Wednesday, January 31, 2007

White Horse Inn

Today as I listened to the radio I heard an advertisement for the website, White Horse Inn. They played a clip from the download available at the link above involving a man-on-the-street question: "Can you list all the Ten Commandments?" A majority of Christians they've asked over the years, they say, have been unable to do it. One man said he may not know them, but he definitely keeps them all.

The American church has too much abandoned the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. How can Christians live like Christians, or spread the gospel, if they do not know the basics of Christianity like the meaning of Jesus' sacrificial atonement or the Ten Commandments?

Go to the link. Listen. Pass it on.

This is a subject about which I am passionate. Churches must teach the truth. As a side note, the men who did this broadcast did a comparison: J.I. Packer wrote a book called Knowing God. Rick Warren wrote 40 Days of Purpose. Do you see the transition? Do you see the problem?

To God be all glory.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great Pyramids

There are several times and places in history that are constantly replacing each other for "video I would most like to see" or "time I would most like to visit." Included are the royal palace of Persia in Susa during the reign of Xerxes as described in Esther, the parting of the Red Sea, and the building of the Great Pyramids. How did they do that?

Watching television specials on the pyramids is fascinating and riveting, but they give me the shivers. Whether this is because of the pagan spirituality constantly referenced, the tales of curses on "grave-robbers," gory images of mummies, or the complete mystery of it all - I love the shows and dread them at the same time. Everything would be much better, and I would be content to be only awed, and not afraid, if I could just see how such huge things could have been built. Of course I am not the only person curious. Experts have been testing hypotheses for decades.

One scientist, Dr. Michael Barsoum, is now suggesting that many key blocks of the Egyptian pyramids were mixed and cast, like concrete, in place. Could we be closer to solving the riddle of technologically advanced pyramid construction? See this article by Science Daily and this on the Answers in Genesis website. Oooh! I'm excited!

To God be all glory.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I was thinking today about a word. So this is the occasional etymology trivia into which my blog delves. The word is "fell" as in a fell weapon, fell swoop, or in Lord of the Rings, fell beast.

This specimen of language is interesting to me because it is so simple, and seldom used. We like to be boring and use "deadly" all the time. This "fell" comes from the same root as "felon." Originally, the word was Middle Latin, fello, meaning villain:

fell (adj.)

c.1275, from O.Fr. fel "cruel, fierce," from M.L. fello "villain" (see felon). Phrase at one fell swoop is from "Macbeth."

Here is where it gets interesting. The word "fell" in verb form is attributed to the Germanic branch of languages, with neater spellings:

fell (v.)

O.E. fællan, (Mercian) fyllan (W.Saxon) "make fall," also "demolish, kill," from P.Gmc. *fallijanan (cf. O.N. fella, Du. fellen, O.H.G. fellan), causative of *fallan (O.E. feallan, see fall (v.)), showing i-mutation.

For this word, think of a common use such as "felling trees" (what a logger - not a blogger - does).

Last but not least, the verb "fall" traces its hypothetical roots to the Proto-Indo-European, with representatives in Armenian, Lithuanian, and Old Prussian. How neat is that?

fall (v.)

O.E. feallan (class VII strong verb; past tense feoll, pp. feallen), from P.Gmc. *fallanan (cf. O.N. falla, O.H.G. fallan), from PIE base *phol- "to fall" (cf. Armenian p'ul "downfall," Lith. puola "to fall," O.Prus. aupallai "finds," lit. "falls upon").

Hope you all enjoyed your lesson, and that you will work to implement this ancient word in your everyday speech.

To God be all glory.

Friday, January 26, 2007

How Much Worse?

A recent interview of Bill Richardson, potential Democrat candidate for president, by the LA Times yielded this interesting quote (italics are Richardson; bold is the reporter):

But I think eventually the best situation is a linkage. But if the linkage is not there, you know, the phased withdrawl, it has to happen. Because right now, it can't be any worse. There's a civil war going on. The Iraqi people want us to leave. So, you cut your losses.

The can't-be-any-worse argument was also very popular in 1975 in Vietnam, and Cambodians found out that it could actually get quite a good deal worse. Is that something that worries you? What do you build into that process?

Yeah. It worries me, but how worse can it get?

Two million people killed in a genocide?

Are the stakes not obvious? Do so few people understand war? What on earth is he thinking, that this is the worst the Middle East could possibly get? Did our education system teach him no history?

