Friday, September 28, 2012

Abraham and Tent Living

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he didn't know where he was going.  (Hebrews 11:8)

This is a very personal verse for me this week.  The job situation with hubby has come to a point where we've been figuratively on our faces before God asking for clear direction as to where He wants us to go.  Examining our own hearts, trying to empty ourselves of our own agendas so we can be completely submissive to his direction.  Wherever, Lord . . . just point us the way.  Shut every other door tightly.

When you read the Abraham story, it seems that God essentially told Abraham to start walking and He would tell him when to stop.  Wow.  Oh, to have faith like that!  Excuse me a moment while I get a mental and emotional picture of what that means and try to apply it to my heart today.  Just start walking, hon . . .

The rest of this Abraham section (the first of three about Abraham in Hebrews 11) has been speaking to me for a few weeks now: By faith, he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.  He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise . . .

They lived in tents -- no permanent dwelling.  Ready to get up and move at a moment's notice.  Yes, he made his home there, but as a stranger in a foreign land.  We've been preparing our hearts for a move from Sioux City for over ten months now.  I can relate to this feeling.  Our home is here, for now, but it's not a permanent dwelling.  We are attached and yet unattached.  It's kind of an odd feeling.

But it's how Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all lived.  And why?  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  The city with foundations -- that would be heaven.  The writer of Hebrews expounds on this more a few verses later, making some general comments about all of the faith heroes he's describing:

. . . and they admitted they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they were talking about the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country -- a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

My past several months of "living in tents" as a "stranger and foreigner" in my own land of Sioux City has given me insight to how believers should be living all the time here on earth.  This is a temporary dwelling.  A place we should enjoy and bless while we're here, but always with an eye toward the "city with foundations" that God is preparing for us.  The better country.

Those times in my life when I feel a persistent dissatisfaction, a gaping hole, a never-ending longing for I don't know exactly what . . . I try to remember that this feeling shouldn't surprise me. I'm a stranger in this country.  This is not my real home.  My citizenship is elsewhere. 

And thank God, there will be no political campaigns in the heavenly city with foundations.  Hallelujah.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tired. Again.

I haven't talked about my sleep problems for a while.  I haven't needed to.  For you relatively new readers who didn't know I have sleep problems and want the back story, you can get the full story here; start at the bottom.  It's a long saga.

So, January 1st this year, I went cold turkey off my sleep meds and haven't turned back.  After a month or so of fumbling a bit, I seemed to fall into a routine that worked.  I was going to sleep relatively quickly, sleeping pretty solidly it seemed, for a few hours, waking up around 3 or 4 for a little bit, falling back asleep again and up at 6 or 6:30.  Usually a good 6 hours of sleep at least, with little waking that I was aware of during the night.  And functioning quite well during the day.  I praised God every morning.  It was wonderful!  I was thrilled.

Until about a month ago, when it started getting harder to drift off to sleep.  And then I was waking up more during the night.  And yawning more during the day -- big, gaping, break-your-face yawns.  The last straw was when school started and I found myself nearly falling to sleep doing reading with the youngest on the couch.

I'm back where I started. 

I could almost cry, but I just don't have the energy. My last four years have all seemingly revolved around figuring out what the heck is wrong with me and my sleep cycle, and I have apparently made no progress of any kind, other than, perhaps, to eliminate possible answers -- that would be, every possible answer any doctor came up with

I don't know what to do.  It seems absolutely pointless to go back to the doctor -- any doctor.  No doctor can fix me.  And it's not like I'm in desperate straits here.  I'm functioning.  I've survived through life for years and years like this and I can keep surviving, even thriving.  It's just that it's absolutely ridiculously stupid that my body is not able to figure out how to do this most basic of simple tasks: fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sorry for the downer post, friends.  As I said quite a while back, I've accepted that this seems to be my personal thorn in the flesh -- the persistent trial that God allows in my life to keep me dependent on Him.  I've accepted it.  That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.  At least not today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

God: 4D and Beyond

A few fascinating things about God that always blow my mind.  The youngest and I were discussing these some the other day during math, when the topic of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects came up. 

A two-dimensional world would be completely flat.  And a person who had only ever existed in a two-dimensional world would have a very difficult time even conceiving of a three-dimensional world.  I remember hearing the Trinity described thus: if a three-dimensional being put three fingers down into a two-dimensional world, the two-dimensional creatures would perceive of that being as three separate entities and, again, have a very difficult time conceiving how they could ever be one being.

