hey there

As you already know if you follow me on instagram, I’m once again obsessed with knitting. That has cut into my reading time — and into my blogging. So here’s a brief attempt at catching up a little.

~ I mentioned that when my son was visiting recently, he interviewed me for his podcast. That episode is now up, so you can listen in to our late night conversation if you’re so inclined. We chatted about photography, blogging, knitting, football, and my need for speed. It’s a pretty mellow episode, so grab some caffeine first.

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~ I’m working on an easy drop stitch scarf with a skein of yarn I bought earlier this year in California. It’s turning out really cool, and it’s an easy pattern.

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~ September is coming to a dreary, wet close. It looks gray and cool outside, but it’s really muggy and warm. I’m pretending otherwise, however, and am putting myself in a fall frame of mind with flowers, a scented candle, and lots of coffee.

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~ I’m still working on the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine, but I’m not on schedule. I’m not giving up, though.

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So that’s a quick round-up of what’s going on around here.

Happy fall y’all,
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the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine

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PTR-1-Peter_300x250Today Paul and I are beginning to memorize 1 Peter together via the memory Moleskine project. I’ve printed out the PDFs, cut out the assignments, and pasted them into our Cahier journals. It will take us until at least the end of the year — and probably longer — to complete the project, but it will be time well spent thinking on God’s Word.

Please consider joining us and let me know if you do!

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another collection of links…

~ You’ll be hearing more about this one from me for sure: The 1 Peter Memory Moleskine. I did the Philippians memory project several years ago, and Paul and I are committing to this one. Please check it out and let me know if you’re participating, too.

~ The famous Robert Frost poem we’ve read wrong forever.

~ 27 reasons why every believer in Jesus should rejoice always.

~ The story behind “Sweet Home Alabama”

~ This one will have limited appeal unless your haircut is similar to mine: 4 easy short hairstyles that will make you want a bob.

That’s it for this Monday. It’ll be a busy one for me, and I hope it’s a good one for you!

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“The choice before you and me today is this…”

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I’ve had some extra time with the Lord on this quiet Saturday morning, and He is making Himself clear. As I’ve prayed through today’s reading in Handbook to Prayer (I’ll share more about this little gem one of these days.), I’ve been reminded once again of Philippians 4:6-7 and the command to turn over my worries to God and to THANK Him. I don’t know why I have to be reminded of this so often, and I wish I could master it, but at the same time I’m thankful that God cares enough about me to continue to remind me and encourage me. He doesn’t give up. He is faithful.

As I turned to where I left off in  The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I found this:

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. — Psalm 34:1

The choice before you and me today is this: Do we only give God glory for the parts of our lives that are going the way we want? Or do we worship Him, trust Him, and give Him thanks just because He is God, regardless of the dark, painful, incomprehensible places we encounter along our journey?

Look, it’s a sacrifice either way. If we go on without gratitude, choosing to be bitter, bemoaning our fate, we force ourselves to live in these already unhappy conditions with the added drag of our gloomy disposition. We sacrifice peace; we sacrifice contentment; we sacrifice freedom and grace and joy. But what if we could maintain all these things — and even increase them beyond anything we’ve ever experienced — by making just one sacrifice: the sacrifice of thanksgiving?

If you must go through what you’re facing now anyway (should God choose not to lift it from you miraculously, which He can always do and for which you may certainly pray), why make it even worse by withdrawing from His grace and fellowship, enduring life on the raw edge without relying on Him for help? Be it disappointment, be it physical suffering, be it mental and relational anguish, why not see what could happen if you let your pain drive you to His side?

