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Monday
Jul122010

Kind of a mixed up day

 I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and by 5:00 (thanks to the sound of cats whining in and outside of the house) I still had not got back to sleep, so I got up.  Needless to say, I feel like it should be bed time by now.  I had a 15 minute power nap a while ago until the phone rang and I had to pick up my son from work. 

I have a blog post rolling around in my head with regard to Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns, but sadly, it will have to roll around a while longer because it's my youngest's 16th birthday, so I must make chocolate mousse.  I thought I would share this with you.  I laughed a lot at this.

 

Friday
Jul092010

A "fulfilling" Christian life?

In D.A. Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation, he discusses Paul's prayer for the believers in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:17-3:13).  Carson points out Paul's passionate desire to ensure that the believers in Thessalonica are growing, and are standing firm admist their trials.  He longs to see them not because he wants a pat on the back for what he had help establish in Thessalonica, but because he has a passion for people.  Carson says:

In any Christian view of life, self-fulfillment must never be permitted to become the controlling issue.  The issue is service, the service of real people.  The question is, How can I be most useful?, not, How can I feel most useful?  The goal is, How can I best glorify God by serving his people?, not, How can I feel most  comfortable and appreciated while engaging in some acceptable form of Christian ministry?  The assumption is, How shall the Christian service to which God calls me be enhanced by my daily death, by my principled commitment to take up my cross daily and die?, not, How shall the form of service I am considering enhance my career?  This is not to deny that Christians may derive joy from work honestly offered to God, whether that work is vocational ministry or research into the properties of quarks.  But it is one thing to find joy in the work to which we have been called, and another to make the joy the goal of life, the fundamental criterion that controls our choices.

I get uneasy when I hear evangelistic messages that promise people a life full of joy.  Of course there is joy in the Lord.  But when we say that to young believers, we need to be very clear that joy in the Lord and what we find personally joyful aren't always the same thing.  I don't know as if we have a clear understanding of joy anymore.  Young people often equate joy with having everything go their way, or even more troubling, this notion that once we are in Christ, our lives are going to be filled with glorious, victorious moments day after day.  There will be struggle; lots of struggle.  I like Carson's reference to a "daily death."  What I see as my personal "fulfillment" may look nothing like what God has in mind.  I think when sharing the gospel with young people, especially, we should remind them that faith in Christ does mean a daily death to self.  God isn't there to make my dreams come true or provide me with a life of adventure.

 

Wednesday
Jul072010

Temperature adjustments, modesty, and shopping

So, when a woman enters her forties, and is getting closer to her fifties, her body's temperature regulating mechanism goes haywire.  When I was in my twenties, I was frequently cold, and if I verbalized that, my mother would say, "Wait until you're fory, you won't be cold any longer."  Women here know what I mean.  'Nuff said about that.

This week, temperatures where I live have soared to around 32 (91 F).  Yesterday, with the humidity, it felt like 41 C (105 F).  Toasty.  We are blessed to have central air conditioning, and the lower level stays cool.  The second storey could be worse, but it doesn't stay as cool as the rest of the house, so I have found sleeping to be somewhat of a challenge this week, especially when I start to feel my new heating module kick in and incerate me from the inside out.  This is okay.  This is normal, it's not going to kill me.

In doing some research about the best way to cope with such phenomena, I read about wearing natural fibers like cotton and wool.  I'm all for that.  I love cotton.  I noticed on Sunday morning, when I wore a really nice linen dress which I've had for a while, that dresses are so much cooler than shorts and t-shirts.  I was thinking, "Why can't I just find some dresses to wear around the house?"  The women reading this are laughing now, becuase they know that to find a decent, modest dress is not always easy.  I can either look like my grandmother (I'm not ready for that yet) or I can look like I'm trying to be twenty and I can wear skimpy sundresses.  No, no, no.  I want something modest, casual, and cool. 