Our world, however, is beyond 3-D.  We exist also in the fourth dimension: time.  In fact, I heard scientist Hugh Ross speak once about how scientist have identified some 10 or 11 dimensions.  That blows my unscientific mind all to pieces.  And realizing that God is beyond ALL of those dimensions, because he created them . . . well, my shattered mind is re-blown.

But just getting back to the 4th dimension of time.  God exists beyond our conception of time.  He is not limited by time the way we are.  Someone described it to me once that when God looks at me, he doesn't see me in one moment, the way any other human being does.  When God looks at me, he sees the entire span of my life in that one glance.  The whole of it.  He can still deal with me in the moment -- just like I can deal with the stain on one surface of the three-dimensional object I am cleaning, but I never lose the ability to "see" that object in all three of its dimensions. 

This means, folks, that when God looks at me, he sees not only all of my past but all of my future in one sweep.  This means that all decisions he makes in regards to me -- people to bring into my life, tragedies to allow or to prevent -- are all made in terms of the entirety of my earthly existence, not this one moment. 

This means that, that morning when I was 41 weeks miserably pregnant with my eldest and struggled to get on my knees in tears and prayed, God, this is it.  I can't run my life.  I don't know enough, I'm not strong enough, I'm a complete failure at it.  Take me, please.  I put my life in your hands.  I desperately need you to be not just my Savior, but my Lord.  . . . he saw my broken self in that moment, but he also saw the entirely of my life in that moment.  He saw the rotten friend I was growing up.  He saw the selfish wife I had been.  But he also saw the selfish wife I was going to continue to be.  He saw the lousy mom I was going to become.  He saw the depressions I was going to plunge into, the ugly sins I would indulge in . . . he saw the period of my life when I would completely back away from that commitment and shake my fist in fury at Him, blaming him for everything.  He saw the ugliness in my heart that I had yet to see -- and ugliness I have yet to see now.  He saw the rotten moments still to come in my life that I shudder to think of.

He saw it all, in one sweep.  And he said, "Yep, I love her.  I love her enough to die for her."  I didn't have to clean myself up, become good enough to deserve it.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

It's all almost beyond conceiving.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Noah, the People-Pleaser?

By faith, Noah, when warned of things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir to the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.  (Heb. 11:7)

I bet the movie “Evan Almighty” gave many people a new perspective on the Noah story.  That epic from Genesis 6-8 has become such a sanitized little tale – consider the people who decorate their baby nurseries with cartoonish drawings of tiny little “arks” overstuffed with pairs of smiling, cutesy animals.  But there was nothing tiny or cutesy or safe and sanitized about the ark and the flood. 
An analysis of the timing of things in the account in Genesis shows that it took several decades for Noah and his sons to build that monstrous shelter.  Several decades when he had to explain to neighbors and gawkers what he was doing and why.  Imagine the isolation.  Imagine the humiliation.  Imagine the doubts that would have to creep into your head.
I’m not sure I could have done that.  And not just because I’m completely clueless in the woodworking arts.  I don’t think I could have persevered in an activity that held me up to such derision.  I’m far too much of a people-pleaser, too addicted to admiration.  It’s one of my favorite idols, one I fight on a daily – maybe hourly – basis (at least on the good days when I truly make an effort).  For Noah to do what he did, he could NOT have been a people-pleaser.
On the other hand . . . maybe he was.  Maybe this humiliating long-term shop project with his boys was God’s curriculum for his life.  Maybe every morning, he woke up saying, “Please, God – no.  I don’t want to face them again.  A day off today.  Please.  This is just too hard.”  Maybe he spent those decades learning that God’s pleasure was enough for his soul.  Maybe he didn’t start out as the fabulous saint we all imagine the Old Testament saints to be; maybe he got that way through a painful, daily struggle in his soul to believe – to have faith -- that God was enough.
Believing that Noah was just always greater than I am – that’s a lot easier, I suppose.  But believing that God made Noah great through his submission in faith – that gives me hope.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And "Pop" Goes My Theory . . .

