Saturday, April 30, 2011

What I Want My Daughter to Know

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30


I’ve been pondering something for a while now, and I’m pretty sure I will not be able to write all I want in a short post. Short posts do not seem to be a skill set I have developed yet. I know I haven’t adequately said all I want to here, but I’ve tried to get some of my thoughts organized.


I don’t know if it is that I am relatively new to parenting a girl, my two oldest being boys, or if it is something that truly is growing in our culture, but it seems that there is a whole culture of the ‘princess’ and extreme ‘girly-girlness’ that is not sitting well with me. I briefly mentioned it a while back in passing, but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit.


First of all, I’m going to state up front that I am glad my girl enjoys dressing up and wearing dresses and pink, and I think it is healthy to engage in ‘dress up’ play and using her imagination, and I want her to embrace true femininity. I like that she is girly. So, this is not going to be some feministic rant about boys and girls being the same or any such nonsense. Boys and girls are different, by God’s design they are different, and I celebrate this. I want my girl to embrace and celebrate who God has designed her to be, and I am not trying to squash her creative playfulness while she is little.


What I am seeing, however, is an extreme version of ‘girliness,’ that too much emphasizes glitter and glam, and what it boils down to, in my opinion, is teaching our little girls that they are so special that the world revolves around them and that they should get whatever they want right when they want it. We are teaching our girls to be so self-centered and spoiled that it turns my stomach. Too much focus on being a princess can be a bad thing, I think. Maybe what I’m saying is I want my girl to be a little more balanced. Much more important than being a princess, I want her to learn to be a girl who honors God.


For instance, it’s okay that pink is her favorite color, and I don’t mind dressing her in pink often, but when she pitches a fit on a given morning because I insist she wear an outfit that is perfectly nice and pretty but doesn’t happen to be pink, then we have a problem. I have a daughter who was born with a sin nature. What she needs is for me to be teaching her that showing disrespect to her mother by throwing a tantrum over little things is not honoring to God. She does not need me excusing her behavior by simpering and saying, “Oh, she’s just such a princess, such a girly-girl,” and then bowing to her whim. She does not need to be appeased, she needs to be taught to obey.


Because she is so interested in princessy things, I recorded the royal wedding yesterday and we enjoyed watching some of the highlights together. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. She ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over how beautiful everything was, and then I sat her down and we talked about how being a girl who honors God is much more important than being a princess. A woman can be exquisite and classy and beautiful and all that, but if her heart doesn’t belong to Jesus, all the rest is empty. She will be five in a couple of weeks. I am quite sure she doesn’t yet understand what I’m getting at, but I pray that with careful training, she will, one day, understand. And I am realizing that I have not been diligent enough to be driving home the point that how beautiful she is inside is much, much, much more important than how pretty her hair or clothes are.


I have a daughter who is very strong-willed. This is a gift from God, I am convinced of it. But it is a challenge as a mom, I won’t lie. I have noticed recently that her extreme interest in girly-girl pinky princess things is leading to some things that I am realizing I must constantly and immediately address. She is very easily frustrated - typical for her age, but not something to be excused. Lately, when she doesn’t get what she wants or can’t find something she’s ‘needing’ right now, she immediately ratchets up to a screaming fit. I have been taking her aside, every single time, and sitting her down and telling her that her job right now is to obey her mother and father and to learn to be respectful of us and others. This is God’s command for children, to honor their parents. She needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her and to treat others as more important than herself. She needs to learn to ask, gently, for help rather than immediately screech because her will is thwarted. She does not need me to simper and say, “She’s such a little princess,” and excuse away selfish behavior.


Anyway, I was shopping for new Bibles for my kids the other day, and I ran across some Bibles and devotional books that are marketed to girls as princess Bibles and princess devotionals. I will admit to you that I am not a fan of audience-specific Bibles, anyway - youth, boy, girl, women’s, men’s, etc. - and we can discuss that at length another time perhaps. But as to the princess Bibles, I really do not think this is wise. Search Amazon for ‘Princess Bible’ and you’ll see some of what I’m talking about. I don’t doubt that some of the topics covered are probably good - hiding God’s word in our hearts, manners, etc. are all things little girls need encouragement to practice, no argument from me. But I’m not so sure that as Christians we really want to cash in on the princess mentality. (And ‘cash in’ was an intentional word choice.) There is something that, for me, is inherent with the princess mindset that is very self-centered and shallow. I think Disney’s Little Mermaid, Ariel, sums up the knee-jerk reaction I have to the ‘princess’ mindset.....she is spoiled, self-centered, disobeys the direct word of a father who loves her and wants her best, and gets everything she wants at great expense to others who are hurt directly because of her actions - and this is the ‘happily ever after’ ending we are conditioned to want for her.


