Friday’s Fave Five

We’re halfway through 2022! And we’re starting a new month. Time goes by so quickly, it’s nice to pause for a moment and recollect the best parts of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. A “routine” cardiologist’s visit. I almost could’ve phoned it in except for their need to listen to my heart. Hopefully, if my heart behaves itself, after my next visit I can see them once a year instead of every six months.

2. A nice gesture. I had to eat lunch early before my appointment, so I got a little hungry while out running errands afterward. I went through a drive-through for a snack and found out the person ahead of me paid for my order. I think that’s the first time that has ever happened to me.

3. Lunch with Melanie. It was fun to eat out, though we were sad to learn O’Charley’s doesn’t do Free Pie Wednesdays any more. (We got pie anyway, though. I had been looking forward to their chocolate pie for days!) It was even more fun to catch up in person.

4. A yucky job done. An investigation into why and where our refrigerator was rattling led my husband o pull it away from the wall and vacuum its coils and clean the floor underneath it. I think most of us would say that’s not a job we do often, so the dust and such really builds up. I am thankful he took care of it all.

5. No thunderstorms. My weather app forecasted thunderstorms a few days this week. Though we heard thunder a couple of times, we didn’t get any heavy storms. We did get some needed rain, but I am thankful it wasn’t heavy and didn’t happen while either of us was on the road.

I wish my Canadian friends a happy Canada Day and my fellow Americans a happy Independence Day Monday!

June Reflections

We began this month with an end-of-school party for Timothy. We enjoyed celebrating Father’s Day 2/3 of the way through the month. And now we’re gearing up for the Fourth of July.

It’s been too hot out to do much else, but Jim did get the patio spiffed up for summer. We need to get new patio chairs but haven’t looked yet. We’ve had a couple of cookouts already. One evening,Timothy brought over sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and “pop-its”–those things you throw on the concrete where the make a loud pop. The weather was nice that evening, and it felt like a summery thing to do.

My middle son, Jason, had to leave his employer when the employer couldn’t pay his salary for a few weeks. He’s been making deliveries for a few different companies and has been able to make just about his regular salary. He likes the flexibility, and he says it’s kind of like playing Santa Claus–you get to deliver stuff to people and make them happy. I don’t know how long he’ll do this kind of thing, but it’s a nice change from the pressure he was under.

Timothyisms

When we play Jackbox games together as a family, we have to sign in with our names. Timothy usually calls me Grandma, but one night I just put “Gram” in for my name. Then he started calling me Gram Cracker, and more recently, Gramster. 🙂

But what really cracked me up was when Jason texted that Timothy had said, “Oh, man! I need to pay my bills! I haven’t paid any in 8 years!” Thankfully, he won’t have to worry about that for a few years yet.

Creating

The first card I made this month was for Timothy’s end-of-second-grade party:

I made the words on the computer and the sign on the Cricut.

This was for my step-father for Father’s Day:

Once again, the words were done on the computer and the mustache on the Cricut.

This was for my husband for Father’s Day:

I had gotten the idea for these two on Pinterest and adapted them. The tape measure was done on the Cricut.

And this one was for Jason for Father’s Day:

The silhouettes were cut on the Cricut, but the moon and stars and squiggles were drawn by the Cricut with markers my oldest son just got for me either for Christmas or Mother’s Day. It was fun to experiment with those. I loved how much this design looked like Jason and Timothy.

This was for a friend’s birthday:

The bird and butterflies are multi-layer stickers. I did the words on the computer and then used two different-sized scalloped hole punches.

Watching

There’s not a lot on this time of year. We enjoy America’s Got Talent (though you have to have the remote at the ready sometimes) and reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos (usually I’ve forgotten enough of them that it is like seeing a new program. 🙂 ).

