Spiritual Growth

Joni, Elisabeth, and My Applesauce: How Not to Go Astray

What kind of title is this? ” Joni, Elisabeth, and My Applesauce: How Not to Go Astray.”  It represents a smattering of thoughts that come together in my struggle to walk. To walk in a particular way and in a particular direction, neither of which is natural to me. Have you ever tried to change the way you walk? Self-consciously, you turn your feet forward, not letting them angle out or in or whatever way you really like, but your doctor says is incorrect. It is just not natural for you.

Beyond the literal, “walking” can mean so many things. If you look up walk in an exhaustive Bible concordance, you’ll find hundreds of references. Walk. Walked. Walking. Makes me tired. And I haven’t even mentioned run, running, and races!

Hmm. So much to talk about! Let’s sit awhile. Would you prefer coffee or tea? Just a few reflective excursions and then we’ll resume our walk. Or, is the seated conversation a part of the walk? Yes. So glad we can rest and walk at the same time. (The world of the Kingdom is ironically different.)

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Simply Resolved

Resolve, resolute, resolution. Verb, adjective, noun. So, I’ve simmered over my resolutions and plans for 2018 and presented the topic to you, appropriately, on New Year’s Day. But I did not offer my “New Year’s Resolutions.” I invited you to share your thoughts, yet only one person has responded, only to ask me what my resolutions are. Well. . . . Continue reading

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God’s Blessings in 2018: Resolved

My Dear Readers,

Today, January 1, 2018, I send you my best thoughts for God’s best for you this year. This will be short! Amazing! Here also is a word from the Word:

Daniel 1:8:  “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” (ESV)

Few role models could surpass Daniel as portrayed in the book of Daniel. When people belittle the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, remember Daniel. His resolve was not made at the beginning of a new year, but at the beginning of a new life, a life he did not choose, a life forced upon him, exiled from home. His resolve was made with grace, wisdom, and tenacity. According to Daniel 9: 23, Gabriel commended Daniel : “You are highly esteemed.” God’s esteem is the best kind.

The KJV translates “Daniel resolved” as “Daniel purposed in his heart”. Ahh.

Paul and I are working on some resolves and heart-purposing. I suppose you are too? God bless you with grace, wisdom, and tenacity in your resolves. Maybe I’ll share some of my resolves. I invite you to share some of yours right here on JNC!

Gratefully,

Karen

 

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The Best and Worst This Season

Charles Dickens gave us A Christmas Carol, and among many others, he also gave us  A Tale of Two Cities. I plan to to savor some Christmas literature this season, but first I’d like to consider Dickens’ opening to his latter tale, a fitting interpreter of our current year.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, Continue reading

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Peace, Pursuit, and Andrea del Sarto

I just re-read the last several posts to review where we’ve been going on JNC. I enjoyed the descriptive posts more than the informational post, largely because the descriptions engender peaceful feelings. I need peace. No pursuits. I must be quiet. Right now, physically, I feel awful: my fibromyalgia. I feel like I’m being crushed from the inside out. I had to leave church this morning, unable to stay for the worship service or the Thanksgiving, fellowship dinner following the service.

I do not use JNC as a platform to detail my personal issues; this is not a place for writer’s therapy.  I try to stay focused on themes that nourish growth in Christ and well-rounded maturity — for all of us! Is not JNC’s motto “Walking with Christ and becoming more like Him”?  It’s an embarrassingly lofty goal, but biblically sound (after all, we, as pedestrian theologians, have the Holy Spirit). The motto reminds me of Robert Browning’s poem, “Andrea del Sarto”. Here are two, often quoted lines from this long work: Continue reading

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Genre, Genre, What are You? (Plus a Gabe update)

Are we there yet?

You mean, at the end of this series? No! It’s taking me a long time to get through it because I do not post every week. So, I’ll see if I can up the pace on this series about being a good reader and a self-discipler.

We’re on point two of six points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map.* Point 1 is Biblical Literacy (both the anchor and rudder) and point 2 is Genre Identity (the ship’s hull). As the ship’s hull, I see an understanding of a book’s (or a writing selection’s) genre as some ballast in my ship (my mind) giving me balance and perspective, essential to reasonable interpretation, analysis, and appreciation.

