Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miscellany


I don't know about you, Gentle Readers, but I am more than ready for this upcoming election, if only to stop having to listen to the campaign commercials. I have already done early voting, and i have been pretty quiet lately about politics. But this morning I read some excellent articles that reinforced why I did bot vote for Barak Obama. If you still have an open mind on this subject, or are trying to decide what to do with your vote, you might consider this excellent article about Obama as a postmodernist,or if you'd rather take a look at his failed economic policies, try this fascinating article from City Journal. Of course, his stand on abortion drives me away. There is a thoughtful post here, along with a video from the Sentor's own mouth. And if you are wondering why you mostly hear positive things about this candidate, you may wish to take a look at these articles, one by an ABC news man, and the other by author Orson Scott Card, also a journalist.

I read something interesting on the financial crisis this morning by Thomas Sowell here. But then, I am a Thomas Sowell fan. You might enjoy the video interviews with him from Hoover Institution, found here. These are a series of short (5-8 minutes) interviews based on Sowell's classic book, A Conflict of Visions. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years waiting for me, and I've just got to get around to it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments


...God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people...


Read the rest from John Piper about why God doesn't fully explain our pain here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the redemptive part of marriage


It has often seemed to me that marriage is a picture of God's redemption for us. This is not a new or novel or original idea, of course. I think I am in good company here with the Biblical authors. A godly spouse covers and confronts our sin, and calls us to be what we have little confidence we can be. This is a little earthly picture of what God is accomplishing in us in an eternal way.

Recently my son, Ben, wrote a lovely poem for his wife. We were speaking with him about the poem today, and he said Elsa didn't care for it. What bothers Elsa is not the picture drawn of Ben, but the one drawn of herself. (If you haven't read the poem, please do! It's reprinted below.) Ben draws himself as frail and flawed, and Elsa as redemptive in his life. Those of us who know Elsa see her written all over that poem. And she only proves it by being uncomfortable with the praise Ben offers her there.

Every good marriage is redemptive. Dave believes I can be better than I, myself believe, knows the real me better than anyone else, and still chooses to love me, and calls me to rise to the occasion and return the good faith he gives me. He covers my sin when it needs covering, and confronts it when needed, though he is more gracious with me on that score than I deserve, covering far more than he confronts. He bathes me in prayer every day. His love makes me more lovely and lovable.

We can already see this at work in the marriages of both of our sons. What a joy it is to see them growing together, appreciating the deep relationships that can only be founded upon God. And I have daily reminder of God's grace through my own dear husband. God knew it was not good for us to be alone, and I am so glad He has given me such a blessing in my dear husband!

A Sonnet for my Wife by Ben Finnegan

How can I start, with what sincerest words
should I presume to some humility
or sadly boast of all my faults and failures,
or maybe calmly raise the possibility
that mine are not the hands that I would wish
to feel your fragile faith or touch your trust,
that I am fallen, broken, a work unfinished
shaped by shameful sins and lowly lusts?

While I am earthware, dust and gilded wire,
my frame and substance all corruption, you
lift your eyes and pray refining fire
because your love for me is pure and true.
You are clay the same as I, but bold,
bravely, humbly daring to be gold.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The tragic vision


Today I have been listening to a lecture from Biola University by Victor David Hanson. (You can listen to it here.) Dr. Hanson discusses an idea that is relatively new to me: the fact that we have exchanged the tragic vision of life (that man's life is hard and short and we make decisions based on that fact) for the therapeutic vision (that we are victims and deserving of relief from the daily chaos.) Education at one time had a goal of helping us to come to a higher wisdom in dealing with the difficulties of life, but now education's goal is to lead us to a predetermined therapeutic end where we can be liberated from the tragic and given an "enlightened" utopian vision. The problem is, of course, that this utopian view doesn't reflect the reality of the world.

Fascinating...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our inheritance


This morning I am weary. My post-op drugs are helping keep my pain in check, but at the cost of a certain amount of wherewithal...I am tired and fuzzy around the edges.

