monday miscellany

From around the net:

~ If it makes you happy:

But what is the problem with being happy? Isn’t happiness a good thing? Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Again, it depends on what we mean by our use of the word “happy.” Happiness must be rightly ordered. Our happiness must be subject to our holiness. God does not want you to be happy when it is at odds with you being holy. When these become disordered we fall into the same problem as the nation of Israel at the end of Judges. The result of that tailspin was, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Happiness unchecked will always lead to doing what is right in your own eyes. And when we understand that the “heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9), we can quickly understand the problem with doing what is right in our own eyes.

Instead, Christians should acknowledge that love is the answer but should labor to define that term as the Bible defines it. Happiness falls far short of love. Happiness is an emotion or state of mind. Love is something so much more.

~ A brief history of the Hawaiian shirt.

~ A free Bible study on how to change the way you think, act, and experience life.

~ Lean in on Sunday morning.

~ Don’t have time to read books? Try this one weird trick.

Happy Monday!

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monday miscellany

Links from ’round the webs:

~ You’re not meant to do what you love. You’re meant to do what you’re good at:

If everybody did what they thought they loved, the important things wouldn’t get done. To function as a society, there are labors that are necessary. Someone has to do them. Is that person robbed of a life of passion, because they had to choose a life of skill and purpose? No, of course not.

You can choose what you love to do, simply by how you think of it and what you focus on. Everything is work. Everything is work. Everything is work. There are few jobs that are fundamentally “easier” than others, whether by virtue of manual labor or brain-power. There is only finding a job that suits you enough that the work doesn’t feel excruciating. There is only finding what you are skilled at, and then learning to be thankful.

Read the whole thing.

~ What you read matters more than you might think.

~ Sounds like the Navy finally wised up about those ridiculous blue cammies. To modify a meme I’ve seen floating around Facebook, if you’re afraid to speak up at a meeting, just remember someone once piped up, “Let’s put sailors in blue camouflage.”

~ I’m currently reading John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, so I found this post on his arrest and post-pluralism persecution in America interesting.

~ 7 Ways to deal with doubt. I especially love #6.

~ An open letter to someone having an affair.

~ The immaturity of addiction:

This rule of thumb makes sense under closer observation. When someone begins to abuse substances repeatedly, they are often exchanging responsibility for pleasure. Many addicts enter this lifestyle to escape hard circumstances, trials, or truths about themselves they do not want to face. Consequently, the lessons they would have learned in meeting these situations, dealing with them constructively, and growing in maturity through them are lost opportunities. If you ever wonder why a thirty year old drug user makes a really dumb choice even when he is not high, it is not just the effect of the drugs on his reasoning abilities. He simply has never learned any better.

another book that changed someone’s life

fierceI’ve recently been thinking and blogging about books that have changed my life, and as I’m reading Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior, I’ve been introduced to a book that changed More’s life:

In 1780, during the height of her high-society years in London, More read a book that changed her life. Cardiphonia, sometimes translated by publishers as The Utterance of the Heart or Voice of the Heart, was a collection of letters penned by John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” As was common, Newton’s book was published pseudonymously. More was curious to know whom the author of this marvelous and moving book was. She wrote a letter to her friend Frances Boscawen, thanking her for introducing the work to her. “I like it prodigiously,” she said. “It is full of vital, experimental religion.” Those words, within the context of the times, are telling. By vital, More meant “full of life,” so opposite the stale, dead religion found in many Church of England members, wearied with centuries of religious conflict. The word experimental alluded to the growing emphasis during the eighteenth century on the importance of individual experience in religious practice, the need of each person to have an authentic and personal faith rather than simply to adhere to rote tradition.

Although little known today, Cardiphonia is a classic of Christian literature. The volume of personal letters by Newton put forth his convictions concerning human depravity and the sufficiency of Christ to redeem fallen humanity…

That one is now on my wishlist and will probably satisfy one of the categories of the 2016 reading challenge. I love it when a book leads me down a trail to even more books.

I also love learning through biographies. Prior goes on to write more about Newton, and this I did not know:

Despite his newfound faith, Newton did not immediately recognize the evil of slavery. He continued to work in the slave trade. In fact, it was after his conversion to Christ that Newton became captain of a slave ship…Newton withdrew from the horrid business only gradually; his failing health was a greater cause for this, at first, than his developing convictions. As his faith matured, he decided to pursue the priesthood within the Church of England. Only when he was no longer immersed in the business could he truly see the slave trade for the evil it was.

So far, 2016 is a good reading year!

“…with a sense of their small place in redemptive history…”

wowFrom Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin:

Modern-day Christians inherit a faith that is built on the foundations of that which has come before. We, too, must occupy a modern space while maintaining an ancient perspective. The earliest portions of our sacred text were written around 1500 BC, in a language we do not speak, to people whose lives looked very different from ours. But many of us choose to build our modern understanding of Scripture with no regard for the historical and cultural context that lies beneath its surface, a context that is essential for a right understanding and application of any text. The temptation to make the Bible applicable to our current experience without preserving its ties to its original audience is strong. The desire to say, “Can’t I just read the text as if it were written to me?” is great. The Bible’s historical and cultural context is there for the digging, but only those believers with a sense of their small place in redemptive history are likely to dig with diligence.

