Training in Righteousness
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Saturday
Dec262009

I liked this

I have long been of the opinion that philosophy is everybody's business - but not in order to get more information about the world, our society, and ourselves. For that purpose, it would be better to turn to the natural and the social sciences and to history. It is in another way that philosophy is useful - to help us to understand things we already know, understand them better than we now understand them. That is why I think everyone should learn how to think philosophically. ~ Mortimer Adler.

I've never felt that I was good at thinking philosopically.  I have thought about things and wondered, but I don't know as if my thought could be considered "philosophical."  I started reading a book by Adler called Aristotle for Everyone.  I guess it could be considered the Aristotle for Dummies.

I like the subtitle to this book: "Difficult Thought Made Easy."  As I have plodded through John Frame's book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, I have seen that as I wrestle through difficult concepts, I often fail to think through things in the most efficient way.  Never too late to learn better how to think.

 

Wednesday
Dec232009

THE best Christmas cookie ever!

I am not a true, die-hard sweet eater.  Take for example the dessert I had for our family Christmas last Sunday:  pumpkin torte.  I love pumpkin.  But this has cream cheese and whipped cream, and it was sweet.  I only ate one small piece.  My boys ate it for breakfast the next morning.  When there are parties for ladies at church, the tables are generally filled with all kinds of sweet goodies.  I want to know where the french fries and potato chips are.

Because of my lack of sweet toothiness, I don't really go in much for Christmas baking myself.  I bake, but I don't eat as much of it as my family.  I do, however, love cinnamon, and this recipe is perfect for someone like me who doesn't really crave chocolate, gooey, rich treats.  This is the one family tradition that my kids will never let me skip on.

Butterhorns

Blend with a pastry blender:

1 cup margarine

2 cups flour

Add to the mixture, one egg yolk and 3/4 cup sour cream.  Mix together well and shape into three balls.  Refrigerate for about an hour or more.

Combine:

3/4 c white sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

After dough has chilled, roll out on a floured surface, making the circle approximately 7-8 inches in diameter.  Spread 1/4 cup of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the surface.  With a knife, cut the dough into 16 equal wedges.  Do this by cutting across the diameter to divide in half, then in four, then eight, and so on.  Roll each wedge into a little crescent-looking roll, beginning at outer edge of the circle.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

They are wonderful.  They just melt in your mouth.  I already have some in the freezer, and today, I must make more.  Also on the baking agenda, Chocolate Nut Fingers.

Monday
Dec212009

The Final Cure

That is the title of the last chapter of Martyn Lloyd-Jones's Spiritual Depression.

I have to say that this book is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read as a Christian.  It rates right up there with others I have read, like The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, and No Place for Truth by David Wells.  Those books caused me to think very hard, and so did this one, albeit in a different way.

Lloyd-Jones's words continually caused me to examine my own heart; not to bemoan things, or to dwell on myself in a way which is unhealthy.  In fact, I think that he would have been quite against something like that.  No, it was, rather, an encouragement to evaluate my heart over and over again, to ask myself questions, or to put it in a phrase he used quite often to "talk to myself."

Some of my friends who knew I was reading this book (most had never heard of it) wrinkled up their noses in surprise because of the title.  One woman even went so far as to offer this sarcastic remark:  "Oh, that's cheery."  They didn't get it, obviously.  This book is not a cure-all for someone who is depressed.  It isn't even for someone with clinical depression, although that person could glean much from it.  This book is for every Christian, because it is a book for a Christian who finds himself discouraged, and we all get discouraged from time to time.  The reasons for discouragement often arise from our own attitude toward things, and what the Doctor does in this book is help the reader to see that reality and then help him to fight those attitudes.  Time and time again in this book, like no other, Lloyd-Jones described someone very much like me.  I could see myself in the pages of this book over and over again.  I feel almost a little sad at having finished, because it was such an encouragement to me.  Of course, I will find encouragement in other things, most notably the Scriptures.  That is the continual exhortation from Lloyd-Jones:  to study deeply the Word of God.

I just want to share something very simply put in this final chapter of Spritual Depression which I think really summarizes well what the book is getting at:

The Christian life after all is a life, it is a power, it is an activity.  That is the thing we so constantly tend to forget.  It is not just a philosophy, it is not just a point of view, it is not just a teaching that we take up and try to put into practice.  It is all that, but it is something infinitely more.  The very essence of the Christian life, according to th New Testament teaching everywhere, is that it is a mighty power that enters into us; it is a life, if you like, that is pulsating in us  It is an activity, and an activity on the part of God.

It is this pulsating life which Lloyd-Jones continually exhorts the reader to grab a hold of.  While the Christian life is one of struggle and difficulty and suffering, it is a life that can be lived with pulsating power.  That is something to be encourage us.

 

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.