I want more for my daughter than for her to be a princess. I want more for her than a focus on shallow, worldly, outward things. I want her to know that a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. I want her to know that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. I want her to understand biblical modesty, and that her true adornment is a heart that is seeking truly, diligently after God. I want purity and true beauty to be her passion. I want her to learn to love others and be interested in their needs and in caring for them. I want love for Christ to motivate her. I pray for her that she will understand that being a girl who honors God is so much better than being a princess. And I pray for wisdom to train her well in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And I pray that God, in His mercy, please draw her to Himself and that she will find her fulfillment, satisfaction, and beauty in loving and obeying and enjoying Him forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's On Your Nightstand - April 2011



I use the “What’s On Your Nightstand” title because that is the name and theme of the blog carnival, but honestly, my books aren’t usually on my nightstand for very long. It is more like they are scattered throughout the house, or, more likely, following me around the house as I take them from room to room in the hopes I’ll have a moment here or there to stop and read. So I use ‘nightstand’ to really mean ‘stack of books I am currently reading at any given time.’


Since I don’t always remember to participate in the monthly posting of ‘What’s On My Nightstand,’ I also have a page you can visit where I’m keeping an ongoing list of books I’m reading. If you’re interested. Or care. On to the list for this month:


Recently finished:


The Crocodile Bird - Ruth Rendell. (F) I like Ruth Rendell, she’s one of my favorite authors, but probably isn’t for everyone. She is quite adept, somewhat frighteningly so in my opinion, at exploring obsession and sometimes even functional madness, or maybe just social dysfunction, in her characters.


Deliver Us From Evil - David Baldacci. (F) Another author I generally like.


Currently Reading:


The Bible (ESV) (NF)- I don’t usually list my Bible on here, though I could because I read it every day and it is the most important to me. I’m listing it today, though, because I bought my kids new Bibles for Easter this year when I found the ESV and the HCSB versions on sale at our local Lifeway store. My son had requested a new Bible a while back because he had been using an old one of mine that is falling apart, and he wanted an ESV. He’s been reading through the Bible on his own since January and it has been super cool to be able to ask him every so often, “So, where are you now?” and be able to talk about it with him. Way cool. Anyway, I bought myself an ESV also that is small and easy to carry to church. I am really enjoying reading through it in this translation, especially since it is the version I used to memorize Philippians.


The New Pilgrim’s Progress - by John Bunyan (with updated text by Judith E. Markham). (F) I’m reading a slightly adapted version that makes it a little more understandable for modern readers. I kind of got sidetracked from it when I went to the library and am now reading the next book I’ll list, so this one is a carryover from last month.


Sutter’s Cross - W. Dale Cramer. (F) I had read about this one on someone’s list recently of books that they had reviewed - I’m thinking it may have been at Discerning Reader, but I’m not quite sure now. Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of Christian fiction generally - we can discuss that another time perhaps - but I’m enjoying this book so far. Got it from our local public library, which has quite a few Christian fiction selections just there on the shelves with all the fiction, not separated out, which is kind of nice. I may stumble across more that I like if I’m not aware it is a genre book. :-)


Soul Depths and Soul Heights - Octavius Winslow. (NF) This is not a ‘sit down and read it quickly’ book, but I am appreciating it much as I work through it chapter by chapter and ponder. Good stuff.


Waiting in the Wings:


I find myself in the predicament in which I often find myself, having too many books to read and not enough time to get to them all. I have two books that will be next on my agenda once I finish what I’m already working on, and I’m anticipating both with joy.


Holiness (abridged) - J.C. Ryle (NF)


Slave - John MacArthur (NF)


Happy reading everyone! Check out the other lists at 5 Minutes for Books.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Sunday

Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

"Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, 'Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?' But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away - for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
But he said to them, 'Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you." Mark 16:1-8

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." Colossians 1:15-18

"And they sang a new song, saying:

'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'" Revelation 5:9-10

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding Joy In Saturday

I’m thinking today about the day before the Resurrection. I mean that Sabbath day before Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Last night at our Good Friday service our pastor spoke about the times when it seems God is silent, and it was a good service. Now, I know that God is not silent, I know that we have His word and this is how we hear Him speak to us. But there are times we may feel very much like He is not moving. This, I believe, is why we must not trust our feelings. Maybe we’re praying fervently and we feel like our prayers are not reaching beyond the ceiling. Maybe we find ourselves in a period of soul depth and wonder if God even cares. Maybe we read His word and feel like we’re hearing nothing. I’m stressing feelings for a reason, bear with me, please.


Our pastor last night spoke about the passage when Lazarus died. (John 11) He talked about how when Jesus heard that His friend, the one whom the messengers described as, “he whom You love,” was ill. The Bible says very clearly here that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. And yet, He stayed two more days where He was before going to them. We talked about how it is quite likely that by the time the messenger got to Jesus Lazarus may have already been dead, because when Jesus got there Lazarus had been in the grave for 4 days.


Martha and Mary and those with them must have desired Jesus to come immediately, must have earnestly desired that. Yet He waited. He was not working on their time table. He had His own purpose in mind, and He will do what He purposes to do. He said plainly in John 11:15, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Though they wanted to see Lazarus healed from his illness, Jesus’ purpose was higher - it was that they would believe. It was an eternal purpose, specifically that they would believe that He is the resurrection and the life. See John 11:25. When you think about it, what a blessing that He gave them this gift right before He, Himself, went to the cross. He clearly demonstrated to them that He is Lord over life and death.


