Do not worry

“25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  –Matthew 6:25-33

Things are very hectic at our house this weekend.  Graduation is upon us and there are many last minute details, much cooking, out of town guests, table and chair set up, etc. to do and think about today and tomorrow.  As I made lists and tried not to wonder how to do everything that needs to be done today, I was reminded of this passage from Scripture.  The Lord feeds the birds and clothes the lilies and He also will provide the grace and strength that I need to do all that He has called me to do today and tomorrow.  If I seek His kingdom and His glory first, my heart will be quiet before Him and I will rejoice rather than be worried.  A good reminder for this busy season.

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Wednesdays with Words – May 28, 2014

Continuing with Good Prose: The Art of Non-Fiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. This week I read about essays. I love to read essays. Like short stories, you can dip into a book of essays and read just one while you are having a cup of coffee or tea, then put the book away, and think about what you read. Did I agree or disagree? How would I say it differently? Why do I like this essay (or essayist) or why do I dislike what I’ve read?

Here are a few quotes about writing essays:

Most of the work that we call personal essay goes beyond logic and fact into the sovereign claims of idiosyncrasy. This is not to suggest that essays should be illogical, but they may be, and generally should be, extra-logical–governed by associative more than by strictly linear thought.

What gives you license to write essays? Only the presence of an idea and the ability to make it your own. People speak of the “personal essay” as a form, but all essays are personal. They may make sweeping pronouncements, but they bear the stamp of an individual mind. Original ideas, those hinges on which an era turns, are rare. It is unlikely that you will write The Origin of Species. Or that you will be Emerson. But originality and profundity are not identical. Profound ideas bear repeating, or rediscovery, and many original ideas do not. Essays are like poems in that they may confront old wisdom in a fresh way.

Self-doubt, fatal in so many enterprises, fortifies the essay.

Every essayist deals with the same general ingredients–self and experience and idea–but everyone deals with them differently. Good essayists share the ability and the confidence to use the power of their own highly specified convictions.

We read many of the essayists from past centuries: Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Charles Lamb, Emerson and Thoreau. We also like to read more modern essays be G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers.

I also enjoy reading essays by Virginia Woolf, Jan Struther, Wendell Berry, and Anne Fadiman.

Here are some links to essays that I especially appreciate. I hope these whet your appetite to read more of this wonderful genre of writing and perhaps they will even inspire you to try your hand at writing an essay of your own.

 

On Learning in War-Time – by C.S. Lewis

On Lying in Bed by G.K. Chesterton

Of Age by Montaigne

The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf

The Two Races of Men by Charles Lamb

AINSWORTH-ZAZOULIAN by Jan Struther

Never Do That to a Book by Anne Fadiman

Monday Musings – Building Relationships

Yesterday in church, we finished studying the book of Hebrews together. What a rich book it is! There is so much imagery and comfort and unpacking of the gospel in it. Reading Hebrews helps me to understand Christ’s sacrifice so much better and also His love and care for us, His church.

The last chapter of Hebrews is very practical and yesterday we heard about building relationships. It is easy to neglect local relationship-building these days when we can connect with so many people all over the world on facebook, twitter, email groups, blogs, etc. However, it is also easy to project a sanitized image of yourself in the digital world and not reveal your weaknesses, sinful tendencies, and failures. However, it is near impossible to hide your weaknesses, sins, and failures with your spouse, your children, and your close friends in real life. They see all of you–good and bad–which is why it is so important to have those “real life” relationships. All of us need people who will challenge us to grow in Christ and whom we can challenge to do the same.

Yesterday, I was encouraged to share the burdens of my closest friends as well as share time together, to have integrity (wholeness) in my daily life, and to empower others in their growth in walking with Jesus. My favorite part of the sermon, though, was in the last few minutes when we read this passage:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

How rich this passage is! Our ability to walk with Christ, to grow in holiness, to deal with our sins, to build relationships, to work for the Lord’s kingdom all flow from what the Lord has done for us, much of which is stated in this passage.