We streamed a really good movie titled In Harm’s Way about an American pilot who heads a bombing raid on Japan just after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He crashes in China, and a young widow helps nurse him back to health and hides him from the authorities. I don’t know if the movie is based on a particular true story, but the end screen said many Chinese helped Americans in such ways, and, sadly, the Japanese killed many Chinese because of it. Even though much of the film was in subtitles, it was easy to follow and get caught up in the story. It was one of the best movies I have seen in a while. Here’s the trailer:

I had watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas a few years ago after reading the book, but Jim had never seen it. So we watched it together one night. It’s about a boy whose father is put in charge of a work camp in Germany. The boy thinks the camp is a farm and the people where funny striped pajamas. One day while exploring, he sees a boy on the other side of a fence, and they start talking. Eventually they become friends. The ending is very sad. But maybe because I knew what was coming, I noticed other things this time, like the various attitudes of different people and the boy’s wrestling with whether or not his father is a good man.

Reading

Since last time, I finished (titles link to my reviews):

I’m currently reading:

  • Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp
  • Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott
  • Victorian Short Stories of Successful Marriages by Elizabeth Gaskell and others.
  • Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know Jesus Cares by Warren Wiersbe
  • Aging With Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt InstaEncouragements is hosting a study of this book on Tuesdays through July.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I’ve posted these since last time:

Around the corner

We’ll probably have a cookout on the 4th. Jason’s birthday is this month. Otherwise, I am not sure what’s on the horizon yet.

How was your June? Anything you’re looking forward to in July?

Once Upon a Wardrobe

In Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan, Megs Devonshire is a college student at Oxford in the 1950s. Her 8-year-old brother, George, has a heart condition and is not expected to live long.

George has become enamored with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. George wonders often if Narnia is a real place. If not, where did it come from? When he learns that the author of the book is a professor at Megs’ school, George begs her to ask Lewis about Narnia for him.

Megs demurs. First, she explains to George, Oxford is made up of different colleges, and Lewis doesn’t teach at the one she attends. Plus, Megs studies math and physics and is not much for stories. She prefers logic and black and white answers. Of course Narnia is just a figment of the author’s imagination, she insists.

But George keeps asking, and Megs loves him. So she finds a way to meet Mr. Lewis.

Lewis is very hospitable. But he doesn’t answer Megs’ question directly. Instead, he tells her a series of stories about his life over several visits.

George enjoys the stories. But Megs is frustrated that she can’t get a straight answer. And their mother wonders if George is spending too much time thinking about an imaginary world.

There are three levels, or threads, to this story. One is Megs and George and their family. One is Lewis’ biography. And another is Megs’ learning the value of stories. Having read On Stories by Lewis, I recognized a lot of his points in this novel. He’s not saying that the world doesn’t need logic and math and facts. Rather, “Reason is how we get to the truth, but imagination is how we find meaning” (p. 52).

The middle section of the book seemed a little formulaic. Megs’ point of view is written in the first person. She’d visit Lewis and come back with a story for George. As she begins to tell it, the point of view switches to George’s, but in the third person. Then, as if the scene is unfolding in George’s imagination, a section of Lewis’ story is told in the third person.

In the final third or so of the book, the action picked up and there were no more switches, so it was easier to get caught up in the story.

The scenes with C. S. and his brother, Warnie, made me feel like I was there in their room with the fireplace going, listening in. Callahan had studied Lewis’ life for her first book, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and I am not surprised another book about him grew from all that research. The details shared showed a familiarity with Lewis’ home and school without overpowering the story.

Callahan writes in her note after the story that she wasn’t interested in “ascribing logic, facts, and theory to the world of Narnia,” as that has been done by so many others. But she wanted to explore how Narnia changes readers and how, as Lewis said, “Sometimes fairy stories may say best what needs to be said.”

I’ve read many biographies of Lewis, so most of his story was familiar to me. There were parts that surprised me, though. For instance, I knew he took some children from London into his home during the Blitz, but I had never heard anything about them until this book. It also occurred to me that, though I had read much about Lewis, I had never read his book about himself: Surprised by Joy. I’d seen that book quoted in anything else I’d read about him, so I thought I knew it. But I should read it some time.

