Friday, September 30, 2011

Bloodlines ~ John Piper

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the teaser for John Piper's "Bloodlines" documentary; here it is now in full.  If the teaser left me almost speechless - & seriously jonesing for the book - that's nothing compared to the full version!  It's extraordinary!  Thank goodness we already got the book in!

Bloodlines Documentary with John Piper from Crossway on Vimeo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mission Accomplished ~ Shai Linne

"So if we can agree that the election of the Father is not universal, & the regeneration of the Holy Spirit is not universal, why would the atonement of the Son be universal?"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quotable Christians

“The rejoicing is not in the trial but in what God is doing in it & through it. We need to snap out of the delusion that God made us in order to make us happy. God made us to make us holy. ’Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me’, was Jesus’ command; and He was headed straight for the cross.”

~David Kizziah, preaching on James 1:2,

"True holiness, we surely ought to remember, does not consist merely of inward sensations & impressions.  It is much more than tears & sighs & bodily excitement & a quickened pulse . . . .  It is something of 'the image of Christ', which can be seen & observed by others in our private life & habits & character & doings (Rom. 8:29)."

~J.C. Ryle, Holiness, introduction pg. xx

"If God's love for His children is to be measured by our health, wealth, and comfort in this life, God hated the apostle Paul."

Friday, September 23, 2011

John Piper & Kevin DeYoung on Holiness

I have been sharing a lot of 3rd party articles & videos, I know, but I hope you've settled down to it, because I'm going to be sharing a lot more!  I've been reading & watching a plethora of truly excellent material that I just know you'll want to know about, if you don't already.  To kick off my continued sharing, let me begin with these 2 stellar videos featuring John Piper & Kevin DeYoung discussing holiness.  Seriously good stuff!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy News for Beloved Friends!

photo courtesy of Vinh Duong Photography

I have such an exciting story to share with y'all!  Michael & I have a couple of friends from our former church whom we simply adore.  Jennifer is infectiously bubbly, loving, & genuine; Josh is a jokester who loves the Lord & his family; their beautiful daughter Erin is smart, witty, & growing in her faith in Jesus.  In other words, they are a super family that we're so fortunate to know & love.  And they have one incredible, God-glorifying, obstacles-overcoming story to share!  Hop on over to The Believer's Rest to read it!  It'll put a smile on your face!

Did You Marry the Wrong Person?

Did you marry the wrong person?  Stephen Altrogge & Tim Challies both tackle this question on their blogs.  Looking at the divorce rate, even among those who call themselves Christians, I would say this is a pretty pertinent question.  I would expect that when you boil it down, the only way one can walk away from their vows "for better or worse . . . 'til death do us part" is that they believe they have married the wrong person.  Tim's answer to this question, at first glance, was not what I expected:

"I guarantee that you have married the wrong person. We all marry the wrong person. Perhaps I should say it like this: we all marry the “wrong” person. We all marry a person who sins against us, who sometimes exasperates us by helping us worship our idols and at other times irritates us by smashing them to pieces. We all marry a person who has stinky breath and physical blemishes and bad moods. We all marry a person who is apparently incompatible with us on all kinds of levels."

Stephen's is good, too:

"The husband is neat, the wife is messy. The wife is talkative, the husband is quiet. The husband is always on time, the wife lives more in the moment. The wife is social, the husband is a homebody. These differences, which were initially just an irritant, have grown into something massive. What was once a tiny gap has become a great divide."

I can see how that can happen.  I laughed when I read the paragraph above, because the description, with a few alterations, is exactly Michael & me.  We have so many similarities, especially on the important things, but there are a lot of little differences that can drive us crazy.  I can see how if you focus on those differences, they can drive a wedge.  When we feel this happening, we need a reminder to alter our skewed view, one that I was happy to see Tim give.

"But here is what we need to see: The wrongness of our spouse is one of the great formative influences on us. The wrongness and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. A few years down the road you will look back on all of that wrongness, all you declared to be wrong about your husband or wife, and find that God was not wrong at all. He knew exactly what you needed.

