Quarterly Reading Update

My long-time blog friend, Susanne, is hosting a quarterly get-together to set and discuss reading goals. Her second-quarter post is here.

As I mentioned in my first quarter reading list, most of my reading choices come from the Back to the Classics Challenge and two reading challenges encouraging us to read what we already own. I supplement those with other books depending on the season or my interests. Sometimes I want to get in on a new book as soon as it is released.

The classics I finished this quarter are:

The first two were on my first-quarter list. Doctor Thorne was not, but it did count for the classics challenge. Larkrise to Candleford by Flora Thompson was also on my list: I am listening to the first book in that series now. So I’m pretty much on point with classics.

Books from my TBR stash or list that I finished:

Fiction:

Nonfiction:

The starred items were on my first-quarter goal list. I had not planned on Wiersbe’s two books, though I’ve had them for a long time. I didn’t complete two on the original list, but with these two instead, I feel good about meeting my goals. I’ve finished one other that I have mixed emotions about and haven’t decided whether to review.

Another I read that I had not originally planned on was Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant, about the “lost years” of the Little House books, borrowed from the library.

Although I enjoyed all of these, probably Doctor Thorne and The Last Castle were my favorites.

For next quarter:

Classics: I’ll finish Lark Rise by Flora Thompson, but I’ll hold off on the rest of the trilogy until after I do a little more work on the Back to the Classics Challenge. I’d also like to read more of Trollope’s Barsetshire series, but will wait for the same reason. I’m undecided about which category to tackle next. Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June, so I plan to read Eight Cousins and possibly Rose in Bloom for that.

From my TBR piles:

I think I’ll hold off on the Anne Lindbergh book from last quarter’s list. I want to read it. But it’s a hefty one, and I’m just not quite in the mood for it now. But I’ll look forward to:

Fiction:

  • The One True Love of Alice Ann by Eva Marie Everson (moved from last quarter’s list)
  • Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron (currently reading)
  • A Portrait of Marguerite by Kate Lloyd (currently reading)
  • The Space Between Words by Michelle Phoenix
  • The Dwelling Place by Elizabeth Musser

Nonfiction:

  • The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs (currently reading)
  • Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston (currently reading)
  • Be Rich (Ephesians) Gaining the Things That Money Can’t Buy by Warren Wiersbe

That’s not enough for three months, but I have stacks of TBR books on my shelves and in my Kindle app to choose from.

What are you reading next?

 

 

End-of-March Reflections

March daffodilsThis has certainly been a month like no other in my lifetime.

We began by celebrating my husband’s birthday, my son’s first cat, and Pi Day. I enjoyed a long lunch with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a few months.

Then news began to spread about the coronavirus. I’ve run the gamut of emotions since I first heard of it. I think I am pretty settled now … most of the time. When bad news or new concerns arise, I try to remind myself of God’s truth. So far we are doing well. My husband and three sons still have a job and work from home. I breathe a little sigh of relief every time my husband comes home from the store, knowing we’re supplied for the next few days. I pray often that God will accomplish His will through all of this and it won’t last any longer than necessary. I’m an introverted homebody, so being isolated hasn’t bothered me. I hope it’s not harder than usual to get back in the swing of things when the time comes, but we’ll deal with that then.

Family encounters

Humor always helps. We have not felt comfortable getting food out, even with drive-through or delivery services. Some of you who have read here for a while know I love getting dinner out fairly regularly as that’s the only time I feel officially “off.” Instead, now I try to balance easy meals with the more labor-intensive ones. One night after we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, I told my husband and youngest son, “I’m glad you guys are happy with whatever I make, whether it’s simple or fancy.”

Jesse said, “It’s made with love. That’s all that matters.”

My husband said, “That’s not all that matters….”

Timothyisms

My grandson wanted to do something that required an adult presence, but my daughter-in-law was making dinner. She said something like, “Not right now, honey. You need supervision to do that.”

Timothy said, “But Mommy, I already have that behind my eyes.”

She was confused until she realized he thought she meant super vision.