I remember

[a repost from 2013]

A co-worker asked me yesterday where I was on September 11th. I told her I was living in Montgomery, Alabama and in my second year of homeschooling Will and Caroline. He was a fourth grader, and she was in second. On that very mundane early fall morning, we were sitting at our dining room table with our books when my mom called and told me to turn on the television. And then I was on the phone with my sister as I watched the towers fall.

My little second grader drew her feelings that day:

9-11-2001

A horrible day, wasn’t it? So much fear — was this just the beginning? Those people in New York City, Washington, DC, that field in Pennsylvania! Their families! All of those firemen! As a military family, what did it mean for our future? Who would do such a thing to our country? So many questions. Glued to the television.

Since that awful day, I’ve often heard it referred to as a tragedy. That makes me a little nuts. It is not simply a tragedy — something that just happened to happen to people. It was an act of war — acts of pre-meditated terror and evil inflicted on people like you and me. And then it was rejoiced over by other humans, twisted and dark and evil. Nope, not “just” a tragedy. It was evil.

Where were you?

Remembering,

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monday miscellany

In which I clean out my bookmarks:

~ There is no treasure with worry.

~ I know the newly published Harper Lee novel is all the rage these days, but I don’t want to read it. First, I’m skeptical about its provenance, and I can’t shake that feeling (the Onion sounds all too plausible here.). Second, I don’t want it to overshadow or spoil the greatness that is To Kill A Mockingbird. Third, I have this automatic reaction against whatever is all the rage — whatever someone tells me I just must read ________. Phil at Brandywine Books made me chuckle with his  list of newly discovered literary sequels.

~ Mainstream media is more than just maddening. They’re just plain boring with their determination to see the world a certain way, along with intellectual laziness. See Exhibit A: Andrea Mitchell.

~ 22-year-old college student blows her $90,000 college fund and blames her parents.  Sigh.

~ Here’s a new (to me, at least) concept: Sugar Baby Schools. In a nutshell, young women connect online with men who are willing to pay for their tuition, among other expenses:

The website, describing itself as the “No. 1 sugar daddy site for those seeking mutually beneficial arrangements,” says a “modern daddy” is “a successful and generous man who is willing to pamper and offer financial help or gifts to a young person in return for friendship and companionship.”

The website describes a “goal seeking sugar baby,” as a girl who “know(s) you deserve to date someone who will pamper you, empower you, and help you mentally, emotionally and financially.”

What’s missing at the end of that last sentence is:  FOR MONEY.  You know, there’s a word for that arrangement.

~ “Rome is on the verge of collapse.”  That really makes me sad.

~ How your iPhone replaces $3000 of tech stuff from the 1990s.

~ Ineptocracy. Indeed.

That’s it for now. Happy Monday!

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monday miscellany

Another collection of links from around the ‘sphere:

~ As I’ve mentioned, I’m listening to David McCullough’s the Wright Brothers via Audible. Here’s an interesting interview with the historian about the men.

~ How to keep your phone’s battery healthy.

~ I love stories like this one. God delights in surprising us.

~ Help me face today.

~ I’m grateful to be having some relief from insomnia these past few weeks, but I still appreciate this old article from Challies on us “helpless sacks of sand.”

~ Where have these been all my life? (no need to click on the link unless you’re a fellow office supply nerd)

Happy Monday!

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“…God’s revelation of himself is rejected far more often than it is accepted…”

christplaysFrom Eugene H. Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:

Eighteen hundred years or so of Hebrew history capped by a full exposition in Jesus Christ tell us that God’s revelation of himself is rejected far more often than it is accepted, is dismissed by far more people than embrace it, and has been either attacked or ignored by every major culture or civilization in which it has given its witness: magnificent Egypt, fierce Assyria, beautiful Babylon, artistic Greece, political Rome, Enlightenment France, Nazi Germany, Renaissance Italy, Marxist Russia, Maoist China, and pursuit-of-happiness America. The community of God’s people has survived in all of these cultures and civilizations but always as a minority, always marginal to the mainstream, never statistically significant. Paul was acerbically brief: “not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth…God chose what is low and despised in the world” (1 Cor. 1:26, 28)

It gives us pause. If we, as the continuing company of Jesus, seem to have achieved an easy accommodation with our society and culture, how did we pull off what Jesus and the community of Jesus failed to accomplish? How has it come to pass that after twenty centuries of rejection, North American Christians assume that acclaim by numbers is a certificate of divine approval?

The significance of the church has never been in King Number. Its message has seldom (hardly ever, in fact) been embraced by the mighty and powerful. Strategies are introduced from time to time to target “important” leaders, men and women in high places in government, business, or the media, for conversion. It is not a practice backed by biblical precedent. There are, of course, Christians in high places politically and prominent in the celebrity pantheon, but their position and standing doesn’t seem to mean anything strategically significant in terms of God’s kingdom. To suppose that if we can just “place” Christian men and women in prominent positions of leadership, we are going to improve the efficacy of the community in its worship, missions, or evangelism, has no warrant in Scripture or history.

“We humans, with our deep-seated pretensions to being gods…”

christplaysFrom Eugene H. Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:

The salvation story is a God story. It is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is also God doing this in his own way and not to our dictates or preferences. He does not consult us regarding matters of timing.

This requires constant reiteration. We humans, with our deep-seated pretensions to being gods, are endlessly preoccupied with worrying and tinkering with matters of salvation as if we were in charge of it. But we are not. God carries out the work of salvation; not, to be sure, without our participation, but it is God’s work done in God’s way.