Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kids in Church

In our church, all the children are in the church service until the message. The nursery is staffed so some babies and toddlers go during the early part of the service but most of the time, all the kids are in the service until just before the message, when the 2-5 year olds head off for junior church.

I've been reflecting lately on how much I love having the kids in church. There's some "buzz", especially on some Sundays, but it's so wonderful to hear them. And what's been really exciting is hearing them sing out. There's a couple of little guys, about 5 years old, who have been singing out loudly lately and I love hearing it! It's so great to know that the children are learning to worship with their families and that they can participate in worship with the adults.

There seems to be a trend in churches to have the children out of the service entirely until they are older. But I wonder what the children are learning. They can learn about the Bible, they can sing together, and do all those types of things. But what they aren't learning is how the body of Christ functions together in corporate worship and I think that's a shame. It takes effort and training sometimes to have your kids in the service with you but in the long run, it's worthwhile as the children see and hear how the church works together in song, prayer, Bible reading, preaching, Lord's table and baptisms.

If you have little ones and are looking for ways to train them to sit in church, the Deputy Headmistress at The Common Room had a really good post a while ago about training children.

We have found that it works best to not bring a lot of toys with us as the more choices we had, the more busy the kids seemed to be. One or two little things worked well but the more important thing is to help them participate in the various parts of the service. Stand up to sing, follow along with Mommy in the Bible during the Scripture reading and try to listen during other times. My kids are allowed to draw during the message. It's amazing, though, how much they pick up, even when it seems like they aren't listening.

And the best training? Attending regularly. Even if it seems like they aren't learning to sit, try to look at it in terms of months (and maybe years) rather than weeks and you'll soon see how much your kids are learning and growing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peace

I wrote this devotional for a ladies' banquet at the beginning of December and thought I would post it here. I hope it is encouraging.

Peace. We hear a lot at Christmas time about peace. “Imagine” is heard on the radio stations –

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

John Lennon thought that the absence of religion would lead to peace. He’s right if you think of “religion” as something you do to gain favour with God. But true religion only leads us to peace.

I’ve learned a lot about peace in the past year and a bit since Emily’s death. I didn’t even realize what I was learning until one Sunday this summer, we sang “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy” for the children’s song. The second verse is “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding”. All of a sudden it hit me – I now know what the peace that passes understanding is that Paul talked about in Philippians when he said,

“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tonight, I’d like to spend a few minutes thinking out loud with you about peace.

First, Paul assumes something in this verse. He assumes, because he’s already written several chapters to the Philippians, that the people there already have a relationship with God. They can make their requests known to God because they already have that relationship.

True peace starts with our relationship with God. John Lennon was wrong – it’s not the absence of a relationship with God that leads to peace but instead a true relationship with Him. But that relationship also has to be on God’s terms. Part of the reason for conflicts around the world is that people use religion as an excuse for conflict. But God says differently – He tells us that all of us are in conflict with Him. Our sin keeps us from God. It’s a rebellion against God and His holiness. True peace starts when we admit our sin to God and trust in the actions of Jesus Christ on the cross when He took our sin upon Himself. Only when we bow before God in humility and admit our sin and our need for a Saviour, will we have peace with God. That’s why the angel said, in speaking to the shepherds, “Good will and peace to men.” It had to come through Jesus. We will never have true peace until we have first made our peace with God.

In this verse, Paul urges his readers to be anxious for nothing. Think about that – nothing. How can it be that we can be anxious for nothing? What do we need to know about God in order to apply this command that will result in a peace that passes understanding?

First, we see the character of God – we can trust Him in our prayers because of who He is. When we read the Bible, we find out about God’s character – He is merciful and loving, He is holy and perfect and He gives grace to us. I have heard of a call & response used at some churches that says, “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” When we pray, when we’re looking for peace, do we believe that? Do we trust God because of His character to know that He is good and He will do what is best for us? We rarely have understanding of God’s plans, especially at the time, but we must look at God’s character as revealed to us in the Bible and based on that knowledge, trust in Him. That will bring peace because we know that “whatever God ordains is right”.