There were a couple of places the theology was a little wonky. I wasn’t sure whether these were from the author’s beliefs or a character’s.

But overall, this was a sweet and touching story.

I listened to most of the book via audiobook, read nicely by Fiona Hardingham. But I had also gotten the Kindle version on sale and looked up many sections there.

The Four Loves

In The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis, he says that when he contemplated writing about love, he thought there were two types: Need-Love and Gift-Love. Need-love is that of a child for its parents, who meet its needs and comfort when frightened. Gift-love is that of a man who works hard for the well-being of his family. Lewis was going to propose that the latter is more like God because He gives and needs nothing. Need-love, however, seemed totally selfish and not deserving of the name “love.”

But, he reasoned, no one thinks a child is selfish for looking to its parents for comfort or an adult selfish for wanting the companionship of friends. And man’s love to God is almost totally Need-love.

It would be a bold and silly creature that came before its Creator with the boast ‘I’m no beggar. I love you disinterestedly.’ Those who come nearest to a Gift-love for God will next moment, even at the very same moment, be beating their breasts with the publican and laying their indigence before the only real Giver. And God will have it so. He addresses our Need-love: ‘Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy-laden,’ or, in the Old Testament, ‘Open your mouth wide and I will fill it’ (pp. 3-4).

Lewis also differentiates between Need-pleasures and Appreciation-pleasures. One quote stood out to me here because I see this in online discussions all the time.

We must be careful never to adopt prematurely a moral or evaluating attitude. The human mind is generally far more eager to praise and dispraise than to describe and define. It wants to make every distinction a distinction of value; hence those fatal critics who can never point out the differing quality of two poets without putting them in an order of preference as if they were candidates for a prize (pp. 14-15).

Next he writes a chapter titled “Likings and Loves for the Sub-Human”—about love of nature, home, family, country. There’s much to contemplate here, but I’ll just share this one quote from this chapter: “All natural affections, including this, can become rivals to spiritual love: but they can also be preparatory imitations of it, training (so to speak) of the spiritual muscles which Grace may later put to a higher service” (p. 30).

Then Lewis determined that there were four loves and dedicated a chapter each to each one.

First is Affection, or storge in the Greek (“two syllables and the g is ‘hard,'” p. 41). He describes Affection as “a warm comfortableness . . . satisfaction in being together . . . the least discriminating of loves” (p. 41). Affection is “the humblest love. It gives itself no airs” (p. 43). Affection can be in combination with the other loves or not.

Next comes friendship. You’d think that would be part of Affection. But Affection can be felt for pets and even people we don’t like very much. If I understand it rightly, it’s not as deep as friendship.

This chapter contains Lewis’ famous quote, “The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one'” (p. 82).

“To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it” (pp. 72-73). This book was published in 1960 and its elements were first shared in a series of radio talks. I don’t know if Lewis would say the same today. However, I am sure he would emphasize even more in our day that “It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual” (p. 76).

Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest (p. 77).

Friendship is also not just between two people, though it can be. A group of friends enhances the friendship of each with the other. “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets” (p. 77).

Friendship also has its good and bad sides. There is a certain exclusiveness to friendship–we can’t be as close to everyone as we are with our closest friends. But that can turn to snobbishness or cliqueishness. It can also form an “us against the world” attitude where we close off criticisms or efforts to point out problems or disagreements. Friendship must “invoke the divine protection if it is to remain sweet” (p. 111).

The third love, Eros, is what Lewis calls romantic love. I’ve always heard the Greek word eros meant sexual, physical love, but Lewis call that Venus. People can experience Eros and Venus together or just one or the other.

Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it, the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved. The thing is a sensory pleasure; that is, an event occurring within one’s own body. . .

Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give (p. 120).

Eros, like Friendship, can have good and bad sides. Our fallen nature can corrupt any good thing.

The last of the four loves, according to Lewis, is Charity or agape in Biblical Greek. Lewis warns many times that our natural loves can act as rivals to the love of God. But he also warns that love of God does not erase or demean our naturals loves. Rather, His love infuses them to be what He created them to be.