What I have found is that often times, when someone fears that he has married the wrong person, or when he fears that he is about to marry the wrong person, he is looking at the differences between himself and this other person and lamenting that this other person is not more like him. He may describe her personality or preferences or passions, but what he is really doing is showing that he wants this woman, this potential wife, to be more like him. If only she was…me! Too many men, too many women, truly want to marry an image of themselves. And why not? You tend to like your preferences, to like your idols, to like your likes.

But ask any married person what his life would be like if he had married someone who was just like himself and you’ll see the folly of it. Her talkativeness was just the antidote to your quiet nature, drawing you out, filling your home with godly words. Your sexual freedom was just what she needed to release her fears and teach her how to express love in a whole new way. Her constant lateness taught you to be patient and showed you that she wasn’t late because she was selfish, but because she cared, just like Jesus when he showed up “too late” to save his friend Lazarus. In all these ways and so many more, God uses incompatibilities to produce godliness. These differences are truly glorious, the means by which God helps us put our own sin to death." (emphasis mine)

I wholeheartedly concur with Tim!  It is exactly our differences that God uses to sanctify us.  I am an impatient, quick-to-anger person; Michael is the exact opposite.  If he had my temperament, this would be a very unhappy household indeed!  As it stands, his patient, forgiving personality is showing some evidence of tempering mine, & it makes for a much more peaceful marriage.  I've heard it said that marriage is God's greatest sanctifying tool, & I think that's true.  Nowhere else will you have two clashing personalities in such close communion filing away the rough edges.  And, what I have already discovered in our marriage is that as our edges are smoothed, we grow closer to each other & more like God.  Which, of course, is His perfect plan.  So, bottom line, if you fear you married the wrong person, fear no more.  God doesn't make mistakes & works all things for the good of His children.  He will certainly do so in your marriage.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Secret Church!

"Family, Marriage, Sex, & the Gospel"!  These are the intertwining topics that David Platt will be covering with us in the next Secret Church on November 4.  If you haven't been to a Secret Church yet, I strongly encourage you to come to this one!  Secret Church is 6 hours of intensive teaching from Scripture.  It's incredible, & it's well worth those 6 hours!  After all, what is there in this life more worthy of such concentrated time & attention than God's Word & its application?

Tickets are already sold out to attend Secret Church at The Church at Brook Hills, but churches all over the nation are simulcasting the event.  Some are even hosting Secret Church in homes & backyards!  If your church hasn't signed up yet, encourage your leadership to do so now!  And if you've missed previous Secret Church events, don't fret.  All of the resources - including study guides - are online for you to watch, listen, & study!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Out of the Depths ~ Sovereign Grace

I like to listen to music while I work around the house.  Last night I was listening to the Psalms CD by Sovereign Grace, & in the midst of folding clothes, the following song came on.  I sat on the bed, closed my eyes, & drank it in.  It was glorious.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moore on Robertson

If you, like me, thought that Russell Moore's written refutation of Pat Robertson's "divorce your Alzheimer's-stricken wife" comments were incredible, hold on to your hats!  It doesn't get any better than this!

Our Nephew, the Gentleman

 He'll probably kill me, but this is one of my favorite pictures of Bradley!  And just for the record, no, he is most assuredly not an Auburn fan!

Have I ever told y'all about our nephew, Bradley?  He is one smart fella, let me tell you!  But even better than that - much better than that - he's a gentleman.  Already, at the ripe old age of 16, this young man puts a lot of older men to shame when it comes to treating women - even his younger sisters - with respect.  Rarely have I seen him not open a door for us females, & it's usually because his father or uncle get there first.  Michael & I spent a good portion of yesterday up in the big city with this side of our family, & one thing really struck me when we were all leaving.  Before getting into the car himself, Bradley made sure his mother was settled in the driver's seat first!  "Did you see that?!", I crooned to Michael, "He's such a gentleman!"  A while back, I met the family at a gas station for a milk exchange, & when I set out to pump my own gas (Michael wasn't there), Bradley was having none of it.  He told me that wasn't my place & did it for me!  These are just a few examples.  Is he great, or what?!