I did a search for "modest clothing" on the internet.  I was treated to many Mennonite sites where I could get dresses.  I don't want those dresses.  They are lovely colours and all that, but they aren't my bag.  I don't want spaghetti straps, haltar tops, and I don't want something so low cut that I can't bend over.  It wasn't easy.  However, I did find a wonderful on-line store, and their clothes are modest and cotton.  It is called The Vermont Country Store.  And they have lots of casual dresses.  I was thrilled.  I didn't find the prices all that unreasonable, either.

Tuesday
Jul062010

Lady Puritans

While searching for a biography of B.B. Warfield, I came across the book Anne Bradstreet, Pilgrim and Poet, by Faith Cook.  That there was a book about a Puritan woman was very interesting to me, because as with all eras in history, there is always a lack of information about the women of the time.  I was eager to read about this woman.

Anne Dudley Bradstreet  has the distinction of being America's first published poet.   She was born in England in 1612 to Thomas and Dorothy Dudley, a Puritan couple.  In 1620, the Dudleys moved from Northampton to Semperingham where Thomas Dudley was to be a steward to the Earl of Lincoln.  This home was to be advantageous to the young Anne, who was free to use the library on the estate.  She was able to partake of the Earl's volumes of history, literature, and religious writings.  The Countess of Lincoln, Elizabeth, was an innovative thinker, being that she was greatly in favour of girls receiving an education.  The proximity to the Bradstreet's new home to Boston, England was also timely, as it afforded Anne the opportunity to hear the Puritan preacher, John Cotton. 

When she was nine or ten years old, she refers to a "long fit of sickness which I had on my bed."   During that time, she began to think and pray more earnestly:  "I often communed with my heart and made my supplication to the Most High."  It is clear that Anne had a rich spiritual education as well as an academic education.  This is not surprising, as pursuits of the mind characterized the Puritans.

When Anne was 16 years old, she married Simon Bradstreet, who was 24 years old at the time.  This poem which is written for him:

If ever two were one, then surely we. 
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee. 
If ever wife was happy in a man, 
Compare with me, ye women, if you can. 
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold 
Or all the riches that the East doth hold. 
My love is such that rivers cannot quench, 
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. 
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. 
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

The times in which the young Bradstreets lived in were tumultuous for the Puritans, and all of the country.  England was rife political conflict, as the King battled with Parliament over taxation.  In 1628, the year of the marriage of Anne, William Laud was appointed as the Bishop of London.  Laud was in a position where he could exert more pressure on non-conforming Puritans, which he did.  The Dudleys and the Bradstreets, as well as the others at Semperingham began to evaluate their options.  Only eight years earlier, The Mayflower had taken a group of individuals to the New World.  This was increasingly seen as the only option for the Bradstreets.  In 1630, the Arabella set sail, along with others, headed toward Plymouth Bay.  Anne was a girl of eighteen years old, making her way to a completely new life in a place she had never seen.  I can't imagine how that must have felt.  Fortunately, her family went with them, so that would have alleviated some of the uncertainty, no doubt.

The purpose of the move was to provide a place where they could worship as they pleased.  Cook says:

Uprooted from home, ountry and friends, these Puritan families were made up of men and women set on pleasing God, seeking liberty to worship without the constant fear of persecution from state or church.  To this end they had set their hopes on Massachusetts Bay as a place where they wanted to establish a system of government similar to that of Israel under the old covenant, a land where God reigned supreme in church and state alike.

It was into this environment the young bride entered and where she would leave her mark.

Monday
Jul052010

Talking to myself...

I've always kind of talked to myself in my head.  Sometimes, the words have made their way out of my head and into open air.  It was that kind of thing that landed me in the principal's office in 8th grade.  I didn't realize that I was talking to myself audibly during a french test, and the teacher wasn't impressed.

The things we say to ourselves are crucial.  When I talk to myself, I may be tempted to say, "I'm hard done by."  Or I may be prone to saying, "You deserve better than this."

We are lucky in that we have a big book of "things" to say to ourselves.

In his presence is fullness of joy.

His steadfast love endures forever.

His mercies are new every morning.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rules, nor things present nor t hings to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth...

If we tend to have silent, solitary moments, talking to ourselves is a good use of time.  People may think we're crazy, but at least when we talk to ourselves, someone is listening.