It is because God is holy that we can have confidence that he will fulfill his promises to us, that his power will be used to help us, that his mercy will be poured out on us, and that his wisdom will design our suffering and everything else in our lives to work together for our good. (Dustin Shramek)

This brings us to our second thing to understand about God: His sovereignty, which means that He is in control of all things. When we pray, we understand that because God is sovereign over all things and because He sees all things from the perspective of eternity, we can trust God with what happens in our lives. And because we trust Him, we have peace – peace that seems incomprehensible to those who don’t trust in God.

Some might argue that God is not sovereign and not in control of all things. But what kind of a god would He be in that case? If He is not in control, He is a weak god and we can’t trust Him with anything.

Now this comfort, this trust in a sovereign God doesn’t mean that we necessarily will find it easy to submit to God’s will. I think that is why Paul tells us to come to God with prayer and supplication. David Powlison says that ‘Prayer means “ask for something you need and want.” Supplication means “really ask.”’

In times of trouble, in times of grief, we call out to God and really ask for help. The psalms are great examples of this. God promises that when we cry out to him, when we pray earnestly to Him, that He will give us peace.

This peace doesn’t necessarily come easily. It takes time and it takes study of God’s character and His word and other writings about God. There were times for me when I would read something and feel like throwing the book across the room. But I had to stop and think about what I was reading. Sometimes I had to close the book and come back to it the next day after thinking about it for a while. I had to ask myself - Is it true? Many times, I could see that it was true but I didn’t want to believe it. But I had to submit to God’s word. God’s grace gave me the ability to accept what was written, although it wasn’t easy. It was a long process to get to the point where I could see results by understanding the peace that I experience.

So peace is found not in a lack of conflict or in a “perfect” life. Peace is not something that just happens, nor is it put on like a sweater. Instead peace starts first with our relationship with God – have we knelt in submission to God and had our sins forgiven? Then do we understand something of God’s character? Are we looking for ways to learn more about Him? And are we willing to submit to His sovereign will? Do we pray and bring every request to God? When we do that, the promise is this: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” Is. 26:3.

Streams in the Desert – The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it. Be at peace then and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.

from Spurgeon - Beside Still Waters – Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Have not His loving kindnesses been marvellous? Has He once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts but over our head He has held aloft the shield of our defense…. What we have known of our faithful God proves that He will keep us to the end.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Advent

Advent starts on Sunday. At first, I was surprised - how could it be Advent already? That means that Christmas isn't far behind! How could we be nearly at December?

But this morning, I was thinking about it and I was thankful for Advent. Because if it wasn't for that time of contemplation, I would hit December 24th and think, "Whoa, it's Christmas, where did that come from?" So the season of Advent is an important reminder to prepare for Christmas.

And that doesn't mean just the baking, shopping, decorating part of Christmas. The important part of Advent is the heart preparation. I was working through a list of Advent activities and found a devotional I found last year. It struck me again how important it is to contemplate Christ's coming and the reason for His coming. I'm looking forward to reading the daily passages with our family and singing the carols everyday.

I've also ordered a new book with a compilation of devotionals, essays and messages on the Christmas season titled Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. I have the Easter one and thoroughly enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to this Christmas one.

The two advent devotional guides can be found here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Hymns

Some of my favourites:

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The story behind the hymn (from Cyber-Hymnal)
Martin Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War. The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

I came across this about a month ago on Musings of a Prairie Girl and I've been meaning to do something with it. Since we're enjoying a lovely quiet day at home on this chilly Thanksgiving weekend, I get to spend a little bit of time blogging. And my husband inspired me by updating his blog!

For today October 10, 2009

Outside My Window -- Mid-afternoon cloudiness. It's been grey and dull here for the past few days and often tried to snow. However, the trees are yellow and green so it's still beautiful to look at.

I am thinking.... of how much I'm enjoying this quiet day. I had fun scrapbooking last night, slept in, had a good run with a friend and have been hanging around here ever since.

I am thankful for.... my parents' visit this weekend and my great family.

From the learning room.... making pies with the girls yesterday was fun. We're studying modern history and our highschool discussion yesterday was really interesting.

From the kitchen.... Thanksgiving dinner - tomorrow. Tonight is waffles for dinner.

I am wearing.... jeans, tshirt, sweater & slippers. My winter attire in this chilly climate!

I am reading..... a really interesting novel called Far North. I haven't figured out yet where it's going which makes for an interesting read. A little odd on the "humans destroying the planet" theme but well-written so far.