Another time, I’d had a negative encounter with someone in the store, right at the beginning of the corona virus scare when stores were first emptied of paper products. I inadvertently got in someone’s way, and he told his companion, while looking at me, “I hope she gets the corona virus. I hope she dies from it.” He didn’t seem angry: he said it with a smirk. I was pretty stunned. When my son and daughter-in-law were talking about the situation at home, Timothy asked what they were discussing. They said someone had some something unkind to me and hurt my feelings. So he texted me that he loved me, and then said,” Mommy, you know why I hug Grandma so much? Because I like her. She’s so sweet.”

Another quip: “I want a pet bee so it can be an automatic honey machine.”

And the last one: we had a severe thunderstorm one night. Timothy told us later that it woke him up and he was scared and “lost his dream.” Then he climbed under the covers and felt better.

Creating

The only card I made this month was for my husband’s birthday. He’s received a lot of camping gear as gifts, so I decided to use a camping theme. The Cricut can do so much more than I use it for: I need to just play with it some time and figure some of these things out. I usually just have it cut isolated images. But I was pleased that I finally understood this time how to layer three different ones. This is one of my favorite cards yet.

I also sewed for the first time in a long time. My husband wanted me to make a face mask for him out of camouflage fabric, and thankfully I had a good-sized scrap in my stash.

Writing

Since the calendar has been cleared, and my husband has been doing the grocery shopping, you’d think I’d have all kinds of time on my hands. I’d hoped to have extra time to work on my book, but I seem to have less. I hope to carve some time out this week. I did write a rough draft of a devotional and guest blog post: I hope to polish those off and submit them soon.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I started watching the 2017-2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s really quirky, but interesting. As a family we enjoyed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It’s not a biopic of Mr. Rogers so much as an account of his relationship with one troubled man. But it’s very good.

We enjoyed watching Spies in Disguise except for a segment showing a man’s bare backside. It was just a cartoon character, but still: the scene should not have been there and should not have dragged on as much as it did, We fast-forwarded through it.

My kids played with Legos even after other toys were laid aside. I’ve enjoyed watching Lego Masters, but no one else in the family has been interested.

I mentioned last month watching Dickensian, but I had to stop when they showed a man’s bare backside as well. I hadn’t thought to check out objectionable elements in this series because it was based on Dickens’ work. I’m mad that this seems to be becoming more commonplace.

Reading

I’ve completed this month:

I’m currently reading:

  • The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  • Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston
  • Lark Rise by Flora Thompson (audiobook)
  • Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron
  • A Portrait of Marguerite by Kate Lloyd

Blogging

Here are some of the posts from this month:

That pretty much wraps up our March. I’ve been delighted to see signs of spring: more daylight, warmer days, budding plants and trees. What a sign of hope for better days to come.

I saw a thought-provoking tweet recently, but I haven’t been able to retrace it because it was from someone I don’t know. But it said something like, “Maybe being huddled in our homes wondering what’s going to happen next is the most Eastery thing we could do this year.” There’s nothing wrong with our modern ways of celebrating Easter, but who knows how the pandemic will affect those plans. This might be an Easter to remember just because it will be different. Maybe a quieter celebration will give us pause to remember the disciples’ agony those three days after their hope was crucified, and their confusion, and then joy, to realize Jesus had been raised from the dead. I hope we’ll realize the impact anew.

How was your March? What are your hopes for Easter?

(Sharing with Shannan)

When the Answer to Prayer Is Bad News

IMG_0646?ver2I love the little book of Habakkuk. It’s just three chapters long in what’s called the minor prophets of the Old Testament—minor not because they are less important, but just because these books are shorter than the five books called major prophets.

Habakkuk was a prophet who prayed—or complained or lamented—about what was going on in his country: violence, iniquity, destruction, strife, contention, perverted justice (sound familiar?) (verses 1:1-4). He sounds exasperated when he begins:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? (verse 1:2).

God responds:

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told (verse 5).

That sounds good! But God continues:

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans … (verse 6).

Wait. What?

The ESV Study Bible notes that the Chaldeans were technically a particular tribe in Babylon which grew to prominence, but eventually Chaldeans and Babylonians became almost interchangeable names. God goes on to describe them. Bitter, hasty, seizing dwellings not their own, dreaded and fearsome … more fierce than evening wolves … they fly like an eagle swift to devour … violent … their own might is their god (verses 6-11).

