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Sunday
Dec202009

The beauty of God's creation

We see it everywhere.  When we look into the gorgeous magenta sunset of a winter twlilight, or feel the soft, scented breeze of spring, or the drama of a thunderstorm, we see God's handiwork.  Even to look at the animals world, we see how God amazingly designed things.  There are many times when I look at the beauty of God's creation and I am perplexed that people think it was all a random thing.

Yesterday, I was reminded once again of this thought.  My husband and I spent our day yesterday -- from about 12:30 until 10:30 that night -- babysitting two little precious boys.  A former Sunday school student who is now a wife and mother (and a wonderful godly one at that!) was to attend her cousin's wedding, so hubby and I took care of the wee boys.  One was 2 years old and the other 6 months old.  We were also blessed to help out in this way earlier in the summer for a similar occasion, when the mom's brother was married.  The two year old boy had not changed much since the first babysitting occasion, but I was struck at the changes of the baby.  Of course, those of us who have cared for babies know that a 2 month old baby is very different from a 6 month old.  This baby was now smiling, cooing, laughing, and noticing everything.  I love it when babies that age watch people's faces as they speak.  You can see their mouths moving as if to try and make sounds themselves.  Those babies know that sound comes from the mouth.  They seem to know that it isn't being made from the nose; they don't wrinkle their noses, but move their mouths.  They babble and gurgle and chortle in response to an adult who engages them in conversation.  I watched this little man observing my husband's mouth while sitting on his lap.  My husband was babbling and sticking out his tongue and generally making silly faces and sounds, all the while entrancing the baby.  The baby's eyes were just glued to my husband's mouth, and I could see him moving his lips.   It was really amazing.

Later, when baby was a wee bit fussy (getting close to bed time but not quite) I sat him on my lap in front of the coffee table in the living room where there was a Fisher Price stable set up, complete with animals and an angel on top.  As I pushed down on the angel atop the little toy, it began playing a few bars of "Silent Night."  The baby just froze and stared.  When the music stopped, he kept looking at the angel.  I pushed it again to hear the music.  His gaze was glued to it.  He smiled.  When it stopped, he looked up at me and back at the angel.  We did this a few times.  He did the same thing with a little wind up clock that played a song.  Whereas he had been quite fussy moments before, he was absolutely calm when the music was playing.  I thought this was so wonderful.  His father is a beautiful pianist and excellent musician.  His mother is a lover of music and an excellent alto.  I noticed that when I laid him down on his tummy for bed and he fussed and grunted a bit, once I began singing "You Are My Sunshine" softly, he calmed right down.  The only sounds coming from the baby monitor for the rest of the night was him softly snoring in his baby way.

Watching that and watching many of the other wonderful things these two children did throughout the day once again reminded me of our amazing creator.  That children are programmed for language and communication is really quite something when you stop and think about it.  Babies are given an appreciation of music; that's really cool, I think.  Another startling thing was when the two year old reminded my husband of the fact that he used to have a beard.  A short time after our arrival, he touched my husband's face and said something about a beard.  He was correct; my husband had sported a beard on the previous occasion when we babysat.  Four months in the life of a 2 year old is a significant amount of time.  I was amazed he remembered that.  He also recalled that my husband had taken him for a walk to the park; he wanted to go again.  Unfortunately, it was too cold for the park.

When I watched these boys, I was absolutely flabbergasted that anyone would fail to realize that all of these astoudning things were given to them while in the womb.  They were destined to be these little people.  No one gave that infant the appreciation of music through his environment; he was made that way.  I don't understand why anyone could think all of this beauty was a random thing.  It was such a blessed day for us.

 

Sunday
Dec202009

O Come All Ye Faithful

We sang this today at church, but only three of the verses.  One of my favourites.  

Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh, come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the king of angels:
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Highest, most holy,
Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin,
A mortal he comes;
Son of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God
In the highest:
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

 
Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Saturday
Dec192009

Soundtrack for a Saturday

As long as I can find the CD somewhere in this house, I will listen to it. I love the Bing Crosby Christmas CD.  My parents had the vinyl record when I was a child.  When I was about eight years old, I started listening to it in my room.  I loved the antitipation of Christmas.  I would start waiting for the snow to fall, and I would spend a few minutes every evening, starting in October, watching the weather to see if there was snow in the forecast.  I would make paper snowflakes to tape on the window of my room, and I would hang mini lights around my window to make things more festive.  My dad always bought home a Scotch Pine the first weekend in December, and when that happened, I would get even more excited.  I loved to listen to this record.  I don't remember how long ago it was that I bought the CD, but I found a copy of it in a store at Christmas, in one of those bins beside the checkout at a bookstore.

This clip is from the movie Holiday Inn, which quite co-incidentally, I watched for a while the other evening.

 

Friday
Dec182009

A couple of good links

Carl Trueman, once again, provides some good food for thought with this article, Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread.

Tim Keller gives advice on how to take criticism for your views by referring to some words of wisdom from John Newton.

 

Thursday
Dec172009

Be anxious for nothing

The chapter, "The Peace of God," in Martyn Lloyd-Jones's Spritual Depression was probably one of my favourites.  He begins with reference to Philippians 4:6-7:

 Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.

I tend to be an anxious person.  I have had many, many exhortations over the years about the wrongness of anxiety, about how being anxious wastes time, and how anxiety is not productive.  I have always believed that myself; I am fully aware of the negatives of my anxiety.  Yet, I still struggle with anxiety.   The way Lloyd-Jones puts it sheds new light on that.  He spends quite a bit of time emphasizing that the source of our own anxiety lies within us, our hearts and minds.  He then says something that could describe my own thoughts during a time of anxiety:

People tend to say to those wretched people who are anxious and worried:  'You must not worry, it is wrong to worry, and all the worry in the world will not make any difference.'  Now that is perfectly true, it is sound common-sense.  The psychologists in their turn say:  'Do not waste your energy.  The fact that you are worrying is not going to affect the position at all.'  'Ah, yes,' I say, 'that is right, and that is perfectly true; but you know, it does not get at the source of my trouble for this good reason.  I am concerned with what may happen.  I agree when you put it to me that worrying is not going to affect the position, but the position remains and it is the position that is causing me this anxiety.  What you say is perfectly true but it does not deal with my particular situation.'  In other words, all these methods fail to deal with the situation because they never realize the power of what Paul calls 'the heart' and 'the mind' -- these things that grip us.  That is why none of the psychology and common sense methods are finally of any use.

So, what is Lloyd-Jones's answer?  It is found in the phrase "Let your requests be made known to God."  He then goes on to discuss that when we go before the Lord in prayer, it ought to be a process.  First, we must recognize that we are before the face of God, and we must worship.  He goes so far as to say that even before we begin to put our petitions before the Lord, we must simply worship Him because the act of prayer puts us before the throne of God.  Secondly, after worship, we bring our petitions before him, and then we demonstrate thanksgiving.

Then, Lloyd-Jones says something that I think some people in my own church would find problematic.  It is worth thinking upon.  The last part of the verses in Philippians says that God will grant us peace that passes all understanding and that will keep our hearts and minds, the very source of our anxieties.  He says this:

I must say a word about 'keeping' your hearts and minds.  It means garrisoning, guarding - a number of words can be used.  It conjures up a picture.  What will happen is that this peace of God will walk round the reamparts and towers of our life.  We are inside, and the activities of the heart and mind are producing those stresses and anxieties and strains from the outside.  But the peace of God will keep tham all out and we ourselves inside will be at perfect peace.  It is God that does it.  It is not ourselves, it is not prayer, it is not some psychological mechanism.  We make our requests known unto God, and God does that for us and keeps us in perfect peace.

The phrase "it is not prayer" would have many people in a tizzy.  "Of course, it is prayer that does it!" would be the objection.  "Prayer changes things," is a very common phrase at my own church.  I think I understand what Lloyd-Jones is getting at.  The very act of praying is not what will change us.  If that is the case then  we may be relying on a psychological thing; we comfort ourselves that we are doing something about our situation, so we are not anxious any longer.  What Lloyd-Jones is getting at, I believe, is that the change comes from God.  I think he is emphasizing that the prayer takes us before God who is the source of our peace.  I think there are times as Christians when we believe we are depending upon God, but in reality we are depending on a psychological thing instead.