Monday, March 31, 2008

Cards in a Drawer

I really should not be blogging right now. I am actually avoiding the spring cleaning/purging of the drawers and closets that must be done. This is one of my least favorite chores. But it must be done. So, I will get back to it soon. I will. I will.

But I had a thought to share. While going through my sock drawer I found three little stacks of cards bound by rubber bands that I had tucked away in the back of the drawer. I had forgotten about those little stacks. I got quite a lump in my throat when I saw them there. They are the cards friends and family sent when we went through each of our miscarriages. I didn’t get much purging done after finding them because I ended up reading those cards and notes and looking at one tiny little ultrasound picture that I had forgotten I saved, and remembering again the kind words and thoughts of all those caring friends and family who sent those cards and notes and reliving the comfort those caring words had brought at the time, and thanking God once again for the bond that Christian brothers and sisters share when we encourage each other.

So, the thought I wanted to write down while it is still fresh is this. If you are thinking of sending an encouraging note to a friend, do it. Don’t just think about it. Send the card. I need to remember to do this more often, too. E-mails are nice, too, but something about real mail that you can hold and read and tuck away for later is special. It means more than you might think. Even if you don’t think you have the right words. It means a lot to know people care.

That’s all. I’m going back to the cleaning and disposing of trash now. But the cards, I keep.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


They may fuss and they may fight
But the bond they share is oh so tight
A day on the marsh just boys and their dad
Spending time together makes them glad
Even though they sometimes irritate each other
They're really glad they get to be called brother
A brother is a forever friend
The bond they share will never end

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lux Venit Reading Group: The Excellent Wife

Leslie's reading group has begun with Martha Peace's book, The Excellent Wife. You can read her discussion of Chapter one here, and she has also linked to others who have blogged about it today. I mentioned earlier that I was apprehensive about reading this book. The reason is that I know that I fall short in this area. This is one of those topics that is controversial because it goes against the grain of everything we are taught in our culture about what women should want for themselves. Even Christian women bristle when that dreaded word, “submission,” is mentioned. I think part of the reason is that we don’t really understand Biblical submission appropriately. Another reason is that we are fallen people. It goes all the way back to the Fall and the curse of sin which has marred our response to and understanding of our created roles.

I came to a rather distressing realization several years ago. I realized that many of my subtle underlying thoughts and assumptions about womanhood reflected more of our culture’s unbiblical view than it did a biblical one. This was distressing because I was saved as a young girl and have wanted all my life to live as a Christian should. It was distressing because I realized that I had bought some of the subtle lies and assumptions that are all around us, and I had not even noticed how they shaped my attitudes and thinking. I had rejected many of the obvious errors, but had accepted more subtle ones which, while I had been spared much of the heartache that would accompany the major errors, I am beginning to see just how much wrong thinking I had actually bought into without even knowing it. I am also having a subtle change in thinking about how I want to live. Rather than thinking I want to live as a Christian should, I am beginning now to see that I want to live for Christ. Subtle word change, but a vastly different way of thinking. It takes the focus off of a rather legalistic view of life to one of living for the sheer joy of knowing my Savior and for the love of Him.

I know what I wrote in the first paragraph is kind of vague, but I don’t really want to address a laundry list of the specific wrong assumptions of womanhood that the Lord is graciously revealing to me and peeling away like onion skin from my heart, but I wanted to give a little insight into why I had mentioned earlier that I was a little apprehensive about reading this book. I have always found Proverbs 31 to be intimidating. I am uncomfortable reading about that excellent wife, because left on my own I don’t look very much like her. I have mentally embraced and accepted the things I know the Bible teaches about wives being submissive to their husbands, and I have been fairly confident that I was just that. The problem is, if I turn a magnifying glass on my heart and am honest with myself, I know that I do not think deeply enough about what being a godly wife looks like here in my home, in my marriage. I know that much more often than not I am very selfish. I know that I fall short.

Here are a few thoughts that grabbed me from Chapter one. First of all, the idea that a Christian wife’s primary ministry is to her husband, that we are not to just give him what is left over at the end of the day was significant to me. I cannot say this is something I did not know. I did. You can’t have as many Sunday School lessons and whatnot on the topic of Christian marriage as I’ve experienced and not learn that concept. But I have to say I have not really thought enough about what it means, what it looks like day to day for me specifically. I am a mom, but I am a wife first. My relationship to Christ comes first, then my marriage. That is something it is so easy to let slide in the day to day of being mom. Being a mom is exhausting, no lie. But I must not let that be an excuse to not invest energy in my ministry to my husband. I think this is also something we married women need to consider when we fall into that spiral of wishing for some big, significant ministry to define our lives. When we are married, we do have an important ministry. But we are so inundated with the notion that we’re to be super woman and have it all, that we’re supposed to be doing something important that makes a difference, that we sometimes fall into the trap of downplaying how significant our calling to minister to our husbands actually is. So, that is something I want to ponder more.

Another thing that stuck with me was the section dealing on our sin problem. She listed several descriptions of what sin is and one that has stayed in my mind is this one: “It is presuming God will help her even when she is neglecting His truth.” I want very much to apply what I learn to my life, not to neglect His truth. I don’t want to just hear it and mentally nod my head in agreement but somehow neglect to flesh it out and live it. I think so many times I can just trudge along and do not purposely think about what is His truth regarding how I am to relate to my husband and not examine how well am I obeying that truth.

Then I read a subheading that really rubbed raw my temptation to whitewash any failing as a wife. It said: Wives Are Without Excuse. Ouch. Why are wives without excuse? Here’s what Martha Peace said in that section:

“Because God has so richly provided for a Christian wife in her battle against sin, she is without excuse. Her loving, merciful, and holy God has truly provided everything she needs to become a godly wife – to become the excellent wife that God wants her to be. And even when she falls short, she can be forgiven. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).”

