Do You Want a Fresh Word from the Lord?

I know what it’s like to wish I could look up and see God’s will sky written in the blue expanse. Or to wish I had I could hear from God personally and specifically. Or, I am sorry to say, to feel bored with a seemingly dry or familiar part of Scripture.

But we don’t need to long for something more or something different.

Peter tells us, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

We have “all things that pertain to life and godliness” “through the knowledge of him who called us” by “his precious and very great promises.” As we get to know Him more and more through His Word, we have everything we need to live for Him.

One former pastor used to say that the Bible is “divinely brief.” Of the multitude of things God could have told us, the sixty-six books contained in the Bible are what He chose to convey to us.

What are we doing with that special, God-given book?

No, God won’t tell us which job to take, which city to live in, or which person to marry in the Bible. But the Bible will teach us principles of walking with God and developing wisdom, and God promises to guide us in the way we should go.

Some times in the Bible are intensely personal. I don’t know how many times my scheduled reading for the day directly answered something I had been praying about or pondering.

When I was in the hospital before being diagnosed with transverse myelitis, I was scheduled for an MRI. The night before, nearly every nurse or aide who came in asked me if I was claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure. I was told the MRI sometimes made people feel uncomfortable because they slide you into this close-fitting tube and you have to be very still. They said they could give me a sedative if I thought I would need it. I wanted to avoid unnecessary medication if I could, so I declined the sedative.

The next morning, the Daily Light on the Daily Path reading, which is made up of just Scripture verses with no commentary, was about being still, being quiet, or resting in the Lord:

  • “Sit still, my daughter” (Ruth 3:18)
  • “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
  • “Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted” (Isaiah 7:4)
  • “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)
  • “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4)
  • “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7)
  • “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established” (Psalm 112:7-8)

Many of those verses were familiar to me, and throughout the MRI, I repeatedly went over them in my mind. They washed over my soul and quieted me.

Every meal we eat can’t be a Thanksgiving or an anniversary dinner at the steak house. But even the peanut butter sandwiches and tuna casseroles nourish us.

Every conversation with our spouse won’t be thrillingly romantic. The everyday “Can you pick up the dry cleaning?” and “Good dinner, thanks” weave together with the highlights to form the fabric of a strong relationship.

Every day isn’t fireworks and feasting. Most are quietly spent at home.

Every time in the Bible won’t be a mountaintop experience or warm and cozy.

But all our times in the Word help us get to know God better and strengthen us to live for Him.

We’ll never exhaust the Bible. There will always be something new to learn, no matter how many times we read it. But we also need the repetition of old truths so we don’t forget them.

If the Bible seems “old” or stale to us, maybe reading Psalm 119 will help the psalmist’s enthusiasm infuse our souls. Asking God to speak to us and give us understanding and a new appreciation for His Word helps as well. Aids like a good study Bible or commentary or study book can help open passages up to us.

Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Psalm 119:24-25 says, “Your testimonies are indeed my delight; they are my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!”

Do you need a fresh word from the Lord? Pick up the old faithful Bible. Let God’s Word revive you.

(Sharing with Sunday Scripture Blessings, Scripture and a Snapshot, Hearth and Soul)

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

I’m way behind on blog reading, but here are some good ones I’ve come across the last couple of weeks:

So You Want to Be Relevant? “What does the Bible say about itself that will convince the reluctant and indifferent reader to dig in and spend time in the Word, to begin seeing biblical fidelity as the key to remaining relevant in every phase of life?”

Finding Repeated Words and Phrases in Bible reading. “Authors didn’t have bold and italics back then, so a common way to emphasize a point was to repeat it multiple times. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, don’t miss this!’”

Where’s the Lie, HT to Knowable Word. “Con artists don’t look shady. If a lie were obviously false, it wouldn’t be dangerous. Christians know that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick’ (Jeremiah 17:9), and yet we regularly overestimate our ability to spot error. We need a consistent standard by which to compare every suggestion we hear. Because of God’s gracious provision, we have such a standard. The words God has already spoken are completely and always reliable.”

When It’s Time to Leave a Church, HT to Challies.

Bucking the Trans Trend, HT to Challies. I’ve been astounded at how far this trend has gotten with so little known about the effects. Thankfully, at least in England, it’s being questioned.

