Monday, August 29, 2005

Is it worth my time?

This is a great post, complete with beautiful sunset pictures, written by Paul Egge and copied from the blog, "FISH BOWL":

Good Bye...


Hello everyone...


... Or should I say good-bye.

As an economics major you learn many things. Perhaps the greatest concept I learned in education is the value of a concept called "opportunity cost." I will refer to this as "OC." OC inherently challenges everything you do by asking the question, "What else could you being doingS5 right now." What is the opportunity cost of doing what you are doing right now?

By you reading this right now you are not doing everything else that you "could" be doing. You, in essence, have made a decision that reading this right now is the most productive, interesting and beneficial thing that you could do. I made a decision that me writing this was the most beneficial use of my time at the time that I did it.S7

Blogging is fun and beneficial but I have concluded that it is not the best use of my Sunset_1 time at this point in my life. My time is better spent elsewhere. The truth is that blogging takes time, perhaps too much time.

It has been fun to share, force and ramble my ideas to you over this blog. I have enjoyed many of the responses that many of you have shared. ... S4

...Know thyself and ultimately know God!

The above post was written by Paul Egge in the blog, "FISH BOWL".


I just can't seem to get away from posting on the theme of "time" lately. Must be on my mind alot. I've already been accused of having too much time on my hands. That's all about to change soon, as I have been seriously job-hunting, and have applications out and interviews lined up this week. I needed a job all summer, so it's getting to the desperate stage.

If you think of it, pray for me: I need God's wisdom in this job-search. It has to be just the right amount of hours, with great pay, and no stress! Okay, so I'm picky! That's a bit unrealistic, I know, but God knows my needs. Pray that I'll let Him guide me, and provide for a job for me.

After all, my time is worth a lot!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

When time is no more

The author of this post is gone on Sabbatical (must be nice!) but I'd like to initiate a discussion about these statements, and analyze their ramifications:
..."You are never more in ministry than where you are at present." ... God is never more to you and me, we are never more his, nor is the world ever closer to God than at this moment... There is not a greater next than the moment we've been given...
That is one of the most frightening, sobering ideas I have ever heard. Is there no hope of growth and development or advancement in an intimate relationship with God? What about the scriptures that tell of transforming grace, being "changed from glory to glory"?

I can vaguely grasp and appreciate the idea of the fullness of time; that the presence of Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God here and now, eternity in the present. I believe that we will be held accountable for each "tiny moment" and that "this moment is the most holy of all." But,"nothing more" and "never more" strike a fatalistic chord in my heart.

I know it was not the intention of the writer to discourage his readers, but rather to instill a joyful purpose and holy calling in all of us. Instead of spending our lives waiting for the end of time, we should live each moment to the fullest, literally in the"fullness of time." Like the admonishment, "Carpe Diem!" we should live each day as if it is our last day on earth.

This was the writer's conclusion, after pondering:
"What's next is what's now."

Then he quoted Eugene Peterson in Christ Plays...: "I finally got it: end time enfluences present, ordinary time, not by diminishing or denegrating it but by charging it, filling it with purpose and significance. The end time is not a future we wait for but the gift of the fullness of time that we receive in adoration and obedience as it flows into the present."

Where does that leave hope for a better future?

If I will never be more in ministry than where I am now, then I am going nowhere!
If God is never more to me, and I am never going to be closer to Him than I am now in this moment, then He is far away!
If there is no greater "next" than this moment now, there's nothing great about this moment!

I guess it isn't always helpful to tell a depressed person, "It doesn't get any better than this!" :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Be Not Dismayed ... God Will Take Care Of You!

Have you ever stayed up half the night worrying about finances, wondering how you're going to get through the winter, where the money is going to come from to cover the rising fuel costs, how you're ever going to pay all the bills? Come on, be honest! I know you have.

Have you ever been sorely tempted to rob your kids' piggy bank, to "borrow some cash until payday"? Have you ever looked around the house at pieces of furniture with dollar signs in your eyes, wondering how much that item would go for in a garage sale? Have you ever considered becoming a breeder for your pet, just to bring in some extra money? Have you ever gone "backwards shopping" to return impulse buys and unwanted items (with tags intact and sales receipts, of course!)? Surely, you can relate to one of those scenarios.