Lewis gives an example from Augustine (which, in the providence of God, I just finished reading). Augustine had a dear friend, Nebridius, whose death plunged him into despair and desolation. “This is what comes, [Augustine] says, of giving one’s heart to anything but God” (p. 153). Therefore, he concludes we shouldn’t love other people so much. “If love is to be a blessing, not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away” (p. 153). Lewis responds:

Of course, this is excellent sense. . . I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as ‘Careful! This might lead you to suffering.’ To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less (p. 153-154).

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken (p. 155).

The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness. It is like hiding the talent in a napkin and for much the same reason. . . Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness (p. 155).

We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it (pp. 155-156).

Lewis then goes on to a good discussion of what it means when God says He loved Jacob but hated Esau, or what God meant when He tells us we can’t be His disciples without hating mother, father, etc., which He tells us in other places to love. One helpful quote from this section:

To hate is to reject, to set one’s face against, to make no concession to, the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil. A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will ‘hate’ the one and ‘love’ the other. It is not, surely, mere feelings of aversion and liking that are here in question. He will adhere to, consent to, work for, the one and not for the other (p. 157).

But then we’re called to show this agape kind of love to others. And when we try, we quickly see it’s not in us naturally.

The invitation to turn our natural loves into Charity is never lacking. It is provided by those frictions and frustrations that meet us in all of them; unmistakable evidence that (natural) love is not going to be ‘enough’— . . . But in everyone, and of course in ourselves, there is that which requires forbearance, tolerance, forgiveness. The necessity of practising these virtues first sets us, forces us, upon the attempt to turn—more strictly, to let God turn—our love into Charity. These frets and rubs are beneficial (p. 173).

These can be raised with Him only if they have, in some degree and fashion, shared His death; if the natural element in them has submitted—year after year, or in some sudden agony—to transmutation (p. 174).

Even though this is an overly long review, I still feel I’ve only scratched the surface of the book. And even though I gleaned much from the book, I can already tell I’ll need to read it again some time.

I like to read whole chapters of this kind of fiction at a time so I can follow and hopefully retain the author’s thoughts all the way through. But with only six chapters in a 192-page book, the chapters are long. It wasn’t until the last chapter that I hit on the idea of taking it in much shorter bits and chewing on that for a while before moving on. I’ll have to try that through the whole book next time.

As always, Lewis has a way of stating and illustrating some things in a way to make them startlingly clear and convicting.

I’ll close with one last quote sharing the need for surrendering to God:

This pretence that we have anything of our own or could for one hour retain by our own strength any goodness that God may pour into us, has kept us from being happy. We have been like bathers who want to keep their feet—or one foot—or one toe—on the bottom, when to lose that foothold would be to surrender themselves to a glorious tumble in the surf. The consequences of parting with our last claim to intrinsic freedom, power, or worth, are real freedom, power, and worth, really ours just because God gives them and because we know them to be (in another sense) not ‘ours’ (pp. 167-168).

I’m counting this book for the Nonfiction Classic in the Back to the Classics Challenge.

What to Do with Regret

I regret hitting my sister.

I don’t remember our ages or the circumstances. Probably a lot of hitting occurred between the six of us siblings over the years, though I’m sure my parents discouraged it.

But I think my regret over this particular incident indicates that I was old enough to know better at the time.

I’ve accumulated a lot of regrets since then. Things I said and shouldn’t have. Things I should have said but didn’t. Wrong or thoughtless choices. Selfish actions and attitudes. Time wasted. Projects unfinished or not even started.

The regret that haunts me the most is my wrong attitude while caring for my mother-in-law. Instead of welcoming the opportunity to show love to her by caring for her at her neediest, I resented the encroachment on my own time and plans and the pervasive weight of responsibility.

Not all regrets occur because of sin. Unstarted projects, for example, are a reminder that I am limited and can’t do everything I’d like to do. Yet they can serve to remind me to seek God’s wisdom in what I spend my time on.

