Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to share the interesting reads I’ve come across, so I have quite a list accumulated.

Love Is More Than a Choice.

How I Process the Moral Failures of My Historical Heroes. I’ve been pondering this for some time, with the thought of possibly writing a post about it, so I was glad to see some thoughts very similar to my own.

Pray Them Home: Three Prayers to Pray for Prodigal Children.

The Father Who Eliminates Shame.

Ecumenical vs. Evangelical, HT to Challies. A good, concise summary of the history and the issues involved.

The Not So Simple Life. “No matter where you land on this simplicity spectrum, all of these endeavors don’t satisfy the peace we hope to gain from the ‘simple life’…Even simplification is a vain pursuit when it takes up so much room in our minds and our hearts.”

Don’t Take This Personally. “We each cast ourselves as the star (and director and producer) in our own movie. All our life’s plots revolve around us. And all the people in our relationships are supporting actors. But here’s the catch: The supporting actors in our movies are actually busy starring in their own movies.”

Dear Girl: Please Don’t Marry Him. “Your fear of breaking off the relationship should be obliterated by the fear of making a foolish marital choice which is far, far worse.” I don’t know anything about this author, but thought this was a good article.

Teens Who Choose Life in Unplanned Pregnancies Need Support and Respect, Not Shame, HT to Challies. Being pro-life is not just a matter of being anti-abortion.

The Art of Days. Seeing beauty in the everyday tasks.

Let Your Kids In On Your Ministry.

Desire, Choice, Consequence: Building Character Through Stories, HT to Story Warren.

Member of the Family.

As You Grow, So Should Your Dresses.

Is the ESV Literal and the NIV Gender Neutral? HT to Challies. Very little, if any, translation from one language to another is literally word for word the same, due to differences in sentence construction, words for which there are no equals, etc.

6 Keys to Help You Be the Boss of Your Blog.

The Numbers Trap, HT to True Woman.

Is Screen Time the Enemy of Reading? I almost didn’t read this, figuring I knew where it was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised.

To a Schoolgirl in America: Writing Advice From C. S. Lewis.

Free ebooks, HT to Worthwhile Books.

I saw this on a friend of a friend’s Facebook, and I don’t know who originated it, but I think it’s great. The OT is so much more than moralistic stories.

What the Bible's About

(Links do not imply 100% endorsement of site or author.)

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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.

Another Friday is here! The first FFF of the summer! Here are some highlights of the last week:

1. Father’s Day. Always a joy to celebrate my husband and son and father and step-father – as well as enjoy some good food and having the family together. 🙂

2. A “man bouquet.” My daughter-in-law made this as a centerpiece for Father’s Day dinner. I’m sure they liked this better than flowers. 🙂

Man bouquet

3. A medical test completed. I decided to go ahead and schedule an ablation surgery for the atrial fibrillation I’ve been experiencing, which will be next month, and a test I had to have in preparation for that was a CT scan of the heart. I’m told that will provide the cardiologist a “map” for when he does the surgery. That was Wednesday, and everything went well. Sometimes technicians can treat you like a piece of the furniture, placing you where they need you but not really interacting and not pleased with questions. But this one was very friendly and efficient, explaining everything well, telling me what to expect, and answering a question I had. When I got a little lost on the way to the imaging department, a hospital worker passing by noticed me looking at the signs and helped me find my way. Normally even for familiar and simple medical appointments I have a little undercurrent of nervousness, but about halfway in I realized God was giving me a remarkable calmness. I’m glad that’s done and I hope the actual procedure next month goes as well.

4. Timothy. My daughter-in-law told me that one day this week, out of the blue, my grandson Timothy said, “Grandma loves Timothy.” That warmed my heart. I’m so glad he knows that.

5. Passing the summer solstice. I like having some extra daylight in the evenings, but sometimes it’s hard to wind down when it is light so late and mentally it doesn’t seem so late. I like the in-between rather than the extremes of summer and winter. 🙂

Happy Friday!

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Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

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I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. 🙂

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This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

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That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. 🙂

Book Review: Though Waters Roar

Though Waters RoarIn Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin, Harriet Sherwood is a young woman in the early 1900s who has just landed in jail for defying the Prohibition’s liquor laws – but not for the reasons you might think. As she spends the night in jail, she contemplates how ironic it is that she’s there, given that her grandmother spend much of her adult life fighting for Prohibition. Trying to trace how she got to where she is, she reminiscences about the women in her heritage.

