Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stories Collide

Tuesday morning my book club discussed N.D. Wilson's newest book, Death by Living.  In it, Wilson says that this is his statement on "a way of living, a way of receiving life."  He discusses the idea that each life is a story within the great STORY being written by God.  We all contribute to the narrative of that story, touch others' stories, make decisions about whether or not our life will be a good story containing thoughts, words, and deeds that are filled with grace.  He encourages us to do our best, face trouble in such a way that the nature of God is clear to the world, and be thankful for the breaths we take and the lives we get to spend for God and others.  That all of us are careening toward death and we get there by living so how will we spend our life?

Tuesday evening my mother called to tell me that a dear friend of our family had passed away into eternity.  Frank's story is over for now.  His story collided into mine decades ago.  Frank was married to my mom's best friend from childhood.  During the summers of my teen years, I would take the commuter flight from Poughkeepsie to Burlington to travel to my grandparents' house for summer visits.  Often Frank and his wife, Jan, would pick me up at the airport and let me spend the night at their house.  There was always pizza and card playing and laughter at their house.  Next morning my grandfather would pick me up and we would make the 2 hour drive to his house.  Later, when 2 poor grad students decided to get married, Frank and Jan gave my husband and I wedding rings they had inherited to help us out and bless us.  For the first couple of years of our marriage, we had many nights of pizza together with my folks and Frank and Jan.  We taught Frank how to play "nasty Uno", a fast paced, card-flying version of the game.  We finally had to quit, though, when Frank, an accountant, sheepishly revealed that it was getting too easy for him because he remembered all the cards as they went flying past. Frank's life was characterized by joy and kindness.  He always had a smile, sparkling eyes, and a happy take on life. It wasn't that his life didn't have tragedy and sorrow, it did.  I just never heard about it from him.  He wrote his story with kindnesses and those flowed into my life.  Later, my first son was born on Frank's birthday.  I am so thankful for the grace of Frank's life spilling over into mine.

Three loved ones from this picture are now gone into eternity this past year.  Frank, my dad, and my mother-in-law.  Heavy losses indeed, but also opportunity to remind myself of how their stories made mine so much better.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Arrival

Then came Avery.  His destiny from before the dawn of time wrapped in the name given him by his parents.  He was born to be the wise ruler of all the elves, a sage counselor to mankind, and a noble warrior to wrest the kingdom from the Dragon.  His parents also gave him a powerful strength charm when they bestowed his second name.  His strength would come from the magic of generations praying, hoping, seeking a blessing of the Great King to send them a child, a ruler, a deliverer.  Jordan, the descender, was his gift. So much power and faith and hope wrapped up in one small bundle sleeping under the star kissed sky.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"7"

          I am convinced that the social gospel promoted today as the path to better Christian living is not THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This social gospel is preached in almost every Christian church in America  and is popular, elevated, and venerated.  It certainly seems holy, but what are the tenets of this social gospel?
          The book “7” by Jen Hatmaker is subtitled, “an experimental mutiny against excess.”  Within its pages Jen declares that as a Christian her life is now all about “justice” and battling “inequality”.  She says, “It’s too soon to declare the Bride [the American Christian church] hopelessly selfish or irrelevant.”  Her belief is that if we choose to battle inequality then “our generation could turn this ship around.”  I suppose by that she means that we could see justice and equality come to town and fix all the problems with our society.  She certainly lays on the guilt about how much we all have and waste and disregard the poor and needy both here and abroad.  She comments that the church has good intentions but misguided theology and spends way too much time building expensive churches and too much energy on Bible studies, conferences, sermons, and resources on itself.  Lastly, she uses the term “deconstruction” to describe what she thinks needs to happen to Christianity’s paradigm before it can become the right one.
          Hatmaker’s orientation on “justice and inequality” seem good, but my concern is that this is NOT what THE GOSPEL really is.  The social gospel has been around for a long time.  Wikipedia’s article on the social gospel’s origins and history reveals that the goal of this movement was designed to make Christian churches more aware, motivated and responsive to the social problems of a generation.  An early proponent and spokesman for the movement was against the selfishness of capitalism and made social reform the primary focus of Jesus’ teaching.  Dwight Moody countered this by claiming that concentrating on social aid and reform kept people from hearing about the good news of salvation through Christ.  I find it interesting that the article mentions that the supporters of the social gospel were connected to the liberal wing of the Progressive movement and were liberal theologically but conservative when it came to social ills. 
          Fast forward to today.  On Michele Malkin’s website (accessed 10/8/13) she addresses the foundation of the Common Core curriculum as derived from “progressive” reformers who operate in the name of “fairness, diversity, and social justice.”  Malkin also mentions that a key word for these reformers is “deconstruction” which in the reformers’ ideology means moral relativism.  And these are the same words that author Jen Hatmaker uses in “7”. Can this be a coincidence? 
Jen also reveals that while she is all about justice and promoting this social gospel, her children are sent to public school where they can be conveniently exposed to anti-God indoctrination for 6-8 hours per day.  She mentions that she had spent her time in “baby prison”.  Really?  How can any of us justify “saving the world” when we are not sacrificing to save our own children?  As a teen in the 1970’s I heard way too many incidents of missionary and pastor’s families that had “done the Lord’s work” while their own children grew up and left the faith.  The social gospel takes the Christian’s focus off of the primary duties.  We are to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.  As Christian women, our husbands and children are our nearest neighbors.  If we labor at fulfilling that priority well, then God may grant us faithful children and faithful generations to come.  Our society needs faithful husbands and wives, faithful children, faithful families that will in turn build faith filled churches and communities.  But first things first: if we bring social justice and equality to the whole world but we lose our souls or the souls of our children, what have we gained for Christ and His kingdom in the end?
“7” is about the social gospel.  Jen Hatmaker uses all the same terminology as the social gospel and liberal progressive reformers both from the past and from today.  She lives what she believes and focuses on getting the church to “wake up” and get to work fixing all the problems with society.  This is not all bad.  After all, there are many problems with our culture and society at present. The social gospel is being preached in almost every church in modern evangelicalism.  Christians are told to go and do good works, get busy in an outreach ministry.  While many of those activities and works are good, they can come at the expense of what God says in His Word are our priorities.  Those God ordained duties may not seem glamorous, but faithful living in our most intimate relationships is the gritty training ground for more public ministry.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Behind the Scenes

Read on Congressman Raul Labrador's site last night that one of the provisions in the Republican's resolutions that President Obama is refusing to consider is that the POTUS and all his administration and all Congressional members and their staff must use the Obamacare insurance exchange for their own personal healthcare.  LOL! What a great proviso.  If this healthcare is so wonderful, then the President himself will have no problem agreeing to THAT!!!!  But we all know he will never do that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life Updated

Five years ago now....my oldest son designed this blog and got it up and running.  He did it for me and with me.  The idea is that we would have a blog for movie and book reviews and odds and ends that anyone in the family would want to post.  It was to be an outlet for our "Literary Society" nights where our family shared pieces of writing that we had done during the month (or more depending on the regularity of our meetings).  Some of us used pen names, especially the younger members.   

Like many of my ideas and attempts at implementing them, it didn't quite turn out like I imagined.  My son grew up, got married, and is expecting his first child.   His writing time is greatly reduced.  Of the remaining siblings who enjoy writing, they like to create in private.  Apparently I am the only ranter in the bunch.  Yet, I have felt I should get away from the rant and turn more toward what might edify or be less controversial.  Since my goal this year was to read at least one book per week, I still think some book reviews will be on the agenda.  I want to add some of my own personal Bible study or book study notes.  We shall see...it may end up on the list of ideas and attempts that didn't quite turn out like I imagined.

So I am trying to update the site a bit.  Please be patient as I experiment with design.