monday miscellany

From here and there:

~ Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy shares some thoughts on things left unsaid. (I read This Must Be the Place earlier this month, and it’s soooo good.)

~ Gretchen Rubin on 5 mistakes I continue to make in my marriage.

~ Austin Kleon with 3 quick thoughts about walking. I’ve resumed walking for exercise and mental health, and he’s so right about even seemingly boring places being more interesting when you’re on foot. You just see more.

~ I spent 919 days in a North Korean prison. Woah.

~ Jesus did not say lust is the same as adultery.

Lust and adultery are the same family of sins. But they are different degrees of maturity. Lust is the seed, adultery the weed. Lust is the root, adultery the fruit.

Okay, on that chipper note, I’ll sign off. 🙂

Happy Monday y’all!

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woah

three-booksMy reading year has started out with a bang – three excellent novels:

All were well-told stories of complicated (aren’t we all?) people and relationships. All three were filled with dead-on observations of human behavior and familiar situations. All had satisfying endings that weren’t tied up in that trite happily-ever-after way that gets on my nerves. I’ve read Stephen King (Misery and 11/22/63) and Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) before, but this was my first taste of Maggie O’Farrell’s work. I will be seeking out more.

I’m enjoying three other books (two non-fiction and another novel), and if this keeps up 2018 will be a mighty fine reading year.

What are you reading this month?

…a faithful Father

We recited the answer to this question from the Heidelberg Catechism in church today:

26. Q. What do you believe when you say: I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who still upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father. In Him I trust so completely as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will also turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this life of sorrow. He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.

Beautiful, and oh so true.

snow day

It’s a rare sight in north Florida, but it’s snowing today:

Honestly, after living in Maine for 3 hard winters in the early nineties, I’m still over snow. But it was neat to open my back door and hear kids in the neighborhood enjoying it. For now, I’m in bed with a mug of tea. 🙂

Now is what we have…”

god-at-workFrom God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.:

…Christians need to realize that the present is the moment in which we are called to be faithful. We can do nothing about the past. The future is wholly in God’s hands. Now is what we have. The future-oriented obsession of today’s culture pushes our attention and our good works to the future, to what we are going to do later. We must ‘live in the hour that has come,’ says Wingren. ‘That is the same as living in faith, receptive to God, who is present now and has something he will do now.’

This means that vocation is played out not just in extraordinary acts–the great things we will do for the Lord, the great success we envision in our careers someday–but in the realm of the ordinary. Whatever we face in the often humdrum present–washing the dishes, buying groceries, going to work, driving the kids somewhere, hanging out with our friends–this is the realm into which we have been called and in which our faith bears fruit in love.

What I read in 2017

2017-booksMy goal for 2017 was to read 45 books, mostly from my own shelves, and I reached my goal with only hours to spare. 🙂 I’m calling it a good reading year – a mix of fiction and non-fiction with some standouts. My top ten in no particular order:

  1. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  3. The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ – Andrew Klavan
  4. Boy’s Life – Robert R. McCammon
  5. Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien (my second time through this one and it’s still my favorite novel)
  6. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  7. John – R.C. Sproul
  8. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis (a re-read)
  9. The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story – Hyeonseo Lee
  10. Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

What were your favorites in 2017?

January:

  1.  Cometh the Hour (Book Six of the Clifton Chronicles) – Jeffrey Archer
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo  (a few thoughts on this one here and here)
  3. 30 Days — Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: A Couple of Simple Steps Every Day to Create the Life You Want – Marc Reklau
  4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

February:

  1. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast – Laura Vanderkam
  2. The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ – Andrew Klavan
  3. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food – Melissa Hartwig

March:

  1. Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything – Anonymous
  2. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
  3. Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously

April:

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
  2. The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things – Courtney Elizabeth Mauk

May:

  1. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and BetrayalNick Bilton

June:

  1. American WifeCurtis Sittenfield 
  2. My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  3. Boy’s Life – Robert R. McCammon
  4. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will – Kevin DeYoung
  5. Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien (my second time through this one and it’s still my favorite novel)
  6. The Magnolia Story – Chip & Joanna Gaines

July:

  1. You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  3. Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel – Rachel Khong
  4. Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane
  5. A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything – Lydia Brownback
  6. Perfecting Ourselves to Death: The Pursuit of Excellence and the Perils of Perfectionism – Richard Winter
  7. Commentaries on Proverbs – Matthew Henry

