Saturday, November 28, 2009


There's something enchanting about setting up a chess board.

I love drinking water from a glass.

Kitties asleep on the top of couches is so cozy.

"Let me explain: yes."

So I'm studying a chessboard, and all of a sudden there is a droplet of chocolate ice cream on a square. I look up and there is a drop on my brother's cheek, and another one on his eyelashes. He was hand-stirring an ice cream shake.

We're playing chess. He's been practicing against the computer and I... haven't. I'll let you know who wins.

I won. I am not a genius. My brain slowly processed options, and got an idea of what could happen if I moved a certain piece. But not the chess foresight genius. No. And I didn't have to win. The game could have drawn, I think.

To God be all glory.

My Week

This Saturday is dragging on, much like my third stick of celery.

I got up early this morning and went to sidewalk counsel at the abortion clinic. I haven't been around for a save in a long time. Some fellow-counselors were saying how important it is to have a female voice speaking to the mothers - and I was the only of the 3 females talking at all. Once I was the only person talking. When the next mother came in and some of the men around came over to help, I was relieved. And just a bit later another woman came, a dear woman who has been sidewalk counseling for years. She encourages me and shares the load of pleading for the lives of the babies.

Earlier this week I got to talk to a woman going in. I told her that Planned Parenthood murders innocent little babies, and she asked "Before or after they're born?" So I got a chance, walking down the sidewalk with her, to explain that there is no difference, that we have all of our unique DNA at the moment of conception, and that the only thing added is food and shelter from poison or violence. The woman went inside anyway, but I know she heard me.

Last night at a Bible study some of us were talking about how it is hard to share the gospel with people who don't want to hear. God tells us to preach the gospel to every creature. And Jude says to have compassion on some and to save some as though pulling them from fire. Whatever that means. Jude is confusing. Whatever it means, our responsibility is not to make people respond, but to be sure that they heard. "How shall they hear without a preacher?"

After the abortion clinic I came home and drank some chai tea with a new latte mix I just got. It came from Costco, and I hadn't tried it yet. So when it tasted good, I knew the $10 was worth it. I'll have take-along chai tea powder for months to come.

Then I cooked some leftover turkey, eaten with a homemade roll and real butter. Special occasions! My sister and Mom and I went to the mall, and the only thing we bought there was food. We wandered through the Christmas stores especially. And I took the highway home, so I got to drive fast: 65 miles per hour! Sometimes I think I go to the mall just to enjoy the drive.

Back home I did some mending, braided my wet hair (should last for a couple days!). Casablanca was on, so we watched some of that. And we already had supper, more turkey with grilled cheese sandwiches this time. I decided that celery without peanut butter tastes just fine, but Mom objected saying that it has no nutritional value by itself, and I thought that was crazy. I'm not putting myself through celery torture if it isn't good for me. But I googled the matter, and discovered celery actually has some vitamin c, some fiber, and is antioxidental. But I'm stalled, half a stick left of my serving.

No one is emailing me, which is ok since I'm not emailing anyone else, either. But I wish other people would email me. Or blog or something. The other day I read Peter Pan, and JM Barrie compares Captain Hook to the pirate Barbecue, and I'm trying to find out whether that was a real pirate. They surely didn't have barbecue food back then, did they? I mean, ketchup is even a recent invention. But Barbecue, upon further research, is the cooking method (and it is rather vague). The pirate is Long John Silver, whom Stevenson nicknamed Barbecue in his novel. Who knew?

The weather was quite a bit cooler today than I had anticipated. So I tested my "natural" air-activated hand warmer, and it worked pretty well. Still warm 7 hours later, maybe longer.

This week I bought a new battery for my laptop, which has been power cord dependent for over a year. And now my cell phone battery is dying again.

At the mall I saw a picture frame made of wire, and I want to try making a few. If they turn out, I'll post pictures. Copying an idea I saw on a blog, after our Thanksgiving walk I put a few of our autumnal finds in recycled glass bottles as decoration: just dry leaves and twigs. It looks rustic and different. *Shrug*

Babies are the best. I love holding them. Last week I held one all afternoon. And this week I found out one will be moving about 5 minutes from me.

My church search is slow. I don't know what to do next. But God is faithful to provide me with encouragement and with challenges from the Bible both from my reading and from what others share. But I'm looking for where God would have me do ministry. I like to coach, but not sports. I like to disciple/coach. And I believe I have the gift of teaching. And faith. So using those would be good. Working on improving my boldness in sharing the gospel.

I am very very grateful for friends. There are a lot, of varying closeness, who have encouraged me and taught me and challenged me and given me opportunities for love and patience and teamwork.

The TV show Monk is almost to end, and I think Monk is going to find out what happened to his late wife 12 years ago. Football is going relatively well. I am going to watch the 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility with my brother soon. All 9 copies are checked out of our very good library system. So we have to wait. Meanwhile he is reading 1984, the Federalist Papers, and apparently rereading the Man Who Was Thursday. I am nearing the end of Your God is Too Safe, and craving other books filling my shelves. I love books. Someday when I get ambitious and update my media list, I will upload the file to Wordpress and post it so you guys can see what books interest me. The books I own are for reading, referencing, rereading, and sharing.

This week I will try to do a photo shoot for some of my items, especially the hooded bunny bath towels. A friend is going to loan me her beautiful old-fashioned style bathroom. I'm excited.