1 Peter 3:7 exhorts men to "[show] honor to the woman as the weaker vessel".  I've heard Mark Driscoll explain that men are like Thermoses & women are like crystal goblets.  Personally, I'm rather partial to being treated more like crystal than a Thermos!  ;-)  I'm pleased that Bradley's already being shown how to treat women respectfully & look forward to the day when his wife will reap the benefits of his early training.  For now, I'm just enjoying an opportunity to brag on our gentlemanly nephew!  We love you, Bradley!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

'Til Alzheimer's Do We Part?

Standing before untold numbers of people claiming to be a representative of Christ, Pat Robertson spit in the face of Scripture's teaching this week & said that a man had grounds to divorce his Alzheimer's-stricken wife in order to remarry, claiming that she's "not there" anymore.  There's so much that I could say, but I would never be able to say it as well as Russell Moore does in his confrontation of this heretic.

"Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.

At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.

The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond."

Beautifully said!  Rather than giving any credence whatsoever to such a load of tosh as what Pat Robertson doled out, let's hear what a true man of God has to say.  Robert McQuilken lived out Ephesians 5:25-32 when he retired to spend his days caring for his wife of over 40 years.

It's not hard to see which view of marriage brings glory to God.  And it's definitely not Pat Robertson's!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Status Quo or Ron Paul

For those who keep complaining about the status quo, I have one thing to say:  Stop voting for the status quo or stop complaining!  If you, like we, are sick of such, sick of pandering candidates who renege on their word, sick of candidates getting drunk on their own power trips, sick of candidates who vow to uphold the Constitution & then spend all of their term ripping it to shreds, then you have one choice before you.  Ron Paul.

Parenting Resources

Since I mentioned parenting in my "Marriage Works!" posts, I thought it might be helpful to point out just a few of my favorite parenting resources.  Even if you're not a parent yet, like me, it's never too early to get started because there's so much to learn!  And even if you are already a parent, it's never too late to infuse some practical, godly wisdom into your life!

The Duties of Parents is an excellent little book!  One of the things that makes Bishop Ryle one of my favorite authors is that he doesn't mince words.  He's a straight shooter & makes no apologies for laying out God's Word as the foundation for any area of life, including parenting.

Parenting is not about modifying behavior to meet social norms.  It's about reaching your child's heart.  True salvation is not found in outward conformity but in heart-change.  And what we want more than anything is for our children's hearts to be altered so that they love God supremely.  Shepherding a Child's Heart gives you the tools for godly parenting.  I will say that if you're anything like me, this approach to parenting is so different from your natural mind-set that you'll have to read it multiple times!  ;-)

I cannot give a personal recommendation for Gospel-Powered Parenting, because I haven't read it yet.  However, I have heard good things about it.  So, my advice is, as in all things, read it with discernment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bloodlines ~ John Piper

John Piper: Bloodlines Documentary Trailer from Crossway on Vimeo.

This almost leaves me speechless.  All I can say is, I love this man, & I'm looking forward to this book!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Special Offer for Men

Men, listen up!  Ladies, you, too, because you're bound to know a man who could use this!  Here's a special offer from Family Life Today to download the electronic version of Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood by Dennis Rainey for just $1.99!  This offer is available now through October 15.  Here's what Dennis has to say about the book & the offer.  Michael jumped on this one, & you should, too!

Recipe of the "Week"

It seems that everywhere you look, people are talking about how to increase our fruit & vegetable intake.  A while back, Michael & I found what has turned out to be the perfect way for us . . . smoothies!  We bought a Vitamix & started mixing it up!  I thought I would share one of our favorites with you today.  Enjoy!

Smoothies Galore!

Look at that beautiful color!  Chock-full of berry goodness!

