Friday, April 30, 2010

What's That Stench? Part 3C: Returned and Always Returning

The previous post focused on repentance as a grace...that is, a gift from God to the sinner.  But repentance is also a command.  What is it exactly that we're supposed to DO? 

It seems to me that in the Bible, there are at least 4 types of action commonly associated with repentance:  confession, turning, humility and fruit-bearing.  I maintain that the presence of any one of these indicates that the process of repentance has begun and we should acknowledge it as such.  Depending on the nature and severity of the sin, these may not all be present, or may become evident over a period of time.

Confession involves a recognition that I have violated my duty to God and/or my fellow-man, and is followed by an acknowledgement (or admission of guilt) before God and to the offended parties.  This is often, though not always, one of the earliest manifestations of repentance.

Turning is inherent in the idea of repentance and includes both a turning to God as well as a turning from sin.  When a sinner turns to the Lord and calls out for mercy, he has been gifted with and has obediently entered into repentance.  The turning from sin may be immediate and complete, or it may require a steady, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  There is such a thing as besetting sin which demands a perpetual crying out and repeated turnings.  But such is the nature of the Christian life, right?  William Bridges, in A Lifting Up for the Downcast, reminds us that Christians aren't punished for their sins or moral failings (God would not exact double payment!), but for failing to repent and we must therefore  constantly maintain a "turning disposition."  We never cease to need deliverance.  Repentance is not a one-shot, do-it-and-be-done-with-it deal.  The first of Martin Luther's 95 Theses: "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent' He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." 

Humility:  True repentance will produce humility in the sinner, which might work itself out in a variety of ways:  Meekness.  Shame.  A softened or broken heart.  Regret.  Sorrow.  Contrition.  Mourning over one's sin or its consequences.  By the way, I would argue that grieving over the consequences of sin, for oneself or for others, is not a pseudo-repentance, but a very real and legitimate manifestation of repentance.  Afterall, sins are not deemed such by some arbitrary moral standard, but because they are actions which rebel against or violate the loving, sacrificial, self-giving nature of God...and they violate this nature precisely because of the pain, harm, brokenness, and division which they bring to to others (AKA: consequences), and we ought to grieve over these things!  Yes...we ought also to have, as our first parents did, a sense of shame as we stand exposed before God, simply because we have disobeyed Him.  But He is quick to remove our shame by clothing us in the robe of Christ's righteousness. 

Oftentimes, the horizontal shame and consequences are not so easily covered and thus lead to a holy grief which may be prolonged and gut-wrenching.  Although the sinner must not remain in this sorrow forever, the Psalmists make it clear that the penitent sinner may suffer long and severely. Their words provide for us a Divinely-inspired voice for our laments.

Finally, true repentance will ultimately result in the bearing of fruit...eventually.  Consider the analogy.  Within the realm of nature, every plant, shrub or tree comes to fruition at various stages.  All fruit-bearing plants begin as a mere seed...a seed which falls into the ground and dies before it begins to manifest any life.  If it is buried in the winter (and a time of overt sin is certainly a typological winter), it will require even more time before life begins to emerge.  Likewise, some trees require years of nourishment, setting roots and maturation before they produce fruit.  Weeds, on the other hand, grow quickly and make an early, albeit temporary, show of fruit.  My point?  The process doesn't always look the same or happen in identical timeframes for everyone, so let us be quick to encourage our own and each other's hearts.  Even when this process happens slowly - whether on account of pride, stubbornness, fear, ignorance or weakness - we must give thanks for the work that the Lord has begun and beseech Him to continue granting a genuine and complete repentance unto life for both ourselves and our "shipmates". 

Posh Tots

I discovered this company - Posh Tots - through a magazine in the pediatrician's office last week.  My oh my!  It is full of outrageously expensive, but fabulously beautiful and lavish luxuries! 

As a lover of textiles, I adore this bedding collection:

 I like the non-traditional colors and the variety of textures.  If you're so inclined, check out their entire bedding collection...some of these ensembles are beyond exquisite!  Like this, for example:

As a lover of all things old-fashioned, I was smitten with this Italian-made pram:

And this glorious bassinet:

As a lover of things modern and functional, I wished I had owned this high-tech, multi-function highchair:

What little boy wouldn't scamper obediently to bed in this covered-wagon?

And what little princess wouldn't give her crown to play in this $75,000 fairytale coach every day? 

Can you imagine the poor spouse who has to maintain this standard of living for the grown-up version of the children on whom these luxuries are bestowed?  Yikes!