Habakkuk surely didn’t expect his prayer to be answered by the violence of an invading army. He understands God has “ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof” (verse 12). But, he asks, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (verse 13). The age old question: how can a holy God (verse 12) look on and allow evil to flourish? After expanding on this a while (verse 14-17), Habakkuk awaits God’s response (2:1).

God answers in 2:2-20. He doesn’t give a direct answer to Habakkuk’s complaints, just as He didn’t to Job. But He assures Habakkuk He knows what He is doing, He will take care of the Chaldeans in good time, and “the righteous shall live by his faith” (2:4). The ESV Study Bible says:

It will take faith to wait patiently for God’s plan to unfold, but the righteous believe that God will accomplish it. The phrase but the righteous shall live by his faith is quoted in the NT to emphasize that people are saved by grace through faith (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; cf Eph. 2:8) and that Christians should live by faith (Heb. 10:38-39). The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes, and that the NT authors promote, is continuing trust in God and clinging to God’s promises, even in the darkest days (p. 1724).

The book ends with a final prayer of Habakkuk, changed in attitude from his first. He reverences God. He goes on for several verses about God’s holiness, power, and majesty. He asks:

O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy (3:2).

After stating he will quietly wait for God’s timing, Habakkuk ends his prayer in faith and worship:

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places (3:17-19).

These statements are remarkable in themselves, but even more so in context. Not only did Habakkuk not get the answer to prayer he was hoping for: he got news of impending disaster. He didn’t get an explanation, but he got an encounter with God. Afterward, he was humbled and hopeful. Though even hard times were coming, he rejoiced in the God of his salvation and acknowledged God as his strength.

I don’t think this means he pasted on a smile to face an invading army and loss of resources. What he describes in his prayer in chapter three is horrible. Other prophetic books concur. The Babylonian invasion and captivity were devastating and costly. It’s okay to be sad, to grieve losses, as my friend, Lisa, wrote. Lamentations is Jeremiah’s hope-filled sadness over the same invasion. But Habakkuk had faith, prayed for mercy, and rested in God as his strength for what was coming.

I can’t help but see parallels to our current situation. No one can say exactly why God allowed a pandemic to occur. No one would have asked for it. We hope it will all last as short a time as possible. It might get worse before it gets better.

The same could be said of other bad news situations: a lost job, a scary diagnosis, a failed relationship, and upending of normal way of life. In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were threatened with being thrown in a fiery furnace if they did not bow down and worship the king’s golden image. They refused and replied, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (verses 17-18). Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). In both of those situations, the immediate deliverance was not granted. But God worked mightily for His glory and the benefit of others and delivered in His own time and way.

Our hopes and prayers aren’t always answered as we would like. But in the face of an invading virus, shortages, or any other bad news, what we most need is an encounter with God. We can trust His wisdom, purposes, and love. We can rejoice because He is with us and is our strength. He will give us grace to go through hard things.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Home,
Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement,
Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Anchored Abode,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement.
Links do not imply complete endorsement.)

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest collection of good reads online:

Seeing God’s Sovereignty in Our Suffering. “But in seasons of suffering, we have hope. Our hope is not some kind of wishful thinking that things will magically get better. Our hope is rooted in the bedrock, Bible-based truth that our God is sovereign and is orchestrating all of the events in our lives to accomplish His wise, good, and gracious purposes. ”

Calming the Soul in a Culture of Fear. How to combat fear arising from headlines and media.

Are You Storm-Tossed And Weary?, HT to Challies. “I just want them home safe—God wants to conform them to the image of his Son. I want them to be shielded from harm—he wants them to be holy. So, in prayer, I lay them at his feet, entrusting them to his care, and asking for wisdom for them and myself.”

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, HT to Linda.

4 Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Virus, HT to Linda

How Do I Overcome Comparison? The True Woman blog of the Revive Our Hearts ministry is doing a series called “Ask an Older Woman.” This is the second in the series, with some good advice.

How Do We Do Church Now? We Can Start With Prayer. Several things to pray for in connection with the coronavirus and it’s affect on us.

How the World Worshipped on One of the Most Unusual Sundays in Church History. This was neat: pictures from across the globe of people doing church remotely.