I told you in my last post that I was formulating a theory about the differences between liberals and conservatives and that I would share it with you in this post.  Then I started writing this post and my theory went paflooey.  Just didn’t hold up.  Oh, well.  I guess that happens.  Best just to admit it when you’re not as smart as you thought you were, I suppose.
Let me tell you where my busted theory originated.  An FB friend posted a video (which I reposted) of a reporter at the DNC convention asking self-declared pro-choice delegates about their feelings about choice in other areas – like schools (they oppose school choice), light bulbs (people should be forced to buy the environmentally smart one), union membership (they oppose right-to-work states), trans-fatty foods (sure, government can stop restaurants from selling unhealthy food) . . . the contradictions were obvious.  And as a friend pointed out, one could question a bunch of pro-life Republicans about their stance on war, the death penalty, guns, etc. and come up with a similarly smug piece.
I couldn’t help but think, though, that there has to be some inherent logic behind where each side believes the government should and shouldn’t intervene in people’s lives.  There are two basic doctrines I expect most Americans would agree with:
1) In a free society, people have the freedom to do things are unwise or even wrong.  It must be so; this is the essence of freedom.  You’re not free to do right if you’re not also free to do wrong.  This is even Biblical, I believe;  the choice to give your life to God must be one of your own free will.  God has many children, but no grandchildren.
2) In a sane society, one’s freedom must be restricted when one’s actions are hurting someone else.  Of course.  But THERE seems to be where the problem lies.  Sometimes we disagree on the hurt a behavior is causing.  (Does it hurt society if gays are allowed to marry?  Does forcing a homeschool parent to teach the same curriculum as the public schools keep that child at the same substandard level as her public school counterparts?) Sometimes a smaller hurt to one person may be permitted because it prevents a greater hurt to more people.  (Will waterboarding this prisoner give us information that will save the lives of thousands of innocent people?  Will allowing a few people to smoke increase health costs for all of society?) 
As a conservative, I believe people ought to be free to buy old-fashioned lightbulbs but not free to buy heroin.  Both behaviors have the potential of bringing harm to many people – why is one okay and not the other?  My liberal friend believes a woman should have no restrictions placed on her when she wants to end her pregnancy, but many restrictions placed on her when she wants to buy a gun.  Both behaviors can lead to loss of life – why is one okay and not the other?
I was really hoping I would write myself to an insight here.  Didn’t happen.  Ah, well.  As I said – not as smart as I think I am.  Maybe you all are smarter and can enlighten me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Principle of the Matter

If you read my stuff much, you might notice that I focus on principles.  I’m not always knowledgable or wise enough in the specifics of an issue to get into the nitty-gritty, but I have great faith (for better or worse) in discovering the best principles of a matter and operating in accordance with them.
That said, I have felt burdened of late with the task of figuring out what are the basic differences in principles between American liberals and conservatives.  All the idiotic ranting and raving that goes on during an election year is so useless.  There are core beliefs somewhere, core principles, in which we disagree.  And I suspect that relatively few proponents on each side are really conscious of these core differences – and I suspect that many of them if they examined them closely would find themselves questioning the beliefs they are acting on.
So, what are the core differences between liberals and conservatives?  The Uncle Eric books explain it this way: conservatives want more freedom in economic matters but more governmental control in social matters; liberals want more governmental control in economic matters and more freedom in social matters.  I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate.  I thought so once, but current battles don’t seem to run along those lines exactly.
A friend recently said that she sees the difference as follows: conservatives believe government is incompetent (and therefore the one to blame for all our problems) whereas liberals believe big business is greedy and evil (and therefore the one to blame for all our problems).  There are certainly some loudmouths on each side who would espouse those views.  But I think the real conservative opposition is to big government – particularly big federal government.  The further away from the people governed, the less effective the government can be.  And liberals recognize the necessity of business; they just see a point where a corporation becomes so separated from the community they are serving that they cease to serve anyone other than themselves.  I think conservative and liberals are decrying the same phenomenon here, just in different entities.   
Another friend sees the difference this way:  conservatives give primacy to the individual while liberals give primacy to the community.  I think this is getting closer to the heart of things.  There are certainly extremists on both sides who carry radical individualism and radical . . . communitarianism? (see, this is why people end up using terms like “communism” and “socialism” to describe the radical left) . . . to ridiculous extremes.  But the reasonable people recognize that we need both.  That a community only thrives with strong healthy individuals and that individuals are only strong and healthy when they attach to community.
These are all close.  Kinda close.  But not quite to the heart of things, I don't think.  However, I have another theory I’m floating around in my brain.  For a later post . . . stay tuned . . .

