Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Role of Cultural Context

Why cultural context is essential to understanding instructions given in that context:

Take as an example the US Constitution. The men who debated about, wrote, and signed that document, and the people who finally ratified it, had certain beliefs and experiences which the wording of the document specially suited. Nearly every resident in the new country had witnessed the oppression under King George and the resulting revolution. Not only that: they had been immersed in philosophical and rational defenses of that revolution through the press and official statements such as the Declaration of Independence. There is a Creator, they affirmed, who originally endowed all men with rights. Rights are something the citizens of the new thirteen confederated states understood. Although rights were enumerated in the Bill of Rights after the ratification of the Constitution, they were recognized and fought for during the war. One rally-cry was the right to representation if one was taxed. The Declaration of Independence is a magnificent record of the beliefs at the heart of the revolution and at the establishment of a strong central government several years later.

These men believed rights to be inalienable, unbreachable by any law man could make or any violence man could inflict. The national anthem, in its fourth verse, asserts, “When our cause it is just…” The founders believed in justice. And it was not their belief that established its existence. Justice existed, and they recognized that. They built a life, a country, and a political system on that reality.

When we look at the system we inherit from the illustrious men who wrote the Constitution, we are often at a disadvantage. In our philosophical ignorance, the system does not fit. The constitution does not cover questions that have arisen in the modern culture. Why?

I submit that the Constitution could not plan for a people so given to individual indulgence and so scornful of the absolute laws that govern men and nature. It was prepared as the governing document of that system. Many statesmen recognized that if the philosophical status quo changed in our country, our government would fail.

Indeed, though the Constitution has been adapted over the years, or in some cases ignored or willfully misinterpreted, it has been unsuccessful in conforming to the new framework of thought in our country. I am skeptical whether any system can hold stability in a nation where absolutes and justice are denied. It is just such a spirit of complete democracy that causes the insurgencies in democratic countries in Europe, Africa, and South America. Nevertheless, it is impossible to comprehend the original intent of the framers while denying their fundamental beliefs.

I could go into the ways the original Constitution is misinterpreted and misapplied, but that is outside the scope of this paper.

Why maintaining or restoring the original culture is essential to the effectiveness of an instruction:

My real intention is to say that just as the culture of the late eighteenth century was essential not only to the interpretation, but also to the success of the government instituted for that time, so many parts of the culture of the first century after Christ are essential for the comprehension and effectiveness of the instructions given in the New Testament. I say ‘many parts’ because it is possible that some cultural pieces do not affect the matrix of the whole. Perhaps we would do better to study which of those pieces are essential to the success of the biblical system than to strive for a melted and conformed set of man-manipulated instructions to apply to our modern state of rebellion.

Instead of saying that women were not allowed to speak in church “back then” because of the cultural stigma against women drawing public attention to themselves, and therefore trying to shove meanings into the words of Paul which he did not intend or foresee, we should see whether that piece of their culture contributed to the harmony of the early Christian families and Church. Rather than assuming that our wisdom is more enlightened than the wisdom that God imparted to the apostles and early church, we should study that wisdom and put into practice as much of it as possible.

This is not to deny the eternal relevance of the Bible. It is much more. I intend to picture the live and powerful nature of the Bible, its effectiveness to transform lives and cultures.

Man’s attempts at reforming culture are falling utterly short. In many cases, Christians have surrendered, and have embraced the fallen culture in which they live. It is time to forsake the wisdom of men and return to the wisdom of God, whatever the cost. It is time to ignore the scorn of the world and be different. It is time to take God at His word and see what He will accomplish.

To God be all glory.

Story Time

At a conference I attended this weekend, a speaker made the point that the Bible is history. He doesn't call it a story. He calls them histories. Whenever I hear people arguing about things like that, I get the impression they're stuck on semantics.

It is a valid point to remind people, especially children, that the Biblical record is not a fairy tale. The accounts are not cartoons. Some people go so far as to abstain from vegetable or puppet depictions of Biblical passages. I don't care if you want to go to that extreme. I watched those as a kid, and I have just as realistic an image of the Bible characters as of anyone else whom I have never seen in person. But I agree it makes sense that you would want to make the distinction for impressionable minds.

