15
Jan

I was talking to my pastor today and we are both people with ideas!

If we have unlimited resources in money and manpower, it would be our Disneyland! It would be so fun to do everything that we envision our church can do.

We want our church to have impact, not numbers, a church that builds bridges to the community, not walls, a church that partners with other churches and ministries, not duplicating or competing with other Christians.

All this is up to God to lead and open doors.

And I am excited to see what God will do this year.

13
Jan

Job, in all his suffering, never denied God. Yet, something was missing. It wasn’t enough just to persevere in our believe in God.

In his book on prayer, Tim Keller says,

Throughout most of the great Old Testament book that bears his name, Job cries out to God in agonized prayer. For all his complaints, Job never walks away from God or denies his existence – he processes all his pain and suffering through prayer. Yet he cannot except the life God is calling him to live. Then the skies cloud over and God speaks to Job “out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1). The Lord recounts in vivid detail his creation and sustenance of the universe and of the natural world. Job is astonished and humbled by this deeper vision of God (Job 40:3–5) and has a breakthrough. He finally prays a mighty prayer of repentance and adoration (Job 42:1–6).

Through prayer we not only accept God’s will for us, but to acknowledge His place as God in our lives.

12
Jan

If  you have the YouVersion Bible app, you know there’s a 14 Days devotional plan by Tim Keller. The selected readings are from his new book.

I am on Day 9.

“The question the book of Job is posed in it’s very beginning. Is it possible that a man or woman can come to love God for himself alone so that there is a fundamental contentment in life regardless of circumstances (Job 1:9)? Yes, this is possible, but only through prayer.”

I find this to be true in my life. Whenever I pray, I have God’s perspective and I can rest in his sovereignty. When I do not pray, I feel out of control and everything seems to depend on me.

Thank you God, for the gift of prayer.

Whenever we experience pain, from a minor headache to a broken rib to a life-threatening disease, our first prayer is for God to take away the pain.

I don’t think that’s right.

As I age, can I expect my life to be pain-free? If my knees hurt and my neck is stiff, isn’t that just a part of growing old in a fallen world? Why should I expect God to answer my prayer to take away “normal” pain in my life?

As C. S. Lewis famously said, “But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Recently I’ve been having indigestion/acid reflux throughout the day. When I began to pray about this, I felt that God must be using this pain to shout to me about something. He’s trying to get my attention. I asked God what it is that He wanted to tell me that I couldn’t hear otherwise.

And He did tell me. I can’t tell you how, but as a follower of Christ of 30+ years, there are times when I “know” what my Lord is telling me. I won’t go into details of what He told me. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. It’s deeply personal actually. It usually is when God speaks to you in a personal way.

My lesson learned is, don’t be too quick to pray for relieve from pain. First ask God, “I know You want to tell me something that I need to know. Can you make it clear to me what it is?” If you don’t sense an answer right away, keep asking. Keep asking until all you are asking is to know God Himself.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying it’s wrong to pray for pain to go away. I do pray that too. But it shouldn’t be our first or most urgent prayer.

As Apostle Paul says, “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”  When God answers that prayer of knowing Him, it is much deeper and more satisfying than relieve from pain.

I think of Joni Eareckson Tada, one of my inspirations. Of all the people who “deserved” to have some relieved from her suffering, Joni should have received healing from God.  Yet she suffers daily chronic pain and she continues to serve her Lord.  If my bit of neck pain gains me a closer walk with God, I can live with that.

06
Jan
stored in: Thoughts on life

I don’t want to call them resolutions. Let’s just say they are notes to self for 2015.

  • Read the Bible – each book 20 times.
  • Focus my life and daily activities on love. “…the foundation for people-transforming ministry is not sound theology; it is love.” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp, p117).
  • Declutter.
  • Laugh more.

There’s one leftover from last year.

  • Read one book at a time, finish one book every 2 months.

My theme for 2015 – Kindness. A pleasant disposition and concern for others.

 

 

Every time I want to blog, something comes up  - fold the laundry, answer that email, water the plants.

Blogging is one of those things, like exercising, that is a good thing to do and you would actually enjoy it once you start, but you find an excuse to procrastinate. Next thing you know, the day is gone and “there’s always tomorrow.”

I would like to engage my blogging discipline again. When a thought comes, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to make sense. I know I’ll enjoy it once I start.

Raindrops are forming continuous hundreds of thousands of circles on our pool as I look out the window. It reminds me of the simplicity of life. Let’s not make it complicated.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?”