So, though the people must have felt during those four days that Jesus wasn’t acting, He had a great and mighty purpose in His silence. I take great comfort in this. How I feel in any given circumstance pales in comparison to the knowledge that God is in control, He does care for His own, He has spoken, and He is sovereign. He is not silent, His purpose will be accomplished, and how I feel is not where I need to focus. Sometimes the answer I seek is not God's purpose for me, and just as He had a great purpose in allowing Martha and Mary to go through the valley, I must trust Him in the midst of my own valleys. Rather than seeking to feel like God is speaking, I must rest in the security of His word and trust Him, in spite of feelings, and I must trust that He is working all things together for our good and for His glory.


I said I was thinking about the day before the Resurrection of Jesus. I cannot imagine what the disciples must have been feeling during that quiet Sabbath day. Specifically, I think of Peter. Can you imagine the agony of soul depth he must have experienced as he thought back and remembered how Jesus had told him that Satan had asked to sift him, but that Jesus had prayed for him? Can you imagine the agony of soul depth he was experiencing as he remembered Jesus’ eyes looking intently at him in the courtyard with the echo of the rooster’s crow fading? The Bible says he went out and wept bitterly. Have you ever wept bitterly at realizing just how enormously you’ve sinned? Have you ever come to that kind of poverty of spirit where you have been brought so low that you know that nothing you could bring would ever atone for your failure to love Him and obey Him and honor Him?


The thing is, we can call Friday, “Good Friday,” and we can find joy in Saturday, because we know what Sunday means. We know that Jesus, in suffering the cross, had a high and glorious purpose that those dismayed disciples couldn’t see on that Sabbath.....yet. If you think about it, though, Jesus had graciously prepared them, even for this. He had told them, more than once, that on the third day He would rise again.


And, glorious truth, He did! Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross. His glorious purpose was to do His Father’s will in reconciling a people to Himself. You hear a lot of sentimental talk about how Jesus was thinking of you on the cross. You know what? I think we don’t really understand, I’m not sure we can fully understand, that His thought, as evidenced by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, wasn’t simply a sentimental kind of love for us, but His thought was ever to do His Father’s will. Jesus’ consuming passion was to fulfill the will of the Father. It was the Father’s will that Jesus would die to redeem to Himself all who would place their faith in Christ. Yes, He loves us. Oh, what love! He loves us with an amazing and redeeming love. But to think of His love as a gushy, sentimental love doesn't go nearly far enough in comprehending. He loves us with a binding, covenant love. He doesn’t love us because we are lovable, or because there is anything in us that was seeking after Him. He loves us and endured the wrath our sin deserves because it brings the Father glory to show such grace and mercy. He loved us while we were yet sinners, while we were enemies of God, He loved us and provided the way of salvation. He demonstrated what He was thinking about us when He prayed for us, that those who would believe on Him would be one just as He and the Father are one. And it is a thought that brings me to my knees in wonder and awe to think that He has opened my eyes and drawn me to Him in His grace and mercy, and that He has broken the curse of sin and set this captive free to love Him and obey Him. We love Him because He first loved us! Oh, the wonder of His matchless, amazing, incomprehensible love! It is almost more than I can comprehend that He would love me, such a sinner, and forgive my sin and make me whole.


Turn your eyes upon Jesus! His grace and mercy are emphatically displayed in the cross. Let the things of this life grow dim and let me ever seek first His kingdom and His glory. And because He suffered the cross and rose again, my song can now be, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” All my works are as filthy rags, and it is true that nothing I could do or bring could ever atone for my sin. But praise God, Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world! Praise God that He loves us with a covenant love that clothes those who turn to Him in repentance and faith in His righteousness and that He is ever interceding for His people as our Advocate and great High Priest. And when we are tempted to feel that God is silent, let us think again what an amazing thing it is that He came, God With Us, that He endured the shame and mockery that are so scandalous to think of, and let us look again at the wonder of the cross and the power of His resurrection.


Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Unreal

Wow. I just tuned in to the news and am just stunned by the damage in St. Louis. Hard to believe it when I think how many times Drew has flown in and out of that airport. Praying for all of our friends in St. Louis today, and I'm thankful that from what I'm seeing on Facebook most of the people I know there seem to be doing okay this morning. I hope you're all safe! We love you guys.


Friday, April 22, 2011

When You Can't Think of a Blog Post....**Updated at bottom

You could spend all afternoon trying to redesign your blog header. And yes, I'm so graphic artistically untrained this did take all afternoon. I'm sure I could probably write a whole post about how that was wasted time, but, it is what it is now. I finally decided the other one I amateurishly designed was too busy or big or something....so I worked on this today. I think I need an opinion. Here's whatI came up with first this afternoon:


The type at the bottom is small - it's just what I have up there now without the blue background for the 'with lemon.'