Her great-grandmother, Hannah, helped hide slaves and smuggle them to the Underground Railroad. Her grandmother, Bebe, stepped out of the conventional role of her new marriage in upper-class society to help those less fortunate, participate in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and fight against “Demon Rum,” landing in jail herself for taking an axe to whiskey barrels. Her mother, Lucy, though having a very different personality and upbringing, eventually stepped out of her shallow lifestyle to try to help others as well. Finding that the means to appeal to civic authorities for needed changes was blocked by those authorities because she was a woman, she fought for women’s right to vote.

Harriet “didn’t want to be like my fiery grandmother and end up in jail, any more than I wanted to be a dutiful wife like Mother or a virtuous siren like Alice [her sister]. But how was I supposed to live as a modern woman, born just before the dawn of the twentieth century? What other choices did I have? That’s the question I was endeavoring to answer when I ended up in jail.”

The story of Harriet’s ancestors takes up most of the book and is told in flashback. With each mother-daughter pair, the mother tries to teach eternal truths to a daughter not always willing to listen, at least at first. But eventually each finds her own way, and Harriet is reassured that “Someday…God is going to give you a task to do in your own time and place. Then you’ll have to put your faith in Him as you follow your conscience.”

A few favorite quotes:

Thank goodness you’re such a plain child. You’ll have to rely on your wits.

Grip the rudder and steer, Harriet. Don’t just drift gently down the stream. If you don’t have a map, you might run aground somewhere or end up crushed against the rocks. Always know where you’re headed.

Bitterness is like a weed. Remember how hard it always was to pull out thistles once they take root? Remember how deep those roots grow, and how if you just snapped off the end of it, the plant would grow right back? You have to dig down deep inside. Let God search your heart. Let Him show you what’s there and help you root out all that bitterness.

There’s no shame in changing direction, Harriet. In fact, once you’ve seen the warning signs, it’s always wise to turn around.

Our daughters aren’t the same people we are, nor are they extensions of ourselves. They are unique individuals in God’s eyes, responsible to Him for the choices they make, not to their mothers.

As much as our communities might need it, and as bad as things are, imposing our morality on others isn’t the answer. It doesn’t work. People may be forced to give up alcohol, but they are still going to hell. That’s our calling—to bring people to Christ—not to force them to behave the way we want them to or to solve all their external problems.

I had not known until fairly recently that there were different waves of feminism and that when it first started, it fought for good and necessary ways to help others. It was later on that other agendas and prejudices crept in. So it was interesting to read how this first wave came about. Even in fighting for good causes, though, there were problems with balance in being away from home so much, leaving children to others to raise, and occasionally defying husbands. I don’t think the author is saying those things are necessary or right, but that it’s always a struggle to maintain the right balance. Even Grandma Bebe (speaker of the last quote listed) comes to realize in the end that her life would have been better spent in eternal pursuits.

I actually didn’t like Harriet very much, but I think her personality was indicative of both having been left to herself too much and trying to find her way. When she does seem to be finding it and some pieces start to fall together for her, some of the rough edges smooth over.

I did enjoy the story and the look into the lives and journeys of the women. I was about to say which one I identified most with, but then found I couldn’t really name one – there was much to glean from and identify with in each woman’s life.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

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Why Study Doctrine?

Doctrine can seem like a cold, dry concept, something stuffy theologians fuss over when they should be trying to reach others. We’re more excited by a group study on relationships or parenting or womanhood or just about anything rather than a doctrinal study. We don’t usually approach our time in the Bible or church rubbing our hands eagerly anticipating what doctrine we’ll learn about today. We’re usually looking for help, encouragement, affirmation. We want to feel something. But feelings don’t last. If I get a warm fuzzy spiritual feeling in my devotions, that can dissipate in seconds when someone crosses me or something goes wrong. Winsome sermons and books may inspire me for a short while, but unless there is meat to them, that inspiration won’t last.

But doctrine is vital. You can hardly read a NT epistle without coming across a mention of doctrine and warning against false doctrine. If we think of sound doctrine as a manifestation of God’s truth and character, we can in turn worship Him by knowing and sharing the doctrines of His Word.

A.W. Tozer once wrote that “there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.”