Friday, September 14, 2012

Enoch: Walking With God

By faith, Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death:  “He could not be found because God had taken him away.”  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:5-6)
So, here is that key passage about needing faith to please God.  And it even gives us more on the nature of that faith: believing that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. It’s not enough to acknowledge that, “Yeah, there must be a God”.  As Paul reminds us, even the demons know there is a God.  We must seek him, desire to know him, with the expectation that this knowledge will be rewarding.  It pleases God that we recognize him as generous – as one who returns blessing to us for our efforts to know him. 

And the example we’re given of this is Enoch, that enigmatic character from the begats in Genesis 5. Enoch was the sixth generation after Adam, but because of the length of life spans in the beginning, his relatively brief life was all while Adam was still alive.  Presumably, he was able to talk to Adam himself, hear the first man’s story about God and the garden and the fall.  Interesting that the words distinguishing Enoch from the other patriarchs are the same words describing the nature of Adam and Eve’s relationship with God in the garden:  they walked with God.
Genesis tells us that Enoch does not die but is simply taken away by God.  Enoch, who “walked with God”.  He was taken away because of his faith, Hebrews tells us – because he believed and hoped in something he had not yet seen.  Perhaps heard of, through Adam, but not yet seen.
I have the advantage over Enoch.  I have seen people who, I believe, were walking with God.  I have observed the difference in their lives; it was what brought me back to the faith when I wandered.  Enoch had nothing but a recounting of Adam’s memory of the experience – yet it was enough to give him faith that such an experience could exist.  And not just to believe it, but to seek it out for himself.  It apparently pleased God that Enoch recognized him as worthy of seeking out.  And Enoch was rewarded for his earnest seeking – with an intimate relationship with God that did not end in death.
Lord, help me believe that You can satisfy more than the petty, worthless things I seek here on earth.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dirt vs. Clutter

So, tell me if I’m alone here.

In my mind, I make a distinction between “cleaning” and “picking up” – between dirt and clutter.  Dirt is the stuff that needs to be scrubbed, wiped, vacuumed, etc.  Stuff that tends to happen just as a course of living, no matter what you do.  Clutter is different.  Clutter is when someone in the house uses an item and then just puts it down.  Somewhere.  Anywhere other than the place where the item belongs. 
“Cleaning” is removing the dirt that is a natural result of living in a house.  “Picking up” is putting things back where they belong.  The distinction is important in my mind because – right or wrong – I have little problem with cleaning, but I resent the crap out of picking up after everyone.
And one can rarely clean without picking up.  The table needing dusted has dirty ice cream dishes left on it.  The floor needing vacuumed has shoes and socks and jackets and what-all strewn about.  The bathroom counter needing scrubbed has . . . well, I won’t even go there.
When I look at the clutter, I find myself thinking that everyone just assumed that I would pick up after them, like the family maid, and so they left it there.  And thus the tremendous resentment.  I’ve decided, however, that I am probably assuming wrongly.  Most likely, what they were thinking is, “This item doesn’t HAVE to be put away right at this moment – I’ll put it away later.”  (After all, I think that sometimes, too.)  Here’s the problem with that thought process:
1) They usually forget.
2) I usually have to clean that space before they remember, and so I end up putting the item away AGAIN.
It’s not malicious behavior.  They don’t intend to treat me like the maid.  I shouldn’t feel so resentful.  I’m learning to let go of my attitude.  But I still feel a responsibility to ensure that my children are more thoughtful of others than they are being of me – and more responsible for their possessions.
We have a new cleaning schedule for our family which allows us all to share in the joys of the household cleaning duties.  But the picking up . . . I’m not sure what to do about that.  Any plan I come up with to deal with the clutter is one that I know will be met with much groaning and whining and resentful looks and attitudes.  So, either they are resentful or I am.  Wouldn’t it just be easier – and more fair – if we all put things away when we’re done with them?  Hmm?
Just getting it off my chest, people.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Judge-Not Thing

