Sunday, December 31, 2006

All That Glitters is Not Gold

I've been informed by reliable sources that my blog is lonely. I've decided to come cheer it up ;-). So. . . I'm back from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee, where I had a marvelous time with family and friends. Maybe I'll write a bit more on that later. I have a few pictures to post. Any wishful thoughts about writing some interesting Christmas posts seemed to vanish much like the last few weeks vanished in the blink of an eye. Ah well.

For now, though, I thought I'd muse on a few interesting things I pulled from my recent reading of Ben-Hur. I have about three different Ben-Hur-related posts swirling in my head. It's a good book, by the way. Read it!!! I've already waxed eloquent(?) on the Grove of Daphne, and some interesting observations I pulled from that chapter. I wasn't done with my musings on the Grove of Daphne, though. There was one other interesting scene in the Grove that caught my particular interest.

As Judah continues walking through the Grove, awestruck by the beauty around him, he succumbs to the lure of the Grove and begins to be drawn in by its power. He wonders how anything so beautiful could be wrong, and he understands how the Grove lures thousands into her service every year. It's mesmerizing and peaceful, and it must be. . . good? As he is walking tranfixed and caught under Daphne's power, he comes upon a statue of Daphne within the Grove:

He . . . came next to a grove luxuriant, in the heart of the vale at the point where it would be most attractive to the observing eye. As it came close to the path he was travelling, there was a seduction in its shade, and through the foliage he caught the shining of what appeared a pretentious statue; so he turned aside, and entered the cool retreat.

The grass was fresh and clean. The trees did not crowd each other; and they were of every kind native to the East, blended well with strangers adopted from far quarters; here grouped in exclusive companionship palm-trees plumed like queens; there sycamores, overtopping laurels of darker foliage; and evergreen oaks rising verdantly, with cedars vast enough to be kings of Lebanon; and mulberries; and terebinths so beautiful it is not hyperbole to speak of them as blown from the orchards of Paradise.

The statue proved to be a Daphne of wondrous beauty. Hardly, however, had he time to more than glance at her face: at the base of the pedestal a girl and a youth were lying upon a tiger's skin asleep in each other's arms; close by them the implements of their service - his axe and sickle, her basket - flung carelessly upon a heap of fading roses.

The exposure startled him. Back in the hush of the perfumed thicket he discovered, as he thought, that the charm of the great Grove was peace without fear, and almost yielded to it; now, in this sleep in the day's broad glare - this sleep at the feet of Daphne - he read a further chapter to which only the vaguest allusion is sufferable. The law of the place was Love, but Love without Law.

And this was the sweet peace of Daphne!


Perhaps I get strange thrills while reading that most other people do not experience, but this scene actually sent chills down my spine! It is most effective if read in full context, as Judah first walks through the Grove, becomes dazily drawn into its lure, and then suddenly comes upon such a startling scene and reflection. It is masterfully written, to say the least. Lew Wallace has a skilled way of weaving strong themes throughout the text of the book, in fact.

And it really communicates an important idea much better than a theological treatise possibly could. We learn through the eyes of Ben-Hur, just what a Love without Law looks like. We wonder, with Ben-Hur, how anything so beautiful as the Grove could be wrong, and then we are startled when we come upon an unexpected mole on the perceived perfection of the Grove.

Beauty (at least perceived beauty) does not mean purity, and calm is often not true peace. And this picture in the Grove communicates this beautifully! If only we as Christians could remember this, and truly internalize this! Man (myself included) is so prone to look on the outside to judge something, or to assess something based on circumstances. Something is "beautiful," so it must be good. Right?

But yet, we must remember that Satan often appears as an angel of light, and wolves love to appear in sheep's clothing. Satan's schemes are subtle, and he rarely labels impurities with a blinking neon sign that says "SIN." He's much more clever than that! Think of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He coaxed Eve, he sweet-talked her, he lured her. And she took the bait!

Now, I hope it is obvious that I'm not saying beauty is therefore to be mistrusted. A cursory glance at my previous post on the Grove should banish any such inklings! My point is only this: all that glitters is not gold. Outward "beauty" does not mean inner, true beauty. So how do we discover what is true gold? Through the usual means of grace: prayer, reading and hearing the Word, the sacraments, and Christian fellowship.

Philippians, chapter 4, certainly gives a good set of guidelines for discerning gold from pyrite:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wow

I always wanted to be Time's Person of the Year. Who would have thought that would ever happen? Is anyone jealous?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

On Tinted Spectacles

These musings are brought to you by a "random" reference to rose-colored spectacles that I heard on the radio while driving earlier today :).

Perhaps you have, like me, heard the old addage about people hopelessly in love seeing things through "rose-colored glasses," or something along those lines. I've heard this refer to two different things: (1) an optimistic view of the world in general or (2) an optimistic view of their lover in particular. People in love tend to see each other in a rather optimistic, often unrealistic light, you might say. Love covers over a multitude of flaws ;-). Being a recovering hardcore cynic, I've been known in the past to roll my eyes at people who definitely seem to support the idea that "love is blind."

But one thing I've been pondering over the past several months is that there is a nugget of the Gospel in the silly blindness of lovers. Remember, human romance is merely a small picture of the Greatest Romance of all time: the romance between Christ and His church. If there ever was a lover who overlooked His bride's faults, it was Christ. He promised to remember our sins no more. Christ typifies "love is blind." He perfects it. He shows fallen humans what it truly means to love unconditionally and what it means to look upon His bride with great joy, overlooking her faults.

But, of course we must keep in mind that Christ does not merely cover His ears and hum in a vain attempt to "think positively" about His bride. He forgives and forgets our faults because He died to cover them. Ignoring our faults would not have been a sweet sentimental thought on His part; Christ went beyond sentimentalism and provided a way for us to be delivered from our faults. That is true love!

So how does this apply in human relationships? Well, first of all, we are commanded to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Just as Christ showed His love for the church by purifying Her, so we are to show love to our fellow Christians by exhorting them. And husbands are to be a type of Christ to their families (I don't envy you, men!). But also, as men and women, we look at each other through colored glasses - grace-tinted spectacles. The love that provided a way to forgive our sins is the same love that provided a way to forgive the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We mess up big time (understatement of the year!), and Christ forgives us. So when our fellow Christians sin against us, the Gospel of Grace allows us to forgive them and remember their sins no more. Wow.

So in a sense, Christians are commanded to be silly lovers, and look at their fellow Christians through colored glasses - grace-tinted spectacles. How do we do that? By grace. The grace of God that forgave us is the same grace that allows us to forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Checking In. . .

I know I've been absent from Blogger too long when Ashley tells me that she's stopped checking my blog!

Shortly before Thanksgiving I forewarned everyone that I would be rather sporadic on Blogger through the end of December. Well, it's proving true! I've barely kept up with reading blog posts for over a week :-P. I'm still here, though, and hopefully I'll be able to post something more interesting soon, but nothing earth-shattering at the moment ;-). Since just before Thanksgiving my family has already hosted five sets of out-of-town company, and we have two more coming into town over the next week. And I've been out-of-state twice as well! And we're heading up to Indy next week. Thus go my excuses :).

I really do love Thanksgiving and Christmas, though, because I have an increased opportunity of visiting with usually-far-away friends and family :). During high school, several of my friends moved away (should I get a complex?), but we still keep in touch when possible, and the holidays are the best time to do that.

Next Wednesday (the 20th) is my last day of teaching for the semester, and I'll be done with tutoring the day before :). Happy, happy! I'll definitely enjoy a break, though I enjoy both teaching and tutoring for the most part. I wrote my final tests this morning, and I am pretty much done with out-of-class prep until grading-mania next Thursday :). Also, Boy is flying into Atlanta tomorrow, and staying for about 2 weeks :). Yay!

One more note of interest, make sure to check out Anna's second installment to Beginning Sewing.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Boy!

That's right. Brother Dear's birthday is today! This makes him 2 dozen years old :).

Twenty-four is a neat age for him, because it is 4 times his birth date (the 6th), it is 4 factorial (4x3x2x1), and also his birthdate times 24 equals the greatest integer of all time: 144! Yep, 6 x 24 = 144. And the fact that 6 is a perfect number makes it even more fun. Oh, oh, and the two digits of 24 (2 and 4) add up to his birthdate: 6. This is too fun. Oh, and I just thought of another one. His birthdate is 12/6 (December 6th), and both 12 and 6 are factors of 24. Hehe.

Brother Dear and I are only 16 months apart (minus one day), and consequently were sometimes mistaken for (obviously fraternal, I hope!) twins when we were young. We still have some similar features, most notably our ghostly pale complexions. . . And that hair color that seems to run in the family :). But really, I love Ben very, very much. He moved on Georgia Tech's campus when he was 17, so we haven't seen as much of him since :(, and now he lives in Seattle of all places!!! But we get to see him next week for two whole weeks! So that's happy.

