Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wisdom and Reader's Digest

I really enjoy Reader's Digest.  I always have and a friend of mine gets me a subscription for it every year for Christmas!  I also love bubble baths!  Bubble baths and Reader's Digest go together like peanut butter and jelly, donuts and coffee, salt and pepper and Batman and Robin.  I mean it is the perfect size book to read in the bathtub.  Easy to handle, it folds in half for one hand holding, and it doesn't matter if you accidentally drop it and it gets wet!  It also is much more relaxing a read, with short little encouraging stories and some fun and clean humor sections, than my usual theological bible study selections.

I was recently having one of these rare evenings where Jeff was home and was guarding the bathroom door armed and ready to tackle all the questions and interruptions that seem to always surface the minute I close the bathroom door!  By the time the water had filled up the tub, he had already fended off the "where is mom?!?" questions, thwarted an attempt to sneak out of kitchen duty, and circumvented a possible "we can get away with it-Dad's reading the news" coo.  I listened for the sounds of bickering or the house falling down...but it was quiet!  My hero had secured the gate and was standing guard!  Ahhhh...nice hot bath and the Reader's Digest!

I don't usually read the Reader's Digest from front cover to back.  I usually head right for Life in these United States or quotable quotes.  It takes a little time to decompress from the day before I am ready to dig in to such heady stuff as "The Dog Who Became the Dog Whisperer" or "8 Clever Shortcuts to Peel & Slice".  For some reason, this night, I started at the front.  Quickly thumbed past the Geico ad and the contents page and landed on the Editor's Note.  I don't usually read that either.
But, the headline was "Wisdom Begins in Wonder" -Socrates.  Thanks to some of that usual reading of theological books and my treasured Bible, that statement immediately made me go

The editor began to list things that had filled her with wonder lately.  I have to give her a little credit...some of them do fill me with wonder too:  Sunsets, people who can make people laugh and the red color a Japanese Maple turns in October(not that I have ever seen one, but still...), chocolate with nuts, and how that in the very same day she can ache with grief, mist with gratitude, and giggle at the sun.  But just like so many things written today, the enemy has infiltrated in unknowing (sometimes knowing) people these kinds of humanistic thoughts that are 90% untruth with just a little splash of Truth.  This article reminded me how important it is to know what God's Word says, hide it in our hearts and minds, so we are ready to give an answer and deflect and defeat the lies of the enemy!  For example, where the Bible says wisdom begins is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). Oh, but it sounds so good, Socrates, to say "Wisdom Begins in Wonder!"  So much more palatable for our feeble little hearts and minds.  The prince of this world wants to take glory from God, and in this instance, make men believe that they can be wise in their own eyes.  No one is truly wise, whether they are full of wonder or not, until God has regenerated them and they are walking in the wisdom of God.  And in the fear of God, which is the awe and reverence of being reconciled to God as His children!

So, the editor recommended that the readers make their own list of things that fill them with wonder. Here are a few of mine:

*That God created everything in 6 days
*That that creation is beautiful, in color, and unfathomable in design
*That He made man in His own image and desired fellowship with us
*The way He chose to keep His covenant with us
*That Christ-fully God, came to earth-fully man.  Kept the whole law, never sinned,
   was tempted in every way we are, experienced our hurts, joys, and sorrows.
*How He fulfilled the covenant of works and grace with His death, burial, and resurrection
*How we are clothed in Christ's righteousness when all our righteousness was as filthy rags
*How He hasn't left us alone because of His Holy Spirit working in and through us
*That He has chosen us for good works
*That He has chosen us. Period.
*How we were created to bring Him glory and to enjoy Him now and forevermore

Just to name a few!  I bet you can add a lot more to this list!  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Sorry Mrs. Editor and Socrates.  You both got that one wrong.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." Prov. 9:10

"And he said to the human race, "The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding." Job. 28:28

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." Psalm 111:10

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Prov. 1:7

Sunday, October 26, 2014

We interrupt this blog for a wedding!!

I will be taking a break from the blog to focus my time and energy on being with and helping my sweet daughter, Schaeffer, plan the wedding where she will marry the love of her life!

Here's the video if you missed it!!

