Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Admission and a Link

So my Mom and I didn't tell very many people, but we went shopping on Black Friday and had a very easy time. The only crowd was in Target in the toy and electronic sections. The rest of the stores were bustling, but controlled and pleasant to be in. We made our purchases, but took time to browse in our more favorite stores like Barnes & Noble, where I declared that if my husband ever sent me back to work, I would promptly come right back to the B&N children's area. For those who don't know, I worked there while in university and for a short time after.
Oh, what wonderful treasures we found. Some of them I hope to highlight throughout this upcoming month. Something happens to me when I step inside well done bookstores. It's like time stands still and my real life ceases to exist as I am mesmerized by stories and pictures spilled out on paper. And I must confess, I am a book snob. Many books are trash. Either terrible or missing plots, horrendous illustrations that bring headaches or absurd formatting that crowds out the content.
So needless to say, my eyes glaze over as I scan and skim waiting for my eyes to catch on a true find on which to feast. Umm, what was I saying?
Oh right, so we went shopping on Black Friday with nary a story to tell. But one early morning blogging shopper from down south shares this amazing story of providential encounters on America's most famous shopping day.
Her other blog about Advent4evangelicals will get it's own spotlight in December, which is only a few days away!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In the Motherland

Well, that's what my husband calls it.
I'm home at my parents in Pennsylvania for the week.
I'm here to eat turkey and sell Barbie dolls on Ebay.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Deck the Halls

This has been our tree for the past three years. As we are usually away for Christmas, we've never seen the need to get a real one. But I'm thinking that next year this dear little tree will find a new home in our son's bedroom and we'll graduate to a real tree for the living room.

This small table is a safe place away from the cat for us to talk about the Incarnation and all the events of that time. This is a strange combination of the Playmobil and Heroes of the Faith sets.

For the past two years, my mother has built up this Willow Tree Nativity collection which I really enjoy. I'm not a knick-knack figurine person, but these pieces seem to do the birth story justice. The three angels on the top of the creche are not part of the set, but it seemed like the right place for them to be heralding the good news.

Found these two red berry trees on sale at Home Hardware and couldn't resist them. Paring them up with my silver candlesticks makes this place look a bit more sophisticated. Yup.

When I bought these new brown candlesticks and berry candle rings, I knew that I should use them that same night and prove their worth. My husband seemed very impressed. Of course the bottle of wine we had with the meal may have added to his appreciation and enjoyment as well. :)

At Home in Mitford

Reading through this series again. I really, really like it.
At Home in Mitford
Most local libraries should have the books on hand, so dive in and enjoy the Mitfordians. They're a southern hoot.

Knitting Woes

Yes, I've gotten out my needles again and look what I've done.
I did go to a local yarn store today and plead for help from the professionals. But as helpful as she was, her needles flashed so quickly even when she slowed it down to show me that I'm afraid it's all a blur.
I think I actually heard my needles mocking me tonight as I cast-on a few more knots in the row.
And knitting is in again. The Knit Cafe

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Girltalk on mothering

Here are two short posts about discipline and mothering from the Mahaney girls at Girltalk.
Mamma's word
Wise at last

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We've set up our nativity scenes and are talking about the incarnation. It's a lot of details for a three year old to remember. My favorite is when he sings as he plays with the nativity characters, like right now. Love it. Or when he picks up the angel and says, "Good News!".

Santa's got nothing on this.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In the not-too-distant future

So I was looking at my blog stats for the past week and many of the Google search terms that have brought people to my blog are related to spanking.
It's been months now since I blogged on that topic, but lately I've been ruminating on some of the related discipline issues. Several passages that I have seen Christian anit-spanking parents use to advance their cause are have been coming to mind and I intend to study up on them and post my findings. One of them for sure will be 1 John 4:18 and probably another will be Matthew 25:40,45.
My goal is certainly not to antagonize anyone, but to discuss the verses in the context in which they were written. Wresting verses out of context to suit our purposes and beliefs is an insult to God's Word. There is an intended meaning for every passage and as Christians we need to deal honestly with the text, regardless of what it does to our belief system.
With that said, I better save the rest of my thoughts for the real post.

