A Good Friday to You

And what is good?

I have the next post in our series ready, but today is not the appropriate day for it. I awoke this morning, meditating on the meaning of good in Good Friday. You have probably heard much on this theme over the years, but we can never get enough nourishment.

My mind traversed various verses on this good theme.  “The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” “No one is good but God.” “You are good and do good.” “O, taste and see that He is good.”*

I thought of the first usages of the adjective, good, in the opening chapters of Genesis which describe God’s response to His own work: “And God saw that it was good”, repeated after each day’s work, but after the sixth day’s work, God saw that it was “very good”. God is good and does good work.** I thought of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I thought of pure goodness, as in God’s character and His work, in contrast to the more complex goodness expressed in a fallen world.

I thought of the cross as the ultimate expression of that good-bad goodness.

I’d like to present a few quotations, Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil | Tags: | 2 Comments

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!

Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

How to Read and Beyond

I pulled three paper backs off the third shelf of our bookcase along the western wall in our living room at 2:00 a.m. this morning. Bodily discomforts of various sorts had awakened me. Sometimes I can return to sleep, but other times my body insists, “Forget sleeping!” My mind was immediately at work on a subject that has been toying with me for a number of days. Reading. What to read, how to read, when to read, and why read — all danced in my thoughts.

Quietly, I shuffled out to the living room, intent on not awakening my Paul. To the bookshelves. Taking the three volumes, I slumped in my leather, La-Z-Boy, covered myself with a blanket, took a colored pencil and a regular pencil, and opened the first book.

Jews and Christians are called “The People of the Book.” The Bible. We  wear that label with great pride — both good pride and bad pride, I suppose. Books agitate. Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

And Just What Is Government?

Paul and I spent most of Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20, following the events via our online connection which we cast to our “big” screen (a 37 inch flat screen that is not hooked up to use as a TV).  Watching “the peaceful transfer of power,” our patriotic spirits were exercised, and we almost felt as if we were there. Almost! Happily, I was curled up in my roomy, warm, upholstered chair. The hubbub, the music, the crowds, the motorcades, the who’s who entrances —  all blended to evoke a spirit of belonging — similar to (for me in my simpleness) going to a county fair, but on a huge and impactful scale. This is more than the satisfaction of belonging to a local community or club; on this day, we gratefully sensed our belonging to our country, the United States of America. ( Much of the week end’s madness had not yet happened. I choose not to smudge Friday’s memories with it.)

As I ruminated over the day’s events and words, I asked myself, “And just what is government?” The teens in my Sunday school class and I had discussed this a few weeks before when we were reviewing a period in ancient Israel’s past, the era of the judges, which preceded the kingdom era of King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. In the era of the judges, everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6).   I asked my teens, “What is government?” Their only association of the word is with politics — some form of civil government and economic system such as democracy or communism. Hmm. There is something important beneath these ideas, something preceding them.

Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Focusing for 2017

Ready or not, 2017, here we come! Really? That is, 2017 says to us, “Ready or not, hear I come!”

As I’ve thought and prayed over the themes to explore in 2017, I’ve found my mind full of more ideas than I can attempt. I’ve decided on some core focuses which will offer us plenty of space to travel! In this new year, I’ll continue to write one article per post, but I want to add a Pass Along section with each post (or most posts) in which I will highlight a resource: book, magazine, website, store, recipe, or whatever.  I’ve been posting once month, but I may try twice a month.

Here are our core focuses as I presently understand that they should be for 2017:  Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 3 Comments

All God’s Trees: Planted by Streams

It’s time again to say, “Merry Christmas!” That is, “A God-blessed Christmas to you!” In recent months I’ve written about the glory of Northern California with its mountains, Redwood trees, and the Smith River. I’ve written about my dangerous adventure in that river in contrast to the “peace like a river” described in Scripture.  We’ve explored Psalm 136, the giving of thanks, and the exclamation of hallelujah. As the Christmas season culminates, this is a good time to look at Psalm 1 (as I promised) and think about trees. D. L. Moody so apply noted, “All the Lord’s trees are evergreen.” Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 2 Comments

A Thanksgiving Hallelujah!

Psalm 150:1 exudes, “Hallelujah!” That is, “Praise the Lord!” “Boast in God!” This is a good introduction to the Psalm that I want to consider at this Thanksgiving season: Psalm 136.

In William MacDonald’s lovely Believer’s Bible Commentary, he labels this Psalm as “The Great Hallel!”1  This psalm boasts of the character, wisdom, power, and work of the Lord God in creation, history, and individual lives. God is addressed as the Creator (Elohim) and as the Almighty, the eternal Lord of the universe (LORD, YHWH or Jehovah/Yahweh). When you start unpacking word choices and the relationships between ideas, your eyes quit skimming over familiar words in which your  mind says,”Yeh, I know what this says.” We need to stop flying over familiar territory. We need to fly low, land our attention, and then dig.

I am supposed to be writing to you about Psalm 1, but since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, I thought I’d draw your attention to Psalm 136. Here it is, followed by a few thoughts. We don’t have time to do much digging in this post, but I hope to get you started on your own dig. (Offer a comment below and tell us what you’ve discovered!)

Psalm 136

Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 2 Comments

Down a Biblical Stream

“Behold,” says Isaiah 66:12, “I extend peace to her like a river.” My adventure in the rapids of Smith River in Northern California (note last post) did not illustrate “peace like a river.” I remember singing years ago a chorus that claimed, “I’ve got peace like a river.” This biblical simile has always puzzled me.1  As I pondered my river experience, ironically, this verse and song immediately came to my mind. My experience did not line up with the biblical figure of speech.

What does Scripture mean by comparing peace to a river? How are rivers, streams, and water presented in Scripture and for what purposes? Thus began a little word/theme study. Continue reading

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.