Ferdi, HT to Challies. While most of us appreciate the technology that allows up to “do church” to some degree virtually, we realize its limitations. But for some, this is the first time they get to meet with other believers.

What Will We Teach Our Kids About Trusting God? “Will we trust Him with the path ahead? Will we teach our children to trust even when things get dark? Or are we offering them a faith that is contingent on whether God does what seems right to them?”

The Gospel Is Worth the Embarrassment. There’s one odd sentence here I am not sure I agree with, but overall this is a good reminder that Jesus bore embarrassment for us. For whatever reason we feel a bit embarrassed to share His truth sometimes, it’s worth it.

I’ve mentioned Ron Hamilton several times on the blog. My kids grew up listening to Patch the Pirate, and I know and love several of the songs the Hamiltons have written and performed for years. Ron and his wife, and Shelly, were grad assistants when I was a college freshman. They were active in music ministry, so they were well known. A few years after they married, Ron lost an eye to cancer. That experience resulted in one of his most well-known songs, “Rejoice in the Lord,” his Patch the Pirate ministry to children (portions can be heard on BBN Radio on Saturday mornings), and his Majesty Music ministry for forty years. Ron and Shelly also experienced the mental illness and suicide of their son, Ron’s early-onset dementia, and Shelly’s auto-immune disease. I just watched these two videos with Shelly and was blessed to hear more of the story of God’s grace in their lives and news about how they are doing now. The videos are a bit longer than what I usually share here, but I thought some of you might be interested whether you were familiar with them before or not.

Hope you have a good Saturday.

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.

I hope you all are still doing well through our current circumstances. FFF is always a good practice to look for the good things God sprinkles through our days: otherwise we might miss them or easily forget them. Here are a few from my week:

1. My husband going to the store. He’s always willing to go, but I’ve done most of the shopping since he works long hours. I don’t want him to have to take on this task on top of working 8-12 hours a day. But he’s been working from home, and one day he offered to go to the store just to get out of the house and see how things were out there. Then later he said it might be best if just one of us goes out for now, so he has been doing the shopping ever since.

2. Store hours for at-risk people. Many grocery stores are trying to dedicate early morning hours for shoppers in at-risk categories. They can’t really restrict others from coming then, but they appeal to others to set aside this time if possible.

3. Enough supplies so far. Maybe not the brand or size we’d normally get, but we haven’t hurt for anything.

4. Successful new recipe. A few weeks ago I found some cubed steak for $1.93 a pound and got a couple of packages for the freezer. Trying to decide what to do with them, I thought of beef and broccoli, a favorite I sometimes order from Asian restaurants. I tried this recipe for the instant pot, using only half the sugar called for. It was so good, and Jim and Jesse liked it, too.

5. Camouflage scraps. My husband wanted me to make him a face mask, and he specifically wanted it out of camouflage fabric. I wasn’t sure if I had any, but he found a good sized piece in my stash. I was thankful for his sake that I had kept it on hand. I used Laura’s instructions and links. He was pleased. 🙂 He said he’d probably continue to use it after the virus scare for yard work in allergy season.

As a bonus, I was thinking this week of how many things we had done in the couple of weeks before the virus impact started: going on our Biltmore visit, having lunch with a friend, my son getting his cat, even buying Easter basket things. Most of those would not be possible now.

I hope in the midst of changed schedules and new concerns, you’ve seen God’s hand at work as well. What’s one good thing from your week?

Book Review: Be Reverent

Warren Wiersbe has written a “Be” series commenting on almost every book of the Bible. The individual books cover more than a study Bible would, but they are not as in-depth as some commentaries. They are good study aides. Wiersbe gives background information, word meanings, different interpretations for passages as well as his reasons for the interpretation he chooses, and applications for modern-day believers. His style is easy to read.

The books are available in paperback, but I often see a few at a time on Kindle app sales for 99 cents to $1.99. I’ve collected most of them, but, I’m sorry to say, they stayed tucked away and forgotten in my app.

Our church has been reading trough Ezekiel for the last several weeks. Ezekiel is known for having some of the toughest passages in all of Scripture to understand and interpret, so I figured perhaps a bit more help than my study Bible might be needed.