Perhaps you can recall a day of panic and crisis, marked by embarrassment over a check that bounced or a debit card that didn't go through; fear and mortification upon discovery that the bank account balance was $2.98; followed up with an emergency transfer of funds or a trip to the bank to make a deposit? If you've ever had that unpleasant experience, maybe it was a wake-up call to get a better handle on your personal finances.

Maybe you decided to create a budget, or curtail your eating out expenses. Maybe you went on a job hunt, or put in an application to advance at your present workplace. Maybe you thought about getting a night job at the gas station nearby, but the fear of robberies (and the need for sleep!) kept you from actually applying there.

Did any of that worrying actually provide any answers to your financial dilemma? Did you solve the financial crisis, just by ruminating over it, until 3:00am? Did you at least come up with a plan of action, or was your mind too clouded with fear and fog from lack of sleep?

The Bible talks about money more than any other subject. It also has alot to say about worrying. I think the bottom line is that God expects us to be responsible stewards of our finances, but to remember that He is our Father who Provides, Jehovah-Jirah! The antidote for worry is a strong dose of simple child-like faith! It also acts a good sleep-aid, too.

Try it the next time you are tempted to whittle away the hours worrying all night. Worrying doesn't get you anywhere, but faith can move mountains!

1. Be not dismayed, what e'er betide, God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

God will take care of you through every day, o'er all the way;
He will take care of you, God will take care of you.

2. Through days of toil, when heart doth fail, God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.

3. All you may need He will provide, God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.

4. No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Listen to the clock ticking!

The house is so quiet today that the clock on the wall is bugging me again. My ADD brain can't filter out the incessant ticking, even though I have tried padding the back of the clock with soft cotton. It's so loud, it makes me synchronize the ticks with the beating of my heart. I swear if I listen long enough, I'd hear my own biological clock marking off the seconds of my life!

In a moment or two, I'll get up and turn some soft worship music on. Not just yet; for a while I'll sit here, listening to the sounds of an empty house. It's such an odd stillness. Just yesterday, the fans were running, the phone was ringing, the doorbell was chiming, the dog was barking...and the whole house echoed with the obnoxiously rude noises of two adolescent boys playing an aggravatingly loud video game.

What a difference one day can make! With the flip of a calendar page, school has begun. Summer break has ended, "sleeping in" is over, free time has been curtailed. "Back-to-school" is an annual ritual, but it's different for me this time. My baby girl left the house this morning, ending a year of homeschool, and walked in to a public high school. My now a freshman! My baby boy got up and showered, put gel in his hair, donned his private school uniform, and entered the twilight-zone of seventh grade. (Oh, horrors! How soon will he start shaving?) Elementary education is over for this family, it's time to clean out the picture books and grade-school supplies. My youngest is now a junior-high student!

I feel as though I'm having a pre-season peek at the "Empty Nest Syndrome." Oh, yes, by the way, where is that dear husband I've been married to for eighteen years? Well, it seems that he is off chasing polar bears on some island way up in the Arctic ocean right now. [Honestly, I'm not kidding, he really is in Kaktovik, on Barter Island. Look it up!] I was a bit miffed when it dawned on me that I'd be handling the morning rush myself, for the first two days of school, driving both kids to school in opposite directions. Okay, I'm still a bit miffed, but secretly quite proud of how smoothly the morning routine actually went.

I must confess I relish the solitude of an empty house almost as much as a hidden candy bar. This day is all mine, to fritter away, nibbling at the minutes (while listening to the clock tick!) -- or to chomp at with gusto, gobbling up big chunks of time (cleaning and organizing, which is what I'm supposed to be doing right now). Solitude is so delicious! It's such a luxury to savor the silence, to soak in the sunlight, to sip a cup of Seattle's best. Like a favorite poster saying, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."

But, dog-gone, that clock keeps on ticking! Like an annoying pest, poking at my arm, it won't go away or slow down. The clock is my enemy; every night it steals precious minutes of sunlight from the next day, until the winter solstice, when it grudgingly starts adding them back.

Well, I guess it's time. Guess I'd better turn on some peppy music, and get my body moving!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Puzzle Pieces

Here is a really neat in-depth Bible study, put together like a jig-saw puzzle. Follow the pieces of the puzzle to each new link.
God's Secret Treasure
Treasures, Hidden, Riches, and Secret: key words that fit together like a puzzle.
When we connect all our puzzle pieces together, this is the picture we see: a treasure chest full of God's secret treasure.
©Dee Dee Hall-2001

Monday, August 15, 2005

Where did the summer go?

