Wednesday, September 28, 2016


A friend recently shared with me a radio website that still airs the old Gateway to Joy programs. Today I listened to the first one I'd heard probably since my mother played them on the radio during my childhood. It was sweet to be listening now as a mother, especially while holding the late speaker's tiny namesake, Esther Elisabeth, in my arms. The conversation was so rich, I will surely be going back for more - it was like finding a pearl in the first shell one opens, and the pearl was mostly a poem by Sara Teasdale that was read aloud. The poem spoke of how a husband lives in his wife's heart. I looked it up immediately to save in my lessons blog, but the vivid imagery is already etched into my mind. Is it changing the way I think, or did it only give fresh words to what I do think? Perhaps it was both - poetry is good like that.

by Sara Teasdale.

Never think she loves him wholly,
Never believe her love is blind,
All his faults are locked securely
In a closet of her mind;
All his indecisions folded
Like old flags that time has faded,
Limp and streaked with rain,
And his cautiousness like garments
Frayed and thin, with many a stain -

Let them be, oh, let them be,
There is treasure to outweigh them,
His proud will that sharply stirred,
Climbs as surely as the tide,
Senses strained too taut to sleep,
Gentleness to beast and bird,
Humor flickering hushed and wide
As the moon on moving water,
And a tenderness too deep
To be gathered in a word.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Such is our God

I have been following this year the 2016 Reading Challenge from Challies blog, and enjoying it immensely. "A book about theology" is sixth on the list, so I browsed our shelves to see what we already have and decided on The Sovereignty of God by A. W. Pink.

Reading this book has helped me in this season of life, as a multitude of cares - from fretting babies to unprincipled politicians - continually threaten my peace of mind. These two paragraphs on God's sovereignty over mankind I found especially strengthening:

"We read the Scriptures in vain if we fail to discover that the actions of men, evil men as well as good, are governed by the Lord God. Nimrod and his fellows determined to erect the tower of Babel, but ere their task was accomplished God frustrated their plans. Jacob was the child to whom the inheritance was promised, and though Isaac sought to reverse Jehovah's decree and bestow the blessing upon Esau, his efforts came to naught. Esau swore vengeance upon Jacob, but when they next met they wept for joy instead of fighting in hate. The brethren of Joseph determined his destruction, but their evil counsels were overthrown.  Pharaoh refused to let Israel carry out the instructions of Jehovah, and perished in the Red Sea for his pains. Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but God compelled him to bless them. Haman erected a gallows for Mordecai but was hanged upon it himself. Jonah resisted the revealed will of God, but what became of his efforts?
Ah, the heathen may 'rage' and the people imagine a 'vain thing'; the kings of the earth may 'set themselves,' and the rulers take counsel against the Lord and against His Christ, saying 'Let us break Their bands asunder and cast away Their cords from us' (Ps 2:1-3). But is the great God perturbed or disturbed by the rebellion of His puny creatures? No, indeed: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision' (ver. 4). He is infinitely exalted above all, and the greatest confederacies of earth's pawns, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat his purpose are, in His sight, altogether puerile. He looks upon their puny efforts, not only without any alarm, but He 'laughs' at their folly; He treats their impotency with 'derision.' He knows that he can crush them like moths when he pleases, or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth. Ah, it is but 'a 'vain thing' for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven. Such is our God; worship ye Him."

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Prayer for Our Town

Every time I go to the local grocery store, or the library, or just about anywhere that isn't going back over the border into Virginia, I have to drive past a disturbing assortment of "gentleman's clubs" (oh so un-aptly named!) locally known as strip clubs, as well as the adult store, pubs and other questionable establishments. Giving thanks that my little ones in the backseat can't read signs yet, I also feel burdened to pray and to act toward our nearest town's great traffic in sin.

What can one tired, hands-full mama do? Praying is a lot. I asked the ladies at our small group to pray with me and listening to one of them pray, I realized that she was latching on to specific requests for different people involved, and that I needed to do the same. I started crafting a prayer, with a dream to print and post on every public bulletin board and church resource table in town. "Take one and pray with me wherever you are at 8pm" or something like that. But for now, it's starting right here with me.

