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Sunday
Aug062017

Still, My Soul Be Still

A couple of years ago, at a very difficult time in my life, a good friend who knew exactly my struggle, reminded me of this song. 

Things are changing all the time. Somtimes, the changes are good, but that doesn't mean they are easy. Change reminds us that we are not in control. This song has been on my mind recently, so I thought I would share it.

Still, my soul be still,
And do not fear 
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side;
No longer dread 
The fires of unexpected sorrow 

God, You are my God;
And I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew 
A steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in You alone.

Still, my soul be still. 
Do not be moved 
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways,
With shield of faith 
Against temptations flaming arrows.

Still, my soul be still.
Do not forsake 
The Truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord,
And hope will rise
As stars appear when day is dimming

Saturday
Aug052017

I don't understand tweet threads

If I see a tweet on my feed whose text is preceded by a number, say 12 or 13, I know what's coming: a thread. Sometimes, I'll see a phrase that is meant to hook the reader, along with the invitation "read the thread." I suspect I am an old curmudgeon (although not an interesting one) or a crank, but when I see that, I think, "No thanks." When someone shares something over 2 or 3 tweets, it's not too bad, but I've seen some that go as high as 25.

When did this practice become so common? Isn't the purpose of Twitter to be pithy or concise? If we want to ponder, why not blog or use Facebook? It has me perplexed, and wondering a few things.

Do tweet thread authors sit down the night before and plan out their threads? Or are they more spontaneous?

Do tweet thread users feel strange replying to their own tweets?

Why don't they just write a blog post? Is it more likely that people will read tweets than blogs? Is this a symptom of our waning attention spans?

I'm positive my questions are not popular. After all, if everyone is doing it, it must be okay. However, as a lover of words and someone who likes writing, I can't help but view this from that perspective. Interestingly, Twitter doesn't even demand the user employ words. One could tweet entirely using Gifs if she wanted to and never have to come up with a word.

It really is harmless, but I'm really not a fan. Perhaps the manifestation is more about online conversation than writing. In that case, I am not inclined to read it. Some of that conversation simply devolves into nothing helpful.

In the astute words of Alistair Sim in Scrooge, "I am too old; I cannot change!" This could simply be me showing my age. One thing I do know: being forced to limit a word count is always helpful in writing. Being made to stay within a particular word limit forces one to think hard about individual words and how they might be employed to express something best. And limited words means the possibility of pithy language. Tweet threads may be helpful for some, but they make pithy very unlikely.

Sunday
Jul302017

Daily Readings - John 14:13-18

J.C. Ryle - Daily Readings
John 14:13-18

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever. (John 14:16)

Our Lord says, 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter . . . even the spirit of truth.'

This is the first time that the Holy Ghost is mentioned as Christ's special gift to his people. Of course, we are not to suppose that he did not dwell in the hearts of the Old Testament saints.

No one ever served God acceptably, from Abel downwards, without the grace of the Holy Ghost. John the Baptist was 'filled' with him. But he was given with peculiar influence and power to believers when the New Testament dispensation came in and this is the special promise of the passage before us.

It can only mean that he shall come with more fulness, influence, grace, and manifestation than he did before.

Friday
Jul282017

How Can Faith Be made Strong?

Another great passage from J.I. Packer's 18 Words:

How can weak faith be made strong, and little faith become great? Not by looking within, to examine your faith; you cannot strengthen faith by introspection any more than you can promote growth in a plant by pulling up to inspect its roots. You strengthen your faith, rather, by looking hard at its objects -- the promises of God in Scripture; the unseen realities of God and your life with Him and your hope of glory; the living Christ Himself, once on the cross, now on the throne. 'Inwardly, we are being renewed day by day . . . 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 Cor. 4:16, 18 NIV).

At a time when I was struggling (and being overcome) with anxiety, I questioned my faith. Anxiety already left me feeling overwhelmed, but realizing how weak my faith was made things so much worse. I was tempted to over analyze the reasons why, looking back at mistakes. Someone told me to take comfort in "that moment" when I was converted. Surely that was the answer. It wasn't.

It was a slow process, but the answer was by looking to Christ. Some days, I read the word of God mechanically, mostly forgetting what I read. But I kept on. I had to remind myself daily, repeatedly, of God's promises and past faithfulness to me. And it was enough. I don't know as if I would say I have a "great" faith. There are still times when I demonstrate an appalling lack of it. But I do know what whatever faith I do have comes from God, the object of my faith.

Tuesday
Jul252017

I wanna talk about me!

I recently finished the book Being There, by Dave Furman. It's a book I would recommend to anyone. It really made me stop and think about how I relate to those who are suffering. And further, it made me stop and think how I relate to people, period. Specifically, it made me think of how often, in conversation, I turn the topic over to myself.

One of the things that doesn't help someone who is suffering is to give that person a long account of similar suffering we have experienced. It doesn't really help someone who has a life-shortening neuromuscular disease to share my stories of having had a broken ankle and understanding what it means to lose mobility. The truth is that the situations are not comparable, and even if they were, my goal in talking to my suffering friend is to love and serve him, not bring myself into the dynamic. There are situations where mutual experience is helpful, for example, when fellow mothers deal with issues. It helps me to know that other parents have had similar struggles. But even then, we must remember that it's not about us.

Many years ago, I was driving with my family through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and a funny song came over the radio. It was called "I Wanna Talk About Me!" I have often thought about how that describes us all at times. I don't want to be that person, and I am sure I have been more times than I want to know.

This past year, two of my closest friends have experienced suffering. One lost her son and the other was diagnosed with a serious illness. I want to be helpful to both friends. I'm always the person who wants to do something or say something to make it better. The fact is, I can't make it better. I just have to learn to be there. Hence, Dave Furman's book comes in handy in that pursuit.

It's difficult not to become self-involved. We are naturally inclined to do so. It's also the majority occupation of social media. I'm just as guilty, and I'm making a concerted effort to say less on Twitter and Facebook. I don't need to announce on Twitter that I #amwriting. If I want to write, I'll just do it. It isn't more real if I Tweet it. And there is no one waiting on my every move. There is no need to respond to every infuriating comment. There is no need to announce to the world my brokenness and grief over my sin or the tragdies of others. How much of what we say is simply a way to turn the conversation back to ourselves?

One of the ways we can fight this fascination with the miniutae of our lives is to cut back on social media or use tools to filter what we don't want to see. There are some people on Twitter I just don't want to listen to. Unfortunately, some of the people I do like to hear from re-tweet the comments of those whom I'd rather tune out. I can use the "mute" function to ensure that I can ignore those comments. Of course the goal is that I'm not irritated by the obnoxious words of other people, but I'm a work in progress, and sometimes, I just need to avoid temptation to think bad things.

I can also be quieter on Facebook. I don't have to like everything or comment on everything. And I can be the kind of person who doesn't keep beating a dead horse when the conversation has clearly devolved into something entirely unhelpful. I had to leave a Facebook discussion group because it seemed that too many discussions were like that. And some of the participants were just too aggressive. 

Talking less about ourselves gives us opportunity to be a good listener. I like good listeners. I trust them. I don't know as if I'd trust me because sometimes, I'm too prone to say too much. I want to fix that. I'd rather be the kind who lives with the principle that less is more.