Talk to you later.

Which reminds me: at the mall, employees want your attention. "Are you finding everything today?" "Shopping for someone special?" "Can I help you?" And I say, like a robot, "We're fine, thank you." Fortunately, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, they are content to leave us alone and move on to customers with greater potential.

I say "Talk to you later," and "Nice seeing you again," a lot. So you can feel just like everyone of the semi-acquaintances I run across during my week. Talk to you later.

To God be all glory.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

To Qualify for Welfare

I’ve been thinking about welfare lately. You know, with the push to socialize more and more of the United States, I thought it would be nice to think about our current socialist institutions. And my grandparents are out of money and can’t live on their own anymore, so they’re applying for Medicaid (which requires that they be poor enough for welfare).

That’s an interesting idea, isn’t it, that before we’ll give financial aid to people who can’t make ends meet, they have to be so poor they’ll probably never recover. For example, my grandparents own a house. It is possible that in the next year or so, they may be able to live there again. At which point their cost of living would be a lot cheaper, in a house that is paid off: no rent, no mortgage. Instead, before welfare kicks in with Medicaid coverage for long term medical care in a nursing home, they have to sell their house. So they will be irrevocably government-dependent, and the government will have to pay more money to find them a place to live.

I don’t even believe in welfare; I don’t think my grandparents should have applied. But if the government is going to offer it, couldn’t they use common sense and try to make the program efficient?

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Talking of Cain and Abel

I am not so good at evangelism. In my imagination I have the boldness and the things to say. But people never act their part prescribed by my imagination. And "people" includes me. So when at work yesterday I set down my book and almost heard God putting words into my head to open my mouth and say to the girl sitting there, I was quite surprised.

Talking to strangers is never so difficult after I've opened my mouth at first. She was wearing a head-covering, the kind girls wear in the Middle East. And I suppose that is where her family is from. She probably grew up in the United States. Right now she is in community college, having earned her diploma in a public high school. It is possible she knows the mainstream American culture better than I do. But she has a little bit of that cultural slant that comes from being Muslim. Whether she approves or disapproves, she is accustomed to their mindset.

I told her that I had been reading about the story of Cain and Abel, and did she know it? Muslims share some stories with Christians, so I was curious what she may have heard about it. Actually she encountered the story in public school, when they read East of Eden and studied its influences. She said that her class decided Cain was a pragmatist, and even though he may have been marked, was more likely to survive in the world, to do what worked for him. The world, they agreed, was more like Cain. He would expect what he found there, and know how to thrive. Abel, he is the kind of guy who tells everyone what they should do, and God likes a man who wants to do what is right. But people don't like prophets, so he would probably be shot.

And while most of my new friend's high school class though that was sad, she said it made her laugh. I think she was appreciating the irony.

But I asked her why God would let the world be that way, where those people who please Him are more likely to get shot. "I don't know; I guess god knows what he's thinking," she said.

That was the end of our conversation. I don't know what God was thinking having me bring up Cain and Abel with her, but I trust Him. No objections.

This morning I went searching for a quote by the Catholic, GK Chesterton. And on one of the sites the sidebar advertisement was for a Muslim matrimonial website. With the veil surrounding the face it is hard to tell, but the smiling woman on their ad looked a lot like my friend. What do you make of that?

To God be all glory.

Favorite Words

This week I have been reading a book. The book’s title is Your God is Too Safe. And while I have been thinking much about the content of this book, I have also been appreciating the writing. In fact, as I read, I have been keeping a vocabulary list of the fantastic words Mark Buchanan, the author, has used. Sitting at work beside a computer, my left hand reached over to type a word, eyes trying to hold their place on the page.

After a list 18 inches long, I began to notice that my left hand didn’t often have to stray from its side of the keyboard. Almost all of the words that attracted me live on the left side of the keyboard with a brush from the right, a single stroke, finishing the details. I had thought to do an analysis of these words, separating vowels from consonants to see if the patterns are the same – if the sound has something to do with their fascination. Or maybe I like the words with certain vowels, the rich round o’s and u’s? But there is absolutely no explanation for being fond of words mostly contained on the left side of my keyboard.

Go figure.

To God be all glory.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock

I read a story last week: Return of the Guardian-King (Legends of the Guardian-King, Book 4)
. Fourth and final of a vividly epic fantasy series written by a woman who knows my world, my type, and my God. Her name is Karen Hancock, and her stories have invaded my imagination permanently.

It is a book about temptation, I told a friend. Resisting in the slow way, wearied by the persistence, common days, small things. And massive temptations: to betray all you have believed in, to denounce the promises of God for the power of ruling kingdoms, to trade love in the good God and His simple gifts to the extravagant suit of the alluring devil. But the large and the small are the same.

The characters are strong against deception and temptation when they have been faithful in the daily denying of self. To live for others, in kindness and patience, prepares each person against bitterness and despair. Immersion in the truth and promises of God is comfort and hope. Even if their prayer is a single cry for help from God, bad things trun to good when people talk to their God.

The story isn’t about what is happening on the outside as much as it is about whether the characters are trusting God, whether they know with all their might that He loves them and that His plans for them are good. When they are rebelling against him, they are miserable. So are those around them. So am I.