Wiersbe sets the theme for Ezekiel right in the title: Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God. Judah had been taken over by the Babylonians, and most of the nation was sent to Babylon in three different deportations. God had called Jeremiah to warn the people before the kingdom fell to Babylon. He called Ezekiel to preach to the people in Babylon.

Many prophets would act out object lessons for the people. But Ezekiel seems to have been given not only the most of what the ESV Study Bible calls “street theater” messages, but also the most unusual. Wiersbe calls them “actions sermons.”

One of our former pastors taught that many of the prophets prophesied during the same era, and one reason was that different people responded to different personalities. Some may have thought Ezekiel a little weird or might have been uncomfortable watching him, but others would have been drawn especially because he was different.

Wiersbe points out several repeated phrases in the book:

  • God is called “Lord God” (“ Sovereign Lord” NIV) over four hundred times.
  • “I am the Lord” occurs fifty-nine times.
  • “You will know that I am the LORD” (6:7 NIV) . . . is found seventy times.
  • Ezekiel is called “son of man” ninety-three times.
  • “The phrase ‘the word of the Lord came’ is used fifty times in his prophecy and speaks of the authority of his message, and ‘the hand of the LORD’ is found also in Ezekiel 3: 14, 22; 8: 1; 33: 22; 37: 1; and 40: 1. The word of the Lord brings enlightenment and the hand of the Lord enablement (see Eph. 1: 15–23).”

Wiersbe notes that “The Jews were sinning against a flood of light” in that they had the books of Moses, “knew the terms of the covenant,” had heard the messages of several prophets, “yet persisted in disobeying God’s will.” “The attitude of the people wasn’t that of militant opposition but rather passive indifference.” “In their pride, they had cultivated a false confidence that the Lord would never allow His people to be exiled or His temple destroyed, but their sin had now ‘matured’ and both were now about to happen.”

We must correctly distinguish regret, remorse, and true repentance. Regret is an activity of the mind; whenever we remember what we’ve done, we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?” Remorse includes both the heart and the mind, and we feel disgust and pain, but we don’t change our ways. But true repentance includes the mind, the heart, and the will. We change our minds about our sins and agree with what God says about them; we abhor ourselves because of what we have done; and we deliberately turn from our sin and turn to the Lord for His mercy.

Ezekiel assured the people that “Though His people were in exile and their nation was about to be destroyed, God was still on the throne and able to handle every situation. In His marvelous providence, He moves in the affairs of nations and works out His hidden plan.”

Ezekiel had to deal with the people about their sin and idolatry, but he also held out hope that one day God would set up a future shepherd (34:22-24), a covenant of peace (34:25-31), and His presence with them (34:30; 48:35).

One of the applications Wiersbe says Ezekiel brings out for us is “Too much so-called worship is only a demonstration of man-centered religious activity that fails to bring glory to the Lord.” He warns against falling into the trap Judah did in keeping outward forms of worship and religious activity without engaging the heart.

There is a lot of controversy in Ezekiel, too, especially over what the details of the new temple mean in the last few chapters.

There’s so much more, both to Ezekiel and Wiersbe’s comments. But perhaps this gives you taste of both. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the “Be series” in the future.

(Sharing with Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent)

An Anxiety Playlist

anxiety playlist

A book I am reading lists a few titles from the author’s playlist at the end of each chapter. I’m not familiar with most of the songs so far. But her playlist sharing gave me an idea.

One of my playlists centers around anxiety and peace. With all that’s happened in the last couple of weeks, music is a welcome respite. However, though any music might take our minds off troubles, music seeped in Scripture helps take our thoughts captive and fills our minds with truth.

So I thought I’d share some of the songs that most help me when I am feeling anxious or even when I just need the reminder that God is in control and will take care of us. Some of these are by the same singers as the ones in my playlist. But I don’t know some of these folks: some of the songs in my phone don’t have a corresponding YouTube video, so I looked for one that sounded the closest to what I have. And I added a few that I don’t have recordings of but sing to myself.

This one is filled with so much good truth:

“Still, My Soul, Be Still” by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, sung by the Pettit Evangelistic Team. You can find the words here. I’m not posting much of the lyrics because I’m not sure what the copyright restrictions are.

This one, “How Can I Fear With Jesus,” was written by Ron Hamilton. I think it was originally written for children for his Patch the Pirate character. But good children’s songs are good for adults too. The words are on the video, but they are also listed here.

