Quotables

I’m redoing my filing system and moving things out of old notebooks, etc. So I am, of course, running across a number of little quotes and sayings that I’ve saved. Putting some here for easy reference.

It is usually we, not God, who struggle to preserve what we have ruined. Derek Kidner in Message of Jeremiah p62

Paraphrase from Scripture:

Those who truly believe the Word of the Lord will forsake all else to become worshippers of the Lord and serve Him to bring blessings to the world. (taken from Gen 12:1-3)

One I struggle with (I find comfort in it when someone else is the cause of my pain or the pain someone is experiencing, I still regret when I was the cause of my own pain or the pain of someone else).

Regret and faith are incompatible. If we really trust God, we trust Him with everything – the good and the bad.  Arterburn

Lastly – from a work called Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus de Liguori (translated from the Italian by Thomas W Tobin) probably written in 1755. I  recommend this short document. I always find it convicting and encouraging and frequently bring it to mind. Yes, it’s Catholic and very Catholic in a few places, but it is also biblical is most places.

Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God’s will not only in things that come to us directly from his hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, death of relatives, but likewise in those we suffer from man — for example, contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods and all kinds of persecution. On these occasions we must remember that whilst God does not will the sin, he does will our humiliation, our poverty, or our mortification, as the case may be….From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God’s hands.

Then in the conclusion, talking about people who say “if I lived here, I would do this” or “if I had more time, I would do such and such”:

If, If, If — all these ifs! In the meantime such a person goes from bad to worse. These idle fancies are often temptations of the devil, because they are not in accord with God’s will. Hence we should dismiss them summarily and rouse ourselves to serve God only in that way which he has marked out for us. Doing his holy will, we shall certainly become holy in those surroundings in which he has placed us.

 

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Much Prayer is needed

A week ago I attended the annual meeting for our Presbytery level women’s group. There were two speakers. The first, Judi Hodges, is always great. She was a missionary in Germany for a number of years and is now working with the Educational arm of our denomination here in the US. She talked about how her mother has always been amazing, but lately she can even be in two places at the same time, as Judi saw her in the mirror of her bathroom the other day. We all laughed in recognition as she continued to talk about how she sees so much of both her parents in herself. The serious point of the call was that we are called to be like Jesus and show a family resemblance.

The next speaker was Val Shepard, daughter of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. She gave a simple but effective talk about the need for prayer. Some highlights;

She encouraged a serious weekly prayer group to pray for the church – for spiritual growth, unity, acceptance of odd people, the pastor and his family.

She mentioned Is 30:15-18 – God draws us to himself. When we run from him, he waits for us. When we wait on the Lord to do what He can – He comes through.

Psalm 50:14-15 We call on him and he will deliver us.

She made the very convicting point that some prayer requests we need to learn to keep quiet. We don’t have to “share” everything we know. Many times prayer requests are more like gossip.

She told another story about a friend who often has trouble sleeping when she worries. So, she gets up and prays and hands her problems to the Lord and then rests on the promises of God. She named her mattress “The Promises of God” 🙂

Psalm 53: 2 God searches for those who seek after Him

2 Chron 16:9 He strengthens those who obey Him. Prayer is drawing near to God. The Lord is in charge – be thankful. Don’t raise children in fear, but in faith in a covenant-keeping God. We develop the habit of knowing He will be with us.

He is worthy of my time and attention.

Psalm 86:11 unite my heart to fear your name – our hearts are easily divided.

She shared this prayer:

Lord Jesus, pour out a spirit of grace and supplication upon me and upon Your body the Church!  Build us and transform us to become a house of prayer for all nations!  I long to be a dwelling place for Your Spirit as you shape me into a purpose-filled, Kingdom-advancing disciple.  May Your house be known for prayer that delights Your heart and moves Your hand!

Then she warned us not to let a list of prayer requests crowd out seeking God’s will. She encouraged us to sit quiet before the Lord. She told a story of a time when a study she was a part of encouraged the women to sit quietly, not thinking about or praying about anything, but listening to God for 20 or 25 minutes, and the panic that created in her. The study provided a list of words to focus on as a way to tame the thoughts. It included words like joy, cross and peace. Then at the end was the word “yes” and she realized she needed to say Yes more to God.

________________

I need to remember these things. He is worthy of my time and attention – I need him.

Lynn, the new President for the Women’s Ministries ended the meeting talking about how we should pray for one another. She mentioned that Jesus is the most dependent person in the Bible. I automatically thought to myself she meant to say dependable. But then she added a sentence that clarified she had said exactly what she meant. Jesus was in prayer to God more than anyone else. If he was that dependent, how do I expect to be any more “self-sufficient” and get through life without prayer and quiet time and study of God and His Word?