Don’t you love to learn and to read? I doubt you would read my blog otherwise. Since we must be rather brief (a book I am not writing here), I would like to offer a smattering of quotations from some expert readers along with some commentary to help us consider the impact of genre (categorization of literature) when reading.

I’m sure  you view writing as a craft. Writers are sometimes called wordsmiths. Have you ever thought of reading as a craft? This is not my idea. A fascinating thought! Who said it? Continue reading

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Your Home Library: One Dozen Books to Build Biblical Literacy

I always encourage young people to start their own, personal libraries — to begin with just one shelf in their bedrooms to place books worth keeping for a long time, some for even a lifetime. Whatever our ages are, we can equip ourselves with excellent resources to help us disciple ourselves in Christ and to guide us in whatever we read.

In our last post, I presented six points (guideposts, navigator’s criteria) to guide the Christian reader. You may wonder why my first point would be Biblical Literacy. Employing our ship/ocean metaphor that I set up in the last post, I am identifying Biblical Literacy as the anchor to ground us, the ballast to stabilize us, and the rudder to guide our vessels — as Christ-followers, thinking and interacting with what we read, whatever we may be reading. Therefore, I’d like to offer you a concise bibliography of core books to build your biblical base. You may have a number of these or some similar to them. You may find some here that you may want to add to your wish list. A person growing in biblical literacy and alert thinking will want to use books such as these. Continue reading

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It’s Brief! – One Apology and Six Pithy Points for Readers

Why is it that one Christian describes a book as a blessing from the Lord, another finds it flawed but useful, and a third sees it as dangerous? Listening to differing views has motivated me to do some research and to write a basic list of guiding principles that can help us navigate our reading experiences (religious and secular) in ways that lead us away from the shoals and toward solid Christian growth.

I apologize for the tediously long, recent post that set up this new series! Let me redeem myself, as it were, with a brief post. Here is a preview of the six points (as currently standing) that we’ll be exploring in future posts. Please note that I’ve moved from a guidepost metaphor to a map/voyage metaphor.

Six sailing points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map:

  1.   Biblical Literacy = both anchor and rudder                                                                                                                      2. Genre Identity = the ship’s hull                                                                                                                                    3. Knowledge Soup = the ocean                                                                                                                                          4. Thinking Habits = wind in my sails                                                                                                                              5. Influence and Influenced = Reader-Pilot’s changes/growth                                                                                      6. Impact = From Pilot to other passengers — changes/growth

This is where this series is launched. This is where this post will dock! I’m excited to write about Genre (not gender) Identity!  With these points, I hope you can anticipate where my reasoning is sailing.

God bless you with wisdom and joy in reading,  remembering as Emily Dickinson expressed,                     “There is no Frigate like a Book. . . .”

Comments welcome! Invite a friend to join us!

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Self-Discipleship in Christ through Reading*

R. C. Sproul recounts in his book, The Consequences of Ideas, the story of attending a parent conference in a public school when his eldest child entered first grade back in the 1960s.** Sproul listened to the principal explain the school’s philosophy and program, describing specific activities that promote particular aspects of child development. Every activity had purpose.

Finally, Sproul asked the principal, “What kind of child are you trying to produce and why?” The principal answered, “I don’t know. Nobody has ever asked me that question.”

Sproul replied, “I deeply appreciate your candor. . . but frankly, your answer terrifies me.”

The school’s methods stemmed from a purely pragmatic philosophy — what works; what succeeds. But succeeds at what?  Pragmatism can foster a child who can do: read, write, compute, relate and respond. But what of the soul of the child? The composition of the heart? The character? The life? For what purposes is the doing?

This applies to our doing, and in this post, to our reading. “What kind of person am I aiming to become through my reading and why?” Continue reading

Categories: Being Like Jesus, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Standing on the Edge (with my books)

We always live at life’s edge. Each moment becomes that edge.  Looking back often comforts me because I can avert my attention from the sharp brim facing the future. Every past moment is cushioned within the experiences before and after it. Its context is sure. I like that. The present pushes me away from the cushion. The sharp edge of the now connected to the handle of yesterday slices into the unknown, next moment. Yet, it is the mixed messages from yesterday’s record (the good and the bad) that make me nervous about the future. At first I wrote this as my next sentence: My comfort comes less from the past’s good experiences than from the God of those good experiences. Then I realized that this may be pious silliness.

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