Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts and Graces

You know how God just suddenly surprises you with an answer, long past when you were hoping for one and long after you have given up expectation that you will get an answer? I am going to share my answer. It might not make as much sense to others as it does to me, but it is still glorious to consider. The answer came unexpectedly while I was reading last night in my year long journey through J.I Packer's book, "A Quest for Godliness." He is summarizing John Owen's writings on spiritual gifts.

"Do we deplore that so little of the life of God appears in our souls? Is it our complaint that our gifts are so small? Use your gifts and graces, such as they are, to stir each other up to exercise, Owen is saying, and you will have more of both. Do we seek to grow in grace through the exercise of our gifts? When we speak to others of the things of God, do we seek to feed our own souls on the same truths? Equally, do we seek to increase our gifts through stirring up our hearts to seek God? When we speak of divine things to others, and lead them in prayer, do we seek to feel the reality of the things we speak of? Small gifts may have great usefulness when backed by honest, sincere feeling and unaffected holiness. Are we depressed about our Christian service, finding it largely barren and ourselves largely impotent? Let us go back to our God for wisdom to learn how his grace and gifts in us may help each other. Covet earnestly the best gifts--and with them a humble, loving heart. This is the way of growth and fruitfulness."

I am reminded from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that the greatest gift is love. That is what we should earnestly be desiring and coveting as a gift from God to exercise by His grace. I have long been convinced that to live the Christian life, especially the challenging lifestyle of a large home educating family, requires us to live by 2 commandments. Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and love our neighbors (the nearest ones being our spouses and children ) as we love ourselves. Love is the KEY and Grace is the need and answer.

God's gifts to us are to be used-by His grace-to equip the saints, build the body of Christ, and to encourage and comfort one another. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) So my prayer is that God will teach me and my family "how his grace and gifts in us may help each other." When we learn this and practice this more faithfully, then we will be living a clearer and more powerful picture of Christ and His gospel than anything else we could ever do and we will see the growth and fruitfulness that we so desire.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Biblical Economics

The older children and I have been reading "Biblical Economics" by R.C. Sproul Jr. I cannot say we have been enjoying it because it is a little dry compared to the Uncle Eric books on economics by Richard J. Maybury. However, I thought it would be better to read about economics from a Christian perspective because Maybury mentions that he is libertarian. Maybury is right on about the mechanics of economics and free market but I never felt his solutions were accurate when it comes to how a Christian should deal with things. In fact in later books in Maybury's series, he actually explains how to capitalize on all the government influxes of capital. In my mind that makes two wrongs: the government printing money and infusing it into the economy and the individual profiting from it.

Thus you have my reasoning behind reading Sproul's book. We have not completed it, however this last week we read his chapter on inflation and the entire book is worth it if just for that chapter. I wish every Christian in the country could read just that chapter and get a clear, complete understanding of what inflation is and what it is not. So for my part I will give a little summary here and hopefully more people will dig into Sproul's book on how Biblical economic principles play out in the real world and what happens when we ignore God's Word in this area of life.

According to Sproul (and Maybury) what inflation is not: it is not the raising of prices by merchants. What inflation is clear and simple: the government printing more money to pay for its debts and programs. Sproul is very direct in calling this legalized counterfeiting. He gives some history on how we got to this horrific point in time with our economy disintegrating before our very eyes. (Warning: anyone who still thinks FDR was one of our greatest presidents will get a non-revisionist history lesson here.)

Sproul then goes on to explain what the Scriptures call unjust weights and measures. When the government devalues our currency more and more by printing more and more paper then it is dealing out unjust weights and measures. By printing more and more money our government steals from its own people, robs us of our productivity and labor (job losses), and outright disobeys the laws of God.

So who benefits from this system??? Number one the politicians. Sproul points out that a politician who wants to stay in office and is faced with an unbalanced budget---translated the government is spending more than it has---has two choices: he can commit political suicide by cutting back expenditures and raising taxes OR he can press the "on" button of the monetary printing presses. Guess which one our president elect will choose??? In fact last night I heard on the news that he has "big plans for building the infrastructure of our economy." Read that as he plans to print more money for more government programs. The result will be more companies closing, more jobs lost, more people unemployed and more unrest. Essentially the government is devouring all of its nation's wealth. One analyst projected that the bailouts will consume over half of our nation's production next year.

The problem: God is not mocked. As a man, a nation reaps what it sows. One thing is for certain: at some point an economy that is built on unjust weights and measures will come crashing down, it is merely a matter of time. The question is what kind of price will America pay for its disobedience? How much will Americans give up so they can have security, ease, and even food on the table?

Biblical economics will give you plenty of food for thought. One thing it reinforces for me is the huge importance of studying history, true history, not the garbage we were fed in public schools that has been rewritten for political agendas. We are seeing a repeat of so many historical scenes playing out before our eyes. For instance, in the Great Depression, the original crash of Wall Street was the first domino in what followed. Creditors to the Wall Street bankers and investors told those who had lost money that they would extend the credit and give them time to repay. The bankers and investors then turned around and demanded instant payment from their debtors and when the people couldn't pay they turned them off their farms, out of their homes, and closed their businesses so that the banks could recoup their own costs and protect themselves. Today our government is bailing out the bankers and speculators and they, in turn, are pulling the plugs on their financial support of factories and business, who in turn are closing their doors and putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Sounds like the parable of the wicked servant to me.

There is so much more I could say, but this is supposed to be a book review! So, if you want to understand more clearly what is going on and why, pick up Sproul's book. Ignorance is not bliss. God calls us to gain wisdom and understanding. The Psalmist said, "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Sproul's book could be one way to apply our hearts unto wisdom if you are willing to do the hard work of wading through the dry parts.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cambodia

My very best friend in high school moved away to Hawaii of all places. There she met her true love and they married once she graduated. This was in the late 1970's and early 1980. She and her husband eventually met a couple who had escaped to Hawaii from the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

The Cambodian couple's name is Keat and Sally Kove. Remarkably, after working very hard in the U.S. for several years, the Koves returned to Cambodia to take the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ there. Cambodia was ravaged by communism and is still living in the wreckage left by wicked people.

Today Keat and Sally Kove are laboring for the Kingdom of God. Last year when my friend's family came for a wonderful visit, we got to see their pictures from a trip over to Cambodia. A little while ago my friend's husband talked to us about the great need for missionaries there. They need people who will come help them in every way including teaching English. They need short and long term help. If you or someone you know is able to consider this, check out the Kove's website at http://www.cambodiachurch.org/ to see the history of the ministry, the conditions of Cambodia, what the needs are there, and perhaps how you can help.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Byzantium

Byzantium is a book written by Stephen Lawhead and it follows the life of Aidan who is a monk in Ireland. He starts out on a pilgrimage to Byzantium with his fellow monks, who are bringing a gift to the emperor. Aidan goes expecting his death based on a dream he has before they leave. Along the way he is captured and made a prisoner of the Vikings and then enslaved. He is taken by the Vikings on a raiding trip to Byzantium as the Vikings, driven by greed wanted to plunder the ‘city of gold.’