Read the whole interview here if you're interested in context. We're not losing. Only politically, here, in the US, are we remotely losing this war. But the political, grassroots war is on. Some patriots are not interested in surrendering to (or negotiating with) terrorists. Hurray for the power of the press! We're the United States! Don't tell me we can't win.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


There is an apron contest going on, giving away a pretty apron. Since I thought any female readers might be interested (and in an attempt to increase female readership - hint: the blog has "Lady" in the title - not to scare any of my few readers away), and because you get to enter the contest an extra time if you link to the contest, guess what? I'm linking. You have to see the picture. It's beautiful. And if you're too late for the contest, or if you just don't win, there are more aprons for sale.

A google blog search for posts about aprons yielded this link. I enjoyed it. Aprons are neat. My grandma made old-fashioned aprons for my aunts and female cousins a few years ago, and I love mine. Watching Wives and Daughters I was so jealous of Molly's aprons that I made one of my own - then made some for my friends for Christmas 2005. I'd like to sell them, but all my ideas for sales are trends I'd like to set, so I'm not sure how to create the market. Anyway, aprons are still full of meaning, like a nice leather briefcase to a businessman, the author of the above post says.

To God be all glory.

Monday, January 22, 2007

For Whom Do I Cheer?

For kids I'd like to abolish organized sports. If a child wants to play, he should have friends over and learn the rules and get some good, fun exercise by playing a game with neighborhood companions. In high school it should be a less demanding (controlling, life-consuming) activity. The high school sports sphere is such a cutthroat quest for scholarships. At least in the cities, where the high schools have thousands of students enrolled, the students who make the team are those with resumes of involvement in sports since they were young, and over the summer at camps. An outrageous sum of money is spent on camps, equipment, uniforms, membership in leagues. The return is not profitable. I think parents should have been investing for college if college scholarships for a college education were the end-all for their children.

There are those devoted (obsessed) fans who have memorized statistics, names, plays, penalties, and trivia for their favorite sports team (or sport in general, or every sport). Cable channels dedicated to sports fuel this waste. Even in school I have met people who know more about their favorite athlete than they have Bible verses memorized, yet they've proved their brain capable.

What really bothers me about sports is when people are at practices or games, or watching games during times when they have committed to be at church. Especially children are taught by the priorities demonstrated by participating in a soccer tournament Sunday morning. The excuses are petty. No one has told me, "We go to church on Saturday (or Tuesday) because the Bible says we don't have to respect one day over another for worship and fellowship." This would be a satisfactory explanation to me. Yet kids can't attend our Bible study/memorization club on Mondays or Wednesdays, youth group on Tuesdays, or church on Sundays because they are either attending practices and games or too exhausted from practices and games.

On the other hand, sports in moderation (certain sports, which do not glorify meaningless violence) can be inspiring. There is an intoxicating thrill in being on the edge of your seat waiting for a team to win or lose, rising up with a cheer for the incredible play. Thoughtful tactics are for the peaceful moments of a game. What should they do? Why did the coach do that? Does the player understand all the rules, and the game-long scheme?

Then there is the fact that there are some very public Christians, whose character is demonstrated to be different even on the field or the court. Yesterday the Indianapolis Colts won the AFC Championship in football and they will be playing in the Super Bowl in 2 weeks. On a nationally televised game, forming a counterpoint to the worldly commercials and environment, the owner of the Colts "humbly" gave glory to God. Again, right after the owner, their coach, Tony Dungy, gave credit to God for their victory. My family speculated that their quarterback, Peyton Manning, had been praying during the last minutes of the close game. People know he's a Christian. His character is Christian. He is a team player and a good player, kind to the other team and usually calm even in the face of injustice - though with an intelligent grasp of the truth.

Though I love the city of Chicago, the other team playing in 2 weeks, and though they have a sort of Cinderella story, I will be cheering for the Colts. I want to be associated with their fans. At this big game, this big secular event, when the owner and coach mentioned God, the crowd even roared their agreement.

Sometimes, sports isn't so bad. Paul uses the imagery of the athletic tournaments to describe our spiritual life. Practices, following the rules, giving it your all, striving for the goal of the single prize:

2 Timothy 2:5,
"And if a man also strive for masteries,
yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."

1 Corinthians 9:24-27,
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
but one receiveth the prize?
So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly;
so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:
lest that by any means, when I have preached to others,
I myself should be a castaway."