Kiriath is in the hands of the jealous and vengeful brother Gillard, possessed by a demon rhu’ema. Already they treat and ally with the archenemy, Belthe’adi, Abramm had warned them of. Abramm is known to be dead. But Abramm is also walking the mountains, chafing under the waiting in a snowed-in monastery. Maddie is back at her childhood home, a palatial life she never embraced, and her newest royal duty is to marry some rich aristocrat who can offer troops to defend the last stand of her homeland. But her dreams linked with her beloved’s are back, and something tugs hope alive in her that maybe Abramm survived after all.

Shapeshifters, dragons, and the critical people who are supposed to be his friends plague Abramm on his Odyssey-like journey back to his wife and sons. Trap and Carissa mirror Abramm’s struggle with pride and longing but in a quiet domestic setting. Detours take the exiled king and longed-for husband to places of faith and doubt he never would have imagined – and sometimes wishes he had never asked for.

Every character learns the power of friends: locking them against temptation, praying for their dearest concerns, teaching and challenging with the truth, dividing the attacks of dragons, delivering messages, watching with unbiased eyes, guarding against betrayal. Again Abramm learns that it is not his strength that conquers, and that God has not gifted him with leadership and military prowess to fight God’s battles for Him. He is but a vessel.

Maddie meets a charming man who is attractive in all the ways Abramm never was. Tirus wants her, wants to help her. He understands her and shows her off, showers her with gifts and protects her from scorn. How long can she wait for her husband whom even her dearest friends still believe is dead? Will she believe the light-born visions and promises from God, or the technological, repeatable sight from the stone sent to her by her suitor? Will she change her mind about regal living and the purpose of marriage? The things that stood in Maddie’s way when she wanted to marry Abramm, and the undeniable need they had for each other – will she forget those?

When things go from bad to worse, whose job is it to protect the ones they love? At what cost will they buy safety and love? Will the armies of the Moon, and the powers of the air – dragons winging terror across the skies – will they succeed in doing their worst, in taking everything from those faithful to God? Or will they be utterly defeated? If they cannot be defeated, what is the point in fighting and sacrificing?

And when God’s people fail, bitterly weak, The Return of the Guardian King resounds with display of God’s mercy. God knew we were weak when He chose us. He knew we would fail when He sent His Son to suffer for those sins. And a single prayer, sometimes the end of God’s longsuffering chase, brings grace empowering His servants to do the right thing. He cannot deny Himself. His promises will be true, however faithless we are.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Reviews

Persuasion by Jane Austen (ok, so I re-read it, but loved it more the third time. The tale of a good, intelligent woman on the verge of being forever an “old maid,” whose family ignores her but whom she helps all the same. There is a handsome man she loved before he was rich, and so turned down at the influence of her family and friends, and very much regrets. He comes back into her life and suddenly everyone realizes Anne Elliot is the girl they want to marry. I underlined every word that illustrated persuasion, steadfastness, or persuad-ability. There are a lot.)

The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (a modern history book looking at leadership, politics, and big decisions as associated with Billy Graham.)

A Walk With Jane Austen by Lori Smith (Single Christian girl in early thirties goes to England to trace Jane Austen’s life. She dreams of love, finds something special, and goes on to share her very human, very female thoughts about life, love, and God – often borrowing words from Jane Austen herself.)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: I'd say the book is about making choices, and the freedom that comes from doing the right thing even when you don't understand what's going on. And it has to do with contentment and waiting and hard work. I see my friend, who recommended the book, in the pages. It's the kind of thing she would like and live - and the kind of thing I would like and try to live. Kit grew up in the free, warm Atlantic equatorial islands. When her grandfather, who raised her, died, she decided to move in with her penpal aunt in New England. The Puritan atmosphere doesn't quite suit Kit, who looks for friends who share her sense of freedom. Life doesn't turn out quite how she imagines (through failure of imagination of consequences), but she means well. Her influence gently softens the community, but eventually she is still tried as a witch.

I recently read GK Chesterton’s first novel, Napoleon of Notting Hill. It was a quick read, interesting and fast-paced. It follows the life and career of the most unique humorist of England, one Auberon Quin, who was elected by lottery the king of England according to the consummate democracy of his fictional future government. Auberon enjoys making people confounded and annoyed, by being himself completely ridiculous. I have a feeling that this would be an even less popular course in England than in America.

Young, Restless, and Reformed by Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of 'young Calvinists.' He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what's so exciting to us about God's sovereignty. Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping - we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West. Why is God doing this? We wait to see.

Brave New Family by GK Chesterton is a compilation of many essays written about the Home and Family, about relationships between men and women and children. It is excellent, but I read it so long ago that I can’t remember all that much about it.

The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton is a sort of allegorical tale about sovereignty and the war of the anarchists. It is filled with character sketches. The full impact of this book did not hit me until after I had read it and proceeded with life, when I began to encounter ideas and people frighteningly similar to those in this book. I think Chesterton based some of them off real people whom he had met as well. Hang in there for the end of the book. It will blow your mind.

Ekklesia, edited and compiled by Steve Atkerson of the New Testament Reformation Fellowship, is an exposition of the New Testament’s descriptions of and instructions for the Church. Apart from the business model, consumer structure of traditional church meetings, the authors argue from the Bible for a more personal and interactive gathering in homes. There was very little in this book with which I could disagree. Not only was it informational, reading Ekklesia was also challenging and encouraging. The theology and exposition is spot on, well supported with biblical references. In an age when God is working in many hearts to produce a desire to engage in community and God-powered ministry, this is a good book for direction. An added bonus is that NTRF has not copyrighted Ekklesia, encouraging you to distribute portions to your friends or quote it in publications.