After a strange turn of events where the Vikings end up being employed by the emperor, Aidan is on his way to take part in a meeting between a Byzantium official and an Arab Amir. During the course of events, the party Aidan is with is betrayed and Aidan along with the surviving Vikings, are put into the silver mines as slaves. There he meets the surviving monks from their original pilgrimage who also were betrayed. During this time Aidan starts to lose faith in God and believe God is not caring or just.

After Aidan is freed, he helps free his friends and goes to enact revenge on the person who betrayed them. Eventually, after getting his revenge he goes back to his homeland and monastery. There, his previous Viking master and, now, good friend helps to renew Aidan’s faith in God. Afterwards, he goes and ministers and preaches to the Vikings for almost all of the rest of his life. He dies at a ripe old age in Byzantium on his third pilgrimage there.

This book shows God’s sovereignty in Aidan’s life in the fact that the events that Aidan thought were acts of cruelty by God, actually brought about the conversion of many Vikings, renewal of his own faith, and the spreading of God’s church. This book also showed what life was really like during that time period although the author went into too much detail a few times. I thought that this was a really great book overall and showed God’s continual faithfulness even when we, in our sinful nature, become faithless.


Posted by ME

Monday, November 3, 2008

Disappointment

As we approach election day, no outcome will shock me as much as the actions of two particular men that my husband and I have highly respected. I will not mention names, because my intent is not to slander. My intent is to express my shock and disappointment.

These men are well known leaders within the Reformed faith. One of them our family sat under his preaching for many years. During that time he was very clear and direct when discussing political elections. He would say, from the pulpit, that our job was to vote righteously and to choose a man that was upright, not perfect, but one seeking to obey God and to uphold our Constitution. He would encourage us to vote righteously even if it meant we would suffer loss because obedience is better than sacrifice. That we were never to vote for the "lesser of two evils" because it was still evil. He would tell us that if we could not find such a candidate that we should not vote because having a clear conscience before God was better than doing the wrong thing. He would exhort us to trust God, that He was sovereign over nations and that our obedience would bring His blessing and He could do the impossible.

But in the last weeks, he has changed his mind apparently. Now there is rhetoric and justifications. Now he is saying that he is not voting for a person but an "outcome". That any person we elect is a sinner (so does that then mean it is okay to vote for anyone? because everyone is a sinner?) That it is okay to vote for a woman since Deborah was a judge in the Bible. (Which I suppose if carried to its rightful conclusion would mean that it would be appropriate for any woman, even his own wife, to run for political office.) And his opinion holds great sway and it has greatly influenced this other man.

I cannot adequately express my great dismay and disappointment. We watched the movie "Luther" Friday evening and my heart begs God to send us one modern day nutcase like Luther. He was terrified of lightning so much that he promised God to become a monk. Yet before men who could burn him at the stake, he boldly proclaims that the Word of God is more important than his life or any one's opinions. He will not budge but insists on holding fast to the Scriptures. He does not shift as the sand but stays true to God's Word.

So that will become my prayer. Just one Luther. Just one leader who does not shift or change. Just one who can shake up American Christendom and bring Reformation to our land. Just one who, though not perfect, is not swayed by opinions or power. Just one who our great grandchildren will look back and say, "it was he whom God used to bring the reformation to America."

O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry.
Our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;
Take not Thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches, that comfort cruel men;
From sale and profanation of honor and the sword;
From sleep and from damnation, deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether, the prince and priest and thrall;
Bind all our lives together, smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation, a single sword to Thee.

------By G.K. Chesterton, 1906, copied from the Cantus Christi

---posted by Queen Lucy

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Robert Browning Morning

This morning's quiet reading time yielded these lines from Robert Browning's poem entitled, "Rabbi Ben Ezra":

Fool! All that is, at all,
Lasts ever, past recall;
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

He fixed thee 'mid this dance
Of plastic circumstance,
This Present, thou forsooth, would fain arrest:
Machinery just meant
To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Evil is still Evil

When I was sixteen I had the opportunity to travel to Spain with my Spanish classmates and tour the country. We had chaperons and certain rules we were required to obey. One night, our very unruly and rowdy bunch of teenagers decided to go wandering about the town. It was the Passion week and in Spain there are many festivals and partying going on in the streets. We had a curfew. At a critical juncture, I realized we needed to turn around and go back to the hotel so that we could fulfill our obligation to our chaperons. The rest of the bunch wanted to keep on seeing all that was happening. Caving in to peer pressure a bit, I stayed for a little longer, but then my conscience was grating upon me and I turned back heading for the hotel. On the way, I reasoned that even though I was late, I was still doing a better job than the others because I still was getting back pretty close to the curfew. I thought I was doing the "right" thing by not doing as "much" wrong as the others.

My chaperons thought differently. They had set a time for us to be in the door and when I returned I got an earful and was given a punishment. Later, much, much later when the rest of the gang got back to the hotel I figured that their punishment would be much more severe. But, to my surprise they received the exact same sentence. My indignation was great!!! How could this be??? How could this be fair??? Of course, now many years hence, it is easy to see that whether I broke the rules by a little or a lot, I still broke the rules. How much better for me to have simply and completely obeyed. The Scriptures say, "to obey is better than sacrifice."

Sooo, when I hear other Christians talk about the political elections coming up and that their plan is to "vote for the lesser of two evils", I cringe and am greatly grieved. Do we think our punishment will be less because we still voted for evil??? No, evil is still evil. How much better for us if we do the righteous thing and vote for a righteous candidate, not perfect, but one who seeks God and seeks to follow the law of our land, the Constitution. How much better to simply obey God and do what is right. Do we think we are helping God out by voting for the "lesser of two evils"? God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows.

I hear the arguments, that we must vote for the "lesser of two evils" to prevent the greater evil from triumphing. Are we now standing in the stead of God and able to cause such things from happening by doing wrong??? I tell the children all the time, "two wrongs do not make a right." We are to OBEY GOD. We are to do right even if we suffer for it. We are to do His commands and statutes and laws. The outcome is God's business. He is still sovereign over men and nations and election outcomes. He is still in control. When we vote for "the lesser of two evils" we are voting with unbelief.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are mixing strong drink,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
and the mountains quaked;
and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets.
For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
Isaiah 5:20-25, ESV

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

County Fair Reflections

4H has been a part of our lives now for 10 years. Every year our children take projects, learn new skills, give oral presentations, keep records, write stories, and compete in fitting and showing animals. We are blessed by being able to have the only banner in the 4H building at the county fair with a picture of a Celtic cross on it. The name of our club is Gloria Patri, which means glory to the father. We are so thankful that God has given our club a reputation for hard work and excellence.

This year marks an anniversary for us. When we started there was only one child old enough to be in it and we were so ignorant of everything!! Now that child is a 4H leader herself and watches while several of her siblings and other children she has taught compete at fair. Now we have 5 children in 4H and next year it will be six. That means that between them our family entered over 18 projects. That might not mean alot to those who do not do 4H, but it means a whole lot to those of us who do. It means WORK!! We have also watched several other family's children grow up in 4H, graduate, and move on to other fields of labor for the kingdom of God.