The thing is, I am not left to myself to be an excellent wife. It would be very easy to turn this whole ‘excellent wife’ thing into another legalistic burden. But, when we begin to see that God has created us, and we can trust His way and trust that His way is truly what is best for us, we can begin to see that it is really a joy to obey, not a burden, not a list of do’s and don’t’s but a hedge of protection. As a believer in Christ, I have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to trust and obey the Word of God in all areas of life, including my ministry as wife.

Whether I embrace biblical truth in this area or bristle at the truth that goes against the grain of what so many, many voices and thoughts and attitudes and assumptions all around me are saying is ultimately a heart issue. My submission first and foremost is to Christ. That submission to His sovereign lordship means that I must learn what His Word says about being a godly wife. And I must trust Him to teach me to obey His Word. It really doesn’t matter how many wrong assumptions I may have bought into, or how many people in our culture may bristle at these teachings, or even what anyone else, including my husband, is doing. What matters is that I learn to apply God’s Word to my life. I am responsible to obey God. What joy there is in learning to do things His way. He is, after all, the One who created us, so therefore, He knows what is best for us. May I be found faithful.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Little Did I Know This Morning

I used to hate coffee. Used to, I said. For the longest time I could not figure out what the obsession with the bitter black brew was all about.

Then my husband bought me a one-cup coffee maker for my birthday/Mother’s Day last year, complete with gourmet coffees and teas and hot chocolates to be ordered online. My first thought at being offered such a gift from my non-coffee drinking spouse was, “And this is a good birthday gift for me because, why?” I had a gratitude problem, I admit it freely today. He told me, “Wait, try the flavored coffees with cream and sweetener.” His friend at work had gotten Drew hooked on this little indulgence. So, I did. Now I’m hooked. I’ll even drink plain ol’ coffee with a big dose of hazelnut creamer and Splenda now. It doesn’t even have to be flavored coffee any more. The slippery slide has begun. So much so that I was eagerly searching out Starbucks when we were in California in December since we do not have one here on the island or in town (ya’ll know my thoughts about where we live by now), because I just had to see if the real thing was as good as the buzz. It was.

At first when I began drinking the vile brew, my hands would literally shake and my heart would race after one cup due to the caffeine content – apparently much higher than a diet cherry Coke or cup of tea. It doesn’t even phase me anymore. Now I look forward to my afternoon cup of creamy coffee. Just my way of correcting my gratitude problem and thanking my husband for his thoughtful gift.

Why am I blathering on in this way, you may well be asking. Well, I was blissfully unaware this morning of something that I know this afternoon that I am glad that I was blissfully unaware of this morning. The air conditioning maintenance company called this morning to schedule our routine maintenance. Turns out our technician was free to come today before lunch. Upon routine check, it turns out our whole system is shot. We have to replace the whole thing. Immediately. Ouch. Otherwise it will be one hot summer around here. I knew it wasn’t cooling properly, but was hoping it just needed a little repair work, not a whole new system. So, the nice technician and I called my husband and discussed our options, buy this new one or that one, and Drew and I will be looking over the budget tonight to figure out which way to go.

What in the world does that have to do with coffee? Absolutely zip, zilch, nada, nothing. But I am sitting here enjoying a Starbucks Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino from the local grocery store – it’s almost as good as something real from the real Starbucks – tastes just like a cold, liquid York Peppermint Patty. Beats sitting here fretting about having to buy a whole new A/C unit, don’t you think?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Leslie at Lux Venit is very kindly hosting a reading group. This is exciting! The first book we are reading together is The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. Excellent choice, I think. I'm going to continue my recent trend of spilling personal thoughts out here for anyone to read and make a confession to you, my blog readers. I have seen this book reviewed and discussed on many blogs over the past year, and my interest is peaked. My confession, however, is that I am a little apprehensive about reading this one. I know I fall very short on consistently being a godly, excellent wife. I know that I do not think deeply enough or often enough about what it means to be obedient in this area in the daily press of life. This one will be challenging, I think, but I need to be challenged in this area. I want to be faithful to Christ in how I live as a wife, mother, and woman. So, having just finished reading Chapter one, I am praying I will be teachable as I read the biblical principles she discusses in this book and will learn and put into practice what I learn and will be reminded of the things I may already know but need reminding.

Anyone else want to join us? It will be good! Click on the link below and join Leslie's Lux Venit Reading Group. She has links on her blog for purchasing the book - should have mentioned this earlier, but it is not too late to read along.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rebekah Sweet Tea's Expanded Practical Mom's Dictionary, Installment #2

Patience: 9. Playing Monopoly with my sons. It’s an experience, let me tell you. Thank you, Dad, for playing with them last night! My mom and dad came into town yesterday afternoon for a visit, and the boys have been so excited!
(For 1-8 see this post)

Adorable: Boo stretching out her arms for Grandma to pick her up and love on her.

Pesky: As soon as the weather is pleasant, the stinging marsh gnats come out. They are everywhere when it is between 60-80 degrees, just when it would be so nice to sit outside on the porch or the yard and enjoy being in the fresh air.

Irritating: 1. Having a song get stuck in my head – usually it is just one phrase of a really annoying song, too.
2. Oldest son is playing the recorder in music at school….need I say more?

Heartstopping: Seeing blood flowing from my 22-month-old’s forehead.

Relief: Finding that the cut was not all that deep after all.

Reprieve: The orthodontist says neither boy needs anything done right now – but he wants to see them again next year, sooner for the younger if he starts getting more adult teeth on the bottom before then.

Smart: Sending the boys outside to play – it is just too nice outside to let them drive me crazy while they are wrestling with loud, loud, loud voices in the living room.

Frustrating: Encouraging a squirrely six-year-old to do his homework when he would much rather be wrestling his brother very loudly in the living room.

Futile: Sweeping leaves off the porch when the wind is gusty. Ten leaves swept off, twenty more blew on.

Pond water or a herd of turtles: How fast the boys move in the morning when they would much rather stay under the covers and sleep a little longer.