Some regrets are due to mistakes or not enough knowledge at the time.

There are some regrets where I still don’t know whether I was right or wrong, like my college major. I wanted to major in English, but then decided Home Economics Education was more practical. However, by the time I got to my second senior year (I crammed four years into five . . .), I knew I didn’t want to teach. I liked the imparting knowledge part, but not the discipline and inspiring uninterested students. I felt like I wasted all that time and money since I didn’t “use” my major in the expected sense. Now I wish I had majored in English for the sake of writing. Yet God has used what I learned in college. I rest in Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

All too often, though, regrets are the aftermath of sin.

Regret vs. repentance

Regret is not repentance. Judas regretted betraying Christ, but as far as we know, did not repent of it. He is an illustration of the “grief produces death” Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:10.

Peter regretted denying he knew Christ and wept bitterly over it. But he repented and was restored. His sermon and actions after Pentecost and his epistles show a changed man.

King Saul and David both said, “I have sinned.” King Saul kept going back to his murderous ways in pursuing David. David gave us Psalm 51.

2 Corinthians 7 shows how repentance changes our attitudes. Paul had written a stern letter to the Corinthians over their sin and waited to hear how they would receive his admonitions. He was comforted when Titus came with news that the Corinthians responded with longing, mourning, and zeal (verse 7). Paul notes the changes in the Corinthians produced by godly repentance. I like how the Amplified Bible explains it: “For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death. For [you can look back and] see what an earnestness and authentic concern this godly sorrow has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]!” (verses 10-11).

I’ve confessed my selfish attitudes to the Lord. I lean on the blessed promise of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I’ve always been told that “confess” in that verse means to say the same thing God says about our sin. We don’t downplay it or make excuses for it. We call it what it is in all its bald-faced despicableness.

When regret lingers

But even after confessing to the Lord and being assured of His forgiveness, regret still lingers, quite heavily sometimes.

The inclination is to confess it to the Lord all over again. But if we believe His word, He forgave us the first time we confessed our sin to Him.

Another inclination is to beat ourselves up over our wrongdoing. While it’s good to note our foolishness, wrong thinking, and actions, it doesn’t help to keep self-rebuke on repeat. We usually end up discouraged but not moving forward.

So what do we do with the regret that remains?

The only solution I have found is to let that regret spur me on to different actions and attitudes now.

I received my only traffic ticket while speeding on a road that I frequently traveled. I was humiliated and embarrassed by being pulled over by the police and questioned. I paid my fine with no contest, because I knew I was in the wrong.

Every time I traveled down that road again, I slowed down when approaching the place where I got my ticket. The discomfort of the previous encounter made me want to avoid experiencing that pain again and take extra steps to make sure I was doing right.

Some years ago, I broke and dislocated my little toe when I banged it against the wall while coming out of my bathroom door. I’ve come through that door hundreds of times—I don’t know why I didn’t do so properly then. Observing the x-ray, the doctor said my toe looked like a jigsaw puzzle. You can bet I walked very carefully through that door and around corners for weeks afterward to make sure my poor, battered toe didn’t come anywhere near them. But even after the pain subsided, the carefulness remained.

The pain of regret can do the same for us, instilling a carefulness, sensitivity, and watchfulness we might not otherwise have had. Those features often expand from the particular thing we regret to our walk in general.

We need to let regret lead us to repentance. Then we need to let God’s grace and forgiveness seep down into our souls and and enable us to make whatever changes we need to make.

The regret over a missed opportunity to share Christ with someone can help us pray and prepare for the next time. Regret over lost temper and harsh words can drive us to the Scriptures and prayer for help.

My regrets over my attitudes as a caregiver remind me of my selfishness and my need to seek God’s grace to serve Him and others, not my own desires. I knew caring for my mother-in-law was the right thing to do, even though I didn’t feel glad about it then. But I can say now that I am thankful we did.