To God be all glory.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Changing Church Part XIV

“You say ‘might’ a lot. And you hope, or believe.”

“Excuse me, but as we are Christians here who believe in a mighty God, I thought such words would be acceptable,” said Anne. Her defensive mood had not lessened.

“Anne, can you bring out the cake?” Will’s tone said more than his words. Anne could tell that the men understood his rebuke. She rose meekly and spent some time in the kitchen.

“Please don’t think I’m trying to give you a false impression of our feelings by keeping her quiet at times.”

Anne came out smiling, having heard this, and having regained control of her attitude. She offered a piece of thickly frosted chocolate cake to each of her guests. Then she sat down to quiet herself over an oversized piece of her own.

“Your deacon was concerned that this was a one-man decision. I am concerned that the only person you consulted was your wife.”

“I consulted my Bible. Anne is a sounding board. And a different perspective.”

“And she advises and influences you. That is clear, and we have no objection, I think, to that. I just would be more at ease if you had sought guidance from a mentor or superior before you acted.”

Deflecting this comment, Will asked, “As it sits, I would like to ask you all what your opinion is of this change our church has made.”

The five men, dressed in stuffy suits and ties, looked at each other. Who wanted to speak for the group? The man who had been on the investigational team eight months ago leaned back in his chair with a satisfied sigh. After a pause in which the only sound was chewing, the youngest spoke. “For myself, I am curious. I see no violation of conference or church policy, and it would be interesting to see what benefits these adjustments bring. I think you are very brave, and maybe over-bold, but you have a faith I respect.”

“We’ve talked to several of your deacons, and many of them feel the same way. They were caught off guard, and they are a little hurt that they were left to the surprise. But they’re excited. By now they have asked their questions and given the matter some thought. There are skeptics, but they are weakening. Even amongst ourselves, the outrage we first felt at such a massive overhaul of a church in the course of a single Sunday morning is fading into misty memory,” agreed their leader.

“Are you concerned about Anne’s involvement? I love her and respect her so much that it is hard for me to keep her from… I can’t think how to say it.”

“That is a question to ask your congregation. I expect your wife doesn’t speak in church?”

“No,” they answered together.

“I suppose I am uncomfortably turning this meeting over in my mind to see whether it is appropriate for her to be answering you, or whether I should have handled the interview alone.”

“She was not teaching, but giving a testimony of God’s work in you. This is not the congregation; it is a small group gathered for that purpose, to hear your side of the story. She is apparently a large part of it.”

“As long as you all want to discuss me, maybe I’d better leave. I should get some rest,” Anne offered.

“Are you feeling ok?” Will asked eagerly.

“Fine,” she grinned.

“We just found out she’s expecting.”

“Is that timing or what?” joked Anne.

“Congratulations,” the leader told them. “Do any of you have any other questions?” he asked his companions. “Ok, then I think we have what we need. We’ll leave you to your rest.”

Standing together at the door to watch them go, Will wrapped his arm around Anne’s small waist. “I think we made it,” he whispered.

“So far,” she said.

To God be all glory.

See the index for first and additional chapters.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Woman in the Window

"Because the neighborhood was so dark and lonely, I always felt a warm reassurance upon seeing the woman in the window, sewing. I cannot explain all the thoughts I had but here are some: somehow, I thought that she was very brave. She was not ashamed of her homemaking and was not self-conscious about being seen in the window, sewing. It brought back memories of my mother singing while she swept the front porch. The other feeling was that it somehow made the world better. It showed that no matter what the current news media hype or world threat was, the woman in the window as still going about her daily work and taking her duties seriously. And still another feeling it gave me is one of wanting to go home and be very creative and industrious. The sight of her in that window was like a light in the darkness."

Mrs. Lydia Sherman posted a lovely article (literally: lots of nice paintings) about the effect one stranger had on her. If you want more than the part I quoted, you can read the article here.

I was impressed by the impact one silent, diligent, feminine woman could have. Little actions speak volumes. So do the clothes you wear, for that matter. Natalie Nyquist wrote an article linked on Ladies Against Feminism about the statement her long flowing skirts made to her fiance. Next time you do anything, consider what impression it will give to people. Will you inspire others and build them up?

If you're short on examples in your neighborhood, you can find paintings of inspiring activities to put up in your house. One hanging over my lamp is of a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on the east coast. The fact that the children are learning, and that there is peace in a room so full of kids overseen by one busy woman is positively inspiring to me.