Heartwarming: Youngest son thinks his daddy is his hero. He wrote a paragraph for school about it. The words say: My hero is my dad. Because he helped me to bled my threhos. And he helps pepl in the hosptl. (Translation: My hero is my dad. Because he helped me to build my treehouse. And he helps people in the hospital.) Okay, he’s still working on learning to spell, but I thought that was just so sweet.

Here’s what the treehouse looks like:

Like the pirate flag?

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm a Dork

This is probably one of those posts I'll regret later, but here goes, anyway.

At 36 years of age, I am coming to accept that I am a dork. I seem to be perpetually saddled with a shyness and awkwardness in social situations. I genuinely want to be an encourager. I care about people, really, I do. But I seem to have the hardest time conveying this in personal conversation. More often than not I find myself either tongue-tied and having a hard time saying anything or babbling and wishing I would just shut up. This is true in correspondence as well. I am trying to learn that less is more in what I write on an encouraging card or in some of my blog posts. That’s hard for a blogger (I typed ‘blooger’ again – perhaps that would fit better what I do around here) who likes words. Why is it so hard for me to just write, “Happy Birthday!” or, “I’m thinking of you,” on a card? Lots of times I search for words to write and end up cringing at my dorkiness but sending the card on anyway, hoping love will cover my multitude of dumb words and the recipient will sense the heart behind them.

I have never been one of those women who are comfortable in social situations, able to make small talk and chit chat. It usually takes me a while to warm up to a group, and I’m usually able to talk fairly coherently about serious things – Bible study, doctrine, etc., and kid stuff and mom stuff, too, but I’m not so good with the chit chat and small talk. And when I’m with a group of women, I often feel so dorky with regard to clothes and fashion and hair, you know, all that stuff. I go brain dead when I shop for clothes. I just don’t know how to put together cute outfits. So, I tend to feel dorky when I go to women’s events and make the mistake of looking around at the many perfectly coiffed and styled women around. Not always, but often. Thankfully, I don’t think I really look as dorky as I feel, but I’ll never be Ms. Fashionable. While I am quite feminine, I've never been a real girly girl - never really cared much for nail polish and beauty regimines and just the right piece of jewelry or just the right shoes and all that. I’m much more comfortable in jeans. And if I’m honest, if I can look past the perfectly styled ones, there are lots of other women just like me there, too, who aren’t quite so perfect but are perfectly acceptable – and why am I looking at outward appearance and trying to measure up, anyway?

I also tend to look back over things I’ve said or written, especially times when I’ve shared deep thoughts, and cringe, thinking, “Now why did I go and say all that?” And, oh, the blog comments! Can I tell you how dumb I've felt over some of them that I've left? Can I tell you how many I have started and then not left at all because I can't comment without tripping all over my babbles? I am woefully terrible about not leaving blog comments. I worry way too much about what other people think about my words. I’m trying to let that go. I am looking to the day when I will care much more what my Savior thinks than what anyone else does. I have a long way to go. My affirmation really must come from Him alone. I’m really thankful I can babble to Him in my prayers and He still hears them. I’m extremely thankful for His grace and forgiveness and the fact that He would save a dork like me and have works He has prepared beforehand for me to do. May I be faithful! May I learn to guard my words, but not to be so introspective that I do not use them at all.

So, I’m kind of a dork. I’m learning to be okay with that.

Kid Quote

"I thought it was called Good Friday because it was the first day of Spring Break."

We did follow through and explain after wiping the grins off our faces and stifling the giggles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Resurrection Sunday

Mark 16:2-7
“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.”

Christos Anesti!
Alethos Anesti!

Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Matthew 27:45-54

"Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This man is calling for Elijah!" Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.

The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him."

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Amazing love. Amazing grace. Glorious Savior. His disciples and followers were in dismay on Friday, but oh, the joy of Sunday! Behold the Lamb of God! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! We fall to our knees and cry worthy is the Lamb!

Isaiah 53
“Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before it shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked –
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”

Protecting Our Children?

I read this on Pyromaniacs yesterday. It reminded me of something our minister of music at our former church where we used to live told us about a friend of his who was asked to leave his position as music minister because he sang too much about the cross and the blood of Christ, and they felt this was too violent. When he said he would not leave out those songs, he was fired. And I remember hearing, too, about trends in churches where they want to be ‘seeker sensitive’ they avoid having a cross in the auditorium, because it is offensive to people. I have not had any experience with the particular curriculum that is mentioned on that post I linked, but this discussion does highlight some of the concerns I have about children’s curriculum and children’s Sunday school in general that I have seen. I’ve blogged about those concerns before, so I won’t go off on too much of a rabbit trail today, but to boil down Easter to just talking about Jesus spending time with people He loved and not even mentioning the cross or the resurrection is foolish, in my opinion. This is the epitome of just telling spot stories with moral lessons and ignoring the bigger picture. This is exactly why young people grow up and leave the church, because they have not really been taught the meaning of all those disconnected stories. They are taught to be moral, but not taught why, and not taught the real meaning of the stories and how it all fits together in the plan of redemption. Because, from what I have seen in some of the curriculum I have had experience with, the teaching doesn't get a whole lot better once they leave the preschool department - even the older children are often taught disconnected Bible stories with moral lessons, but no cohesive understanding of how all these stories fit together. In other words, they are not really taught the whole picture of God's redemptive plan. They aren't taught how to read the Bible as God's revelation of Himself and His redemption of our fallen race.

That time in the Upper Room had vastly more significance than just Jesus spending time with people He loved. This was His final time of instruction and preparation of His disciples for the time ahead. This was the Passover to which all Passovers had pointed. Yes, He loved those men, but it was about much more than that. I understand this is more than a preschooler can grasp yet. I understand the desire to keep the teaching age appropriate, but to leave the cross out completely, even at these young preschool ages is not the answer. My children have heard about how Jesus died on the cross and rose again since before they were old enough to understand. Do I bring out the movie The Passion of the Christ and show them in graphic detail or describe every technical aspect of just how awful and just how gory and just how terrible crucifixion was? No. But they do know it was awful and they do know He died, and they do know He rose again. Why do they need to know it was awful? Because our sin is awful, and that is what He died to atone. Our heinous, awful, offensive sin. Even small children need to be taught this, yes, age appropriately, but taught it! You can’t lay a foundation without the cross. And when my children see tears fall from my husband's and my eyes because of our extreme gratitude and awe for such a Savior as we describe to them how awful the cross was and how awful our sin is that He died to atone, don’t you think that makes an impact on them?