Just to set the record straight, however, it is perfectly legitimate to call the narratives in the Bible "stories." The online Etymology dictionary entry for story is:

story (1)
"account of some happening," c.1225, "narrative of important events or celebrated persons of the past," from O.Fr. estorie, from L.L. storia and L. historia "history, account, tale, story" (see history). Meaning "recital of true events" first recorded c.1375; sense of "narrative of fictitious events meant to entertain" is from c.1500. Not differentiated from history till 1500s. As a euphemism for "a lie" it dates from 1697. Meaning "newspaper article" is from 1892. Story-teller is from 1709. Story-line first attested 1941. That's another story "that requires different treatment" is attested from 1818. Story of my life "sad truth" first recorded 1938.

In my word- and truth- loving mind, those who change the meaning of a word are accountable for their clarity, not those who retain the original intent.

1Ti 6:4
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

2Ti 2:14
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

Etymology is the study of the origins and descents of words. It is a fascinating study. JRR Tolkien developed a lot of Middle Earth by musing about the origin and relationships of words. The study aids in spelling, identification of languages, and choosing the best word in a composition. Any etymologist will tell you that the study of language is inseparable from the study of literature. I exhort you to both.

And don't argue about words. Defend truth. Simply state that Jonah and the whale actually happened, that every Word of God is true and trustworthy. Say that. Live that. Kids will catch on.

To God be all glory.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Barnes & Noble

It seems everyone likes to go out to Barnes and Noble to sit and chat. I hear part of the bargain (arrangement, covenant, deal) is to buy and sip overpriced coffee. Do they have hot chocolate?

Recently I've been wondering about free indoor places to get together with friends. This is mainly because we have cats at my house and I have managed to befriend every allergic girl in the state. So if I want to get together with them, I either beg my way into an invitation to their house (which they have been very gracious to extend), beg them to suffer the sneezes and asthma-like symptoms by coming to my house, or arrange to meet them elsewhere. The elsewhere is usually a movie (of which there are precious few) or a restaurant (which will cost you an arm and a leg and which is necessarily regulated by normal meal hours).

My favorite get out and sit place is the library. I haven't done it in a long time (thanks to a delightfully busy summer). There is even a whole area of tables and a smoothie shop at my library. Old rules are hard to get over, however, and I cannot reconcile conversing in the library.

An all time favorite activity is thrift store shopping. I can do it for hours. Whether the fact is that I haven't found anyone else with my enduring passion for the pastime or I simply like time to think to myself, I like shopping alone. I go down aisles twice. My cart gets loaded and unloaded. Weird and interesting objects get closely examined without me worrying what people will think of me for looking at that. (I'm worried enough as it is that people might discover my fingerprints on things. As if people fingerprint thrift store inventory!)

The final favorite thing to do, one most conducive to talking, is driving. Like the sailors to the ocean, I am drawn to the adventure of an unexplored road. I drive through neighborhoods, challenging myself to escape from them still headed in the general direction of my destination. There is a road by our house that extends out into the country for miles. I've only ever gone as far as the pavement. But where does it lead when it is just a dirt road? I want to know. When I am really distressed and thrift stores are either closed or unsatisfactory, I get the inclination to hop in my car and drive as far as I can without stopping.
Cars provide the perfect amount of comfort, purpose, and privacy to encourage conversation. There is something about things said in a car that seems unreal, the same feeling as using a debit card instead of counting out cash. So one is more willing to be vulnerable. I am, anyway.

However, gas is expensive and the police don't like me chatting in my car on the side of the road (long story). So I have been searching for another option. Is Barnes & Noble the way to go? Just how overpriced is their coffee? How late are they open? Do they mind me talking?

Whether or not Barnes & Noble is an ideal place for a chat, it has a certain coziness that reminds me of movies. Like a coffee shop, I get images of big cities like New York and Chicago in fall. Think You've Got Mail. Except with cooler wardrobes. There is the pungent, earthy smell of coffee. The enchanting aroma of books. Dark wood shelves and paneling and bright but focused lighting. It makes me want to write a story about a place like that.

For tonight, I will simply write about it to you.
To God be all glory.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Take the Wheel

I hardly ever listen to music on the radio. It's not that I don't like music, but that I'm too lazy to switch my station or even put in a cd. So the place I am most commonly exposed to songs is at the Thrift Store. They play country.

One song I hear a lot is "Jesus Take the Wheel," sung by Carrie Underwood. The girl in the song realizes that she is incapable controlling her life, so she offers it to Jesus. I won't argue that it is good to let God have the rights to your life, to agree to obey Him whether it aligns with your will or not.