Husband came home and I asked his opinion, and he said, "It's nice but you can't see the 'with lemon.' Can you just retype that part or put color behind it or something? I got prickly because the program I'm using is really amateur, seeing as I'm cheap and got it free online, and it's not super easy to use. It is not a matter of just retyping. It's a matter of redoing the whole thing. Then I repented the prickliness, because if you're going to ask an opinion, you better be willing to take the constructive criticism. I did want an honest opinion.

So, is it better the way I first did it,or the way it is now with the blue behind the yellow words? I feel like it emphasizes the 'with lemon' a little too much. Then again, since I'm still kind of plumbing the depths, so to speak, I am feeling a little more lemony than sweet at the moment. But I don't exactly want that to be what the blog header is saying when you first step onto the blog front porch.

Any thoughts? I promise that even if I feel prickly, I won't take it out on you. :-)

Update: Here's another one I think maybe will work as a compromise between the two since I like it w/o the blue better:


What do you think?

*Update again: Okay, I changed the font for the 'with lemon' part and added orange underneath the yellow. I think I like that one best. But I'll put the other one with the blue here so you know what it was and can still vote for it.


Okay, the header up there is, hopefully, the last change. Trying to decide now if I like this one better or the one I had up right before it with the Lemon in the same font as the Sweet Tea.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for other bloggers who write ‘Thankful Thursday’ posts, because, to be honest, I’d forgotten about thankfulness and Thursdays....again....until I pulled up my Google reader and saw what others had written today. I am humbled and ashamed when I think about how often I forget to stop and think about thankfulness, especially on Thursdays which seem to be one of my busiest days.


I’m thankful that faith is not dependent on how I feel. Again.


I’m so very thankful for the righteousness that comes from God, the only true righteousness, that depends on faith, not a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ. What an amazing thing. And that is not just words, it is life.


I’m thankful for the book of Philippians and the Partnering to Remember project and the encouragement to hide God’s word in my heart. I’ve started going back and writing out notes on what I’ve memorized, and hope to be able to use it to encourage someone else as opportunity arises.


I’m thankful for periods of ‘the blues’ and for opportunities God uses to draw me close to Him and into His word for the only encouragement that will truly satisfy a sinking heart. And I’m thankful that no matter how low I feel, I will ever find the Rock of Ages upon which faith rests and is sustained. Thanks, Octavius Winslow, for that thought.


I’m thankful for joy that is deeper than momentary, or even longer than momentary, blues. The joy that is rooted in knowing Christ Jesus, the security that I may be found in Him and that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. The joy that is found in knowing that my hope is sure because it is anchored in Jesus, and I am clothed in His righteousness. Hallelujah, what a Savior!


I’m thankful for reminders, painful ones, that sometimes I feel blue because I’m thinking too much of myself and not enough of others, and more importantly, not thinking highly enough of God and seeking to love Him and seek His Kingdom with all my heart, and that I need to repent and pray for grace and mercy to retrain my thinking and to think biblically and lay aside weights of selfishness and pride that will not only hinder my race, but strangle me, so please, God, have mercy and may I fling those weights aside and run with endurance and live in obedience a life that is worthy of the gospel!


I’m thankful for my husband, who is encouraging me to get moving with my writing. I'm also thankful for my parents' encouragement to write and keep writing the blog, too. I think I’ve been stalled because I’m scared. I’m scared because as long as I stall and only think about writing, I haven’t actually failed at it. Once I start, if I find out I can’t, well, it’s been part of me for so long....


But I’m thankful for my husband’s patient encouragement when I tearfully told him about a deep and secret hurt and fear yesterday regarding my dream to write. He believes I can do it. I don't know why, but he does. And he understands my insecurities in a way no one else can, but he loves me and is cheering me on. He even helped me find my ‘lost’ notebook of unfinished scribblings so that I can, finally, get busy. Even if the only thing I ever write is the story my little boy requested so long ago and only he ever reads it. Even then, at least I will have written it, if I just will get to it, and it will be worth it to be able to write this story before he is too old to care anymore.


I’m thankful for spring and greatly hopeful that it really will be warm consistently here again one day.


Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stormy Night

Watching the weather before we went to bed last night, I asked my husband if he was sure he’d wake up if the tornado sirens went off, because....well.....he’s usually the one who sleeps through kids calling and me getting up to answer such in the night, and I tend to be the lighter sleeper, and I worry about things like not waking up when the sirens blare. Around midnight, I woke up to my husband shaking my arm saying, “C’mon. Sirens are going.” We went downstairs, checked the weather which said a fast-moving storm was on its way, grabbed sleeping bags and clothes and got the upstairs kids down to the basement by the time the storm came through town. I also mentally made notes about what I need to do to prepare ahead of time for next time, but that’s another story. Kids went right back to sleep, middle son never properly woke up, if you want my take on it, because when I woke him up this morning for school, he looked around and said something like, “Why am I down here?” It was kind of funny. Even funnier was oldest son, whose room is already downstairs so we never even woke him up last night, when he woke up and saw his sister asleep in the floor outside his room and all our sleeping bags around, from where I was in the kitchen I heard his confused, “Why is everyone down here?”