I am hoping.... to get caught up next week - school work & scrapbooking. And to get some sunshine for fall pictures before the snow comes for good.

I am hearing.... a tap dripping in the kitchen. Lazy, pleasant conversation around the living room. Laughter with my son and husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week.... Church in the morning, then Thanksgiving dinner late afternoon. Mom & Dad leave Monday morning and hopefully I can do school planning and general "day-off" kinds of activities.

This is written in the tradition of The Simple Women's Daybook.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Menu Calendars

I am printing out my menu calendar for October and I thought it might be fun to share here. This has been such a helpful thing for our family to have. On the months that I don't do a menu, I struggle with meals but once that menu is on the fridge door, it makes things so much easier. I also find that we eat better because I have planned a variety of meals.

I don't follow it slavishly - sometimes I don't have time to make the item or I don't have the ingredients or we just don't feel like it. Or there are leftovers in the fridge that need to be used. But having a basic guideline just gives me a place to start. For example, yesterday we were supposed to have an enchilada casserole. But I was gone Friday night & Saturday at quizzing so I pulled a roast out of the freezer on Saturday night when we got home and we had it last night for supper.

I keep a file in Word that has one calendar like this one for each month. I change the dates each year and change the menu to reflect our activities (sometimes we're away for a night or there's a potluck or holiday). It really doesn't take that long to change now that I have a year's worth of menus done.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Hymn - Come, Ye Thankful People Come

Since next weekend is our Canadian Thanksgiving, I was thinking about this hymn, one of my favourite Thanksgiving hymns.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poetry

Cindy, at Dominion Family, has been influencing my thinking about poetry and its inclusion in our lives. Here's a great post about poetry.

Why Poetry

Sunday Hymn - How Firm a Foundation

I like the "conversation" in this hymn and how God's words are used to speak to His people. In our church, we only sing verses 1, 3, 5, and 7.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Poetry - September Days

I just received a new-to-us poem book, Child's Calendar Beautiful, that I will blog about sometime in the future (yes, I really do plan to start blogging more - will it last?).

But we read this one this morning and I liked it so thought I would share. Our September weather has been absolutely beautiful and we are admiring the glories of the garden (ripe tomatoes!), flowers and leaves. And yet, there are bittersweet moments in life that this poem captures well.

September Days

Cicada plays his viol mid the grasses,
The last shrill sound at night, the first at morn;
Late poppies grow along the garden passes,
And light winds gossip in the ripening corn.

The sluggish creek, in meadows lately greening,
Is flushed with gold and purple, either brink;
From dusty hedge the last wild rose is leaving,
A deadly pallor on her lovely pink.

With Tyrian fruit the lowly poke is laden;
Wych-hazel weaves her "thread of golden bloom;"
The wandering woodbine, like a Gypsy maiden,
Warms with its color the deep forest's gloom.

The morning sows with pearls Arachne's weaving;
The orchard peach looks out with cheeks a-blush;
From shady nook the ringdove's note of grieving
Floats far and faint upon the noontide hush.

By country roads the scarlet sumac's burning,
And over zigzag fences spread and shine
The lush dark berries, daily turning
Their loyal heart's blood into purple wine.

Down the lane path, where the cows come in the gloaming,
The thistles stand with faded armour on;
In buckwheat bloom the weary bees are roaming,
To gather sweets till the last day is done.

With all thy gift and grace, O fair September,
Some anniversaries it is thine to bring,
That flood unwilling eyes but to remember,
And choke with sighs the heart that fain would sing.

And yet, when God has filled the earth with beauty,
And given the soul a quickened consciousness,
One may go forth in pleasant ways of duty
And feel the chastening Hand in close caress.

Elliot C. True

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book update/reviews

Well, my summer reading challenge wasn't that successful but I did read a lot over the summer.

What I read from the list:

Dallimore's two volume biography of George Whitefield - nope - it's still sitting at the church. I need to remember to bring it home and start it.

Does Christianity Squash Women? - didn't get to it but I still would like to.

Moby Dick - what was I thinking?

Women Helping Women - I read most of this and found it interesting. I think it will be a good resource on the shelf.