First, we have peace with God. What a blessing this is. We are no longer His enemies but His beloved children, because of Jesus’s taking our sins on Himself.

Second, we have the same power from God which He demonstrated by raising Jesus from the dead. That’s an amazing power and the Lord gives us that same power by His Spirit within us to live our lives in a manner worthy of Him.

Third, Jesus is our Shepherd. He knows us intimately, cares for us every minute of every day, leads us in the paths that take us to green pastures and quiet waters, and protects us from our enemies. No one will ever love us as Jesus loves us. He is our good Shepherd.

Fourth, He has promised us in His covenant to never let us go. We need not worry that we can somehow lose our salvation because we’re not good enough or because we’ve sinned one too many times. His covenant means that God Himself has seen that we are incapable of keeping any promises so He has promised for Himself and for us that we will always be His precious children.

Fifth, He has made us complete to do His will and He is working our sanctification in us, every minute of every day, so that we may walk in the way He means for us to go.

Those are amazing promises and knowing that we have such an amazing God and so great a salvation, can we not seek Him out and ask Him to show us which relationships in our lives need work, how we can deepen the relationships we have currently, whether there are new people with whom we can begin to develop friendships, and how He desires us to live and grow today and every day.

Wednesdays with Words – May 21, 2014

As school winds down and graduation approaches, time to read and think about “real” things has been almost non-existent.  However, I am still crawling slowly through Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott.  Here are a few quotes from Chapter 2:

 

True human memory is not mechanical repetition; it is an organic assimilation and appropriation. What is remembered is not something other than the self, but something experienced and known through the self. This means that we must probe a little more deeply into the meaning of memory, before we try to work out how to recover it.

 

Thus by speaking of Memory or Remembering we are really speaking of the foundations of attention, of the integration of the personality, and of the road to contemplation. We are also speaking of ‘conscience.’ Remembering is the gathering-together of the self in the light of consciousness, which in us tends to be a piecemeal process, but in God is complete and ‘instantaneous.’ For us, therefore, the training of memory is essential if we are to discover and enlarge our human identity in the image of God. It is an essential foundation for any education worthy of the name.

 

The Hall of Fire in Rivendell … represents the place where tradition is passed on through story, where meaning is revealed, where language expresses itself in the making and interpretation of worlds. The ambience of fire, of a friendly hearth where all strangers are made welcome and find consolation, speaks of a place where humanity can take root and flourish, a true home—the ‘Last Homely House.’ Here prose is subordinate to poetry, and poetry to song.

 

He shared with other English Romantics the sense that something vital had been lost from our civilization in the new industrial and scientific age. That something was a poetic consciousness, a mode of knowing through feeling and intuition that connected us with nature and with the natural law, with the reading of God’s intentions expressed in nature and the divine wisdom manifest in creation. He believed we had become increasingly alienated from nature (the natural world around us and increasingly our own human nature as well) by our determination to know it solely by conquest, through experiment and measurement. He would have supported the educational idea that children should be brought up on a rich diet of folklore and story, with plenty of experience of natural, growing things in the garden and countryside.

Through story—the right kind of story, including traditional legends and fairy-tales—that ability to see all things with a pure heart and in the light of heaven could be evoked. [Tolkien] wanted to prove that poetic knowledge, George MacDonald’s ‘wise imagination,’ could be awoken even in a world apparently closed to its very possibility.

We have spent many an hour memorizing Scripture, poetry, and songs in our homeschool rather than lists of facts.  At times I have wondered if I was doing the right thing but after reading this section of Caldecott’s book, I am instead wondering if I spent too little time with Scripture, poetry, and song.  Helping them to acquire a storehouse of beautiful, good, and true words in their minds for all of their lives has to be the greatest gift I could have given to my children other than the Gospel.  I am glad we have spent so much of our time reading and memorizing and reciting and singing.  I hope that one day they do the same with my grandchildren.