I have to confess to you that tornadoes are scary to me. I grew up in Florida where tornadoes are fairly rare. Hurricanes, I’m a little more used to, but you also tend to get more warning and can evacuate if need be. I’m really thankful we were spared anything major last night and the sirens were all bluster and no tornado. I’m thankful we can hear the sirens from our house. I’m also thankful we have a basement safe place now, too. When we lived in Indiana a few years ago, it was the first time I’d ever lived in a place where tornadoes were a danger, but I’d seen The Wizard of Oz enough times to be nervous. My husband was on an all-expense-paid, year-long visit to Bosnia at the Army’s express invitation, our house was far enough from the sirens I couldn’t hear them when they sounded, and we did not have a basement. I spent quite a few sleepless nights that spring trying very hard not to be anxious as I watched the news (they were super-duper proud of their ‘double doppler’ weather radar and seemed to really relish their time in the spotlight when it got stormy, by the way) and once was concerned enough to bundle two small boys and a dog into the hallway for a campout with all the bedroom doors closed and where I still felt much too exposed. When we learned we were moving back to the Midwest a couple of years ago, I told my husband the only real request I had regarding living quarters was a basement.


It’s in the midst of a raging thunderstorm that I feel very small and when it hits home how much we are not in control of....anything, really. My friend Lisa wrote a beautiful post thinking about God’s sovereignty in the midst of her own experience with tornadoes, and she’s right that it is in the midst of such things that pondering God’s sovereignty moves from academic to personal and real.


It is also during storms that I often think about this passage:


Matthew 9:23-27

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’”


I think, having grown up in church and being so very familiar with this account, it’s often easy for me to breeze over it and miss the significance of the fact that Jesus calmed the storm. What I mean is, I’ve read it so often that many times I just read it. I don’t think about it or pause and ponder why the disciples had the reaction they did. I know they had that reaction, I know He calmed the storm, but I don’t always stop and think about how significant that truly is. I think sometimes we can get very comfortable with Jesus, and I’m not sure if I’m adequately expressing what I want so much to say here. It kind of goes back to the shallow, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend kind of songs we sing too often, it goes back to living like functional atheists, even, when we go along muddling along until we need something or until some crisis strikes and then we start praying because we need/want something. But somehow, we all too often miss the awe of who Jesus truly is. We forget in the midst of today that it is in Christ that all things hold together. We forget that He is sovereign and Lord over all, and worthy of all praise, today and every day, in the storm and in the calms.


Hunkering down in the basement, listening to raging and violent wind and hearing thunder booming all around and aware that if a tornado does touch down there is nothing, absolutely nothing I can do to stop it and feeling very small and helpless, I get a glimpse, and only a glimpse, of the awe the disciples felt that day. They went from being afraid of a storm, to fearing the One who was in the boat with them. Jesus, with a word, stopped the wind and the waves. Because He is the Word. He is the Creator, He is the only Savior and Redeemer, and it is good and wise to pause and ponder how awesome He truly is.


And if it takes tornado sirens going off in the middle of the night to get my attention and help me to remember once again and stop to ponder on just Who He is and how very much I can, and must, trust Him, so be it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts After Visiting *W___mart*

I spent this Monday morning at that store. Not my favorite place, but I needed a few things this morning, all of which could be found there more easily than having to go to several different elsewheres for a fairly quick stop this morning.


A couple of observations:


Rules only apply to ‘everyone else’ or, put another way, words don’t have any real meaning at all. At least, judging by behavior I can only assume this is how people think. The lane says 20 items or less. I walk up juggling a gallon of milk and 5 small items and have to stand in line behind someone buying a cart full of groceries, so many more than 20 items you couldn’t even fudge it a little and say, ah, 21 items, let it slide. Of course, it’s a little hard to be irritated when there are 3 “20 items or less” lanes open and only one regular “buy out the whole store” lane open and that line is looooooong. Still.


After standing there pondering, on my way home I thought of something. That something is only tangentially related to the previous paragraph in that it got me thinking about how words do, in fact, have real meaning, even if people today want to argue that point.


Which led me to this thought: Have you noticed during some of the recent controversy over a certain book by an ‘emergent’ type pastor how there’s an awful lot of ‘what if’ kind of thinking about God? Just like the serpent said to Eve in the garden, “Has God indeed said....,” questions are used to subtly undermine plain things. As in the plain things are the main things and the main things are the plain things, as Alistair Begg will often say. Instead of digging in and studying and saying, this is what the Bible says, let’s get after living like it’s true, there are all these people saying, “What if.....?” Thing is, ‘what if’ is not all that helpful. In fact, you could argue that those kinds of what ifs can be downright insidious. Jesus clearly says He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. The Bible clearly says that it is appointed to a man once to die and then the judgment. Rather than spinning out a lot of ‘what if’ speculations, and trying to spin it so we’re saying things like, “Well, I know the Bible says this, but surely it can’t possibly mean this,” and being so arrogant as to think we know better than God about what is right and just, and flirting around with things like universalism and whatnot, why not get busy about submitting to God and His word?


