Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God Gives Grace

Quote of the day:
"God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead. He does not give saintliness to any but sinners, nor wisdom to any but fools. In short: He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace."
Martin Luther

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mary's Song

During our Christmas Concert Sunday night I talked about the first Christmas carol, Mary's Magnificat. We tend to go to extremes concerning Mary. We either venerate her to the point of worship (and forget that she was herself a sinner in need of a Savior) or we dismiss her (and forget that she is blessed among women). I recently discovered Luci Shaw's Mary Song which beautifully portrays the ponderings of Mary's heart.
Mary's Song
...by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so light it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Web Junkies

How much time do I spend on the internet? Probably more than I should. One of my heroes, J. I. Packer, has some words of advice for all of us web junkies:
I'm amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I'm not against technology, but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger—and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful.

Here's an idea--why not dive into a good book by Packer? I think they have "staying power." Here's a list of books by Packer that I would recommend:
Knowing God
Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs
Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life
Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God
Growing in Christ
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Knowing God's Purpose for Your Life
Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight (with Carolyn Nystrom)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Being Outdoors

Yesterday, Heather, the kids and I spent the day with my mom and dad at John Pennekamp National Park. (pictures are on their way!) It was a gorgeous day to be in the Keys and we spent it (how else?) on a boat--a glass-bottom boat to be exact. We saw sting rays, nurse sharks, barracuda, sea turtles, and tons of fish and coral. It was great to be out on the sea and even better to be with family. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Being outdoors reminded me of one of the wisest things I have ever read on dealing with discouragement or depression written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (c. 1880):
He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy. A day's breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours, ramble in the beech woods' umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of [people] who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind's face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.