As home educators, we often do not have very strict deadlines or opportunities to have our children learn public speaking, experience healthy competition, or practice leadership through service. 4H helps our family work on these things. Often in 4H the children are simply competing against themselves! "Making the best better" is the 4H motto. The children are to learn to improve every year and push themselves a little further towards excellence.

This is not a 4H advertisement!! It is simply me explaining that 4H has helped our family achieve many goals we had for the children in a non-threatening, semi-controlled environment. Our fair is a culmination of year long labor. The children can receive rewards and satisfaction of a job well done. As a family, the children learn that we are to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who weep. Sometimes siblings are competing in the same project and the top award may go to someone else. It is part of them learning graciousness too.

So here are some pictures of our laborers. Some of my best memories are from our fair weeks: hurrying in on Wednesdays to see what ribbons the children earned; visiting all the animal barns; going to the rodeo after a long week of fitting and showing, barn duty, food booth duty, caring for animals early in the morning and late at night; and eating fair food like cotton candy, Italian sausages, frozen cheesecake, snow cones and so much more that we do not eat the rest of the year. But mostly, all of us being together and making memories and doing things that cause us to give thanks to God and to be glad in all that He does.

---posted by Queen Lucy, proud mother of all the caer children!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Children's Dignity

Last week the woman cutting my hair was relating to me her woes of having to deal all summer long with her 8 year old twins. Over 18 summers now I have heard from some mother of publically educated children how they cannot wait for school to start up again. Their children drive them nuts and they do not enjoy being around them. Each time I silently listen to the complaining. Early on, I would voice how I love having my children around and that we enjoy each other's company. But I quickly learned that these tormented mothers could not relate and that what I was saying never penetrated the cranium, much less their hearts. So I let them vent and wait for opportunity that might arise to introduce alternative thinking.

This time, the opportunity came when she said that she did not think she could last through one more screaming, whining, temper tantrum, throwing themselves on the ground fit. Okay, I could be silent no longer. I asked her, "You LET your children do that??" She was actually listening now. "Why, what do you do?" she asked me back. My reply, "I simply do not allow them to do such things." Her response, "What do you do, spank them????" My answer, "Of course I would if they were to act like that, but mostly I just simply and matter-of-fact tell them that that type of behavior is not allowed."
Her reaction was visible and clearly one of shock. "I could never do that. It would damage my son's dignity."

What I wanted to say was, "Oh, you're right(with sarcasm) letting your son throw himself around on the floor preserves his dignity much more than spanking does." However, I just gave her an incredulous look. I suppose it is because I have experienced this scenario so many times over the years. We live in a generation that calls evil good and good evil. The minds of people are completely twisted, contorted, illogical, and perverse. In this woman's mind, spanking a child to train him to control himself and to act like a civilized creature is reducing his dignity. Letting him act like a crazed animal on the floor is preserving dignity. To me, it is pretty simple and obvious. But to her that type of twisted thinking makes sense. (Reinforcing that public education does nothing to teach the populace clear logical thinking.)

But that is not all. We have the mind of Christ. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2Timothy 1:7 The idea of a sound mind is a healed mind, healed from the depravity of sin and from thinking that is against all that has to do with God. In Romans 8: 5-8 we are reminded, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

So, Christians, preserve your children's dignity and train them up according to the Word of God, not according to the traditions or thoughts of men. God's ways always seem upside down to the carnal mind. Sometimes they seem upside down to the spiritual mind. But death leads to life, sacrifice leads to great rewards, obedience brings freedom.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Streams in the Desert

If you do not own a copy of this devotional first published in 1925 by Mrs. Charles Cowman, you need to get one. Over 15 years ago I picked up an old copy at a library sale. On the back cover is this mini biography: "Mrs. Charles E. Cowman worked as a pioneer missionary with her husband in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917, and it was during these years they were instrumental in founding the Oriental Missionary Society. Broken in health, Mr. Cowman was forced to return to the United States where Mrs. Cowman nursed him for six years until his death. Out of these experiences and heartbreak comes the first volume of Streams in the Desert. It was during the next twenty-five years that Mrs. Cowman inspired several nationwide Scripture distribution campaigns and wrote seven books. After an extended illness, at the age of ninety, she laid her earthly mantle aside on Easter Sunday, 1960--her coronation day."

If that is not inspiring enough, inside the covers of this gem, Mrs. Cowman compiled Scriptures and poems, and hymns, and quotes, and writings divided into 365 daily readings. This is not your ordinary devotional. It is not for the easy, breezy Christian that has no problems with daily life or faith. This is for those who have seen the dark side of God, who have walked in the desert for many a day with not a drop of living water to taste. This is mature encouragement for the soul needy for more of Christ and not satisfied with a casual relationship with our LORD. This is for those Christians who are in the school of Job and cannot understand what is going on and may have lost hope.

Here are just a few passages from this month's readings that gave me courage to carry on
From July 5: "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness...and I will give her her vineyards from thence." Hosea 2:14,15----"A strange place to find vineyards--in the wilderness! And can it be that the riches which a soul needs can be obtained in the wilderness, which stands for a lonely place, out of which you can seldom find your way? It would seem so, and not only that, but the "Valley of Achor" which means bitterness, is called a door of hope. And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth!
Yes, God knows our need of the wilderness experience. He knows where and how to bring out that which is enduring. The soul has been idolatrous, rebellious; has forgotten God, and with a perfect self-will has said, "I will follow after my lovers." But she did not overtake them. And, when she was hopeless and forsaken, God said, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." What a loving God is ours! (Crumbs)"

From July 19: "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" John 18:11---This was a greater thing to say and do than to calm the seas or raise the dead. Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God's will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement. To have the bright aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be pinched by poverty when you only desire a competency for the good and comfort of loved ones; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be stripped bare of loved ones until you stand alone to meet the shocks of life--to be able to say in such a school of discipline, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?"--this is faith at its highest and spiritual success at the crowning point. Great faith is exhibited not so much in ability to do as to suffer. (Dr. Charles Parkhurst)

Well, there is a sampling of what is inside. Back to the Bible has a free email subscription service that will put each day's entry into your inbox if you want to read more. Personally, I do not get on the computer enough to read mine, so having a book in hand is way better! Last year Costco was selling leather bound journal style copies of Streams in the Desert and I think Amazon has that style for sale too, but you have to search a little for it. Highly recommended and worth it.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Duties of Our Relationships

From Richard Baxter's Christian Directory comes this quote: "It is the pernicious subversion of all societies, and so of the world, that selfish, ungodly persons enter into all relations with a desire to serve themselves there, and fish out all that gratifieth their flesh, but without any sense of the duty of their relation. They bethink them what honour, or profit, or pleasure their relation will afford them, but not what God and man require or expect from them. All their thought is, what they shall have, but not what they shall be and do. They are very sensible what others should be and do to them; but not what they should be and do to others. Thus it is with magistrates, and with people, with too many pastors and their flocks, with husbands and wives, with parents and children, with masters and servants, and all other relations. Whereas our first care should be to know and perform the duties of our relations, and please God in them, and then look for his blessing by way of encouraging reward. Study and do your parts, and God will certainly do his."