Ingredients (for a single serving):

     -1/2 c. water or milk (water if you want fewer calories)
     -1/4 c. yogurt (optional; we've started leaving it out because it contains so much sugar)
     -honey (~1 T; I just pour it in)
     -coconut oil (~1 T; this is my fat source, but 1/2 an avocado will work, too, & will give you a creamier smoothie)
     -flax seed (again, I just pour it in, but I would guesstimate ~2 T)
     -almonds (a couple of handfuls for protein, or you can use an organic, farm-fresh egg, which will also make it creamy; do not use a store-bought egg)
     -1 banana
     -strawberries (~1 c., or a bit more)
     -blueberries (same as strawberries)
     -spinach (1 handful; other greens such as kale will work as well)

It helps to have at least one frozen fruit; both our strawberries & blueberries are frozen in this smoothie made for 2.

Always make sure to layer your ingredients with liquids first.  Blend until it reaches the desired consistency, using the tamper to push ingredients into the blades.  I let mine run until it's flowing smoothly, like a fruity whirlpool.  The single serving is somewhere around 20 ounces, or a little more than 2 cups, & it's easy to increase or even double that amount.  Play with it & have fun!

See those lovely flecks?!  Mmmm-Mmmm good!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Thing the 9/11 Terrorists Got Right ~ John Piper

The basis of our behavior is what we believe about our future. “Your reward will be great.” But this reward is fellowship with the sovereign, self-sacrificing Christ. And that hope makes us joyfully endure persecution. Murdering infidels is not the door to this reward. Suffering for the sake of their salvation is. . . . Learn from the terrorists: Don’t throw your life away pursuing their future. And don’t throw it away on the American dream. Fall in love with the final future glory. “Rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).  (Read the rest here.)

A Heart of Repentance

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
~Psalm 139:23-24

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marriage Works!

The story of the Bible revolves around God's redemption of mankind through Christ's atonement.  From the moment of the Fall, after pronouncing curses on the serpent, Adam, & Eve respectively, God gives a life-giving promise of the coming child who will be their salvation.  As the Israelites wandered & sinned in the desert, God gave them the sacrificial system as a reminder that not only were they in bondage to sin, but that their sin deserved death.  Embedded in that system, though, there was also the repeated promise of the Lamb who would one day take away the sin of the world.  With the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God took on human flesh & walked the earth, healing infirmities & giving life to the lifeless.  His mission carried Him to the cross, where the innocent One bore the guilt of sinners & paid the punishment we deserve.  But the story doesn't end there, for being pleased with His sacrifice, the Father raised Jesus from the dead, securing once & for all victory over sin & death!  Upon His ascension, He left His disciples with the charge to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth.  So, the rest of the Bible is given over to our "already/not yet" lives, the lives we live in between Christ's first & second comings.  Pick any letter in the New Testament & you will see a pattern of Gospel followed by response.  Repeatedly, we see that "because this Gospel is true, here is how we should respond".  So, any time we see a command given in Scripture, we must always, always, always view it through a Gospel lens.  To do anything else will lead us either to self-righteousness or despair.  So, with this firmly in mind, let us look at the commands in Scripture that are either specific to or can be applied to marriage.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but is a good starting place.

Pray for one another  (James 5:16)

Wives - Respect your husband  (Eph. 5:33)

Wives - Submit to your husband  (Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:3-5)

Husbands - Love your wife  (Eph. 5:25-33; Col. 3:19)

Forgive one another (Heb. 12:14-15; Matt. 6:9-15; Luke 17:3-4)

Repent to God & one another (Matt. 5:23-24; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 3:19-21)

Prefer & Serve one another  (Rom. 12:10; John 13:1-17; Phil. 2:1-8)

Romance each other  (Song of Solomon)

Communicate with love & understanding  (Prov. 20:5; Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6)

Put your spouse ahead of parents, children, & others  (Genesis 2:24)

Be faithful  (1 Cor. 6:15-20; Matt. 5:27-28)

Encourage one another  (1 Thess. 5:11)

Some other things to remember:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
~Prov. 4:23

"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, & let him make her sorry to see him leave."  ~Martin Luther

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  ~Col. 3:8-17

Finally, let me recommend a few books for you.  If you're not a reader, let me encourage you to become one, because there really is no better way to learn & grow.  These are incredible books full of godly wisdom & simply bursting with Scriptural application!

Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes is a highly practical book with 25 applications after each section, plus a study guide & prayers in the back.  This book has been so helpful in giving me new ideas & re-centering me when I get a little off.  I simply adore it!
Oh, me, oh, my!  What an amazing book!  We are inundated every day with all sorts of lies about God, about ourselves, about sin, about men - you name it, Satan (the father of lies) has led us into wrong thinking regarding it.  Nancy does a superb job tackling these lies & using God's Word to show them as the twisting of truth that they really are.  Seriously, you need this book!
Because this is a post for men & women, I would be remiss if I failed to include books that help husbands!  I haven't read either of the following books, but I asked my beloved, & these were his first suggestions.  I hope they're as helpful to you as the ones above will be to your wife.

My prayer is that you, your spouse, & your marriage are blessed by this post.  The state of marriage in the church seems to be almost as bad off as outside the church, & it just should not be so.  We have God's Word - the only foundation for truth to be had in this crazy, sinful world - to guide our thoughts, words, & deeds.  Please, let's run to God rather than "Cosmo", "Desperate Housewives", or Katy Perry for wisdom & truth.  Our marriages aren't the only thing at stake here.  So is our witness for Christ to this dying world.  May our marriages reflect the love of Christ & bring our Savior glory!  Amen!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ask A Calvinist ~ Justin Taylor

Wow!  This is an excellent post by Justin Taylor!  He gives really straightforward, Scripture-laden responses to some incredibly tough questions regarding Calvinism.  I don't know anything about Rachel Held Evans' blog (where this post is written), so I can't recommend it, but I unreservedly exhort you to read this post!

Marriage Works!

Have you ever thought about how much of our lives are spent in preparation & study?  I've been reflecting on this lately, & it occurs to me that we honestly spend the majority of our lives preparing for one thing or another.  Consider:  from the time we begin our formal education (sometimes even before), we are studying for exams or working hard to perfect some skill, be it sports, music, or any other discipline.  We put a lot of effort into making sure that we have all of the information to excel in our studies & athletic/artistic pursuits.  This hard-working mentality even carries on through our post-secondary education to whatever arena we choose to employ our knowledge & abilities, both in our jobs & in our leisure activities.  We simply take it for granted that excelling in life will require a deep knowledge base & a honing of abilities, so we work very hard at acquiring these necessities in almost every area of our lives.  Almost.

The one area that seems to be most neglected here is relationships.  We live in a sinful world full of sinful people.  Sinful people commit sin against each other.  There is not a single relationship that will remain untainted by sin.  And that makes relationships hard.  Two relationships are the most difficult:  relationships between spouses & relationships between parent & child.  So, I've been thinking - why is it that we just expect to excel in these relationships without study & hard work?  We will almost kill ourselves to perfect our knowledge so that we are good at our job or our passion, but we think that marriage & parenting will just come naturally.  Therefore, we put little to no effort into gaining godly wisdom about how to be a good spouse or a good parent.  And then we wonder why our families are falling apart.  Forgive me, but this disparity just makes no sense.

Last week, I became aware of no less than 3 marriages that are now defunct.  One lasted less than a year.  All 3 of these marriages were entered into - & dissolved by - people who grew up in the church & still claim Christ as their Savior.  One of them lamented about searching for God's will.  Can I be honest here?  I wanted to scream.  As a matter of fact, if memory serves, I believe I did.  Why is it that even believers will look to any other source than God's Word for wisdom, or even for His will?  Is it because we don't believe His Word to be the final authority in all matters of our lives?  Or is it because we don't like that His Word won't allow us to wallow in our sin, so we ignore it?  We need a reality check.