The cross is offensive. There is no getting around that. But so is our sin offensive to holy God. If our children are so coddled and sheltered that they are not taught how offensive sin is to a holy God, then we are not telling them the truth. I’m not saying we need to beat them over the head all the time with it, but they do need to know the truth. We’re so afraid of children these days, thinking they are so fragile emotionally that we shelter them from all the wrong things, and expose them to so much else that really is harmful. Our culture is increasingly corrupt morally, shouldn’t we be telling our kids the spiritual truths they need to hear so they can know how holy and how loving our God truly is? If all we are teaching them are nice little moral lessons but not really what it is to be saved, we aren't giving them what they need so they can navigate our corrupt society. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die a truly awful, offensive, cruel death and atone for our awful, offensive, disgusting sin. And Jesus rose again on the third day – proof that His sacrifice was accepted. The temple veil was torn, top to bottom as He declared, “It is finished.”

No, I will not shelter my children from this truth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


John 14:6
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

Jesus said this to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover together on the night before the crucifixion. Later that same evening, He prayed for Himself and for His disciples. This is recorded in John 17. In the midst of this prayer, He said:

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:17-19)

In John 1 we see that Jesus is the Word.

John 1:1-18
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John bore witness of Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

Incredible, amazing. It is only in Jesus that we may come to the Father. It is only in Christ that we are sanctified. We are sanctified by truth, and God’s word is truth. That truth is found only in Christ. Our works won’t get us there, only faith in Christ Jesus alone.

Therefore, what we believe about Jesus is extremely important. When someone claims to follow Christ, it is so important that we continually grow in understanding of the full counsel of God’s word – Old and New Testaments, so that we may truly know what He has said about Himself that we may know Him. This is why doctrine is important. Many people claim to know Jesus, but what they say or teach about Him will reveal whether the Christ they preach is the Christ who is the Word, the Son of God.

Amazingly, only hours after that upper room Last Supper gathering, Jesus stood before Pilate, and this exchange took place:

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’

Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?’

Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’

Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’

Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:33-38a)

At that precise moment, the way, the truth and the life stood before Pilate, and he did not recognize the eternal significance of his question. How often do we ourselves fail to really recognize, to really reverence Jesus with the honor He is due? May we have ears to hear and eyes to see His glory. He is the way, the truth and the life. May we never be flippant with the great truth that has been entrusted to us with the gospel. For those whose eyes have been opened to His truth, His majesty, His glory, may we live lives completely dedicated to Him.

Everyone who is of the truth hears His voice. Look unto Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. Thank You, Lord God, for giving me the ears to hear the Truth, that precious Truth that is life to those who believe on Your Name. May I live a life surrendered to Your lordship, because You are my salvation and my hope. May my one desire be to know You more, to love You more. More love to Thee, Oh Christ! There is no other name given among men by which we may be saved. Praise the Name of Jesus, and let me continue to grow in the knowledge of Your will in truth and to live by that truth a life worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit for Your glory.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

*Originally posted April 1, 2007

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.

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 they 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!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Grace and Truth

Luke 19:9-10
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”

John 9:1-11
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’

Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’

When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

Some said, ‘This is he.’ Others said, ‘He is like him.’

He answered and said, ‘A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received my sight.’”

John 11:25-26
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”

John 1:1-18
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John bore witness of Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

The Hypocrite in Me

Psalm 103:14
“For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.”

Standing with fellow believers and singing a song of praise to the Lord on Sunday morning, I was crushed by the thought that I fight a daily battle with a hypocrite. That hypocrite is me in the flesh. I can sing out those wonderful words and nod my head with the pastor’s sermon and be challenged and moved by his exposition of the Word. I love being with other believers. I love hearing the voices raised in praise of our glorious Savior. I love hearing the Word preached. If I have to miss a Sunday for some reason, I miss it deeply and feel a real sense of loss. But I also know the me that lives here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that me isn’t always so shiny. In fact, that me can become quite grimy at times.

I want so much to apply the teaching I am challenged by and to grow in grace continually. This is my desire. To know Jesus, really know Him and to be so enthralled with His glory that this will be what I talk about and will inform how I live.

But standing there Sunday, I was struggling with the insidious thought that maybe I was just putting on a show. Did I act like I loved Jesus last week? Was my speech seasoned with His grace? When I disciplined my children, did I do it only for their good, or did I allow my frustration to dictate the punishment? Were my words building others up or tearing them down? Did I open my mouth and tell anyone about Jesus? Was I as bold about living for Him as I am in singing this song right now? Do I care more about what the people sitting around me see this morning than the life I live before the face of God, who sees me every moment, not just during Sunday morning worship? Wouldn’t it be great to come in here on Sunday and sing these songs with an absolutely clear conscience, knowing I had lived it 24/7 last week?

On Thursday, we had an incredible Bible study, one that left me trembling with the immensity, the awesomeness of our God and Savior and with a sense that my perception of Him is often far, far too small. I left that meeting asking God to help me to keep in perspective the awe I was sensing for Him at that moment, to change me from the inside out and help me to remember, really remember how great, how awesome our God truly is during the 24/7 moments of life.