Here’s a ‘what if’ for you. What if God means exactly what He says in His word and what if His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and He created us and His word says that He will judge the world with righteousness? What then? What if we were to truly turn our eyes upon Jesus and think deeply about the wonder of the Incarnation and about the sacrifice He made to reconcile sinners to Himself and what it means that the Temple veil was torn in two and that He rose again and that He told His followers to go into all the world and proclaim the good news and make disciples and baptize them? What if we were to truly begin to come to grips with how very offensive our sin is to holy God and what an awesome thing it is that He forgives those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith, and only those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith? What if we were more diligent to read God’s word and hide it in our hearts and remember that bad company corrupts good character and surround ourselves with teaching and people who have a high view of God’s word and tune out and turn away from teaching that questions it? What if we were more concerned with questioning the doubters and standing firm on the Word than we were with fostering and flirting with doubt? Then all our little speculations turn to ash in our mouths and, like Job, we put our hands over our mouths, or like Isaiah we cry, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips," and we bow before Holy God and say with wonder, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" and "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." Because, honestly, I’d certainly rather ‘err’ on the side of taking God and His word too seriously than not seriously enough. Put another way, I’d much rather trust His wisdom than my own.


Another observation:


If I die before my husband and children, I really and truly hope that they will not feel compelled to have a memorial for me on the back windshield of their car. You see a lot of those in the W---mart parking lot, have you noticed? I really and truly hope my loved ones will not be so earthly minded that they feel a need to remember me in that way. Grieve, yes, grieve deeply, yes, but please remember that death has been defeated by our glorious Savior and we have hope in His resurrection. My hope is that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection! Jesus is alive, and in Him I live and move and have my being, and because He lives, I have real hope that anchors my soul! With Resurrection Sunday coming this week, keep that hope in mind!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hosanna!

Psalm 118:25-26
“Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”


Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts of, “Hosanna,” and the people waved palm branches as, seated on a donkey, He passed by on the streets of the holy city. They were ready to welcome Him as King. Or so they thought.

They wanted salvation from the tyranny of Rome. They wanted a temporal salvation tied to this world. They wanted an earthly kingdom.

Their view of God was not nearly high enough.

They did not even realize that He came, not for some temporal, earthly salvation from Rome, but He came to save them from a far more insidious enemy. He came to save them from an enemy they weren’t even aware they needed to be saved from.

He came to save them from the tyranny of their sin. He came to redeem them from the bondage of sin that is part of every one of us down to our DNA. He came to free us from our sin nature that resulted from the first Adam’s fall.

He came to die. For that is the wage our sin merits. By grace, He came to offer Himself in our place; the spotless, guiltless, sinless Lamb who came to pay the penalty for undeserving sinners such as we are.

He came to reconcile them, and all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, to God.

So, as they hailed Him that Palm Sunday, they had no idea that less than a week later He would hang, bloodied and dying on a Roman cross, the true Passover Lamb, after a Jerusalem crowd cried, “Crucify Him!”

And less than week later, when He gave up His spirit saying, “It is finished,” the curse of sin was broken. The price was paid. He did what He came to do.

Less than a week after that Palm Sunday, the temple veil was torn in two and the Holy of Holies was opened to those who would place their trust in the true King, Jesus Christ whose blood paid the ransom for their souls.

As we sing, “Hosanna,” on this Palm Sunday, we remember that it didn’t end with the triumphal entry. Praise God that Jesus completed the work He came to do, so that a week later, He rose triumphantly from the grave. To God be the glory!

**Originally posted on April 1, 2007

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I find myself experiencing a bit of unexpected blues and need to work through it. It's like I'm scrambling on the edge of one of those pits of soul depth that hits sometimes when you just have to anchor your thinking in truth even when you feel really low.


Then one of my long-awaited books came in the mail today. This evening I began reading the first chapter of Soul Depths and Soul Heights by Octavius Winslow. I am so thankful I was encouraged to order it a while back and very thankful it came today. I was so encouraged to see that experiencing momentary ‘depths’ is not singular to me. It is not even something that I, as a Christian, should think I am alone in experiencing at times. But there is encouragement! After being careful to state that the experience he was about to discuss applied only to the believer in Christ, not the unregenerate, there followed a very encouraging passage. Allow me to quote what was very encouraging to me this evening:


“However profound these ‘depths’, they are not the depths of hell, draped with its mist of darkness, and lurid wrath, nor condemnation. Sink as the gracious soul may, it ever finds the Rock of Ages beneath, upon which faith firmly and securely stands. Whatever may be the depressions of the believer, it is important to keep in mind his real standing before God. From this no chequered spiritual history can move him. There is not an angel in heaven so divinely related, so beauteously attired, or who stands so near and is so dear to God, as the accepted believer in Christ, though earth is still his abode, and a body of sin his dwelling.


