Here are some photos of our valley in the fog and frost which move in during the winter.
See more photos here.
Here are some photos of our valley in the fog and frost which move in during the winter.
See more photos here.
That summarizes fairly well where we are at in the adoption process. All of our paperwork was sent in at the end of the summer. Now all there is to do is wait for the government offices to make a match with our family. Our adoption agency has kept us informed on how things are moving (or not moving), and we continue to pray for the child that God will bring into our family. Thank you for praying with us!
Instead of looking at books and pictures about the New Testament I looked at the New Testament. There I found an account, not in the least of a person with his hair parted in the middle or his hands clasped in appeal, but of an extraordinary being with lips of thunder and acts of lurid decision, flinging down tables, casting out devils, passing with the wild secrecy of the wind from mountain isolation to a sort of dreadful demagogy; a being who often acted like an angry god—and always like a god. Christ had even a literary style of his own, not to be found, I think, elsewhere; it consists of an almost furious use of the a fortiori. His “how much more” is piled one upon another like castle upon castle in the clouds. The diction used about Christ has been, and perhaps wisely, sweet and submissive. But the diction used by Christ is quite curiously gigantesque; it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea. Morally it is equally terrific; he called himself a sword of slaughter, and told men to buy swords if they sold their coats for them. That he used other even wilder words on the side of nonresistance greatly increases the mystery; but it also, if anything, rather increases the violence. We cannot even explain it by calling such a being insane; for insanity is usually along one consistent channel. The maniac is generally a monomaniac. Here we must remember the difficult definition of Christianity already given; Christianity is a superhuman paradox whereby two opposite passions may blaze beside each other. The one explanation of the Gospel language that does explain it, is that it is the survey of one who from some supernatural height beholds some more startling synthesis.
For our twelve year anniversary we took a short trip to Gijón, a city 2 1/2 hours north of us. We had beautiful weather and greatly enjoyed the landscape! If you would like to see more photos, click here.
This past Sunday we studied Psalm 42-43 in our Sunday study. It was a great encouragement to remember that we can, and we must, hope in God, even when “all your breakers and your waves have gone over me” (42:7).
A few photos from our valley over the past week.
I really have no background with this book. A friend recommended it. I read it. I disagree with some of it. I agree with some of it. Below are some quotes:
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them to morrow?
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
You [the community] have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link. This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link. To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.
How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck? Truth be told, it felt like a little of both. The language normally used to describe this odd miracle does not work for me. I didn’t read one of those tacky self-help books with a thin coating of Christian themes, examine my life against the tenets of the Bible the way one might hold up one car insurance policy against all others and cleanly and logically “make a decision for Christ.” While I did make choices along the path of this journey, they never felt logical, risk-free, or sane. Neither did I feel like the victim of an emotional/spiritual earthquake and collapse gracefully into the arms of my Savior, like a holy and sanctified Scarlett O’Hara having been “claimed by Christ’s irresistible grace.” Heretical as it might seem, Christ and Christianity seemed eminently resistible. (Kindle: 177)
Christians always seemed like bad readers to me, too. They appeared to use the Bible in a way that Marxists would call “vulgar”—that is, common, or in order to bring the Bible into a conversation to stop the conversation, not deepen it. “The Bible says” always seemed to me like a mantra that invited everyone to put his or her brain on hold. “The Bible says” was the Big Pause before the conversation stopped. Their catch phrases and clichés were (and are) equally off-putting. “Jesus is the answer” seemed to me then and now like a tree without a root. Answers come after questions, not before. Answers answer questions in specific and pointed ways, not in sweeping generalizations.
Ken stressed that he accepted me as a lesbian but that he didn’t approve of me as a lesbian.
I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.
Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the “lost,” if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers.
Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed.
A mistake is a logical misstep. Sin lurks in our heart and grabs us by the throat to do its bidding. (Kindle: 871)
This experience taught me a powerful lesson about evangelism: The integrity of our relationships matters more than the boldness of our words.
Even when faced with the blinding sting of someone else’s sin, it really is not someone else’s sin that can hurt us. It is our own festering sin that takes the guise of innocence that will be the undoing of us all.
What good Christians don’t realize is that sexual sin is not recreational sex gone overboard. Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be “healed” by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death: nothing more and nothing less. I told my audience that I think too many young Christian fornicators plan that marriage will redeem their sin. Too many young Christian masturbators plan that marriage will redeem their patterns. Too many young Christian internet pornographers think that having legitimate sex will take away the desire to have illicit sex. They’re wrong. And the marriages that result from this line of thinking are dangerous places. I know, I told my audience, why over fifty percent of Christian marriages end in divorce: because Christians act as though marriage redeems sin. Marriage does not redeem sin. Only Jesus himself can do that. The audience seemed a little shocked to hear this.
The more God-centered our worship practice, the more mercy-centered our life. Worship is our rehearsal for how to live today and how to glorify God in heaven. It is not merely a Sunday morning exercise meant to make us feel good.
Learning to be refreshed in the context of intense labor is important spiritual work. God truly gave us what we needed. When Christ was at the center, we learned to “draft” off God’s word the way cyclists draft off of another cyclist during a long race. Perhaps even more importantly, when Christ was at the center, we learned to say no and to close the door.
I learned, during those years, that the idea that one is ever too busy to pray is delusion of the most dangerous variety.