And when put to the test last night, I failed. Not miserably, but I did fail. A husband out of town on Army business, an accident in the yard and a small bloody forehead, and my awesome thoughts came crashing down and I gave in to the flesh, and I really wish I could say the, “Oh, God,” that I was crying out as I ran for my daughter was me crying from the depths of my soul to our great God and trusting His control in the situation of the moment. And maybe part of it was, but to be genuinely honest in my heart of hearts I know that I was really in full panic mode. A long evening in the emergency room and the reassurance that it was not nearly as deep a cut as I had feared and some application of dermaplast, avoiding the need for stitches, and I thank God for His mercy, thank Him for the peace He gave deep in my heart as I sat with Boo waiting and waiting for the doctor to come and fix her up, and for the calm Boo displayed as we waited and waited, and beg God to forgive me for the guilt I heaped upon an already extremely remorseful big brother whose childish judgment, coupled with my neglectful inattention for a moment led to the accident. How I regret the way I pushed my son aside in my panic yesterday and didn’t reassure him as he needed and how I said things that heaped guilt rather than helped the situation. He knew what he’d done was wrong and had resulted in his precious little sister being hurt, something he would never have done intentionally, not for the world. He needed grace, and got it eventually when we got the situation under control and my adrenaline stopped pumping, and later when I begged his forgiveness for making him feel so much worse than he already did. Boo will have a small scar but it will heal, and I very much hope her brother won’t have too much of a scar from the words I said and, somehow more importantly, didn’t say that he desperately needed at that moment.

Three children, nine years of being parents to boys, and never a trip to the ER. It took our third, our girl, to initiate us to the emergency room. Not the boys, go figure. I told you she keeps me on my toes. I was caught flat-footed yesterday and not paying close enough attention.

Aren’t you glad we serve a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy – a God who does not shove us aside and heap up our guilt – so very different from us? Aren’t you awed by the fact that He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor punished us according to our iniquities? Are you ever just undone at the thought of His patience with us, that He remembers that we are dust? Aren’t you overwhelmed by His grace, that the punishment our sin deserves was paid in full by Jesus’ blood shed on the cross? Isn’t it incredible to think that in Christ, our sins have been taken away as far as the east is from the west? Aren’t you just so profoundly grateful that He accepts our praise because our filthy rags have been taken away and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Because I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ, when I was standing there Sunday morning, He did hear my praise. And because I belong to Christ, He did strengthen me yesterday, even when I felt panic rising. Amazing, amazing grace. Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus!

I have been shown such mercy, such grace! Fill me, Holy Spirit, teach me to live a life worthy of the calling You have placed on my life. Help me to walk in the spirit, not the flesh. In the heat of the moment, let me remember how great You are and help me to trust You, even and especially at the point of temptation, even and especially when my natural tendency is to dive into panic mode. Let the direction of my life be ever toward Your glory. Help me, Savior, I pray to open my mouth and share the wonderful gospel You have so lavishly given to those who would believe. I am silent too often. Help me to live in such a way that I can sing Your praise in the assembly of the saved with a clear conscience and a very, very grateful heart.

My son was just reading over my shoulder as I typed this and asked me what a hypocrite is. I told him it is someone who says one thing and acts another way. I told him sometimes, though I believe and say that I love God, I think I don’t always live like I love God. You know what he said? He said, “You are showing it when you regret it, Mom.” I think that is very insightful for a nine-year-old. The Pharisees we have been reading about in Matthew 23 were blind to their hypocrisy. By God's grace, I am very aware of mine, and I want to change. Therein lies the difference, I think. Repentance and trusting Christ to continue to prune away those things that are not consistent with our confession. This, too, is a gift of His amazing grace.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Denim Blues Lament

Though this little gripe is really quite trivial
My words on this subject may not be convivial
My comment to those who design our blue jeans:
I know fashions change, but I’m just not that lean
I see people seem to like the stretch denim fad
But they are plain uncomfortable, more than a tad!
Provide the stretch jean if you must,
But would it make your business go bust
To also make jeans of old fashioned denim?
There used to be some that I could fit in ‘em
I’ve grown quite fond of my faded blue jeans
However, they’ve worn rather thin at the knees
Now that they have started to tear
I’ve been shopping for comfortable jeans to wear
But every place I have searched far to near
The only kind to be found are too tight in the rear!
These hips will never be as small as they were
Those days are long gone, only seen as a blur
Perhaps I just cannot keep up with the trends
But please bring back jeans made from soft cotton blends!
And another thing while I am griping away
What’s with the low waistlines these days, anyway?
Not all of us wish everyone to see our panties or navel
Please bring back comfortable waists, if you’re able
Modesty is harder and harder to find
Designers, you’re being most unkind
To those of us who don’t like our pants quite so tight,
This stretch denim phase is truly a fright,
And also to we who aren’t built like Barbie dolls
That would be most of us walking the store’s halls!
Sometimes I question our collective fashion sanity
Uncomfortable clothes all in the name of vanity.
And now I really must end this rhyme
I think I’ve wasted quite enough time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

May I Be Found Faithful

Acts 12:2
“Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”

That seems like a strange verse to spark a devotional thought, but stay with me. I have been reading the book of Acts, and I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now. This terse little verse is easy to just sort of read over in the larger context of that chapter, but I got a lump in my throat and starting thinking. My sentimental side says that it seems kind of strange to just state that big thing and then move on along with the narrative. Part of me wonders about the details that are left out. How did John feel about losing his brother? What about Peter, what were his thoughts about losing a close friend and ministry partner? Peter, James and John were the three disciples who Jesus chose to see His transfiguration on the Mount. You hear their names together often. They must have been very close friends, with a deep bond forged through their relationship with Jesus and the shared bond of apostleship. John and Peter must have grieved when James was martyred. Surely they felt his loss deeply. But we are not told anything about that.

I was thinking about that and why we aren’t told about their personal grief and feelings and thoughts over this event and why it is kind of mentioned in passing almost, just a background detail to explain what followed, and I think it must be because their private emotions and thoughts are just not the important point of the book of Acts. The birth and growth of the Church and the spread of the gospel and the transition from Old to New Covenant is the point, not the personal, and I have to believe real, grief, pain, and suffering, and, yes, joys as well, of the individuals along the way. I think those men had such an unshakeable faith in the message they were commissioned to share that their own personal griefs were subjugated to their calling to obey the Master who had saved them. They knew Jesus. They knew Him as Messiah and King and Savior. They knew they had a call to share the message of hope in obedience to and love for their Lord and Savior. They knew that James was absent from his body, but present with his Lord. We who belong to Christ do not grieve as those who have no hope. They completely trusted Christ, Savior and King, and the gospel must still be proclaimed. And they continued on, faithfully, to the very end of their lives.