We love to sing, "What a friend we have in Jesus"!  And we truly do have the ultimate friend in Him.  John 15:13 reminds us of this truth because Jesus Christ is its fulfillment:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

We rightly revel in the truth that Jesus Christ willingly died for us on the cross!  The problem is that we tend to stop here & ignore what comes next:

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

The proof that we are saved by Christ's sacrifice is that we obey His commands.  It follows that if we choose to ignore His commands, this is proof that we are not friends for whom Jesus died.  So, what commands found in His Word are either specific to or can be applied to marriage?  We'll explore that next time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gospel-Light "Christian" Music

I just read an article - two articles, in fact - on the topic of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).  One was from a woman who grew up in the church, an avid consumer of CCM as a young teenager, who became aware of a truth that's not even on a lot of believers' radars.  She discovered that the majority of CCM is more focused on keeping up with the Jones' (i.e., secular music) than with Gospel content.  This is an insightful woman, for she further saw how CCM's intense desire for "relevance" mirrored the church's striving after the same.  In her longing for authenticity & truth, she saw through the vacuous nature of what she was being fed &, unfortunately, abandoned her faith.  Her words - both truthful & heartbreaking - should be heeded by believers, for statistics show that she's not alone.

"In trying to compete in this market, the church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity. When it comes to intransigent values, the profit-driven world has zilch to offer. If Christian leaders weren’t so ashamed of those unvarnished values, they might have something more attractive than anything on today’s bleak moral market. In the meantime, they’ve lost one more kid to the competition."
~Meghan O’Gieblyn

The second article was actually the one I read first, the one that led me to Meghan's aforementioned piece.  In citing it, Denny introduces his audience to Meghan's struggles & - accurately, I think - describes her as "a girl who becomes increasingly disillusioned with a vapid, degraded church culture".  From her experience, Denny draws some very important conclusions that - just like Meghan's words - should be given careful consideration.

"In any case, there is a lesson here for all of us. You cannot market the gospel like you market a Big Mac. I have seen lots of Big Macs in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen one that looks as good as the picture on the billboard. That’s because marketers are in the business of taking something ordinary and making it to look better than it really is.

This is the opposite of the ministry of the gospel. We are not in the business of making the gospel to look better than it is. It is already far more glorious and weighty and substantial than we could ever describe. The gospel doesn’t need to be photoshopped to make it effective, nor does it need an extreme makeover “Madison Avenue Edition.” It just needs to be preached plainly and faithfully. And where that simple proclamation occurs, people find it to be the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5)."

Early on in our relationship, Michael tried to show me the shallowness in CCM.  At that point, I had listened exclusively to CCM for around 15 years.  I loved it!  So, I took his negative evaluation quite personally, & it made me angry.  Then, when he exposed me to Sovereign Grace Music, I thought it was "too churchy".  But, as I listened to the words in SGM & compared them to many CCM songs, I became aware of a vast difference between them.  The Scripture- & Gospel-saturated lyrics that flowed from SGM songs were riveting, while CCM was almost devoid of that which would make it truly Christian.  Now, that being said, not every song classified as CCM bears these characteristics; however, far too many sadly do.

A clear distinction needs to be made here between that which calls itself Christian - be it media, church, or individual - & that which truly is.  Just as not all that glitters is gold, not all that claims to be Christian actually is.  I wonder where Meghan would be now if she had seen this distinction.  If she had been in a church that unashamedly, unapologetically, unreservedly preached God's Word, that was faithful to God's Word, whose practices were informed by God's Word, would she have walked away from the faith that she was taught in her youth?  Because, when all is distilled down, this is not mainly an issue with music; it's an issue with the church.  And in the case of CCM, music is just a symptom of the underlying illness.

Harry Potter's Redemptive Theme

It's no secret that I adore the Harry Potter book series.  I know a lot of Christians do not feel the same way, & in fact believe the books to be wicked.  Perhaps this lovely little video will help to change their minds.  It certainly is validation for what those of us who love both Christ & Harry Potter (in quite different ways) have always been able to see, even if we haven't been able to articulate it quite as beautifully as Professor Barrs has done here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Business of Being Born

This is, I think, the fifth time I've watched this documentary.  The first 3 times were all in one weekend.  I remember calling Michael at work & saying, "Guess what we're doing?!  When we have children, we're having homebirths!"  This coming from a girl well-versed in (& more than content with) pain meds thanks to numerous kidney stones.  So, believe me when I say, this documentary is life-changing!  I cry every time I watch it.  **Warning:  As this is a film about birth, there is some nudity.