How Forgiveness Displays the Gospel to Our Kids, HT to The Story Warren. “And then it hit me. Only minutes before, I’d shown such little grace to my own daughter, but here I was showing mercy to myself for the very same mistake.”

Finally, I came across this quote this morning. Many of us don’t like change, and not all change is good. But much is necessary.

Have a great weekend!

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s been a full week at the Harper household. Here are some of our blessings.

1. A used RV. My husband has been dreaming of this for years. We were originally thinking of getting an RV when he retired. He’s been researching them and looking at used ones for some time. We wanted one small enough to be easily maneuverable but big enough not to feel claustrophobic. When he found a good deal on this one in great condition, the time seemed right. We’re still figuring it out. They took him through a three-hour orientation, but it still takes going through the procedures on one’s own a few times to get the hang of it. We’ll probably try it out somewhere nearby at first. And then, who knows? One goal eventually is to visit our oldest son in RI.

2. Timothy’s birthday! Our little grandson is seven! And not so little any more! On his birthday, numerous Facebook memories popped up about his premature birth and God’s faithfulness to bring him and our family through that time.

3. Timothy’s birthday cake. My daughter-in-law is amazing. Timothy is into the Minecraft video game, so his birthday used that theme. This Minecraft-inspired cake used cake squares, Rice Krispie squares, and Jello squares.

4. A clear day. His parents had planned to have lunch at a park on Timothy’s birthday, and then his birthday party would be in the evening when everyone was off work. Rain was forecast that day, but it held off until later in the afternoon. I know there were multiple reasons for the weather beyond one boy’s birthday, but I was so thankful the rain was delayed.

5. Timothy’s other grandparents were able to be here from OK for a few days this week.

It’s been a beautiful spring week here in TN. Even with rain one day, the weather has been gorgeous, and so many trees are blooming. That makes for pollen and allergies . . . but nothing is perfect. 🙂 The weather this week has been pretty close to it, though.

How was your week?

Preparing for Easter with C. S. Lewis

Preparing for Easter: Fifty Devotional Reading from C. S. Lewis. is a compilation of selections from his writings.

C. S Lewis is one of the most quotable Christians to have lived, maybe second to C. H. Spurgeon. In fact, I have a book titled The Quotable Lewis. So any book of quotes by him will have value.

By the title of this book, you’d expect an arc of quotations on the subject and application of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, leading up to Easter Day. If there was such an arc, I didn’t detect it. The book just seemed more like a random collection.

Of course, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ touch everything in the Christian life, so, in one sense, any subject within Christendom could be related. Yet many selections in this volume didn’t seem to fit the theme. For instance, one had to do with the value of myths. Did the compiler feel that any part of the true Easter story was a myth? Or was he applying this quote to the bunnies and eggs part of Easter? I don’t know.

The book is set up to begin about six and a half weeks before Easter, with the last reading for Easter Day. The readings aren’t numbered in the book, but I numbered them in my notes. I was confused when I ended up with forty-seven. Then I remembered some day’s readings contained two short selections. So, as the title says, there are fifty readings, but not over fifty days. I started a week late, so I ended the Sunday after Easter.

Some readings are familiar quotes, such as those from the Narnia series or Mere Christianity. Others are from more obscure sources, like private letters. I’m always amazed at how literary Lewis sounds even in a letter. I wonder if he was a perfectionist who made several copies of a letter until it sounded just right? Or did such prose just flow from him? I remember reading somewhere that his books did not need much editing, so perhaps the latter is true.

Though some of the selections were easy to grasp, some suffered from the loss of their context.

I was also reminded that, though I love much of what Lewis wrote, I don’t agree with him on every little point of doctrine. I have several of those places marked, but I don’t think I’ll list them all here for the sake of time and space.

So, all told, I was more than a little disappointed in this volume. Nevertheless, as I said, there are always rich nuggets in his writing. Here are a few I found:

Our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions (p. 7, originally from The Four Loves).

I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say, ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.’ And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble. But this is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like? (p. 14, originally from Mere Christianity).

We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience (p. 15, originally from Mere Christianity).

A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven (p. 58, originally from Mere Christianity).

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same (pp. 60-61, (p. 58, originally from Mere Christianity).

If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically (p. 72, originally from Present Concerns).

The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars (p. 72, originally from Present Concerns).

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing (p. 80, originally from Mere Christianity).

Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in (p. 212, originally from Mere Christianity).

One of the most poignant passages to me was a letter from Lewis to a Warfield Firor about facing the ramifications of aging (including compulsory retirement and rheumatism) and letting those “begin . . .to loosen a few of the tentacles which the octopus-world has fastened on one” and remind that “what calls one away is better” (pp. 138-139). (A portion of the letter is here.)

Though I doubt I’ll reread this book in coming Lenten seasons, I was blessed by some of its pages. I was also encouraged to reread Mere Christianity some time and to look up The Letters of C. S. Lewis.

 

 

When God Gives Up

When God gives up

God’s patience and longsuffering are some of the qualities I appreciate most about Him. He works and waits so patiently to draw sinful and resistant people to Himself. He picks us up a thousand times when we fall. He forgives us when we confess the same sin repeatedly.

But we can’t presume upon Him. We can’t put Him off, either for salvation or for obedience, for ever. We can’t expect Him to just wait in the wings until we get good and ready to come to Him.

God was patient with Israel’s complaining and unbelief when He first brought them out of Egypt. They had been captive slaves for 400 years. Surrounded by paganism, they probably had not been taught much about God and His ways. But after seeing His power displayed in the plagues, at the Red Sea, in providing for water and food in the middle of a desert, more of them should have started trusting Him. He even forgave them when they built a golden calf and worshiped it instead of Him.

But finally, when they refused to go into the promised land even with reassurances that God would help them conquer, that was enough. God deemed that they would wander around the wilderness for forty years until that generation died off. Then their children would be able to enter in.

God still loved them and worked with them. But they forfeited their opportunity to enter into their rest.

But my people did not listen to my voice;
    Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
    to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways!
Psalm 81:11-13

It’s sad to think that disobedience and unbelief could be so costly for God’s people. But it’s even scarier for those who refuse to believe on Him at all.

In Romans 1, Paul tells about God’s wrath against ungodly and unrighteous people who:

  • suppress the truth (v. 18)
  • did not honor God as God, even though evidence of “his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (vv. 19-21)
  • did not give thanks to him (v. 21)
  • “became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21)
  • “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (v. 22) and “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25)

Three times in the next few verses, we’re told God gave them up.

  • “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24)
  • “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (v. 26)
  • “God gave them up to a debased mind” (v. 28)

This commentary says these were degrees: God gave them up (or over, some translations say) bit by bit until they ended up with a debased mind. That debased mind led to “all manner of unrighteousness,” which Paul expands on in the rest of the passage.

C. S. Lewis has said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” (from The Great Divorce). When we insist on our own way long enough, God lets us have it. And the results are never good.

Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices. Proverbs 1:29-31

Because God is longsuffering, He doesn’t usually give people up at the first rejection. But at some point, the door of opportunity will be closed. We don’t know how much time we have. It’s wise not to wait. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

It’s also not wise to put off obedience or the next step of faith God wants us to take.

When I have been reluctant to obey God at some point, I’ve had to confess my unwillingness and ask Him to help me be willing. One person said, “I’m willing to be made willing.”

When I have felt my heart wasn’t right and my will was being stubborn, I’ve prayed with Jeremiah, “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned” (Lamentations 5:21, KJV) and with the psalmist, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).

The psalmist and the writer of Hebrews used Israel’s disobedience to plead, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:6-11; Hebrews 3:7-8, 15). May our hearts always be pliable in His hands.

if you hear His voice do not harden your heart

(Sharing with Sunday Scripture Blessings, Scripture and a Snapshot, Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The first week of April, 2021 is in the books. I hope yours was a good one. Here are some highlights from mine:

1. Easter. Though we think of the resurrection of Christ through the year, it’s special to focus on its meaning on Easter Sunday. And we enjoy the fun parts of Easter as well. All the family but my oldest were able to come, and we Facetimed with him. We enjoyed a good dinner and dessert, and the kids had fun with hunting Easter eggs. Then everyone left and Jim and I crashed. 🙂

2. Watching Timothy while his parents were getting their COVID shots.

3. My late package came in! I almost never have trouble getting Amazon packages, but three of them disappeared somewhere between Amazon and here recently. One contained a sewing machine cabinet I had ordered to replace the desk I’ve been keeping my machine on. I know none of the packages were delivered and then stolen because we have a camera on our doorbell and would have seen that—plus Amazon still shows the packages as out for delivery. I got refunds for the other two, but held out on the cabinet, hoping it would come in. It finally did Thursday afternoon!