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) was an English Puritan leader. So, of course, I am back to the Puritans for insight on godly Christian living and how to live out the Scriptures in everyday life. The subject of relationships is my particular fascination because the kingdom of God is all about relationships. The Trinity is about the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. No person of the God head is busy trying to see what they can "fish out" from the other person what might gratify themselves or promote their own interest over the other.

We, the church, have completely lost our understanding of what are our duties in the relationships that God gives to us. Our sole duty is to study and to seek out what we are to be and to do for those God gives to us for relationships. The two greatest commandments seem to cover this pretty succinctly: Love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It all comes down to service and duty for the kingdom of God, NOT about whether or not we are going to gain something or to benefit.

Now, IF we are all seeking this in our relationships, then things run very smoothly and no one person is left doing all the serving and pouring out. But when we are busy demanding or expecting the other person to be doing everything to make us happy, to meet our needs, to sacrifice for us,to take the initiative, then there is always a deficit in the relationship. Notice Baxter says that the selfish, ungodly people's approach to relationships subverts societies and is pernicious. Maybe this is a more clear and direct cause of the disintegration of God's church in America than any other.

What would happen if we raised our children to look at pursuing a mate as a blessed opportunity to find one other person to serve, to care for, to lay down their life for, to build up and edify, to nurture, to help reach their God given potential? And what would happen if they actually found a spouse that believed their duty was to do the same for them? What kind of marriages would begin to grow around us in the church? What kind of families would develop? What kind of friendships? What kind of churches would come from this kind of living out the faith?

God help us all to seek to please Him more than we seek to please ourselves, to learn to fulfill our duties to our spouses and children without selfishness, and thereby to build His kingdom. After all, we pray that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Selfless Giving

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Friday I drove into my driveway after being at our 4H club meetings. There in front of me was a huge surprise. Someone had left a large above ground set-up pool for us. I am still in shock, astonishment, amazement.

The family that did this for us is known for their sacrificial giving in the community. They take seriously the admonition from the Scriptures of James 1:27 that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” They have a reputation of service to widows, to the elderly, and many others. In the years I have known them they have never sought to draw attention to themselves or their labors for Christ.

Their giving us the pool was completely selfless giving of themselves for the glory of God. When I called to thank them, they only wanted us to give thanks unto God. They wanted us to consider it as a gift directly from Him. We all have thanked God for the gift, but we have also thanked God for the givers.

Ours is a faith of deeds. First John tells us quite frankly that ours is a living faith only if it is accompanied by deeds. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) We are to do noble deeds, brave deeds, awesome deeds, and bold deeds. We are also to do everyday deeds, simple deeds, mundane deeds, and diligent deeds that go unnoticed. Christ blesses the cup of cold water given in His name. He also tells us that the people who know their God will do exploits, deeds of renown. When God gives us faith, He also gives us grace for actions.

The gift to our family brings us great joy and will continue to be a source of delight to us. But our joy is not just outward, it is also inward in that it reminds us God is still at work in His people to encourage, to bless, to show forth Himself in their deeds that they do unto Him and unto others. Our hearts and lives have been greatly encouraged in the deeds of this family. May God return to those givers a thousand fold what they have done for us in His name.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Breaking Commitments

In Psalm 15 we have a question, "LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" One of the answers is in verse 4, "He who swears to his own hurt and does not change."

Matthew Henry comments on this verse saying that this kind of man "is one that always prefers a good conscience before any secular interest or advantage whatsoever; for, if he has promised upon oath to do any thing, though afterwards it appear much to his damage and prejudice in his worldly estate, yet he adheres to it and changes not...See how weak sighted and short-sighted even wise and good men may be; they may swear to their own hurt, which they were not aware of when they took the oath. But see how strong the obligation of an oath is, that a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family than wrong his neighbor by breaking his oath. An oath is a sacred thing, which we must not think to play fast and loose with."

Some people distinguish between an oath and giving your word. I am not into discussing this. What I want to point out is that in a Christian society when you give your word to another person, your job is to keep it even if it means suffering loss to your own interests. If you cannot keep your word, do not give it in the first place.

If giving your word is contingent on some secret plan or information that you possess that might make it so that you cannot keep your word, then do not make the commitment in the first place. Or, at the very least, explain your secret plan to the person it would affect so that they can make a decision on whether or not to place their confidence in you.

If an emergency arises, then plead with the person to whom you made the commitment to release you, but explain who is bleeding or dying in the family that would cause you to have to break your word.

Twice in two months time, Christian people who had made a commitment to a member of the caer have broken their word. Both times the Christian had given their word, understanding the effect that their not keeping their word would have on a member of our family. This caer family member had been planning a project important to them for two years. Both Christians had other possibilities in the works that would preclude them from keeping their commitments, and yet they made them anyway. It was all about them and their own advantages. If they had at the very least been forthright and honest and told the caer resident of the potential of not being able to participate, then our family member could have made a wise decision and not included them in their plans. But now, because of these Christians seeking their own things and not considering the things of others, it has damaged one of our clan greatly. This particular clan member is one of the most gracious and trusting of us. Even when warned that there could be problems with trusting one of the Christians, the clan member wanted to give them a chance and has suffered loss because of having a forgiving, gracious nature.

So what is my grief today? Of course it is over the hurt and wrong done to one of my own. But I have a much deeper and greater grief that cannot be healed by someone apologizing or feeling remorse. It is over the obvious and apparent sickness of the Body of Christ. Because this whole issue of breaking commitments is just one symptom of the overall sickness of the Body of Christ. When even unbelievers say that they cannot do business with Christians because they do shoddy work, are unreliable, and are not trustworthy, it is a sad state of affairs.

In a healthy body, for the most part, things work the way they are supposed to work. When the Body is strong and healthy, much is accomplished for the kingdom. But today, the Body of Christ is ill and there is little health left in it. For it is not working the way that it should and we all need God to grant us the gift of repentance before He can even begin to heal this sickness.

Our family is learning so many lessons from these experiences so we know that it is working together for our good. But we are coming to understand exactly what Paul meant when he said, "For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." (Phil 2:20-21) What is being like-minded? It is letting "this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...." It is letting "nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others." Philippians is usually said to be all about "Joy". It really is all about learning the mind of Christ and living it.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is about a girl named Kit who came from the Caribbean Island Barbados. She went to the New World to live with her Aunt Rachel, her stern Uncle Matthew, and her two Cousins, Judith and Mercy. She had to help with the chores even though she thought the chores were slaves’ work, but she learned to do them quickly.

When Kit went to work in the Great Meadow, Judith told her about Hannah. The town’s people called Hannah the Witch of Blackbird Pond because she was a Quaker and the town was Puritan. They thought she was a witch just because she had a different religion.

