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Monday
Jan042010

The blessing of the written word

At the ladies' bible study I attend twice a month, we are studying Exodus.  During the Christmas break, I have been reading through the entire book and doing brief summaries just to keep in my head the overall context of the book.  I was reading Exodus 28 the other day, and I was amazed at the details.  This chapter describes the priestly garments that Moses was to have made.  The details are very exact and specific.

These directions were given orally.  They had to be remembered.  They weren't included as an attachment to an e-mail that sits in your inbox for months or years on end.  The demands on a auditory culture are something I don't think we really comprehend.  We are used to having cheap paper and other media to remind us of things.  There was a day when paper, while accessible, was probably expensive.  Paper is fairly cheap now, but people are beginning to rely on hand held items to carry their information.  Pretty soon, I suspect that we will have to have a myriad of "apps" at our disposal just to go to the bathroom.  Eventually, I think, hand held devices like cell phones will become cheap like paper because everyone will have to have them to get by.  Maybe paper will get more expensive or harder to find. I wonder if there will be a day when the Bible will have to be purchased via getting an "app" on a cell phone.  The paper ones will be antiques.  Animal activists everywhere will stand up and cheer because calf skin will no longer be used to bind Bibles.

The children of Isreal did not have such ease with taking in information.  They had to remember what God said to them.  They needed to be reminded often.  Things had to be passed down orally to their children and to their children's children.  Even as early as the sixteenth century, people had to memorize a lot if they wanted to remember things.  Think of the expectations put on a brain that must learn in a strictly auditory environment.  Think about only ever being able to know Scripture by hearing it and then memorizing it.  It really does amaze me what our ancestors lived with.  We have innumerable ways to access Scripture, and yet we are probably a very biblically illiterate society.  It's quite a paradox.

Sunday
Jan032010

Heart Aflame - January 3rd

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”  Psalm 2:1-6

Why do nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?  We know how man conspired against David, and endeavoured to prevent his coming to the throne, but David was thoroughly persuaded that he had been made king by divine appointment.  He encouraged himself by strong confidence in God against the whole world as he nobly poured contempt both on kings and their armies, because they waged war, not against mortal man, but against God himself.  The ground of such confidence was that he only followed the call of God.  From this he concluded that in her person, God was assailed; and God coult not but show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder.  God principally proves his faithfulness in this, that he does not forsake the work of his own hands, but continually defends those whom he has once received into his favour.

By honouring himself with the title of the Anointed, David declares that he regined only by the authority and command of God.  That he prophesied concerning Christ, is clearly manifest from this, that he knew his own kingdom to be merely a shadow.  Those things which David testified concerning his own kingdom are properly applicable to Christ.

Let this, therefore, be held as a settled point, that all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God.  Since it seems good to God to rule by the hand of his own Son, those who refuse to obey Christ himself deny the authority of God, and it is vain for them to profess otherwise.

Wicked men may not conduct themselves as wickedly as they please, but they shall at length feel what it is to make war aginst heaven.  God is so far exalted above the men of this world, that the whole mass of them could not possibly obscure his glory in the least degree.  As often, then, as the power of man appears formidable to us, let us remember how much it is transcended by the power of God.  In these words there is set before us the unchangeable and eternal purpose of god effectually to defend the kingdom of his Son, of which he is the founder; and this may well support our faith amid the troublous storms of the world.  Whatever plots, therefore, men may form against it, let this one consideration be sufficient to satisfy us, that they cannot render inneffectual the anointing of God.

Saturday
Jan022010

Great Resource

The Gospel Coalition has a blog by D.A. Carson.  It's the daily readings from Carson's volumes, For the Love of God.  These volumes take the reader through the bible in a year using the M'Cheyne bible reading plan, and Carson provides commentary on one of the four readings for that day.  There are two volumes, so there is a lot of commentary.  On January 2, volume 1, the commentary is with regard to Genesis 2.  On January 2, in volume 2, the commentary deals with Ezra 2.  From what I saw at the Gospel Coalition, today's excerpt is from volume 1.  I have both volumes of these devotionals, and I can tell you that they are excellent. 

If you don't have them, and don't mind reading them online, it looks as if you can read them at the Gospel Coalition.  If you're like me, and need to have the paper in your hands, I believe there is a link to purchase the volumes. 

Friday
Jan012010

A home is more than a building

I recently read an article by Carolyn Mahaney.  Someone had it linked; forgive me for not remembering who it was.  I downloaded the pdf file and forget who pointed it out to me.  I found the original source at the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The article is called "Homemaking Internship."  Mrs. Mahaney very wisely points out that while many women train for years in order to participate in various careers and vocations, often their training in being a homemaker is lacking.  Homemaking is indeed about more than cleaning house.  She says this:


Homemaking requires an extremely diverse array of skills—everything from management abilities, to knowledge of health and nutrition, to interior decorating capabilities, to childhood development expertise. If you are to become an effective homemaker, then you must study these subjects and many more.

