Category Archives: Comforts and Calls

Resolutions for Resolutions

 

spring painting

Now that Christmas is over, Spring is welcome anytime.

Never come to a meeting with a blank page. You may leave with a completely different page, but it’s always better to start with something. My dad’s nuggets of wisdom are both many and multi-functional. 2016 is approaching and a blank page in my house would quickly fill with the opinions of 7 others on how to spend our days. I can guarantee it would not include math facts, vegetables, or cleaning of any kind.

Traditionally the turn of the New Year is a time for refection and new resolve. And traditions are good things. We forgetful humans need habits and rhythms if we are to keep order. But making the resolutions is the easy part. Listing my intentions to swear off sugar, get up at 5am every morning, and exercise for 30 minutes a day, all from a cozy armchair on a quiet afternoon with a hot cocoa, colored pens, and graph paper is rather idyllic. Carrying out said intentions is another story.

I’m not trying to kill anyone’s optimism here. Go ahead and dream big, shoot for the stars, try to fly higher than an eagle, choose your own sentiment. Just don’t forget they’re called resolutions. They are going to require resolve, tenacity, grit. This year I resolve to use a healthy dose of sober-minded realism. While filling out my resolutions page, I will: Continue reading

Tonight’s Specials

“You weep now, are often in tears, tears of repentance, tears of sympathy; you are of them that mourn in Zion. But blessed are you; your present sorrows are no prejudices to your future joy, but preparatories for it: You shall laugh. You have triumphs in reserve; you are but sowing in tears, and shall shortly reap in joy,’’ Ps. 126:5-6. They that now sorrow after a godly sort are treasuring up comforts for themselves, or, rather, God is treasuring up comforts for them; and the day is coming when their mouth shall be filled with laughing and their lips with rejoicing, Job. 8:2 ” -Matthew Henry on Luke 6:21

At times that I’ve been in tears for either myself or others (which seems to exponentially increase with each passing year), the Lord has used many talks and books and sermons to direct my mind to comfort my soul. These 3 particularly come to mind tonight. Might I recommend:

Christ’s Loneliness and Ours – Spurgeon

Is Your Church a Safe Place for Sad People?  -Nancy Guthrie

The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer

Hugging the Porcupine

 

alice and nellieIf Chuck-E-Cheese would not cost me a small fortune both in game tokens and hand-sanitizer, I would take my kids there from sheer nostalgia. I used to love skee ball, and race car games, and tickets and Chinese yo-yos. And I really loved whack-a-mole. Ask my dad about my quick hands. I could nail those suckers as fast as I could pinch my sister without getting caught.

I find that I am not nearly so skilled at real life whack-a-mole however. No matter which need I am beating down another one seems to pop up elsewhere.  Is my house clean? School is probably not done and I’m over budget on take-out. Am I helping a friend? Doubtless, I haven’t called my sister in a month and my kids have had too much screen time. Am I teaching a class well? We’ve likely skipped date night and I am sleeping in.

For a while I react by whacking faster, harder, and with reckless abandon . Everyone knows indecision spells doom and at least I’m hitting something, right? While this strategy may work for little felt-covered, metal moles that indiscriminately give tickets, the needs of real life need prioritizing. Continue reading

Christ Colored Glasses

blogpost

Once upon a time, I had an idea to start a blog for my kids. It was to be a place for them to practice writing and worldview discernment and have fun. It totally bombed. But, it was not for naught.

Even though my hygienist recently missed my grey streak and thought I was a college student (may she be blessed forever), I actually have a middle-schooler. She has some worldview homework due for co-op and tada! the blog came in handy after all. I had already written an explanation for students. It’s off the beaten path on this blog, but we’ll give it a go- a post for kids :

What are Christ Colored Glasses? Continue reading

Worldview Through Literature’s My Favorite

maggie in a treeSchool is off to a good start in our house. Maybe for the first time ever, we’ve hit a sweet spot of rigor and fun. Since all great literature aims to “teach and to delight” studying worldview through literature together is my favorite.

A few years ago, I got to help start a co-op with this very emphasis. I wrote the following vision statement for my class. I hope however you school your kids, you’ll make time for rollicking good book discussion. It pairs well with candy and tickle parties.

Why study worldview?

In his book, The Universe Next Door, James W. Sire defines a worldview as:  “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation in which we live and move and have our being.”

The more consciously and consistently we understand our own presuppositions and those of our neighbors, the more precisely we will be able to bring the Scriptures to bear on each other’s hearts and bring good news to the lost.

Why study worldview through literature?

Most often a person’s worldview is not held out to us in the form of tidy propositions.  Instead we are often sifting through the stories of life to understand what a person functionally believes about reality.  Literature, like life, is expressed in many forms.  The trained eye will be able to see content through those forms in order to most accurately apply and communicate biblical reality.  A good story allows the student a vicarious experience before experiencing it in real life.  In other words, it’s good practice.

This practice also teaches the student of literary analysis, discernment.  When well trained to decipher meaning through form, one will not be readily fooled by beautiful sounding rhetoric.  The thoughtful critic will be able to articulate the truth value of a story that is written, told, or even lived well.

God has revealed himself to us through literature.  The bible makes use of many forms of artistic language and rhetoric. Words are part of his creation for us to use to take dominion, to enjoy, to know our maker and savior, and to give him praise.

*Some information is based on:
Tapestry of Grace. Poetics. Kingsport: Lampstand Press, 2013. Digital

Have Mercy on ME!

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Sometimes when I am listening to the “she said, she said,” of the day, I daydream about how to apply Jethro’s advice to Moses in my home. Are there judges for hire instead of babysitters?  Don’t I have better things to do than to rule on whether or not referring to a fellow person as “Taco Sally” was meant to incite rage or giggles? Probably not.

What better way to spend my time than peacemaking. It is, after all, a fundamental characteristic of being a child of God. I spend so much time dealing with sisters (and on more rare occasions their brother) sinning against each other, I went to the oft quoted Matthew 18 passage that addresses just that topic.  Of course the way to peace is forgiveness.  I wrote down my observations about forgiveness in a brainstorm:

Forgiveness from Matthew 18 is:

  1. To be given repeatedly.
  2. Not to be withheld.
  3. Does not demand payment, but incurs debt.
  4. Secured by Christ either through his blood or his judgement in hell.
  5. Comparatively small to our own need for it.
  6. Seeks opportunity to be given. (i.e. does not wait idly for an apology)
  7. Fruit looks like it being given to others.
  8. Leaves safety to bring back the one in danger.
  9. Increases in intensity (e.g. witnesses) as it seeks to have victory.
  10. Hateful of sin and wants to see it cut off.
  11. Evidence that we have been forgiven.
  12. Undeserved.
  13. Accompanied by pity.
  14. From the heart.

I came away with a renewed sense that to gain another person by forgiveness is a privilege. To forgive our brother from our heart is to understand God’s world and our place in it rightly. And it’s not just for my kids’ skirmishes.

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a month now, not sure how to finish it. Here are some thoughts about forgiveness, but how do we do it? And why is it so hard sometimes?  Yesterday, I had a lovely talk with some ladies about what it means to be the chief of sinners. It means to compare ourselves to the holiness of God, and to see grace upon grace to our undeserving souls. It is to know that there is no sinner, not Cain, or Job’s friends, not Judas, or Paul, or Hitler, or Stalin, not your gossiping friend, or your adulterous husband, that you are not capable of becoming were it not for the sovereign grace of God working in you. This is where the work of forgiveness really begins. It starts with, “Lord have mercy on me!”

Sell It All

horses in a line“Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.” (Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”)

Unity is God’s desire for the church. Jesus prays and pays for it, Paul pleads for it, the Spirit works for it. Christian relationships are not primarily built around our personalities, our shared interests, or our commiserations. I have spent a good deal of time lately thinking on where I get hung up on turning relationships away from Christ and toward myself.  There are MANY places, but I thought I’d share a few places I’ve found freedom:

  • Secure identity in Christ alone. (Gal 2:20) This is the big one that the others flow from. It is true that we need to depend on other people and that Christ uses the body as a means to sanctify us, but we also work, and think, and die alone. Our salvation is both a group project and it is Christ’s personal application of his blood to individuals. While we need the church and friends, our position in justification rests squarely and only on Christ. Our true need, to be made right with God, is met by Christ, and his church exists to give him glory and remind each other about him, not about each other. Whenever we need ultimate affirmation that we are ok, (i.e. justification) from other people we will become oppressive in those relationships, demanding another sinner die for us. But of course, only Christ, the God-Man, has died the satisfactory death we need.
  • Honesty. When we are secure in Christ, we are free to be totally honest. We are free to take ourselves before the Scriptures and consider our ways and our heart according to his law. And when we are examined by others, our answers are not filtered through how we fear the other person might misunderstand us or even use our honesty against us. We are free to say what is true about our sin and Christ’s forgiveness and leave it at that. One of my biggest fears is that if I confess sin or even where I disagree with someone, they won’t understand the nuances or the complexity of my heart and that I will be locked in to that identity forevermore. And the thing is, it will happen. People will use my honesty in a dishonest way (and I’ll do that to others), but that is to be entrusted to the one who judges justly (1 Pet 2:23). When I try to answer in such a way to stay out of trouble then I am robbing myself of the opportunity to confess sin to the body and be healed (James 5:16).
  • Cheerful giving. Identify with Christ in his relational sufferings. We have not suffered pain or injustice that he has not carried and been victorious over. He has known loneliness, being lied to, his love spurned, his person misunderstood, oppression, relational misunderstanding. We are privileged to be worthy to suffer after our Master.Similarly, Christ has been tempted in every way we are yet without sin (Heb 4:15). We are not just victims of others relational ineptitude, we are predators. I am clumsy at best, often defensive and self-protecting, and at worst looking for my own glory in relationships. And here again Christ has both felt the struggle and conquered for us. He sympathizes with our weakness. Because of his suffering, dying, and living for us, we are free to give ourselves cheerfully, not under compulsion (Philemon 14). He is the one worthy to open the scrolls and judge, we don’t have to keep track of fair and unfair. We get to just give what we have received with a happy, thankful heart.
  • Relationship trouble is sanctifying for all parties. Some of the times I’ve come closest to giving up on a relationship is when I am convinced that another person’s goals for me are just not something I’m interested in and that all the strife is a waste of time. But then I remember that maybe I’m not the only one being sanctified in the situation. Our God is efficient in his work and is likely working something out of them too. It could be at times that my job is to stand firm, cheerfully, honestly, confidently in Christ, and lovingly firm.

Unity is a word that people love to attach themselves to without much thought. But Christian unity requires counting the cost. To be united to each other we must be united through Christ, first and last. And that means death, to sin and self. And death can get expensive.

But Jesus rose on the first day of the week, and so it also means life, a glorious resurrected, paid for life where we will relate intimately and without fear to Jesus and his saints for all eternity. Go sell all you have, He is worthy.