One day Kit got upset and went to the Great Meadow to cry without anyone seeing her. There she met Hannah and found out that Hannah was just a kind old widow. Kit then started going to see Hannah whenever she had free time. Soon Kit brought Prudence, a poor young girl whose mother treated her like a slave. Prudence’s father did not rule his household well so he would not stand up for Prudence. Kit was teaching Prudence how to read and write. Kit wanted Prudence to meet Hannah because Hannah was very loving and Kit thought she would be good for Prudence.

Later in the story, Mercy and some other townspeople got sick with a horrible fever. The townspeople blamed Hannah and set off to arrest her. Kit helped Hannah to escape on to the ship she arrived on. Nat, the captain’s son, helped her.

Kit was soon accused of being a witch and was taken to court and accused by false witnesses. Prudence defended her and showed the people she really was not a witch and the case was closed. At the end of the book it hinted that Nat and Kit were going to get married.

Posted by Maid Marian

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prince Caspian Sanitized

Despite Doug Phillips of Vision Forum having denounced C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series as promoting worship of pagan gods, Lewis' writings in this series oozes Christ. By oozing I mean that every page, scene, theme, and creature or person points to Christ--His dominion, rule, presence, and importance in every day life. If it is not portraying one of these aspects it is revealing the antithesis. When you read the books, you can see Christ and His centrality to each part of the story. The Narnia stories are about Christ and the Christian life, both the simplicity that is in Christ and also the deep, rich, layers of truth that is waiting to be mined. Lewis wanted to write in such a way that children, in particular, would be learning Scriptural truths, doctrines, and the lessons of Christian living without having to be whacked on the head with it.

Yet now we have conservative Christians saying that we cannot and should not read any story that might have magic, witches, classical characters, and so forth. Which would include the Bible if they actually stopped to think about it: for example, the Witch of Endor, the sun standing still or someone being raised from the dead. After all, if you had seen Christ perform a miracle would that not have seemed pretty "magical" to you in person??? But let's consider: a newborn baby, hummingbirds, the sunrise, the sounds of the ocean, and an endless number of other magical, wonderful, amazing, startling things in our King's world.

My main point, however, is that while the books are fabulous, the new Prince Caspian movie has taken all the Christianity of the book and sanitized it. Disney Studios and Walden Media wiped all the Christianity contained in the books out and replaced it with a "faith is nice" action story filled with a teenage girl playing he-woman and killing grown male warriors with out flinching. They had to fabricate teenage angst and pride in Peter who is in competition with Caspian. And to really make it a lame story they HAD to put some knowing looks and romance between Susan and Caspian and add a pathetic, totally out of place kiss between them. Basically they took what was an incredible story and rewrote it entirely only keeping a few of the threads and scenes for interest. Ultimately, Prince Caspian the movie, is not the same story at all. They are accurate in saying at the beginning that the movie is BASED on the book by C.S.Lewis. The names are the same, but the story lines have been altered to influence the innocent to deny God and Christianity.

Granted, there might be interesting special effects and graphics. But many of the elements in the movie are repeats of previous ones. For instance: does everyone have to have an Indiana Jones style oil trough that lights up with a torch????

The conservative Christian community has been in an uproar over the "Golden Compass" books and movie and that author's declared motive to teach children to hate God. Hopefully there will be an uproar over how the Prince Caspian movie denies Him too, but I doubt it. Especially since the movie version of Prince Caspian reflects the watered down gospel which modern American Christians are glad to adopt because it is so inoffensive and makes every one have that "feel good" sensation. They look for the entertainment value, instead of searching for "the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (See Romans 11:33) Christians need to start to develop a taste for the rich, endlessly powerful gospel feast and to exert themselves to live it, day in and day out with fervor.
In excerpts from the book:
"--the feast came into existence--sides of roasted meat that filled the grove with delicious smell, and wheaten cakes and oaten cakes, honey and many-colored sugars and cream as thick as porridge and as smooth as still water, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries--pyramids and cataracts of fruit. Then, in great wooden cups and bowls and mazers, wreathed with ivy, came the wines; dark, thick ones like syrups of mulberry juice, and clear red ones like red jellies liquefied, and yellow wines and green wines and yellow-green and greenish-yellow....thus Aslan feasted the Narnians till long after the sunset had died away, and the stars had come out; and the great fire, now hotter but less noisy, shone like a beacon in the dark woods, and the frightened Telmarines saw it from far away and wondered what it might mean. The best thing of all about this feast was that there was no breaking up or going away..."
This passage shows the feast Aslan provides us: rich with endless delights and joys never ending. Yet we tend to settle for watery products of the world's imagination (like the Prince Caspian movie) instead of holding fast to Aslan and the rich gifts of truth He wants us to grasp.


Perhaps someday we will see the real Prince Caspian, the true Kings and Queens of Narnia, and Aslan himself portrayed accurately on screen. Meanwhile, I and my children will keep re-reading the books.

posted by--Queen Lucy

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Delicate Arch

We had an extraordinary time on our recent trip to southern Utah. We traveled all over, including to Natural Bridges, Zion, Escalante, and several others. Zion was my favorite park as far as overall beauty and wonder, but one of my most favorite hikes we went on was to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. My mom has a picture of it hanging in the schoolroom with the moon in the background, so I kind of knew what it looked like, but I still really looked forward to seeing it when we were in Arches. (click on the picture to the right for a much larger preview)
As we pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead you could look off into the distance and see lots and lots of tiny specks walking up and down a face of slickrock leading up to a ridge, which my mom explained was the trail up to the arch. It was an estimated 3 miles round-trip — yeah right. As all trailhead signs, this one was wrong too. It ended up being a 4 1/2 mile round trip (I tracked it with my GPS. I can honestly say that this trip was the first time I have been able to pick up every single satellite from horizon to horizon.) but the hike was still enjoyable. It had a gradual climb going up. When we reached the slickrock it became steeper but once we made it up to the base of the ridge it leveled off for quite some time. The last and final jaunt up to the arch’s main viewpoint was a fairly wide trail along the side of a rock fin. You don’t actually see the arch until you are basically on top of the viewpoint, when the rock fin stops.
The arch itself was really neat, and the last one we saw at Arches. Where the viewpoint is situated is actually on the edge of a massive rock bowl, probably 200-300 feet wide, with the arch on the opposite side. The left-hand side of the bowl has a slope enabling people to be able to walk around it under the arch. You can see from the picture below how large the arch itself is, using the people as a scale. By the way, that is actually Zach and I to the left under the arch.
It was hard photographing the arch because of all the people, but there were a few moments when it was all clear, thankfully. I still got a lot of really good pictures of the structure. Of all the arches we saw on our trip, Delicate Arch probably ranks as one of my favorites.



This post was written by: J.Dub

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Having It All

From the April 4-6, 2008 USA Weekend I saved an article entitled "More money, more kids." Basically the author is explaining that now it is only the wealthy who are able to have more children. She quotes Paul Demeny of the Population Council: "people hurt their own standard of living and diminish prospects for their own children if they have more than two."

It seems that economics has become the primary family planning factor in America. The article concludes that because of the wealthy's lack of economic restraint, they are the only ones who can afford more children. Granted, larger families do need larger vehicles if they are going to travel together. There are also more people to feed and to clothe. But to make economics THE determining factor in accepting what God calls a reward is downright sinful.