How about you? Does regret weigh you down or spur you on?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

Here are some good reads found this week:

How to Make the Case Against Abortion in Less Than a Minute, HT to Challies. With the Supreme Court ruling on abortion in the news, abortion discussions will multiply. This video helps pare pro-life position to key points.

Confess Your Sins to God When Applying Scripture. “It is good for us to think about the different spheres and directions for our Bible application. But confessing sin is often a necessary step in the process. It is not just that we need a different strategy for loving our neighbor or a new approach to handling gossip. Frequently, we must confess that what we have been doing (or not doing) is offensive to God and deserving of his anger.”

Dear Daughter: On Outrage and Its Remedy. “Outrage is when you get really upset about someone else’s decisions or actions — so upset that you want them to be punished or forced to change. Outrage insists on being heard. It always points a finger but never at itself. It assumes it is the supreme authority on a matter regardless of whether it has any actual knowledge of it. It creates caricatures of its opponents and refuses to acknowledge the complexities of their human souls.”

Teach Us to Number Our Days, HT to Challies. “Psalm 90:12 speaks of ‘numbering our days,’ but like these two toddlers, we often don’t get it right. While we know exactly how many candles should go on our birthday cake (even if we prefer that no one else knew), we still tend to get the math wrong.”

5 Reasons We Should Not Stop Using Male Pronouns for God, or to turn it around, because the title confused me at first: why we should use male pronouns for God. HT to Challies. “It is right to believe that God is transcendent: God is not a man. Even little children learn in the catechism that ‘God is a Spirit and has not a body like men.’ And certainly, in Scripture God’s character and actions are sometimes described using feminine imagery (cf. Isa 49:15). But none of that means we should abandon male pronouns for God.”

How Were the Books of the Bible Chosen? “Inspired Scripture was recognized, not chosen. Genuine works by prolific artists such as Monet and Degas hang in museums because art experts have recognized them to be authentic pieces, not forgeries. They didn’t choose any of the paintings to be a Monet or a Degas. They scrutinized them for the unique signs of the artist’s imprint and recognized them as genuine.”

Sky Painting, HT to Challies. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a boring sky. Even when the sky is an unending morass of steely grey cloud that stretches from horizon to horizon, I’ll give you that it’s technically dull, there’s a lack of sunlight, but it’s hardly boring.” I love the conclusion here.

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the last Friday of June already. It’s good to slow down for a moment with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to think about the blessings of the week before their memory is gone forever. Please feel free to join in!

1. Father’s Day. We enjoyed remembering our fathers and honoring my husband and son. I am so thankful for my husband’s showing his love and care and faithfulness every day.

We got to FaceTime with Jeremy (He’s in the picture, on the phone. 🙂 ).

Jason offered to grill burgers, so the rest of us made various sides. I made a Boston Cream Pie and Mittu made Maple Bacon Cupcakes—so good!

2. A fixed washer. Our washer’s spin cycle was so slow, it left clothes soppy. Jim ordered a part and got it working again just before I thought we might need to borrow my son and daughter-in-law’s washer. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded, but I am glad not to have to haul laundry to their house. The washer is on its last legs, but I am glad it’s hanging in there for a while longer.

3. Consolidated errands. If I am out much of the morning, I like to be home in the afternoon, and vice versa. I ended up being out for both on Wednesday, but it was good to get my errands done all on one day so I could spend the rest of the week at home. Plus Jim acquiesced to my request for Subway sandwiches for dinner, so I had a break for the late afternoon and evening.

4. Getting past summer solstice. I do like having more daylight in the summertime. The lack of light is one of the things I least like about winter. But when the days are longest, it doesn’t feel like there is enough wind-down time in the evenings. It’s nice knowing we’re past the longest day of the year.

5. Getting a haircut has been on my agenda for a couple of weeks, and I finally made it out this week.

Bonus: I mentioned a potential shake-up last week. But it looks like everything will remain the same for now.

Happy Friday! Have you been blessed this week?