A practical lesson grows out of this truth. Let it be your aim to know your present standing as in the sight of God. Upon so vital a question not the shadow of a doubt should rest. ‘We believe and are sure.’ Faith brings assurance, and assurance is faith. The measure of our assured interest in Christ, will be the measure of our faith in Christ. This is the true definition of assurance, the nature of which is a question of much perplexity to sincere Christians. Assurance in not something audible, tangible, or visionary - a revelation to the mind, or a voice in the air. Assurance is believing. Faith is the cause, assurance is the effect. Assurance of personal salvation springs from looking to, and dealing only with Jesus. It comes not from believing that I am saved, but from believing that Christ is my Saviour. The object of my salvation is not my faith, but Christ. Faith is but the instrument by which I receive Christ as a sinner.” - Octavius Winslow in Soul Depths and Soul Heights


There is more, but that should whet the appetite, I think. I am thankful that no matter how far my soul may sink in momentary blues, it ever finds the Rock of Ages beneath, upon which faith firmly and securely stands. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Men and Women Are Different

This is one of those days I wish I’d not read the news. I don’t always. Lots of days I go about my little life blissfully ignorant of what the national news media is going on about. For some reason today I paid attention. Now is when the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and I get to practice what I preach about anxiousness and where I truly place my trust. We’re an Army family. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so my husband’s Army paycheck is our sole income. Nothing like hearing we may not get paid this month to give me a little reality check about where I’m really placing my trust for my daily bread and about how earthly minded I am.


I’m really thankful for the fact that men and women are different. Abrupt segue, I guess, but here’s why: I, being the member of this marriage who is more prone to be crippled by emotions, called my husband after reading that distressing bit of ‘news,’ and he was able to talk me down. He’s not worried. He’s much more able to get above the emotion and the political hype and told me this is exactly how ‘they’ want me to feel.


I know I’m not to live by emotions. I know I am to trust the Lord to take care of us. And I do trust Him. Right now I’m struggling a little with remembering not to worry about tomorrow because it hasn’t even come yet, but I’m thankful that my husband is who he is and that he is able to balance out my emotional response.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Lord is At Hand

Philippians 4:1-7


1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.


2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.


3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.


4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.


5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;


6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


One thing that memorizing the entire book of Philippians (or any large passage of scripture) really helps with is doing away with the artificial divisions of the verse and chapter breaks. It is amazing how the Word comes alive as I ponder whole passages and hear the actual flow of the context. What I mean is, sometimes when we take a verse and memorize it as a stand alone we forget the context that surrounds it which helps us to understand the full meaning of the verse.


I think sometimes we approach scripture as a Facebook status. You know, we want a pithy, short little encouragement. Or maybe we treat it like a blog post - how they say that the ‘good’ blog posts are supposed to be short and quick to the point because readers have short attention spans. So we take a verse and memorize it, and that’s good, I’m not saying it isn’t, but we often fail to read beyond the verse a lot of times to really digest the richness and depth of what is actually being taught.


See, Paul probably wouldn’t have been a great blogger if the bloggity wisdom that tells us to write short posts were to be applied to him. I mean look at how he says, “Finally, my brothers,” in 3:1 and then goes on for two more chapters. It takes time to develop a point, and it’s good to revisit those favorite, comforting verses in their original context. I would argue that in doing so, we can find even more encouragement from them.


I’ve actually blogged on this passage before, but in working to memorize chapter 4:1-7 this week I was struck by something else again. There are many things I could say about these verses, but I want to focus in on verses 6-7 for the sake of this post.


Many of us are familiar with Philippians 4:6-7, or at least verse 6. I’m sure lots of us pull it out when feeling anxious, and that is not a bad thing. However, as I’ve been pondering this passage this week, it was eye-opening for me that the words right before that very familiar exhortation to not be anxious in anything are these: “The Lord is at hand;”.


Here’s what I’ve been thinking: So many times when I’ve felt anxious and pulled out verse 6, I kind of get into this way of thinking that I have to just work up a less anxious way of thinking sort of by force of will or something. Well, it’s commanding us not to be anxious, I am feeling anxious, come on let’s stop being anxious, already. The thing is, this passage doesn’t encourage believers to not be anxious in a vacuum. The words right before this are key....the Lord is at hand! In light of all that has been said up to chapter 4 we are to be less anxious.


Think about all the truth that is presented in chapters 1-3 before this exhortation, and which I’ve had the joy of thinking over and rehearsing for the past 13 1/2 weeks now as we’ve partnered to remember Philippians.


Here are just some of the truths I’ve been pondering from Philippians that I’ll try to draw out for the sake of this thought: We who believe in Christ Jesus are saints in Christ Jesus who partner together for the sake of the gospel. He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. We pray for love that abounds more and more in discernment and knowledge so that we may approve what is excellent and be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. When Christ is proclaimed, we can rejoice, even when it means hardship or suffering for us personally because it is a joy to see His gospel advanced. God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It is God who works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure, and because this is true, we can work out our own salvation with fear and trembling in the light of His working in us. And because of all of that, we can walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, we can walk blameless and innocent as children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation and shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life. We can count any gain as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, we can be found in Him having the righteousness from God that depends on faith in Christ! Not a righteousness of our own that cannot measure up, but the righteousness from God! We can press on and make it our own because Christ Jesus has made us His own! Pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Can you really think on these things and not put an exclamation point? It is THIS Lord Jesus, at whose name every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord, that is at hand.


