Monthly Archives: June 2011

good mornings

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To begin the day with prayer is but a formality unless it go on in prayer, unless for the rest of it we pray in deed what we began in word.  one has said that while prayer is the day’s best beginning it must not be like the handsome title-page of a worthless book.

~P.T. Forsyth

Our pastor challenged us a few weeks ago not to waste our summer, but instead to make some changes in our lives … do something new … develop a new habit that we can carry on beyond the summer.

I had previously been thinking, even before this challenge came out, about using my summer to establish a new pattern of getting up early … not just to exercise, which I was doing here and there, but consistently to spend time in God’s word, even before my morning workout.

So, I’ve been doing it for a little over a week now … it has not always been easy, but it has always been good.  And I do believe that it will not only change my mornings this summer, but my days and my life as well … and for that I am excited!

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poolside reading

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Freshly copied from Justin Taylor’s blog today .. from my iPhone, while reading at the pool .. a great word for me today & hopefully an encouragement to many …

 

JUSTIN TAYLOR|12:55 PM CT

Wanderlust, Flights of Fancy, and the Goodness of God

From a post from my younger brother:

I have a confession to make. A lot of my fantasies don’t turn out that great. Throughout middle school (and even high school), I always wanted to run away from home. Did I have a terrible home life and parents who beat me? No, in fact I had a great high school experience of being involved after a bad middle school experience of being excluded. I wasn’t running from something—I was running to it.

Here was the vision. Leave in the middle of the night with a wonderful note to my family explaining everything, fly a helicopter made out ofPopular Science magazine (the kit cost $195), take beef jerky and rations for 6 months to a year, fly into the deep forest and crash land my plane, read a lot of books and learn another language, lift logs in order to build a shelter, come back with a beard, tanned, and to the amazement of those who saw how fit I was, deeper, wiser, and more self-fulfilled. . . .

OK, so it was a combination of self-indulgent fantasy, one too many Gary Paulsen Hatchet books, and an immature romanticism. Mark Twain wrote poignantly of the difference between theory and reality in Life on the Mississippi. The Mississippi was better when it was mysterious and imaginative to the rough kid rather than scientific and dissectable to the seasoned gentleman pilot.

So it was with my adventure. Feeling overwhelmed with school, I almost got away in the night only to have a friend tell my parents what I was up to. They sent me with some harsh words, forgiveness, and $20 to Applebee’s for milkshakes with my brother and sister.

In college in New York, I again caught that bug and traveled several hours upstate to probably one of the remotest places I found with wildly labyrinthine roads to a friend’s cabin–it was in the middle of nowhere. Now I’m from Iowa so I don’t use that phrase lightly. My goals were more modest: read a few novels, commune with God, be one with nature for three days.

What happened? Darn Reality raised her ugly head with knowing spectacles, furrowed brows, and the ol’ school marm hairdo. The forest was magnificent but the black mosquitoes swarmed in my eyes, ears, and even tickled the back of my throat making it nearly unbearable. Knowing that if there was a bear, that would be the end of me, my tough guy Grizzly Adams, Nebuchadnezzar, Crocodile Dundee persona faded into Timmy the Pampered looking for mother. In the river, I slipped on a mossy rock and gravity, another rock, and my head made for a perfect storm of pain. At night, an eerie mounted deer head and the darkest black (yes, I have never ever seen pitch black like it), made my all-too-tiny heart palpitate. Velvet black air combined with weird visions of the curtains being drawn back and a hand coming in at the window. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, but I could hear one. Was it my imagination? No—it was real! I was not alone in the room.The footsteps and the presence came closer as I frantically struggled to light the lantern to discover him there in the room as we were miles and miles from any living soul if he indeed had one…

A mouse. What would be the worst thing that could happen? Well, I suppose getting a few scampering fleshy pink feet up the old groin would be fairly uncomfortable. MacGyver-like, I filled a bucket with three inches of water, a board leading up to it, and a swab of peanut butter just inside the bucket. Ten minutes later, I heard a ‘splash,’ followed by thirty seconds of struggle, and then silence. I felt guilty all night.

It is good to be able to look back and smile at our flights of fancy and our foibles.

But it also made me think of this C. S. Lewis quote on Ray Ortlund’s blog:

I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God, some other country into which he forbids us to trespass, some kind of delight which he ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it.

The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as he can, or else a false picture of what he is trying to give us, a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. . . . He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. . . .

The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply goodspoiled. . . . You know what the biologists mean by a parasite—an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.

—C. S. Lewis, They Stand Together: The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-1963), ed. Walter Hooper (New York, 1979), p. 465. Italics original.

 

gospel-impacted relationships

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I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and books on marriage recently as I’ve been growing in my own marriage and encouraging the many newly married couples Jon and I interface with regularly.

A friend recently posted this excerpt from Justin Taylor’s blog and I found it very powerful, for the married and unmarried, I like how it applies to all relationships ..

JUSTIN TAYLOR|10:13 AM CT

How the Gospel Can Transform a Marriage

Gary and Betsy Ricuchi, Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace (Crossway, 2006), pp. 22-23:

  • Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
  • Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
  • Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
  • Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
  • Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:614). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
  • Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
  • Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
  • Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
  • Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-2124-25Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.

These are just a few of the ways the gospel can transform a marriage. Sometimes it’s not easy to live in the reality of these truths. But it is always possible—and not because of our strength or determination, but because of God’s empowering and enabling grace.

scripture memory #12

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Today we post our 12th scripture memory verse.

I was reminded (and moved) again by this passage as it was read at a wedding I attended this past weekend.

Psalm 103:1-5

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits,

3 who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

summer

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   Summer is here . . .  while I welcome the release of a schedule and activity driven life that the school year brings .. I’m realizing it also takes some adjusting to the the change of pace and establishing some new rhythms of summer that include relaxation and some intention too.

Today we started some of that  .. sleeping in, breakfast, bible study.  This afternoon we will run some errands, read some library books and maybe make some cookies!

I want to soak up every minute of the summer, engaging with my family, friends, and take advantage of opportunities to look way beyond myself and serve others.

a good word

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a great, brief discussion on marriage by three highly respected ( and highly respectable) pastors and teachers.  It’s worth five minutes of time for those married and not …

JUSTIN TAYLOR|10:28 AM CT

Piper, Carson, and Keller on Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love

“What sustains the marital bond and affections over the long haul? Three men with a combined 116 years of marriage reflect on what they’ve learned from God’s Word and others along with their experience.

“Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer insight on falling in love again and again and the ground of covenant in which the flower of love grows. In marriage, man and woman change but their promise does not, sustained by the God who enacted his covenant between Christ and the church.”

Keller’s marriage series can be purchased here.

Piper’s book is This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.