One of the things I have been thinking about through the stupor is the rich blessing of the communities I find myself a part of. God has richly blessed me with family, church family, and Christian community that is real and valuable. I praise Him for that! And I pray for the cloud of witnesses around me. May we stand firm for Christ in this weary world.

Besides the heavenly inheritance prepared for the saints, there is a present inheritance in the saints; for grace is glory begun, and holiness is happiness in the bud.

~Matthew Henry

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments



He Giveth More Grace by Annie Flint

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An adventure


An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, October 17, 2008

For what is unseen is eternal


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Longing for reading time


I am not making my way through nearly as many books at the moment. Part of that is my resumption of some of my regular activities-- which is a good thing. Those activities also take up some reading time: especially since my worldviews text has been revised, and I am needing to get through all of it ahead of my students! I am also needing to research again, and doing more reading about mediastinoscopies and sarcoidosis than I would like! And it doesn't help when one keeps resetting her Mp3 player accidentally to the beginning of her audio book and loose her place and spend most of her listening time trying to find it! All that to say, my book consumption is definitely down so far this month.

On my theological titles: I am continuing to plug away at Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. it is encouraging, and accessible. We are studying Owen's Mortification of Sin in Sunday School, and it is convicting me of my own comfort level with my own sin. It is well worth the read. Our women's group is reading Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, and it is a vintage Piper devotional, full of truth.

On my non-fiction titles: I haven't picked up Climbing Parnassis in so long that I should probably take it off my list. The half I've read is very good... The same could be said the The Writer's Workshop. I hope to get back to both of them soon!Reading Lolita in Tehran is a fascinating book, full of a culture so different from mine that it almost mesmerizes me. I find often that I don;t agree with the viewpoint of the author, but I find it fascinating to see her viewpoint anyway.

On my fiction titles: We are listening to the audio book of Morality for Beautiful Girls in the car right now, and finding this series of books endearing and charming. We just finished Tears of the Giraffe, but the progress is slow because Dave and I are trying to listen together, and our time in the car is somewhat limited. Home to Holly Springs is the troublesome book on my mP3 player. I am enjoying it, but my lack of technical expertise is bothersome. I was able to download this through our libraries to listen to when I walk, and when I don't manage to reset my place! And I need a light title to hold in my hands, so I have just pulled down Murder Must Advertise for when I want light in print.

I am longing for the day when I am well organized, and don't have too much to do, and feel well, and can read. Do you think we will read in heaven? I hope so!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tagged



This is for Elisa- she tagged me, and I felt it would be rude to ignore her...

Here are seven random/weird facts about myself...

1. I eat peanut butter on my pancakes.
2. I am the oldest of six children, hence my bossy tendencies.
3. Every time we have a serious illness, we watch Anne of Green Gables. Don't know why. We just do.
4. I love quilting and growing flowers.
5. My little toes are bent and have minuscule toe nails.
6. I still have a scar on my left knee where I jumped off a tree into a stream as a girl, and landed there on a sharp rock. Still hurts to think about it.
7. I love talking about education, theology, history and philosophy, but it is torturous for me to think of 7 random or weird facts about myself.

But, about the tagging 7 other people...I don't do "chain letters" on principle. That could have been another interesting factoid, I guess. So, if any of you who read this want in on this action, help yourself, and leave a comment to let us know.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments


The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the law of the LORD is sure making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
~Psalm 19

Friday, October 10, 2008

The spectacle of the cross


“The spectacle of the cross alienates many persons from Christ, when they consider what is presented to their eyes, and do not observe the object to be accomplished. But all offence is removed when we know that by his death our sins have been expiated, and salvation has been obtained for us”
~John Calvin, commenting on Isaiah 53

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The depth of pain



What we need is to validate and give voice to the depth of pain. I don't want to merely sound the triumphant horn of the gospel (though I do want to do that); I also want us to recognize that there is a reason it is called suffering, affliction and tribulation. We may be shocked when suffering people speak openly of their pain, and concerned when it sounds like they are questioning God's goodness, wisdom, or power. But if that makes us uncomfortable, then the Bible will make us uncomfortable. As we will see, the pain of some of the Psalmists was raw and at times quite disturbing...