“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  Goodness, is there any more frequently quoted scripture in our society these days?  And probably few that are more misconstrued and misused.
Here is the Joe American’s Contemporary Translation of Matthew 7:1:  “Don’t you dare to tell me that something I’m doing is a sin – or is even wrong or incorrect.  You can’t judge me!  You aren’t the ultimate authority on right and wrong!  You just need to keep your opinions to yourself and let me live my life the way I choose to.  Hypocrite!”
If we continue reading in Matthew 7, we hear Jesus say, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Yep, he uses that H-word, too: hypocrite.  Someone who slams on his brother’s sin without dealing with the glaring sins in his own life is a hypocrite.  Jesus tells the hypocrite to clean up his act . . . but then what?  Leave your brother alone?  Hold hands and dance under the rainbows singing Kum-Ba-Yah?  No – he says then help your brother get the speck out of his eye.
As much as Joe Contemporary American may hate to hear it, the Bible has plenty of passages encouraging believers to confront their fellow believers about sin in their life – gently, lovingly, and humbly, but confront nonetheless.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.  (James 5:19-20)
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.  Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. (Galatians 6:1-3)
Help your brother get the speck out of his eye. So, this idea that the Bible forbids us to ever have the gall to point out someone else’s sin is inaccurate.  We are clearly instructed, in some situations, to point out our brother’s sin.  In fact, I believe every writer of the New Testament was guilty of the “crime” of confronting a fellow believer with their sin.  We shouldn’t obsess about it . . . or harangue them . . . or humiliate them . . . or confront strangers . . . we confront our brothers lovingly, humbly, gently, with compassion and patience and always making it a priority to keep our own sins in line . . . but we are to confront.  I don’t like it either, but part of faith is accepting what is true whether we like it or not -- and courage is acting on the truth even when it's hard.
There was a commercial on TV when I was a kid about talking to your friends about drugs.  A girl stood on a railroad track in the path of an oncoming train; she spoke to the camera explaining that her life was her life and she could live it the way she wanted to, right?  And the train came nearer and nearer with its horn blaring.  The point was obvious: friends do what they can to push a friend off the railroad tracks when they know a train is coming.  That’s not hypocrisy.  It’s LOVE.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Faith Portrait: Abel

So, Hebrews 11 begins by telling us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for, being certain of what is not seen,” and that “this is what the ancients were commended for”.  How were people justified before God before Jesus was born?  By their faith – by their being sure of the truths they were told that were not yet seen but that they hoped for.  ALL the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 were from the Old Testament, the scripture of the New Testament writers.  Faith was the requirement for righteousness long before Jesus came around.
And the first person held up to us as a great example of faith was Abel, of the Cain-and-Abel-debacle in Genesis 4. 
By faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain.  By faith, he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offering.  And by faith, he still speaks today, even though he is dead.
I’ve heard many theories on why Abel’s offering of a lamb was accepted and Cain’s offering of produce from his farm was not.  One is that Genesis specifically states that Abel offered the best of his flock; by contrast, Cain’s produce was apparently not the best he had to offer.  Another take is that Abel was offering a blood sacrifice, blood being the means to cover sin, as God instructed Adam’s family; Cain’s vegetables didn’t do the trick.
Whatever the reason for it, Genesis makes it clear that God knew that Cain knew better than to sacrifice what or as he did.  And Cain’s actions after the rejection of his sacrifice make it clear that the condition of his heart was the source of the problem.
Abel’s sacrifice, on the other hand, was given out of faith.  He sacrificed that lamb because he was certain of something he had not yet seen but was hoping for.  Certain of God honoring the sacrifice and covering his sin?  Certain of the ultimate sacrifice coming later that this symbolized?  Certain that God would meet his needs if he gave Him his best?  I’m not sure.  But the heart behind the sacrifice is what made it pleasing to God, and that is how Abel speaks to me today, even though he is dead.
We traditional evangelical folks – especially we women of the breed – have a tendency to lean toward martyrdom.  Oh, the things we suffer for our Lord!  Oh, the trials we bear!  Oh, what I have sacrificed to serve my Savior!  And yes, Christ has called us to take up our cross and follow him, but those sacrifices are only commendable when the heart behind them is right.  Not a heart that says, Look how much I’ve given up for you, God!  Surely you must be impressed and want to bless me now.  But a heart that says, You’ve told me, Father, that you are all I need, and I have faith – I have certainty – that this is true.  These things I sacrifice are nothing compared to what I have in you.
He is El Shaddai:  The All-Sufficient One.  And I only discover that to be true when I believe it and act on it in faith.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's Make a Case for Modesty

