Bloodguilt

I love books, as anyone reading this blog knows. One source for books this year has been Cruciform Press. They publish one book a month, it is a fairly small but powerful book each time. I have a subscription so every book comes to me. This has worked out well because I’ve received a few that I wouldn’t have put in the time or effort to buy, but have found to be a worthy book to read, share, and revisit.

Tonight I picked up Innocent Blood by John Ensor. It is an interesting book in a lot of ways. If you want to learn more about why Leviticus and Deuteronomy actually have some parts worth reading, this is a good book. I have read both of those books more than once. Sometimes a skimming, sometimes a more dutiful reading. But what he has pulled out, the verses and the understanding of them, is new to me. And convicting.

The topic of the book is the need for Christians to have courage, faith in a powerful and almighty God, to stand up and defend the innocent, to defend them and prevent the shedding of innocent blood. That concept is not new to me. I still remember reading Oswald Chambers 2 years ago and getting a clearer understanding of why I should not confuse trying to insist on my own rights with the need to be willing and able to defend the rights of another. This book is a good continuation of that truth.

Of course, while talking about the need to defend the innocent, the primary issue this book raises is abortion. As the author points out, it is the primary issue of our day. In the past slavery and caring for the elderly were the issues that needed to be raised. Right now, in this world we live in, it is definitely abortion. And he has a very powerful chapter showing why anyone suffering from bloodguilt (be it abortion or some other heinous crime) needs the gospel in all it’s truth and grace and glory.

He also shows the difference between responding to innocent lives in danger by accident vs lives in danger of malicious evil. Responding to an accident is usually easy and instinctive. But helping someone being attacked or intentionally hurt requires us to put ourselves in danger, it interrupts our life, and it requires us to face the consequences.

During my EMBA class, one of the discussions we had one day was about the importance of helping someone. The issue posed by a classmate was someone heading to an important business meeting in India that had the potential to bring thousands of jobs and help thousands and thousands of Indians who would otherwise not have jobs or continue to live in poverty or die of starvation. Say that person came upon an accident and a man injured who needed help. Should he help that one man, missing the meeting and missing the opportunity to help all of those thousands of others?

I didn’t state my position very well, but I knew it was wrong to walk past that man. One concern is that if someone can walk by someone hurt by accident, they have lost a part of their humanity, and it will easier to walk past the next one. And even to sacrifice people for some better goal. The ends does not justify the means.

Anyway – consider a subscription to the Cruciform books. Consider how you can help defend innocents. Think about being prepared when your faith must become courage. And I’ll do the same.

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Book Review – Why God Won’t Go Away

I picked up my latest BookSneeze book today. Why God Won’t Go Away – Is the New Atheism Running on Empty? by Alister McGrath.

This was a quick and rather enjoyable read. The author describes the New Atheist movement and summarizes some of the views and writings of the 4 men seen to be the most well-known. He also points out the main existence of the movement has been on web-sites, online forums, and blogs. The second section points out some of the weaknesses of the New Atheist arguments in the areas of religion always leads to violence, appeals to reason, and appeals to science.

This is not a book of Christian apologetics, it is a book aimed at showing why the New Atheists are inconsistent and ineffectual in their arguments against Christianity, and even have trouble showing any purpose for their existence outside of the fight against religion.

In some ways the book seems late, as it is describing a movement that began in 2006 and is already waning in many ways. And it was ironic to find myself reading it so shortly after the death of Christopher Hitchens. But I found it useful to help make clear that there is a difference between moderate atheists who are tolerant and respectful of other world views and the New Atheists who are so dogmatically anti-theist. I have seen the effect of these people but did not have knowledge of the history of the structure of this movement to understand that it really was new and not mainstream in any way.

It appears there are more books, more in depth, than this one by Alister McGrath. But this was just enough to cover the topic and give me an idea of what some of these atheists were pushing.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book through the BookSneeze program in exchange for a review. It did not have to be a positive review.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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On Not Being Comfortable

I picked up a quick read this week. I had heard of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher and put it on my list of “someday” reads. I finally decided this was the day. The book is short, a tad coarse, and very sad in a lot of ways. But she is also very funny and writes well and shares so much that you can relate to, remember seeing from the non-celebrity side, or that is just interesting to see in a life so unlike mine. I am not sure I really recommend the book, but I’m not sorry I read it.