Probably one of the things I most admire about Ben is his (sometimes painful) ability to speak plainly to me. He doesn't do it often, but usually when he does I remember it and take it to heart, even if I don't acknowledge it at the time. I specifically remember one instance in 4th grade that Boy has probably long-forgotten. I was, um, how shall I put this? . . *extremely* prideful as a child, though often well-hidden to most people. Brother Dear and I had Sunday School together when we were in 5th and 4th grades, respectively, and we had weekly memory verses and catechism questions. We were some of the few in the class who actually did our memory work every week, and I was rather proud of it, whereas Ben shyed away from mentioning his accomplishments. One time when I was proudly rattling off catechism questions or something of that sort (for no reason, at home, I believe), Ben just calmly looked at me and asked me why I did that so often, and then told me that it came across as boastful. I gave him this weird look and acted like he was imagining things, but believe me, it stuck with me! And I was definitely more conscious of my pride thereafter, though I continued to struggle with it!

Moral of the story: Honest brothers are wonderful, and people may heed your advice even when they don't appear to care :).

Happy Birthday, Ben!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Funny Lark News Article

I thought this was funny :).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Voices Around the Blogosphere!

This is so much fun! Thanks to Lydia for starting the idea, and the Girottis for inspiring her :).

Lydia posted her voice today, as did Jessie, and John directed us to a sermon he gave (though you have to get through the scripture reading by other people to hear him). And of course I posted my voice as well. Anyway else care to join in?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

That's not me!!!

I finally figured out how to post a sound recording, after a bit of internet searching :). It doesn't sound like me! It's always weird to hear my voice, but Mother Dear claims it sounds like me, so I'll take her word for it :). Now I expect all my blogging friends to reciprocate and post clips on their blogs. (That's my attempt at a guilt trip.) Anyway, here I am.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Youth and Ignorance

I'm quite willing to post a sound clip of my voice, as requested, if someone can tell me how to do it, since I have no clue :).