Two more notes I have:

Zeph 3:17 God rejoices and shouts over me with gladness!

Col 1:9-12 great verses to pray for others!

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Running update

Well, not much running going on is the truth. No running the week before Mexico or in Mexico and most of the week after Mexico. I got in one run Friday after MX and then one run the next week.

But today was my second (and last) triathlon for the season. Running relay again, with Dawn doing the swim and bike. We moved a bit slower this time. Plus there were a lot more people and a lot more relay teams so we didn’t place this time. Oh well, we had a great time chatting on the drive up, the drive around, the hotel stay, and the drive back today!

Rock Hill results

 

Winston Salem results

Dawn’s back was hurting and she hadn’t gotten in any training either. Plus, the WS bike route had more (fairly steep) hills, while Rock Hill was pretty flat. So, we came in 22 out of 23 relay teams.

If you really want to see the details, click on either image to get a large version of it.

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Catching up

Things are hopping around here.

We spent the first week of August in Mexico. Which means we spent the last week of July getting ready to go to Mexico. Many thanks to my mom for house- and cat-sitting! And thanks to Ryan Taylor for taking Mom to the NASCAR Museum. Then Aunt Elaine and Aunt Anne came to party keep Mom company part of that week.

Then last week was spent catching up – with laundry, with email, with meetings. And last week was interrupted by the sad news of my cousin’s death at 46, leaving a wife and 2 children.

This week is still running full tilt. I sang a solo Sunday. Then I had Circle of Grace at my house Monday night (love that group!). Last night I had a meeting with some women about reinvigorating the Women’s Ministries of our local church. This coming Saturday is the First Presbyterial Annual Meeting (where I become Vice President of First Presbyterial, and also get to invite all the women to come to HARP for next year’s Annual Meeting). In preparation for Saturday, I’ve done lots of updating to the WM website.

Plus I’m working on the ‘new year’ stuff for church since we change our year in September (this is the last year for that, next year we go back to the calendar year structure). I remembered that I am Historian for HARP this year so I have until Sept 15 to get our History written up and submitted.

Plus Sunday I run my part of the 2nd Ramblin Rose triathlon, so I’m trying to find time to run at least a little. Ah, but September (so far) looks blessedly empty of major events so maybe I’ll get to read something personal and spend time updating my blog, and all that kind of stuff.

Anyway – as part of the History work, I’m working my way through a year’s worth of bulletins and wanted to capture some of the notes I am finding in there.

Aug 22 on Job 1: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” Corrie ten Boom

Oct 10 on Luke 7:11-17  Jesus is the maker and master of circumstance (guest preacher Nathan McCall)

Feb 13 Galatians 4:1-7  1. Inheritance = eternal riches; 2. complete access to God; 3. loving discipline; 4. connection with others (a family, identify, responsibility); 5. liberty to offer imperfect obedience (too many things I don’t attempt because I can’t do it perfectly); 6. enjoy it

Feb 20, 2011 on Acts 2:42-47: church was characterized by 1. devotion to teaching of God’s word – make receiving of God’s word a priority.  2. fellowship – committed to rich relationships in the family of God. 3. people pray together. 4. worship. 5. witness.

July 3, 2011 2 Cor 12:1-10 God is interested in our perception – we rejoice in Christ but for now we suffer. These trials have come so faith may be proven genuine and we will praise. Suffering is God’s servant. Spiritual pride leads to being blind to the mercy of Christ. The thorn can stay in place because God’s grace is sufficient. Doesn’t reduce the pain but gives it meaning. What if he does not remove you from the slimy pit or the miry bog? He is still the rock under your feet. We should boast/delight in our weakness.

 

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Misc stuff

I’m using this post to capture some stuff I’ve come across lately.

This post from Desiring God by Jon Bloom is really a great discussion of how we should handle disappointment. It is wrong to feel disappointed because it is rooted in unbelief, doubting the promises of God. How convicting! If we examine it, odds are we are disappointed because we saw something that would feed our own glory (or our own ease and comfort) and we feel we are missing out on something now. Convicting!

Then this post by Kevin DeYoung about how we should feel about the doctrine of Hell. We should learn to love where the Bible stands. It isn’t ok to say we believe it because the Bible says it but we aren’t entirely comfortable with it. The law of the Lord should be our delight. Can I say that about Hell? About people I know and love who are not believers?