Thanks for all your love, prayers and well wishes!  Be back in November/December with pictures, updates and more of all that God is teaching me as I, through His power and strength, live out His design!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King

Ever have those days when things are so tough that your overwhelming urge is that you must get alone and get into God's Word?  I need His Word daily...hourly...moment by moment.  But some days, in the midst of chaos, confusion, trial or testing, my heart cries out, "go to the Word!"  I would say 99% of the time that happens I head straight to the Psalms.  The Psalms have always brought me so much comfort and seem to mirror so many of my heartaches, joys or sorrows.  They are so...real. So, it was eye-opening for me to read, in the new book Songs of A Suffering King, that

"Sadly, the Psalms no longer have a place of prominence in the worship of the broader church or even with many Reformed churches. Perhaps part of the reason of this dearth of the Psalms is the church's unfamiliarity with this wonderful, divinely inspired hymnbook."  

That statement really surprised and saddened me.  I am thankful that from a young age I was taught to cherish the Psalms and that our church regularly reads and sings the Psalms as a congregation.  I am also grateful for this book written by J.V. Fesko.  It didn't take me long to become engulfed in this easy to read devotional type book that just leads you through Psalm 1-8, while pointing out the beauty of seeing the centrality of Christ throughout.

The author's desire to show the importance of the Psalms and the beauty of the context within them shines through as he exhorts the reader to not cease to plumb the depths of truth and comfort
laid out in them for us.
It's no wonder to me, that during some of my most trying times, the Spirit graciously leads me to read the Psalms.  With Christ at the center of this inspired Word, we are called to find our strength and comfort through the One who can relate to all trials.  The One who became flesh for us and was tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15) and who understands our joys and our sorrows.  The One who showed us the way from suffering to glory!  What better comfort is there?

Songs of a Suffering King is a great place to start if you are getting acquainted with the Psalms or a great supplement if you are a regular student of the "grand Christ hymn".  The book not only highlights the first eight books, but also includes a metrical version of each Psalm and short devotional questions for further study.  

"Christians know they need instruction not only to pray but also to sing.  By tracing the narrative of Christ in the opening eight Psalms of the Psalter, this book helps me pray while I sing and sing while I pray.  I've learned not only to hear Christ in each Psalm, but I also begin to sing under the aegis of Christ, the chief musician."  Gerald M. Bilkes

Songs of a Suffering King was provided to me by Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway!

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I got the offer to review this book.  I like Duck Dynasty, but I've never been a huge fan and it's not something I would willingly watch without coercion! But, I know lots of people that love them and I do appreciate their values and willingness to take a stand in a world where there are way too many who won't.  And it's a children's book.  Seeing that I have so many children :)  I thought it would be great to review it and see how it went over with mine.  And since I do know what the Robertsons stand for, I knew that it would be one book I wouldn't have to scour first before I let my kids read it if I couldn't get to it right away.

So, a little background to set the stage of our encounter with Willie's Redneck Time Machine.
We home school and we use the curriculum called Robinson Curriculum.  We love it and one of the things we love the most is the great literature for the reading requirements.  Most of the days the kids do their two hours of reading on their own, but we enjoy reading aloud together as well, so at least one day a week we have a book we are reading together as a family. When this book came in the mail, I decided it might be a fun diversion from our more scholarly reading.  Fun diversion? This book is a hoot!  My skepticism is long gone and we simply can't put the book down!  Written by John Luke Robertson, son of Willie Robinson, this book leads you through a series of stories and scenarios that keep you guessing what could possibly come next.  Well, here-the back cover describes it the best:

 In Willie's Redneck Time Machine, you are Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander. When you find a mysterious outhouse in the Duck Commander warehouse, you discover there’s more to it than meets the eye. Soon you’re traveling through time and space, following John Luke to a nineties prom, getting lost in biblical times, and fighting a futuristic war in the year 2319. You and the other Robertsons have crazy adventures, but you need to get back to West Monroe for Korie’s birthday party. Will you make the right choices to get home on time?
In the Be Your Own Duck Commander series, you get to choose what happens next!

My kids were immediately drawn in after the first couple pages when I then read, "Do you step inside the outhouse to check it out yourself? Turn to Page 29.  Or do you stay outside and wait to see who's playing a trick on you?  Turn to Page 63."  I barely got the words out before my kids were all screaming their choice for how they wanted the story to go!  We actually had to take a vote to decide. I loved how involved it got them.  Not only for their listening skills, but also because the story has some great historical stuff in it that led to questions from the little ones and a display of knowledge about the subject from the older ones.  Not all of it is historical as you do end up at prom and a place called Walmazon...but it is all good fun!  And, of course, our favorite twists in the story are always when Si shows up somehow with some crazy non-sensical scheme or story.