Women Leading Women - nope

A Place of Quiet Rest - Nancy Leigh DeMoss - I did read this one and really enjoyed it. I have to confess that I mostly read it because I wanted to know what she said before I passed it on to someone else. Part of me was thinking that I didn't need it myself. However, even though I'm used to having my own quiet time, I found it challenging and interesting. I found some good suggestions for changing how I read and journal. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Showing the Spirit - Don Carson - (I'm about halfway through) - still about halfway through.

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill - (book club summer selection - I've read it once but I'll read it again to refresh my memory) - skimmed it just before the book club meeting. Enjoyable read and lots of interesting history.

Tapestry of War: a private view of Canadians in the Great War - Sandra Gwyn - just got it from the library and my son has been working through it since we're studying modern history this year. I've started it and I'll finish it once he's done.

The Private Capital: ambition and love in the age of Macdonald and Laurier - Sandra Gwyn - on order from the library. I think it was finally shipped so it should be here soon.

Books I read over the summer and early fall that weren't on my list:

Wives & Daughters and
The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Gaskell is my latest discovery in English writers. She was a contemporary of both Bronte & Austen and is a marvelous writer. I don't know how I missed her all these years. Her biography of Bronte is excellent and I find it so interesting that she knew her and both spent time in the Bronte home and had Charlotte visiting in her home.

Wings Like Eagles

The story of the Royal Air Force and the Battle of Britain. Very well done. As I mentioned, we are studying modern history this year. I think Al Mohler referenced this title in one of his summer reading lists so I wanted to preread it to see if it's suitable for my grade 12 student. Unlike some of the others I previewed this summer, it's quite appropriate for students and gives a really good picture of what happened not only in the summer of 1940 but the events leading up to it.

To Serve Them All My Days - Delderfield

I read this years ago but for some reason was reminded of it again. I really enjoyed it the second time around - great writing and a fascinating picture of the life of a schoolmaster.

Jane Austen ruined my life - Beth Patillo

Interesting concept but not a great ending. The feministic viewpoint was quite at odds to Jane Austen, actually. I enjoyed the book but the ending left me flat.

Goodnight, Mr. Tom

The story of an evacuee who comes to live with an older man in the countryside of Britain during WW2. Excellent book - I think I'll read this aloud when we get to WW2.

Miss Pettigrew lives for a day

Fun little British read (hmm... I think I might see a pattern). I'm waiting, not so patiently, for the dvd to come from the library

Hunting Eichmann

Interesting read about the search for a war criminal.

And some other mysteries, etc. that I picked up at library sales or wherever I could find little paperback books!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Summer Reading Challenge

I was just thinking this morning about my summer reading. Lo and behold, what did I come across at Seasonal Soundings but a Summer Reading Challenge?

Here's my list:

Dallimore's two volume biography of George Whitefield

Does Christianity Squash Women?

Moby Dick

Women Helping Women

Women Leading Women

A Place of Quiet Rest - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Showing the Spirit - Don Carson - (I'm about halfway through)

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill - (book club summer selection - I've read it once but I'll read it again to refresh my memory)

Tapestry of War: a private view of Canadians in the Great War - Sandra Gwyn

The Private Capital: ambition and love in the age of Macdonald and Laurier - Sandra Gwyn

Probably this is a terribly ambitious list but many of these books have been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read so it's time!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Hymn - It is Not Death to Die

From Come Weary Saints

It is Not Death to Die

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

Chorus
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

Chorus
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die


Bob Kauflin rewrote it from an older hymn. Here are the words to the original hymn, by Malan, translated by Bethune:

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road,
And midst the brotherhood on high
To be at home with God.

It is not death to close
The eye long dimmed by tears,
And wake, in glorious repose,
To spend eternal years.

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breath the air
Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust
And rise, on strong exulting wing
To live among the just.

Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die:
Like Thee, they conquer in the strife
To reign with Thee on high.

This song has come to mean a lot to me. I first heard it last summer, when we bought Come Weary Saints. After a few weeks of listening to the CD, I commented to Terry that I couldn't understand why that song stood out to me, among all the others. In fact, I could barely remember what other songs were on the album but that one was always one I pondered. I think it was partly because I have never really looked forward to heaven, although I grew up in a Christian home and understand (at least partially) God's plan of salvation at an early age. I was challenged by the words to consider in a new way my view of death and heaven.