4. Jim and Jesse being willing to put the cabinet together. We had already asked Jesse if he’d be willing to help put it together, and he was. Jim has said that Jesse is good at figuring out the instructions and multitudes of parts of projects like this. As I am writing now, Thursday afternoon, the plan is for Jesse to come over for dinner after work and then start on the cabinet. If they get it done tonight, I’ll take a picture.

Update: They did get it finished!

I don’t know why the carpet looks gold in the top photo: it’s beige. Anyway, I am looking forward to transferring my sewing stuff over.

5. A successful grocery trip. Though we’re not experiencing the shortages of early pandemic days, I often can’t find everything I’m looking for in stores. This week I had to go to two places, but found what I wanted.

What’s something good from your week?

The Incredible Privilege of Drawing Near to God

The privilege of drawing near to God

In Old Testament times, God’s people were aware of a great distance between themselves and God.

One of the first times God met with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt, the experience was scary: “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear’” (Hebrews 12:18-21).

Getting a glimpse of God’s holiness brought people to their knees and made their sin stand out all the more in contrast. Isaiah reacted by saying, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-7). Peter responded to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:1-11). John, called the beloved disciple, “fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:9-19).

The children of Israel had to go through detailed rituals to have their sin forgiven. In Exodus they were instructed to build a tabernacle with an inner Holy of Holies which only the high priest could enter once a year. Leviticus had instructions for the different kinds of sacrifices. The tabernacles, sacrifices, and priesthood all carried wonderful symbolism of what Jesus would come to be and do. But at the time, the clearest message was that the people could not draw near to God without sacrifces and mediators because God was holy and they were not.

But even with all those rituals, “since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1).

But then Jesus came. The Savior, the Messiah promised ever since the first sin separated man from God. He fulfilled all the OT prophecies about Himself. His death was the reality pictured by the OT sacrifices for sin. At His death, the veil covering the Holy of Holies was torn open, signifying that the way was open to God.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The OT sacrifices had to be offered continually because they were insufficient to take care of sin for ever.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12-14)

The OT priests died and had to be replaced.

But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

Though Jesus was God, He was also man. He was holy, but He faced temptation and weakness and dread.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Jesus fulfilled the prophecies and symbolism given to the Jews. But what about the rest of us?

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

How do we draw near? The verses above mention faith and cleansing: faith Jesus is who He claimed to be, faith that His atonement took care of our sins. This privilege is open to anyone willing to repent of sin and believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrew 11:6)

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)

We have the incredible privilege to draw near to God—for salvation, for cleansing, for fellowship, for grace and help.

What a privilege to come into God’s presence,
Just to linger with the One who set me free.
As I lift m eyes and see His awesome glory,
I remember who He is and bow the knee.

-Ron Hamilton

For more information, see 4 Conditions to Draw Near to God.

(Sharing with Scripture and a Snapshot, Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I had some ideas for a blog post about the results of Jesus’ resurrection. But when I began to research it, I found several posts that already did a better job than I could have:

Here are a few more good reads discovered this week:

It Is Finished. An imaginative account of what the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus might have looked like from Satan’s point of view.

React vs. Respond. This was a helpful distinction.

A Few Short Truths regarding how teaching Biblical sexuality is not hate and does not incite to murder.

When America Put the Bible on Trial, HT to Challies. A look at the Scopes trial and its effects 100 years later. “Liberalism believes that you can hold on to cultural influence by compromising your convictions. And in so being and doing, it is a fool’s errand. For one, the world or culture is not interested in compromise. Nothing short of wholesale endorsement will suffice. Second, compromising the Bible’s truthfulness and trustworthiness destroys the foundation and the superstructure of Christianity itself. The church does not stand over God’s word. Culture or ‘progress’ does not have the final word on matters.”

Losing Forgiveness, HT to Challies. “It is apparently fine to be concerned about a deceased horse, while being part of a baying crowd that seeks to destroy a man. In our rush to virtue signal, or to vindicate our own omniscient appraisal of a situation, we lose perspective—we lose sight of the person.”

While I Was Still a Marxist Christ Rescued Me, HT to Challies. Wonderful account of the conversion of Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of World Magazine.