She talks about her alcoholism, her drug addictions, and her bipolar issues. She also does a good job of talking about how the alcohol and drugs helped keep the bipolar symptoms under control. She wasn’t diagnosed until she managed to go dry and then got out of control.

On p 106 she talks about the AA meetings she has attended for 10 years and how finally at one of them someone said that you didn’t have to like meetings, you just had to go to them. What a revelation this was for her. She had always thought she should like everything, but now she was learning that she didn’t have to actually be comfortable all of the time. She could learn to experience some discomfort – which meant she could also exercise and write and be responsible.

She doesn’t do more deep digging right here in the book, but it is an interesting point that seems so obvious so some of us that I think we struggle to relate to people who don’t seem to see it this way. And I think we sometimes ‘get it’ in one area of our lives but not in another. Even when we ‘get it’, we don’t always live it out completely. We believe many things that we somehow don’t reconcile to all of our actions. This is one of the reasons believing God is so difficult. We do, right now, for this thing. But if something different comes along or our digestion is not right, we forget that we believe and trust God.

People seem to spend a lot of time trying to avoid being uncomfortable, or doing something unpleasant, being responsible. But usually all of that effort doesn’t really make us more comfortable. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, moping and refusing to participate in whatever is life at that moment (think teenager). There are always consequences to those actions or avoidance behaviors. And usually they are more uncomfortable than if we had just kept our head up, our integrity intact, and dealt with the original issue or task.

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Cheerful thoughts on depression

It has been 2 months since I have posted here. Amazing. I have been busy and things are going well, there just hasn’t been time to blog.

Back on Sept 5 (just 2 posts ago) I mentioned a new book I had gotten, Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones. After that great first chapter, I had trouble finding time to get back to it. I spent my quiet times in September and October in a couple of books focused on Ephesians chapter 1 and 2 by Richard Phillips. I highly recommend them and can’t wait for the next 4 books to come out. Ephesians may be my favorite book of the Bible anyway, and these two volumes were so rich and convicting and encouraging.

When I finished them, I picked up Spiritual Depression for my morning quiet time. I have made it through 12 of the 21 chapters and can’t wait to turn around and read it again. But it has been rough in spots.

I would love to describe every single chapter to you, but I’ll start with chapter X – Where is Your Faith. This was the chapter I read last Thursday morning and it was full of wonderful and convicting words. Much of the book is spent showing the causes of spiritual depression and why a believer who seeks God and the truth should not fall prey to most of the causes.

This chapter starts with this statement about Christians who get into difficulty and are unhappy from time to time.

…what makes one a Christian is that one is given the gift of faith. We are given the gift of faith by God through the Holy Spirit and we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and that saves us; but that does not mean that we have fully understood the nature of faith. p135

The scripture he uses for this chapter is Luke 8:22-25 where Jesus fell asleep in the boat and a storm came up and the disciples panicked. Lloyd-Jones notes that Jesus rebuked them for being in such a state at all.

 He rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror and alarm while He was with them in the boat. That is the first great lesson we have to apply to ourselves and to one another. It is very wrong for a Christian ever to be in such a condition. I do not care what the circumstances may be, the Christian should never be agitated, the Christian should never be beside himself like this, the Christian should never be at his wit’s end, the Christian should never be in a condition in which he has lost control of himself.  p137.

What is so wrong about being in a state like this? “it implies a lack of trust and of confidence in Him.”  p138.

He then spends some time talking about the trials that God allows to come to us. Forewarned is forearmed as he says. Then he reminds us that “faith is an activity, it is something that has to be exercised.”  p143.

The first thing I must do when I find myself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow myself to be controlled by the situation.  p143.

Then he says this “Faith is a refusal to panic“. Do I believe this? Then he offers this definition. “Faith is unbelief kept quiet, kept down.”  Which reminds me of the response, I believe, help thou my unbelief.

Having reminded yourself that you will not be controlled by these circumstances, you then must “remind yourself of what you believe and what you know.”  p 144

He ends with a reminder that there is value in even the weakest or smallest faith. “Having been agitated and distressed and alarmed and exhausted, they went to Him. They still had some kind of feeling that He could do something about it”  p146.