Fast forward a few months and I discovered why that song had stood out to me. When I found out about Emily's death, I was driving home from a conference. (In case any of you wonder, I made Terry tell me on the phone because it was better to know the truth than spend the drive wondering what was going on). After a while, I turned on my ipod to "It is Not Death to Die" and listened to it at least two times. God really used it to change my focus even at that moment to His truth of what death is. That doesn't mean that I didn't grieve and didn't argue with God but that even at that moment, He was taking my grief and starting to turn around my understanding of what He was doing.

The other song I listened to just as I was coming into town was "How Deep". The chorus is

How deep is His love,
How high and how wide is His mercy,
How deep is Your grace,
Our hearts overflow with praise to you.

And it begins with "You were broken that I might be healed". As I listened to that song, it hit me - God's Son had died. He knows our grief because His Son died. But because of His Son's death, we are healed and we can look forward to the time when we will enter into the kingdom of God.

We grieved Emily's death. We are still grieving her and probably always will. But we take comfort in God's words of comfort and His promises. And when everything seems to press in on me, then I sing the words of "It is Not Death to Die" to myself and God reminds me yet again that there is more to life than we see now and Emily is now praising her Saviour in His presence.

Spurgeon also says,

"Dear friend, have you found that trouble cuts the cords that tie you to earth? When the Lord takes a child, there is one less cord to fasten you to this world and another band to draw you toward heaven. When money vanishes and business goes wrong, we frequent the prayer meeting, the prayer closet and the Bible. Trials drive us from earth. If all went well, we would begin to say, "Soul, relax". But when things go amiss, we want to be gone. When the tree shakes, the bird flies away. Happy is the trouble that loosens our grip of earth."

Thoughts from Spurgeon

This is from Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul

"We love God's people. They are exceedingly precious. Far too often we look on their deaths as a grievous loss. If we could confer immortality, we would never let them die. But it would be cruel to deprive them of a speedy entrance into their inheritance. We want to hold them here a little longer. We find it hard to relinquish our grasp, because the saint's departure causes us much pain. We are poorer because of the eternal enriching of the beloved, who have gone over to the majority and entered their rest.

Yet know this, while we are sorrowing, Christ is rejoicing. His prayer is, 'Father, I desire that they also, whom You gave Me, may be with me where I am; that they may behold My glory which You have given Me' (John 17:24). In the advent of every one of His own to the skies, Jesus sees an answer to that prayer. We are grieving but He is rejoicing. Their deaths are painful in our sight, but 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints' (Ps. 116:15).

Tears are permitted, but they must glisten in the light of faith and hope. 'Jesus wept' (John 11:35), but He never complained. We may weep, but not 'as [those] who have no hope' (I Thess. 4:13). There is great cause for joy in the departure of our loved ones.

Death itself is not precious; it is terrible. It cannot be precious to God to see the highest works of His hand torn in pieces, to see His skillful embroidery in the human body broken, defiled, and given to decay. Yet to the believer, it is not death to die. It is a departure out of the this world to the Father, an entrance into the kingdom."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Hymn - How Sweet the Name

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

I particularly like the Indelible Grace version of this song. The demo at the RUF Hymnbook site has two of the verses. I like the laid-back gentle feel - it gives time to think about the words.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Hymn - The Lord's My Shepherd

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again;
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
Even for His own Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
And staff my comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnish├Ęd
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.


One version of it:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Books!

Terry & I just returned from a trip to a Pastors' & Wives' conference. The bookstore was great! And of course, this way, I didn't have to pay shipping (that's the official reason, anyway). In this pile are books Terry bought for his resources, books that were given to us for the conference and the rest that just happened to make it into my hands while wandering around the bookstore!




I couldn't quite get the stack without glare on the books. Here's what's in the pile (top to bottom):

Redeeming Science - Vern Poythress - this looks really interesting, although I have a feeling I wouldn't understand a bunch of it. Here's a blurb from the back:
Redeeming Science attempts to kindle our appreciation for science as it ought to be—science that could serve as a path for praising God and serving fellow human beings. Through examining the wonderfully complex and immutable laws of nature, author Vern Poythress explains, we ought to recognize the wisdom, care, and beauty of God. A Christian worldview restores a true response to science, where we praise the God who created nature and cares for it.

