Friday’s Fave Five

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The first of August always seem like the beginning of summer’s end, even though technically summer lasts well into September. We still probably have the hottest part of year to go through. But schools start here next week! Here are some highlights of the last week:

1. Replacement parts. With pureeing my mother-in-law’s meals for the last five years, we have worn out a lot of hand blenders and their parts. These were the last couple of cups we had, cracking in places. Thankfully we’ve found sources online for those and a few other items. It’s nice to use bright, shiny clear ones and not worry about whether they’ll hold up.

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2. Lunch with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. They invited us over last Saturday – always a treat.

3. Voting. Oh, the process of voting, and even sometimes the process of choosing candidates, is not all that fun, but I am thankful for the privilege. And I was especially thankful my husband was able to go with me this time, as we discovered upon arriving at the polling place that voting was not where it usually was. It was quite a hike to get to the right place, but the whole process was not as disconcerting with him with me.

4. Medical care at home. My mother-in-law is under hospice care, and part of that service is sending a nurse out once a week and a doctor out every couple of months. Even though she doesn’t have any major issues just now, it’s nice that someone is accessible to ask questions of, to check on her, and to prescribe anything she needs.

5. Timothyisms. My son and daughter-in-law send me texts of the cute or funny things my grandson says. One day he was playing doctor with his mom, and left and then came back with his play saw. He assured her, “It’s ok Mommy! I put a bandaid on it when I’m done.” Then yesterday my daughter-in-law sent me this conversation:

“Timothy, we’re going to go vote today.”

T: “We are getting a boat?!”

“No, we are going to vote.”

T: “We are going fishing in a boat?”

“No, voting is when we pick who helps America.”

T: “Fishing helps America too.”

Happy Friday!

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Just chatting

It’s been a while since I’ve had a “just chatting” kind of post, so I thought I’d catch up with the doings around here.

I wanted to let you know that iBelieve.com contacted me and asked to reprint an article I had submitted to the Perennial Gen about caregiving. They gave it a different title, but the content is the same: 3 Lifegiving Tips for Caregivers Struggling with Guilt and Resentment.

Writing progress

My WIP (work in progress) has over 29,000 words now! Yay! I’ve written most of what was in my mind. Now I am going through notes I left to myself on my phone to remind me of points I wanted to add. Then I need to go through a list of posts and a stack on books that I wanted to reference. Then I need to take a look at each individual chapter and see what shaping-up I need to do. This is all a bit more tedious, but very necessary. I am still mulling over some of the same writing questions I mentioned a month or so ago, but I think I am about ready to create an author Facebook page. It seems like that should wait til I am finished or even published, but I am told publishers want that kind of thing established beforehand.

Cards

As many of you know, I like to make cards as a creative outlet. It has been a while since I shared them, so here’s what I have made since last time I showed them.

This was my Father’s Day card for Jim, done on the Cricut.

This was for Jason for Father’s Day, also cut on the Cricut machine. As Timothy’s into super-heroes, I thought this would fit. 🙂

I forgot to take a picture of my step-father’s card.

This was for a friend’s birthday. The paper was so pretty in itself, I didn’t want to cover it up with a lot of other things.

This was for Jim’s mom’s 90th birthday. She likes yellow.

This was for Jason’s birthday last month. Technically the design is not a birthday one, but when I saw it on the Cricut design space, I *had* to use it. I also learned a new skill with this one: changing out the blade for a Cricut pen, which does the lettering.

Movies

I mentioned yesterday the books I’ve read the past month. We don’t watch many movies – Jim prefers shorter programs. But we’ve seen a few over the last several months. The Book Thief was excellent, set during WWII about a girl sent to live with foster parents in Germany who then hide a young Jewish man in their basement. Wonder, about a deformed boy trying to go to school for the first time, was really good, too, with several touching moments and a lot of fun ones. The Finest Hours was based on a true story about the largest small boat rescue ever. A tanker was ripped in half during a storm, and four men in a small boat brought back 32 survivors (the boat was only supposed to hold 20 or so). Warning: there were a couple of bad words at the beginning. But otherwise this was excellent. I especially liked watching the main character’s growth.

My first podcasts

Lisa would be so proud of me! She mentions several good-sounding podcasts every month, but usually I listen to either music or audiobooks. But recently I listened to several in regard to the recent PBS adaptation of Little Women. It was fun hearing some of the background and views from some of the actors.