Be Distinct (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles)

Be Distinct (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles): Standing Firmly Against the World’s Tides is Warren Wiesrbe’s short commentary on those two books of the Bible.

I read this book while reading 2 Kings 2, so it was nice to have the parallel material from 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, and Jeremiah to fill in the rest of the details.

2 Kings covers a sad time in Israel’s history. The northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians, and the southern kingdom of Judah continued its descent from what it had been during the reigns of David and Solomon. A few of Judah’s kings were godly and enacted various reforms away from idolatry and back to the worship of the one true God as He had laid out in His Word. But the next generation would fall away even further than they had before. Finally, Babylon conquered Judah, destroyed the temple, burned Jerusalem, and took most of the Israelites back to Babylon. Different prophets were sent with God’s warnings, but were largely ignored.

It’s not hard to see history repeating itself in our day. America is not Israel, of course. But any people who have had God’s light and turn away from it are going on a similar collision course. As Dr. Wiersbe says:

When society around us is in moral and spiritual darkness, God’s people need to be lights; and when society is decaying because of sin, we need to be salt. We must be distinctive! Paul calls us to be “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2: 15 NKJV). . . .The hour has come for God’s people to be alert to the voice of God and obedient to the will of God—to be distinctive. God is seeking transformers, not conformers (p. 11, Kindle version).

Throughout the book, we also see the grace of God in keeping His promises to David and offering help multiple times.

Some quotes that stood out to me:

The gospel isn’t only a message to believe; it’s also a mandate to obey (p. 19).

During the years that I was privileged to instruct seminary students, I occasionally heard some of them say, ‘Why should we attend school? Charles Spurgeon never went to seminary, and neither did Campbell Morgan or D. L. Moody!’ I would usually reply, ‘If any of you are Spurgeons, Morgans, or Moodys, we’ll no doubt discover it and give you permission to stop your education. But let me remind you that both Spurgeon and Moody founded schools for training preachers, and Campbell Morgan was once president of a training college and also taught at a number of schools. Meanwhile, back to our studies.’ God has different ways of training His servants, but He still expects the older generation to pass along to the younger generation the treasures of truth that were given to them by those who went before, ‘the faith … once for all delivered to the saints’” (Jude 3 NKJV) (p. 21).

Never underestimate the power of a simple witness, for God can take words from the lips of a child and carry them to the ears of a king (p. 53).

To the humble heart that’s open to God, the Word generates faith, but to the proud, self-centered heart, the Word makes the heart even harder. The same sun that melts the ice will harden the clay (p. 74).

[Uzziah] had a wonderful beginning but a tragic ending, and this is a warning to us that we be on guard and pray that the Lord will help us to end well. A good beginning is no guarantee of a successful ending, and the sin of unholy ambition has ruined more than one servant of the Lord (p. 140).

Even though 2 Kings ends on a bleak note, God has not entirely forsaken His people. After 70 years in captivity, they would be allowed to return. And several hundred years later, the rightful ruler of the throne of David would come to earth. He would not to establish His physical kingdom at that time. But He would provide for their salvation.

My God, My Father

I grew up with a mental image of God as a somewhat stern, authoritarian father, looking down from heaven just waiting for me to mess up so He could zap me.

Some people think of God as a kindly and indulgent father, one who never says no, never scolds, slips them money, and always bails them out of trouble.

Some people view God’s fatherhood as that of a dear old man, well-meaning but hopelessly out of touch.

Some feel God is like a father who is capricious and impossible to please.

Others feel that God is a distant Father, either absent or uninvolved and uncaring.

But our Father God is not like any of those.

Our earthly fathers help inform our view of God for better or worse. A faulty father might imprint on our minds a skewed perception of God. A good father will give a positive but still shadowy picture of our heavenly Father.

But it’s good to learn of our Father for who He is.

He loved us enough, even when we were His enemies and totally uncaring about Him, to rescue us from our rebellion and darkness.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:12-14).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1a).

He makes us heirs with Christ:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15-17).

He keeps us secure.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30).