Leading in Prayer, HT to Challies. This is some good advice for when you’re asked to lead in public prayer. Though it’s for a particular slot in a particular church’s service, it has some good general principles for any gathering. I especially like the part about not making political points or preaching mini-sermons during prayer.

The Louvre Just Put Its Entire Art Collection Online, HT to The Story Warren.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for you.

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

Here we are at the first Monday of April. We’re having another cold snap, and I am hoping this is the last one. You just never know. But the temperatures have been lovely in daytime.

Here are some favorite parts of the last week:

1. A new sewing/craft room. I mentioned in my end-of-month post that since my youngest moved out, we transferred my sewing and craft things from the small bedroom they were in to his larger room. But first my husband patched holes, painted walls, and cleaned the carpet. The room is so much brighter, and everything fits in it much better. Jim helped me move most of the things in last Saturday. I have a few more small things to do in the old room, then he’ll patch and paint that one. Then we’ll turn it into a guest bedroom.

2. Pegboard accessories. Jesse had a pegboard in his room but didn’t want to take it. I decided to keep it. My work table fits just perfectly underneath it. And I’ve discovered a wide world of pegboard accessories! I had only known of the metal industrial ones from the hardware store, so I am having a blast deciding what I need from these cute options.

3. When kids want to come over. One thing about having adult kids is that they all have their own lives. Which is how it’s supposed to be. We see Jason, Mittu, and Timothy usually at least once a week, often more. With Jesse just moving out, we weren’t sure how often he’d want to come over. And he got a washer and dryer already, so he doesn’t need to come home for laundry any more. 🙂 We knew they all had plans last Saturday. We thought we might hear from them Sunday, but we didn’t. We enjoyed a restful day. Then Monday Jesse texted and asked if he could come over for dinner and just hang out with us for a while. I was touched. 🙂 I texted Jason and Mittu to see if they were free to come, too, and we had a good evening. I’m not sure how often schedules will work out for all of us to get together with Jesse on his own now, so I appreciate those times even more.

4. Ladies Bible Study. This was my first one in person in a year, though most everyone else has been meeting in person for a few months now. We spread out across the conference room.

5. Sarku from the mall. I love their chicken teriyaki. They are on the way home from church, so we used to get take-out from them often. But we haven’t done that in a year, either. 🙂 Until this last Sunday. So good!

With this being Good Friday, I can’t let it go by without saying how thankful I am for Jesus’ death for our sins. I was just recounting to someone recently how I almost got swept up in a false religion as a teenager. I was so lost and confused, and my life could have gone so many bad ways. I can’t adequately express my gratitude for God’s drawing me to Himself.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

March Reflections

It’s hard to believe the pandemic has gone on for more than a year now. But in some ways, it feels like we’ve lived under pandemic guidelines for ages.

There’s hope on the horizon with vaccine availability. But COVID numbers are still rising in our area.

We still don’t know what’s ahead, whether COVID will ever really go completely away, what kind of “normal” might eventually emerge. But we walk by faith and not by sight, trusting God’s guidance and keeping.

I had mixed emotions about the vaccines. I feared that we hadn’t had enough time to see what long-term effects they might have. But then we figured the negative effects of COVID, with our health issues, probably outweighed the possible negative effects of the vaccine. Plus I don’t think quarantine conditions will lift significantly until the vaccine is more widespread. So when my husband’s workplace sponsored an afternoon of giving out vaccines in conjunction with a local pharmacy, and they had the J&J one that we wanted, we went ahead and got them. We had sore arms for a few days, but no other side effects so far.

Almost two weeks after receiving vacations, we went back to church in person for the first time in a year. Our church is small enough to socially distance inside the building. We’re asked to wear masks except during the service while sitting with our families. They’ve been meeting in person for several months, but left the Zoom option open for those who felt they shouldn’t come in person for health reasons. It was good to see everyone in person again, but it did feel weird. Maybe it will just tak a while to get used to beig around people again. Maybe it won’t really feel normal until COVID ebbs away enough that we can meet without masks.