Over the years, I have contemplated what this really means. What does it really mean to “lack fellowship”? At least as it regards the handful of families that showed immediate excitement and then after a month a changed heart, this is what “lacking fellowship” means. It means that the family needs to be in a church made up of people who are just like they, who raise their children using the same childrearing methods, who take the same stance on birth control, schooling, voting, breastfeeding, dress codes, white flour, white sugar, gluten, childhood immunizations, the observance of secular and religious holidays. We encountered families who feared diversity with a primal fear. They often told us that they didn’t want to “confuse” their children by exposing them to differences in parenting standards among Christians. I suspect that they feared that deviation from their rules might provide a window for children to see how truly diverse the world is and that temptation might lead them astray. Over and over and over again I have heard this line of thinking from the fearful and the faith-struggling. We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. Why is that?
When God brings children out of neglect, abuse, dysfunction, gangs, drugs, and hate, and places them in a covenant home, he has just moved a mountain in the hearts and families of men. When God gives a childless couple a child of any age using the means of his powerful will, he has just moved a mountain in the hearts and families of men. When mountains move, the earth shakes. When you stand as close as we have to real-life miracles, you will get roughed up. Mountains are big and we are small. A moving mountain can crush us. Splinters fall from the cross. They travel a long distance and they pierce the skin—maybe even the heart. And wrapped in this risk and danger are God’s embrace and promise to work all things (even evil ones) to the good of those who love him.
God is not crushing the dreams of parenthood when he deals the card of infertility. God is asking you to crush the idolatry of pregnancy, to be sure. And, he is saying: Dream My dreams, not yours!
Here are some quotes from the book: Mohler, R. Albert Jr. The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018.
Prayer is never an isolated event. When we pray, we convey our entire theological system. Our theology is never so clearly displayed before our own eyes and before the world as in our prayers.
In Scripture it is unthinkable that a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ would not pray.
The Lord Jesus, because he is fully God and fully man, is the only one truly qualified to teach us how to pray. As the second member of the Trinity, Jesus gives us God’s perspective on prayer. In Jesus Christ, God himself is teaching his people how he wants us to approach him. But as one who is fully man, Jesus is also able to instruct us in how we as humans are to approach prayer. Jesus engaged in and experienced a life of prayer. Because he is fully human without any taint of sin, Jesus led a life of perfect prayer.
One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is our obsession with individualism. The first-person singular pronoun reigns in our thinking. We tend to think about nearly everything (including the truths of God’s Word) only as they relate to me.
The Lord’s Prayer, however, is doctrinally robust, theologically deep, and anything but serene. The Lord’s Prayer is anything but tame. Regrettably, our familiarity often blinds us from seeing just how radical, even subversive, this prayer is. It is for those who hold firmly that Jesus Christ has inaugurated a kingdom, has risen from the dead, reigns at the right hand of God, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead. The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord.
As J. I. Packer noted, “Here more clearly than anywhere the purpose of prayer becomes plain: not to make God do my will (which is practicing magic), but to bring my will into line with his (which is what it means to practice true religion).”
C. S. Lewis observed the same phenomenon in his classic work The Screwtape Letters. As Lewis explained, humanity is prone to two extremes when it comes to thinking about demonic forces. There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.1
If Christians truly embraced biblical teaching on demonic powers, we would come to church with a tremendous sense of the fact that God has rescued us from the domain of darkness.
Here are some quotes from the book: Perman, Matthew Aaron. How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.
God is at the center of our productivity and gives us the power and direction to do the right things in the right way and for the right reasons.
The key to time management at the end of the day is simple: you need to know where you are going, and you need to focus on the things that will get you there.
John Piper sums up the biblical meaning of freedom in this fullest sense, of being free “indeed,” that Jesus and Paul are speaking of: “You are fully free—completely free, free indeed—when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. Or we could say, You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you no regrets forever.”
J. Gresham Machen said about the use of the intellect: “No conversion was ever wrought by argument. A change of heart is also necessary. . . . But because intellectual labor is insufficient it does not follow, as is so often assumed, that it is unnecessary.”4
Christian philosopher Ronald Nash says a worldview is “a conceptual scheme that contains our fundamental beliefs; it is also the means by which we interpret and judge reality.” He goes on: “Worldviews function much like eyeglasses. The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can do something similar.”4 Nash summarizes well that there are five clusters of beliefs in any worldview: God, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and human nature. Our view of history could be added to this as well.
Covey says, “I submit that if we focus our attention on techniques, on specific practices, on ‘to do’ lists, on present pressures, we might make some small improvements. But if we want to move ahead in a major way, we need to shift our paradigm and see the situation in a totally new way.”8
As Dwight Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Money is not the scarcest resource. As Drucker pointed out years ago (and it has only increased since then), “Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful. And when it comes to people, while it is hard to find enough good people, you can hire and train more people.” But you cannot get more time. You cannot rent more of it, hire more of it, or in any other way obtain more of it. Time is the scarcest resource—not people and not money. And therefore “nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.”
King talks not only about how to write well, but also how to make the writing process work well for you. Regarding his own schedule, he writes, “My own schedule is pretty clear-cut. Mornings belong to whatever is new—the current composition. Afternoons are for naps and letters. Evenings are for reading, family, Red Sox games on TV, and any revisions that just cannot wait. Basically, mornings are my prime writing time.”19 That’s creative work first, reactive work second. And note that there is plenty of time left over for the reactive work, which does matter (and can be very energizing).
Ephesians 5:7–17 teaches us that God does not typically whisper from heaven what decision we should make. He wants us to choose because that requires the growth of wisdom, maturity, and conscience.