He wants us to come to Him with our needs.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven . . . ” (Matthew 6:8-9).

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:6).

He provides for us.

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31).

He has compassion on us:

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13.

He cares enough for us to discipline us when we need it.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3: 11-12).

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:7-11).

He reassures us:

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

He shapes us, surrounding us with care and concern and interest like a potter bending over his creation:

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:6).

He gives good gifts and doesn’t change moods or character:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).

He comforts us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

He leads and guides us:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

He blesses us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

He’s preparing a place for us to live with Him eternally.

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2).

There was a popular song years ago that said God is watching us from a distance. But no. He is close and personal, caring and concerned.

Is He your father? “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

Here are a few of the good reads found this week:

First Love. “As I watched all of this unfold, I also watched what being around this young man did for the members of our church and me. There is something contagious about being around someone with that first love. There were several things I noticed in this man’s life that gave me pause to consider my own spiritual life.”

Why You Should Name and Even Feel Negative Emotions, HT to Challies. “I rarely dealt with or named my emotions—at least not the “negative” ones. They had to be killed, banished, ignored, and stuffed. I learned this from both Christian circles (like the counselor above) and my own fears. I didn’t want others to see my emotions. Negative emotions always equaled sin and weakness in my mind, a reason for people to look down their noses at me. So I tried to kill my negative feelings with kindness—or gratitude. But what if there’s goodness in every emotion—even in the ones we don’t like so much?”

When the Story Doesn’t Have a Happy Ending, HT to Challies. “The ‘successful’ missionaries always have lots of numbers. They fill their newsletters with compelling stories and photographs of large groups of believers. But nobody gives presentations about evangelistic events where no one showed up, or posts a picture of the local pastor who abused his daughter, or writes a newsletter about the exciting convert who just slowly disappears.”

Tyranny Follows Where Truth Fades, HT to Challies. “Having escaped the tyrannical regime of North Korea, where criticism of ‘Dear Leader’ can land you (and your family) in a concentration camp, she never anticipated the thought control she’d find at this elite American university.”

Speaking Truth in Marital Conflict, HT to Challies. “We know that when couples use words like alwaysnever, and only to describe each other’s behavior or to express a complaint, it will not help to resolve their conflict. These words exaggerate and overgeneralize in a way that provokes a spouse to defensiveness. Instead of considering and talking about their spouse’s concern, an accused spouse will be tempted to prove that they are not always guilty of this or that behavior.”

What “Leah’s Eyes Were Weak” Means—and What It Says About Bible Interpretation, HT to Challies. Admittedly, the state of Leah’s eyes doesn’t affect any major doctrine. Our opinions about what the statement about her eyes in Scripture means is not a hill to die on. But I appreciate the process Mark Ward takes us through when a passage of Scripture isn’t clear and even commentators disagree.

How Can I Be a Good Father When Mine Walked Out?

How Making an If/Then List Can help Your Mental Health, HT to Linda. “Recently, while going through the grief of a loss and all the emotional turmoil that can entail, I made myself an ‘if/then list.’ I thought through what helps—really helps—me in any given mood or symptom, and then made myself a list with easy, actionable steps to take if I found myself in any of those situations.”

This is as good a time as any for my occasional reminder that linking to a post does not mean full endorsement of everything about that site. If a friend’s link sends me to a site I’ve never visited before, and I consider sharing the post, I’ll look at the “about” section to have some idea where the person is coming from. I wouldn’t share something I have strong reservations about without some caveats, but obviously I don’t know everything about a site when I’ve just read one post there. And we often have some disagreements even with our dearest friends. We need to be discerning in all we read.

I watched a program last night in which what I would consider to be normal father-son love and support brought a couple of people to tears. I wondered if seeing such interaction was so rare in the world that it brought forth such an emotion. Maybe these folks didn’t have that fatherly support–or maybe they did, and the memory brought tears. At any rate, I very much agree with the statement below. Happy Father’s Day tomorrow to the dads out there. Keep up the good work. It’s vital.