Recent Conversations

For July 4th, my son and daughter-in-law brought over some themed plates that someone had given them. When we asked Timothy what the plates reminded him of, with their red and white stripes and white stars on a blue background, he said, “Captain America!”

One day I spilled my lunch down my front and lamented, “I’ve been feeding myself for over 50 years, and I still keep spilling!” Jim said, “It’s only going to get worse.”

One day I found this on my bathroom ceiling:

I called Jim to come and take care of it for me. He said, “It’s ugly.”

I replied, “It’s gross.”

He responded, “He can’t help it.”

🙂

Around the Blog

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives, book reviews, and occasional laudable linkage, my favorite posts the last month have been:

When the Solution I Want Isn’t What I Need

Doing or Don’t-ing?

Psalms for the Sleepless

Violence in Films, Books, and the Bible

Bedrock Truth

***

We’ve had a pretty quiet, routine summer so far. Lots of fun times together with the family. Later this month my oldest son comes for a visit, and Jim will take some time off then. We usually have a few outings the week Jeremy is here. It will be nice to have some extended family time and a bit of a “stay-cation.”

Better get back to work now. Thanks for visiting and chatting with me!

(Sharing with What I’m Into with Leigh Kramer)

Book Review: 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents

Hope in caregiving30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents  by Kathy Howard caught my eye both because of our own caregiving journey and because Kathy used to write for Do Not Depart, a group blog I follow.

Kathy opens with a brief introduction sharing caregiving experiences of her husband’s parents and her own. Then each of the 30 chapters begins with a Scripture passage, progresses through two pages of content relating the passage to caregiving, and ends with a short prayer.

Topics include how to still honor your parents when you’ve switched roles, “ugly emotions,” “losing them before they’re gone,” keeping peace with family members in the midst of differing opinions, forgiveness, perseverance, guilt, God’s grace in our weakness, and many others.

One point Kathy made that impacted me was that when we experience regret (over anger, impatience, or whatever), after we confess it to the Lord and receive forgiveness, we can release feelings of guilt and shame. God’s goal for those feeling is “repentance, restoration, and renewed usefulness (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). God never uses our past mistakes as a weapon against us. Instead, He desires to use them as a catalyst for our personal growth and change” (p. 65).

Another point I wish I had thought of was helping our parents deal with what they’re going through: loss of independence, failing bodies, upheaval in their living situation, death of plans and dreams, inability to participate in activities that have always brought them pleasure before, adjustments to new situations. By sharing God’s Word and truth with them, in a sympathetic rather than a preachy way, we can encourage their faith and help them renew their hope. There are aspects of this I just didn’t consider, and Jim’s mom was not one to complain or even say, “You know, I am really struggling with such and such.”

The format of this book is not an exhaustive treatise, but rather a friend sharing help, support, and information.

When you’re in the midst of caregiving, there is nothing quite like talking to or hearing from another caregiver who understands by experience all that’s involved. Kathy’s book provides that fellowship and encouragement and always points to the God of grace.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday)

 

What’s On Your Nightstand: July 2018

Nightstand82The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand the last Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

I enjoy this monthly opportunity to share what we’re reading. And I love when it falls on the actual last day of the month!

Since last time I have completed:

Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, a biography of Louisa May Alcott, reviewed here. Very good.

More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God by June Kimmel, reviewed here. Good encouragement to make and keep God our first love.

Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles: 25 Keys to Having Memorable Devotions by John O’Malley, reviewed here. Good, practical book.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte, reviewed here. A semi-autobiographical novel of a young Englishwoman all alone in the world who ventures forth to a teaching job in France.

My Father’s House by Rose Chandler Johnson, reviewed here. Good Southern fiction about a woman rediscovering her roots and her faith after fleeing from a dangerous husband.

The Song of Sadie Sparrow by Kitty Foth-Regner, reviewed here. Good story of adjustments, growth and faith in nursing home residents and their families, with a little mystery on the side.

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti, reviewed here. Very good, about unplanned pregnancies in three different timelines which all end up tying in together.

Looking Into You by Chris Fabry, reviewed here. Very good: a woman who placed her baby for adoption twenty years ago rediscovers her first in a TV documentary and then as a student in her classroom.

A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch was finished last time but not yet reviewed. That review is here. Excellent.

That looks like a lot, but it covers all of July and the last few days of June, a little more than the usual nightstand post.