And in light of ALL of that, we can rejoice! In light of ALL of that, we can not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God, trusting that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. We can train our minds to the truth of God’s word and trust Him to reveal to us where our thinking is not mature and to turn our hearts and minds to Him in all things.


Yes, and amen!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Status Update April 2011

Having a somewhat productive Saturday, in a sort of two steps forward, one step back kind of way. Posting a status update to try to revive the seemingly languishing blog.


Drinking....iced tea, what else?


Listening....to my daughter’s updates as she watches Tangled yet again.


Enjoying....Tangled. Really I do. I think it’s my favorite of the more modern Disney movies. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it’s better than, well, pretty much all the other modern Disney princess movies.....seriously, I like it.


Growing.... tired? Irritated? Not sure of the word to use regarding Disney princess fluffiness. But the girl is such a girly girl, and she loves it. I don’t so much mind the non-trademarked dress up fun, that’s fun. But the Disneyness gets to be a bit much. I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with letting her play and imagine and dress up and be fancy, but I do want to be mindful to find balance and teach her that beauty is about so much more than glitz and glam. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31: 30


Making....crock pot roast for tomorrow’s lunch. Related question: Does anyone know if my crock pot will explode tomorrow morning if I put everything in it right now, put the whole thing in the fridge overnight, then take it out early in the morning and turn it on to cook while we’re at church? Because that’s the plan unless someone has prior unfortunate experiences to share between now and bedtime tonight.....


Thinking....I’ve been something of a disaster in the kitchen today. Made homemade salsa because husband is having friends over to watch basketball on Monday evening. Apparently there’s this big game or something :-). Anyway, I dropped a jar of jalapeƱos on my lethal tile floor. It was a spectacular mess, let me tell you. Oh, and if you cut your pinky on glass that is saturated with jalapeƱo juice while cleaning up such a spectacular mess, it does sting. In case anyone was wondering. Then, while browning the roast a minute ago, I burned the same pinky on the pan. Good thing all I have to do tomorrow is plug in the crock pot and turn it on. I have been known to forget the ‘on’ part before when crock-potting, too. Just keepin’ it real. Anyway, with that track record, you can see why the question in the point above.


Pondering....hanging up the blog and ending this part of my online life. It's not the first time I've toyed with the idea, and probably won't be the last, but I read this post the other day and realized that could have been my blog he’s talking about, every point. Felt right depressed for a bit, I did. Then I started thinking, well, why do I blog anyway? Is it to generate readership or is it more just to practice writing for my own sake and hope to encourage anyone who may happen to come along? I think it’s more the latter for sure. So, for now it just is what it is, I guess.


Realizing....I’m becoming obsolete in the technological revolution. Not that I was ever all that up on it, mind you, but I’m falling behind and don’t really want to keep up. Couple of things: After more than a year of forwarding through songs I don’t really like on my iPod in the “Christian Songs” playlist that we all share in the music library, it just this morning occurred to me that I can just make my own playlist and only put the songs I want to listen to and just check that list and uncheck the other list, and there you have it, no more forwarding past songs I don’t like. I’m slow. Bigger thing: ebooks, Kindles, and other things I totally don’t understand because I’ve not ventured over yet. I get that reading books that way will save a lot of space since you don’t have hundreds of books on the shelves, but I just don’t think I’ll ever get used to reading my books on a screen. I happen to really like holding a book and turning the pages and seeing the thickness of the pages on the right side slowly lessen and the left side slowly grow as I work my way through a book. I’m scared that by the time I get old, though, paper books may just be a thing of the past.


Wishing....all the numbers that come up “800 service” on my caller ID would get the hint already that I NEVER answer. Also wishing that number that I do recognize and which I've already talked to at least three times saying I truly do not want or need what they are selling would also quit calling. I NEVER answer that one anymore, either. Either leave a message or quit calling. I’m not picking up.


Hoping...I didn’t get someone in trouble the other day. This number I don’t recognize kept calling my cell phone, and I didn’t answer. The next day I got a text that said, “I want a cell phone when you get home.” I texted back and asked, “Who is this? Wrong number?” Got an angry text back saying I’d see if it’s a wrong number when I get home. Thing is, he/she called me ‘Masha.’ A few days later, same number called, so I answered, told her she had a wrong number, haven’t heard from her since. Guess someone else is as technologically hip as I am.


Telling you.....I don’t like the phone very much.


Saying.... “Happy birthday,” to my middle child today. Hard to believe he’s 10 today. Double digits. I’m so thankful for that funny, creative boy.


Waiting....for three books to come in the mail from various sources: Slave by John MacArthur, Soul Depths and Soul Heights by Octavius Winslow, and Holiness by J.C. Ryle. Some heavy reading in my future, and I’m looking forward to it. I keep checking the mailbox hopefully every day.


Pondering....how much I want to live in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel and how much I want to honor Jesus with my words and thoughts and actions, and how much I want to hold true to what I've attained and press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own, and how much I want that to be more than just words, but action in daily life.


And that’s about it for today in all its bloggity boringness.