In one story, you have the option to turn to a page in Jase and the Deadliest Hunt.  The boys were real excited about that one, so I turned to the page to find it wasn't what I thought it was.  Jase and the Deadliest Hunt is actually another book in the series!  How fun that one book has you finish out the story by turning to a page in another book.  In fact, there are four books in the series:

Willie's Redneck Time Machine
Phil and the Ghost of Camp CH-YO-CA
Si in Space
and Jase and the Deadliest Hunt

I have not read any of the other books, but if they are anything like Willie's Redneck Time Machine then they are sure to prove to be great fun.  We have had a great time reading it and I've even caught my kids looking for it for after school recreational reading!

I'm excited to announce that Tyndale sent me an extra book to give away to one of my readers!  This would be a great gift for Christmas or just fun to have for a read aloud for your family!  If you would like to enter to win, follow the instructions below!
*Tyndale provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Women of the Word

There are quite a few "titles" I have been adding to my list of ways I would love for people, but mostly God, to describe me:  Worshipper, faithful follower of Christ, Help-meet, godly mother....and definitely a woman of the Word.

I was so excited to see this book by Jen Wilkin come out.  Even more excited when asked to review it.  I have many people ask me for recommendations of good books, and specifically, good books for women.  While any great theological, biblically sound book is equally useful for men and women, I was intrigued by a book written specifically to women calling and challenging them to be Women of the Word.

The actual title of the book is Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.  Being a woman, wife, mom of 10, married to a pastor, I know two things:  First, because of all those things, I desperately NEED to be a woman of the Word!  Second, because of all those things, it is extremely difficult to study the Bible with my heart and my mind!  Distraction comes so easily.  Time management is a challenge.  Being still before God is a struggle.  Yet, in order to do all the things He has called me to, I need the power, strength and guidance of His Word.  I need the peace and comfort that comes from abiding in Him, strengthened from the root in order to produce fruit that is profitable for His glory and my abundant joy.

In order to be seeking out His will daily in our lives we need more than a sermon on Sunday morning. We need more than some emotional songs that give us temporary uplifting.  We even need more than reading a verse here and there as some sort of vitamin for our biblically malnourished souls!  We need to know WHO God is, WHAT He has done, and HOW He accomplishes His will in order to rightly be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.  What a privilege it is for those who are in Christ, to have the Holy Spirit whose work is to illuminate the scriptures for us, convict and comfort God's children!  Becoming a Woman of the Word stands firmly on that privilege and takes advantage of the abundance of blessings and promises God has ordained for us.

You won't be disappointed in this book to lead you to this point.  Jen Wilkin does a wonderful job of diagnosing our spiritual illiteracy and outlines a wonderful structure for personal discipleship.  With chapter titles of:

  • Study with Purpose
  • Study with Perspective
  • Study with Patience
  • Study with Process
  • Study with Prayer
  • and Pulling It All Together
she clearly lays out a clear direction to get you started in becoming a true disciple and studier of the Word.  You will love the Pulling It All Together chapter as she even gives a great example of how to actually do somewhat of inductive bible study and how it fleshes out the passage.  If nothing else, Women of the Word is a great diagnostic tool to measure your spiritual thirst against the things of the world that drown out God's will for your life.

Does becoming a Woman of the Word take time?  Yes, yes it does!  Can you think of anything in your life more important than seeking Him first?  I can't.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16

Jen Wilkin. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 160 pp. $12.99.
(I was given a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Of Mice and Cookies...and milk.

My kids and I always loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!
They are all too big for it now, but I'm saving my copy for grand babies!  And, I'm seriously considering writing a companion book called If You Learn to Stand on the Promises(or something catchy that one of my amazing friends comes up with)!  Just like that mouse and his cookie eating chain of events, when we start learning God's Word and the promises He has given His children (see intro post here),it becomes a catalyst to an amazing chain of events in the Christian life! 

The whole concept of cause and effect is such a great learning/teaching tool.  The story of that mouse is cute and sweet...and, I'm convinced, a plot, along with the Stuart Little thing, to get us to think mice are adorable.  Not happening.  