I’m currently reading:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents  by Kathy Howard

Full Assurance by Harry A. Ironside

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser

Back Home Again: Tales from the Grace Chapel Inn by Melody Carlson

Up Next:

Christian Publishing 101 by Ann Byle. I keep listing this one and not getting to it. But I will one day!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Finally! I think I may be one of the last people on the planet who have not read this yet, but I wanted to before the movie came out.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book VI: The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood. I’ve been waiting for this last book in the series for ages and just discovered yesterday that it’s out. I’m going to need something light-hearted after I get done with Hunchback.

How about you? Anything interesting reading on your nightstand?

Bedrock Truth

Society today is trending away from absolute truth – truth that always has been and always will be real for everyone. Instead everyone has his or her own truth. This mindset is one of the tenets of postmodernism; another is valuing questions more than answers.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking has filtered into the church.

Sure, it’s irritating when someone gives a trite, pat response to a complicated question, especially without even hearing out the question first. Or when someone expresses obnoxious assurance about an area where there’s room for nuance and speculation. There are mysteries about life and even Christianity that we’ll never understand completely this side of heaven.

But Jesus said we can know the truth, and it will set us free. He said we can discern His teaching if we’re willing to do God’s will.

Here are a few solid, bedrock, foundational truths we can rest on:

God’s Word is reliable (2 Peter 1:16-21). Peter was one of only three people to experience one of the most awe-inspiring experiences ever. He, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes talking with Moses and Elijah, though the two prophets had been in heaven for centuries. Yet Peter called Scripture a “more sure word of prophecy” than even this experience. (See also Romans 16:25-26).

Jesus is the Son of God. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20, ESV). “ So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-69, ESV). He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him.

We’re not good in ourselves. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18, ESV).

We can know God: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3, ESV).

We can know His love.

Jesus has authority to forgive sins.

Jesus redeemed us to himself by His blood.

We can be justified by faith in Christ. “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16, ESV).

We can know we have eternal life. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, ESV).

We can live a godly life: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3, ESV).

Jesus was raised from the dead, and we will be raised, too.

His sheep hear His voice.

Suffering has a purpose. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV). (See also James 1:2-4).

We can learn something about God from His creation. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20, ESV).

It’s worth everything to know Him.

We don’t know everything. Someday we’ll know more clearly. But what we do know, we can have full confidence in.

“I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 2:12, ESV).

True, some people will deny and undermine these truths. But I’d rather stake my soul on the truth that God made us and communicated His will to us than try to build a foundation on forever shifting sands of self-invented realities.

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Wise Woman, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

Friday’s Fave Five

FFF daisies
It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s the last Friday of July! A good time to stop and reflect on the last week. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Under-cabinet lights. I had received these as a gift for Mother’s Day, but we just got them installed last weekend. As easy as they were, I probably could have installed them myself! But I didn’t know that beforehand. Thanks to my husband for putting them up for me. It’s nice to have light on the counters that were previously in the shadows.

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2. Reduced price on a desired purchase. When we moved into this house, I purchased some pink toile towels from Target for the master bathroom. The bath towels are still in good shape, but the washcloths are long gone, and the hand towels are getting raggedy. It’s hard to find bath items in a regular old light pink. Decorating pinks either look like bubble gum or have gone from reddish to peachy, and now they have something called blush, which looks like a pinkish beige to me. I haven’t been able to find hand towels with the shade of pink I want in any design. On a recent Internet search, I found some toile ones that looked just like my originals! But they were about twice the price I wanted to pay. They were a “Buy It Now” purchase rather than an auction. I watched them for a few days to see if the seller would drop the price. She didn’t, so I sent her a note to ask if she’d accept a lower price. If she’d take one price I proposed, I’d take two of the towels: if she’d take an even lower price I offered, I’d take all three. She accepted the lowest price! I’m not usually a bargainer, but since I couldn’t find anything like these anywhere else, I ventured forth – and I am glad I did.

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3. An uneventful cardiologist’s visit. I had a follow-up visit from last year’s ablation surgery for atrial fibrillation. Everything was routine, and I don’t have to go back for a year unless problems come up. If everything is still okay at that time, I’ll be released from his care back to my primary care doctor. I still have some flutters and palpitations, but they last for just seconds instead of hours, and he said I’d probably always have them.

4. A morning outing. The day of the doctor visit, I was chafing at having to get up early and drive so far for the appointment. But afterward I stopped by Joann’s and used some gift cards, then got take-out lunch at Cracker Barrel, along with my favorite Coca-Cola Cake. So it turned out to be a pleasant morning.