I also collect old photographs, and scrapbook them with a message. One quotes Proverbs: "The memory of the just is blessed." There are pictures of farmwives, or one of my favorites is of a pair of girls doing dishes, smiling widely. Some of these are hanging on my wall. Thinking about their lives, and the attitudes they expressed for the camera encourage me to keep on, and to continue with a sense of adventure, delight, and elegance. See a few of these pictures here.

To God be all glory.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Christmas Hath Made an End Part Two

As promised, I am alerting you to the arrival of Part 2 in Lanier's story on her after-Christmas feast. Once more, excellent writing, quoting poetry, and speaking of customs either to ancient or too distant to be common knowledge lends her story an air of intrigue. Read it.

My first post is here.

To God be all glory.


No, this is not some spiritual post on how we ought never complain. Wish it were. What is the point, though, of something bad happening to you if you can't blog about it?

When I bought my car two years ago I was determined to take good care of it. Oil changes were the extent of the regular maintenance this very girly girl understood. If something went wrong, though, I was determined to suffer any imagined price exploitation by mechanics and get it fixed right away. So when over a year ago my car would not start after a Bible study at my church, I took it straight to a recommended mechanic. After driving it, inspecting it, and whatever else they do, he said he couldn't tell what was wrong; come back when it was broken. Wrong! It wouldn't start. How much more wrong can a car go, I wondered. Dad taught me how to press on the gas and tell my engine to start anyway. Disappointed by my first mechanic experience, I started my car hard for a year. Occasionally the thought would cross my mind that this might not be good for the car, but what can you do when no one knows what's wrong?

This week I finally decided to take my car in again. Granted, the engine runs noticeably rougher than the time I brought it to the mechanic before. Those of you who love cars are probably cringing at these confessions. Maybe I'm in a generous mood this week; I don't know. I'm just tired of worrying about what is wrong with my car.

This morning the automotive repair shop calls and the man asks if I'm sitting down. Great sign, right? Luckily, I was. His estimate made me a bit sick.

$941... (some odd cents; when you start like that, who's listening to the end?)

Is that just me, or could you buy a lot of candy bars for what it costs to replace my radiator and temperature sensors and a list of other little things that I recognize as little but of whose motor purposes I am ignorant?

Yes, sensors. See, all this time I'm trying to be a responsible car owner. If the oil light comes on, refill the oil. Get the oil change every 3,000 miles as recommended. When the coolant light flashed I submitted and asked my maintenance mechanics if they could fix it (dreaming horrible dreams of what it could be). They told me it was just a tiny bit low, and they topped it off for free. I checked carefully per the manual to be sure when the coolant light flashed that my engine wasn't getting too hot. Not that. Temperature normal.

Today I find out the news. Babies cry when they hurt, are hungry, teething, or need a diaper change. They can't talk, but they communicate. My gold baby with power sunroof and rear spoiler can't communicate at all. Her sensor was broken, and the official temperature she thought she had was 15 degrees Farenheit. All the while the coolant was low and her engine was overheating and everything was just miserable for her, I'm sure.

Despite my best intentions (short of going to mechanic school myself), my car is a mess and I didn't even know. What is up with that?

This week has been a control week. Not "get life under control," or going on a power trip. Quite the reverse. Every once in a while God reminds me that not only am I not in control (which could be voluntary), but there is nothing I can do about certain things. All my efforts are vain. Just like washing your hands a million times a day won't guarantee that you'll resist the viruses floating around during the winter season. But God is in control. He is God and I am not. There are reasons here, I'm sure, that I was sick on Tuesday and that my car is costing nearly a thousand dollars in repair.

The other half of this moral is that even though there are reasons, and results to efforts I make, God is not obligated to show them to me. Outcome does not determine the validity of my obedience or dependence. Sometimes the results are in me.

Ohh, I'm groaning, though, thinking of all the hours of work that went into paying this repair bill. $941 dollars better be worth it!

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Christmas hath made an End by Lanier Ivester

I love good literature. Lanier writes good literature. Her stories, true stories, are so vivid and beautiful that you feel them. Read the post. Here's a tantalizing morsel:

So we invited our friends to a Twelfth Night Revel. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for ages, but with it falling on Friday this year—coupled with the desperate need I had for festivity—it seemed the very moment in time for such a frolic...
And all through the preparations the day of the party I listened to the thunder rumble and watched the rain falling outside—a veritable monsoon...
A glint of gold appeared in the west, piercing the leaden mantle with arrows of light.