We're gearing up for "Back-to-School" this week. After a very busy week at the Tanana Valley State Fair, we had a garage sale! Garage sales are fun to shop, but lots of work to sell. The trouble is when you go to too many garage sales, you eventually must have one to sell all the "bargains" you picked up.

We're quickly approaching our week of Fall. Notice, I did not refer to fall season. In Alaska, we have one month of summer, one week of spring, and one week of fall. The rest is winter. I've heard it said that in Alaska there are four seasons: Winter, almost winter, still winter, and summer. That is more truth than fiction, folks.

It was actually hot and muggy for a day or two, last week, during the Fair. The annual fair is always the first week of August, and it always rains the whole week. Not this year, though! Record temperatures and sunny skies replaced the rainy season this time.

This week, however, the smoke rolled in from forest fires. The atmosphere is a thick grayish-orange hue, and the sun looks like a cinnamon fireball. (What's the name of those candy jawbreakers: red-hots? fireballs?) Picnics and school sports practices are all cancelled, due to the dangers of breathing in the smoke-filled particles of air. It puts a damper on the kids' last week of freedom, but they are used to it. Last summer it was several weeks of smoke.

It's hard to believe our "endless summer days" are almost over!

That's it for the weather commentary. No need for a weather forecast in winter: it's always the same ... cold and dark!

Treasures of the darkness?

1. The forest fires go out.
2. The Light shines brighter.
3. There's more time and inclination to cuddle up and snuggle--with a good book!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Treasure Hunt


Are there not treasures in the Lord Jesus? Oh! what treasures of grace in His glorious Person! What treasures of pardon in His precious blood! What treasures of righteousness in His perfect obedience! What treasures of salvation in all that He is and has as the great High Priest over the house of God! …

… But it is only as these hidden riches of secret places are thus opened up to the soul that we see, or feel, or know what the Lord Jesus Christ is to those that believe in and love His holy name. It is this bringing forth of the hidden riches of secret places which stamps a divine reality upon God's Word, and makes it to be spirit and life to the soul.

To feel the power and blessedness of these things is a part of that "secret of the Lord which is with those who fear Him;" and it is by getting into these blessed secrets, handling these treasures, and obtaining possession of these riches, that we come experimentally to realize what a blessed power there is in a divine heartfelt religion. We may see the doctrines plainly enough in the Word of God; but if that be all we know about them, it is like seeing money which is not our own, and casting up accounts of other people's property.

The grand point is not only to see the riches, but to be put in possession of them. A religion without power, without savor, without a felt blessedness in the truth of God, by the application of the Spirit, is worthless both for time and eternity. …

(See the link to my post in the header box above for the author info.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Parody of "Cartoons" by Chris Rice

"I was thinking the other day, what if nursery rhymes got married?
They'd be living their days in a whole new way:"

Our Life As A Nursery Rhyme

HE: "Paully-Wolly"
SHE: "Cindy-Lou"

HE thinks to himself:

(Georgy Porgy, pudding and pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry.
Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater, Had a wife and couldn't keep her;) . . .

Paully, Wally, Rootbeer float,(*see comment below) Threw her in a riverboat.
He put her in a strait-jacket, And there he kept her very well.

Row, row, row your boat--Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream.

Oh my Cindy Lou’s such a maiden fair,
Singin' Paully Wolly Doodle all the day,
With her curly eyes and her laughing hair.
Sing Paully Wolly Doodle all the day.

HE: Little maid, pretty maid, whither goest thou?
SHE: Down in the meadow to milk my cow.
HE: Shall I go with thee?
SHE: No, not now. When I send for thee, then come thou.

Goosey, goosey, gander, Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs, and downstairs, And in my lady's chamber.

“See-saw, Marjory Daw,” you shall have a new master,
You shall have but a penny a day, Because you won't work any faster.

SHE: Paul, “Tommy Tucker”, sing for your supper.
HE: What shall I sing for? SHE: White bread and butter.
HE thinks to himself: (How shall I cut it without any knife?)
SHE thinks to herself: (How shall he manage without any wife?)

SHE: Paully, put the kettle on, Paully, put the kettle on,
Paully, put the kettle on, And let’s drink tea.
HE: Cindy, take it off again, Cindy, take it off again,
Cindy, take it off again, They’re all gone away.