So what are some advantages to studying right doctrine in the Bible?

Doctrine leads us to true worship. When we don’t worship God for Who He truly is, then we are worshipping a god of our own making, and that is idolatry. Now, of course, all of us are imperfect in our knowledge of Him and are, or should be, ever growing in Him, and He’ll correct our understanding along the way. But that is different from not knowing Him for Who He is due to neglect or misapplication of the Word.

Doctrine increases our intimacy with God. We can’t know Him aright apart from what He has revealed of Himself in His Word. As we learn more of Him, we love Him and worship Him more, and what seemed like “dry doctrine” then does become something that warms and thrills our hearts as the Holy Spirit brings that truth to mind.

Doctrine protects against error and therefore the wrong path. For example, years ago when cult leader David Koresh was in the news, I watched an interview with someone from his compound. I was shocked to hear her say that she was impressed that he knew his Bible so well. Nearly everything he brought from the Bible, he twisted. Knowing doctrine would have kept this person and others from being deceived by him and others like him.

Doctrine bolsters our faith and confidence in God.  Recently I was troubled by a question I had no answer for that cast doubts on God’s character. I still don’t have an answer for it, but I rested on the previously studied truth that He is good, righteous, kind, and merciful.

Doctrine meets our deepest needs at the most basic level. If I am feeling lonely, what most helps except the truth that God is present everywhere, even with me? If I am afraid, what helps most but meditating on God’s power? When a trial comes and people feel forsaken, what most comforts but the precious truth that God will never forsake us? If I am feeling ashamed, sinful, and unworthy, my only help is turning to the only One who can wash away my sin and remind me that I am in Him and beloved by Him.

Doctrine is stabilizing. “So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV). I’ve known women and read women who do just this, float around with whatever is popular with little discernment. 2 Timothy speaks of “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” who are “lead captive” by a whole host of wrongdoers in the “perilous last days” (2 Timothy 3:1-7, KJV). By contrast, Titus 2 exhorts us to “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (v. 1, KJV).

Doctrine determines deeds. Our beliefs affect our behavior. When a lie seems the only way out of a tough situation, what keeps us from it but the knowledge that it will displease a God whose essence is truth? Even the Titus 2 admonition to older men and women is couched in the context of sound doctrine.

Doctrine honors God. He is the one who determined what sound doctrine us. If we love Him we should want to know what He says and live accordingly. It’s so important to Him, He inspired John to write, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (1 John 1:10, ESV).

Doctrine is not an end in itself. If it is, then it does become dry and stale. The point of doctrine isn’t to line up our beliefs in neat, orderly systems and leave them there. The point is to know God better, serve Him in the ways He desires, and minister His truth to others.

People concerned about right doctrine can seem pesky and picky, and, true, it’s too easy to be that way. We shouldn’t be nitpicky just to be so. But we should “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB), and as kindly and gently as possible bring His truth to bear in our conversations and interactions. We have to remember to let our speech be always “with grace” (Col. 4:6) and to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We don’t need to “pounce” on every comment or reference another person might make, but graciously seek what the Lord might have us say. We also have to distinguish between clear doctrine and those areas where good people can differ or personal preferences.

II Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (KJV). We “behold Him” through His Word. And, the more we behold Him, the more we are changed into His likeness.

So, don’t be dismayed by that word “doctrine.” II Timothy 4: 3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” That is a warning to us not to turn away from sound doctrine, but also possibly an admission that sound doctrine needs to be “endured.” Learning doctrine may not always feel warm and fuzzy, but the Holy Spirit will use it in our lives in blessed ways.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

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 usually start my FFF posts on Thursdays, but this week I was drawing a  blank. It wasn’t a bad week, but nothing really stood out at first for this week’s post. But, as always, once I start to think about and look for blessings in the week, I find them.

1. A quiet week. Just the fact that it was an uneventful week, spent mostly at home, was a blessing, especially after last week’s ER events.

2. Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb salad. My errand-running usually occurs later mornings, culminating in my bringing home something for lunch for Jesse and me. One of our occasional lunch places is Zaxby’s, and I love their chicken strips, fries, toast, and sauce. But I’ve been trying to make better heart-healthy choices lately, so I got their grilled Cobb salad. It was wonderful! I can’t wait to have it again. I’ve been trying to choose grilled instead of fried at restaurants, with mixed results, but this was so good. The calorie count, which they helpfully put on their drive-through menus, was still pretty high, but I have to believe the choice was still a better one with all the fresh veggies. I’m not usually one to have a salad for a meal – I tend to think of them as appetizers or side dishes, even with meat in them. But this lasted me until dinner.