Yes, to give thanks in all things may require a sacrifice. And no, it may not change your situation, perhaps not even a little. But it will put you in the only position possible for experiencing everything God desires for you throughout this hard stretch of life. That’s the promise of gratitude.

~~~It may feel a bit insincere to give thanks under certain circumstances, perhaps even manipulative. But we counsel and train our hearts by such steps of obedience. Offer the sacrifice of thanks, and let God’s truth lift and sustain your spirit.

I love my God who cares enough about me to communicate clearly to me. I don’t have to guess about His will. He wants me to pray and give thanks in all situations. And He wants this for me because He knows it’s the best thing for me.

And for you!

Thankful,
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“…His Word is our sanity.”

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Both we and the generations coming behind us must endure a world that is often dark and distressing. We are confronted by challenges that seem to leave no other option than worry and panic. But His Word is our sanity. It is what keeps us from losing our equilibrium when all around us appears to be spinning out of control. It tethers us to truth, mentally and emotionally, protecting our minds, and reorienting our perspectives.

Store up God’s Word in your heart. Memorize it; meditate on it; allow the Spirit of God to personalize it to your life. And be continually renewed as God uses it to transform you into the likeness of Christ.

If you’re not already in the habit of memorizing Scripture, select one verse to memorize and meditate on this week. Watch how God brings it to bear on your current circumstances.

I’m taking her counsel to heart and will be meditating on Psalm 116:7 today — “Return , O my soul to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”

“…a particular fondness for the book of Psalms…”

whitehorsekingFrom The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle:

As a youth, Alfred had been naturally inclined toward book learning. In particular, the poetry of the Anglo-Saxon tongue, with its haunting cadences and kennings, had cast a spell on his mind that would hold him under its power until his last day. The little volume of poetry his mother had given him had long been a prized possession. The young prince also had a particular fondness for the book of Psalms and gave special attention to memorizing them, a task made easier by the regular recitation of Psalms in the daily church services. After the death of his mother, however, little attention was paid in the court of Alfred’s father to continuing the young boy’s studies. Thus Alfred’s education largely consisted of a patchwork of memorized poems, psalms, and stock phrases from the church service.

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The translation of the Psalms was Alfred’s last project, being only one-third complete at the king’s death. These psalms, primarily the songs of King David composed throughout the king of Israel’s tumultuous reign, had always had a special place in Alfred’s heart. Having memorized many of the psalms in his youth, Alfred had used these sacred words throughout his life to embolden himself in battle, encourage himself in despondency, humble himself in his sins, and comfort himself in his forgiveness. The entire spectrum of Alfred’s personal trials and triumphs seemed to have been lived out already by the shepherd king of Israel. More than any other text, the book of Psalms had become the poetry of Alfred’s life.

“What the Psalms do is lean against some of our natural instincts.”

I’m still working through Psalm 37. My memory work has been slow going, and I’ve tried to catch up over the long weekend. Yesterday I began a list of what the psalmist says about the wicked and the righteous. So far, the column for the wicked is longer.
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I know professing believers who would be very uncomfortable with this list because it dares to label some as wicked and others as righteous. It implies judgment. It identifies character and behaviors that are condemned. And, yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about God laughing at the wicked (verse 13: But the LORD laughs at the wicked for he sees that his day is coming.) But our discomfort is precisely why we need to be in God’s Word, seeing things as He sees them, being corrected in our thinking. The psalmists words are Scripture. If we’re not willing to submit our hearts to it, we’re putting ourselves in a very dangerous place of thinking we’re more righteous than God, holier than He is.

And it’s instructive to remember that if we’re on the “righteous” side of that list, it’s only because of God’s grace in applying Christ’s obedience, death, and resurrection to us. It’s not because we were just naturally good. We were one of those laughed at by God until, in His mysterious mercy, He rescued us. So there’s no cause for boasting in ourselves here or feeling smug about which side of the list we’re on.