Apostolic Preaching of the Cross - Morris - I think this is one Terry's been looking for and hasn't been able to find

How Good is Good Enough - Andy Stanley (resources) - a friend recommended this one highly. I'm looking forward to reading it. It's just a short little book but he said it's really good for helping people to share with non-Christians who think they are "good enough".

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism - Mark Dever (resources) - another recommendation.

Just Do Something - Kevin DeYoung (home) - Our son picked this one up Sunday morning. It's a great little book on finding God's will in your life. The subtitle is "How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc."

The Heart of Evangelism - Barrs (resources) - notice a pattern here?

Big Truths for Young Hearts - Bruce Ware (freebie) - this looks interesting to go through with our younger girls. Ware covers a variety of theological topics in a way suited to younger readers.

Preach the Word - Ryken & Wilson (freebie - I think)

From Grief to Glory - James Bruce (home) - there was a good selection of books on grief that I went through. This was one that looked really interesting and helpful.

Leading Children towards Gospel Repentance and Faith - Marty Machowski (resources) - a little booklet on leading children to Christ using the "ABC" method - plus "D". We really appreciate the Sunday school curriculum by Machowski & his church and this little booklet looks great to use as a resource for VBS or Sunday School teachers.

Radical Womanhood - Carolyn McCulley (home) - This is a look at the history of feminism and how it affects the church today. I thought it would be a good resource to have.

A Place of Quiet Rest - Nancy Leigh DeMoss (home) - a book on developing a pattern of personal devotions. It's always good to be reminded of this and I thought it would be a good one to have on my resource shelf.

Women Helping Women: A Biblical Guide to Major Issues Women Face - Fitzpatrick (home) - Sometimes (often!) I find it hard to know what to say! I think this will be a good book to help me to know what to say when talking to other women about major issues in our lives.

Heaven and Heaven for Kids - Randy Alcorn (home) - I've been wanting to read this for a while. I've read Alcorn's fiction but I'm interested to read what he has to say about heaven in this nonfiction book. I read about 1/3 on the way home yesterday and it's already really good. My girls started Heaven for Kids and they liked it too. After having been through the past 6 months, I'm more aware of a need for good theology about heaven.

Anne Bradstreet - Nichols (home) - I've heard about Anne Bradstreet for several years but have never had a chance to read the poetry of this Puritan woman. This book is a combination of biography and poetry. I glanced at it the other day but haven't spent any time in it.

The Suffering of Man and the Sovereignty of God - Spurgeon (home) - sermons from Job.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In quietness and confidence

I read this entry this morning. It was a testimony to me of how God has been working in my heart. I believe that much of my confidence in Him is because of the prayers of His people on our behalf. We can either rest in God or we can fight God. But only the first will give us confidence and trust in God.

It's also worthy to note that Spurgeon struggled with depression his whole life and at times, was overwhelmed by it. This is not written by someone who has never experienced trials.

p. 132 - Beside Still Waters (Spurgeon)

Quietness and Confidence (Is. 30:15)

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." This is a truth concerning all the trials and troubles of this life . Some of you are passing through business troubles, for there are many tremors in the business world, and perhaps they are causing you to shake and tremble. [I thought this was funny considering that Spurgeon lived about 200 years ago!] If so, do not be readily carried away by these secondary matters. Do not let them depress or excite you. Hold loosely to all worldly things, but grip firmly the unseen God. Fussing, worrying, and hurrying will do no good. Be calm and quiet; all will be well if you are the Lord's child.
Perhaps your trial is personal sickness. If so, nothing can be better than quietness and confidence. Worrying will not make you well, though it might keep you ill. You will be sick just as long as God appoints, but if anything can help to heal it is quietness and confidence of heart.
Have you lost a friend? Is there a great sorrow? Have you some loved one lying in a new grave? My friend you cannot bring the dear one back, and you should not wish to do so. It is wise to submit to the inevitable. It is gracious to bow to the will of your ever-gracious God. You cannot do anything that will be as helpful to your sorrowing spirit as to exercise quietness and confidence; it will indeed be your strength.
Do you have a sorrow fully equal to bereavement? Have you a loved one who daily suffers? Is that the living cross you have to carry? Do not worry. Submit to the Lord's will. Ask Him for grace to acquiesce in it, and learn to wait on the Lord.
God's tested child, whatever your condition, remember this promise, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