The Shack, by William Young, is a novel of a man dealing with the tragic death of his daughter and his feelings about God. He ends up spending a weekend with God, dealing with classic issues of the problem of pain and our acceptance of God’s goodness despite what we feel. God is incarnate in three persons, with whom he has many vivid interactions and conversations. At the end of the story, he is left with more peace about God and the life he has experienced, but still does not have answers about what God expects of him. The story is written in a way that tempts you to believe it is based on a true history. At the end when I read the “making of” that told me it was only fiction, I was much relieved. There is enough truth in the philosophy and theology that I could not believe the book represented demonic activity (producing the supernatural things described). But there were also enough problematic elements (God as a girl wearing blue jeans) that I could not believe the events were truly from God. Realizing that the author used fiction to introduce his own thoughts on theology must allow for him to be mistaken yet in some areas. Most concerning are the indications that God would not send any of His creations to hell, because He loves ‘all His children’ – with an unbiblical definition of God’s children. The semi-gnostic tendencies and references, including a conference with Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, provide insight into the background of Mr. Young. The book is not keen on the Bible or church, either. For a best seller, this book is a quick read and an interesting visit to theology. But God gave us the Bible as His personal revelation; don’t substitute anything for it.

The Midnight Dancers is Regina Doman’s fourth fairy tale novel. I don’t know whether she was a rebel herself or consulted heavily with people who had been there, but all of her observations on motive and inner conflict resonated well with my observations, and actually explained things. Her main character is very human, torn between desires to be responsible and to be appreciated as an adult, between her love of freedom and her love of people. Midnight Dancers also shows the slippery slope of sacrificing even a little bit of discernment while justifying your freedom and pleasure. Like all of Mrs. Doman’s books, I was entranced. However this edition, similar to Waking Rose, got pretty graphic and even too intense for my spirit to remain healthy. I skipped a few pages near the end. Fairy tales are fairly predictable in their endings, and this is no surprise. They all lived happily ever after.

Mark is a book that transports me immediately back in history. Full of action with little explanation, it is a biography of acts more than teachings, of impact rather than influences. Beginning with a scene straight from a screenplay, of a voice crying in the wilderness, climaxing with the compassionate passion of a good Man suffering in the place of others, and closing with a simple instruction to pass the story on, Mark is a book for the ages. Even though Jesus is the main character, the other characters are just as active and many are vivid personalities. Mark himself may even make a cameo in a humble role at Gethsemane. First to last this gospel is glorious.

It never ceases to amaze me how many facts are tucked into Genesis. Details of the lives and failings of men who lived so long ago surprise me with their human reality. Places and people, kings and battles, ancestries and inventions cover the pages. Of course Genesis begins with creation, establishing the understanding of matter, time, energy, life, marriage, science, music, farming, boats, rain, rainbows, government, justice, worship, sacrifice, truth, possession, family, and judgment. The generations are also sprinkled with hints of redemption and unwarranted preservation and forgiveness, of the second man supplanting the first. Read in light of the New Testament’s references to this first book, Genesis is remarkably alive with parables and theology. My favorite part in this reading was the theme of changed lives.

Treason by Ann Coulter is a history book with a strong political bent. She documents how the Democratic Party is always cheering for and or supporting America’s enemies. In the very least they have a record of opposing any efforts Americans make to defend themselves against enemies. She describes the myth of McCarthyism, pointing out that all those people whose lives McCarthy’s trials (and just his influence) supposedly ruined were either open Communists or eventually found out to be Communists. And most of them enjoyed long, pleasant lives (not getting everything their way, but who does?). McCarthy, on the other hand, died young, at age 48. But Ann Coulter doesn’t stop with the post World War II McCarthy. She goes on to discuss Vietnam, the Cold War, North Korea, and the War on Terrorism. History is dirty, and she both addresses some mature issues and references them to make jibes. But I appreciate the excessive documentation of the habit of Democrats to stand up on the side most opposed to America’s interests. They used to call such blatant and effective acts “treason.”

Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power by Jesse L. Byock (see full review)

Sphere by Michael Crichton (see full review)

Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates (see full review)

GodcastGodcast: Transforming Encounters with God; Bylines by Media Journalist and Pastor Dan Betzer (see full review)

Lady Susan by Jane Austen (To balance the post-election doldrums this week, I read Lady Susan, a complete short novel written by Jane Austen, the last on my list of her works to read. Consisting entirely of letters except for the last two or three pages (which summarizes both why the story could not be continued in letters and the fates of all the main characters). For my part I wish that the story had been developed more. I want to know the young Miss Frederica, and the smart Mr. Reginald de Courcy. Perhaps the value is in the art by which Miss Austen communicates so much leaving almost the whole unsaid. One feels that there is a whole story and world of events that Jane Austen knew but wouldn’t share because she didn’t have to. The worldview of the widow Lady Susan is summed up in her words from Letter 16, “Consideration and esteem as surely follow command of language, as admiration waits on beauty.” She is a scandalous flirt and insufferable liar, scheming throughout the novel to acquire pleasure, money, and importance at the expense of all her relations, friends, and even her daughter. Jane Austen tends to end with her villains unpunished. They don’t go to prison, or suffer a life-long illness or poverty or death. The world may scorn them, but generally they never cared what the world thought. We the good readers may pity the partners with whom they finish the tales, but the villains themselves will not wallow, we think, in self-pity for long, rather getting something for which they have always aimed. Lady Susan is a novel where, with the concise style, these patterns are readily exposed. Read Lady Susan. It’s a light, funny story with a background romance. Characters are typically Jane Austen even if we see little of them. And the style makes a good template for understanding the rest of Jane Austen’s beloved books.)