I haven't had much time to draft in-depth blog posts recently, so I'm pulling something from my drafts :). I wrote this back in August, I believe. Yes, I've decided that I overanalyze stories. Hehe.

~~~

I recently saw a play version of Peter Pan. I always liked the story of Peter Pan growing up, both the book and the Disney-fied movie as well, and I still do like it. But this time when I saw the play version (in the tradition of Mary Martin), though I enjoyed it, I also saw it through different eyes. As the lost boys were chanting I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, . . not me!, the cuteness of the song was lost to me. All I could think of right then was verse after verse from the Proverbs about wisdom and old age. Gray hair is a crown of splendor, is it not? Wisdom is found among the aged. And we are commanded to search for wisdom!

I previously mused a bit on the faulty idolization of youth in my post on L.M. Montgomery's The Golden Road. It strikes me as sad that our culture seems to perpetuate childhood as long as possible. Youth has become our idol. I am not talking about making a 7-year-old take on a full time job; I am talking about expecting adult behavior from people before they graduate college! We have 30 year olds who shy away from marriage because they are not ready for "commitment," and because they do not want to be "tied down" by a wife or family. We expect teenagers to act immature, irresponsible, and self-centered, so no wonder they do. Our culture is obsessed with the youthful image. We go to great lengths to look younger and feel younger. We hide our true age. We have mid-life crises when we realize that we're getting old.

But age is a good thing - a crown of splendor! We should look forward to old age and the wisdom we will gain along the way. I'm certainly glad I won't be 22 forever; I wouldn't want to be that immature for my whole life! On a recent trip to the mall I noticed a clothing store called "Forever Twenty-One." I jokingly turned to Mother Dear and lamented the fact that I was no longer that idealistic age. Now that I'm 22, life is just not worth living. *feigned sigh*

I've heard many, many people who think that we're supposed to be childlike, living as innocently as children (that alone is a problematic statement!), that we should learn to be as simple as children, as carefree as children, as trusting as children. Et cetera. Jesus does tell us to have the faith of a little child, but He is not intending for us to live in our teens or childhood perpetually. We are not to eschew knowledge and wisdom in order to keep our "childlike faith."

Jesus is speaking about having a complete trust in Someone who is bigger than us, dependence on Him, and coming to Him even when we cannot fully comprehend His ways. That is the faith of a little child. He is not speaking of being content in our ignorance for life, but taking His word on faith, when we cannot yet completely understand! We come to Him helpless, but then we learn to grow in grace and knowledge, not permanently stunted in growth, stuck in perpetual youth. Youthful ignorance is not a blessing.

Peter Pan leaves us with a mixed lesson, a realization that adulthood is inevitable, but a wish to remain a child forever. I'm not sure how that strikes me. Surely one can grow in wisdom and age without losing all sense of fun and adventure! Who said children have all the fun? And one can also grow in intellect and not "out-grow" his faith; in fact, only the truly wise can embrace the gospel by faith, for the fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God."
When a man has a little bit of knowledge, he turns to atheism. When he learns more, he turns back to God. - Dr. Charles Thaxton

Were I given the choice to becoming my 10-year-old self again, or were I given the option of entering an actual Never-Neverland and remain as I am forever, I would run far away. I look forward to being old, and I pray that with age God guides me in growing in grace and wisdom as well. . . And that wisdom will be worth wrinkles and gray hair!

Death is not an original part of the creation (Romans 5:12, e.g.), and I would extend that concept to submit that neither was physical aging, at least the detrimental kind. Certainly there are disadvantages to wrinkles, gray hair, and creaking joints. My four grandparents, all 79+ and wracked with various ailments, can attest to that. I can't help but wonder: if The Fall had never happened, would the aging of mankind have been like that of the elves of Middle Earth? The elves were immortal and grew wiser and more beautiful with age. Perhaps Tolkien meant to give us a small glimpse into an existence without The Fall. Certainly humans do not grow more beautiful with age, at least not outwardly so! But scripture tells us that we should grow more wise with age, which doesn't jive with a fixation on youth.

Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Job 32:7 Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

I Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts

I'm resurfacing for a moment to link to Jessie's recent post, which I thought was fun. The title is just too cute :).

Friday, November 24, 2006

I Can't Do It Myself

I really appreciated Crystal's recent post I Can't Do It Myself. I'm prone to trying to do things in my own strength, rather than resting in the all-sufficient arms of my Saviour, so I definitely identified with what she shared! Here I am unmarried with a not-quite-full-time job(s), and yet sometimes I just feel like I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I continually add things to my "to-read", "to-blog", and "to-do" list, and determine that, in my own strength, I can accomplish them. And they often don't get accomplished! When I rely on me and not on God, then I've missed the very purpose for which I was called as one of God's children: to proclaim the excellencies of He who has called me out of darkness into the light. And I certainly can't do that in my own strength!

Here are a few excerpts from Crystal's post:

It finally dawned on me: This is the new normal. Time will never be your own again, your house will always looked very lived in, some days you won't get a shower, your best plans might be completely overturned in a matter of minutes by a messy diaper or fussy baby. You are no longer in control and you can't do it on your own. You can either relinquish your self-reliance and start trusting in the Lord, or you can spend the rest of your life lamenting what once was and no longer is.

In my own strength, I'd be pulling my hair out, I'd be completely overwhelmed, and totally stressed, but I've learned that God's strength is so much better. By His grace, I can look beyond these temporal things and know He is in control, He is Sovereign, and He will give me everything I need to endure what He has called me to endure. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I can't do this, but "I can do all things through Christ." And I'm thankful my stubborn confident self has finally realized this.

Make sure to read her whole post!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - Sister Dear

This will be quite short, but I didn't want to miss my Thursdays of Thankfulness on Thanksgiving of all weeks! I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to keep leaving your guesses about my voice (see previous post).

Last week Hannah bemoaned that I hadn't yet waxed thankfully on my Dear Family, so I thought I'd play right into her and be thankful this week for. . . . her :). Other family members will have to wait to be mentioned.

I'm very, very thankful to God for giving me my Dear Sister Hannah, and it's been an incredible amount of fun growing up with her over the years :). We're 25 months apart, and we were simultaneously best friends and worst enemies growing up. I'm thankful that Hannah still loved me even after sharing a room with me for 12 years *knowing grin*. I'm thankful that God allowed us to attend college while living at home, so we can still enjoy each other's comradery :). And I'm thankful that God created sisters (and brothers) as built-in playmates. Family is truly a wonderful blessing, and sisters are no exception :-D.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just Because I'm Also Curious. . .

(Alternate Title: Do I Sound Like Minnie Mouse?)

Lydia posted a fun question on her blog today. She is curious to know what her blog readers imagine her voice sounds like. I gave a rather boring answer:

I haven't really thought of what your voice is like. Everyone I know through blogging sounds like me in my mind :). Not because I think they actually sound like me, but because I'm hearing my voice as I mentally read their words.

Okay, then I did give her a more exciting answer, but the above really is true! You all sound like "me" in my mind, even those of you with Australian accents ;-). And as for the guys, it's not that I really think you sound like me (that would be weird!), but I think just about any male voice would still surprise me, because it's not my voice. But you girls all sound like "me" in my head :).

But, all this talk on Lydia's blog has made me wonder what my blog readers think I sound like. Zan suggested Audrey Hepburn, but I'm not sure if she is serious ;-). While I wouldn't mind sounding like Audrey Hepburn, I definitely don't think my voice is that nice. Hehe. Anyone else like to share their own guesses? Low, high. Soft, loud. What about an accent? Do I have a Southern drawl? A nasally Northern accent? As Lydia said, the zanier the guess, the better :).

I'll be missing-in-action for the next several days, as we make a trip to Chattanooga and then come home in time for a few quick rounds of guests on Friday and Saturday, so feel free to leave your guesses while I'm absent :). I may post a sound clip next week, as Lydia said she may do.

And if you already know me in person, you can't guess!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Importance of Beauty for Protestants

Adrian has written an excellent post on The Importance of Beauty for Protestants. Here are a few excerpts:

Part of why Presbyterians are becoming Catholics is because the Presbyterians have abandoned beauty in their worship service. The Catholics, while perpetuating the abomination of the Mass (and thus re-sacrificing Christ in contradiction to Hebrews), have a stunning worship service. It is lovely. And we human beings are made to respond to beauty like that. When it's missing, we think something's wrong, and rightly so.

Beauty is important because God is beautiful, the Ultimate Embodiment of Beauty. God wants us to experience that beauty. God lures, rather than coerces, us to Himself. He shows us the incomparable riches of Christ, and desires that we should desire those riches.

Make sure to read the whole post!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - Take III

I'm enjoying this weekly opportunity to reflect on God's blessings. Thank you, Lydia, for creating and hosting this Thankful on Thursday series!

This week I have a list of miscellaneous items for thanks:

1. I'm thankful that I now have a bit of a break from teaching and tutoring, with Thanksgiving :). This means I get a little time to maybe catch up on alterations and to see out-of-town friends.

2. Speaking of out-of-town friends, I'm thankful to God that I live in an era of easy travel. Several of my close friends live out of state, so I'm thankful for the means and opportunity to visit them (and have them visit me). Modern transportation really is a wonderful gift!

3. I'm thankful for little babies to hold! My church is overflowing with babies right now, and I'm so thankful for the sweet mothers who let me hold their little ones. There are few things I enjoy more than cuddling a baby :). And anytime I want the chance to babysit, I have ready opportunity.

4. I'm thankful for seasons. God could have made a world with no seasons, but instead he created four distinct and beautiful seasons to enjoy. And because each one only comes around once a year, we can appreciate its beauty more! Right now I'm thankful for the beautiful autumn leaves.

What are you thankful for? Write a post, and let Lydia know!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

*trying to come up with a clever title*

My next tutoring student is late, so I thought I'd snatch a minute on Blogger :). Consider this a random set of ramblings :).

I'm in the midst of trying to get some sewing projects completed. Nothing particularly interesting, mainly just blouse alterations. I've found it easiest and most cost-effective to purchase second-hand blouses in good condition and then alter them to fit. I alter clothing more than I sew new clothing, usually :). I was at JoAnn recently and found some pretty dark blue micro-suede-type fabric on sale for $2.99/yard (regular $6.99), so I bought enough to make a nice, ankle-length winter skirt, which I hope to complete in the next few weeks. I'm hoping to make it with a 6-gore pattern if I have enough yardage. Maybe I'll post pictures when/if it gets completed :).

The women's Bible study for my church wrapped up the fall session today. We studied Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Definitely an interesting study! Being the only single woman in a study on SoS is, um, interesting ;-). Hehe. I'm thankful for the chance to delve into some of the Old Testament poetry, which I had previously neglected, except for cursory reads. And I'm convinced that Shakespeare read Song of Solomon as inspiration for his sonnets :).

Hannah and I spent a few hours at the park this afternoon. Bee-yoo-ti-ful! It's been unseasonably warm the last few days, and I'm trying to soak it in before winter sets in. This fall has been absolutely breathtaking! We have so many hardwoods in our neighborhood that have turned all beautiful colors to enjoy. We never did make it up to northern Georgia this year, to do some leaf-gazing, but that's quite all right. There was plenty to look at in Metro Atlanta :).

In advance, please excuse my inattention to Blogger in the next 6 weeks or so. I will be around, but I plan on having more limited time in weeks to come. We're planning several out-of-town visits through December, as well as hosting out-of-town guests a few times. I love December, because I usually get to see so many far-away friends that I don't get to see very often :). Our flurry of visits begins this weekend as I travel to Alabama to visit my good friend Emily. I'm excited at the prospect!

Hmm. It's now 4:25. I think my student is not coming. *scratches head in confusion* Oh well, that means I get to do the dishes now, before my next student comes at 5:00! Ta-ta.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

No Excellencies for the Daughters of Abraham?

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm currently reading through Ben-Hur. So far, the chapter that has left the greatest impression on me was the one in which Judah visits a Greek grove called the Grove of Daphne. Judah, like most of the visitors to the city, chooses to visit the grove and mix with the idolatry surrounding it, although he is still a Jew by conviction. He is particularly struck by the grove's beauty and serenity, and he ponders the charm that draws thousands of people to the grove each year, giving themselves in service to the grove and its mysterious charm:

If the Grove were so good for them, why should it not be good for him? He was a Jew; could it be that the excellencies were for all the world but children of Abraham?

Those two sentences struck me quite forceably as I was reading through the chapter, and I think these words have some applications in the area of modesty and beauty. I've had a few requests from commenters in recent months, asking me to do a post on female apparel. I'm finally honoring that request, though, in typical Susan-fashion, I'm taking a slightly different look at the issue than is probably expected :).

In my opinion, there are many, many excellent treatise in the blogosphere on the subject of Christian, female modesty. I see no reason to add my superfluous general comments to the mix, but I will say that women have the responsibility to build up their brothers in Christ, not tear them down by walking around in various stages of undress. For my musings on complementary dress, see my post last fall. But when female apparel is analyzed and wittled down to a list of "do's and don't's," then we've lost the real issue. It shouldn't be a matter of measuring our hemlines or making hard-and-fast rules such as "skirts are the only legitimate apparel for women." The real issue is the heart. How does this manifest itself? In different ways for different women. How was that for ambiguous :)?

But now for the purpose of this post. Oftentimes Christian women look around them, see the flashy, attractive fashions that the world has to offer, glance back at what many in the Christian community have deemed "acceptable" clothing, and they ponder, like Judah Ben-Hur, are excellencies for all the world but Abraham's daughters? We Christian women are presented with a false dichotomy: attractive, seductive clothing or frumpy, modest clothing. It seems we have to choose between beauty or conviction.

Or do we?

Believe me, as a former homeschooled girl who fit many of the stereotypes ;), I've tried about every form of modest apparel out there: long baggy shorts, culottes, super-loose t-shirts, relaxed-fit jeans, sweatshirts, layered shirts for opaqueness, long billowy skirts, jean jumpers. You name it, I've probably tried it. Except the flour sack look; I never did do that :).

I've discovered along the way that one does not have to be frumpy to be modest. When it comes to female dress, most conservative Christians stress modesty so much (a good thing, mind you!) that they overlook the lovely references to female beauty throughout the Bible. God delights in beauty! Loveliness is included among purity and truth in Philippians 4. Look at the beautiful details given to the Old Testament temple, and look at the inspiring descriptions of Old Testament women as they are adorned for their husbands. Dressing in a shapeless piece of sack clothing may keep my brothers in Christ from lusting after me, but at the same time I would be missing out on the opportunity to show others that excellencies are not for all the world but Abraham's children. Take a few amusing anecdotes:

During one of my phases (believe me, I've had many!) in apparel, I mostly wore shapeless denim skirts everyday, topped with a loose t-shirt. These skirts were primarily of either the straight (one-legged trouser) variety, or the extremely loose and baggy variety, and the shirts were not exactly gracefully-feminine, though they were modest! That was also the semester I wore my hair in a bun to classes for the first two months straight. Quite frankly, I looked like I was part of a cult. And I was asked that, in so many words, by one of my classmates :). I didn't exactly make a great advertisement for the delights of feminine modesty and decorum that semester!

Or, take another example. I wear headcoverings in worship on Sundays. When I first had this conviction, I had one suitable straw hat to wear, which served me well in the spring and summer, nicely accessorized by coordinating cotton-print bands. But come winter, and straw hats were not seasonable items :(, so I opted for the cotton-scarf-tied-on-the-head look. Especially if coupled with my granny boots, this was not attractive with most (not all) outfits. I looked like I belonged in The Beverly Hillbillies. Trust me.

I've now opted to shed the shapeless or extra-baggy skirts. And I make sure that I wear scarves for coverings only when carefully paired with complementary outfits. And the differences are amazing. I don't get weird you-belong-in-a-cult looks anymore. My reasonably-sized knit tops or tailored blouses and my long, flowing skirts get looks, yes, but not the same sympathetic looks I got before ;-). I get compliments and looks of respect. Men open doors for me. Women in my church tell me how beautiful my wool hats and coordinating silk scarves are.

Now, please, please don't read this post and think I'm trying to pat myself on the back. Notice I spent 2-3 paragraphs laughing over my frumpy past, and only 1 trying to explain ways I hope I've improved. That balance was intentional. I'm merely trying to explain ways I have sought to change, and my success is not for me to judge. And I'm still learning :).

Beauty is an important tool we are given in the fight against the world. Don't miss it! If we've managed to keep our flesh hidden from the eyes of our brothers, good! But if in the process we've presented a very unattractive picture of godly apparel, then I think we've failed to display God's glory, beauty, and majesty.

Does this mean that as Christian women we should dress in ball gowns on a daily basis? No. Should we never wear denim? No. I still have denim skirts, I still have scarves to tie in my hair, and I still have knit tops (though they are now of an appropriate size. . . ). I still have granny boots, though I continue to find myself preferring slip-on dress shoes. I like to wear semi-nice clothing on a regular basis, but I don't think this is a requirement! It's easy to make dressing nice into a struggle with vanity and pride. Believe me! Perhaps your own application of this post is to wear clothes that are in style, yet still modest. We don't all have to wear the classic feminine style :). Dress in a way that is modest and that shows that you are female. And dress in a way that will not evoke pity, but rather respect. You fill in the details :).

A note of caution: remember that the most important type of beauty comes from within, as the women of the past adorned themselves. As is such with all of God's good gifts, it is easy to take beauty and misuse it, and set it on a pedestal where it should not be. And it is easy to take the world's definition of beauty and apply it to ourselves. Any outward beauty should be a reflection of our inner beauty, as we are becoming more and more like Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My goal in dressing used to be to portray the "homeschool" look, whether that manifest itself in the form of a denim jumper, Ked shoes, long baggy shorts, or a billowy top. Now, though, I try to look in the mirror and ponder if my apparel is giving modesty a good name. Am I portraying conviction as something that makes people dull, boring, and frumpy, or are people learning by my example that excellencies are also for the daughters of Abraham? I pray the latter. Beauty and modesty are not mutually exclusive.

Unveiling the blog of "Une Fille d'Eve". . .

Sister Dear finally decided to register a blog, but don't get overly excited because she plans on posting almost exclusively in Spanish or French :). Typical Hannah-fashion. But it still may prove interesting. By the way, Une Fille d'Eve is French for Daughter of Eve, in case her user name has perplexed others in the past :). Yay for The Chronicles of Narnia!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - God is both Sovereign and Good

Thursday of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful that God is sovereign. I'm thankful that when life is hectic and elections do not turn out as it seems they "should," that God is still on His throne. Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His notice, and not a single official is elected outside of His plan. I'm thankful that God's plans are not thwarted by low voter turnout, uninformed voting, unethical voting, or seemingly good ammendments that fail to pass. God does not sponsor our agenda or the agenda of a political party. God has His own agenda.

But I'm not just thankful that God is sovereign; I'm thankful that God is both sovereign and good. Not only does nothing happen outside His will, but everything happens in the goodness of God. I'm thankful that God isn't just a frowning providence, but a smiling face. And for those that love Him, all works together for good. What a glorious promise!

Thank you, Lord, that you are on your throne.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tips for Beginning Sewers

Anna over at Maidens of Worth is starting a blog series on sewing. She is giving some excellent tips on getting started, so make sure to check it out!

Gospel v. Moralism

I'm enjoying everyone's thoughts here on whether or not the 1940's was "The Greatest Generation" (Tom Brokaw's terminology, not mine), just as bad as our current generation, or even far worse. I think it would be helpful to clarify the difference between an outwardly "good" society, and a society permeated with the Gospel.

My only point in posting the article was to contrast (very briefly) the society of the 1940's with today's society. I find the difference in childhood expectations, parental and child responsibility, respect, and outward morality to be great. The important thing to remember, though, and I should have clarified this when I posted, was that "good works" does not a good man make. It is far easier in many ways for parents to teach their children godly principles if those principles are also generally supported by the society, or at least not flagrantly disregarded. But only Jesus can do helpless sinners good.

The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Let me say that again. The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Moralism is an attempt to make ourselves good enough before God and man. The Gospel tells us we can never make ourselves good enough. We are so utterly corrupt that we need someone else to cleanse us from the inside out. We cannot earn our own righteousness. We need Christ's righteousness. If our goal as Christians is merely to get back to the 1940's, or the 1800's, or whatever our preferred ideal era, then we are far too unambitious. The story of the Bible is one of redemption, not merely from outward evils, but most of all from inward evils. We are our own worst enemies.

So let's enjoy past decades and appreciate the great men and women who have gone before us. But ultimately we must realize that God is sovereign. He placed us in this century for a purpose. It took me years to truly be greatful to be born in this time period, and that gratitude to God only came when I began to appreciate and grasp (in a small way) His sovereignty.

Also, let's remind each other of the great work God is doing in the world here and now. Look at the great progress of the Gospel in Asia and Latin America. We must pray in faith for a revival to sweep our land as well. Christ is reigning, and someday He will reign in all His fulness. Thanks be to God!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Greatest Generation v. Generation Y

Here is an interesting article by Matt Chancey. It is amazing to think of all the upheaval that has occurred in our culture over the past century and just how odd it all must look to the aging generation who remember past times.

Bill Snead came from a generation of Americans that had no idea what a psychiatric disorder” was. There was no Ritalin, no Prozac. Parents didn’t take their children to a psychiatrist when they started playing with fire or hanging from ceiling fans.

As Snead put it, “We applied the ‘board of education’ to the ‘seat of knowledge.’ We didn’t drug our young people. Back then, we called their foolishness ‘sin.’”

When my grandparents recount bits and pieces of their childhood growing up together in small-town Indiana, it seems like a different world, almost - a world where children respected their parents without question, where guns were not feared but respectfully used, and where sin was called just that - "sin." We live in a peculiar and godless society. As Schaeffer would say, we live in a post-Christian society. God help us.

Read the whole article here.

HT: LAF

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thursdays of Thankfulness

Lydia is beginning a weekly series called Thursdays of Thankfulness, over at Renewed Day by Day. Make sure to go read the intro to the series, and I encourage you to participate. Maybe it's too late for you to write a post this week, but start thinking for next week! Thanksgiving in all things is definitely something we can all work on cultivating.

Here is my own submission for this week's Thursdays of Thankfulness:

~~~

Today I'm thankful for the many ways in the past two years that God has answered my prayers in ways I would not have wished. Yes, it sounds strange. But in the past few months I've specifically been reflecting on circumstances in my life over the past few years that definitely did not go according to my plans. Yet in the end I find myself praising God for His infinite wisdom.

Two years ago what I wanted more than just about anything was to drop out of college, find a different church, and marry and have kids. Yet today, I'm thankful that I did finish college in accordance with my parents' wishes, I'm thankful that I have the privilege of worshipping with the same body of believers, and I'm thankful for these past two years of singleness, during which God has grown and stretched me in unbelievable ways.

As I enthusiastically worked through two-column proofs with my students today, and as I saw the light in their eyes when they "got it," I was thankful for the opportunity to pass on my love of math to a new generation of students. Teaching is not what I would like to do with my whole life, but it is my calling now, and I rejoice in it. Yesterday, as I fellowshipped with the women from my church as we studied God's word together, I was thankful to God for these women in my life. And as I sat under the preaching of God's word this Sunday, I praised God for the truths He revealed through my pastor. As I now glance at my still-bare left ring finger, I thank God that I didn't marry right after college graduation, as I had long-hoped. I had so much to still learn! . . and the learning process is far from over. I thank Him for the valleys He has brought me through and the ways He has prepared me over the past few years, preparation I do still pray will be for marriage, but all in His time, according to His will.

I thank God for disappointed hopes and dreams, and then I thank Him for the brilliantly-lit silver lining among the "clouds." Today I'm thankful for the times when God, in His infinite wisdom, has answered me with a "no," when I begged Him for a "yes." Unsearchable is His wisdom, perfect are His plans. Amen and amen.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Reformation Day

Last year I broached the topic of Halloween and Reformation Day, and we had quite a lively discussion on the subject. It was quite fun, in fact :). As most of you know (or can easily guess), I'm not a proponent of celebrating Halloween. But I've also questioned in retrospect if my tone last fall was genuine concern or self-righteousness - perhaps a combination? This year I'm trying a more positive approach to this day, and instead of explaining the reasons I hate Halloween, instead I'll just encourage everyone to take a bit of time today to remember the men who have come before us.

On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his infamous Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, thus sparking a flame of reform that would spread throughout Europe and alter Christendom forever. Our forefathers in the faith overcame unsurmountable odds over the centuries, especially in the time of the Protestant Reformation, to preserve and rediscover (not invent) the Gospel of Grace. We truly owe them a debt of gratitude as we stand on their shoulders. Their example and their writings still inspire us today as we seek to live life here on earth to God's glory.

I could attempt to write a stirring post on the Protestant Reformation, or I could glance at the clock, realize I still have planning to do, followed by tutoring, and then realize that it's not really a responsible option. So instead, I'll direct you to this retelling of Luther's Here I Stand speech. Ligioner has uploaded Max McClean's retelling to their site, in honor of Reformation Day. It's 26 minutes long, but worth every second of it.