Our goal in this life is NOT personal peace and affluence. Our goal is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Our goal is to live each day in such a beautiful way that Christ and His gospel is proclaimed loudly just by our life. For me, seeing godly, faithful olive plants surrounding my table is a tangible proclamation of God's grace to me and my husband.

I like this quote from Joseph Hall (1574-1656): "It is easy to observe that none are so gripple and hardfisted as the childless; whereas those, who, for the maintenance of large families, are inured to frequent disbursements, find such experience of Divine providence in the faithful management of their affairs, as that they lay out with more cheerfulness what they receive. Their faith gives them ease in casting their burdens upon Him."

---posted by Queen Lucy

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Godliness, Part 2

Continuing on in J.I.Packer's book, "A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life." I loved this statement which is part of a summary on the Puritan teaching on conscience. "...Puritan ethical teaching took the form of a positive ideal of zealous and wise godliness, at which Christians must always be aiming even though they never fully reach it in this world; and unattained positive ideals are the death of the legalistic spirit, which can only flourish in an atmosphere of negative restriction where abstinence is regarded as the essence of virtue. In reality nothing less legalistic in spirit and content than the ethical teaching of the Puritans can well be imagined."

After 17 years within the homeschooling movement and many more within conservative Christian churches, the Puritan ethical teaching is a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful that they, who were so much more learned in Scriptures and more practiced in applying the Scriptures to every day life than we are, can give me a vision of living in charity. I have so often lived within the "atmosphere of negative restriction" and thought that either I had achieved a certain virtue by abstaining from all sorts of things, OR I was quick to judge someone else who was not abstaining that they were not quite holy enough.

We all have before us a "positive ideal of zealous and wise godliness" which we can never attain in this life. We are so busy with our "don't taste, don't touch" lists and our thermometer of godliness for ourselves and those around us. Perhaps instead, we should shed this idea of virtue, and train ourselves and our posterity to rigorous, delightful, strong minded, humble, charitable Christian living. The earth is our LORD's and thus it is ours too. "The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein." Psalm 24:1 "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled." Titus 1:15

---posted by Queen Lucy

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who Is In Control?

I cannot help it, I am going to have to pick on Mr. Pearl again. I quote him from another response to a letter: "Even God is unable to change men and women who will not cooperate."
So, if men and women can resist the all powerful God, then who is in control?? Who has the greater power if people can prevent God from doing anything??? In tug-o-war, isn't it the stronger team that is able to pull the weaker one across the ditch? So, if God can't pull us across the ditch then doesn't that make us more powerful??? I have to ask myself whether or not we are reading the same Bible.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." Proverbs 21:1 NKJV Or, from the Geneva Bible that the Pilgrims and Puritans brought over to America: "The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters: he turneth it whithersoever it pleaseth him."

God is all powerful and completely, absolutely, with no reservations SOVEREIGN over all He has made, including and especially men and women.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rotating Menu

One of the biggest time savers for me is a simple rotating menu. We do the major grocery shopping every two weeks. I used to have to sit down and plan the next two weeks menu every time, and it was a task I dreaded and would put off until the last minute. Then we went to an 8 week rotating menu. It has completely transformed my life!!!

Here is what I did with the help of my eldest daughter. We marked out a "theme" for each weekday. Sundays are feast days where we make something very special and more elaborate. Saturdays are Mexican, Mondays are beans or rice, Wednesdays are soup night, and so forth. Then we took and filled out for each theme 7 dishes and menus. The reason I did not pick 8 is because I like to try new dishes and so I left one night each week for experimentation. I staggered my experimentation nights over the 8 weeks so that I did not have to have an entire week of creativity that I do not have time to plan, but I still have 1 night per week that I can plan to try some new recipe.

Then we printed out our 8 week menu. If we are on week 6, then when I sit down to fill out the shopping list, I just see what we are having for week 6 and 7. I can fill out a month at a time and make any adjustments for birthday meals, special occasions, or hospitality, or serendipitous gifts of food!

What we are working on, for some time because I have dropped the ball, is to computerize my shopping list. My oldest daughter has programmed the computer to spit out a list if I punch in "Week 3", but I have not given her the ingredients list yet. That will come soon. Then all I will have to do is have the next two weeks ingredient lists printed out and compare them with what I have on the shelves.

This may seem like a simple, "no brainer" thing to do, but it has been huge for me. It will be on my list of the best time saving tips for every busy mother!

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shepherds of Israel

"And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophecy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd: and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them."

'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock"--therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."

'For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countried, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold, and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord GOD. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment."

Have you had the sorrow and anguish of being one of the sheep in our modern churches where the leaders, who are supposed to model themselves after Christ instead model themselves after the selfish shepherds of Ezekiel 34? Where the elders and leaders "pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad"? Where they ignore Paul's command in 1 Timothy 5:21 "I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality"? Where the view appears to be that being one of the elders has elevated them into a "special club" where they have certain privileges of kings instead of transporting them into a greater degree of service and charity? Where chasing after the lost is more important than strengthening the faith of the Christians present? Where activities, buildings, and cash are the focus? Where personal gain and reputation are more important than nourishing your soul and your family's walk with God? Where only the people who are wealthy or who sit and submit to all the injustices and do not cry out are accepted?

If so, then perhaps the same passage of Ezekiel 34 will prove to be a comfort to you as it has to our family. When such conditions exist in Israel as exist today, then the Lord GOD promises to take up the job of caring for, providing for, and tending to the sheep who have been scattered because of the earthly shepherds' failures. You can take comfort in what God promises to us: "You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God," says the Lord GOD.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, April 3, 2008

For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest

Today a beautiful saint that lived down the street from me with her large family passed into glory. She had endured much affliction that God had sent, but she did so with great joy in Christ and she blessed and inspired so many more saints to faithfulness in their walks here on earth. I was only merely acquainted with her but whenever I saw her, she never lacked a smile on her entire face.
So now she is finally pain free and seeing and experiencing what we can only still imagine. It is we who remain that must keep up the fight, the good fight and it is we who still feebly struggle. Please pray for her family.