Anyway...sidetracked...cause and effect!  Such a great teaching tool beginning with the best cause and effect of all time! 
Because Adam could not keep the covenant of works, sin entered the world.  
Because of that sin, all born in the first Adam were to pay the wages of that sin. 
Because of God's great love toward us, He made a way to justify us.  
Because He sent His only Son(the second Adam) to make atonement for our sin and fulfill the covenant of works and the covenant of Grace, we are covered in His righteousness.  
Because we are covered in His righteousness, we are no longer enemies of God. 
Because we are no longer enemies of God, He has called us friend.  
Because we are His friend, He(Jesus) has made known to us everything He has learned from our Father. 
Because He has made everything He has learned from His Father known to us(joint-heirs with Christ), we can stand on the promises of God!  

Now, that was a very If You Give a Mouse a Cookie way of showing the cause and effect of the gospel, and those causes and effects are MUCH more detailed, but it is a good starting point for understanding the If/Then's given to us in scripture!  And like we said in the previous post, you can't stand on those promises if you don't know them.  

First If/Then:

IF you are God's child, then you will desire to read His love letter to you:
"...if anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."  John 14:23-24

Let me add, sincerely, that, if you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and desire to understand the gospel of salvation, may I direct you here for a better understanding of redemption and the gospel?  I would also be more than privileged to talk to you personally or through email.  (You can message me on the sidebar of this blog).

Second If/Then:

IF you read His Word, He will show you His truths and His promises!

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."  Romans 15:4

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Acts 20:32

"All scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete, equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Just to name a few!

So, I will be adding If/Then promises here on the blog frequently for us to meditate and stand on so we can grow in spirit and in truth!

Here is one to whet your appetite!

"If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." John 15:7

To preclude any worries that I have given over to the prosperity gospel, know that I take God's Word to mean just what it says!  If His words are abiding in me, I will want only what God wants.  As I abide in Him, I am fed by His perfect Word which transforms me to desire His will and His ways.  By this the Father is glorified!  By abiding, I am learning what His promises are. The effect?   Standing on the promises of God!

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.
If you learn to stand on the promises, you are going to desire the sincere milk of the Word!

"Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."  1 Peter 2:2

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." 2 Corinthians 1:20

(Here is a great little cause/effect chain worksheet if you are a visible learner!)

P.S. Pastor hubby told me to include:  If Christ was not raised, then our teaching is in vain!  (Did not mean to leave that out of the gospel cause and effect!  Praising Him that we are saved with Him, justified in Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, and glorified in Him!)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Friend full of promises

We still sing the old hymns at our church.  We like them.  We like many of the newer Christian songs as well and sing them too.  But we still sing Great is Thy Faithfulness, There is Power in the Blood, Blessed Assurance, Amazing Grace...we love them all.  But not long ago we sang Standing on the Promises.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

I love that song!  And I love the promises of God...the ones I know.  But how many do I know?  I really started to think about it while going through a small trial.  I've been studying, with the ladies of my church, how to pray scripture and stay grounded in His Word during my communion with my Father.   When you are attempting to pray God's Words back to Him, you really find out how deep, vast and wide the love of God is.  You see His mercy and immutability in a new light.  You discover just what honors and glorifies Him.  And, you understand more confidently just exactly what His promises toward you really are!

While praying through this trial, miraculously :), the chapter we were studying was about Praying in the Name of Jesus and what that really means (that needs a separate post).  The author directed us to John 15:15 which says,

I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

So, those who are His are given the privilege of prayer and knowing, among many things, the promises of God!  We have the means for understanding and knowing all that God has given and will give to us. He comforts us through the presence of the Holy Spirit and through the promises laid out for us in His Word.  We get a new camera, smart phone, or gadget and we intently read that instruction book so that we can know all the things that new gadget can do and all it can offer us to make our lives, not only easier, but more fulfilling.  How much more should we earnestly seek out God's Word, search for wisdom as silver, discover His promises, and feast on his love, mercy and riches?

I love that He is showing me His promises as I am learning to pray His Word back to Him!  I don't have to remind God what His promises to me are, but they sure are comforting in my little finite mind as I tell Him, "Lord, your Word says you will never leave me nor forsake me!  And nothing...NOTHING...not height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from your love through Christ Jesus!"  

So, I am on a quest to discover all His promises as I find I need them more than food or air!  Next up on the blog:  The IF/THEN's of scripture!!  Stay tuned! :) 

"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16:11