So, back to the list: The big theme here is how fleeting the prosperity of the wicked is. Isn’t that hard to see on a daily basis? And again, that’s why we need the reminders from Scripture! Through His Word, He re-orients us to truth: The wicked will look like they’re doing great — but it’s only temporary. It may look and feel permanent to us, but it’s not. Wait patiently on God, and you will end up with abundant peace FOREVER. Look past the circumstances of today. Look at God’s promises in Scripture, and wait on Him to work them out. Trust in His timing. He ALWAYS does what He promises. ALWAYS.

As I was thumbing through a favorite book yesterday (Ed Welch’s When People Are Big and God Is Small), I providentially came across an underlined passage that articulates all of this so much better than I can: (emphasis mine)

When confronted with enemies, we should go directly to the Psalms if we are not sure how to feel or what to say. In them, we are given exactly what we need. What the Psalms do is lean against some of our natural instincts. When we are inclined to take matters into our own hands, the Psalms teach us to trust God. When we would insulate ourselves from pain, they teach us to trust God. Instead of vowing that we will never again move close to another person, we learn to trust God. Instead of extinguishing hope, the Psalms teach us to trust God and, as a result, be filled with jubilant expectations for the coming of the kingdom. You could say that the Psalms improve our quality of life.

Believe it with me!
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resources

As I work through Psalm 37, reading it, meditating on it, and memorizing it, I’ve searched out some resources to help me understand it better. Just in case any of you are interested, here are some things I’ve found:

~ The folks at Ligonier share a list of the top 5 commentaries on the Psalms. More books for the wishlist!

~ Desiring God always has good stuff, and they have quite a list of resources on the Psalms.

~ Here’s a list of sermons on the Psalms by Charles Spurgeon.

~ I’d forgotten that I owned Henry Law’s books on the Psalms, so I’ve pulled them back out.

~ Here is a treasure trove of resources that will take me a while to sort through.

~ Matthew Henry’s commentary is always a good place to go.

If you know of any others, I’d really appreciate you passing them along!

So many books, so little time!
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a prayer based on psalm 37

Scotty Smith leads us in a prayer based on lines I’ve been memorizing. Here’s a peek:

How long, O Lord, before you send Jesus back to put all things right? How long before defeated evil will be eradicated evil? How long before there will be no more harm, hurting and horror? How long, O Lord, how long?

How you answer these questions in this Psalm is just what I need today. You won’t give us a date, but as always, you do give us yourself.

Do go over and read — and PRAY! — the whole thing.

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minding my business

cropped-dsc_00087.jpgAs I memorize and meditate on Psalm 37, I’m considering how God lays out His job and mine. This week I’ve been working on verses 5 through 9:

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Here are my responsibilities:

  • commit my way to the LORD
  • trust in Him
  • Be still before the LORD
  • wait patiently for him
  • fret not
  • refrain from anger
  • forsake wrath
  • fret not (again!)

And God’s responsibilities:

  • He will act.
  • He will bring forth my righteousness and justice
  • He will give justice to evildoers
  • He will give an inheritance to those who wait

Of course I know that I can carry out my responsibilities only by His gracious enabling, so He’s actually very involved in both lists. It helps me to list these out, though, because too often I think I mix up my business and God’s in my mind. He is reminding me to tend to my part and leave Him to His. And as I look at the list, there’s plenty to keep me occupied and out of His business.

Over the past year or so in some painful trials, I’ve been learning to wait. It’s a hard lesson. It’s not my default position, either, so I still need help with my unbelief. And there is some anger that keeps cropping up that I’ve got to refrain from and forsake. Why? Because God’s going to take care of the injustices. He’s promised. And if I can’t put away the anger, it shows that I don’t really trust God to do that. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

Something else I noticed in this part of the psalm is that I’m to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. I’m not to endure a trial by distracting myself with the cares of this world. I’m to wait for him, not only for deliverance or relief from suffering. And as I wait, I’m to be still before the Lord. He’s promised an inheritance to those who wait. Matthew Henry says:

God provides plentifully and well, not only for his working servants, but for his waiting servants. They have that which is better than wealth, peace of mind, peace with God, and then peace in God; that peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot have.

That’s His business. And He’s reminding me to mind mine.

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