But...I have to admit...these ARE magnificent manifestations of the Image of God in mankind's creativity!  A colossal waste of money, perhaps, but a delight to the eyes and imagination!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's That Stench? Part 3B: The Gift of Repentance

The previous post on repentance was offered as a preliminary caution about our tendency to make repentance overly-complicated, thereby further burdening an already guilt-laden, sin-sick soul.

But please don't over-interpret my point and assume that I am making little of repentance!  That is not my intention.  It IS my intention to make much of it, even in its simplest, most basic, "seed" form.  I suggest that, while repentance begins at a moment in time, it is an ongoing process.  We do well to recognize and encourage the penitent at whatever time, place or way that seed is planted and the process begins.

After spending the previous 5 months examining the biblical uses of "repent" in its various forms and contexts, listening and re-listening to sermons, and consulting mutliple orthodox confessions as well as theological authors whose interpretations I trust, I have finally drawn some conclusions about the meaning, nature and manifestations of repentance.  Some of these are confirmations of what I already thought I believed, but some of my perceptions were dismantled and replaced. 

First and foremost, repentance is not a work, but a grace.  Peter Leithart, in The Baptized Body, reminds us not to conceive of grace as some mystical force or energy that happens to us or within us (or that God does to us or in us), but gifts that God bestows on us as a manifestation of His favor.  So when I say repentance is a grace, I am really saying that it is gift of God to the sinner.  A gift is not initiated by the recipient, but by the giver.  

David alludes to the truth of God-initiated repentance in Psalm 23 when he says, "He restores my soul."  This translation, or maybe our familiarity with the phrase, tends to unintentionally downplay the initiating role of the Shepherd.  I have been told, by men infinitely more scholarly than myself and well-studied in biblical languages and literature, that the best translation is "He causes my soul to return/repent"...a translation which brings the Shepherd's action to the forefront! 

We also see this played out in the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  The sheep has wandered and may or may not yet be aware of the danger he is in, but it is The Shepherd who goes out, seeks, finds, and carries the lamb back to the fold!!  In this story, we learn that repentance is fundamentally not a coming back but being brought back...not a turning, but a being turned...and it begins the moment the Good Shepherd acts on our behalf.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we also find several references to God granting/gifting/gracing both Jews and Gentiles with repentance.  So, first and foremost, repentance is a GIFT OF GOD, INITIATED BY GOD.

As is often true in the Scriptures though, there is another side to this repentance coin...a tension...a "both/and" component.   Though it is clear that repentance is a God-initiated gift, it is also a command!  Which means...we have to DO something.  But what?

To be cont'...   Who knew I could be so verbose?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

I picked a group of synonyms that correspond to today's other post:

Repentance - implies the full realization of one's sins or wrongs and a will to change one's ways

Penitence - implies sorrow over wrongdoing
(Quite frankly, these two words have some of the murkiest etymology I've encountered.  Both come from the Latin paenitere = to repent...which is "probably" akin to paene = scarcely...which also happens to be the origin of the word passion.  I have a hard time connecting any of these words to "scarcely"!  Anyone out there see a connection that I don't?)

Contrition - implies a deep, crushing sorrow for one's sins with a true purpose of amendment  (From the Latin contritio = grief; from the Latin contritus = worn out, ground to pieces; from the Latin conterere: con = together, + terere = to grind)

Compunction - implies a pricking of the conscience and suggests a sharp but passing feeling of uneasiness about wrongdoing  (From the Latin compungere: com = used as an intensifier + pungere = to prick or sting)

Remorse - implies a deep and torturing sense of guilt (From the Latin remordere: re = again + mordere = to bite)

Regret - refers to sorrow over an unfortunate event or wrong action  (From Middle English regretten = to bewail the dead, from re = again + OE gretan = to weep)

What's That Stench? Part 3A: A Warning About Repentance

I will finally attempt to finish the "What's That Stench?" series I began a few months back.  Here are links to the first 2 parts:

What's That Stench? Part 1
What's That Stench? Part 2

If you don't want to bother with that, here is a brief summary:

1.  Know where you are - You are in the Ark...that is, the Church...which is nothing less than the Body of Christ in which we are members one of another, united in Him. 

2.  Know your company - Remember that your shipmates are sinners...redeemed sinners...but sinners nonetheless, in varying stages of maturity with a variety of weaknesses.  Their hearts have not yet been made entirely whole.  In light of this, you should be prepared to bear with their imperfections and sins, eager to watch over them in such a way as to help them avoid tragic sin, and to assist them in their growth in interceding, by exhorting, and by encouraging.

3.  Know yourself - You, like the rest, are a sinner and prone to fall.  Therefore, you too need the help of those around you.  Be wise and humble enough to hear and receive your brothers' admonitions.