Yesterday I was at a conference where one of the speakers challenged the crowd, "Why did God call you? What mission does he have for your life?" Coupling that with what God was teaching me about the ministry opportunity at my church, I began to ask the question, "Jesus take the wheel? What about Jesus take my hands? Jesus take my life?" Am I willing to let God not only have my dreams and the things in which I'm involved, but also to let Him have me?

Why did God call you?
To God be all glory.

Friday, August 25, 2006

No Deposit, No Return

You have probably heard the expression: no deposit, no return. It goes right along with Gal 6:7:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Today I have been contemplating the fact that you do not always get a return on your deposit. Deposits are not seeds. They are not guaranteed to produce fruit. To profit from your investments, you have to use wisdom.

This is true in economics and in life. (Not that economics are not a part of life.) For example, I am trying to start a business. I have invested all sorts of money buying supplies and paying the government for licenses and such. A lot of time has also been invested. But the first things I tried to sell didn't. I suspect that the reason is I wasn't as educated in the subject as I thought. I didn't have wisdom.

I've known people in whom I invested attention, love, maybe money and aid - and they didn't return on my investment. It didn't seem like they ended up better people. They weren't even grateful. Why is that? What is the real result of labor?

Why did I invest in that person? Was it to benefit them? If so, who am I to say it didn't work? If not, if my reason was selfish, that wasn't really investing in the other person, was it?

I'm glad at least that God promises His deposits always produce a return. He says His word "will not return unto Me void: it shall accomplish that which I please and prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

When God, therefore, gives me a task, I am not responsible to count the potential return. He asks me to make the deposit. It reminds me of the parable of the talents, how the master expected the servant to invest the money with which he was entrusted, even though the servant wouldn't personally collect.

That's the thing about the law of cause and effect. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is not justice. Sometimes the reaction hits the innocent bystander, not the instigator.

However, we can be grateful with the Psalmist in Psalm 37, who after complaining that the wicked prospered, realized: But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again...

To God be all glory.

What God Got Through To Me this Week

I have been presented with a ministry opportunity at my church. The ministry isn't kicked off yet, so there has been a lot of prayer for God's direction just with where the idea should go. For me, it was easy to pray that God's will would be done whether He wanted us to go forward or not. In fact, since I was not emotionally attached, or deeply involved in the planning, I could do that surrendering without a second thought.

What God managed to get through to me is that I have been telling Him the following:

Unless I know what your plan is, I won't be a part of it.
Unless I understand why you picked me, I will decline.
Unless I am confident that this idea will work, I won't invest.

Telling God you can't is a bad idea. He usually proves that with His help,you can. Telling Him you won't is even worse. Then you either get your way, and end up miserable, or you have to go through a course teaching you to trust Him. When He speaks, follow.

Because God is faithful to fulfill His plan. His plans are good. He will guide us with His eyes. The results are in His hands, and they are not always what we expect.

When I'm quite sure that God has been spotted working in a situation, I get excited. Now I am excited about this ministry opportunity, and about the as yet undeveloped role He would have me play.

To God be all glory.

The Way God Gets Through To Me

Today I determined that the way I read books is also the way God teaches me new lessons. For one thing, it goes in cycles. For another, well, let me describe the way I read books.

First, in a frenzy of picking up many recommendations from the library or used bookstore, or long-awaited re-reads off my shelf, I open the front cover of a book that looks intriguing, or dearly familiar, and begin to read. This is the stage of whetting the appetite. Sometimes the book is not quite as urgently good as it seemed. For others I can only put it down because I have to. And when I do that, my attention deficit disordered eyes drift to another enchanting title, and I pick that one up.

The second stage is where I am sitting in the middle of about half a dozen books, usually paused at some less exciting page, and rather dreading the actual work of wading through the necessary plot information that is not stimulating. Ok, I don’t only read fiction. For non-fiction books the boring parts are the hard to understand (or to accept) chapters. Inevitably this status initiates a sub-cycle of returning to step one for a more interesting read.

Thirdly I find that the books begin overflowing the precarious stack beside my bed, the bag I take to work, and other available spaces. In addition, a few other tantalizing books taunt me from their unread, unbookmarked states. These I cannot begin. The guilt phase has set in. I am obligated to make room for new reads.

Step four. In a rush of intense and diligent reading, I finish three books in a few days. These days I am usually excited, but not very attentive of things in the present. My mind is steeped in cultures and facts and names and what-will-happen-next’s.