HE: Cindy, Cindy, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?
SHE: With silver bells and cockleshells, And pretty maids all in a row.

“Punch and Judy” fought for pie; Paul gave Cindy a knock on the eye.
Says Paul to Cindy, "Will you have any more?"
Says Cindy to Paul, "My eye is too sore."

HE: So I'd like to know where, you got the notion…
Said I'd like to know where, you got the notion…
to rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby
rock the boat, don't tip the boat over
rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby… DON'T ROCK THE BOAT, DEAR!

Don't rock the boat dear… Keep our love afloat dear
Strike that happy note dear…We're not lost at sea

Keep our love ready…And never high or heady
Always keep it steady…The way it ought to be

Even though we're out in deep water
We must save the future for sons and daughters

What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
"Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails;
And that's what little boys are made of, made of."

What are little girls made of, made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all that's nice;
And that's what little girls are made of, made of."

Up to now we sailed through every storm
but I've always had your tender lips to keep me warm
oh I need to have the strength that flows from you
don't let me drift away my dear, when (your) love can see me through.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily … Life is but a dream!

* Rootbeer float: what we had on our first date!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Tiny Moments

Every time you make a choice, however small, you turn the central innermost part of you — SELF — into something slightly different than it was before… either more in love with itself or more committed to the services of others, more desirous of gratifying its own hungers or more eager to lay them aside, more intent to feed its independence or looking instead for opportunities to yield that independence to Him who made you, more satisfied to put itself first or ever in search for ways to subserve itself to others.

Every good impulse to which you yield, every base or selfish one you resist, every attitude you embrace or reject, every word, every motive, every act — each registers its stamp upon your SELF. Add up a million such choices and look at the progress in one direction or another…Each choice or attitude makes an invisible mark on the central YOU(SELF) that makes it easier and more likely for you to respond in a similar way the next time. Every choice you make plants a flower. Each of you possess like opportunity to use your moments to turn the central thing of character – SELF — into a garden of radiant beauty and heavenly fragrance…or to squander these same moments with self-gratifying choices that cast off a stench rather that perfume…and turn the blossoms brown.

(Adapted from this lovely little book:)

Garden At The Edge Of Beyond
“The Garden at the Edge of Beyond” by Michael Phillips

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Words! Words! Words!

This morning I picked up my son’s Stanford Achievement Test results from last year (6th grade). As expected, his scores were above average and across the board he rated a grade equivalent of 2 to 4 grades higher than his actual grade level. What stood out most to me were his scores in language: above average, Post High-School grade equivalent! Reading comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling were all above average also. Unfortunately, he has been exercising his language skills in endless battles of the will (or more accurately, the “Won’t!”) whenever he is confronted.

I feel as though I have been inundated by a torrent of words. The world of words over the internet has overwhelmed me and overstimulated my senses. From blog-surfing to downloading streaming video to checking three different e-mail accounts to reading web tutorials, my little brain is “fried”.

While paging through a little booklet I found, I opened to a chapter entitled, “Our Wordy World.” The following is an excerpt from “The Way of the Heart” (©1981) by Henri J.M. Nouwen:
Wherever we go we are surrounded by words. Words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited, or sung; words on records, [CD, DVD, I-POD, etc.], in books, on walls, or in the sky [or computer monitor]; words in many sounds, many colors, or many forms… words which flicker off and on, move slowly, dance, jump, or wiggle. Words! Words! Words!

In such a world who can maintain respect for words? All this is to suggest that words, my own included, have lost their creative power. [Mine, too!] Their limitless multiplication has made us lose confidence in words and caused us to think, more often than not, “They are just words.”

Teachers speak to students for six, twelve, eighteen years—but the students often emerge from the experience with the feeling, “They were just words.” Preachers preach their sermons week after week and year after year—but their parishioners remain the same, and often think “They are just words.” From politicians to popes, with speeches and statements, words are ushered forth to hearers who do not listen.* “They are just words,” they say, “Just another distraction.”

Often it seems that we who study or teach theology find ourselves entangled in such a complex network of discussions, debates, and arguments about God and “God-issues” that a simple conversation with God or a simple presence to God [in solitude] has become practically impossible. Our heightened verbal ability, which enables us to make many distinctions, has sometimes become a poor substitute for a single-minded commitment to the WORD, Who is Life.