HT: Tim Challies

Monday, October 30, 2006

I can *so* relate. . .

Ah, yes, the joys (?) of being the middle child.


Mom was amused at how much I laughed over this comic, but I way empathize with the poor kid (not about the Halloween part ;-D)! She said I'm going to have a huge therapy bill someday, but I can't send it to her ;). Hehe.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Causation (and law and grace)

I've decided that a basic tutorial in causation should be included in any complete theological education. And this isn't just a ploy to work logic and geometry into religion, although certainly those two subjects are void of meaning without theology. But theology also requires causation to be properly understood. Logic requires a God of order behind it, but the study of the God of order also requires logic, specifically causation.

More particularly, I'm thinking of the relationship between law and grace, as outlined in the scriptures. The law has three purposes: (1) through the magistrate, the law works to restrain sin; (2) as a mirror, the law shows us our sin and need of a Savior; (3) finally, the law guides believers in holy living. (If anyone comes up with an "m" term for the third purpose, let me know. . . )

Notice that none of the three purposes is to save us from our sin. The law does not save; rather, it condemns. The second purpose is to drive us to salvation, yes, but it is not our actual salvation. It is to show us that we can't save ourselves through works. The message of the law and all of scripture is that man cannot save himself through his works.

But then, I would also submit that faith, without works (of the law), is dead. Heretic! one might scream. Legalistic, works-oriented salvationist, Phariseeical - pick your favorite adjective. I could also be accused of abandoning three of the five solas of the reformation, namely that we are saved by grace alone, by Christ's work alone, by faith alone.

But of course, no one is going to actually call me a heretic for saying that faith without works is dead, because I carefully chose an exact quote of scripture, as most (or all) of you probably noticed :-). And yes, I know that a text without a context is a pretext, so really I have shown nothing with one little scripture reference. So take a look at the verse in context. First look at the surrounding verses, then the whole chapter (James 2), then all of the Epistle of James. One can easily see that this little statement "faith without works is dead" is far from an isolated statement. Hmm.

We are graciously saved by faith alone - just to reiterate Sola Gratia and Sola Fide :). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - not by works that any man can boast. But now I'm going to make a statement that is strange. We are saved through works. Yep, that's right. I'm advocating a works-oriented salvation. But, I quickly clarify, those works are not our own. Our salvation is accomplished by Christ's work on the cross, and we are given righteousness based on the perfect life that He lived on earth. So we are saved Solus Christus - by Christ's works alone. I hope that clarifies my standing (and more importantly, scripture's standing) on those three solas :).

But I would still submit that faith without works is dead. The key to understanding how the above three solas mesh with James' statement is to first understand causation.

For example, eating 10 chocolate bars in one sitting will cause a stomache ache. To put symbolically, let E = eating 10 chocolate bars, and S = stomache ache. Simply, E ==> S, or read as "E implies S." In other words, if someone eats 10 chocolate bars in one sitting, they will necessarily get a stomachache.

Let's say Mary ate 10 chocolate bars in one sitting. Well, then we can conclude that she got a stomache ache. This is called Modus Ponens, and is the most basic of logical arguments.

E ==> S
E.
Therefore S.

But let's say that George has a stomache ache. Do we know for certain that he ate 10 chocolate bars in one sitting? No, certainly not. He may have eaten 10 ice cream bars in one sitting, or perhaps he is just feeling ill for no dietary reason. The arrow in the symbolic statement E ==> S shows us that E implies S, and not necessarily vice-versa.

But what if Susie does not have a stomach ache? Can we make any conclusions. Well, yes, actually. If Susie had eaten 10 chocolate bars in one sitting, she would have had a stomache ache, so the fact that she does not have a stomache ache shows that she did not just eat 10 chocolate bars in one sitting. This is known as Modus Tollens.

E ==> S
Not S.
Therefore, not E.

How does this relate to theology, law and grace, and faith and works? Well, look at the following causal relationship:

faith ==> works

True faith results in good works, as is outlined in scripture. See James 1:27 or I John 2:3 or all of Romans 6, for just a few examples. When our salvation is accomplished in Christ, we die to sin and are made alive in Christ. We become slaves of righteousness. Our faith, if it is true faith, will produce good works.

Now, let's look at a Modus Tollens rendering of the above causal relationship:

faith ==> works
No works.
Therefore, no faith.

Aha! Notice the above does not say that works causes faith or works causes salvation. Rather, it says that faith (by which we are saved) produces works, and since works are absent, so is faith.

Therefore, law and grace are intertwined in that the Gospel of Grace, when rightly received, transforms our wills as we want to do works of the law. The works do not save us, but are a consequence of our salvation. Therefore, it now makes sense to say that faith without works is dead, for true faith does not exist without works.

A quote by Luther (who, of all people, certainly wrestled with this issue!) seems appropriate here: We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.

A certain cure for insomnia would be to read my past writings on law, grace, and works:

Under Grace
Under Grace, Part II
Under Grace, Part III
Reflections on Sanctification
The Balance Beam
A Good Quote on the Law
The Middle Way, Age Segregation, and A Bit of Irony
Dirty Hands
The Gospel of Grace

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Exciting News!

I'm so happy for Crystal (and Jesse and Kathrynne)! It took me about three times reading her (very short) post, but then it finally sunk in. I'm slow ;). Anyway, go read the exciting news!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

In Shock

You know that feeling when you find out that one of your heroes really has feet of clay, or you find out that Santa Claus does not exist (not that I'd know about that feeling. . . ), or you realize that the grass really isn't greener "over there"? Or how about the realization that Anne Shirley is a fictional character and never did live and breathe?

I'm having one of those feelings right now.

I just found out that Judah Ben-Hur wasn't really number forty-one. He was number sixty.

*dejected look*

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Forgiveness

I really appreciated this post on forgiveness that Ashley wrote over at Onward and Upward. Here are two good snippets:

The biggest thing of all: anything that Tina had done to me, had been done to
Christ. And Christ not only forgave but He paid the price for those sins. How
could I not do the simple act of turning around and forgiving her? It wasn't
easy, I don't think - is it ever? But a necessary step.


What I always love is how God brought things full circle. He took the girl who
used to torment me, and seven years later He used her to draw me closer to
Him.To me, that is the beauty of forgiveness.

Make sure to read the whole post!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Still Here

So, I was scrolling back through my recent posts, and I realize that I haven't posted anything of substance for 18 days. Yai! I've copied and pasted a few things, but that's about it. I am just having a hard time finding time to write a significant post. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a treadmill, if you know what I mean. This weekend was supposed to provide some time to catch my breath. Ha!

Then I think about mothers of small children, and I decide that my schedule is easy in comparison :).

Maybe I'll get something of substance posted in the next few days, maybe not. For now, though, I'm going to go get a few more things knocked off my to-do list before my next tutoring student. Ta-ta!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Recent Comments

Yay! I think I just installed a "recent comment" hack successfully. You can now scroll down my sidebar and see the 10 most recent comments posted to my blog. If you want this nice feature, go here and follow the directions exactly.

HT: Lane

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Strange

In lieu of posting anything of real substance, due to time shortage, I give you a rather strange anecdote. At UGA (my alma mater and Hannah's current school) the religion department is rather small, and there are not a whole lot of religion classes for the graduate students to take. Hannah is in an undergraduate religion class (a whole other interesting post. . . ) for an elective, and her graduate student instructor was telling the class that graduate religion students have essentially infinite flexibility of options when choosing a concentration for their religion major, due to the shortage of grad classes offered. Here are two rather bizarre emphases:

One grad student has chosen a religion major with an emphasis on religious rites of passage that involve tatooing.

Another grad student has chosen a religion major with a focus on television depictions of religious rituals that involve the smashing of pumpkins.

Yep, and they're actually getting letters after their names for that! Ah, the great bastion that is our public higher education system. . .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Creation Museum - Donations Needed

I know many of my blog readers are familiar with Answers in Genesis, a ministry that focuses on origin apologetics from a young earth, 6-day creationist view. Many of you also probably know that for a few years now AIG has been building a Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, scheduled to open this coming spring. They have purposed to build this project debt free, only building as funds are donated, and some of the museum has been built with gifts-in-kind (donated displays, labor, supplies, etc.).

With a target opening date near in sight, they are down to the wire on the final stages of building, but they are in need of funds to complete the project. Ken Ham has posted a 2-minute message on AIG's site, asking for financial and prayer support in these final months of construction. I encourage you to visit Answers in Genesis and click on his message under "news" on the left sidebar. My family is certainly looking forward to visiting the museum when it opens, hopefully next year!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Laughing At Our Differences. . .

. . . or distinctions as any good Presbyterian would call them ;).

I've had this post drafted for a few months, but I kept forgetting to post it.

I love light-hearted jabs that are directed either towards my own type or others. I'm also fond of a good, civil debate, mind you, but sometimes I like to kick back and just laugh at differences, rather than debate them :). A while back I did a few internet searches for denominational humor and was thoroughly amused. I'm cutting and pasting and revising and adding to the "best of" for all to enjoy, and listing various websites as references at the end. Please keep in mind that these are intended as humor, not as an attack, and I'm laughing at my own kind as I'm laughing at yours :).