In spite of our best efforts to know our own hearts and the hearts of our brothers, and to keep one another from sin and error, we can never be fully immune from experiencing sin in our midst.  Remember Part 1?  It is a great mystery beyond finding out...that which is crooked cannot be made straight.  Even the righteous man will sin.  THEN WHAT?

The obvious answers to "then what" are repent and forgive.  Simple.  Straightforward.  End of story.  Right?  Not necessarily.

Often, either the offences are insignificant enough or the saints sanctified enough that complete repentance and forgiveness are practiced.  But there will come  a time when either the nature of the offence or the condition of our hearts make it difficult for one or both parties to fulfill their brotherly obligations.

*Before I go any further, let me clarify something.  Whenever I seem "preachy" on my blog, my sermon is first and foremost directed to myself!  Writing about these things forces me to examine what the Scriptures and The Church teach and what I really believe.  This exercise often illuminates my own sin and unbelief and hopefully propels me in the right direction.  So...those readers who live side-by-side with me, don't ever wonder if my comments are aimed at YOU.  They aren't.  If, along the way, any of you happen to be rebuked, admonished, encouraged or otherwise helped (and I hope you are!), so be it.  On the other hand, if you find I am positing erroneous ideas, I hope you would correct me!

Back to the topic at hand:

So...what is repentance anyway?  Well, that depends on whom you ask!  Some well-meaning theologians (particularly the Puritans) make repentance exceedingly difficult.  In fact, upon reading their definitions and explanations, I believe I have never repented of anything at all!!! 

There are at least two dangers in setting forth rigid and complex definitions of repentance - which usually include excessive sorrow, a sudden and complete change of heart without hesitation or faltering, and an immediate production of fruit.  The first danger is in weighting the sinner with a burden too heavy to bear and heaping on him unnecessary guilt and despair because he feels his repentance is insufficient.  If we're honest with ourselves, we'll realize that none of us is ever sufficiently sorry for our sins!  Apart from a full apprehension of the holiness of God, which none of us has, we cannot grieve as thoroughly as we ought.  And, I must say, it is a great mercy of God that He does not reveal to us the fullness of His glory and the complete wretchedness of our sin all at once, else we would surely be crushed by it!!  The sinner is likely in especial danger of being crushed because he is in a weakened spiritual state and may already be carrying a load of guilt and remorse, along with the consequences of his sin.  We dare not cause him to stumble by ladening him with a works-based repentance! 

The second danger is this.  The Lord Himself does not make repentance rigid and complex!  The Gospel is not about increasing, but removing our sin-burden, precisely because it has already been borne by Christ!  When we require ourselves or others to carry what has already been carried for us, we diminish the beauty and force of The Good News!  Remember that  Pharisees are the ones who weigh men down with burdens too heavy to bear (but which they themselves don't want to carry!).    Remember too the stories of Acts and the Gospels?  When men are called to repent, it is a rather straightforward change of mind that turns from trust in a false god to trust in Christ.  Period.  These penitents are immediately baptized and received into the full fellowship of the church without any waiting or proving period...without time to demonstrate that they are sufficiently sorry for their sin...without proof that they understand the full import of their prior unbelief...and before they have a chance to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, they are admitted and welcomed to the inner circle!  Saul (an unbeliever), Simon (a new believer) and Peter (a mature believer) all provide examples of undeserved favor lavished on sinners by God Himself and by His people!  

Thankfully, the Lord is much more merciful than we are.  Remember all the times His children completely abandoned Him - usually right after He had worked obviously and mightily on their behalf.  Yet all they had to do was cry out to Him for help and He forgave the guilt of their sin and brought them near.  If you doubt this, read Psalm 107...a great reminder of God's repeated, continual and generously bestowed mercy.

To be cont'...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Centrality of the Church

In his book, The Kingdom & the Power, Presbyterian pastor and scholar, Peter Leithart, argues that The Church, rather than social or political action is the primary vehicle for transformation of the world.

To some that may seem a statement of the obvious, yet the role of The Church has been diminished and even dismissed by the world, as well as by a growing number of professing Christians.  Isolated personal piety - me, God and the Bible - has become paramount, while the corporate worship and work of The Church has been relegated to the sidebar of life...hardly worth our notice.

These fallacies have blossomed in America, partly because of:
1)  our infatuation with individualism
2)  our pre-occupation with the impending and imminent end of the world (compliments of pre-millenial eschatology)
3)  an erroneously imposed dichotomy between sacred and secular
4)  our obsession with politics as the means of saving culture
5)  an inexplicable and disgraceful neglect of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament

The Church's mission is simple, yet comprehensive: 

Gather together to hear, sing and pray God's Word; eat His flesh and drink His blood; love, honor and serve one another in unity;  THEN...go out from the sanctuary and transform the world by making disciples (baptizing and teaching) and by working, living, and creating according to His Image with whatever gifts we have been given.