August:

  1. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance  – Ben Sasse
  2. Moral Defense (Samantha Brinkman Book 2) – Marcia Clark
  3. Dot Journaling – A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together – Rachel Wilkerson Miller
  4. The Judgment of Richard Richter – Igor Štiks

September:

  1. I Am Watching You – Teresa Driscoll
  2. To Dance With the White Dog – Terry Kay
  3. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  4. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
  5. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  6. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life – Gretchen Rubin

October:

  1. Leaving Berlin – Joseph Kanon
  2. John – R.C. Sproul
  3. The Touch – Randall Wallace
  4. Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

November:
I didn’t finish a single book this month! 😦

December:

  1. The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story – Hyeonseo Lee
  2. Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts – Douglas Bond
  3. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  4. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life – Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
  5. God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything – Douglas Wilson

** Disclaimer: Whenever you click on a link to books around here and then make a purchase at Amazon, you’re helping me — a few pennies at a time —  feed my book habit. Many thanks!

“But what God did about us was this…”

mere christianityFrom C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.

What you would have done about that tin soldier I do not know. But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man — a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.

 

a book recommendation

johnAs folks around the world and web remember R.C. Sproul’s life and influence, I’d like to point you to one of his books that you may not have encountered. This past fall, I went through his commentary on John very slowly – a chapter a day – and I highly recommend it as a devotional. Here are a few passages I marked along the way:

All light finds its origin in Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of all truth.

—————

Therefore, if you have in your heart today any affection for Christ at all, it is because God the Holy Spirit in His sweetness, in His power, in His mercy, and in His grace has been to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead. So you are now alive to the things of Christ and you rejoice in the kingdom into which He has brought you.

[I love that phrase “…to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead.” I didn’t need to be persuaded or wooed to come to Christ. I was doornail dead and had to be brought to life.]

—————-

The whole of Scripture speaks to us of the love of God for His people, but so often we fix our attention on God’s love for us that we forget that the ground of that love is the love that the Father has from eternity for His Son. Remember, we’re not the natural children of God. We’re the adopted children of God, and even our election must always be understood to be in the Son.

—————-

We have to keep a close watch on what we do in worship, asking ourselves: “Is this according to the truth of God? Is this God’s teaching in His Word?” Our worship must be based on God’s self-revelation in Scripture. He is truth and His Word is truth.

[This is completely counter-cultural.]

—————-

The deepest theological question that I can think of, the one for which I have no adequate answer, is the question, “Why me?” My students come to me with all kinds of conundrums from theology, but they rarely ask, “Why did God save me?” It sometimes seems as if we’re thinking: “Why wouldn’t He save me?” Yes, we have little aphorisms such as, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Do we really believe that? Are we really amazed by the measure of grace God has poured out on us? Can we say with John, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on its, that we should be called children of God!”

“Why me?” indeed. Why do I live in a time where solid, rich biblical teaching is at my fingertips day and night? Why was I “introduced” to R.C. Sproul’s teaching as a very young woman so that I could benefit as I grew in my relationship with Christ?

Amazing grace.

 

“…they were written down for our instruction…”

My reading through the Bible has recently taken me through 1 Samuel and some corresponding Psalms. I have been struck (not for the first time) by David’s trust in God and the resulting obedience, even while his life was threatened by Saul. David refuses to kill Saul when he has the chance, and I can’t say that I would have done the same.

Consider David’s thoughts in Psalm 34:

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

He acknowledges how his God delivers those who cry out to him, and he has actual experience with this. These words are pouring out of a soul that knows and loves God. He’s a refugee; God is his refuge.

And yet, this David is the same man we know will go on to seek another man’s wife with such fervor that he has the man killed to get what he wants. Clearly, something changed. At some point he began to believe that he did lack something (someone) that God had not provided.

I now have to preach to myself:  Anne, take heed lest you fall. I’m not sure I have the faith David showed when he did not take the opportunity to kill Saul in the cave, but I am reminded that I have ability to fall from what faith I DO have. I, too, have tasted the goodness of the Lord and seen His provision over and over again. Yet, I forget.

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
~~Corinthians 10:11-13

I am thankful for God’s Word and my access to it. I’m thankful that it is living and active. And I’m thankful that He is faithful.