Finally I am finished with several books. But now I am exhausted from reading so much. My eyes blur to look at anything, yes, even the computer screen. Still, not ready to release the high of plot climaxes and non-fiction conclusions, I meditate on the texts I just read. What do they mean? How is that relevant to my life? What if something had been done a little differently? Are they sure they got their facts straight?

This stage lasts indefinitely: until I have come to a satisfactory conclusion and solid grasp of what I read. Then, out of the abundance of my thoughts, my fingers type. I put the ideas on paper lest I lose them.

Transfer all that to how God works in my life. One issue, then another question, and another verse come to my attention, grasp it, and are only replaced by the need to continue with life – or another idea.

Stuck in the middle of many half-thought out concepts, I eventually begin to study one at a time. I focus. I talk about them with other people whom I hope can add insight to my research.

Finally some one conversation, or incident brings all these ideas together and to a conclusion at the same time. I stand in awe that God has prepared me to cope with these things by so many little details for so long. Slammed by the impact of so many thrilling revelations, I reel. Yes. My little mind swirls with single-word summaries of the final products.

As the days proceed, I eventually sort all the one-word brainstorming into coherent paragraphs of “lessons I learned.” Here is where it gets exciting.

Once all that happens, the process, unlike reading a book, doesn’t just return to Go and keep hopping along in circles again. When God teaches you, His aim is growth. And growth exhibits action. Many time these little lessons come out as challenges to step out in an area of uncharted obedience. Other times they are answers to prayers I prayed long before. They change me. They change how I live. They result in resolutions.

If you have ever made a resolution, and if you are human, you probably have experienced the next step, just like me. You fall from that inspired ideal and find yourself a failure. Look on the bright side, though. You can start again. And you didn’t fall all the way back to where you were before, did you? I mean, you didn’t learn all about eating nutritionally for your diet and then forget to eat carrots just because one morning you had chocolate pudding for breakfast.

So God accomplishes His way. It takes a while. It takes a cycle. That is the way He chooses to work in me. I don’t know why. If I in my limited wisdom were in charge, I would use the magic wand and change people right away. If there is a problem, I go crazy if it is not immediately fixable.

Yet God seems to have a different timetable. That’s not an original idea, I know. Peter wrote about it, himself quoting from a centuries-old source. Perhaps the instruction of God to Samuel should be applied to our view of time as well.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

So trust the eyes of God.

To God be all glory.

Keep Smiling

My brother likes to sign off with the little admonition: "Keep Smiling."

When I was in high school, one of the youth leaders at Awana would greet me with "Lisa, always good to see your smiling face." Only I never was smiling until after he said that.

I have a hard time remembering to smile. Even if I'm really happy, I tend to multitask, which keeps me too busy to smile.

However, the nicest, most pleasant people to be around are always smiling. Which is why I decided that I am going to learn to smile... often.

This task is not nearly as easy as it seems, though it is helped by my brother's reminders. Another thing that really helps is remembering God's grace to me. And that makes me want to skip (except I can't do that either).

As my first exercises in smiling, I have made it a point to smile when I look at books at a bookstore. Scanning titles, some of them notably strange, can be a happy thought. When I think of people looking at me, wondering why this girl is grinning, I start to laugh at myself, which only makes the smile wider and more sincere, but, I am afraid, still leaves the wondering passers-by in the dark.

Smiling, like any physical activity, can be strenuous if your muscles are out of practice. You've probably tried to obey your mother and exercise good posture, but found that it was uncomfortable. This is because those muscles that keep you erect are out of shape.

Do a little experiment. Start smiling at the smiley face: =) Keep smiling. Look at a clock. There is usually one at the bottom of your computer. No, don't droop; keep smiling. Count two minutes. Hold it. How do your cheeks feel? A little tired?

Nevertheless, I think it is a worthwhile exertion for all of us. As my friend once emailed me, you never know when someone might be falling in love with your smile. Or as that unseen aunts on every old sitcom would say, "If the wind changes, your face might stay like that."

To God be all glory.

The Reaction to Modesty

I wanted to point all you ladies, especially, to Crystal's blog over at Biblical Womanhood. She has a testimony up from a reader. It is beautiful to hear that biblical principles really work.

Whether it is quite as obvious as her story or just a subtle, easy to miss difference, I believe that acting like a lady, and dressing like a lady, causes people to treat you differently. Some people might call you intimidating. But really, you're precious. See articles at LAF (Ladies Against Feminism) on modesty to get a sense of the mysterious attraction of things that are exclusive and guarded.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Picture Experiement

This is take 2, but it went on the top of my page finally. I like this one. It's my dad and I.