This another one written for children but good for everyone: “Peace,” written by Bob Kauflin, sung here by the Galkin Evangelistic Team (words here). This one is special to me because the first time I heard it was the week after our pastor announced he had terminal pancreatic and liver cancer six years ago (he passed away just a few months later.) The children’s choir director didn’t come up with this song after hearing that news: the children had been practicing it for weeks, long before they knew this news was coming. That was a special message of comfort for our folks.

I have three different version of “Be Not Afraid” on my phone. It’s written by Taylor Davis, orchestrated by Dan Forrest. I can’t find the lyrics online, but they’re taken from Isaiah 43:1-7. I’ve always been struck by the fact that this passage doesn’t say if you pass through the water and fire, but when. (There is a similar song by the same name,based on Isaiah 43:1-4, written by Craig Courtney, which I have on the Soundforth Singers CD, Refuge, but I can’t find it on YouTube).

A different song based on the same passage written by Mac Lynch is “Don’t Be Afraid”: the words are underneath the video on YouTube.

This, “Do Not Let Your Heart Be Troubled,” was written by Lloyd Larson. I have it on the Soundforth CD, When Jesus Comes. That rendition isn’t on YouTube, but this is the same arrangement. The lyrics are based on John 14:1.

“I’ll Never Forsake You,” written by David L. Ward, is another deeply meaningful one to me. Words and a bit of background are here.

.

“Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” is an old beloved hymn by Jean S. Pigott (words here). I love the traditional melody, but I love this newer one, too:

This one, “Rest,” I know little about except that it’s written by by Phill McHugh and Greg Nelson. It’s on my phone sung by the National Christian Choir, but I couldn’t find a video of their version. It’s much like this one, however. I first heard it on afternoon on the radio when I was waking up from a nap and have loved it ever since.

This is an old one: “Simply Trusting” by Edgar P. Stites in 1876, music by Ira Sankey (words and a bit of background here.). This video is instrumental, but includes the written words. The chorus comes to mind often:

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Another old but good one: “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” written by by Lou­i­sa M. R. Stead in 1882 (words here):

And, of course, an old one that speaks straight to the subject: “All Your Anxiety” by Edward H. Joy (words here).

“Peace, Perfect Peace” by Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr., 1875.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

A newer one titled “Perfect Peace” by Joe Zichterman (words are under the video as well on YouTube).

And another newer one, “Hide Away in the Love of Jesus” (also called “Come Weary Soul,” by Steve and Vickie Cook, words here.)

And I think I’ll end with this one, because ultimately it comes down to remembering who God is and trusting Him: “Bow the Knee” by Chris Machen and Mike Harland (words here). (For those of you who know Ron Hamilton’s music, he has a different song by the same title with a little different focus.)

Well, that’s much more music than any of you can listen to in the time you have to visit, I’m sure. But perhaps you found an old or new favorite, and I hope your heart has been encouraged.

Are there any particular songs that help “calm and quiet your soul?”

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging,
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How to Avoid Spiritual Automatic Pilot

IMG_2125?ver2I made two mistakes one day that could have been serious.

The first thing I do after I stumble out of my bedroom in the morning is take a pill that needs to be taken on an empty stomach. Then I use my exercise bike, have a quiet time with my Bible and the Lord, shower, have breakfast. After that, I take other medications that I am supposed to take with food.

One Saturday after breakfast, I opened my medication container sorted by day and took the first pill. Then I realized I had actually opened the p.m. side rather than the a.m. No problem: that medication was one I took twice a day. So I opened the a.m. side to take the rest, only to discover that same medication was already gone from that side, and the one I usually take first thing in the morning was still there. I must have taken the wrong medication first thing in the morning—but now I had taken both the morning and evening doses within three hours of each other instead of twelve.

I called the pharmacist immediately to see if I was going to face any dire consequences due to my carelessness. Thankfully, she assured me that some people do take twice the dosage I usually do and told me just not to take any more til the next day.

While immensely relieved, I was also chagrined because this was not the first time I had a medication mix-up. I had purchased my pill sorter to help me keep better track of my medications. But I still have to remind myself not to be distracted or go on automatic pilot while taking them. I need to stop, think, and pay attention.