The application I take away from this is that we are bought with a price. When we trust Christ, we renounce our ‘right’ to allow our personal emotions, griefs, or sufferings to paralyze us. I’m not just talking about the big things, but sometimes we get paralyzed by far less significant disappointments. We do not have the luxury of wallowing in our own self-pity. Whether it is a physical death or the death of a cherished ideal of what we wish our life would look like, we do not have the luxury to let our grief over the loss define us, consume us, and steal our joy in Christ. We do indeed grieve, and sometimes grieve hard, however. This is a valid part of life. I am most definitely not saying that I believe it is in any way wrong to grieve a loss of any kind. Grief has its place. Each time I miscarried, I grieved, and I grieved hard. But I didn’t stay there, paralyzed. I also will never forget that pain. Those experiences are part of who I am, and the things the Lord taught me through the pain are precious and can be useful as I seek to allow God to work in and through me and trust Him with it. I have hurts from my past that I could dwell on and allow to make me bitter or resentful. We all have things in our past that could cause us to be bitter or resentful or angry or hurt or, you name it. All of us have stuff. No one gets a free pass to go through life unscathed. How will you respond to trials and suffering? Will you wallow on and on? Will you let that pain define you? Or will you grieve, but as one who has hope? Will you trust Christ to be your all in all, your strong defender, casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you? Do you really believe, deep down where only you and God know your thoughts, that He is good and that His grace is sufficient, even if….? Do you really believe His way is best and that He knows and will do what is best for you, as His child? Is it easy to choose that road, to choose not to wallow? Not at all. But is it necessary? I believe so. I’m saying this to me. I’m far too prone to let much less significant disappointments cause me to gripe and grumble. I don’t like to think about this kind of thing.

I think, especially here in the West, we are afraid to think about suffering. We are afraid to be around others who are suffering and hurting. We are afraid to think that all our wants may not be His will for us. The fact is, however, we will all face suffering of some sort. Some seem to be called to more than others, but we all have it to some degree. It is wise to think through these things and know Whom we have believed, and be persuaded that He is able to keep that which we've committed unto Him and to complete that which He has started in us.

It comes down to this, true believer in Christ, over all, our calling to serve and love and enjoy Christ is supreme. If it is His will that something I thought I wanted is not to be mine, I must seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. He is Lord. And He is causing all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Am I truly able to say from deep down in the heart of me, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple”? (Psalm 27:4) Am I able to truly say with surrendered heart, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to His cross I cling”? Am I able to say with Paul that “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”? (Philippians 3:8-11)

May I be found faithful. Lord, please grant me the faith to persevere to the end. Grant me eyes to see Your glory. Let my cup run over with love for my Savior. Let me choose this day that I will serve the Lord. You alone, Lord, have the words of life, where else could I go? May I take those personal griefs to You, Lord, for Your grace is sufficient for me. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Monday, March 10, 2008

School Dreams

It must be time for midterms and Spring Break. I know this, not because I am still in college (many, many thanks for that!) but because I had one of those school dreams again last night. This was one of the worst ones I have ever had. It involved people I knew in high school, a college dorm room, missing the school bus, forgetting my lunch money, all the immature angst over not fitting in with the homecoming crowd which I really thought I'd been over for years now, not being able to find my dorm room, a science project that was due in a short time that I had not even started yet, and lots of terrifying, disjointed scenes and emotions worthy of the worst CSI episode. And the worst part was that I actually woke up a few times during the night and then slipped right back into the dream when I fell asleep again. I wish my conscious imagination were as creative as my subconscious. I'm exhausted.

I told my husband about my nightmare and the subsequent restless night and then said, "Am I ever going to get over school?" To which he replied, "It doesn't look like it." Bless that man, but exhortation may not be his primary gift - at least not early in the morning when we forgot to set the alarm last night and overslept today. Had it not been for the time change, the time we awoke naturally wouldn't have been oversleeping, stupid time change. Day light savings time - I'm not a fan.

I know part of my problem is the science fair project our oldest son is working on. I think it is crazy that I feel so stressed about it, because it is his project, not mine, but he does need some help. This is his first ever science fair project. We have pretty much decided Daddy is going to be helping him, because Mommy cannot seem to contemplate the thought of a science fair project without hyperventilating.

I love my husband. I really, really do.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Monk in the Kitchen

This happens to be Army drill weekend for my husband, so I decided to try to do something fun for dinner with the boys tonight. I say the boys because Boo kind of just goes along for the ride, so to speak, since she isn’t big enough yet to really care about these things. Anyway. We were given a cookbook for children last Christmas, and so far we have loved every recipe we’ve tried. Tonight we made crispy chicken bites, and I had intended to have the boys help me make them. For one thing, it’s good that they get some idea while growing up just what goes into cooking a simple meal – this is a good thing to know. Also, this cookbook was their Christmas present and the recipes are easy enough that they can help and even do most of the work once they are a little bit older.

I told the boys they could help cook the dinner. I thought that would be exciting for them. I was wrong. Tic Tac could have cared less, so I didn’t pester him – this was supposed to be fun after all. Monk was interested, so while I was cutting the chicken into nuggets, he looked over my shoulder and repeatedly expressed how grossed out he was by the raw chicken. I actually agree with him there – raw chicken is pretty gross. After he washed his hands, I let him help me roll the chicken in the bread crumbs. He did, for about 5 nuggets, talking all the while about how gross the chicken felt.