My girls are very interested in St. Patrick's Day this year. We talked a bit earlier about who he is. Imagine my delight when I opened an email to find this link:

St. Patrick: The World's Greatest Missionary (great copywork and story about St. Patrick from LIVING BOOKS)

You have to do a free registration but it's easy. And that led me to

Living Books Curriculum


I haven't looked on their site much but through downloading the above ebook, there was a free offer for some of their curriculum helps and articles about Charlotte Mason. I downloaded them all and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Time to Die

This is from Charles Spurgeon's Beside Still Waters. I found it helpful to reflect on this morning.

Here is comfort: If the Father of our Lord Jesus arranges all, then our friends do not die untimely deaths. Believers are not cut off before their time. God has appointed a time to harvest His fruit. Some are sweet, even in the early spring, and He gathers them. Others, like baskets of summer fruit, are taken while the year is young. Yet some remain until autumn mellows them. Be sure of this, each will be gathered in season. God has appointed the commencement, the continuation and the conclusion of your mortal life. (p. 123)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fireproof

My husband & I watched Fireproof last night. We really enjoyed it. The acting was better than I expected and I really liked the message. In the past months especially, I've noticed that when a marriage is in trouble, the tendency in our society is to encourage people to move on - out of the marriage and preferably into a new relationship as soon as possible. But Fireproof shows how it takes work to make a marriage work and it's worth doing.

I also appreciated how the gospel was presented. It wasn't sappy or overdone but they clearly stated our sin and our need for Christ's redemption.

For more information and for information on resources for your own marriage, check out this site.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Before he speak

I am so thankful that my pastor and husband doesn't speak about his wife in the pulpit very often. This video illustrates why.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Homeschooling

In an effort to be more diligent in my homeschooling time with my younger girls and also to include more poetry, art, etc, into our homeschooling, I've decided to try Morning Time. This has been modelled by other homeschooling moms I know, most notable Cindy at Dominion Family. If you click on the link, then search her site for "Morning Time" posts, I believe there's about 30 posts to read through.

We had been doing more independent work first thing in the morning (when we got to it), then history reading at 11 am. However, my oldest has been working more independently and hasn't been joining us for history time as often. So I decided to move all our reading time to the beginning of the day. Here's what we've done so far this week and my goals.

Bible

Old Testament - our kids are studying through the "God's Story" curriculum in Sunday School. There are weekly devotions for families to do, which I need to print out, but for this week anyway, until I get them printed, we've just been reviewing the story of Samuel, which they are studying at SS.

New Testament - I started using a Bible reading schedule this week that has four categories - Pentateuch, Prophets, Wisdom reading and New Testament. So the girls and I have been reading the New Testament chapter each day. We started in Luke, which coincides nicely with Josh's quizzing work for the year.

Catechism - We were going through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds with all the kids that has catechism questions and discussions. However, I didn't feel like the younger two have gotten the same indepth study as the older two did at this age so we started it again. However, the book wandered away after the first day! I'm hoping it will show up this morning.

Poetry - we're reading poems of Emily Dickinson. Lovely! As soon as the library catalogue is back online, I'm going to look for a biography and/or selection of her poems. I'm just printing them off from the Ambleside site right now.

Memory Work - the girls are each working on a poem to memorize. I'd like to do more Bible memory too - I should add that in this morning. I think we'll start with Ps. 23.

History - we're on Week 14 of Tapestry of Grace, Year 3, studying the Victorians. I'm also reading "I was there at the Battle of the Alamo", which was from a previous week, but we didn't read it then so I thought we'd do it now. The joys of freedom in homeschooling!

Science - I have to admit that science has been a largely forgotten subject in our home. However, I pulled out the Apologia book "Flying Creatures" and started reading it aloud. Yesterday, we read about mating rituals and I learned a lot too!

After Morning Time is finished, then we move to the table where they do math, copywork, grammar, Latin and writing. This week, they've been doing math and thank you cards for Christmas presents and we'll slowly get back to doing everything. So far (two days!), this schedule is working and I'm hopeful that it will be beneficial to all.