27
Aug
stored in: Thoughts on life

I appear to people my age that I am tech savvy. I have a blog :)  I actually don’t know much.

I credit my son and husband for helping me overcome my fear of technology. They help me with everything.

I only know enough to get by and do what I want to do.  And that’s enough for me.

So thank you, son, for helping me engage the 21st century and beyond. Please help me stay connected to the world.

Thank you, hubby, for taking care of all the details in the things that I don’t want to learn.

 

There were many good reviews of this book, so I was really looking forward to reading it.

The plot itself did not disappoint. However, I found the heroine, a precocious 11-year old written by her in first person, rather annoying. I know the pranks she played on her sisters are suppose to add human interest to the story, but to me, she was rather mean and vengeful. It was hard to put up with her throughout the first half of the book.

The murder mystery part of the book was very good. The resolution was satisfying. But I confess I skipped many parts because it got laborious reading detailed descriptions of people and settings that does not contribute to the mystery.

I give it a 3.75 stars.

Mary Roberts Rinehart is often called the American Agatha Christie. But if The After House is typical of her books, then I am not impressed. NOT Agatha Christie.

I do like Rinehart’s writing style, but the resolution to the mystery was not satisfying. She was a prolific writer, so if the library has anymore of her books, I’ll read another, just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

 

You know that feeling of coming home after a fun vacation, a let-down of being back to the usual, the mundane, back to the mess you made before you took off for vacation? I’m feeling it now, after a fun 5 days in Seattle.

Here are my reflections about that: It made me realize that I have much to learn to have my JOY anchored in Jesus, not in my circumstances. The “happiness” that I have from my great life is not always true JOY.  If it were I would not lose it. Rather it is happiness based on circumstances that I mistaken for JOY.

I have a great life, no complaints, I love my  regular ordinary life. But I am so satisfied that I don’t seek true JOY. As C.S. Lewis says, ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I make a lot of mud pies.

 

Too bad my favorite authors are dead. Dorothy Sayers’ books has humor, mystery, character development, and the style that I like.

Strong Poison was fun to read though the ending was not completely satisfying. There were too many coincidences in favor of the good guys. Nevertheless, Sayers is one of my favorite mystery authors.

For the past 1 1/2 years I’ve been pondering how to help parents at my church be the faith leaders in their own home. I know most of them want to, but they don’t know how. Like me, many are first generation Christians, so they did not grow up with parents who modeled that for them.

I’ve held and continue to hold workshops and discussion groups where we open the conversation on hot topics parents face: how to talk to your kids about sex, how to help your kids succeed in school, how to get your kids to be responsible, etc.

No matter what the topic is, the central theme that I try to get across is the same – parents, you need to teach them about God.

Now that’s I’ve read Mark Holmen’s book and also attended his seminar and keynote on how to take faith into the home, my thinking on helping parents be the faith leaders at home is much more clear.

I bought this book, Church + Home because Mark Holmen was one of the speakers at a conference I was looking into attending. I figured if I read the book, I won’t go to the conference, which was several months away. However, the book was sitting on my desk, literally sitting on my desk, for a few months without getting beyond the first chapter. It seemed to be just another book about how the home is lacking with no practical solutions offered.

Then I decided to attend the conference, heard Mark, and I was excited to read the book! The book is much better after I heard Mark speak. His passion for faith at home does not come through enough in the book. He is so much better in person. Even though I could hear him in my mind as I read the book, it really doesn’t make the kind of impact that he made on me in person.

A few quotes:

“Of all the things you can do as a leader in Christ’s church, there is nothing more important than helping to bring Christ and Christlike living into the center of every home.” p.52

“Satan knows just how strong the Church can be when its members gather together around a common vision. It’s like grabbing a handful of pencils and trying to break them all at once – not very easy to do. However, if Satan can divide the family in the Church, it becomes more like breaking a single pencil – which is a lot easier for him to do.” p.81

I highly recommend the book, but if you ever get to hear Mark Holmen live, the book will read much better. I am hoping that God will open the way for him to come speak at our church one day.

P.S.  I emailed Mark with a question and he responded to me within 5 hours!

23
May
stored in: General

I love the ideas on this site.

I especially like this.

Glow in the dark stars in a hallway

Aimee Herring

Glow-in-the-Dark Stars as Nightlights

Create a well-lit path he can follow from his room to the bathroom. Line up stars near the baseboard and make sure they get plenty of light during the day. You’ll get fewer bumps (or cries for Mom) in the night.