You might be a Presbyterian if. . .

1. When the spirit comes upon you in power, you don't raise your hands and shout Hallelujuah, rather you scratch your chin, turn to your neighbor and whisper "hmmm, . . . that was a good point."
2. You think fencing has something to do with the Lord's Supper instead of swords.
3. When someone asks you a question about the Bible, you answer, "Well, the confession says . . . " or "the catechism says . . . "
4. They aren't "catholics," or even "Roman Catholics." They're "Romanists," or "Papists."
5. You secretly suspect that John Calvin was a liberal because of his compromise on the Sabbath issue.
6. You know the meaning of most or all of the following - PCA, PCUS, PCUSA, PC(USA), PC(U.S.A.), PCUSA(NS), PCUSA(OS), RPCES, RPCNA-GS, RPCNA, RPCGA, RPCUS, EPC, OPC, ARP, NAPARC, CRC, RCA, BPC, BPC-Collingswood, BPC-Columbus, CPC, GA, TE, RE, WCF, WLC, WSC, BCO, UPC, UPCNA, UPCUSA, NPC. . .
7. 4. You first quote the Westminster Confession and then say, "Oh yeah, the Bible says this somewhere, too."
8. A "Reformed Baptist" and a "square circle" are equally as difficult for you to imagine.
9. You think the phrase "chosen frozen" is a compliment.
10. ___________ (bonus for someone who comes up with an original #10)

More generally, you might be Reformed if. . .

1. While officially affirming the "priesthood of all believers," the only people you really trust to interpret Scripture are Calvin and yourself, and you only trust yourself on Thursdays before noon.
2. You secretly believe that you have to believe in election to be saved.
3. You think Puritans are really, really, really, REALLY cool.
4. 7. You know (or think you know) the difference between "calvinist" and "reformed."
5. ____________ (bonus for the creator of an original #5)

You might be a Baptist if. . .

1. When someone asks you what you would be if you weren't a Baptist, you say "I'd be ashamed!!!"
2. You have never sung the third verse to any hymn in the hymnal.
3. You think sword drills have something to do with the Bible and not with fencing.
4. You are very sure that the so-called "wine" in the Bible was unfermented grape juice.
5. You think there are really only two "true" first names in the world - "brother" or "sister."
6. Yours is the oldest and most Biblical denomination of all. After all, it was founded by John the Baptist.
7. You believe that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be potluck.
8. You're never in doubt.
9. You know all Fifty-seven verses of Just As I Am by heart.
10. _______________ (bonus points to the creator of an original #10)

You might be a Dispensationalist if. . .

1. You’ve only been a Christian for one year and your Pastor has preached through the book of Revelation more than two times.
2. You get excited when you see a sentence with a parenthesis.
3. You've ruined more than five records trying to find backward messages.
4. There are more underlined sentences in your copy of “Late Great Planet Earth” than in your Bible.
5. You think the four millennial positions are: Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib and Liberal.
6. You know the location of the European Central Bank.
7. When you’re driving home at night and see a bright light in the sky, you unfasten your seat belt and “get ready.”
8. You call Israel "the Holy Land."
9. When you speak of your future plans, you always clarify "If I haven't been raptured yet."
10. _________________ (bonus points to the creator of an original #10)

You might be an Evangelical if. . .

(note: being "an evangelical" is different than being "evangelical")
1. Your mental image of Jesus includes any of the following: blue eyes, long, flowing, perfectly-conditioned hair, plucked eyebrows, or any piece of clothing with an American flag on it.
2. You think the best place to buy quality artwork for your living room is a Christian “bookstore."
3. Someone says "guitar", and you automatically think "worship."
4. You see a Gold’s Gym t-shirt and then think that a “God’s Gym” t-shirt would be really cool.
5. You think the song “Lean on Me” is worldly when played on secular radio, but worship when played on a Christian station.
6. You say the word “just” more frequently than the word “Jesus” when you pray.
7. When quoting from Calvin, it's accompanied by cartoon slides of a stuffed tiger and a 5-year-old boy.
8. You don't have a problem serving the Sacrament using grape Kool-Aid and poptarts.
9. You don't know any church songs or hymns written before 1982.
10. _________________ (bonus points to the creator of an original #10)

Note: All submissions for bonus must be in good taste. Realize we are describing our brothers and sisters in Christ, so please create any additions with a view of brotherly love :).

Here are the various sites from which I pulled the above. Enjoy and smile :).

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's a Girl!

I'm so excited for Becky, who delivered Katherine Anne Miller into the world yesterday :). And she did it naturally, brave woman. Congratulations to Becky and Matthew, who are now first-time parents! Now, if only someone would post some pictures :).

EDIT: I found a picture of Katherine, via the proud papa's Xanga :). She's a cutie, and she has a lot of hair!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Gospel of Grace

My pastor, Charles Garland, is gifted in preaching the Gospel of Grace like few men I have ever heard. His sermons leave me feeling utterly sinful and convicted, yet completely loved and accepted by God. That's a hard balance to strike, and this past Sunday's sermon was no exception. I'm so blessed to sit under such teaching each week.

Christianity is a pretty decent, attractive religion except the stumbling block that the cross represents. Christianity has community, ethics, morality, service, spiritual connectivity, all good things. . . but the cross introduces a new dimension, that brings discomfort into a nice, tidy religion. It's easy to accept the fact that we need some help from God, but it's very hard (impossible, in fact, without a change of heart) for man to accept that the kind of help he needs doesn't just require God as a cheerleader or a helpful friend; the kind of help man needs requires God to send His own Son to die for him. It's hard to admit that we need help that bad.

The text of the sermon last week was from Mark 14, specifically a look at Peter the night before the crucifixion. Peter was a close associate of Mark, and likely the Gospel of Mark was written largely from Peter's own viewpoint. What is therefore interesting is just how imperfect Peter is depicted in the Gospel of Mark. There is no attempt to brush up the portrait of Peter; instead he is shown for just how fallible, pompous, and self-reliant he truly is. . . until he is broken. With his denial of Christ, Peter's pride and self-reliance is shattered, and he finally truly comprehends his need for grace. Far from making Peter useless, his failure makes him more useful in Christ's kingdom, for when he is weak, Christ is strong.

That is the Gospel, not that we come to God with a resume for our accomplishments that show our usefulness for His kingom, but that we come empty-handed, broken, and dirty, and in need of a Savior. Only then, when we come knowing we have nothing, can God begin to use us for His purposes. That is the Gospel of Grace. That we are utterly sinful (not just sort of sinful), but that God will completely accept all those who turn to Him in faith. Utterly sinful and completely accepted. What a paradox, a stumbling block! - but what a beautiful truth. God's mercy is great. His grace is abundant.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

If you are interested, last week's sermon by my pastor can be found here. Choose "sermons" from the left taskbar, and then choose "Peter and Judas" from October 8th. I especially thought the comparison of Peter and Judas was interesting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Find the Roots

Here is a fun problem. It was in the Pre-Calculus book that the local highschool uses, so my dad teaches from the book and I tutor from it. It was in a calculator-use section that asked for an estimation of roots only, not an algebraic solution, but just for fun, why not solve it algebraically? :-D I admit that Father Dear discovered the key to solving it, though I carried it through and found the ghastly solutions :-P.

Find all roots of the equation x^3 - 3*x^2 + 3*x + 2 = 0.

You must use high school mathematics concepts only. In other words, don't use the cubic formula!!!

It doesn't take a licensed child psychiatrist. . .

This CNN article states the obvious:

What children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime. . . enrichment tools and organized activities can be beneficial but should not be viewed as a requirement for creating successful children. Above all, they must be balanced with plenty of free play time, the report says.

It's sad that it takes a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics to highlight this issue. Of course children need good, old-fashioned playtime! I honestly feel sorry for the over-scheduled kids that are being raised in this day and age :(. Activities, good; plethora of activities, bad.

Jennifer Gervasio has a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter involved in preschool three mornings weekly, plus T-ball and ballet for each one day a week. That's a light schedule compared with her kids' friends, and Gervasio said her son in particular has trouble finding buddies who are free to come over and just play.

"There's just such a huge variety of things you can do for your kids if you have the resources, you almost feel why not," said Gervasio, of Wilmette, Ill. "There is a part of me that would worry if I don't sign my son up for some of these things, will he not be on par with the other kids."

For now, she says, she resists the pressure, instead allowing her kids plenty of time for looking for bugs, romping at the beach and other play activities they love to do. "I truly believe that they're better off when they can just do their own thing," Gervasio said.

Most activities are good in and of themselves: sports develop teamwork and physical fitness, ballet and music lessons develop grace and an appreciation for the fine arts, etc. But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If a child is involved in every possible "good" activity, than all those good things become a bad thing. This generation of children is the most scheduled, yet the most unfulfilled, that our nation has ever seen. And that certainly isn't only true for children.