To God be all glory.

PS: This is a two-part story. I'll post a link to the second installment when it arrives!

Changing Church Part XIII

“One thing we have not had to address before, but that has been stated under the new structure, is that women are to refrain from speaking in church. Questions are encouraged during the teaching, but women are to ask their husbands or fathers at home. Obviously I am available to help these men find the answers to their questions.”

“What further changes do you anticipate making?”

Will thought for a moment. “The only other big changes seem to be encouraging meeting throughout the week for fellowship, study, and prayer. I hope to see a portion of our weekly meetings dedicated to praying together, not being led in prayer as has usually been the case.”

“I have a question,” a young man from the committee spoke. “How do you expect to evangelize if you are not preaching or offering an invitation?”

“The way it says in 1 Corinthians and in Acts and the Gospels, too. In 1 Corinthians, when the church met together, if an unbeliever happened to be there, and he heard the truth of God’s word taught clearly, the Spirit could convict him then and there and he could repent. Church in the sense of gatherings of believers, in the New Testament, was not for evangelism. It was for the strengthening and equipping of the body. Unbelievers could see how they treated each other and how they lived. That was a strong testimony that something supernatural was going on. Then the Christians would go out with boldness. Go out. That is something of which our churches do too little.

“Now they won’t have an excuse. Church will be a place to teach Christians to share their faith, and how to do it. We’ll encourage them. We are eager to hear testimonies in church of how God worked through a member to spread the gospel. But we won’t do it for them.”

“What about missions?”

“I don’t understand your question,” Will admitted.

“You know, the conference uses money to send out missionaries into the foreign countries. How does your idea of church accomplish that?”

“We haven’t stopped being a part of the conference. Nor will we stop sending money to the mission fund. This format might even allow missionaries raising support or on furlough to present their vision for missions to the congregation and raise awareness and money in a more relational way.”

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lift up Grace

Our pastor taught from Esther 2 this morning. He urged us to emulate her godly characteristics. In the midst of circumstances that looked bleak, that were out of her control, she exibited modesty, obedience, and self-control that won her the favor of all who met her, including the man-in-charge, Hegai, and eventually even King Ahasuerus-Xerxes, who was pretty powerful and very rich.

Esther 2:15, "Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her."

The phrase, "Esther obtained favour," our pastor taught us, can be literally translated, "Esther lifted up grace [in their sight]." What if you were known for lifting up grace in the sight of those who meet you? Wouldn't that be a beautiful compliment?

How do you do that? Be self-less, kind, graceful, reserved. Don't talk others' ears off. Be different. Reserve mysteries about yourself. Submit. Make the most of your circumstances. Don't complain. Speak to others about the God who has blessed you.

To God be all glory.

Sheep of His Pasture

I have learned from years of children's ministry that being forced to answer their questions can be one of the best teachers to myself. This week the Bible verse we were discussing was:

Psalms 100:3,
"Know ye that the LORD he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."

"How would you apply that, do what the verse says in your life," I asked.

"It helps me be kind to my friends."

"How does this verse help you?"

"Ummm. This part, 'we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.' "

"Is it because you know how special you are to God and that makes you want to share that with others?" I prompted. She looked like that wasn't quite it, so I guessed again. "Because they're special to God, you treat them with kindness?"

Her head nodded. What an idea. In church this morning I was thinking about how I'm supposed to be loving people because they're God's sheep of His pasture. Like parents who want others to treat their children honestly and faithfully, God wants us to treat each other with love.

John 13:34,
"A new commandment I give unto you,
That ye love one another;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

To God be all glory.

Steve Green

As a junior in high school I discovered Steve Green. Everyone has heard at least some of his songs. So had I. But I got an album, heard him in concert, learned about him - and was impressed by the authenticity of this Christian. He is, through music and other outlets, willing to be honest and hopeful and passionate about his faith and walk.

The latest released album, Somewhere Between, has soothing, touching, piercing lyrics and melodies. Its a prayer cd, and for so many mornings and late nights when I needed reminded to pray, hearing this cd helped. They're almost like lullabies.

So I was very excited to learn tonight that Steve Green has a journal. Since he is busy hopefully writing and recording more songs, we'll forgive him for not having a blog. His journal is a little less frequent, but full of personal insights into living an unmasked Christianity.