Then he decided he was done. Time to wash hands. Oh my. He washed them in the kitchen sink and then kept sticking them under my nose and saying, “Mom, do they smell like they’re clean? I’m not sure I got them clean enough. Raw chicken has salmonella, right?” I finally said, “If you washed them with soap, they’re clean, stop putting them under my nose, I don’t want to smell them.” He kind of hovered for a minute asking about salmonella and such. I think he’s the kind of kid you really have to watch what you say when he’s around. He remembers everything. Well, he remembers everything you wouldn’t want him to. Other stuff along the lines of, “J, please put the clothes in the laundry basket away,” or “J, stop kicking your brother,” or “J, don’t forget to practice the piano,” kind of go in one ear and out the other. Sigh. Anyway, apparently he’s heard about raw chicken and salmonella somewhere. And this he remembers. As I finished coating the chicken in bread crumbs, I heard the water in the bathroom running. And running. And running. A little while later he came out with a grin and said, “They must be clean now. I burned them the water was so hot.” I just smiled at him, thinking, “This is why his nickname is Monk.”

Then I finished up the chicken and washed my hands three times to get all the chicken yuck off them. He comes by it honestly. But, the boys both said this chicken recipe is a keeper. They loved it. Boo did, too.

Fun times.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Book I Don't Think I'll Read

I have a confession to make. I am not comfortable with a lot of the Christian fiction I have read. This post is purely my opinion. I’m not looking to pick a fight with anyone, or even say everyone has to agree with me on this. I’m just writing my own opinion and conviction much as I would in my own journal, which is really what this space is – my journal, albeit a somewhat public one in which others are invited to look over my shoulder if they wish, as it were. This is one of those topics I’ve tried to write about before, but haven’t posted because I have so many various directions I end up going with this topic. I actually had a three part post written on the subject of my negative impressions of a couple of Christian novels I had finished reading a few weeks ago, but I haven’t yet put it on the blog. May not ever do so. I just deleted a long, rambling rabbit trail I ended up following as I attempted to write this post earlier today in which I tried to tackle my whole thought process on why I’m not comfortable with much of the Christian fiction I’ve read (please notice I did not say all), because I think I’d better just try to stick to this one topic today, and not attempt to delve more deeply in this post. Otherwise it would be so long even I wouldn’t want to read it.

Here it is. I read an excerpt in World magazine from Anne Rice’s new book, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. Actually, I read part of the excerpt. It made me so incredibly uncomfortable I quit before I’d finished even the part they had there in the magazine. Full disclosure, I did not read her first book in the series, and I won’t be reading this one, either, so this is not a review. I’m aware that I’m making a judgment based on part of an excerpt, not the whole book. But, for me, that was enough to know it isn’t something I feel good about reading more in depth. Here are my thoughts and where I’m coming from.

I’ve read some of the interviews with Anne Rice and why she chose to write these books and why she chose to write them the way she did. I am aware that she says she did all kinds of research and that she intends to keep them in the bounds of the record of scripture. But I am still very uncomfortable with these books, in much the same way I am uncomfortable with movies made about the life of Jesus and other biblical events that add in narrative elements that are not specifically in scripture. I am very uncomfortable with the way these books are written in the first person from the perspective of Jesus. In the excerpt I read, it was obvious to me that Anne Rice is a very talented writer, and she uses a literary device that is quite effective in making the point she wishes to make in the segment I read. I know the point she wanted to make because of what she said in the interview with World magazine about that segment. However, what bothers me is that this is a fictional account of an actual event, and this actual event involves our Lord, Jesus Christ. The dialogue adds in information we are not given in the scripture, and, while it may flesh out the story and make for a very colorful, very well-written novel (key word!), it is added story that we are not given in scripture. I believe God gave us His word, and He gave us the information He wanted us to have. I believe it is very dangerous to add in our own speculation about events in Jesus’ life that we are not told. And I believe it is dangerous to speculate about His thoughts and feelings based on those added and speculated events. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Rather than trying to make Him fit our mold of what we think we’d like Him to be like in order to make Him more accessible, so to speak, by speculating too much about the ‘story’ of Jesus, I think we really ought to be focusing on what it is God did say to us in the word we have been given. We need to seek to know Christ as He is revealed in God’s word and be very careful not to put our own spin on what we think we’d like Him to be. He is who He is, and we need to be about the business of knowing and loving Him as He truly is and as the Lord of all creation, not about trying to see Him through the lens of our own thoughts and experiences and speculations of how we think He should be.

There is so much confusion in the evangelical world today, and most of it comes from being quite biblically illiterate. What bothers me is not so much that Anne Rice has decided to write these books, but that so many will read them but ignore the scriptural accounts. It’s fun to read a well crafted novel. The problem I have is that I may never read the account of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness again without at least remembering the fictional/literary elements Rice added in to the story. For example, she has Satan trying to rattle Jesus by telling Him that Joseph has died while He has been out here in the wilderness and that Mary had to bury him. That is just not in the Bible. All we know about Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness is what is given in the scripture. The added, speculated conversation is Rice's own interpretation and spin it. There were other things added in, too, that were extra-biblical. That’s why I quit reading it. I don’t want someone else’s speculations and manipulations coloring what the Word actually says. That’s the danger. See, with added literary elements, we’ve got Rice’s speculations filling our minds rather than just what the Word itself says. In trying to make Christ ‘accessible’ she adds too much that isn’t there. Why is it that we are not satisfied with the word God gave us? Why do we so desperately need to be entertained by Christianity? Why would we rather read a fictional book or watch a movie about Jesus than to take the time to carefully read His book that He gave so that we could really know Him? Why do we think we need to make Jesus more ‘like us’ in a fictional story? The disciples were very aware how unlike us He truly is when they were in awe of Him as He spoke to the wind and the waves and they were immediately silenced.

Rather than feeling close to the fictional Jesus that is presented in these novels, I want to know the real Jesus. I do not want to replace the Word with someone’s novel about Jesus, no matter how well written, or even possibly well-intentioned it may be. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Making Jesus more ‘accessible’ by writing a fictionalized account is not the way to grow closer to Him and to know Him more. That will only make us know the author’s speculations about Him. The way to really know Him is to be born again, believing on Him in faith, and to get into His word and spend time with Him in prayer. Let me know Christ as He has revealed Himself in His word. God gave us what we need to know for life and godliness in His word, and we need to be careful not to speculate beyond that word.