Zeus, A Cast, & A Picnic

I've been waiting to share some pictures with y'all from the last few weeks, but every time I hooked up the camera to retrieve said photos, the computer wouldn't recognize the camera's existence.  It suddenly occurred to me a few minutes ago that I could insert the camera's card into the computer & try that.  It worked.  Duh.  Hey, I never claimed to be techno-savvy!

 Meet Zeus!  He's a beautiful, sweet, calm (for the most part) Great Pyrenees.  No, he's not ours; he belongs to Michael's sister's family.  He's definitely a keeper!

 He & Jake loooove to play together!  Do you see how huge he is?!  For reference, Jake is ~2 1/2 years old here; Zeus is ~4 1/2 months!  He's gonna be a big fella!

Josie's not too keen on Zeus playing with Jake.  I think she sees Jake as her playmate, & she doesn't care to share!  We had to hold her back (at our own peril) or put her in the kennel so they could play.  She voiced her displeasure, believe me, she voiced her displeasure!

 After dealing with a very sensitive, easily pained pinky finger for nigh on a month, I finally went to the doctor.  He said it wasn't the bone, but that I had injured the tendon.  My guess is that the dogs hurt it.  I pulled a Michael, & the cast didn't make it through the day.  I couldn't function, so thankfully, I was able to slip it off & replace it with a splint.  I'm supposed to have it removed this Thursday.
I don't know what I'm going to tell our doctor . . .

 During TEA time, I was struck by the desire to surprise Michael with a picnic lunch!

 So, I picked up the necessities, & he drove us out to one of our favorite places . . .

the lake where he proposed a little more than 4 years ago!

Oh, the joys of family, love, & memories!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Prayer about Good Grief and God’s Comfort ~ Scotty Smith

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
~Matt. 5:4

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts.
~2 Thess. 2:16-17

Heavenly Father, I’ve enjoyed hard work most of my life. I don’t mind investing the hours, expending the energy and breaking a sweat (physical and mental) for things that really matter. On the other hand, heart work has been more difficult for me, especially the heart work of grief. I don’t like grief because I don’t like loss, and I don’t like loss because it exposes my brokenness, and it makes me feel vulnerable and out of control—which, of course, I really am.

But I trust you Father, and because you tell me grief work is gospel work, I’ll roll up the sleeves of my heart and get busy. Send your Spirit into this moment and enable me to experience the blessing of mourning—the blessing of grieving as you intend. Then, and only then, will I enjoy the comfort you alone can give.

Help me to grieve the ways I grieve you, Father. I know I’ll never lose your love. I know that I can’t make you love me more, or less, by what I do. But give me the good grief of confessing my sins from a heart of love—a heart that loves your glory more than anything else. Help me to cry out with King David, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” No condemnation in Christ must not lead to no contrition for my sin. Give me guiltless humility.

Help me grieve the ways I hurt others. Don’t let me get used to wounding anyone’s heart. Forgive me when I make excuses for loving poorly, or try to justify my unkind words, critical attitude or aloof indifference. Help me humble myself, listen to the stories of people I hurt, and repent to your glory. Give me gospel sensibilities.

Help me to grieve the ways others hurt me. Neither minimizing nor demonizing the failures of others is in line with the truth of the gospel. I cannot forgive what I’m unwilling to voice, and I will not forgive what I’m unwilling to release. Forgive me for downplaying the ways I’ve been deeply hurt. Denial and overlooking aren’t the same. Forgive me for holding some people hostage to my bitterness. What I usually call righteous anger is more often self-righteous spite. Mercy-fy my heart.

Come, Lord Jesus, come gracious Father, you love us perfectly and completely, and you have given us “eternal comfort and good hope through grace.” Come now and grant us good grief gospel comfort today. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ kind and kingly name.

It's good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.
~Hebrews 13:9