Automatic pilot isn’t always a bad thing. If you ask me on any given day if I washed my armpits or knees in the shower, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But I trust the routine process covers all the bases without my thinking about it much. A friend said that operating on automatic pilot got him through the first months after his wife’s death.

Automatic pilot in other areas can cause a range of problems, though. If I am not paying attention while driving, I might miss my turn, drift into the next lane, or miss the person speeding through the red light. I recently turned on the most-used stove burner rather than the one I needed and caught a nearby piece of waxed paper on fire (which thankfully burned itself out in seconds).

It’s all too easy to operate on automatic pilot in my spiritual life as well. I can check off my daily Bible and devotional reading and not remember an hour later what I read. I can pray, lapsing unwittingly into all the same phrases. I can go through the day without seeking God’s guidance and help, unless a major problem arises.

There are a number of ways I can combat automatic pilot living.

Be alert

When I take medicine or drive, I need to be alert. Multitasking is fine with some activities but deadly for others. The same is true spiritually.

Ephesians 8:16 says, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” The Greek word for alert means “to watch; give strict attention to, be cautious, active; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.” It’s often translated “watch,” but is also translated “wake” and “vigilant.” It’s used in connection with:

  • prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:2)
  • watching for the Lord’s return (Matthew 24:42-43; 25:13; Mark 13:34-35; Luke 12:37-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-7)
  • watching out for false teachers (Acts 20:29-32)
  • guarding against Satanic attack (1 Peter 5:8)
  • In Revelation 3:1-3, the ESV uses “wake up” while the KJV uses “watch”: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

I shouldn’t walk around half-asleep and inattentive, physically or spiritually.

Be careful

When I operate on automatic pilot, I’m not cautious, not aware of danger, not engaged. Ephesians 5:15 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” I like the word the KJV uses: circumspectly. I need to pay attention to my thoughts and actions rather than just drifting through the day.

I need to watch out not only for negative thoughts and attitudes, but I need to look for active ways to minister to others. I’m too often caught up in my own head and miss ways to bless others.

Be purposeful

Any relationship can grow stale when one person stops appreciating the other and starts taking the other for granted. It’s possible to go through daily routines side by side without connecting.

When I read the Bible, pray, attend church, I need to remember that the Christian life is not just a series of duties. It’s a relationship.

Routines can help us maintain good habits. One key to having a regular devotional time is setting a regular time, place, and plan to follow. But if routine creeps into our thinking, we find ourselves just going through the motions.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemoth said in A Place of Quiet Rest, “But if your study of the Word does not lead you to know God, you have missed the whole purpose” (p. 56). When I pray, I need to remember Who I am talking to and why. When I go to church, I need to remember this is not just what we do on Sunday morning: we’re going to hear God’s Word and fellowship with His people.

Be focused

We always have distractions. They may not be bad in themselves, and they don’t mean there’s anything wrong with us. But we do have to deal with them. One near medication mix-up occurred when I was talking to my son. I needed to either wait til we were finished or ask him to give me a second to attend to what I was doing before resuming the conversation.

We can be distracted by entertaining things, mind-numbing things, or hard things. The current crisis can draw us into a closer dependency on and hope in God, or it can distract us from Him. No matter what else is going on in our lives, we need to remember God’s Word is our truth, food, hope, guidance, and so much more. We may have to adjust our usual course of reading, but we need to keep time with God the priority of the day.

Be engaged

God told Israel in Amos 5 that He hated their sacrifices, offerings, and feasts (see also Isaiah 1:11-20). Hated them? Didn’t He ordain them, require them? Yes. But the offererers weren’t seeking Him (verses 5-6) and their lifestyles were full of injustice and oppression (10-13) and worship of idols and false gods (26). In Hosea 6:6, God said, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” He wants our obedience, yes, but He wants our hearts most of all.

Though we don’t observe the OT sacrificial system today (see Hebrews), it’s still all too easy to lapse into the forms of worship without engaging our hearts

I remind myself to stop and think before taking medication. I often pray before I drive that God will help me be watchful and careful. And I pray that God will help me stay spiritually focused, alert, intentional, and engaged.