God is good and his ways are always right. It is a measure of our maturity that we not only affirm the truth of God’s word but rest in the goodness and rightness of it. Christians should have anguish in heart at the thought of eternal suffering, but we should also see the glory of God in the Bible’s teaching on eternal punishment.

Back to Desiring God for this wonderful post about motherhood. Treasure the calling!

 

 

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On running

I have been running. Mostly early morning these days, before the sun is up and while the temp is as low as it will get (which hasn’t been below 70 much lately).

Last November (I remember a lot of things that happened in November, because I remember sitting in the office in Raleigh while doing it, the month I spent every workday in Raleigh) a friend called me up to see if I had been serious about doing the running portion of the Ramblin’ Rose triathlon with her. She swims (which I do not do) and we both bike. She says her least favorite part is the running so she was happy to have me along to relay on one or two of the triathlons. I said sure thing and signed up (and then realized the Ramblin’ Rose is always on a Sunday, bummer!).

It’s a mini-triathlon so the distances are shorter. It’s also women only which means we aren’t feeling any need to compete with guys who are naturally stronger and faster than us and we can feel a little less self-conscious being out there.

The first one was this past Sunday in Rock Hill. My great friend Charlotte lives 5 minutes away from the venue so I trecked down there Saturday and spend a lovely afternoon and evening visiting, pushing Rachel in the swing, holding Sterling, and eating a wonderful dinner. Luke was a tad disappointed that I wasn’t pushing him around the house, but I had moved friends all morning and had a race the next day so I was hesitant to work that hard. Next time, buddy.

I headed to the Y and met Dawn and we got signed up and then waited around for the start. Dawn swam (she did very well) and then jumped on her bike and took off. About this time, the first women in the water were already returning on their bikes and starting their run. Oh well, they were younger and obviously have too much time on their hands to be that fit 🙂

During the swim, I stood around and chatted with a man from this area who had a slight crush on a friend back when they were in high school. Such a small world. During the bike ride I was chatting with his daughter. Her mother was out on the bike and she was doing the run portion.

Dawn came in, I grabbed that chip from around her ankle and got it on mine. I left her to rest up and I took off! Two miles – flat and 2/3 of it in the shade. A nice route. I had people pass me, I passed people, I ran too fast and had to walk some. And it was all good.

When I was “training” this spring/summer I tried steady runs, and I did interval runs. Either way, I averaged about 22.5 minutes to do 2 miles. I warned Dawn I didn’t want to ruin her average 🙂

My watch was having issues (turned out to be user error) so I didn’t have it with me and had no idea how well I had actually done. Then, I abandoned Dawn to return to church in time to sing the anthem and hear the sermon (totally worth it – we did a great song and the sermon was timely (evidence in the prior 2 posts).

Dawn called to let me know we came in second among the 4 relay teams so we got a mug! I also got a shirt, a necklace, and a water bottle just for being in it. All cool, but the best part was Dawn praying for us before it all started.

Next up – Winston Salem in August. We’re pumped! I just hope I don’t have to beat my record from Rock Hill. 🙂

We’re the Purplicious team.

 

 

 

 

Recovery this week was interesting. I was tired Sunday, but didn’t really get a nap since we got 5 phone calls (we usually get 0). Some allowed us to be helpful, and a few were a lot of fun celebrating with Charlotte and Mom how well it went.

Tuesday I dragged Beth out with me for a slow and short run. It wore me out for the rest of the day, but it was good to get moving. I recovered well the next day and headed back out Friday evening while it was cool and cloudy. I ran almost 5 miles. We’ll see how training goes for the next month, with a week in Mexico in the middle.

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Another thought

Last blog post was getting pretty long so I stopped. But I had a few more thoughts while I was writing it.

As mentioned a few days ago, I recently read The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock. It’s about some monks and this particular volume covers their struggle to forgive another monk who seeks refuge with them, who had be very callous and cruel toward their former abbot. There are lots of other struggles, offenses, and need for forgiveness in the day to day interaction as well. The structure of their society requires that they immediately face the person and sincerely apologize and seek forgiveness. Hurts and issues are not given time to fester or become a root of bitterness.

At one point, Brother Tom has hurt Father Francis deeply and when he realizes it he apologizes and asks for forgiveness, which is given of course.

Brother Tom wondered how other people managed – ordinary people outside the monastery walls who tried to muddle along without this discipline of humble contrition to heal the wounds made by human carelessness.