A Prayer for Our Town

God, we confess that we are a people who follow our selfish desires more than love for our neighbor. We have thought, spoken and acted in ways that are unclean and dishonoring to you. We have not done what we should. We pray that you would cleanse us and change our hearts.

We pray that you would bring righteousness to this town, specifically that you would shut down the strip clubs in our town, where your glory and honor are despised. Turn the hearts of each club manager to do right, and to help our community instead of harming it.

We pray that you would provide club dancers and other troubled women in our town with good, better jobs, that you would cleanse them, restore them, and show them your mercy and love. Lord, deliver them!

We pray that you would turn the hearts of men to their wives and families, to love women instead of lusting for them, to build up what is broken in their lives and to seek you above all. Give us whole families who will love and serve you.

We pray that you would turn the hearts of every man, woman and child in this town to You.  

All this is a work that only You can do, so that is why we ask You to do it in the name of Jesus 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby's Daily Lesson - 1 minute Bible Overview

Babies, even before they can speak or understand many words, beg with their sweet faces to be spoken to. In addition to the usual, "Aren't-you-just-a-sweet-lil-muffin-darling-baby?", I thought it would be good to incorporate a distinct mini body of truth into the daily chatter. A straight Scripture passage like Psalm 23, Psalm 1 or other texts are wonderful, as well as hymns, but I wanted something that comprised key points of the Bible's story without being a whole catechism, mostly comprised of key verses that I know from memory. Probably a dozen more combinations could be made that are good, but this is the one that I have started using. and it brings such joy and encouragement to my own heart as I get my daily gospel history fly-over.

Who made you, Baby?
God made me!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned - every one - to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.

And He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new!"

Genesis 1;1
Genesis 1:27
Psalm 100:3
Isaiah 53:6
Romans 3:23
Acts 10:40
John 3:16
2 Cor. 5:17
Revelation 21:1, 5

All Scripture from the English Standard Version

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Too Will Be For Good

When I was a freshman in college, I experienced the typical reaction to the first week of classes - often called "syllabus shock" - how would I ever be able to muster the time and mental resources to complete this enormous load of assignments just presented to me? Stressed and anxious, I took the matter to the Lord, praying for help. The truth that he opened to my fretful heart in those first weeks was that though I had trusted him for my financial needs, I had not learned to trust him for those less tangible matters of energy and time, yet these were just as much in his power to provide as the other. I was enabled to begin trusting that these too would be given to me for the asking - and they were.

This lesson often pictures to me what it is like to face a new lesson of faith. I must learn to trust my God in all things, and not just in the places where I have grown familiar with seeing His hand. I think this is a lesson that I and many of my fellow believers will have to learn as we look at our nation and are tempted to despair. 

I wonder how many of us are thinking something like, "Well, I know God is in charge, but this is going to be terrible"? Having a bad president may be terrible, but a dozen other things one may meet in this fallen world may terrible, while "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" This ugly scary state of things is the very place for us to firmly believe that God is good to His people. Do I believe that "In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" is more deep and solid than our nation's foundations? Do I believe that if the nation falls into the hands of unprincipled tyrants, despite all we can do as faithful citizens, it is just a new step in the lessons of faith our Father has for us between here and Heaven? 

There is a pervasive sense that we are entering bad times in our country. Maybe this is true. But I think there is a place for a bolder faith that can look straight in the face of the dreadful political reports and sing - 

"Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing on your head!"

Yes, our God is "He who disciplines the nations" (Psalm 94:10 ESV), which is a fearful thing for America. But God has also promised His children regarding the painful discipline they undergo (surely even if they must pass through the discipline of their nation at large) - "later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb 12:11 ESV). For a nation it may be judgment, but for the believers in it, it may be a wholesome training with sweet fruit. This is a good thing.

So here's to faith in 2016 - faith that God's promises are better than the U. S. Constitution, and more sure and everlasting - faith that loving and obeying God will still be the path of ultimate blessing for His children, whether or not God blesses America nationally. Faith is God's great gift to us on the way to Heaven - and that is our better country.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Impossible Goal

I realized keenly yesterday, that my ultimate goal in parenting is utterly impossible for me to achieve. Perhaps I knew it before in theory, but I now I feel it to be true, because I have seen it in reality and have been freshly confronted with it from Scripture. Training, discipline, consequences and all the structures I build into my children's daily routine are good and necessary for molding their behavior, but none of it can give them what I desire for them - a regenerate heart. 