 

As my husband and I were walking out of the library, our favorite place to hang out, I saw this book in the featured section.

Everyone loves Sherlock Holmes, however I did not like this book.

The idea that the descendants of someone who took Moriaty’s identity and  the descendants of another villain find each other and are out for revenge is intriguing and very complicated.  But I just didn’t like the writing style of little character development and too many killings.

I read half the book, read the ending, and am returning it to the library.

Just to keep track of what I’m reading, this is a Peter Wimsey mystery that was entertaining, well-written, and had a satisfying ending.

It looks like Jill Paton Walsh has taken Sayer’s Peter Wimsey to continue his detective adventures. I have not read Walsh, so maybe I’ll give her a try next time I’m in the mood for some mindless reading.

I made a resolution this year to read one book at a time. I confess I have not kept to that resolve. I am having a hard time finishing a book on family ministry and have strayed to other books.

So many books, so little time…

 

I don’t usually read Christian fiction, but was attracted to this book because it’s co-authored by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. I did not know Bill Bright wrote fiction. As it turns out, he didn’t exactly write this book. “The story and the writing are primarily Ted’s; the heart of the message and the canvas, if you will, are primarily Bill’s.”

Blessed Child is an exciting story with a lot of action. There is an explicit spiritual message woven throughout the story. It’s a page turner. To be honest, the ending was just ok. I wouldn’t mind reading more of Ted Dekker.

A couple of good quotes:

“The real power? You think that real power is found in the miracles? God does them, of course, but other things like loving are much more powerful than healing…God can form a world and straighten a crooked hand with a whisper, but to lure a black heart – that’s the amazing thing.”

“Whoever said that a straightened hand was more dramatic than a healed heart anyway?”

I met Phil Vischer last year at the Children Pastors Conference. I wish I had read this book then to know what he’s gone through. I might’ve said something more encouraging than the typical fan blabber “Can I take a picture with you?”

I knew VeggieTales was big, but didn’t know how big until I read this book. And I knew nothing about Phil Vischer until I read this book. It was both interesting and inspiring.

I am not good at writing reviews, and since my blog is meant simply to record my thoughts, I will simply say that I couldn’t put this book down, it is a must read.

 

My friend SL gave me this book for Christmas. He remembered that I like books. That in itself made me read it and finished it within 2 weeks.

This is the first Kevin DeYoung book I’ve read. Here are a few quotes I would like to remember:

It’s okay to be busy at times. You can’t love and serve others without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it’s not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride. (p.41)

We all have a cross to carry. But it’s a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self reliance. It’s a cross that says I’ll do anything to follow Jesus, not a cross that says I have to do everything for Jesus.(p.51)

We tend to assume it’s always godlier to forgo sleep for more important activity, but God made us physical beings. We can’t go without sleep very long without doing our bodies and souls great damage. That’s the way God made us – finite and fragile. He made us to spend almost a third of lives not doing anything except depending on him. Going to sleep is our way of saying, “I trust you, God. You’ll be okay without me.” (p.95)

The antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote this rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God. (p.102)

He’s not glaring at us from heaven when we have a hectic day. And yet, he knows that we are missing out on “the good portion.” It is not enough to let “God-stuff” fill in the cracks during the day. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, whether corporately or individually, never just happens. We must make learning from him and taking time to be with him priority. (p.113)

 

 

Another children biography - about the most famous emperor of the great Han dynasty of ancient China.

I know very little about Chinese history. History is not my thing. But this simple introduction to Han Wu Di has given me a better understanding of the challenges of ruling the vast country of China.

Communication from one part of the country to another is a ridiculously long and dangerous journey. When Han Wu Di wanted to make an alliance with a tribe called the Yuezhi two thousand miles away, the messenger sent to deliver the message didn’t come back for 12 years! During that time he was captured twice by enemies, got married and had a son! Oh, how I appreciate the internet and FedEx.

The book also told what life was like at that time, a good resource for kids who need to write a report about ancient China. I hated writing those reports!

Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist, was able to get out of every jail they put him in.

In order to get publicity when his show goes into a town, he would go to the town’s jail and have the police lock him up. He breaks out within minutes, without fail.

I read about Houdini in a children biography, and his life is fascinating. He named himself after Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, then one of the most famous magicians in the world.

Houdini was married but never had children. He died on Halloween in 1926 of a bursted appendix, according to the doctors.

You have not read anything about Houdini, pick up the children biography. You will enjoy getting to know the man behind the great escapes.