5. Bluetooth headphones or earpieces. This was another gift from a while back that we just got set up. It will be nice to listen to an audiobook or music that way without the long dangly cords from my previous headphones.

Happy Friday!

Book Review: Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles

If you’ve ever tried to develop a habit of Bible reading and prayer time (often called devotions or quiet time), you know it doesn’t take very long at all to run into some obstacles. The first one is usually making time: busy schedules crowd out quiet time or urgent needs come up in the midst of it. Then when we do get a few minutes, we’re easily distracted. If we can rein in our attention and focus, we don’t always understand what we read or know how to apply it to our everyday lives. And if we do understand, we forget what we’ve read within minutes. We see cozy Instagram photos of people with their open Bibles and steaming mugs of coffee and wonder why our devotional time seems to far so fall below the picture-perfect time others experience.

Devotional ObstaclesJohn O’Malley tackles these issues in Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles: 25 Keys to Having Memorable Devotions. I appreciate that he deliberately chose a positive, encouraging title rather one with a negative cast, like Seven Reasons I Fail in My Devotions. His purpose, he writes, is not assigning fault or blame, but rather “putting tools in your hand to help you go from defeated to victorious in your time alone with God.”

The author emphasizes that our relationship with God is based on grace, not performance. Our devotional time is not meant to try to impress Him (or anyone else). Devotions are not a work to gain favor with God; they’re a means of communicating with Him. But there are ways to improve our understanding of His communication to us.

Our Quiet Time with Him is more about discovering His presence than finding the perfect Bible reading plan or study method. If we complete a Bible reading plan and did not discover His presence, we may have checked off the box for the day on our daily Bible reading plan, but we missed Him.

When we do not spend time with God, we deplete ourselves. We deplete our peace, joy, and strength. When limiting our access to time with God, we tend to lean on our own understanding; we are filled with doubts, and we consult our own heart instead of the mind of God (Proverbs 3: 5-6).

Jesus said that His sheep know, hear, and follow His voice. Your time with the Lord is about listening. God’s Word is the answer to every human need. Read not to accomplish book or chapter count. Read and listen.

If it takes you five years to read through the Bible, you are not less of a Christian. Read it at a pace that you can comprehend it and receive something from it.

The author discusses each of the obstacles mentioned above: finding time for devotions, battling distractions, improving comprehension, discerning how to apply what we read, understanding cultural differences, and retaining what we read.

I loved the author’s description of application as “the intersection of Bible learning and Bible living.”

I particularly liked his illustration about understanding and learning from the different culture that the Bible was written in. He likens it to taking a friend to a family reunion. The friend won’t know the histories, background stories, and quirks of all the family members, so you’ll likely have to explain some references along the way. “Culture is the system of beliefs, values, and ideas of a people in a certain time period.” However, “God and His Word are transcultural.” The author suggests some resources for finding out more about the cultural aspects, but above all other resources, he reminds that the Holy Spirit indwells believers and teaches us from God’s Word.

I also appreciated the tips for retaining what we read, something I don’t remember seeing in other books about devotions. One tip was to write down on a 3×5 card three key points from the verses read and then read and think about the verse and those points several times throughout the day.

The author advocates a lot of 3×5 cards, however. I counted at least four that he recommended filling out: one for a verse to meditate on; one for recording the time spent and main truth learned; one for writing down several statements about why we read the Bible; and one to write down your expectations for what God will do through His Word. He notes that one can use a journal, electronic device, etc.

The author includes some Bible study plans, lists of resources, and work sheets.

My only point of disagreement in the book was with the author’s statement that “Applying Scripture to your life is what brings the Word of God to life.” I know what he means: we don’t benefit and really learn it unless we apply it. But I always wince when I see someone speak of “making the Bible come alive.” God’s Word IS alive (“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” – Hebrews 4:12, ESV; “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” – John 6:63b, ESV). We’re the ones who need to be brought to life. But I know the author believes these truths, so the disagreement was with the wording.

This book is immensely practical and to the point with little to no fluff. It is an excellent resource for anyone who is trying to establish a devotional time or who has run into any of these obstacles in their own quiet time.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Book Review: When the Morning Glory Blooms

Morning Glory When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti explores three different, but related, timelines.

The first one, in modern times, involves Becky, whose teenage daughter had a baby out of wedlock. Becky takes care of her grandson so her daughter can finish high school, but she struggles with how much she’s helping and how much she’s enabling her daughter’s lack of sense of responsibility.