The need to ask forgiveness and to do so quickly, sincerely, and in person is no longer recognized as a need. And the art of giving forgiveness is also lost these days. Not that it’s ever been easy, but it’s much too easy to not ask to be forgiven. Or perhaps to not recognize the true offense given so that you can really ask for that forgiveness that is needed.

We also aren’t use to recognizing true repentance and then offering true forgiveness that doesn’t hold a grudge or bring the offense back up. I look forward to the next year as my Circle spends time studying Unpacking Forgiveness.

And because Paul Tripp is still so timely (or just so right) I have to point to his blog post from Friday.

no change takes place in a relationship that doesn’t begin with confession. The problem for many of us is that we look at confession as a burden, when it’s actually a grace.

He continues to expound how it is a grace to know right from wrong. We have to see where we are wrong before we can make it right. It is a grace to be shown that and to have the heart to receive it.

It is a grace to even understand the concept of indwelling sin – to understand that the problem is inside me, not some external problem.

It is a grace to have a conscience that works right. The conscience can be deadened. Or it can be trained to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and the commands of God. It is a grace when we are sensitive to and grieved by what we do to hurt others.

Grace is the only thing that shields us from self-righteousness. When we can see our own need for salvation, for help, and stop thinking we are so much better than the other party in the relationship, we can hope for change.

Our confession should be propelled by deep appreciation and gratitude toward God, who has made it possible for us not to be afraid any longer of being exposed. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we don‘t have to hide or excuse our wrongs. We’re freed from posing as if we’re perfect, when in our heart of hearts we know we’re not. We can stare problems in the face with hope and courage, because Christ has made real, lasting, personal, and relational change possible.

Exactly!

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How it’s done

The month has been full of posts about God’s sovereignty, my thoughts on the evil of divorce, more thoughts on dealing with sin. And the Sunday School lessons and the pastor’s sermons keep tracking right along.

Sunday School has moved into the book of Judges. The book of Joshua reinforced to the people that if they obeyed God, things would go well. But if they disobeyed and turned their back on God, things would not go well. Not just as punishment for disobedience, but for disciplining them to bring them back. We so easily forget that we need God, desperately. We start to think we can do it all by ourselves. It’s cute in a toddler expressing “do myself!” in indignation, but it’s ugly and disastrous in adults.

The sermon this past week was on King David and Bathsheba. We learn in 2 Samuel 11:1-17 that David sent his men off to war. He wasn’t where he should be doing what he should be doing. He’s back in the palace wandering around. He entered a season of temptation.

The pastor explained that it’s easier to hit a target that is standing still. So when we aren’t where we should be and aren’t doing what we should be doing, we become easy targets for Satan. Pastor Hamer first referred to Achan (from the Battle of Jericho and the disastrous battle at Ai) – he looked and he coveted and he took (he gave in to temptation). And he caused a lot of hurt to the people of Israel (36 men died and the reputation of Israel was in danger). Then he moved to King David. He looked and saw Bathsheba. Then, instead of fleeing sin by looking away, leaving the roof, quickly heading off to find some business he should be about, he kept looking at her.

He has a very godly servant who points out this is the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Hello, David, she’s married – she’s off limits. It is dangerous to ignore counselors who point out that what you are doing or contemplating is against God’s word.

In addition to not being about the Lord’s work and being a target for temptation, and not resisting and running from the temptation, the next problem is fear. Once fear takes hold, we tend to sin even more. One sin leads to another and another.

King David finds out Bathsheba is pregnant. He’s afraid now because there is huge evidence of his sin coming out. He coveted. He committed adultery. Then he lied to Uriah trying to cover it up. And then he committed murder so Uriah wouldn’t raise accusations that David didn’t want to deal with. The son died, David’s other children experienced and caused much pain, the entire country of Israel suffered as a result of David’s sin. We like to think our sin has no affect on others, it’s private. But that is almost never the case.

The pastor followed up stating  if something you are considering doing causes you great anxiety – you should step back and examine it. Is it against God’s word? Then don’t do it. Face up to the sin you’ve already committed, confess to God and to man as necessary. Make it right. Don’t compound it with further sin.

It seems easy to say, but oh so difficult to do some times. First – running from the truth when it hurts becomes a habit. Second – there are a lot of judgmental (and hypocritical) people in the world so confessing and facing up to the truth is really painful sometimes. It takes a lot of strength to not only admit you made a mistake and try to make it right, but to then deal with the remarks and treatment from people who have apparently never made a mistake in their life at all (it must be nice). Third – our self-esteem really doesn’t like to admit we messed up. We can rationalize a lot to keep from having to admit we are wrong (same goes for those people who judge others so quickly).