3. Timothy’s “playground,” as he calls the set we got for him. It took Jim and Jesse, with help from Jason as he had time, a couple of Saturdays to put it together. Timothy was taking a nap when it was completed, and we couldn’t stay til he woke up, so his parents filmed his first reaction to it and sent the video to us. Priceless! When he climbed up to this little perch, he said he was “so high in the sky!” And then he wanted to FaceTime with us so we could watch him play on it.

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4. Surprise visits. Sometimes when Jason, Mittu, and Timothy are out in the evenings, they ask if they can stop by to visit. I treasure living close enough to have that happen!

5. Naps. I don’t know why I seem to be unusually sleepy this week, but I’ve been grateful for naps in the daytime to give me enough energy to then get something else accomplished.

As a bonus, we found out that some of my family is driving down from up north this summer to visit two of my sisters in SC. We can’t stay overnight because of Jim’s mom’s care, but we’re making plans to at least meet halfway between here and there for lunch one day. There is even a possibility the rest of the family in TX might come – if they did, that would be the first time since my mom’s funeral 11 years ago that all six siblings were together, so I hope it works out!

Happy Friday!

When the Message Isn’t For Me

Courtesy offreedigitalphotos.net

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

A week or two ago I came across a blog post that got me to thinking about how we respond when a meeting, church service, or even a Bible passage seems to apply to someone other than myself. When there is an ordination service or a Mother’s or Father’s Day message or children’s program, do I skip them because I am not a part of any of that?

I don’t think so. Here’s why:

1. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16-17. It is all profitable for me in some way even if the particular passage doesn’t seem to apply to me.

Some years ago the pastor of the church where we were at the time read a few verses from Exodus with instruction about oxen. He asked, “Do any of you own an ox?” No one raised their hands.

He then asked, “How many of you have even seen an ox?” One or two raised their hands.

“So,” he said, “We should just turn the page and skip this passage, right?” No, we didn’t think so, but what do we do with that passage?

He then brought out several applications from the passage. For instance, someone who owned an ox that was known for trying to push people with its horn was more liable if it injured someone. So if we have, say, a dog with a tendency to bite, we are even more responsible to keep it from people it could hurt. Or, to apply it further, if our tail lights are out on our car, we’re liable if someone crashes into us because they didn’t know we were stopped or slowing down to turn, so it behooves us to keep up with those things.

2. It helps us understand our brothers and sisters in the Lord. I may not be a pastor or a husband or a mother, but the passages that talk about them help me understand their roles, not so I can form a checklist and note when they’re not getting it right, but so that I can pray for them, understand their problems, needs, and temptations, and encourage them. The Bible says the church is the body or Christ, and “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (I Corinthians 12:26).

3. Their position is under attack. Satan is not omnipresent, but he does get around, and he seeks to undermine everything God calls good. Any role or function within the church, home, or family as designed by God is under attack in some way or another. The blog post I mentioned at the beginning was complaining, in part, that the focus on married women and mothers in some women’s ministries left single ladies out. I do think that is a valid point: not all women are called to be married, not all mothers are able to stay home, and we need to find ways to minister to the whole scope of womanhood. However, there are particular ways marriage and motherhood are being particularly attacked and undermined in the world today, so we need to help support those roles.

4. I can learn something that applies to me even though the particular focus of the passage or sermon is for someone else. Loving one another as Christ loved the church is something that applies to us all, not just husbands, so I can take an illustration that may be particularly about husbands and learn something I need in loving others. Years ago in college we were encouraged to read a particular book about leadership which I gleaned a lot from even though I was not a leader at the time (and still don’t naturally feel inclined to be now).

This is not to say that I should attend every focus group within the church since we’re all part of the body of Christ. Some of those were created to handle specific concerns in a smaller group setting. But when a Bible passage or sermon or ladies’ meeting seems to apply to someone else, there is still much I can learn and benefit from if I have ears to hear and a heart to receive.

(From the archives)

(Sharing with Faith on Fire, Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday)