Friday, June 28, 2013

truly repentant

"To be truly repentant, we have to believe that we are truly deserving of judgement." ~Mark Rushdoony
To believe that we are truly deserving of judgement requires that we have the highest view of our sinful condition, which requires that we view our sin in the worst possible light, the highest offence in God's economy. This is in contrast to believing that we are not truly deserving of judgment because we hold a low view of our sin, viewing our sinful condition in the best possible light, of little offence to God in the grand scheme of things.
As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:10, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

But how is it possible to be truly repentant, truly aware of deserved judgement, when the heart is deceitful and beyond cure, as Jeremiah 17:9 tells us?

The deceitful heart will provide justification for sin, all day long, as long as life endures.  And it is because of this unrelenting justification of our sin, this constant belittling of our fallen condition, this "flesh giving birth to flesh" that we are unable to see the glorious kingdom of God.

So to ask again, how is it possible to be truly repentant, truly aware of the deserved judgement when the heart is deceitful and beyond cure?
In reply, Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." John 3:3
The awakening rescue comes in this wonderful truth which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, "the Spirit gives birth to spirit".  John 3:6
Being born again by God's Spirit occurs when your deceitful heart is made aware of its own crafty lies and deception, bringing you to believe that what God says about you is true: you are a sinner that deserves nothing but judgement.  Now fully awake and alive, the justification of sin halts and the awareness and belief of your truly deserved judgement begins.

And this is why the gospel is called Good News, because we are not left by God's Spirit writhing in the guilty and tortuous agony of knowing we deserve nothing but judgement for our wretched sinfulness.

Oh no!  Awake and alive, we are then ushered into God's glorious kingdom of no judgement or condemnation, because God's Spirit has taught us and enabled us to repent and believe in the One who bore the judgment for us!  How glorious is that truth!  How amazing is that rescue!
"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has donehas been done through God." John 3:21
And what, in His kindness, has God done?  He has led us to repentance!
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4
From start to finish, our rescue from certain and deserved judgement is God's Trinitarian work, planned and carried out by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  All three persons of the Godhead working together to have a people "who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory". Ephesians 1:14
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36

prepared to provide instruction

The Conservatory by Frances Jones Bannerman
"The ability to learn on one's own is normally the result of a good education, and not normally the cause of it.  Jesus teaches us that a "disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (Mt. 10:24).
This means that there must be consistent time set aside for instruction in the home, and the parental instructors must be prepared to provide that instruction. ...
Glibness, or an ability to "wing it" is no substitute for reading and study. And while it may be possible to "wow" the younger children, there will come a time when your older children will detect the fraud if you are not prepared. For example, in the area of literature, the students may read and enjoy books that their parents have not read, but they cannot be taught literature that their parents have not read. More than this, they cannot be taught literature that their parents have not studied."(emphases in text) ~Doug Wilson, Classical Education and the Homeschool

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

summer so far

We're currently visiting with my parents in Pennsylvania and having a wonderful time although the hot and humid weather is bringing a spate of thunderstorms through everyday at some point, but they don't last long before the sun is back out.  We've been swimming and hanging out with my brother's family, eating his delicious food, shopping, taking walks and visiting with the neighbors and having a go at their tree fort built for their grandkids.

Today I bought Seth a fixed blade knife from our local Army and Navy store and required him to read the introduction to this book to help him with his whittling interest. My Mom showed him how to sharpen the blade using her father's whetstone and then she helped him find some fresh branches to practice on.

Vacation is truly a wonderful gift.  I do very little housework here and instead I have extra time to read through the books and curriculum materials that I ordered and shipped here.  Not that I have uninterrupted hours, but it's a more relaxed pace and the kids can play outside with much less monitoring than I have to do at our home in Ontario.

Tomorrow we have plans to go visit some historical places since we studied George Washington and the Revolutionary War this past year.  It has been years since I visited some of these parks, so I'm curious what he thinks about seeing the real historical place.

I have so many areas of study and creative work I want to do which is not really work to me, so I'm trying to give myself time to pursue them.  I'm reading up on how to propagate ferns so I can add to the lonely little plant growing in the front of our house.  And my parents' longtime family friends and neighbors have tons of ferns that she is willing to let me play with and dig up.
I'm also inspired to try to press plants and flowers between cotton fabric instead of the recommended paper towels since my Mom's paper towels all have a pattern on them.  I don't know if the fabric will absorb the moisture as well as paper towel, but as my Mom has always said, "nothing beats a failure like a try."

This world that God has created is so rich in natural beauty that I can't help but be curious and interested in His handiwork.  I hope you feel inspired and motivated too!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

pursuing creativity

 On the writings of P.G. Wodehouse, known as Plum to friends and family, who momentarily put writing aside and devoted himself to learning to play the banjo:
What actually did happen was that Westbrook--either because he had no ear for music or because he was temporarily out of ready cash--took advantage of one of Plum's absences from the house to rush the banjo off to an obliging pawnshop. This would not have irked Plum so much had the separation from his instrument been for a specified period. But Westbrook, whether by accident or design, lost the pawn ticket and this put paid to a possible music career. For Plum--like a pet-lover whose dog, rhino, marmoset or whatever having passed away hesitates to have another--did not replace the departed banjo. Perhaps the world is in Westbrook's debt. Time that might have been devoted to the banjo was spent once again in writing.{emphasis mine} ~David A. Jasen, P.G. Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master 
Edith Schaeffer discussing the need for devoting time and energy to creating art and beauty:
All art involves conscious discipline. If one is going to paint, do scuplture, design a building or write a book, it will involve discipline in time and energy--or there would never be any production at all to be seen, felt or enjoyed by ourselves or others. To develop 'hidden Art' will also, of course take time and energy--and the balance of the use of time is a constant individual problem for all of us: what to do, and what to leave undone. One is always having to neglect one thing in order to give precedence to something else. The question is one of priorities.
It would very frustrating if we expected each other to do each thing perfectly, or to add new creative things without eliminating something else. Of course something is being neglected every day. That is the finite bit of humanity asserting itself! But--and this needs emphasis--a Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there.{emphases mine} 
Does this mean that we should all drop everything to concentrate on trying to develop into great artists? No, of course not. But it does mean that we should consciously do something about it.
[T]he fact that you are a Christian should show in some practical area of a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than in a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness. ~Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
Lanier, writing on more than a decade of reflection as a wife, homemaker and writer:
It meant that I could leave certain things undone as freely as I could take up others. That one task was not ‘holier’ than another simply because it fit nicely into the groove of an accepted standard.It was just as valid, I saw, to hammer out words on my laptop for people I would never meet as to give an entire day to preparing a beautiful meal for beloved friends. I gave myself permission to write, not for a few hours a week, but a several hours a day. Interminable chore lists languished, trumped by the lure of a poetry book or a garden sketch. I was homemaker, in the truest sense of the word, but not only that— and this little clause was vastly, wildly, magnificently important. I began to realize that my “deep gladness,” the gift I had to give to the world, was at once simpler and more complex than could be confined to one blanket term—simpler because there was suddenly no need to align myself with one narrow definition or another; more complex because I was, to my growing astonishment…more. As much scribbler and wayfarer and dreamer of dreams as housewife, sacred as that calling is to me. ~Lanier, Mercies from her website Lanier's Books
We all have talents and abilities whether inherent or learned, that God has given to us to use to create beauty and goodness.  Taking time to develop and grow those passions is important work as we imitate God's work in creation.  I have written about this before in a post called, not surprisingly, Important Work.  It's fun to ask my friends and family what they pursue for the development of beauty and goodness. I need to do it more often and encourage them in these areas.

What areas of art, beauty, and creativity do you like to pursue?  Perhaps like me, you need to say with Anne of Avonlea, "I must get out all my ambitions and dust them."  