This struck me while I was listening to a recording of J. C. Ryle's thoughts on Matthew 22:34-46, in which Jesus answers the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" by giving the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Ryle applied this to teaching children:

None work so well as those who work out of love. The fear of punishment, or the desire of reward, are principles of far less power. They do the will of God best, who do it from the heart. Would we train children right? Let us teach them to love God.
Love is the grand secret of right behavior towards our FELLOW MEN. He who loves his neighbor will scorn to do him any willful injury, either in person, property, or character. But he will not rest there. He will desire in every way to do him good....Would we teach children to behave aright towards others? Let us teach them to love everybody as themselves, and do to others as they would have others do to them.
But how shall we obtain this love towards GOD? It is no natural feeling. We are born in sin, and, as sinners, are afraid of God. How then can we love Him? We can never really love Him until we are at peace with Him through Christ....Faith in Christ is the true spring of love to God. They love most who feel most forgiven. "We love him because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19.)
And how shall we obtain this love towards our NEIGHBOR? This is also no natural feeling. We are born selfish, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3.) We shall never love our fellow man aright until our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit. We must be born again....
Let these things sink down into our hearts...We cannot have love to God and man without faith in Christ, and without regeneration. The way to spread true love in the world, is to teach the atonement of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
 - Expository Thoughts on the Gospel According to St. Matthew by J. C. Ryle, accessed on 
Awhile ago, I posted on that one essential tool for parenting - the Word of God. Now the other necessary tool is becoming an even stronger reality to me - prayer. Teach my child to love God? Wonderful aim, but would that I could! I can teach my child about God and the gospel - I must! - and seek to direct his behavior according to Scripture, but I cannot ultimately change the heart. Nearly all the usual training of a child's behavior is built upon one thing - self-interest. I use my child's self-interest as a lever to push him toward right behavior when I discipline for wrongdoing and reward well-doing, because that is the heart material I have to work with, and I am told that with perseverance I will see results. I do want these results! But they are not enough. My child will not be right in any way until he loves God, and I cannot make him do that. Only God can do that. This is why prayer is the parent's other most essential tool, because through prayer, I can see the impossible thing done. "God give my child a new heart, because you are merciful and able to do it! God, give my child a new heart, or my labor is in vain!" Then, believing, let me be his faithful instrument, and labor until I see the thing accomplished.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"The Held Soul" - Six-Year's Past Writing Refreshed

Lying in bed this morning, too early to get up and too late to get back to sleep, I started thinking about a poem I wrote in college, based on beloved verses in Romans 8. I came to the end of it and then put together a final stanza which pulls in more of the text, and which I then had to get up and type! [I thought of changing the King's English style of the divine pronoun, "Thee" and "Thou", but really still prefer its use, as it is easier to pronounce and more beautiful than the modern "You"]

My heart is faint and cannot hold
My Savior for my strength is small
My love grows feeble, waxes cold
A hopeless voice says, "You shall fall"
Unto my weary soul.

If my endurance rests on me,
O God, no hope have I,
But woefully to wane from Thee
With hollow sighing, till I die -
Unless Thou holdst my soul.

My Lord! My God! Thou Sovereign One,
Help me see those mighty bands
That bind me to Thy righteous Son
Fastened by Thy mighty hands -
In this may rest my soul.

I have no power - Thou hast all
And all my strivings turn to dust
And in my dust-bound self I'd fall
But thou hast promised and art just
By grace to hold my soul.

I rest in Thee. In Thee I trust
Predestined, Thou hast called me,
And in Christ Jesus made me just,
And thou shalt glorify me,
And never loose my soul.

These are the strong eternal bands
By sovereign grace bound iron-fast.
By great and, never-failing hands
That shall uphold me to the last.
Believe Thy God, my soul.

If God be for me, who can be
against me, or can sever
The love which gave its all for me
and gives me life forever
Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!