Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bible is Everything

"If we will not listen to the Bible we will listen to nothing, and if we will not be changed by [the Bible] we will be changed by nothing." (Quoting Alistair Begg, heard on the radio this morning commenting on Luke 16:19-21.)

"And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Part 1 of The Azalea Chronicles

We have an azalea plant that is trying to take over one side of our house. I wish I had a picture of how it looked, to show you that this is true, but I failed to take one earlier (and it is now too late, as you shall learn). However, here is a picture I found on Google that somewhat depicts the former state of our azalea here at the house.

That is a very pretty house, I think. And that large azalea looks much like ours did when it was in bloom this spring, including the whole covering up the windows thing, except theirs looks like it has at least been touched by pruning shears before.

In fact, all our foundational shrubs and hedges had gotten quite out of hand. They were all very large and quite intimidating to me. I'm not a gardener, though I love gardens and timidly like to wish I were one (a gardener, not a garden). The larger and shaggier our shrubs and hedges became the more I left them alone, looking the other way when I walked past, often even whistling to keep my nerve up. It became ridiculous and something had to be done. Well look here, you can see for yourself. See these beautiful young ladies, who just happen to be some of my nieces and soon-to-be-niece (I think; when are you guys ever going to set a date?) but anyway, look just past them, over their heads, and you'll see who I'm talking about.

The Towering shrubs and hedges. They're much taller than foundational shrubs and hedges ever should be.

So finally, about four days ago, I just snapped. Into action, and I said, this is it. I'm taking down those towering monstrosities and especially that insane azalea (it looked, by then, like some snaggle-toothed monster because I had sheared the section that was covering my bay window but left the other half looming and veering crazily skyward).

I had bought an electric hedge trimmer about two months ago but did not have the nerve to get it out of the box. David my husband, Protector and friend was home and with me on this project, so he did the honors, and also made a trip to Lowes for a shovel, some loppers, some potting soil and a new rake (because our plan wasn't just to destroy and remove but to beautify and add, as well).

(This is just a shot of me as I wish I looked in my garden. I've just been wanting to use this picture for something. But back to the real project.)

I did not know what I was getting into. Had I known, I would surely have hesitated; I might even have called the whole thing off. I did, in the middle of the project, make a desperate phone call to the lady at Ace Hardware who is a horticulturist and has helped me with plants before. I got her voice mail and tried to sound nonchalant, asking her "just to call me when she got a minute" and I'd like to "hire her to come by sometime and help me identify some shrubs and give me some advice on how to prune them" and stuff like that. I really wanted to scream "Come to my house right now!!! Where are you? You have about two minutes to call me back or so help me..." But I didn't. And she never did call me back, anyway.

So, you're probably ready for me to get on with some descriptions that would explain all this... melodrama, and I'm anxious to, believe me, but this post has been long enough, so I'll call it Part 1, and the next post I will call Part 2, In Which I Begin to Hack Away at the Azalea. Then you'll see more what I'm talking about (just like I did). So stay tuned.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Various Thoughts, Ruminations and Hopefully Non-Platitudes

Just some completely random thoughts today:

I so like and appreciate Tim Challies. I don't know another internet writer/presence/person with more to offer and a sweeter, humbler soul than him. And besides that, it's fascinating to see how his career has come along in the seven or so years I've been reading (and listening to) him.

Relationships are hard, at home and in the church. We have to love each other. (It's different in the workplace; certain things are required of us there, but not like with family.) We can't run away. We're called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:10-16) to each other when everything in us wants to ignore, pout, quietly leave, rail against. We're called to press in tighter when the going gets rough. It's contrary to our flesh, our society and our desires. It is the way of the Cross.

John Calvin is cool and helpful. I have a booklet entitled "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life" which is simply Chapter Six of Book III of his "Institutes." That little book talks about things like those mentioned above: the true Christian walk and calling of a disciple (as opposed to the grandiose and silly things we sometimes like to make it). We're called to self-denial, he explains; but beyond that, we're called to take up our Cross and follow the Lord Jesus. Cross-bearing, Calvin says, is more difficult than self-denial.

I appreciate my family. I feel so inadequate in my efforts for them. I either over-do or under-do; my weakness and stumbling in this become more apparent to me everyday. "For we all stumble in many ways." It makes me (after I remember to think about it) more consciously dependent on, and earnestly desirous of God's mercy for them, for us all. In the end, all our best efforts will be seen to have been far short of the perfection required in order to accomplish the great tasks we've been given (loving our husbands and children, being a Proverbs 31 lady, etc.) But what will be seen is the perfect accomplishment of our Lord and Savior in his sinless and perfect obedience, including his death on the Cross. In his resurrection, we are made to share in his very own perfection, righteousness and glory. What a thought; what a hope! It spurs me on to renewed effort and willingness to die to myself daily and finish well the race set before me.

Well, those are some of my thoughts for the day. Be blessed in your day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

All I Have is Christ

Growing older stinks sometimes. I often am aware that I've brought a lot of the difficulty of this time of life on myself. It is all too true. But yet...

There's grace. My Lord loves me; he thought of me before the foundation of the world was even laid and determined to have me for his own child. He purchased me out of the world with blood-soaked mercy. I am forever his.

I am a mess-up in many ways, but Jesus Christ redeems mess-ups just like me, swoops them up out of the pit of despair they've dug for themselves and makes them part of his story, to the praise of his glorious grace, as it says in Ephesians 1:3-10. He is sure-handed and able to do everything I cannot. All I can do is fall on him for mercy and grace for help in time of need.

Growing older is another way God is using to make me see that it's in Christ alone my hope is found. Some young people out there are sure able to put that into words very well! Here's one example. When I'm young and when I'm old... all I have is Christ.

Sovereign Grace's Devon Kauflin