It just so happens in Sunday school we are studying this very thing. Since I have been a very bad girl, not doing my homework this week, I needed the pointer back to the topic. I think I need the topic, too. I'm great being "authentic" with God, when I do pray. But with people there are expectations, images, pedestals, feelings to avoid offending... and pride.

Back to the praying bit, I struggle doing more than token prayers. Too often they run like "Please help," "Thanks for the food and the day," or "I pray for...(fill in the name)." In AKX, the high school Awana program, I learned a sentence. God is eagerly waiting for me to come to Him with all my cares and joys.

No conclusion. No end to the story. No promises I'll be better forever. But I'll try.

To God be all glory,

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Happenings Here

The freezing weather continues. Last I checked we had a temperature of 4 degrees Farenheit. My brothers were trying to freeze bubbles, but due to various reasons, it didn't work:
  1. The bubbles, being full of hot air, floated up into darkness.
  2. Falling snow popped the bubbles.
  3. Cold, dense air imploded the bubbles since inside the bubbles the air was warmer and thus less dense, unable to sustain the weight of the soap forming the bubble.

A more successful experiment was watching water freeze by splashing a cup-full against our back glass door. For some reason the ice moves from bottom up, though the water is dripping down. A picture taken through the ice-streaked door looked just like an ice cave.

My sister is having a birthday party, and they entertained themselves by having a very lady-like wrapping paper war in which they through crumpled balls of tissue paper at each other. This was followed by a "tea party" at which was served cheetos and soda.

I had a physical therapy appointment for my sprained wrist today. The therapist wants me to spend my life sitting at a table doing exercises that cause excruciating and hard-to-eliminate pain. The nature of the sprain makes it aggravated by typing; but I can't help myself.

CS Lewis' The Four Loves is the book I most lately finished. I highly recommend that thinking Christians read the book, but I don't endorse everything he says. The day after I finished the last page I began a book called Future Jihad which began by giving me a quick history of Islam, most fascinating, and little known. The part I really liked was the mingling of language lessons in Arabic.

Blogger hates me right now, and won't let me comment on my own blog. Who knows why? Anyway, to answer comments that have been posted, I once stated that I wasn't interested in promoting certain political opinions I don't share on my blog, even in the comment section. I do practice limited censorship. That's why comment moderation is enabled.

If anyone is curious about the last post, about Glaciers, click on the PBS link for more information. I really enjoyed that program.

My brain is just in overdrive brainstorming ideas for businesses and websites. All my ideas require either lots of research or expertise. Advertising is not my thing, either. I mean, I don't want to pay to advertise! Don't tell me; I know I need to take risks. They're just scary.

Speaking of scary risks, cutting fabric for a sewing project is a risk I'm loathe to take. Most of my life my dress designs have looked rather Greek for involving no sewing or cutting. Safety pins can do a lot. However, I am getting more daring and creative... and confident. My friend is making me a dress for my birthday, and we cut the fabric today. She seemed fairly calm, so I'm happy with the progress.

Another friend further challenged me to consider the Lord's Supper/Communion. I delight in scrapping all my traditional beliefs, going back to the source, and trying to build my theology on the Bible alone. Knowing this about me, she asked me to think about what Jesus intended by the Last Supper when He said "This do as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me." The church has developed a customary interpretation and practice, but I'm curious what the text indicates. My new pastor has helped me by supplying some articles and commentaries I have yet to study, but I'll get back to you on my conclusions.

Amy posted an article called Sage Advice. Her anecdote reminded me that older people sometimes need to be asked to give advice, to mentor. For one thing asking requires an initial state of humility. I'm so timid, unwilling to bother older people. I wish there were some way older people with wisdom and experience to share would make it known and allow the younger generation to respond by coming to them for teaching. There seems to be such a generational gap.

That's all for now. Have a good weekend. Stay warm. Enjoy the ice, if you have any.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Do you think glaciologists will come visit Denver to observe the receding piles of ice and the power they had before they melted? You should see our potholes!

The best (as in most interesting, not most factual) science lesson I ever received was a PBS special on how some strange valley was formed in the northwestern United States. The consensus geology for decades was that erosion must have caused the peculiar formations, but there were just too many inconsistencies. Near the beginning of the investigation into the cause of the valley a man proposed a catastrophe and was laughed out of the scientific community. Literally decades later computer models showed that a large river moving very fast could have caused these puzzling structures. On a smaller scale we see streams cause them all the time, but the scientists had been unable to imagine something so massive.