"For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light. Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor's crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion! fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine. Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest:
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array:
The King of glory passes on His way. Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia!

written by William Walsham How, 1864

---posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ben Hur

Ben-Hur is a story about betrayal, romance, and redemption that will captivate you through most of the book.
Ben-Hur has a childhood friend, Messala, who betrays Ben-Hur as a young man. He serves on the galleys because of Messala’s betrayal, and spends many sleepless nights wondering what became of his mother and sister who Messala took as prisoners. After rowing for almost three years he saves the life of the tribune in a sea battle. The tribune, in gratitude, adopts Ben-Hur as his son.
A few years later the tribune dies leaving everything to his adopted son, Ben-Hur. Ben-Hur now is rich and has been educated in academics and trained in the art of soldiery and has also raced chariots in the circus.
During one of his travels he finds a man who was once his father’s servant, and had amassed great wealth through trading goods. The combined wealth of Ben-Hur and his new wealth from his father’s servant were enormous.
Then Ben-Hur finds out that Messala is in a chariot race coming up, and wanting revenge for what happened to him and his family by racing against him and beating Messala. Ben-Hur then goes to a sheik Ildherim, who has a team of horses but no driver, and asks to drive his team. After Ben-Hur proves he can drive the team, the sheik accepts him as his driver.
Then Ben-Hur, through another person, makes a bet, worth a lot of money, to Messala. Messala accepts to save face in the face of his peers, even though he cannot afford the sum if he loses.
Ben-Hur wins the race against Messala and runs his own chariot into Messala’s so that it breaks up flinging Messala into the ground and the path of the other horses hooves, crippling Messala for life.
Ben-Hur afterwards wanting to spend his wealth wisely and for a right and good cause is told of the coming of the Messiah by Balthasar, who is a friend of sheik Ildherim. He then decides to spend his wealth in preparing an army for Christ, who he believes is going to be a king and destroy the Roman emperor setting the Jews free and ruling over them for eternity. What he doesn’t understand, as Balthasar tries to show him, is that Christ is coming, and has came, to serve and to save souls for a life after death and to prepare a place for the regenerate to live with him after His and their death.
He puts together and trains 2-3 legions of Galileans to fight for Christ and put Him on a throne. Then Ben-Hur follows Christ as he teaches, waiting for Him to give the word for them to fight for Him. As he follows Him and listens to Him, he starts to realize that maybe Christ isn’t, and wasn’t, here to be a king. Eventually, when Christ is captured and lead to be crucified, Ben-Hur realizes the truth of Christ’s coming and sees how much more wonderful and great it is.
Ben-Hur is also reunited with his mother and sister, who were imprisoned by Messala and the procurator in a cell filled with the disease of leprosy and eventually released. After they were released they were healed by Jesus. Ben-Hur also marries his father’s servant’s daughter and raises a family with her. Overall I think this was a good book especially in showing how the thought of many Jews was that Christ would come and lead them in throwing off the Romans and set up as a king and rule them. The author was very descriptive, almost too descriptive sometimes, but for the most part kept up a good storyline that had interesting things happening in it. I do not think it clearly showed how wanting revenge is not just and Christ-like, but rather showed you can get your revenge even if it takes time.



Posted by ME

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Table in the Presence

Lt. Carey H. Cash, chaplain serving with the U.S. Marines, has written an inspiring book entitled "A Table in the Presence". The subtitle: "The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God's Presence amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq."

Lt. Cash and the men of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment were some of the first marines to travel into Iraq in 2003. The story reads like a remake of the story of revival in the camps of the Southern army during the War Between the States. You will discover the conversions, baptisms, desire for worship, trust in God, courage, and miraculous protection and preservation of the men in this book.

For someone who has cast a doubtful eye upon our tactics in Iraq, wondering if this is truly a Biblically based, righteous war, it was a reminder that no matter what major world events are transpiring, God is still working His will in the lives of individuals in some of the most amazing ways and in some of the most remote places.

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139: 7-10

---posted by Queen Lucy

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Feast of Fat Things

"And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, even a feast of fined wines, and of fat things full of marrow, of wines fined and purified." Isaiah 25:6, from the 1599 Geneva Bible
Yesterday we had the privilege to enjoy a preview of God's feast He will have for us. We delighted in a feast of fat things at another caer with dear friends. We enjoyed the feast, there was singing, we talked of the things of God and His church, we tested our memories on the order of events of Christ's passion week, and were blessed beyond words.
This kind of blessed fellowship comes only by the grace and gift of God. It is one that can be cultivated once given, but it is given. Thank you, LORD, for such a gift. It reinforced the LIFE that is ours in Christ. It gave LIFE and not death. It made our hearts rejoice in the goodness of God to us. It was an oasis in the midst of the battles for your kingdom. Thank you first for the feast upon your WORD and then the feast of fat things full of marrow in food and fellowship. Thank you for a taste of Christ's love for us, for a taste of the future, for a taste of the glories that are ours in Christ.
"...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify one another." Romans 14:17-19.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A small preview...

The following is a small preview of one of the first fantasy books that I wrote. The book that this was taken from probably won't see printers anytime soon, I look at it as one of my "practice books". Writing this one helped me learn how to be descriptive, use proper dialogue, etc. My mom has been wanting me to post this excerpt for some time, and I have finally gotten around to it. Please feel free to comment on it, good or bad, because both will help me to see what others think about some of my creative writing. I can't say that this excerpt is even close to my best work, at least in my eyes, but hopefully you will still enjoy it...

They sat, all three, with their backs against the trunk of a giant oak, its scraggly branches playing out above them like tangled vines. It was more than four hours until dawn and only Grin sat awake. He had not slept at all that night, but tiredness was not on his mind. He watched the sleeping body of Adolf where it was sprawled on the grassy ground, surrounded by his chosen guard. This might be the chance! Adolf’s guards were slumbering; they had finally given in to the temptation of sleep after two nights of keeping themselves awake to protect their captain. Three had merely slumped over in their sitting positions, sound asleep; the other two had fallen over onto the ground next to the smoldering remains of that evening’s fire.
The moon’s half crest shone bright on the far east horizon, just above a rocky peak, as Grin, who had already untied the thongs around his wrists, slowly rose to his feet. He turned to assure himself that his two companions were still asleep — they were.
He breathed deeply to slow his thumping chest, then began the tedious process of making his way through the snoring bodies of raiders that lay all about in awkward manners, trying to prevent from stirring them. He finally made it to the other side of the camp and he paused, surveying what lay before him...and looking for his sword.
There it was! It lay on the ground amidst a pile of other assorted weapons, including his bow, near Adolf’s left arm that lay limp, his long yellow nails sticking up out of his finger-tips like needles in a cushion.

Grin stepped over and slowly pulled his sword from within the pile, working hard to be as silent as possible. The weapon finally came free and he gripped it in both his hands. He turned.
Adolf lay before him like a helpless ant. It all seemed too easy, but it never was. This time he could not fail...he could not; he had to gain his own and his companion’s freedom. Anger once again welled up inside him and was at its boiling point as he raised the sword high above his head, the sharp point aimed directly at his slumbering enemy's chest.
Several seconds of silence followed. The reality of what he was about to do hit him hard in his conscience, and for a second, fear almost stopped him; but the motivation to escape and to protect his friends overpowered his emotions. Grin thrust downwards with every ounce of strength he could muster, the jagged blade glinting in the moonlight as it fell...


This post was written by: J.Dub

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim’s Progress is a very good book; it shows a very good example of how Christianity is. The book is about a man’s dream and in the dream there was a city named Destruction. In the city was a man who had a very great burden on his back that no one else could see. The man’s name was Graceless. He was reading the Bible and as he read it he began to weep because he understood that the city of Destruction would soon be destroyed along with everyone in it. So he decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Celestial city which is heaven. Because he believed God’s word, he was renamed Christian.
The people in the city sent two men after him and their names were Obstinate and Pliable. Christian tried to persuade them to go with him to the Celestial city. Pliable decided to go but Obstinate would not go. So Christian and Pliable continued on their journey. Christian and Pliable soon came to the Slough of Despond and they fell in. Pliable gave up and turned back but Christian kept on going and with God’s help got out on the right side and continued on his journey. During the journey he finally got rid of his burden when he got to the cross and saw Christ dying. He went through many temptations and had his mistakes but in the end he finally made it to heaven.