Oh, and I'm laughing. My brother was worried people might think I'm crying. I'm not. I was happy.

To God be all glory.

Accepting Calvinism

Romans 8:28-34, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (KJV)

I’ve finally succumbed, and acknowledge myself a Calvinist. This though I have never read any more than a few scattered quotes from his (Calvin’s) works. Somehow the decision feels like betrayal. All of you who grew up in a family, or who were introduced to Christianity, in a strongly Calvinist environment have no idea what I mean, and are laughing right now.

For any of you who know me, you may have already determined I was a Calvinist in theology based on how I live, how I think. Let me just assure you that while I suspected that might be true, and while I was for a time in denial, I really didn’t know for sure. At least the prospect of being Calvinist for the rest of my life wasn’t definite yet. Now, I’m pretty sure, it is.

Of course I’ve never been an enemy of Calvinism, like an Arminian or anything. I never believed that God set the world in motion and let it go, or that God didn’t care what we do, or that He couldn’t help it if we made a mess of His plan. Nor would Arminians say that, I guess. Sometimes I wonder if the whole debate hasn’t just been terminology. That’s what I wonder now: now that it seems impossible to believe anything other than that God is in control of His whole world, down to the detail.

What I’m realizing since I made this remarkable accession, is that a lot of the Bible talks about things like God’s predestination, His grace, His might. Ok, yes, I knew those things. What I’m saying is that I had to shove them out of the forefront to keep from accepting the doctrine that I wasn’t sure was conventional in my family and church. They haven’t excommunicated me yet. (Don’t think they do that in Baptist churches.)

Reading Romans, for example, even the chapters before the infamous “predestined” chapter 8, was so wonderfully rich when I recognized God’s provision for His people.

For so long I’ve been arguing on both sides, definitely tending to defend (and admire) Calvinists, but also seeing how the doctrine of sovereignty could be taken too far. Certainly in history there have been those with that theology who have disregarded personal responsibility. Of course! Paul wrote about them in Romans. All through Romans, in fact, Paul was making the argument against license. He was presenting the doctrine of grace in a way that made me, this past month, fall on my face before its incredible love. His choice.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (KJV)

In Romans Paul presents our unworthiness from chapter one: and God’s grace, and His gifts, and His continued care for us, all through from one to sixteen. Finally He also reveals God’s reason: His glory, and how God’s choice in our unworthiness glorifies Him more. Since, as the creed tells us, that is our reason for being, and for being saved, it makes no sense to blaspheme the word of God by unholy conduct. Anyone who behaves like that is not really keeping the humbling grace of God in sight.

Ephesians 2:4-10, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (KJV)

Another theme of Paul’s epistles is that God didn’t just redeem our eternal soul. He quickened the spirit from the moment of salvation to fellowship with Him. He prepared good works for us since before time began. Calvinists should understand that not only did God predestine their salvation; He predestined the works of their life to bring Him glory as well. We are without excuse for not evangelizing, because God prepared that work for us. (Getting into the fully Calvinist view, He prepared the works He knew we would accomplish. But He commanded us to evangelize, which should be sufficient.) He may have predestined our witness as a way of bringing about salvation in another. That’s up to Him. And it is glorious – to Him.

John 16:13-14, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (KJV)

Ephesians 3:14-21, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (KJV)

Thankfully, God doesn’t just prepare good works for us. He explains them. We have the entire New Testament to present not only Jesus’ own example, but also principles and commands by which He wants us to live. As Jesus said in John 16, He also sent the Holy Spirit to teach us. Paul prayed that we would be strengthened by the Spirit for service. From Him and to Him and through Him is everything.
To God be all glory.

Romans 11:36, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." (KJV)

Friday, August 18, 2006


Fanny Austen-Knight (1793-1882) by Cassandra Austen
Fanny Austen-Knight (1793-1882)

Yesterday I watched The Lake House with my mom and a friend. While I may post about that 'magical' experience later, I wanted to talk about a book it mentioned.

Persuasion. The mature book by Jane Austen. In it her characters are not petty, are not silly, are not really that flirtatious. They have real ideals to test against real life, and conflicting emotions just like the rest of us. And though the characters' waiting is mostly done before the first page opens, the story is a long one, real in its patience.