Dead Heat by Joel Rosenberg (see full review)

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (There wasn't a lot of new Christian stuff in this book, but it was a good read and some challenging reminders. This book covers topics ranging from worry to service to worship to personal devotions. I love how the book draws everything together into the One Thing conclusion. Joanna invites you to join her journey of seeking a Mary Heart in a Martha World.)

10 Most Common Objections to Christianity by Alex McFarland (This is a book that our high school girls small group went through this fall. It was a really good defense of the Bible and the existence of God. We got a basic course in apologetics through it. The appendix for small groups in the back was a great help. My one reservation is the weakness of his chapter on evolution – but only in the area of the age of the earth. If I were a skeptic, I don’t think I would be flattened by all of the points in this book, but some of them are pretty convincing!)

Desiring God by John Piper (Read this book. Don’t get turned off by the term “Christian hedonism.” Christian is an important modifier. God calls you to enjoy Him, for life in Him and through Him to be all about relationship. Get some good teaching on some great verses to help you put it into practice!)

href="" target="_blank">Coming to Grips with GenesisComing to Grips with Genesis by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury (see full review)

The Empty Cradle by Philip Longman (see full review)

Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (see full review)

Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is InOld-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In by Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey (see full review)

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias (A quick read, unusual for this author, this book is a how-to on finding God’s will for your life, emphasizing faith in the sovereign plan of God. Using the illustration of the father-son teams of weavers who make the wedding saris of India, Dr. Zacharias talks about the perfection of the Father’s plan even when we don’t see the design emerging yet. One of his favorite topics is the Trinity: “unity and diversity in community”, and he uses it to communicate the love of God for us His children. The second half of the book, comparable to other reformed works on the purpose of a Christian’s life, focuses on worship as a way of life. In this book the Anglican roots of the author emerge more than in anything I have read or heard of his, as he revels in the imagery and tradition of the church as it pertains to worship. The best part about this book to me was the quotes, which I can hear Ravi reciting in his crisp Indian-accented English. I wish I could live in his library, because I have no doubt that this Christian apologist owns copies of the cherished volumes he quotes. )

Persuasion by Jane Austen (Yes, I read it again. And it is still wonderful, far exceeding any movie renditions to date. I want everyone to know this sweet story and to emulate the gentle, helpful, good, passionate Anne Elliot. I also wish everyone to have her happily ever after!)

The Eighth Shepherd by Bodie and Brock Thoene (Centered on the story of Zacchaeus, this dramatization of the gospels teaches the importance of humility before the Shepherd-King who hears prayers and has come as doctor to the sick. Enter Jericho. Read of figs, taxes, sycophants, blind men, slaves, and the faith that could set any man or woman free. Ask the question with Shimona whether it is better to be sick and know your need or to be healed by an excommunicant and feel alone. Why does God save and heal? What comes after that? Perhaps God sends out the healed as instruments of more healing. Shimona demonstrates courage, faith, gentleness, and a choice-love that doesn’t make sense but won’t be denied. Can God use the love of His children to soften the hearts of the sick and the lost? I loved the Ezekiel passage about shepherds placed between chapters. What a warning to Christian leaders, and encouragement to those who are fed by the Great Shepherd.)

Chronology of the Old TestamentThe Chronology of the Old Testament by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones (see full review)

Ninth Witness by Bodie and Brock Thoene (is another of their novels dramatizing the life of Christ, this time focusing on his twelth year Passover in Jerusalem. I confess I didn't like this one as much as most of this series. The authors seem to be making Jesus and Simon Peter boyhood friends, and they felt it necessary to portray Mary and Joseph as adopting children rather than them being fathered by Joseph and mothered by Mary, the plainest interpretation of the New Testament account.)

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (see full review)

Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna (see full review)

Reimagining Church by Frank Viola (see full review)

The Shadow Within by Karen Hancock (see full review)

Newton's Revised History of Ancient KingdomsNewton's Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms by Sir Isaac Newton (see full review)

Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock (see full review)

Unveiled Hope by Scotty Smith and Michael Card (see full review)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Despite contamination with inappropriate and disturbing material, this is a parody of the classic novel beloved by refined women everywhere. I get the impression that Seth believes he can improve Jane Austen's work. Often retaining the original language, he adds his interpretation of the story - things you know he was always longing to say he guessed about the characters' true intentions or activities - and the ridiculous addition of zombies. Most versions of Pride and Prejudice retain the same characters and plot, but this is a rather amusing twist that ends up changing the characters significantly. To describe this book I have told everyone that the famous scene where Mr. Darcy first proposes involves the exact dialogue of the original, but Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are literally dueling. Go figure.)