Whence did this mass of fast-moving water come? It had, they posit, been dammed by a wall of ice. Water does all sorts of interesting thing when compressed, still liquid, in a glacier. The force is astounding. Glaciers. They're cool. Check out the PBS website, including the transcript, here. Disclaimer: if you ignore all dates prior to AD 1, you'll be fine. I don't think there's other evolutionary stuff.

I can tell you that the miniature destruction wreaked by piles of ice, melting down and carving rivers beneath the dwarf-mountains is beautiful. The sound and sight of running water, too, reminds me of Narnia, when the winter begins finally to thaw.

Job 38:29,
"Out of whose womb came the ice?
and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?"

My calendar currently has a quote from Albert Einstein, who was a genius though he was not a great moral example nor always correct scientifically (according to me) and who could probably have gotten farther if he'd started with the revealed word of the Creator. He said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Life is much more exciting if you choose the latter.

To God be all glory.

Monday, January 08, 2007


In church last week we studied the Hebrew word, chesed, which means steadfast love, mercy, loving-kindness... The context in which we examined the word was pouring out our hearts to God. Only by emptying ourselves, even through complaint and lament, can we continue to cling to God's love, His chesed.

Almost a week later a song was stuck in my head. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases..." The simple words, by Edith McNeil in case you want to look up the lyrics yourself, are of course adapted from Lamentations 3.

Lamentations 3:22-23, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

I went to my trusty Strong's concordance (which is actually my mom's, come to think of it), then to a Bible program on my computer, then to Blue Letter Bible. Sure enough, the word "mercies" is chesed.

So in church this morning the teacher had us going to guess which passage? You guessed it! Lamentations 3. I love when God reminds me He's paying attention and active in the details. So I thought I would share the little message with you.

For more information on the importance of lament in the Bible, or on chesed, read Michael Card's book, A Sacred Sorrow.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Daughter of Jephthah?

What do you think of this?

Judges 11:30-40, "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man.

And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year."

How old was she? What kind of relationship did she have with her father? With God? Did she die as a result of her father's vow? Some scholars say she was only kept from marriage and dedicated to temple service. Is this backed by the text? What can we learn from her example?
Concerning the question of how much biblically-imparted authority a father has over his daughter, what does this story illustrate? How does 1 Corinthians 7:37-38 apply? Isn't it remarkable that she whose father was an outcast inspired a yearly custom among the "daughters of Israel"? What does their reaction tell you about the values they held?

To God be all glory.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Giving or Saving?

Acts 2:42-47,
"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
And fear came upon every soul:
and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men,
as every man had need.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Praising God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

Matthew 6:25-34,
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,
what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,
which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,
shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek)
for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Was the early church so full of faith in Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount that they didn't mind selling their possessions to feed the poor? Is this a type of behavior we, as Christians, should emulate? How much are we enslaved to "mammon"?

Philippians 4:18-19,
"But I have all, and abound: I am full,
having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you,
an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

To God be all glory.

"Plot is Character"

One of my favorite movies is Shadowlands, the Hollywood version of C.S. Lewis' biography. How accurate the movie is does not concern me. The dialogue is thought-provoking, and the plot is touching. To add a final commendation, the score by George Fenton is one of the best ever.

In a scene near the beginning C.S. Lewis is addressing a room full of philosophy students. He asks, “Character and thought... chicken and egg. Which comes first? Aristotle's solution was simple and radical. He said, 'Plot is character. Forget psychology. Forget the inside of men's heads. Judge them by their actions.' " All the other quotes from the movie make astounding sense, but this is one I just cannot comprehend. How can you judge men only by their actions? How can character, and the immortal question, "why?" mean nothing?

There are those, probably smarter and wiser, people who would turn my question, "How can you judge men by anything but their actions." In a few recent exchanges people whom I respect have said as much. "We cannot judge men's hearts," Lisa. "Only God knows the hearts."

Over the New Year holiday I have been receiving an informal economics lesson over on C.S. Hayden's blog. In the field of the market, he asserts: “The only way to determine anything about how much a person values a good is to observe his demonstrated preference in the marketplace.” (how he spends his money) and “The economist would answer, 'Let him demonstrate this preference by pursuing a means to the end of attaining bread.' ”

There have I been hung up again. Is that really the only way to demonstrate preferences? Do I show my family value by buying them expensive gifts? If I never "do" anything about which you know, am I Miss Anonymous to the world? Do my words and thoughts matter?