Our entire society (especially my area!) is caught up in this great ratrace of activity-after-activity, in an attempt to "have it all." We'll find fulfillment if we can only participate in this one more activity, or if we can just master this one more skill. Our children won't have a "normal" (whatever that means) childhood if they aren't involved in 7 activities per week like their friends. We need the right social groups, the church with the best programs, the schools with the best sports teams. We're searching for meaning in all the wrong places, of course.

A fulfilled life isn't a matter of having the right social groups or being involved in the best activities. A fulfilled life is simply finding joy and meaning in God, rejoicing in the toil He has set before us. Echoes of Ecclesiastes, to be sure :). We can rejoice in good, wholesome activities and in the toil God has given us, but the meaning and joy comes from Him, and these pursuits only have lasting worth as much as they are seen in that light and used for His glory.

Make sure to read the whole article :).

HT: Ashley

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tea Pictures

Blogger is now uploading pictures :).

Below we have our lovely table spread and all but one of our party visible. Mrs. Zeglen was kind enough to take this picture, but in the process was omitted from the photo shoot :(. Aren't all the hats lovely? Most came from my collection of thrift store finds, and Mary and Susie also brought a few to add to the selection. From the top going clockwise: Susie, Sarah, Mother Dear, Kathy, Hannah, Mary, Yours Truly.


Here is Mary studying the selection of teas offered. There were oodles of choices! We tried Earl Grey, Chocolate Rose, and French Vanilla, and Strawberry Kiwi (I passed on that one!).


Kathy poses for her Dear Mother. She is wearing an India dress that my aunt gave Hannah ages ago. It's still well-loved :).


Here are Susie and Sarah. Susie is wearing yet another India outfit from my aunt, that continues to serve our dress-up needs. Sarah enjoyed creating a completely black-and-white outfit from my collection of scarves, petticoats, and hats. She brought pearl beads to complete the look.


Sisters (music strikes up), sisters, there were never such devoted sisters, sisters. The problem is, every time I start singing that song, instead of seeing the lovely devoted sisters in their costumes, I visualize Danny Kay and Bing Crosby with feathery fans and hair pieces. Hehe.


Here we are out in front of the tea room, with the sign beside us.

A Dignified Declaration

Our Dear Friends the Zeglens came to visit us this weekend. The pinnacle of our time with them was a visit to a tea room in Atlanta. We'd been talking of visiting a tea room with the Z's for sometime, but we never had gone before, though we've hosted many tea parties with them in our own house :). We made reservations for The Faded Rose Tea Room (what a pretty name!) late Saturday morning.

Friday night I was doing the dishes after the evening meal, and I could hear peals of laughter from the next room, where Hannah, Sarah, Mary, and Susie were gathered 'round the computer, typing something rather secretively. *ahem* I was rather suspicious and therefore not at all surprised when I was later handed an official-looking, sealed letter. Below I have transcribed what was enclosed, as insisted upon by the responsible parties ;).

Our dignified declaration:

We the undersigned hereby declare our resolution to petition the subsequent female being (saying that she be called Susan Elizabeth Garrison) whereby that she, having had no previous pretitious propriety, will therefore array herself in the robe, that which she sported with eloquence in the nuptials held and attended therein erstwhile in the 3rd month of George W. Bush's reign, 2006. We furthermore with much erstwhile deliberation and aforethought to the request that we make and demand with much riquithor. We entreat, nay require with the knowledge of imminent disasters forthwith therein after that fact if no steps are made toward matrimony, that this aforementioned robe will be displayed by the same one aforementioned female being. We require that this all be fulfilled the morn, 7th of the 10th month of 2006, reign of the honorable George W. Bush.

In simpleton terms, you need to wear your
bridesmaid dress to tea tomorrow!!!

Sincerely, cordially, affectionately yours,

With much mirth,

Miss Sarah

Miss Mary
Miss Susie
Miss Hannah

Now, with such a brilliant (? - er, at least creative) entreatee like that, how could I say no? And, as the dress was hemmed for those ghastly heels that complete the outfit, yep, that's right, I wore high-heels again this weekend :-P. The heels put me at six-foot mind you, so I really feel like the queen of Charn walking around in them. . . and the ghostly complexion doesn't help with the Jadis image ;). But a fun time was had by all! Unfortunately, Blogger is not being fun, or I would post pictures.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Death - Curse or Blessing?

In the movie Tuck Everlasting, a family of four drinks from a veritable Fountain of Youth unknowingly, and they find that they have become immune to death and disease. The main plot of Tuck Everlasting takes place decades after the Tucks first drink from the spring, and even the youngest is now over 100 years old, although still perpetually 17. Winnie, a 15-year-old girl confined by her strict Victorian life, runs away from home and stumbles upon the Tucks, who live deep in the woods near her house. As she spends time with the Tucks, she eventually discovers the long-kept secret of their immortality. Not surprisingly, she also desires the immortality they possess, but as the story unfolds she realizes that immortality is more of a curse than a blessing to the Tucks. Particularly memorable is a conversation she has with Angus Tuck, the patriarch of the family:

Look around you, it's life. The flowers, and trees, and frogs, it's all part of the wheel. It's always changing. It's always growing. Like you, Winnie, your life is never the same. You were once a child, now you are about to become a woman. One day you'll grow up. You'll do something important. You'll have children maybe, and then one day you'll go out. Just like the flame of a candle. You'll make way for new life as a certainty. It's the natural way of things. And then, there's us. What we Tucks have, you can't call it living. We just are. We're like rocks stuck at the side of the stream. . . . There's one thing I've learned about people: many people will do anything, anything not to die. And they'll do anything to keep from living their life. Do you want to stay stuck as you are right now, forever?
How does this contrast with the Bible's view of eternal life? Throughout scripture, especially the New Testament, eternal life is seen as a reward. Just one example:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Is Tuck Everlasting, therefore, directly opposing scripture in its view of death and immortality? I don't think so. In fact, I think Tuck Everlasting fits very well with the scriptural view of death and immortality. Let me explain.

When Adam and Eve died spiritually, the creation was also corrupted, as sin, suffering, and physical death entered the world. The whole creation is now groaning under the curse of sin and death. I would submit, though, that spiritual death was the primary curse to Adam and Eve, and that physical death was at least partially an act of mercy by God. Once could consider the Tucks' spring (which flowed from a tree) to be a picture of the tree of life. Just as the cherubim guarded the tree of life that Adam and Eve would not live forever in this sin-cursed world, so the Tucks guarded their spring, that others would not drink of it and meet their fate. The curse of immortality that the Tucks had was not eternal life, but eternal life in a fallen world.

Think about it. Adam and Eve had lived in a perfect world without sin or suffering, so living there forever, in close communion with God, would have been a literal paradise. Once they were corrupted by sin and subject to suffering, though, the notion of a physical death and an end to physical suffering was a blessing in disguise. They did not have to live in a state of suffering and sinfulness forever! Since they had been promised a seed (Jesus Christ!) that would crush the serpent's head, they had the sure hope of deliverance after death.

So is death a curse or a blessing? I would say a little of both. The spiritual death that each human is conceived with is a curse. The corruption of the creation is a curse, a punishment for sin. Is physical death a curse? It depends on your standing before God.

Are you justified in the Lord's sight and clothed with Christ's righteousness? Then for you, death is a blessing. When you die you will leave this sinful world and more importantly your sinful nature, and you will be made perfect and placed in Christ's presence. For you, you will taste pleasures forevermore, as you sit at Christ's right hand. Precious in the Lord's sight is the death of His saints.

But perhaps you are not clothed with Christ's righteousness. Perhaps you are trusting in your own good works to earn a place in heaven, or perhaps you think heaven and hell are fairytales. If you have not placed your trust in Christ for eternal life, then I must tell you that for you, death is a curse. As painful as life is here on earth, no circumstance can compare with the agony of eternal judgment. Heaven and hell are both very real, and no one but the righteous can stand before the presence of God. All others are eternally separated from Him, to eternal punishment.

But there is hope. God is a just God and must punish the sins of the unrighteous, but He is also a merciful God. He sent His only Son to die for all those who would believe on Him for eternal life. Jesus took upon Himself the guilt and punishment of the wicked, and bore the wrath of God. Do you see your need of a Savior? Do you recognize that you are utterly corrupt and unable to cleanse yourself of your sins? Do you rest on Christ's work on the cross as sufficient to cover even the worst of your sins?

Turn to Christ, and He will clothe you in His righteousness. The curse of death can instead become a blessing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shadows of the Past. . .

. . . A nameless fear.

Sorry. *snaps out of Lord of the Rings mood* :)

You know, I was rereading some of my archives from last fall, in conjunction with a post I was drafting, and two things stood out to me: (1) how insanely long most of my posts were, and (2) how downright bitterly-sarcastic and holier-than-thou I sounded at times. *cringe* I'm not planning on deleting any of my past posts, but I would definitely say that some of my posts from last fall were not written in love.