Already GoneAlready Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard (see full review)

Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews by David Pryce-Jones (A summary of centuries of French policy and prejudice, including some world history especially in the 20th century. David Pryce-Jones researched the archives at the Quai d'Orsay for internal memos and official reports detailing the Foreign Ministry's policies towards Jews and the Arab world, proving that all France has ever intended was to be more prominent and powerful than the Jews or the 'Jewish-dominated' United States.)

Flood LegendsFlood Legends by Charles Martin (see full review)

Frozen in TimeFrozen in Time by Michael Oard (see full review)

Blink of an Eye by Ted Dekker (see full review)

The cry in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, is not a yell from rooftops. This is a crying book, with tissue and red eyes and the ache in your throat when you try to hold back the tragedy from taking over you. There are no answers in this book, only the brave resolve to do what is right and to speak the truth, knowing that some things belong to God, and He alone can rescue mankind. South Africa, like all of our nations, has for decades and centuries been in the brokenness that needs God. Still men are praying, and crying for their beloved country.

JRR Tolkien: Myth, Morality & Religion by Richard Purtill (see full review)

Get Married
Get Married by Candice Watters (Some encouraging stuff and some challenging ideas and some points of view that weren't helpful. I believe God wanted me to read the book, so I did.)

Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss; Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss; I had Trouble Getting to Solla-Sollew by Dr. Seuss; The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss (who knew Dr. Seuss didn't just write silly nonsense! Some of his books are actually allegories and parables. I much prefer them if they rhyme, but am rather unhappy when the rhyme is only accomplished by inventing a word.)

The Ultimate Proof of CreationThe Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle (see full review)

Return of the Guardian-King (Legends of the Guardian-King, Book 4)
by Karen Hancock
(see full review)

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (The classic children's story about growing up. Not quite like the movies. Great writing, quirky quotes. I cannot figure out whether JM Barrie was trying to say something with his story, or a lot of things as they popped into his head. He seems to be fond of manners and humility.)

God and the Nations
God and the Nations by Dr. Henry Morris (see full review)

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

The Ultimate Proof by Dr. Jason Lisle

The post-modern world is rather fond of saying that there are no absolutes. A logical counter to this is to ask the relativist whether his statement about absolutes is absolute. He is in the difficult position of refuting his own claim whenever he states it. In rational debates this breaks the law of non-contradiction.

For several years, since reading Christian apologists like CS Lewis and Ravi Zacharias, I have been convinced that there is only one internally consistent worldview, and that is the biblical worldview. All other explanations of reason and existence cut the ground out from under themselves. Either the beliefs themselves are self-refuting, like the man who tried to disprove the existence of air; he was using air as he tried to deny it; or they reduce to absurdities; or they never really deal with the fundamental questions, but rely on borrowed but unadmitted presuppositions from other worldviews. In the final case, we consider their beliefs to be arbitrary, rather than rational.

My explanation could not have been termed with such clarity without first reading Dr. Jason Lisle’s new book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Creationists have plenty of evidence for the biblical history of the world. They have evidence contradicting the evolutionary and uniformitarian theories of origins. Bible-believing scientists are even doing real science all the time (science of observation and technological advancement to improve our lives), just as they have done for thousands of years. None of these things convinces a man committed to a naturalist worldview. But no naturalist can debate against the Bible, for evolution, or conduct science of his own without assuming things that can only be true if the things the Bible teaches are true. This is the ultimate proof, to engage skeptics on their worldview.

This method has several advantages. First, it keeps in mind that the motive for Christian apologetics is to glorify God and to invite non-Christians to be saved. Thoughtful meekness is what the Bible directs us to have when responding to critics. The Bible also teaches that if we do not live consistently with our beliefs, our critics have reason to ridicule us and those beliefs. Consistency is a biblical tactic.

Second, the Bible does give instructions for debate. Dr. Jason Lisle has applied two verses in Proverbs to his debating style. Do not let a skeptic convince you to fight on neutral ground when the question you are debating is inherently about the reliability of your ground as opposed to all others. For a Christian to abandon, for the sake of argument, his belief in God and dependence on the account of the Bible, is to surrender before he has even lifted his sword. But we can do an internal critique of the skeptic’s position, making apparent where he contradicts himself or leaves questions unanswered.

Third, and I really appreciate this one, a Christian apologist using these techniques does not need to be a PhD or have memorized an encyclopedia of scientific evidence for Creation. Creation science is valid and interesting, but not every believer is called to that kind of knowledge of the world as he is called to give a reason for the hope that is in him and to preach the gospel to every creature. In my experience, it is great for a philosophical person like me to team up with someone who knows a lot of facts, and to tag-team a discussion. Or I could practice a bit more so that I can have some representative cases of creationism scientifically supported.

The Ultimate Proof of Creation is an interesting book on logic and worldviews, exciting as I think of applying it. Think of watching the Discovery Channel and being able to identify the worldview being used, the presuppositions made, and the logical fallacies committed. This book enables you to do that. Or it can help when you’re trying to stay focused when witnessing to a friend who doubts the Bible. Learn to find ways to tie all questions into a question of faith: do you accept the ultimate standard of God, who created you – or do you reject Him and therefore all that depends on Him (including your will and rationality)?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

The Ultimate Proof of Creation

Monday, November 16, 2009

Theme Verses for Now

"And we urge you, brethren,

to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.

Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us.

Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss."