What makes this chapter so powerful for me is that after spending time in that chapter and pondering that Scripture and praying, confessing that I do panic and get distraught but that I do want to trust Him more…I then panicked and had an absolutely horrible day. As soon as I logged in and started working I got upset and frustrated and angry and it went on all day. I got frustrated with friends, my husband, my todo list (that I wrote, so I guess I was angry with me). At the end of the workday, looking at all the other things I needed to do I finally wept out loud for a few minutes. But God is so gracious.

First, He brought to mind my chapter from the morning and reminded me to pick myself up and get back in control. Time to talk to my self, not listen to my wailing panic. Then he brought the UPS man to my truck with a book I bought on a whim – I had a B&N coupon and another blogger raved about a book. I opened it up and looked at the first chapter to find the words from the blogger’s comments that had intrigued me about the book. And there they were:

One thing leads to another. The more you believe that God’s grace to you is overflowing, the more you’ll be convinced that you will always have everything you need. And the more certain you are that you’ll never lack, the more willing and able you’ll be to give of yourself and your resources when called for because you’ll be certain God will always replenish your supply.  p20

The verse she bases that on is 2 Cor 9:8

God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

The book is The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer.

I had to face the fact that I didn’t trust God to get me through the day. I tried to do it in my own strength and my own way and when I felt thwarted or put-upon or drained I lashed out. I was also harboring a bad attitude about work and some personal issues that needed some serious correction. Quite unChristian of me.

Friday morning my prayer was to not have another day like Thursday. Then, I wrote out some Bible verses and kept them on my desk in plain view all day. I read them many times cementing for myself the truth that I must live by each day. Then this blog post crossed my reader. And a devotion I subscribe to by email based on Matthew Henry’s writings sent me an email Friday morning to thank God for the powerful influences of divine grace. He showered me with reminders of His truth so I was surrounded and enabled. Friday was such a better day.

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See things from his perspective

Sharing another article – if you drive on the highways at all you should read this.

The truck driver’s story.

Then check out this post from Paul Tripp about grace. I love how he reminds us again and again that it is all grace and being at the end of the rope can be a good thing when we turn it all over to God.

One more from Paul Tripp about forgiveness. The next study book for my Circle is Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns and the blog entries from Tripp lately on forgiveness are finding their way into my book so we can include them in the discussion.

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I shall yet praise Him

In some ways I had a great day Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning. Good time with family, lots accomplished this week, found some good things in my files as I was cleaning up. And a great workday at church on Saturday.

We got a slight blow on Friday in the area of family, but while sad, not really unexpected so we keep going.

Then, suddenly Sunday after church it all turned in the matter of a few minutes. I don’t know how it happens or how to prepare better for it. Emotions are positive, life is good. Then the tears are threatening to come flowing out and things get frustrating. Then, the anger comes. I really hate the anger which looks like tears and frustration to everyone else.

Yet, while Sunday was not a good day is so many ways, we did have a great time sharing and laughing with some friends for dinner. Such a mixed bag!

I woke up to a holiday to find the mood wasn’t really any better. Probably physical exercise would help, but the humidity just did me in and I couldn’t coax myself out the door. The day was still a good day, quiet and peaceful and I finished 3 books I had in progress and shopped and did a little cleaning.

But still battling the mood and turmoil so I went seeking some relief. I picked up a book I bought last month called Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Chapter 1 is laying the foundation and he starts with Scripture from the Psalms.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God. Psalm 42:11

After discussing some description of and causes of spiritual depression. He references Psalm 42:3 “My tears have been my food day and night” which describes one of my struggles this weekend. For causes he mentions introversion left uncontrolled until it becomes morbid, physical conditions, a reaction after spiritual blessing, the devil. He ends saying the ultimate cause of spiritual depression is unbelief.

Then we get to the section I saw quoted in the blog entry that enticed me to buy the book. He points out that the psalmist resolves his issue by talking to himself, and we must do the same.

I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us! Do you realize what that mean? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. (p20)

He follows that with this line:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? (p20)

He points out that the psalmist stands up and talks to himself – “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God”.

Do not listen to her; turn on her; speak to her; condemn her; upbraid her; exhort her; encourage her; remind her of what you know, instead of listening placidly to her and allowing her to drag you down and depress you. For this is what she will always do if you allow her to be in control. (p21) [modified to put ‘her’ in place of ‘him’]

I have attempted to do this today, and will continue to sing His praises!