Romans and the Gospel

Earlier this week I was reading in Romans and in chapter 1:13-15, I was puzzled why Paul refers to having a harvest among the Roman Christians and his desire to preach the gospel to them. Those phrases are usually reserved for preaching to unbelievers, so why is Paul saying this to the church in Rome?
So I dragged out my husband's thick commentary on Romans by Douglas Moo and began reading. Moo says that harvest refers to the "product of his[Paul's] apostolic labors including here probably both an increase in the number of Christians through evangelization among the Romans and a strengthening of the faith of the Roman Christians themselves". So for Paul having a "harvest" was not simply having unbelievers convert to Christianity it was also having the current believers built up and discipled further into their new faith. This idea is repeated again by Paul in verse 15 where he expresses a desire to preach the gospel to them. Looking to Douglas Moo's commentary again, he says that "the 'preach[ing] of the gospel' is referring to the ongoing work of teaching and discipleship that builds on initial evangelization".
For many Christians, gospel preaching means preaching to the unsaved in hopes that some will repent of their sin and trust in Jesus as their Saviour. From the verses mentioned above, that is an incomplete understanding of what it means to preach the gospel. For Paul, preaching the gospel also included discipleship and edification of the church. It was not merely a time when the unbeliever was targeted for salvation, but also a time for the Christian to be strengthened in the faith as their understanding of salvation was expanded. Thinking this way about the gospel then can change the way we view evangelization.
As long as I can remember, the gospel of John is what is almost always recommended and passed out to unbelievers and new believers universally. The third chapter of John especially being the beacon light by which unbelievers will see God's love for sinners displayed in His Son, Jesus. This is accurate and I am certainly not knocking John's gospel. But I mention that to show that while John's book is the most popular for gospel preaching efforts, it is Paul in his epistles, especially Romans who speaks the most about the gospel. Eleven times in the book of Romans is the term for gospel and evangelization used by Paul to describe his calling and his preaching topic.
In using the commentary I did the reverse of what most Bible students should do, I looked at the specific passages I had questions about, then I turned to the beginning and read what the author thought the intended theme of Romans was. Douglas Moo after affirming that "justification by faith" is certainly central to Paul's argument, goes on then to say that the theme of Romans is, actually, "the gospel". Funny how in a book that is largely regarded as a book of doctrine, which means teaching or instruction, the gospel is central to the book's theme. The gospel which has been watered down by so many evangelists to simply meaning, telling the unsaved that they are sinners and need a Saviour, actually encompasses all of theology, notably Christology and soteriology.
For church leaders and pastors to delegate a service or portion of a service to the preaching of the gospel as they earnestly plead for sinners to turn to Christ for salvation is showing a misunderstanding of the full meaning of the gospel. The gospel as Paul shows is for the believer; the preaching of the gospel is for conviction of sin of course, but it is also for training and equipping as a means of building up the church.
Understanding the full meaning of the gospel should then lead us to preach it in a way that not only is the unbeliever hearing about sin, wrath and forgiveness, but the believer is being deepened in their theology. The separation of gospel versus doctrine(ministry as some call it) that has affected many preachers is unfortunate and erroneous. The apostle Paul sought to preach the gospel to both groups of people and allowed the Holy Spirit to discern the personal application.
The book of Romans is the Christian's world view because it describes God's transcendent worldview. Understanding God's transcendency entails an acknowledgment that what God says about the world is true and is not up for debate or disbelief.
As the Protestant church has just celebrated the anniversary of the Reformation, Romans 1:17 has been quoted extensively by many bloggers and preachers.
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

This verse has many pages dedicated to its understanding with many scholars and teachers have varying opinions on what meaning Paul intended with each particular phrase. My eyes caught the part, "a righteousness that is by faith from first to last", which is revealed in the gospel Paul tells us. Calvin understood this to mean that as our faith makes progress and as it grows in knowledge, the righteousness of God increases in us at the same time. Under this view, the gospel speaks then not only of salvation but also of perseverance and sanctification. This well explains Paul's desire to preach the gospel to the believers in Rome; he wanted to see them persevere and continue in their pursuit of holiness. In Paul's apostolic ministry there was no division of preaching material. It was all for the gospel.
Understanding this part of the book of Romans as shown me that any conversations that I undertake in my limited sphere of influence should all flow from the same desire as Paul: to see "a righteousness from God" revealed both to the Christian and the non-Christian.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Abortion insight

Kevin from the Derek Webb forum writes this about abortion:
If we want God's take on the whole deal, we know that he knit us in our mother's womb. What about the nature of God makes us think he's cool with us just going ahead and killing what he knit?