1 Thessalonians 5:12-26

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Exchange Blogging

I'm sitting in my living room at almost 2 AM, with one knee up like I've wanted it all day. The faucet in the kitchen sink is dripping, and I just triple-sneezed as is my wont. There are things happening tomorrow, but only for a few hours, and after that I can take a nap. That or I can have ice cream. My days usually exclude at least one of those.

I've decided what to wear tomorrow, an impossible task for this indecisive day. So when my alarm sounds, I'll have no excuses for not jumping into my morning. It will be a good morning, I know. Snow is coming, but I'm going to brave it for a party. And pray it doesn't interrupt my Sunday plans, either.

My brother is in the living room still up, too. He is reading my blog, and I am reading his. You would think that two people sitting in the same room could talk about whatever has been interesting enough to blog. And mostly we had, but it is fun to see how we each choose to craft our expressions on the page.

He's a good man, my brother, a sincere one. His blog might be worth looking at, especially if you are wondering what it is like to wear purple tennis shoes or shop at the grocery stores in the middle of the night. Go to Silence Spoken to read some of his tales and poems.

Then have a good day. Think independently. Live togetherly.
To God be all glory.

What Makes a Man a Man?

Many years ago now I attended the first wedding of a cousin on my mom's side of the family, cousins we were always closer to growing up. I can't say I knew this cousin well, but something struck me during the ceremony: he was the same guy. No magical transformation was coming over him as he recited vows or joined himself to his wife. At the reception his smile was the same. The things that made him laugh hadn't changed.

I have a friend whose wedding I attended 4 and a half years ago. When I first met the groom, I didn't like him very much, but that was before he met his wife. God used her to balance him, to mellow him, I think. He didn't wait for the wedding to change. The impact was almost instant when he started bringing her around. Or it could all be my perception.

Today a couple I know had a baby, and I was looking at pictures of the daddy holding his firstborn, a little girl. Again, I don't know this man all that well, but it seemed in the pictures that his life was permanently changed today. The man smiling down at the bundle of dependence in his lap may have always been there, buried in words and decisions. But now he is there, on the surface, sincere. He can be nothing but himself with her, and will spend the rest of his days striving to ensure that "himself" is sufficient to be her father.

To God be all glory.

Friends and Growing Up

The scale has tipped. I have suspected for some time, and can now confirm that I have more friends on Facebook who are married than who are single (but legal adults). That does not even count those who are in serious relationships or who are engaged.

And... let me take a deep breath... in this year I have about 18 friends who have had or will soon have babies. 6 months on either side of today, and 18 new little lives! I love babies. My main dilema is only in getting to be around these cuddly kids, as many of them live out of state or about an hour away.

Growing up is strange. I stay young with young friends, playing games, and not cleaning my room as I should. But one can't help others from growing up, and from feeling that one day soon grown-upness may even creep upon me!

To God be all glory.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Church Search

I’m in between churches right now – between congregations. All summer and fall I’ve been casually attending the meetings of various friends. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to not be obligated to make an appearance at any one building on a Sunday morning. I might tell a friend I’m coming, or I might decide Saturday night. Some Sundays I sleep in. Sunday morning heathenism is rather refreshing.

Except it isn’t heathenism. A lot of what happens in those buildings on Sunday mornings is of heathen origin. But heathenism is a lot more than skipping a sermon and praise concert. It is a lifestyle of rejecting God, and that I certainly have not done.

I believe the Bible teaches Christians to gather regularly with each other. That isn’t something I have abandoned either. My recent experience is filled with times of fellowship and encouragement with other believers. We do ministry together, hold each other accountable for our walks with God, philosophically tackle the dilemmas we’re facing, study the Bible, and pray. During these times we also tend to eat, to play games, to laugh and tease, sometimes to work. Kids running around get swept up by disciples of Jesus, who – like Him – love children.

About a month ago some friends invited me to their church. I went that weekend. This week they asked me what I thought, and didn’t I like it (since I hadn’t been back). And I froze, because, well, I did like it. The people were friendly and the teachings were biblical and stimulating. But I don’t think I’ll join. This Sunday I did go back there, though. And my friends’ thirteen-year-old son confronted me, “I thought you said our church was just ‘ok’.”

Hard to explain. This particular church is on the good end of mainstream churches. They have good doctrine. A lot of their money goes to missions. Kids are with parents in church for most of the time, and youth aren’t separated from their families. The music isn’t too loud or too self-centered. With a congregation of about 50, the pastor and teachers can know everyone.