So, I would like to make a disclaimer that I do not ringingly endorse my tone in all of my past blog entries. In general I still agree with the content, though there are likely a few exceptions. My prayer is that my posts in the last several months (since God slapped me awake) have had a spirit of humility and broken-heartedness, quite different from some of my posts last fall. I am but a broken Pharisee, not someone who "has it all together." I am a broken vessel that the Lord chooses to use, and it is through my brokenness that God's grace so often shines.

My blog anniversary is bringing to mind many of my old posts - the good, the bad, the ugly. I think I subconsciously started this blog with the intention of broadcasting my correct, conservative opinions to the world, in the hopes of finding cookie-cutter replicas of myself (since the general rabble weren't good enough for me) and in the hopes of setting other people straight on just how wrong they are.

Many of my past posts give hints of that, though I hid it pretty well, even from myself. I was in self-denial that I had legalist tendencies, especially since these tendencies were literally years in the making. My motives were to forward my own good reputation, not primarily to glorify God. And I had even tricked myself. Legalism is one of the most blinding of sins.

If I could summarize these past 9 months, it would undoubtedly be "the grace of God." I have walked through so much this past year, as God has answered my prayers in ways I would not have guessed, yet ways I would not trade for anything. He had to break me to mold me. He had to shame me to begin to exalt me. He had to reprimand me to love me. And He had to sacrifice His own son to forgive my own sinful pride.

That is love.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Anniversaries

Today marks two anniversaries:

I. Two years ago today my family left my childhood home of 16+ years and moved 40 minutes farther north, from Snellville to Buford. It's interesting, but as I've mentioned earlier, I never had much trouble thinking of our new house as "home," and even memorizing our new phone number (which conveniently has some sort of a mathematical pattern :-D) and address wasn't an issue. But today, while at a local store purchasing shoes *groan*, I reverted back to my old address when asked for my zip code. Ironic, since today was the two year anniversary of our move.

II. One year ago today I posted my first blog entry. Since then I've posted 216 entries (including this one), which is neat since 216 is 6^3, and 6 is the first perfect number. Also 216 is the product of 8 and 27, and 8 and 27 are the first two (nontrivial) perfect cubes. And no I didn't plan that :-D. But in all serious, I'm thankful for this past year of blogging, the many friends the Lord has sent my way, and the many, many lessons He has taught me. I don't know just how long this season of blogging will continue, but I'm enjoying it while it is upon me :). Thank you to all my blogging friends for being such an encouragement and challenge to me this past year!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Our Dearest Idol

Here is a pithy quote from Charles Bridges' commentary on Ecclesiastes 4:4 :

God's work must be done. But we must be the doers of it. The thought is intolerable, that another and more honourable than ourselves should have the praise. We must throw something into the balance to depreciate his fair name, and to preserve the glory of our dearest idol - self. "How contrary a state" - as Bp. Taylor beautifully observes - "to the felicities and actions of heaven, where every star increases the light of the other, and the multitude of guests at the supper of the Lamb make the eternal meal more festival!" . . . The true power of the Gospel can alone root out this hateful principle. If there be a living union with Christ, will not his honour be our joy, by whomsoever it be advanced?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Submission and Headship

Adrian is braving the topics of submission and headship this week. What a courageous guy ;-). He posted on submission yesterday and is planning to post on headship tomorrow. Since I am not going to find time to post anything else of substance myself this week, go read Adrian's posts instead.

I'm leaving out of town just after babysitting tomorrow morning, getting back late Saturday night, and we just had guests leave who were here since Sunday. Thus goes my excuses for being so fleeting this week. Maybe I'll find a bit more time for my blogging friends next week, since I'll be on fall break from teaching (though still tutoring and babysitting). Ta ta for now! I'm off to grade papers, answer e-mails, and deal with paperwork that has been piling up for the past few days. . . hoping to finish before tutoring starts this afternoon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Joy Under the Sun

I claim no originality for any of the below, as much of it is verbatim from Ecclesiastes. I shamelessly plagarize scripture when I write poetry :).


Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
What does a man gain by his toil?
Like cycling winds of ceaseless calamity,
So are a man's days on earth's soil.

A man may labor faithfully under the sun.
But for what? He lives and then he dies.
The fruits of his toil will go to another one.
The same end meets all, fool or wise.

Under the sun, toil is the lot of wise and fool.
What gain have the wise? They die too.
But above the sun, another measuring tool
Is used to sort mankind in two.

Not the fool and wise, but the righteous and sinner:
Such is God's view above the sun.
To the upright God grants peace in daily dinner,
Joy while their tasks are being done.

Not freedom from toil, but joy amid his labors,
Is granted to one who fears God.
The righteous one's task is not unlike his neighbor's.
To the daily grind all are called.

Instead the difference lies deep inside a man's heart.
The just for their dear Lord do live.
They see the great drama of which they are a part,
And to God, great glory they give.

But, one may protest, all have sinned. Who can please God?
Joy for the righteous is all well,
But there are none righteous, none who seek to please God.
Dead in sin, all are bound for hell.

'Tis true, yes, but not the whole truth, for there is hope.
God sent His only Son to die.
He saw sinful men, as in the darkness they groped.
To low man He came from on high.

The sinless Lamb shed His blood for His wayward lambs.
The speckled flock became snow-white.
Clothed with the righteousness of He with nail-scarred hands,
By faith they now walk in the Light.

Both the righteous and the sinner share the same work.
Toiling on earth under the sun.
But for Christ's sheep, tasks are worship, duties they shirk
Not, but worship in light of the Son.

Meaning in Life

The women's Bibly study at our church this fall is going through Ecclesiastes, which really excited me! Most of the Bible studies of which I've been a part have studied the New Testament, which I love :), but it's interesting to delve into an Old Testament book as a group, and I think it's important to study the whole counsel of scripture. In my past readings of Ecclesiastes I've always found the book rather interesting and a mixture of depression and hope.

Ecclesiastes is Solomon's musings on life, and the drudgery of it all. He questions the meaning or purpose of the endless cycle of toil that man is doomed to live "under the sun." It's interesting to read, as Solomon searches for meaning in accomplishments, possessions, women, wisdom, etc., but continually realizes that even these things are fruitless of themselves. He brings back the perspective to one "above the sun," as he looks at God's perspective, and how God brings joy and meaning to those who are His children.

Ch. 2, v. 25: For apart from him [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

The beginning of chapter 3 is the pretty well-known "for everything there is a season" passage: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted . . . It is so neat to read that passage, as it reminds me that everything in our lives has an appointed time. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, it says. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain. It reminds me of another verse that says, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The beginning of chapter 3 is a reminder that each season in our lives is part of God's plan for us and is appointed for a time. It won't last forever, but will someday make way for a new season.

Often as Christians we're impatient (I know I can be!) to be serving the Lord the way we think would be best, in some "bigger" way (missions, etc.), or in some way that would suit our purposes and desires, but primarily we are called to just serve God in our daily lives, where he has already placed us. We are usually called to serve God not by changing what we are currently doing day-to-day, but by doing those day-to-day tasks for Him, for His glory. It reminds me of I Corinthians 10:31, Whether then you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. This is the overarching lesson that the Lord has been teaching me over the past year and a half, since I graduated college.

What a different perspective is the one "above the sun" than the perspective below! Below, our toil seems fruitless, but above, everything we do is to God's glory. Wow. That really helps me put things in perspective, because right now I want to serve God by nurturing my own children and instructing them of God's love, but that's not where He's placed me right now! But that doesn't mean I can't glorify Him as I teach, tutor, babysit, or even as I iron clothes or scrub dishes - more so, in fact, since those are the tasks He has currently given for me to do. Ch. 9, v. 10 of Ecclesiastes says, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. If only I could faithfully carry out this verse always! That is the challenge to every Christian.

Also, I love verse 11 of Chapter 3. There are two important truths here. First, He has made everything beautiful in its time. Wow. That doesn't mean all things are beautiful now, but that God is working to make all things beautiful. Even the hurtful things in my life right now are working to make me beautiful! - that is, the beauty that comes not from outward adornment, but adorning from the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

A point in verse 11, He has put eternity into man's heart. I love that! Man is made for another world, and God has placed eternity in our hearts! Christians are to be content in this world, but at the same time we are not to be fully satisfied with life here on earth. The desires of our hearts should be in eternity with our Lord, for that is our ultimate destiny. If we are fully comfortable here on earth, then we have lost sight of the glories of heaven, the eternal pleasures that we will enjoy at Christ's right hand. In the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the faithful admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. Many of the promises they held were not fully granted here on earth, though they saw them from a distance. Likewise, our ultimate fulfillment only comes when we see our Savior face-to-face.

Solomon ends Ecclesiastes with this summary: The end of the matter: all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. He begins the book with a perspective that life has no purpose, but comes full circle as he realizes that man does have a purpose, and that life has meaning and joy for those that fear God! We can have joy under the sun, because we have life through the Son.

. . . And that is the beautiful message of Ecclesiastes. I've realized recently that Ecclesiastes is not a book that many Christians have read, so consider the above a sales pitch convincing you to read it! It's only 12 chapters, and it can easily be read in one sitting. I'd highly suggest it.