Measurements Tic Tac Style

My six-year-old son was reading a book about venomous snakes while we were driving to school this morning. Yuck, I say, but find a topic that interests him and he’ll read, and that’s a good thing. Anyway, he was reading about the black mambo and how it is very long – like 14 feet I think he said. Then he said, “That’s not that long. I’m 51 feet tall.”

I started laughing out loud at that one. I couldn’t help it. I just got this mental image of a huge kid stomping over the school building. “Inches, honey, inches. You’re 51 inches tall. Daddy’s slightly under six feet. I think you’d be about as tall as a five story building if you were 51 feet!”

By then we all were laughing, and Tic Tac was so funny contemplating what it would be like to stand on the ground and look in the window of a five-story building. Hmmmm....he is the basketball player of the maybe he's subconsciously wanting to be tall?

Then, a few minutes later he was reading about another snake that was “four miles long!” I started laughing again. “Meters! A four mile long snake could wrap itself around the block in our neighborhood about 6 ½ to 8 times! Can you image how awful it would be to really find a snake that long?” Just the thought of that is enough to give me chills. UGH.

Poor Tic Tac. I think we need to work on what those abbreviations mean. But the laugh was fun on the way to school this morning.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Where I Am Right Now - Aiming For Healthier Eating

I have mentioned that I’d like to lose a little weight. There really is no easy, quick way to do this (healthily). The key is to make wise food choices and exercise. The food thing takes discipline, pure and simple, and the exercise thing is just a matter of getting out there and doing it. We used to have a membership at the local YMCA, but I put it on hold when I was pregnant with Boo due to the fact that my sciatic nerve hurt so much I could barely walk some days, so I just wasn’t going, and once Boo was born she seemed to get sick every time we went, so I finally just dropped it. Since then, I’ve tried to be consistent about walking with Boo, but that’s iffy depending on the weather and Boo’s tolerance of her stroller. It’s sort of hard to walk around the block with her screaming because she’s tired of sitting for one more lap.

Well, that was then, this is now. Monk is going to be starting swim team at the Y in April, so we’ll be joining again. He will have practice 4 afternoons a week. Back up the train…..did I just say four (!!) afternoons? Goodness. That’s a lot. Anyway, we figure I’ll be able to take Boo and Tic Tac to Drew as he’s getting off work and go with Monk to the Y and I can exercise while he practices. I’ll just have to get creative about preparing dinners – perhaps utilizing the crock pot more or putting together the dinner during the day and popping it in the oven once we get home, because we are big believers in having dinner together as a family when at all possible.

Anyway, that will help greatly with the exercise thing. Here are a few things I’ve found that seem to help me with being smarter about what goes in my mouth:

- First of all, grocery prices going through the roof as they are, this idea actually helps with the budget, too. Around pay day each two weeks I have started writing out a menu that will cover two weeks. I write up a grocery list that will cover that menu and then I shop from that list and try very hard to stick to the list. This way, I only do one major grocery trip each pay period, with occasional smaller trips for diapers or milk or minor things. It means one big grocery bill up front, but I’m ending up saving more in the long run. It also means we (theoretically anyway) eat out less since I’ve already got meals planned. The not eating out requires discipline, I’ll be honest. But, the less we eat out, the healthier we actually eat. And, it’s cheaper to cook at home.

- I try not to have junk food in the house. This is kind of a simple one, really. If the cookies are here, I’ll eat them. If they aren’t, I won’t. In the interest of honesty, however, this is a hard one for me. I do have snacks for the kids, but I try to give them healthier choices, too, because I want to teach them healthier eating habits, too.

- I bought a fun, bright pink, 32 oz sport bottle that I keep filled with ice water. I try to guzzle four of those bottles a day. I am finding that drinking that much water does help me to feel fuller and to snack less throughout the day. Plus, for a goal-oriented person like me, it is a nice incentive to drink less soda (even though I stick to diet, water is better) and finish my four bottles of water before drinking much else. It also helps cut down on the sweet tea consumption, though I have pretty much switched to Splenda for that little indulgence.

- Low fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, and that only for a treat once in a while, not every day. I am a huge ice cream fan, so to completely cut it out would be hard, and usually ends up in bingeing later. It’s better to let yourself have a small, sensible treat once in a while than to try to completely cut it out, I’ve found.

- Finally, while memorizing Psalm 103 this past month, verse 5 kind of stuck out for me in an interesting way. Here it is:

Psalm 103:5
“Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

The context of this verse is in the list of benefits that follow verse 2 which says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:” I think the actual intent of the verse is remembering that the Lord provides our sustenance, but as I was thinking about that verse and about my quest to make healthier food choices, I began praying that God would help me to be satisfied with the good food and to avoid the empty calories of the junk, and that I know I will be stronger and feel better as I eat healthier. Keeping the context in mind, I don’t think it is an abuse of that scripture to think about it in that way and to pray in that way. It has been helpful to me when tempted to pop something in my mouth – especially when I’m not really hungry but just wanting the taste of whatever it is.

Anyway, I do hope I’ll be able to keep that scale needle trending down in a healthy way, not to be too hung up on the number it finally settles on but to be generally healthier overall. And maybe I’ll stay with it better now that I’m writing out here on the blog.

It's Quiet Around Here At the Moment

This afternoon Drew and his dad and brother took Monk and Tic Tac to see a Civil War re-enactment. I hope they have had a good time driving there and with all the fun of the event. When Drew, being the huge history lover that he is, got the information about this event and when we heard his brother would be in town he asked if I thought it would be a fun thing to do. In my opinion, it is great for a day with the men of the family. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with Boo at such a thing. I can’t imagine wanting to go to such a thing, either, but that's just me. However, I do think the boys are probably loving it. Wonder if the South will win this time? Hee. hee.