After pondering for a day or so, here is my answer to the thirteen-year-old friend: (it’s alliterative so I can remember!)
1) Plurality. There is only one pastor at the church. He’s the head man. I believe Jesus is the head of the Church, and that leadership beneath Him must be shared among more than one equal. Whenever real life cases are discussed in the New Testament, the word is used in the plural. (Elders) In this way they can model cooperation and problem solving. Congregations and pastors are kept mindful that Christ is the true head, and that the Church is His project. Also, when one is weak, there is another to be strong, the proverbial man to pick you up when you fall. Two are better than one and a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Pastoring is a lonely job, being at the top instead of a part of your congregation as friends and brothers. My Bible describes a different sort of dynamic, where pastors are respected for being respectable and where everyone is exercising his gifts for the good of all: pastors, prophets, discerners, helpers, administrators, on and on.
2) Property. This was quite confusing to my friend, who expects people to scorn his church for meeting in the club house of a condominium complex. Whether you own a building, rent it, or have borrowed money from a bank to claim that you own it, all represent instances where the Church of God has used resources God entrusted to them not to do what He has instructed: caring for the poor, widows, orphans, and missionaries – but to have a separate place to meet. I believe churches are meant to be gathered in homes. Limited in size, surrounded by hospitality and everyday life, the atmosphere of house church encourages the participation of everyone, the familial fellowship of believers, and the synthesis of sacred and secular.
3) Preaching. The New Testament describes and even commends preaching. Except almost always the lecture style sermon was delivered to an unsaved audience. It is a tool of evangelism. And evangelism is not the purpose of the regular gathering of believers. In fact, the church meetings described in 1 Corinthians are much more open and unstructured than what we usually think of as church. No one was scheduled to speak. Anyone (any man?) was allowed to bring a word, be it a prophecy, a teaching, a tongue – as long as he spoke it for the edification of the group. He may share a testimony of God’s work or an instruction or challenge the Spirit laid on his heart to give to his friends. A teaching might be towards an identified deficiency of understanding or may flow out of the studies individuals are making during the week on their own. Prophecy may correct the direction the congregation is going, may identify weaknesses and strengths among them, may warn them, or may give them hope and vision for the future. Some verses indicate that individuals may also bring songs of their choosing to the meetings of believers, with which to encourage each other.

Now that I’ve said those things, I do believe that there is a place for the lecture-style teaching we call sermons. I really enjoy Bible conferences, and am not opposed to worship concerts where the band has practiced and is intending to honor God. When I visit my friends’ churches, I usually view those services as conferences, and I look for the Spirit-driven gatherings elsewhere. At this stage of my life I’m not content with the small groups and Bible studies that have been getting me by. So I’m still looking, reading books and searching websites from people who are practicing what the Bible teaches about Church. I’m excited to see where that leads.

Some questions remain, stronger tensions between the familiar and the ideal: how is authority supposed to work in the church? Is it important? Is it a matter of exercising authority or of submitting to authority? How much should we submit? What shall Christians do for evangelism? Wouldn’t it be better to team up? But is it wrong to invite people in to hear the gospel, or should we go out to them? Are women to speak in the church meetings? If not, why on earth did Paul say so? - Just to prove I don’t think I know everything!

To God be all glory.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Orion's Circuit

Orion is out tonight, aiming his bow at the rising moon. We reunite each fall and winter, Orion and I. He is my companion in the stars, keeping the same hours as I. It’s chilly out tonight. Clear in that cool dry way that Colorado is known for.

I’ve been through a lot since last Orion and I were out together. My life is definitely patterned in seasons. Some years have had their own theme, but usually the lessons are shorter and more diverse. This year was a scattered year, learning things that built in each other but not in obvious ways. A soldier will learn to march and learn to shoot, and both are related in that they come in handy during battles, but they don’t really build on each other.

Last year when I was almost twenty-four I almost went crazy. I couldn’t believe the life I had; my life seemed inevitable, not chosen. And I didn’t know how to be a twenty-four year old in my situation. Never had my dreams imagined me here. Yet I came to the conclusion that I ought to be myself, trusting God, and not worry about what twenty-four year olds are supposed to be. So I have told myself many times these months.

I don’t miss the soul-searching that comes with autumn. It comes around each year, and I don’t regret it. Nor do I look forward to the restless questioning. My soul never seems satisfied in the fall, the season of Thanksgiving. This November opens with a focus on open-handed gratitude. That’s what I call it. Each day’s blessings are cause to rejoice, never a reason to demand more.

I don’t require more blessings, but I have learned to ask. Such was my summer theme: Hope. Do I have confidence in my Heavenly Father’s goodness, enough to discuss with Him what I want and rejoice that in Him all answers, yes and no, are yea? Will I dare holding out my heart to wait on Him? And when I did this year, oh! how the peace came in. Before, I was silly not to ask for His good gifts.

Spring was hard, an exercise in love. Love hopes all things. It holds on and does not abandon. But it speaks the truth and rejoices in it rather than in evil. Love means sacrifice in the sense of a drop everything to help attitude. It is consuming, on your mind all the time. God never promised love would be painless. Though love has to do with community, it often feels lonely.

This year has brought thoughts about truth and calling and compromise. Faith and that not-tame God have kept popping up. I asked myself what I was willing to suffer for Christ, and for the first time truly doubted that I would rejoice to risk life and happiness and all I’ve worked for. Rejection has been on my mind lately. I’m more honest about reality than I used to be: eyes open to the vanity and hopelessness apart from the work of God to grace us.

And now that I’m facing twenty-five in the next several weeks, I must praise my God that I have a life that I run after. The friends I have are ones I choose. My weeks are spent doing things I believe are important, not just floating through an existence. Though twenty-five seems to have come upon me without my consent, the rest of my life is intentional. That is due only to the grace of God. He has helped me through some hard decisions. Some of my waiting and patience has ended, and other parts remain.

By many standards this year has little to show for it. I still have not written a book or started a successful business. No prince charming has swept me off my feet. Like Orion, I’m back and rising over the same horizon. But those who know astronomy realize that relative to the rest of the firmament, Orion’s position has changed. He will move among the stars and planets like he has not done in my lifetime. And a new year is here: the Hunter is chasing life down.

To God be all glory.