I saw this on FB last week and haven’t been able to let go of it.  Dick Gregory reportedly has said, “If I’m a woman and I’m walking down the street naked, you still don’t have the right to rape me.”  Alrighty then.  Duly noted, Mr. Gregory.
And if I have a house full of expensive electronic equipment and leave town for a week with the front door standing wide open, you still don’t have the right to rob me.  And if I take $40,000 out of the ATM, spread it on my dashboard and leave the car in the mall parking lot with the windows open, you don’t have the right to take it.  My stupidity does not justify your evil.  However, my stupidity may still be worthy of mention and rebuke.
I understand Mr. Gregory’s point.  To blame a woman for her rape because she dressed or behaved seductively is inexcusable.  The rapist is to blame for the rape – and he should come under the full penalty of the law regardless of how the woman was looking or behaving.  And if the legal system is allowing rapists to get away with their crime because of the behavior of their victims, this should be changed.  No reasonable human being would argue this.
But is it not worth noting that a woman who chooses to dress and behave seductively in an environment where there are likely to be bad men who will have no qualms about taking that bait she’s offering – laid out on the dashboard with the windows open – well, she’s being stupid!  When did the right to “express your sexuality” become the freedom to flaunt your goods to the world and think that you should never have to worry about bad guys trying to take them without permission?  Nobody else has that “freedom”.  We all know there are bad guys out there and we lock up and protect our goods from them.  We drive defensively – we lock our houses – we pocket our billfolds – and we cover up our boobs.
There’s a line here between freedom and responsibility, and I’m seeing too many feminists dance a little too close to it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


So, people, this book, One God One Message – I love this book.  Really love it.  I always enjoy apologetics, but this book goes a step beyond. 
Author P.D. Bramsen has lived for most of his adult life in Senegal, and he writes this specifically to address the questions and concerns of the Muslims he knows so well.  Included are excerpts from emails he has received from Muslims around the world challenging the beliefs of Christianity.  I have little personal experience with Muslims, so it was fascinating just to hear their take on my faith.
But more fascinating were his responses.  The book is an orderly walk through the basic tenets of the Christian faith and how they hold together and why they hold up, starting from the Creation in Genesis and ending with Paradise in Revelation.  It is complete, cogent, and clear.  As one who has studied the Bible all my life, I still found it insightful and enlightening.  And I was thrilled to see that it has been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, Swahili, and more.
Here’s where you can buy this book (and see other stuff by the author).  And you should buy this book. And if you have a Muslim friend, buy another copy to give to them.  This one is most definitely a keeper AND a give-away-er.

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Races

Our family went to the car races in Jefferson, SD, last night.  We did this last year, too -- same weekend.  Last year, it was the night we met our eldest's new boyfriend whom she ended up dating her entire sophomore year.  Not quite as momentous occasion this time around.

Anyway, we went to the car races.  We didn't know anybody racing, so to make it interesting, I bought some M&Ms at the snack stand and whoever picked the winning car in each heat got an M&M.  The snack bar also had food half-price (last race of the year -- getting rid of stuff, I imagine) . . . and we stopped for ice cream on the way home.  A rather fattening night, on the whole (although I'm proud to say I resisted food AND ice cream -- but not M&Ms).

So, anyway, we went to the car races.  And two thoughts kept going through my head.  No, three.  No, FOUR.

1) Dang, this is LOUD.

2) I wish we'd remembered to bring in our stadium seats.  My butt hurts.

3) There are a lot of tattoos in these stands.  Seriously, why is that?  There are definitely more large, prominent tattoos here per capita than you would see at, say, the movie theater or the grocery store.  What's the correlation between people who enjoy watching cars race around a dirt track and people who enjoy carving permanent decorations into their skin?  These are the questions that keep me up at night . . .

4) My best friend in high school drove a race car.  Actually, her family is still into racing today, but I was always amazed at the fact that, in high school, she actually drove a race car.  In real car races, like this, at real race tracks.  She always wanted me to come to the races with her and I never did.  Looking back now, I'm thinking I was a pretty lousy friend.  When something's important to someone you love, you make it important to you.  Or at the very least, you make it a point to attend once or twice.  Forgive me, Julie.

And so, as I was saying, we went to the car races.  Last night.  And I expect we'll go again sometime.  Cheap entertainment, good chili cheese fries, and a great excuse to indulge in M&Ms.