This is why we need to stay in the Word and take sin seriously and learn how to trust God in all things. His way really is best, and when we don’t obey Him, the best way to fix things is to turn back to Him as quickly as possible. We need accountability; counselors who we can trust and listen to, even when they are telling us things we don’t want to hear. And we need to listen to them, especially when they are saying things we don’t want to hear.

Pray – a lot. Pray for wisdom and courage and strength and discernment. Listen and think before you leap. Your conscience isn’t a perfect guide, but it can be trained to be pretty trustworthy. Then you have to listen to it.

Temptation is real. We are all very prone to it in different areas and different degrees. We need to be alert and prepared to do our part to fight temptation. And always recognize our need for a savior and rely on His strength.

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The Hardest Thing to Do – Book Review

Last night I sat down and read a new book through. I just didn’t want to set it down.

The Hawk and the Dove is a trilogy by Penelope Wilcock that was recommended to me a few years ago. I loved the stories and the meaning in them. This month I had an opportunity to review an early reviewer copy of The Hardest Thing to Do, a sequel and part of another planned trilogy.

I enjoyed The Hawk and the Dove so I fully expected to enjoy The Hardest Thing to Do as well. I was not disappointed. I enjoy how the story is well told, the characters are well drawn and become people we care about, and the lessons are such an integral part of the story that even the sermons are interesting and convicting.

This story takes place at St. Alcuin’s, a year after the ending of The Hawk and the Dove. The stories told and lessons learned before are still part of this story and the characters, like all of us, still have growing to do. I think it helps to have read The Hawk and the Dove first to be familiar with the setting and the history. Having read it, it’s a little hard for me to say if it could be read enjoyably if you have not read the prior book. I do know that if it has been a few years and you don’t remember all the details, this story provides enough detail that you understand what is going on without feeling you are missing something.

The dust jacket describes the book as being about forgiveness and the cautions of building trust. In fact, I think this would make a good companion to Unpacking Forgiveness by Tim Brauns as it covers many of the same points in the context of the community.

The story shows the need for compassion and the struggle we have to be compassionate with people who are difficult to love, or enemies and people who don’t even seem to see their need to be forgiven or to change.

I enjoy seeing the life in the community of the monastery, and the different ways the brothers behave and react, and the different levels of self-awareness they display. The concept of vocation, understanding the difference between a human weakness and a human sin, it’s all covered here in a gentle yet convicting and encouraging way. I love spending time at St. Alcuin’s with the brothers who live there.

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Daily tasks

really, more like hourly or even minute by minute.

God is sovereign, even over evil and suffering. (Click the link to see RC Sproul Jr’s column about evil. Very interesting.)

Knowing this is important because it affects how we live our lives – in daily trust of God’s promises and His power to be faithful.

We all sin and make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes are big and affect other people in long-lasting ways. I think divorce is one of those (in most cases).

So, how do we do it? If we are suffering – how do we get up each day and keep going? To be really radical, how do we learn to boast in and delight in our suffering?

If we have made a big mistake and hurt a lot of people – what do we do next? How do we do what is right or do as much as we can to fix what we’ve broken?

This is one reason I like the daily tweets from Paul Tripp. He often reminds us how the attitude and perspective matter. Do I wallow in pity and fear and loneliness? Well, those feelings are real and can be pretty consuming. But I have to remind myself of the benefits I do have. And that happiness today is not the end goal of my existence. Eternal life, in the image of Christ, is what I am being shaped for.

I have found myself drawn to the topic of suffering and pain and God’s sovereignty in it lately, not because of anything I personally am going through, but because people I love and care for are in the grip of these things. I want to understand why they have to hurt so, and that there is some hope for them. Now and far in the future.

I remind myself that God is sovereign every day. I try to find the right words and actions to encourage and give that hope to my friends and family who need it.

And I am amazed at how many times a day I have to hand God my anger at David Navarro. I don’t hate him. I still love him and regret the pain he is causing and the pain he must be experiencing now and will experience in the future over all the years that this mistake affects his children and his relationships and his own spiritual health. So, I pray for my own ability to accept that God will work with David in His own way and time. And I pray that David will have a change of heart. And I pray that we will all have wisdom and strength to find a path through the future even if David never realizes or is too proud to admit that what he did and how he has done it was wrong.

I know that part of my anger stems from what I miss, what will never be again now. Family visits, talks, sharing experiences. I love my sister’s boys so much, but I still miss the years we could have shared together as she raised them. Now, all of our visits and exchanges with Alison and the boys will have the ghost of the husband/father who isn’t there.

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