My life has made me into a great believer in thought. Outwardly I'm a goodie-two-shoes. However, knowing myself to be less than the saint on the pedestal, I've made a study of those Bible verses that deal with thoughts. There are many, so I conclude thoughts matter. The heart matters to God. What's more, as a man thinketh, so is he. That which I think will come out. Is that what Aristotle and Anthony Hopkins (who plays C.S. Lewis in the movie) and C.S. Hayden (just noticed that similarity - very clever!) are saying? Character inevitably reveals itself in action, so any inquiry into mere character is a waste of time? men.

To God, character is essential. There He works on the root of our obedience or disobedience. In character God chooses us for the people we will be. In the famous passage of God looking at the heart, we read: "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." (1 Samuel 16:7) God had chosen David, not his brothers, based on the character unseen by anyone. David was too young to have a reputation.

Look at Samuel in that story. Even though Samuel's eyes could not see the heart, God sent Samuel to choose the new king. God would guide Samuel with His eyes (Psalm 32:8). How much is that true of Christians today? Does God supernaturally enable us to make decisions based on His understanding of men's hearts?

This is a good way to start a new year, full of questions!

To God be all glory.

Changing Church Part XII

An interrogator interrupted. “You didn’t inform your deacons, elders, or staff. You didn’t ask anyone’s advice. Do you regret these decisions?”

Anne turned a trembling face to watch her husband’s response. He was very young to be a senior pastor. According to their newfound doctrine, there should be no such thing as a senior pastor, just elders in the faith willing and able to teach in the congregation. “When God commands something in His Word, you do it. If everyone in the world was advising me not to, I would obey God. As to informing them, I don’t know. Looking back I recognize the reason I didn’t. This investigation would have happened before the congregation was made aware, and they might never have been told the truth.” Will always made absolute statements cautiously, trying to let this committee from the association know that he recognized the weight of the assertions he was making. He wanted to make sure that he didn’t say anything definite that he could not defend from the Scripture.

“We’re confident that God has worked through churches as they are. But we are also confident that God can work more effectively when we yield our traditions to Him. When we let Him change us, even in big ways.”

“It was impossible for me to just step down and find a little house church or something that believed 1 Corinthians 14, for example. As a pastor at this church, God gave me the responsibility to lead them, and to teach them His Word. I love my church, and I am not going to willingly abandon them.”

“You were willing, though, to risk massive divisions and confusion.” The head of the investigational committee continued.

“My husband has spent this entire week answering phones and visiting members of our congregation to answer their questions. He’s not ignoring these possibilities.”

“Anne.” Will’s voice was soft, but stern. Then he addressed the committee. “Picture a shepherd. He will lead the sheep to water even if the whole flock is headed in the opposite direction. At first only a few may recognize that their shepherd has changed directions. The flock looks ready to split. But the shepherd takes up his staff and comes around behind the flock to corral them together. He goes after those who missed the turn. One thing I will not do is run ahead of this church. We have made three primary changes: shifting the responsibility of teaching off of only one pastor and onto all the males, especially heads of family; removing an organized singing time and allowing instead a more request-oriented worship; and ending our nursery and children’s church service.

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

A Letter to Yourself

Last year I read Natalie's post on YLCF about writing a letter to herself each New Year's. Some people write one each birthday. Either way, the idea is to take time to reflect on God's faithfulness in the year past, to remember who you were a year before, and to record your hopes for the future. I wrote one last year and clipped it to my new calendar, on December. The fact that I tired of that calendar and retired it for the boring pre-full page months of my new calendar for 2007 didn't help me to remember.

Anyway, I just wanted to advise it. You can read Doug Phillips' blog on the New Year at Vision Forum for more specific ideas. If you do something similar already, let me know!

To God be all glory.

Welcoming 2007 with Change

Wow, I'm scared. It's barely 2007, and I just switched to the new blogger. I hope this works!

Happy New Year!

I have lots of questions on which I'd like feedback. We'll start with two.

What do you think of arranged marriages?

If you were to have extra money, would it be right to invest in a bank which performs loans, or to loan money yourself? How much are you responsible to discourage others from going into debt?

To God be all glory.