What ways have you found to avoid automatic piloting?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Home, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Share a Link Wednesday,
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Laudable Linkage

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I don’t want to “laud” my own writing, but I wanted to let you know The Perennial Gen published a piece I wrote titled “Limitations Don’t Limit Your Ministry.”

Here are some great reads discovered this week:

How to Study Your Bible in 2020.

How a “You do You” Culture Has Made Us Vulnerable to the Coronavirus, HT to Challies. “We can only stop the virus by doing what is best for others not just for ourselves.”

A Life That Points Others to Christ. “My most earnest prayer is that when someone hears my testimony, they would be compelled to go find Jesus and His Word for themselves.”

God Is Always Good. “We evaluate God’s character based on our circumstances, when we should evaluate our circumstances based on God’s unchanging character.”

Safe, HT to Challies. A poem by Paul Tripp.

‘Progressive’ Christianity: Even Shallower Than the Evangelical Faith I Left, HT to Challies. “I’ve walked in both shoes: the shoes of those who deserted and the shoes of Peter who couldn’t leave, no matter how hard it seemed to stay. I was an #exvangelical who left the faith of my youth for ‘progressive Christianity.’ Then I returned. Here’s my #revangelical story.”

Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory, HT to Challies. In a word, no. This post debunks some of the false claims.

Surrendering Control When Facing Coronavirus, or any other situation where we don’t have control. “I’ve found it helpful, when facing out-of-control situations that cause me anxiety, to sort my concerns into two categories: 1. What I Can Control; 2. What I Cannot Control.”

3 Ways of Confronting the Problem of Diminishing Attention Spans Through the Great Books, HT to Challies. Good reasons to read the classics.

Guides for Kids and Middle-Schoolers to Take Notes During the Sermon, HT to Challies.

The Story Warren has a round-up of “awesome good-priced, free, discounted, livestreamed, giveaway, etc., stuff” being offered online during our “sheltering at home.”

Finally this video shows How Soap Kills the Coronavirus, HT to Challies.

Have a good Saturday, and stay safe.

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.

What a week! In these times where there are so many causes for concern, it’s more important than ever to consciously note the blessings God has graciously sprinkled through our days.Earlier,  I wrote a specific list about what I am thankful for during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some other blessings:

1. Pi Day. We celebrate Pi Day because the date, 3.14, is the value of pi. And any excuse to eat pie is a good one. 🙂 But then my husband noticed that the value of pi written backwards also spells pie!

Pi dayWe had Hamburger Pie for dinner (no crust, but a meatloaf-type texture on the bottom topped by mashed potatoes and cheese), and Mittu brought a great salad. Then we had Chocolate Pretzel Pie for dessert.

Pi Day dinner2. Spring is here! The signs of spring are heartening—daffodils coming up, flowering trees blooming. But knowing that we’re now officially in spring boosts my spirit.

3. Pink heart bird feeder. I found this in a bargain bin a while back, but stashed it in my closet. Now that the weather is nicer, I need to figure out where to put it. I probably won’t use it as a feeder–I’d have to refill it several times a day.

4. Supplies. Thankfully we were pretty well set for most supplies when the mania hit. I try to buy one or two ahead of most toiletries and some nonperishables anyway. Two stores were out of TP, but my husband found some at a local discount store and my son found some for his family at Walgreens. I found most of the grocery items I needed this week. Hopefully by the time we start running out, the stores will be replenished. I’ve seen notices that most stores will limit the purchase of certain items to combat hoarding.

5. Providential reading. I’ve had Breaking Anxiety’s Grip by Dr. Michelle Bengston on my shelf since September. I picked it up several weeks ago, then set it aside for some Easter reading. When my regular Bible reading ran shorter than usual this week, I picked this book up again. It was just what I needed this week! The truth that dealing with anxiety, worry, and fear is not a one-time event, but a process, and several paragraphs on relinquishing control to God especially hit home. Also, she quoted Psalm 131:2. I was used to the KJV version, which says, “I have behaved and quieted myself,” but other versions say “I have calmed and quieted my soul.” Reading it that way reminded me that “calmed” and “quieted” are actions verbs, and that we can and should remind ourselves of the truth and comfort of God’s Word.

That’s my week. How was yours?