I wholeheartedly concur with this.  Of course, some of us will have varying skill levels.  I don't have a lot of interior decorating capabilities, and it doesn't bother me a great deal, because while I like a clean and pleasant home, a lot of decorating can be quite expensive.  I like to have my rooms painted nicely, and have comfortable furniture, but for me, decorating consists of having things around me that mean something to me.  I like things to look attractive, but I just don't think I need to spend inordinate amounts of time pondering over the tasks.  Sure, re-decorate, and then get back to regular life.  I know some women who live to decorate; that is not me.  We live on one income, and find we work better to having a simple, modest home.  Extra funds are better spent for us on other things.

I also want to suggest that a home is more than a structural building, and I think homemaking involves more than the aesthetic or the domestic.  Part of homemaking is also building a home of faith, and that is an important task for a mother.  Mahaney does indeed point that out in the article.  A mother should be able to teach her children the basics of the faith in the home.  That requires knowing the basics herself.

I also think that part of creating a warm and inviting home environment is providing a place that feeds the mind.  A woman may give birth to children who are intellectual just as easily as she may give birth to a child who is creative.  Food is important, and so are clean clothes and a tidy home, but if you have children with hungry minds, (as mine have), then I think part of the "homemaking" is providing a place for feeding that hungry mind.  Not everyone is bookish and academic, and how much of that is undertaken will vary from family to family, just as how decorating will vary from family to family.  I don't think we should assume that every woman is Martha Stewart, and I don't think we need to expect every woman to be an academic.  I don't think, though, that we should assume that academic pursuits do not form part of the home.  The home may look attractive due its decor, but I think it can be just as inviting by being a place where stimulating conversation occurs.  It's a place also where a mother can help widen her daughter's world through literature and history and deep thinking.  Education, properly undertaken, should encourage humility, as we see how small we humans really are.  Part of homemaking "internship," I think, ought to involve this element of the mind.

I think we are mistaken if we think this kind of academic/intellectual training will take place solely in the classroom.   And I don't think academic pursuits should be divorced from the home.  We should be careful, especially since public education (and some private educateion) does not teach a Christian worldview.  We may want to help our daughters embrace this worldview in the home.

A woman needs to learn and teach hospitality; I think this hospitality can extend beyond providing a comfy room and tasty food.  Part of it is providing an environment for interaction with other people, whether that be playing a fun game, or perhaps talking about a book.  Christians must be thinkers, and I think this can be one way of teaching that.

 As I said, I wholeheartedly agree with Mahaney's article.  I think girls should learn domestic pursuits just as much as other pursuits, but let's not forget the mind, too.

Friday
Jan012010

To start the new year off right...

.... I went to bed before midnight.

While the young 'uns were out making merry with friends, hubby and I stayed in and ate Chinese food and generally were couch potatoes.  I worked on my knitting, and hubby number crunched.  Perfect.

I headed to bed to curl up with my kitty and finally had a restful sleep when the kids were all safely installed in their beds by 1:00.  I am definitely a Mother Bear, because I don't sleep soundly until they're all home.  They were only around the corner at our pastor's house, where his daughter was hosting a party.  But I was still happy when I knew we were all here.

I was up at my usual time, between 5:45 and 6:00.  I visited with my kitty who then went out for his morning hunt (he arrived at my back door last Tuesday with a bird in his mouth, and a look that clearly said, "Look, Mommy, see what I have!"  I shooed him away from the door.  I don't want to see the evidence of  his nature, than you very much), and I made my coffee.  I read something really good in the book Heart Aflame, which is a year-long daily devotional using Calvin's commentaries on the Psalms.  I plan on including the Sunday excerpts every week this year.  For much of last year, I posted things from The Valley of Vision, but I thought this book looked promising.  This morning, Calvin comments on Psalm 1:1-2:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law  of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He says this with regard to the principle of "delighting" in the law of the Lord:

It is not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God.

Simple, but profound.

After reading and prayer and coffee, I put on my wooly socks and other warm apparel and went out for a walk.  It was not quite light yet, and there were some soft flakes of snow fluttering around; enough that I felt them land on my nose and cheeks, and saw them make droplets on my glasses.  But it was not really cold.  As I walked along down the streets, I was conscious that the neighbourhood was asleep.  An odd car passed me every now and then.  When I came to the hill where I like to walk, one that has a beautiful canopy of leaves in the summer, but is now rather empty, the light was beginning to dawn more fully, and I could see that the sky was white.  We're in for some snow.  It was so very still.  I was listening to music, and it was helping me to keep my pace of walking. 

As I walked, I thought about how much I love the change of seasons.  As I walked up that hill, I remembered a morning back in the summer when I had made that same walk and had confronted glorious golden beams of morning sun coming down and lighting up the damp grass.  Now, it was white and cold.  In the fall, I had made a similar trek up that hill as the leaves blew around my feet.  I feel so blessed to live in a climate where the season change so visibly.  I certainly don't like the ice storms we get here, and frankly, March and April in southern Ontario are probably my least favourite months, but overall, I like the variety.

It was just a great moment of the day.  It was nice to begin this day and this year so aware of God's handiwork, first in His Word and then in His creation, and then coming home to a sleeping house, where His gift of my family rests.  Oh, and the cat had arrived home from his trek out into the neighbourhood, too, waiting to be fed.  He didn't have a bird this time, thankfully.

If I had to offer one encouragement to anyone today it wold be this:  may this be a year where you see God in the the ordinary, daily, simple pleasures of life.