I love Persuasion. When I first read it, I thought it was Jane Austen's best book. Then I began to think of her other books. Though I wouldn't say they are better than Persuasion, each is so different that I can't pick. The thing about Persuasion is that out of the best books she wrote, it has one of the worst film adaptations. I'm waiting for Andrew Davies to do a screenplay for this excellent novel, make a mini-series five hours long, and satisfy my craving to see the touching story brought to life.

If you haven't read Persuasion, and especially if you're a maiden in waiting like me, you should read it. It won't take very long, because it is both short and riveting. Some parts you will read again. I promise. The heroine had so much to teach me about life while waiting. Anne Elliot kept serving others and minding her principles, reading and conversing, and keeping her household together. She's an incredible heroine.

I, on the other hand, not having had as much practice as she, am not quite so good at those things. But it is certainly my aim. = )

A campaign for a good film adaptation of this book is on my mind, but I am not sure how to go about it. In the mean time I will settle for campaigning that you simply read the story for yourself. Oh, and tell me what you think!

To God be all glory.

Dining Tables

A few weeks ago I had an idea. It is one I still am not ready to defend to the death. But it was an interesting thought. What if you decided not to have a kitchen or dining room table in your house? We see all these commercials and hear all the experts talking about "the family table," and eating at least one meal a day together. My objection was the formality of it all. A table takes space and fuss. Couldn't that space and fuss be better applied to other uses, even ones more conducive to fellowship?

I've been looking at my family's house over the past few months, trying to imagine ways of making it more crowd-friendly. Due to several parties for graduations and such, we've developed ways of arranging our kitchen, in particular, to allow people to walk through, stand around talking, and access food. So it wasn't so crazy to imagine that as an everyday set up.

When I mentioned the idea of converting the dining area of my kitchen to extended living space when I get a house, my mom was surprised. She said she had always envisioned me with a nice dining room table with a tablecloth (tablerunner, glass cups, cloth napikins, centerpieces, slipcovers on the chairs...). Ok, so that's undeniable. At my age, and with my life the past several years, though, I'm used to changing my mind.

However, this is all just an idea to consider. I'm sure that, like many ideas, just the mulling over will teach me a number of things about the nature of home and fellowship. In fact, it has already begun. I saw this post by Homeliving Helper in light of the no-dining room home. Go read it. It has some good arguments for the formality of family dining.

She says those are customs families held in the forties and fifties. I smiled because my family had many of the same rules. We're pretty traditional, I guess. My parents both grew up with those rules, and it seemed up to them to maintain proper manners in their family. I wonder why the modern family didn't feel it was their duty to keep up tradition as well?

Whether you have a table or not, and whether you excuse yourself from said table, there are some objectives I need to remember. My home is my primary ministry. If I am not hearing my family, keeping up with their lives, and sharing mine with them, I have no way of knowing when they need help or prayer, or even what to buy as an appropriate birthday present. A home needs to be safe. The phrase in Titus 2 translated "keeper at home" means literally "guard of the dwelling." Why must it be guarded? Look around at our world. What happens to a family when their home is unguarded? So perhaps formality protects that sacred fellowship. On the other hand, as Christians, we are commanded to be hospitable. If our house isn't ready to welcome guests, we need to make it ready so that we are able to obey the command. When friends come over, their visit should be about them, and they should be comfortable. Oh - and snacks, especially chocolate, should be available to eat all through the day - even standing up.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Because of His mercy

Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

The last sentence of Romans 12:1-2, "That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God," is the driving principle in my life. The rest of the passage tells how and why. I'm inspired by the idea that God would use me to prove that He is good, and His will is good. It is cheerful. And exciting. And meaningful. Not only that, but His will is satisfying, acceptable. His will doesn't leave anything out. It is perfect.

To God be all glory.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I finally have a blog!

Yes, I have a blog. I've been reading them for years, and writing them for a select group of (usually) unresponsive friends for a while via email. The idea here is that I won't be one of those bloggers who ignores all her readers by not posting for over a week. I can't guarantee I'll always have enlightening things to share off the top of my head, but I have a store of pre-written little entries that I'll try to post when I'm too busy to compose anything.

As a post-school woman, I am learning a lot right now. So there will be a lot of questions here. That's how I think, how I write, how I pray, and how I learn. And sometimes, by God's grace, there are answers.

I finally get why these initial posts are so short and meaningless: they won't let you preview the blog with your name on it unless you post something. Sorry this is so short. You'll see more important stuff soon!

To God be all glory!