Posted by Princess Ann

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pattern of Sin

1. We want something or we want to do something.

2. God says no, either through an express commandment or through circumstances including another person or authority figure.

3. We make excuses and justify and rationalize why what we want or what we want to do is okay. It isn't really that bad and God didn't really say that we could not do this, or his commandment does not apply in this case, and so on and so forth. So we do whatever it takes to get what we want....and we sin. (Although sometimes at this stage we are thwarted in our attempts and then we just skip to step 5.)

4. God (or one of his agents) rebukes, corrects, chastises, or expresses his great displeasure at our sin.

5. Since we justified what we wanted to do, we get angry, bitter, and throw a little temper fit or pout. We blame everyone else, including God, but never blame ourself.

6. At this point the path splits. We can go down the road to hard- heartedness, stiff-necked rebellion, and eventual searing of our conscience OR we can be brought to repentance where we confess and ask for forgiveness.

We do not necessarily think through each of these steps. Rather, this is a distillation of the process that we habitually follow, many times without recognizing it or acknowledging it. Especially if we get to step 6 and deny that we did anything wrong. After all we had good reasons for it. As did Cain, as did Saul, as did Samson, as did King David, as did Eli, and so on and so forth.

For a parent, you need to work through your child's sin in step 6 and bring them to repentance. At the Caer, after chastisement or rebuke or correction, we pray with the child. They must tell God exactly what their sin is and name it. We do not allow any hedging. If they lied, they must say, "I lied." They are not allowed to say "I did the wrong thing," or "I should have said something different." They simply must state the sin to God and then ask for forgiveness for it. They also must ask God for the grace to repent.

Next, if their sin involved another person they must go to that person and do the same thing. They need to say, "I'm sorry I lied to you, will you forgive me?" It is not enough that they say "I'm sorry." That is just their telling how they feel about it--and mostly because they got caught and are in trouble....The other person needs to say, "I forgive you." If restitution needs to be made, for instance they took gum or candy or broke a toy, then the offender must make plans and then restore the stolen or broken item.

Plenty of times we do not actually feel repentant. Repentance is actually a gift of grace from God and He works in the heart. However, we believe that we must learn the pattern of confession and seeking forgiveness and train it into the children. We did not learn this as children and still are working on learning it as adults. Also, God asks for our obedience and as we obey, then He works on our hearts. So as the children are taught the obedience in the process, God is faithful and will grant them repentance too.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Bible vs. What is Right in our Own Eyes

Judges 21:25 says "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."

Yesterday I read in astonishment in the "No Greater Joy" magazine advice that Michael Pearl gave to a wife whose husband is committing adultery with another woman at his place of work. His place of work?? Some "ministry". The woman makes comments like this: "This is the second time this has happened. My husband is a saved man in the ministry, and this girl has a high position in the ministry as well. I have decided to keep my mouth shut, because I don't want my husband's ministry to have a scar." Later she says, "I don't want to do anything that will destroy his ministry."

Mr. Pearl tells her to fight for her man. To go to the woman and confront her. To confront her husband and follow him to work if necessary.

Okay, what is shocking to me and down right nuts is FIRST the woman's comments and SECOND Mr. Pearl's response.

We in the modern American evangelical church have completely decided that we can do what is right in our own eyes. What IS right is contained in the Scriptures, the truth of God's Word. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Jesus said in John 17:17.

But for some reason, we think we can bypass what the Bible tells us when we start trying to solve real life problems. What Scriptures could possibly address this woman's problems?

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matt. 5:27-28 That man is committing adultery. He is guilty of sin. He needs to repent and confess and then adjust his life because he has disqualified himself from the ministry. In I Timothy it clearly says that someone in a position of the ministry, bishop, deacon, overseer, whatever, is to be BLAMELESS. (Also he is to be a man--what is a woman doing in a high position in a ministry???--either way the whole thing is a mess).

Okay for the wife, what is she to do??? "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to like a heathen and a tax collector." Matthew 18: 15-17.

She has no business having to confront that other woman. It is her husband's sin, he is guilty and responsible. His job is to be a truthful, accurate picture of Christ to His Bride. He is lying about who Christ is and sinning against God and his wife. If she talks to her husband and wins him then the two of them need to work through it until there are fruits of repentance and he STILL needs to step down from all ministry or "the Lord's work". If he will not repent (remember this is the second time) and he will not do what is right, she needs to go to her elders and have them start to work with her husband. His reputation before God is already ruined!!!! Who cares what his reputation is before man??????

I realize that there would be very FEW elders that any wife could trust to faithfully and Biblically handle such a circumstance. However, we still need to follow God's prescription and not our own. I also realize that most women who would follow what is God's plan in such a mess would probably be told that she is responsible for her husband's infidelity, but she is not. Things are upside down. The church is calling what is good evil and what is evil good (Isaiah 5:20). God have mercy upon us all.

Posted by -- Queen Lucy

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seabiscuit

There was once a line of horses known for their evil rage, aggressiveness, and probably most of all, their race-track speed records. They were known for taking the lead in a race, and never losing it, winning by multiple lengths — and one had even trampled a man to death. Races were held up at times because the horses would not go into the starting gate, but insisted on throwing raging wars against the jockey and assistants. When the horse Hard Tack who descended from this generation of horses, was bred, the young colt was expected to be just as bad…
When Seabiscuit was born, he was often found sleeping for hours on end. He became fat because he overate, including eating his soiled bedding after finishing off his regular feed. He had a hobbled run, not braking speeds of over 15 miles per hour — when his sire broke records in races run over 50 miles per hour. The man that bought him finally forced speed from him by using the whip continuously around the track. He ran Seabiscuit in numerous stake races. The horse changed hands like money — a worthless animal in the racing age.
When a certain man, Tom Smith (who worked for the car salesman and millionaire Charles Howard) saw the horse, he saw a block of speedy gold.
With careful work from trainer Tom Smith, new owner Charles Howard, and soon-to-be jockey Red Pollard, Seabiscuit came back from the dead. His lazy habits changed, and he went on to an astounding career. His match and handicap races between the best horses in the world are still known as some of the most attended sports events in history. Seabiscuit broke numerous speed records, became horse of the year, raced over 80 times, broke the record of total purse winnings ever accumulated by a racehorse, and had more front-page headlines than anything or anyone ever, even the president.


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I really enjoyed reading the book Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, and would highly suggest it to any reader. The outline I gave above is an extremely short outline for the vast story about this horse in the book. It was really fascinating to read about the life of this horse, and the people that influenced it. It was funny at times, and extremely shocking at other times. I learned a lot about a jockey’s world, and what people go through during horse racing. Seabiscuit’s story is definitely one of the most amazing comebacks, and stories in the world.


This post was written by: J.Dub