When our words are no longer a reflection of the Divine WORD, they become as meaningless and misleading as the words used to sell Geritol [or Pepto-Bismol].

There was a time when the obvious milieu for theological education was the monastery. There words were born out of silence and could lead one deeper into silence. The Word of God is born out of the eternal silence of God, and it is to this WORD out of silence that we want to be witnesses.

The writers of classics like the excerpt above, such as “Practicing the Presence of God,” and the “Celebration of Discipline” have learned a secret: solitude and meditation are disciplines to be learned and practiced.

Think for a moment: when was the last time you were “shut in with God, in a secret place,” practicing and cherishing the rare gift of silence?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Book Reviews

(I came across this article in a Google search of "Treasures of Darkness")

Treasures of Darkness

Reaching a new understanding of God's sovereignty through suffering

Treasures of Darkness
By Jane Grayshon
Hodder & Stoughton
152 pages. £6.99
ISBN 0 340 65624 7

The Blessing of Tears
By Julie Sheldon
Hodder & Stoughton
134 pages. £4.99
ISBN 0 340 65200 4

A Grace Disguised
By Gerald L. Sittser
Hodder & Stoughton
184 pages. £6.99
ISBN 0 340 67140 8

Three new titles from Hodder & Stoughton, each written by someone who has known suffering from the inside, all aim to help readers see their own sufferings in a biblical framework.
I believe all these books could be helpful in the right person's hands, whether the counsellor trying to gain a clearer grasp of how suffering feels, or the person who has come through some traumatic experience or grief. The Blessing of Tears has the specific aim of helping us see the healing benefits of weeping. Its short chapters and many illustrations make it easily accessible to anyone, especially if they are not naturally inclined to read books. Its scope is focused, but it does well what it sets out to do.
Treasures of Darkness, as is evident from its title, drawn from Isaiah, shows that there are ways we can come to a new grasp of God's sovereignty only through discovering those riches stored in secret places. Jane Grayshon has written other books on this theme and refers back several times to her recently published A Pathway Through Pain. She writes engagingly. Those who have read the earlier titles may feel they have covered the ground.
I lent all three books to a widowed colleague, to hear her views on them. By the end of the exercise, the book-spines told their own story. We had both pored over pages and re-read parts of A Grace Disguised, and it looked distinctly second-hand!
This book, written by the Associate Professor of Religion at Whitworth College, Washington, reflects on the three years following a road accident in which he lost his mother, his wife and one of his children. The pain is still there. He looks ahead knowing that it will diminish, but that its imprint on his life will remain. The theme of the book is not what tragedy does to us, but what it does in us: how it may transform and realign and strengthen. Gerald Sittser is not self-absorbed; he has a pastoral heart, and constantly refers to others who have suffered differently, for example through sickness or divorce. He is a realist, he is honest, he has spiritual depth. It is no surprise to find the book close with Be Thou My Vision, the hymn sung at his wedding, and again 20 years later at the funeral of his wife, mother and daughter.
My colleague whose views I had sought, told me she had already ordered copies of A Grace Disguised for two friends. I can see why.
Julia Cameron, OMF
© Evangelicals Now - April 1997

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

David Brainerd's Blog

Entries from the journal kept in 1745 and 1746 by this young minister to the Indian tribes of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Thanks to Rebecca; this is a really awesome blog. link
Friday, Aug. 1. In the evening enjoyed a sweet season in secret prayer; clouds of darkness and perplexing care were sweetly scattered, and nothing anxious remained. Oh, how serene was my mind at this season! How free from that distracting concern I have often felt! ‘Thy will be done,’ was a petition sweet to my soul; and if God had bidden me choose for myself in any affair, I should have chosen rather to have referred the choice to him; for I saw he was infinitely wise, and could not do any thing amiss, as I was in danger of doing. Was assisted in prayer for my dear flock, that God would promote his own work among them, and that God would go with me in my intended journey to Susquehannah: was helped to remember dear friends in New England, and my dear brethren in the ministry. I found enough in the sweet duty of prayer to have engaged me to continue in it the whole night, would my bodily state have admitted of it. Oh, how sweet it is to be enabled heartily to say--"Lord, not my will, but thine be done!"

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Glimpse into the Darkness of Depression

I came across this article while searching "Treasures of Darkness" on the web:

Treasures of Darkness: Depression
A Personal Point of View

by Roger Carswell

Click here