I used a chronological plan, and also read a chapter of the New Testament each day along with my church family, and, as has also become a treasured habit, a chapter of Proverbs each day, which means reading through the entire book of Proverbs each month.

January 2017

  • Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union With Christ - Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (NF) This is such a wonderful book. She has helped me to think well about the power of the gospel and to glorify God as I do. I highly recommend this and her first book, as well
  • We Have Lost the President - Paul Matthews (F) This was a quirky little book I borrowed for free on my Kindle. It was ok, but not terribly memorable and I don't feel the need to read further in the series. 
  • Chosen by God - R.C. Sproul (NF) This was a reread, but so very good. It's important to read good, theological books, and this is definitely that. Recommended. 
  • No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God - Aimee Byrd (NF) I liked this book, especially the chapters on being discerning with what we read and listen to. I think it is a necessary addition to the discussions that led to her writing of it. Recommended. 
  • A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley, Book 1) - Elizabeth George (F). I've read this one before quite a while ago, but I see she has written several more since I last read the series, and I wanted to reread. I like this series, but I believe I should probably caution it does get a bit rough with language and such - it is a secular detective/murder mystery type of series. 
February 2017
  • Payment in Blood (Inspector Lynley, Book 2) - Elizabeth George (F). See comment on Book 1 from the series.
  • World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity - Bodie Hodge and Roger Patterson (NF) This is very much written from a conservative, Bible-believing Christian worldview, and I found it quite helpful. It is the first volume in the series, and I intend to try to read the next volumes at some point, too. 
  • Well-Schooled in Murder (Inspector Lynley, Book 3) - Elizabeth George (F)
  • What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions Series) - R. C. Sproul (NF) These little booklets are a very helpful series for understanding doctrines of the Faith. 
  • A Suitable Vengeance (Inspector Lynley, Book 4) - Elizabeth George (F)
March 2017
  • Eric Liddell: Pure Gold - David McCasland (NF). I like to read biographies, and this one was such a great example of a life well-lived. It was encouraging to read of Eric Liddell's deep love for Jesus and his care and compassion for people.  
  •  In Fairleigh Field: A Novel of World War II - Rhys Bowen (F).
April 2017
  • For the Sake of Elena (Inspector Lynley, Book 5) - Elizabeth George (F)
  • Loving Me: The Hidden Agenda of Self-Esteem - Rick Thomas (NF)  This was very short, but I found it quite helpful, full of biblical wisdom in retraining our thinking away from the worldly wisdom of the self-esteem bent of our culture. We do not need to think more about ourselves, but less - we need to be thinking more about GOD. Highly recommend. 
May 2017
  • Missing Joseph (Inspector Lynley, Book 6) - Elizabeth George (F).
  • The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine In Christian America - Candy Gunther Brown (NF).
June 2017
  • The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution - Gregg L. Frazer (NF)
  • Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley, Book 7) - Elizabeth George (F).
  • Honest Evangelism: How to talk about Jesus even when it's tough - Rico Tice (NF) Excellent book and I pray I will take it to heart and cross the "pain line" and learn to be bold in a way I have not been before. 
July 2017
  • What is Faith? (Crucial Questions Series) - R.C. Sproul (NF)
  • In the Presence of the Enemy (Inspector Lynley, Book 8) - Elizabeth George (F)
August 2017
  • Deception on His Mind (Inspector Lynley, Book 9) - Elizabeth George (F)
  • Reset for Parents - Todd Friel (NF). I loved this book. I wish I could have read it before our children were born, but I'm thankful that by God's grace, much of what Todd discusses we sort of fell into doing some of the time, but I do wish we had been more intentional through the years. I think this would be an excellent book to give as a gift to young or expecting parents. Quite practical and biblically based.
  • The Prestige - Christopher Priest (F). I very much enjoyed this one. I may want to look into other books this author has written.
September 2017
  • The Naturalist - Andrew Mayne (F).
  • In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley, Book 10) - Elizabeth George (F). I didn't end up finishing this, and I am not planning on continuing the series. Though I had read this before and had made it further in the series and was just rereading so I could look at newer books in the series that I have not read, I've decided not to continue with it.  I just got to the point where the description of the depravity of some of the characters in the cases the detectives were investigating was something I no longer want to spend my time reading about and filling my mind with. It just got to be too much for me. Moving on.
October 2017
  • The Twelfth Imam (The Twelfth Imam Series, Book 1) - Joel C. Rosenburg (F).
November 2017
  • Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity - Rebekah Merkle (NF).
  • The Tehran Initiative (The Twelfth Imam Series, Book 2) - Joel C. Rosenburg (F).
December 2017