Learning to draw well is one of my ambitions and this page is from last year; I need to set aside time to "dust off " my drawing book and begin again.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

knowledge, faith and being educated

To put it succinctly: educated people know not only what they really mean but also what they are actually saying. ... You will be educated, which means that you will be interested where others are bored, that you will notice unities where others experience randomness, and that you will intend meanings where others are just spouting words. ~Eva Brann, Do You Know What An Odyssey Is?
The second objective is to know all other worldviews fully and fairly. It is not possible to know what one believes and why without simultaneously knowing what one does not believe and why, for nothing is knowable in a vacuum. ~Glenn R. Martin, Prevailing Worldviews
Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.  ~C.S. Lewis, previously posted as C.S.Lewis on Writing
I put these quotes together but I'm still mulling over where I find myself in the process of being educated and educating others, namely our children. How well do I know other worldviews, for instance?

This past Sunday at a church picnic, I conversed with a visiting university biology student who confided throughout our varied conversation, that science had messed her up in regards to her Catholic schooling and faith.  Later after further inquiries, she related that she felt that the proof of evolution was at odds with the Bible and there was her faith crisis, along with grief over the passing of a much adored grandparent several years ago.  I knew my studies in this area were inadequate to have a in-depth discussion with her own much more advanced knowledge of biology, genetics, etc.  And shouldn't Christians of all people, be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within them?

But it wasn't really a discussion about biology and evolution that needed to happen, it was a discussion about the goodness of God in the face of grief and pain that needed to be cried over together and hugs exchanged as I shared with her my family's unexpected loss of my younger brother those many years ago.

I have come to see that frequently, it is not that someone needs evidences debunked or studies discussed, but they need their view on God and suffering challenged with empathy and kindness.  They need someone to say, I have felt loss too, yet I still believe God is faithful.  She asked in just a few words, how our family coped with a fatality in the family and the answer was that God is kind to us.  She had been watching and interacting with Kate and loved her.  She spoke of wanting to have and care for children of her own someday, and even special needs children if it meant they would be loved and cared for.  But yet her heart is struggling with why God caused her grandmother to die so unexpectedly with no chance for goodbyes. I hear her heartache, yet we are not promised answers, but are asked to trust God with the reasons and obey His word for our lives.

And really, what's the point of knowing a reason for a tragedy, if there is no true comfort provided?  God provides comfort for His people and asks for us to trust Him that He is working out His purposes for His glory and our good. And that is very comforting, knowing that God, the Creator and Sustainer of this world has not forgotten His people; He is working for them.

And knowing this, being educated like this, means that we should see unity and purpose where others see random and meaningless acts.  We should intend actual meaning, where others just spout words.  Our worldview should include knocking down(sometimes gently, sometimes staunchly; discernment is ever needed), those faulty worldviews that do not bring people into obedience to God's word and trust in His Providences.
And we should be people who do it well, knowing our words, not fudging the answers or looking to impress the audience, but speaking clearly the truth of God's world to people who desperately need to hear it.

I told my new young friend that I would be praying for her as she searches for peace and she responded gratefully, acknowledging that there are others who say they do as well.  We have begun a friendship and she has allowed me to send her some articles and book suggestions that may help her as she searches.  I care for her and I pray that God brings her to Him.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kate's exciting morning of progress

From my Facebook update earlier this morning:

Very very excited that Kate just blew into her little horn/recorder three different times producing a sound!! Two months ago she couldn't even organize her mouth to blow, let alone produce a sound! Annnddd, she is biting properly up and down on her chewy tube instead of one big chomp and fixing. I feel like we might just be turning a corner. Video to follow.

and then a few minutes later I posted this video update:

Just a short clip to hear Kate blowing into her little horn actually producing a sound this morning. She had already made it toot three different times before I got the camera and shot this clip, so her patience was probably running short with the activity. We tried blowing bubbles after this but she hasn't figured that out yet.

And on top of all this progress, she has been showing signs of being ready to potty-train, so I have been setting the timer for around 15 minute increments to put her on.  After a few misses this morning, where she had just gone in her diaper despite me adjusting the timer to meet her frequency, we just now put her on and she went "on-demand" for the first time ever.  She seemed to know what she should be doing, so time will tell if she really is ready or needs more time to figure this out.  Just so very excited to see some progress in areas where I had begun to despair.  Thank you for praying and all the kind concern that you all have expressed to me here and in person. We know she is loved and cared for by many, many people.

Monday, June 10, 2013