~Dustin Shramek, "Waiting for the Morning during the Long Night of Weeping", Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. (P. 180)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The absense of original thought




A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.

~Dorothy Sayers

Monday, October 06, 2008

Miscellany


I am still cleaning out the things I've saved over the last several months, gentle readers. So here is another hodgepodge of things I found interesting or instructive...

Dr. Grant posted a short, but eloquent poem on being overweight here. I have to admit it's the first time I've run across a poem on this subject matter!

On the phenomenon of Sarah Palin, I found this history interesting, as well as this short reflection.

I found this reflection by R. R. Reno at First Things to be a rather thought-provoking take on the tatoo phenomenon. And here is another thoughtful piece by John Mark Reynolds on ways to counter the negative effects of the media technology ever-present in our lives.

Lastly, here is an excellent list of resolutions about the tongue, by Sinclair Ferguson, taken from James 3. It seems an appropriate way to end a blog post:

James 1:5 To ask God for wisdom to speak and with a single mind
James 1:9-10 To boast only in exaltation in Christ, & humiliation in world
James 1:13 To set a watch over my mouth
James 1:19 To be constantly quick to hear, slow to speak
James 2:1-4 To learn the gospel way of speaking to poor and the rich
James 2:12 To speak always in the consciousness of the final judgment
James 2:16 To never stand on anyone’s face with my words
James 3:14 To never claim as reality something I do not experience
James 4:1 To resist quarrelsome words in order to mortify a quarrelsome heart
James 4:11 To never speak evil of another
James 4:13 To never boast in what I will accomplish
James 4:15 To always speak as one subject to the providences of God
James 5:9 To never grumble, knowing that the Judge is at the door
James 5:12 To never allow anything but total integrity in my speech
James 5:13 To speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer
James 5:14 To sing praises to God whenever I am cheerful
James 5:14 To ask for the prayers of others when I am sick
James 5:15 To confess it freely whenever I have failed
James 5:15 To pray with and for one another when I am together with others
James 5:19 To speak words of restoration when I see another wander


To hear Dr. Ferguson's whole talk,here is the Desiring God Conference page.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments


'For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.' (Lamentations 3:31-33)

'God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to us. He does not delight in causing us to experience pain or heartache. He always has a purpose for the grief he brings or allows to come into our lives. Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that his infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us. God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish his purpose. And his purpose is for his glory and our good. Therefore we can trust him when our hearts are aching or our bodies are wracked with pain.'

~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Owen on sin


"Sin aims always at the utmost: every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin of that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery, if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression; every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head... It is modest in its first proposals; as it were, in its first motions and proposals; but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presseth on to some further degrees in the same kind...

Now nothing can prevent this, but mortification. That withers the root and strikes at the head of sin every hour, so that it is crossed in whatever it aims at. There is not the best saint in the world but, if he should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sins as ever any did of his kind."

~John Owen, Mortification of sin (pp.30-31)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Just how geeky are we?


The answer is, pretty darn geeky...

Take last night, for instance. After dinner, we took a walk, then spent the next couple of hours finding small objects that could fit into graduated cylinders and had varying densities, weighing them, and calculating their densities. I guess we would have a higher geek quotient if we had just done it for fun, but we were preparing for the high school chemistry class Dave is teaching. The really geeky part is, it was fun for both of us!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A couple of quirky movies



We recently watched a couple of rather off-beat little movies. Both were enjoyable.

The first, "Ladies in Lavender" stars Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, so how could it go wrong? Add to that the musical performances of Joshua Bell and the fine acting of Daniel Bruhl, and it was well worth watching. It's an interesting story about two elderly sister in a house by the sea, where a mysterious, foreign young man washes ashore. They nurse him to health, introduce him to their Cornwall village, and struggle quietly with their own fears of aging, loss of youth, and prejudices.



The second film, entitled in French "Le Chateau de ma Mere", was beautiful and endearing. It is a simple story of boyhood adventure and family life, complete with quirky characters, laughter and tears. If you are looking for a quiet, beautiful little film about the impact we have on one another's lives, you might look for this one.

I hope you all get to watch something interesting and uplifting this weekend!