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But isn’t it my job to worry?

Loved this blog post by Tim Challies about worrying.

The Bible study my Circle just finished was about breaking the worry habit and the author, Elizabeth George, repeatedly pointed out that we are commanded not to worry and the different ways we need to trust God with everything. (Back to Uniformity with God’s Will 🙂

You should read the entire post by Tim Challies, but here are some snippets.

He is studying Ruth and starts to wonder why Naomi didn’t also go work in the fields:

And this led me to wonder if she was experiencing the kind of paralysis that can come when we are overwhelmed with worry. Naomi is convinced that God is sovereign, but she is not at all convinced that he is good.

Then he leads into a time when he was very worried (over finances of course).

I think there are times when we feel like we need to worry, like if we don’t worry, God won’t pay attention. We can feel that our worrying is effectual, like it is effective, like it gains the ear of God.

This looks so familiar – I’ve been here:

If I stopped worrying, God would stop providing; I just knew it. I truly believed that my worrying was effectual, bringing about what I desired. I had to worry, didn’t I? If I didn’t worry, who would? If I didn’t worry, God would think I was complacent about the money and wouldn’t provide. My part was to worry and his was to provide.

But of course, the truth is:

My worrying did not bring God closer to me; actually, my worrying pushed God away from me. It was untrusting, it was anti-faith, it was the very opposite of prayer. And God was good to me still.

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Do it again!

I found this one on Desiring God too, then found it in a document I had stored in my files.

G. K. Chesterton writes,

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatricalencore.

Orthodoxy, 1908, (The Project Gutenberg e-Book, 1994), 143, paragraphing mine.

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Love the one you’re with!

This is prompted by two separate things. One convicting and one refreshing!

1. This blog entry from Desiring God this week with a great quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It fits in fairly well with the quote from the Uniformity with God’s Will from yesterday.

If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.

. . . let [the pastor or zealous member] nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.

Life Togethertrans. John W. Doberstein, (New York: HarperOne, 1954), 29.

2. We had a wonderful workday at church today. We have been preparing for construction for almost a year now and at times it’s felt like the work would never actually start. And it’s a little complicated because we have a short 3 or 4 week project to install an elevator before the real destruction/construction starts. A few months ago we had a workday to do some packing and cleaning out of closets to prepare storage space. We had a great crew and got a ton done.

Today was a date guessed at by the deacons a month ago and it turned out perfect. Work on the elevator gets serious Tuesday. And we are ready for it! We got 98% of the stuff in the part of the building that will be renovated/expanded cleaned out and put into storage, leaving just enough for our fellowship time Sunday mornings the next few weeks.

Another benefit to workdays is you get to spend time getting to know other people in the church. We had 3 women working hard at the nursery cleaning and moving, with various men carrying things in and out. We had another 2 women packing up the dishes and pots and pans in the kitchen. Then we had the men helping each other with taking things down, dismantling fans, moving furniture. There is more fellowshipping going on than many realize when you do these things.

My role this year has been different. I’ve been a major decision-maker and director so I spend a lot of time answering questions, walking around to look at things and offer an opinion, and keeping track of where it all is going. So while I haven’t been able to just hang out in one place with a few people and enjoy working together, I have been able to get a peak at all the other groups working together and it’s fun.

This is family, and it’s good to be together and to work together and tomorrow we all get to worship together. Right now it is very easy to be in “the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed” and this is a time to remember when it is hard or messy or discouraging.

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Things to count on

A few more papers I ran across redoing my filing:

  • Faith in the purposes of God
  • Faith in the presence of God
  • Faith in the promises of God
  • Faith in the power of God to deliver us in any trouble

And Trust Him

  • Trust Him when there are no answers to your questions
  • Trust Him when you don’t understand
  • Trust him when your heart is broken
  • Trust His purpose
  • Trust His heart
  • Trust His goodness
  • Trust Him beyond the grave
  • Trust Him to know best
  • Trust His plan to be bigger than yours
  • Trust Him to keep His word
  • Trust Him to be on time
  • Trust Him to be compassionate
  • Trust Him to set you free
  • Trust Him – and Him alone!

 

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