In 1951, Ivy just saw her boyfriend off to the Korean War. Then she found out she was pregnant. Now she’s afraid to tell him. She doesn’t want to put him in danger by distracting him, but she’s also afraid he’ll reject her. Ivy works in a nursing home, and one of her patients is Anna. Anna wants Ivy to help write down her story, and at first Ivy acquiesces just to please Anna. But she realizes that Anna is perfectly clear and not at all the dementia patient Ivy had thought. And Anna’s story is not only remarkable in itself, but it touches her own in many ways.

In the 1890s, Anna inherited some property. Her dream: to turn the old home into a haven for unwed mothers. She had little resource except faith. Her plan was not well-received by the community – except for her pastor and his wife, who helped to bring others on board.

As you can see, each of the stories involves unplanned pregnancies. Even though they were handled in different ways in different eras, they still brought complicated and painful consequences. Yet in each story line, those involved found some measure of grace and some maturity and growth through their circumstances.

The three are also connected by morning glories – but I’ll let you discover what that means.

A few quotes:

Your baby’s name is not Regret.

Wouldn’t one think that the forgiven would be quickest to forgive others? That the redeemed would fall over one another in their rush to carry the song of deliverance to those who had yet to hear its calming melody? That those who had found refuge would do everything in their power to light the way for others?

When young women lived with me, they worked beside me both because their help was needed and because work is both healing and character building.

I thought I’d have trouble keeping up with three different threads of story, but Cynthia wove them together well while keeping each distinctive enough to avoid confusion. I enjoyed the humor especially in Becky’s narrative. There were a few surprises: some of the connections between the women turn out to be different from what I had thought they would be. I enjoyed the unfolding of each woman’s story, and the need to extend and receive grace displayed in each one.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Violence in films, books, and the Bible

Sometimes when someone objects to bad words, nudity, or sexual scenes in a media, someone else will bring up violence. Some are quite incredulous that anyone could object to a word or image which “doesn’t hurt anyone,” yet have no problem someone getting killed in a movie.

Well, words and images do hurt people. I’ve discussed that before in other posts. But violence in media may be acceptable or not, depending on how it is handled.

There has to be conflict in a story, or else there is no plot. Sometimes the conflict is physical: war, a robbery or murder investigation, a woman fleeing from an abusive husband, etc. These things happen in real life, so of course they make for real conflicts in stories. But they can be shown in ways that makes the danger real and suspenseful, or they can be handled in ways that are gratuitous, just for the shock and gore factor. The dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable portrayals of violence has to be determined by more than just our feelings or what we think we can handle.

I decided to do a little Bible study, looking up verses that contain the words “violence” and “violent” in the ESV. I discovered violence is a bigger topic than I had thought, because there are many passages that describe something violent without using the word. So I did not look up every single violent act in the Bible at this time, but I came up with six pages of references and found some good principles.

There is, of course, violence in the Bible. A murder occurred among the first children born on Earth, and it seems violence has been part of the culture ever since. Just a few chapters later, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them'” (Genesis 6:11-13). In the major and minor prophets, part of the condemnation they preached was due to violence on the part of those they preached to. For instance, Jonah did not tell the people of Nineveh to repent, but then king called the people to”Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (Jonah 3:8), in hope that God would forgive. In Ezekiel 28, a passage that talks about the king of Tyre but also references Satan, the power behind the king, Satan is described as being “filled with violence” (Ezekiel 28:16).

God condemns violence.

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence. Proverbs 3:1-2

Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. Proverbs 24:1-2

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jer. 22:3

Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness. Ezekiel 45:9a

Words often associated with the violent in many of the verses are wicked, treacherous, scoffer, evil, devious. The wicked are said to “eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence” (Proverbs 4:17); “The mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Proverbs 10:6,11); “pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment” (Psalm 73:6).

I looked up the Hebrew or Greek words for violence for just a few of the verses I found, and words often occurring there were cruelty and injustice.

There are acts of God that would be considered violent, though the word is not used in those passages: the worldwide flood, the killing of the firstborn in Egypt and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wars of Israel against Canaan, to name a few. But these acts were not the result of cruelty and injustice. God is the righteous judge. He is longsuffering and gracious, but his “spirit shall not always strive with man.” At some point, time is up. If there has been no repentance and faith, judgment must come.

God promises in several places to punish violence. Sometimes He acts directly, sometimes He uses the human authority system He set up: and authorizes them to use a “sword” (in that day, other means in ours, but He gives them authority to punish wrongdoing).