  • The Damascus Countdown (The Twelfth Imam Series, Book3) - Joel C. Rosenburg (F).
  • Internet Inferno: A Contemporary Warning and Reminder Regarding this Ancient Truth - "The Tongue is a Fire, the Very World of Iniquity, and is Set on Fire by Hell" James 3:6 - Michael John Beasely (NF).
  • The Circle - Dave Eggers (F). This one was disturbing and a good commentary on how dangerously dependent we as a society are becoming on social media. It's made me want to share much less and spend much less time interacting on social media, something I've thought a lot about in recent years. It does seem we are destroying things that we don't really want to lose  and developing scary new ways of interacting that are not good for us in this new era of living online. Caution: language and some subject matter.
  • The Holiness of God (NF) - R.C. Sproul. Very highly recommend.
  • How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds - Alan Jacobs (NF).

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Treasuring God's Word

Psalm 119:11
"I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you."

Psalm 119:24
"Your testimonies are my delight; 
they are my counselors."

Psalm 119:54
"Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning."

Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path."

Psalm 119:144
"Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live."

Every time I think I'm going to get back to more regular blogging, I seem to let life get in the way. I am in a different season of life than I was when I started this blog almost 11 years ago. And that is ok.  Once I discovered Facebook, I tended to drift over there more and more, finding it more 'social' to a point since the people I interact with there are people I actually know, and somehow in the midst of that, and in the midst of several moves and my children getting older and myself getting older, blogging here has fizzled. I didn't intend that, but here we are.

Anyway, something I'm noticing recently is that I spend too much time scrolling through Facebook and I haven't always been as careful about sharing there as I'd like to be. Between the tremendous time waster I've allowed it to become and the fact that my Facebook feed is often filled with questionable theology and frustrating things to read, I've decided it's time for me to turn it off more often and check it less. I've also found myself in rather a bittersweet time of life as my oldest child is just about to graduate from high school, and in spite of all the wonderful things that come along with that, I am also finding that sometimes at odd moments I'm brought to tears and I struggle to fight for joy in the midst of it all, knowing that God is good and so very kind to His people and that He loves my son oh so very much more than I ever could. I know that every mother probably knows this odd tug at her heart that I am suffering, when her children begin to spread their wings - between the joy of watching them succeed and the memory of all the joys along the way (and sorrows and struggles, too - all the things that have gone into making him who he is today) as you sort through the pictures and memories of the boy he was and the man he is becoming, the tears will fall, but they are good tears, and I think even they are tears stored up in the Lord's bottle. (Psalm 56:8 "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?) Oh, how the Lord knows of my 'tossings' as I've cried out in the night when sleep is fleeting at times.

While thinking all that, I realized I need the discipline of actively putting off time-wasting thoughts and putting on more fruitful thinking. I've noticed that as I've grown more comfortable with my smartphone, I've grown much less able to concentrate on reading or anything else for longer periods of time without 'needing' to check that stupid phone. This is not good. I want to retrain my brain to think more deeply than a Facebook meme and longer than the next 'hit' of scrolling through what people are saying - quite often nothing all that important, it turns out.

I was remembering fondly the time I spent a few years ago memorizing the book of Philippians. At the time I was following a blog that encouraged its community of readers to Partner to Remember and we spent four months together memorizing Philippians. That was such a neat thing. I had never before tried to memorize a long Bible passage like that, and the tips and techniques I learned made it a very enjoyable and challenging experience. While I was working actively to memorize that book, I was constantly going over and over the verses, thinking scripture all the time, and praying scripture, and it was just a sweet thing to be filling my heart and mind with God's Word, and it was also a time of discipline to commit to the long haul and train myself to spend hours and hours memorizing, as I woke up, as I sat, as I walked along the way, and I want that again. It was amazing how often the very verses I was learning would come to mind as counsel and comfort and wisdom in prayer.

So, here's what I've decided to do. I just spent about a week memorizing Psalm 1, and now I'm ready to start working on Colossians, and I thought it might be helpful to type out my plan and share it and encourage anyone who may still be around reading this limping-along little blog to join me.

First, I bought a notebook like this. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive, just a cheap little spiral notebook small enough to carry around with you:

Then I copied Psalm 1 into it like this:

I wrote the date I started at the top, and the date I finished that page at the bottom. The method I use for memorizing longer passages is I start with the first verse and read it 10 times, making a mark to the left to keep count. Then I say it over and over until I can say it without mistake before moving to the next verse. Once I have the next verse where I can say it, I put them together until I can say them with no mistakes before moving to the next verse, and so on. When I was memorizing Philippians, I would take a week to work on one page. Once I'd been through the initial process of learning it as I spelled out here, I'd spend the week reviewing that page by saying it over and over anytime I thought of it - while cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, driving - pretty much whenever my brain was idling, I'd spend some of that time reviewing that week's passage. As the weeks went on, I would keep saying the previous weeks while adding the new weeks, so I never let the earlier weeks slip away. By the end I was able to quote the whole book of Philippians. Sadly, I cannot still quote the whole book of Philippians, but it is still very precious to me, and it is one of my long-term goals to review and remember.

Anyway, now that I've worked out Psalm 1, I'm ready to start Colossians. 

Memorizing longer passages is such a great way to get into God's Word and ponder and think through it deeply. I would caution, however, not to take it on merely as a project or a thing to pat yourself on the back for doing or to merely fill your head with knowledge. This isn't a legalistic, check-the-box, do-this-and-you'll-be-some-kind-of-super-saint sort of exercise. It is simply one way to hide God's Word in your heart, to spend time praying as you think about what you're studying for many weeks and to ask God to help you to love Jesus more and apply His word as you spend much time learning it. All with the goal to love Jesus more and to bring Him glory as you take in His word and let it inform your thinking and how you talk with other people, and to lead you to love following Him and obeying that word more fully.

Anyone want to join me in memorizing Colossians? :-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

I Love Sundays

Hebrews 10:24-25
“24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in church, singing with my church family and fellow believers, thinking, “I really love Sundays.” There is something deeply encouraging about gathering with fellow believers, singing songs that reinforce biblical truth, hearing messages preached faithfully from God’s Word, and joining together to offer praise to our God. I can’t even explain how deeply encouraging this is, but it truly is. Some weeks I feel like I tend to drift along a bit, in danger of drifting along with the world rather than remembering who I am in Christ as strongly as I want to do. Then Sunday comes along, and the Word and fellowship remind me again about our mission, remind again to hold fast, and to ‘Keep on,’ as Alistair Begg says. That particular Sunday I was so encouraged to worship and so moved by how much we need to encourage each other while it is still called today, that I thanked my God for Sundays. 

A few years ago I read the book, ‘Jesus, Name Above All Names’ by Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg. One idea that stood out to me, and still does today, is the thought that when we gather together to worship God, Jesus stands among us, His people, and through Him we are able to offer our praise to God through song and the hearing of His Word preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through Jesus, our High Priest, that our praise is made acceptable to God. 

I once heard someone who had just returned from a youth-oriented conference where the music had been ramped up and like a concert most of the time bemoaning why can’t people worship like that at church. Even at the time that bothered me, because there is a real danger in mistaking the emotional manipulation that happens in that kind of setting for worship and assuming if we don’t exhibit that kind of emotional response then we aren’t truly worshiping. Sometimes I think we bank too much on a feeling and not enough on what we know to be true. We don’t have to have emotionally charged music and lights and smoke machines in order to truly worship, and sometimes actually, it’s probably better if we DON’T have all that. 

One Sunday that has stayed with me for a long time happened during the year we got to be members at Parkside Church. Pastor Alistair had just preached a sermon about our hope in Christ and looking forward to His return. The song we ended with was the hymn, “It is Well With My Soul.” Something very special happened that morning that I have never forgotten. There was no emotional manipulation in the music, just the simple musicians playing and the congregation singing, but, oh, what singing when you stand in a room full of people who genuinely, deeply believe the words they are singing and have just been encouraged again through the preaching of the Word with our great hope in Christ. That room swelled with the voices and tears of people as we sang those verses and the praise that rang in that room was surely merely a glimpse of what the praise in Heaven will sound like. 

This past Sunday, I had reminded my son of that moment and he smiled, he remembered. Well, our closing hymn Sunday night after hearing the Word preached and getting to take communion with our church family was ‘It is Well With My Soul,’ and you know what? It happened again. As we reached that verse that says, “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!” the voices in that room swelled and tears fell and there is just nothing like that moment when you are reminded again of how great a salvation our Lord Jesus grants us by His grace. How precious it is to be forgiven and have it be well with my soul!

People whose minds are informed by the truth of God’s word and who have been forgiven and set free will worship. Even if it’s a simple piano and a layman with a hymnal open in his hand singing with us, we need no false emotional manipulation to sing out because we worship a mighty God.

I am so thankful for Sundays. I need the encouragement I always find in gathering together with my church family to press on during the other days of the week. And here it is Wednesday, and I’m still pondering and remembering and wanting to be more faithful to put into practice what I’m learning and hearing each week. 

Alistair Begg recently finished a series on the Sabbath on Truth for Life that was challenging and encouraging, and listening to it probably is what spurred me on to write this post. I recommend it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Thought From My Morning Reading

Proverbs 30:5-6
“(5) Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
 (6) Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”  

This was part of my Bible reading this morning, and verse five was such a comfort to me that I shared it on my Facebook page. I got to pondering how awesome it is that God has given us His  Word, and what a refuge I have found it to be throughout my life. When I’m discouraged as I have found myself to be recently, I know to turn to God’s Word and to prayer and to dig in and pursue Christ - even when I don’t feel like it, especially when I don’t feel like it. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am that my salvation and sanctification are not dependent upon how I feel at any given moment. My salvation and sanctification are grounded, firmly rooted, in who Jesus is and what He has done to grant my salvation and sanctification. It is not how much faith I have, it is WHO my faith is placed in, and He will never, ever fail. He came to save whoever believes in Him. Our memory verse for this week’s Bible study lesson in my women’s group at church as we are working through the book of Titus this year was Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”, and as we looked at Titus 2:11-14 this week, we also discussed our blessed hope in Christ, and we looked at passages in the Bible that encouraged us that Christ will present us who belong to Him holy and blameless to God. 

So, as I thought about Proverbs 30:5 this morning and read on to verse 6, I realized the thought isn’t complete without that verse, too, so I shared it as well. What immediately came to mind for me was that this is just one of the many things that I believe are wrong with certain books that have become popular in Christian circles, specifically books like The Shack and Jesus Calling. In a sense they are adding to God’s Word in a way we really ought not to do. The Shack in that it has God presenting Himself in a way He does not in the Bible, which He gave to us specifically so we would know Him as He wants to be known. We have no right to misrepresent God. I am so tired of hearing the argument that that book helps people to understand God better. Not if what you’re coming to understand is contrary to what He has said in His word, you aren’t. Remember, our feelings are NOT the judge of what is true and right. God’s Word is. And Jesus Calling, well, it’s claiming to be the words of Jesus. I don’t need Jesus Calling when I have the actual, you know, Bible. Tim Challies had some great posts about both of those books here and here, by the way, and another good post about why he doesn’t plan on seeing the movie version of one of them, either. 

I think the reason I’m rambling on about this is that I’ve seen some discussion floating around about the upcoming movie, and what bothers me a lot is how quick people are to defend very strongly these books, but we who are concerned about holding a high view of God’s Word are called legalists and told we’re putting God in a box (um, no). I’d rather be vigorous about defending and sharing God’s revealed Word than some fictional book that has a lot of problems with it. Read it or not as your conscience allows, but turning a blind eye to the concerns people are voicing and claiming these books help you to know God better is flat out dangerous. A friend of mine posted something and got some push back and I private messaged her and encouraged her, but, frankly, I find it exhausting to get into Facebook comment thread arguments over these books. No, I DON’T have to read them so I can be better informed. I just don’t. My dad and I were talking once about how frustrating it is when people spend so much energy defending popular books that have bad theology and tell us to 'eat the meat and spit out the bones,' and who spend more time reading that stuff or fluffy devotional books and not as much in studying the actual Bible, and he said, “Why is God’s Word never enough for these people?” I agree. We Christians belong to God. We need to be discerning in what we allow to shape our thinking about God. There are many examples in Scripture that show us how seriously God takes this. Shouldn’t we take it seriously, too?

My pastor preached a great sermon about the Holy Spirit and the Scripture this past Sunday and he discussed the reformation point of Sola Scriptura. I’m sharing a link to it below. I am so thankful for my church and my pastor and elders who hold a high view of God and His Word and are serious about equipping us to be faithful followers of Christ. They stay on message and encourage us every week. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Books and Reading

I never intended to quit blogging, but as I only posted twice during all of 2016, that seems to be what has happened. I blame Facebook, and I'm not even kidding. I firmly believe smartphones have NOT been a good thing for us as a culture, and me as an individual. I am germinating a blog post on that, so hopefully more thoughts on that sooner rather than later as I'm trying to break my addiction to that dumb thing and retrain myself to think and read in longer chunks like I used to be able to do. I never intended to become addicted to a tiny screen, either, and it's got to stop.

Now that the new year is two months along and no longer new, I've finally gotten my reading lists updated, moving 2016 into the archive list and starting the 2017 list. I did keep a list of the books I've been reading in the hopes I would ever get myself to the computer to put them into my sad little blog, and now I'm up to date.

Several of us were talking around my table on Saturday at the women's seminar we had at our church, and one of the young ladies happened to mention that she and several other ladies in our group are participating in Tim Challies's 2017 Reading Challenge. I had seen his post about it a while back and meant to check it out, but in the haze of the end of the year and the holidays and then getting back into the swing of things again in January, I never took the time to look into it, finally thinking that maybe my legalistic little self didn't need another artificial burden added. Then this conversation happened, and I decided I would at least look at it, though I figured I was probably too far behind at this point, but it turns out that several of the books I've already read will fit nicely into some of the categories and others can probably be tweaked into them, or not. The point being, I'm not actually too far behind to at least try some of it, and that's what I decided to do, so you'll see that noted if you want to look at my reading list.

I had thought about maybe starting a reading group over on Facebook and share reading ideas with friends. I used to be a part of one before that started out well until people began dropping off and all that was left was someone who kept posting about Amish romances (urg), so I let myself drop out, too. But then I thought part of the reason I haven't taken the time to write over here at my blog, something I very much enjoy, is that Facebook tends to sap time and thinking energy in a weird sort of way, so maybe I don't want another thing to tempt me to open it all the time. If there is anyone still reading this blog, feel free to share what you're reading sometimes. If I can make myself take this up again, hopefully once in a while I might blog about a book or two that I particularly enjoy or find interesting along the way. And yes, I do find it ironic that after all my words about Facebook, I'll be posting a link to this blog post there.

Here's what I'm reading currently:

Happy Reading!