Family

Our biggest news this month is that my youngest son, Jesse, moved out into his own apartment. He was later to “launch” than usual due to going back to college for a few years, then difficulty finding a job, then COVID. He’s super excited to have his own place and he’s learning how to cook. 🙂

We’re adjusting to being official empty nesters. It will take a while to get over the sensation that he’s right down the hall in his room. We’re learning different daily rhythms in everything from how often we need to do laundry, what groceries to buy, how much to cook, taking on the chores he used to do, etc. Plus we just miss his everyday presence. 🙂 But we’re thankful he’s not far away. And, as we experienced with our other boys, the relationship continues and grows. It’s fun to see him take the next steps on his journey.

March also held my husband and sister’s birthdays, Pi Day, and the first day of spring—all reasons to celebrate!

Creating

We’ve had some discussions about possibly getting an RV. We finally decided maybe we should rent one for a short trip and see how we like it first. But I used an RV theme for Jim’s birthday card.

The RV design was from the Cricut, and the background was from a woodland scrapbooking paper set. I printed out the words via computer, cut them out with decorative scissors, and outlined them with a marker.

The other thing I’m creating this month is a new sewing/craft room! I had all my “stuff” set up in the smallest bedroom. When Jesse moved out, I wanted to move my things to his larger room. But first my husband patched up holes, painted multiple coats, and used a wet-vac to clean the carpet.

The whole house interior is painted beige, and after 11 years, it all need to be redone anyway. We want to switch to a light grey. We’re using the bedrooms and bathrooms to try out different shades. There’s an unbelievably wide variety of light grey shades, from yellowish to bluish to whitish to dull to bright. After a couple of tries, we found one we really like.

I thought it would just be a matter of moving a few bits of furniture and cabinets from one room across the hall to the other. But I forgot how much little stuff I had in there! We got the biggest portion done Saturday, but I have several little things to finish up.

Once I get the old bedroom cleared out, Jim will patch holes, paint, etc., in there, and then we’ll buy a bed and turn that into a guest room.

I am so thankful for my husband’s willing hard work, both with painting plus moving my “stuff.”

Jesse had a pegboard in his room on which he displayed his collection of airsoft guns. When Jim asked me if I wanted to keep the pegboard, I wasn’t terribly excited about it, but I figured it would be more trouble to take down and patch up behind it than it was worth. So we kept it and he painted it for me. Then I found tons of craft room pegboard ideas on Pinterest. And I discovered a whole new world of cute pegboard accessories!

Watching/Listening

We haven’t really watched anything out of the ordinary this month. I’m still working my way through Lark Rise to Candleford on my exercise bike, but I m nearing the end of that.

I’m not a big fan of podcasts—I’d usually rather listen to audiobooks or music. But Hope has mentioned the Literary Life Podcast. When I checked it out, they were discussing Silas Marner, which I was listening to at the time. So I listened to and enjoyed those sessions. Then it took me a while to decide which classic to listen to next, so in the meantime I listened to Literary Life’s discussions of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which I had enjoyed reading a few years ago, and Why Read Old Books. I’d like to listen to Why Read Fairy Tales sometime.

Reading

This month I’ve completed (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (audiobook) was actually completed right at the end of February, but reviewed at the beginning of this month. I had never read this Dickens classic, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t like it as well as David Copperfield, but it was good.
  • Silas Marner by George Elliot (audiobook). A man is betrayed by his best friend and falsely accused and disappointed by his church. He becomes something of a recluse, suffering another great loss, but taking in an orphaned child that changes his life. Very good.
  • Hudson Taylor and Maria: A Match Made in Heaven by John Pollock. A brief biography of the famous missionary who began the China Inland Mission, particularly in relation to his first wife.
  • The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones, novel. The Tennessee governor’s family experiences a stunning loss and is helped by the governor’s mansion’s long-time gardener. A good story except for a couple of flaws.
  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Good perspective and tips.
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope (audiobook), the first in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series. A meek warden of a local hospital is caught between a young reformer who thinks the funds are being mishandled and the staunch archdeacon who takes opposes the reformer. Took a while to get into, but I enjoyed it.
  • Be Holy (Leviticus): Becoming Set Apart for God by Warren Wiersbe.

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Besides books reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkages, I’ve shared on the blog this month:

This is one of my favorite times of year, changing from winter’s gloom and coldness, grass and trees greening up, buds forming, more daylight. Winter is having its (hopefully) last hurrah with temperatures in the twenties again at night this week, but the weather is often delightful during the day. We feel a little like bears coming out of hibernation. Somehow, more warmth and light gives us new energy.

How was your March?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)