Jesus condemned not only human physical violence, but the hatred of heart and anger that leads to violence:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:22-23

And James reinforces the truth that violence starts in the heart:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:1-4

But there is hope for people with violence in their hearts (which includes all of us since, as Jesus said, hatred and anger are sinful as well). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (verse 9). He then lists several types of sinners and adds, “And such were some of you.” Were. Past tense. What happened? “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11).

God says the overseers (spiritual leaders) of the church must be “not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome (1 Timothy 3:2-3) and “not…arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain (Titus 1:7). And those who are filled with God’s Holy Spirit display His fruit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Back to viewing or reading about violence: we see that the Bible condemns personal violence towards others. But it also tells us about many violent acts, like any other sin. Yet it doesn’t present violence in a way that glorifies it and it doesn’t share unnecessary gory details. Take, as one example, one of the oddest stories in the Bible: the man who cut into pieces his concubine, who had been raped, beaten and killed, and then sent the pieces among the twelve tribes of Israel to enlist their support for is revenge. The Bible says that “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). This is one of those extreme examples of someone doing right in his own eyes apart from any instruction from God. The story itself is gory enough, but it doesn’t expand on the details unnecessarily. There is no description of dripping blood, bulging eyes, entrails, sounds, smells. etc.

One of the most compelling verses I found in my study was Psalm 11:5: “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” The one who loves violence. I think that’s one key. A villain in a story may display a love for violence, but is the story told in a way that appeals to or stirs up a love of violence in the reader? Is the violence glorified or made appealing in any way? To me that’s one difference between, say, a war movie and a slasher or horror movie.

The other extreme might be desensitization, indifference. I don’t recall a specific verse which spells that out, but it might be indicated by several passages which show people considering violence as just normal when it should not be. Years ago my husband and I were watching a TV how when a character in the program was shot – not an uncommon occurrence.  But this viewing took place shortly after a close friend’s mother passed away at a fairly young age. The thought of death was still fresh, and seeing it displayed so easily and carelessly disturbed me greatly. It’s easy to let TV or movie violence float past us because we know it’s not “real,” but I don’t want even fictional violence to dull my sensitivity to it.

Violence is a humongous topic, and this one blog post can’t do it justice. I’m not sure why this was on my heart to write about this week. It’s an area I have been interested in and have thought about a lot and wanted to study a bit further, but I would rather have written about other subjects today. Yet, since this topic was on my heart, perhaps these thoughts will be of help to others.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are several thought-provoking reads found in the last week or so.

Every Testimony Is Dramatic and Miraculous. “There is nothing basic or boring about the life-transforming power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The angels throw a party every time someone comes to Christ, and the parties aren’t less enthusiastic for the freckle-faced eight year olds. Salvation is never small. It is big and dramatic and miraculous, every single time.”

Is Prayer Enough?

What Jesus Said About White Privilege.

7 Stabilizing Principles in a Chaotic World, Part 3: Everyone Is Made in the Image of God. Even the people on the other side of the political fence or the ones who drive us crazy. And we “need to treat everybody—everybody—with that kind of respect.”

How You Might Break the Third Commandment in Church, HT to Challies.

What to Do When a Friend Loses a Baby, HT to True Woman. Much of this is good for other types of loss as well.

Give Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time. HT to True Woman. I remember  as a young mom struggling with guilt when I did not give my children my full attention, yet feeling it was good for them to learn to entertain themselves sometimes. I thought of women in Bible times or even a couple of hundred years ago who had to do so much from scratch and could not have possibly sat on the floor playing with their children eight hours a day. But it is good to set everything aside for one-on-one time together sometimes. This post has some good thoughts along these lines.

How to Leave Porn Behind, HT to True Woman. Good thoughts on “radical repentance” for any sin.

3 Reasons Contemporary Worship Is Declining, and What We Can Do to Help the Church Move On. I don’t agree with every point here, but I especially like this: “We’ve done ourselves and the church a disservice by insisting that there are two kinds of worshipers, traditional and contemporary…Our musical tastes don’t dictate how we worship, our theology does. Both of these extremes are toxic. All worship is historic because it recalls the creative and redemptive acts of God. All worship is contemporary, because we’re doing it now. All worship is future, because it foretells the coming resurrection.”

And, finally, a smile found on Pinterest. This is close to how I really think now, except I say 20. 🙂

Happy Saturday!