Leithart recognizes our tendency to exclaim, "Is that all there is to it?  Surely there has to be more to the church's arsenal of weapons for world conquest than worship, baptism, the Lord's Supper, church discipline, preaching the Gospel, teaching, prayer and service.  Surely God expects the church to be doing more in the real world than that!  We are inclined to think God has provided us with a sharp rock for a construction project that required power tools.  We seem to have been given muzzle loaders in a war that demands nuclear capability.

"The church is a mystery.  Because she is a mystery, she is grasped only by faith.  Likewise, the church undertakes her mission, and fulfills her mission, only by faith.  In mysterious ways, the public worship and feast of the assembly of God bring nearer the consummation of the kingdom of God.  In ways that go beyond human comprehension, the preaching of the gospel hs creative power.  If we cannot understand precisely how this takes place, it is not because it does not take place.  It is because the church, even in her mission of world conquest, is required to walk by faith, not by sight." (pgs. 193-194)

Leithart concludes:  "The church will have it's most profound impact on the world by faithfully performing its distinctive tasks of sacramental worship, teaching the whole Word of God, evangelism, discipline and mercy.  The highest priority of the church ought to be to reform herself in these areas."

By faith, we, The Corporate Body of Christ, live in love and joy, humbly trusting Christ to thereby renew the world and exalt us to rule at His right hand.  May the Lord grant us, The Church, a heart of belief and a unified and obedient life. May we enter His rest and leave the outcome to Him. 

As always, Leithart's case is well-reasoned, well-written, and based soundly in Scripture.  A helpful and encouraging read.  Check it out. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook

Outside my is dark (as it should be at 1am), rainy and unseasonably cool.

From the kitchen...I learned this from my Grandma Waggoner years ago and it's always a big hit with my boys who have yet to discover the joy of eating pie! 

Roll out leftover pie crust dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet...smear lavishly with butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture (or cinnamon-Splenda works too!!).  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Cut in squares and devour.  Dangerously addictive. 

Around the house...the hub fixed the dryer.  The duct work was nice and clean, but a bird or two had taken up residence in the outtake and it was absolutely crammed full of twigs, grasses, etc.  And boy did it SMELL!!  I was hoping to do it myself because it would provide material for the blog...but now that it's complete, I'm kinda glad I don't have to mess with it!  Thanks, Shaf.

A favorite automatic icemaker.  Simple.  Common.  I know.  But I use it half a dozen times a day and never have to refill trays...which is almost as tedious as emptying the dishwasher!

I am thinking...that I am going to replace the Leisurely Woman's Daybook with one of two options:  Midwest Mondays - in which I will highlight one of many quaint little towns approximate to St. Louis...cafes, people, architecture, etc. - OR Local Comestibles - in which I will feature one of dozens of eateries within a 5-mile radius of my house.  There must be hundreds...literally.  Any suggestions?

I am "jamamas" as the boys used to call them...because I ought to be sleeping!

I am hearing...AA introduced to me by my young friend, Annie.  He's sort of Bob Dylan meets Johnny Cash...sort of. 

I am reading...Still laboring through The Trivium

I am creating...Outwardly, I am still working on that baby afghan (and planning to finish THIS WEEK!)...Inwardly, I am designing a baptismal gown, coat and well as a baby quilt/comforter.  Don't know which one I'll tackle next.

I am thankful for...William Hoover.  Sorry to embarrass you, Bill, but it's true.  Bill is The Musician at PRPC - organist, pianist, choir director, children's music director, composer, etc.  You name it, he does it...and he does it WELL...year after year after year.  

A photo/video I am sharing:  Redneck yard swing

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let the Smack-Talking Commence

At 6:30 this evening, I was ready to take 2 Advil PM and escape into La-La Land. The combination of loud snoring for the last 3 nights and 2-weeks worth of emotionally-charged days, left me drained.  

But before I had a chance to ingest the sleep-aid, son #2 challenged son #1 and ME to a jump rope contest - who can jump the greatest # of times before mis-stepping? "Are you kidding me?!  I haven't jumped rope in yeeeears!  I think I was a Sophomore in college the last time I picked up a jump rope.  You're gonna kill me!" 

Son #2 wisely begins to flatter me.   "Mom!  You're strong!  You run and you work out.  I bet you can beat me."  You'd think that by age 44 I would have become immune to the flattery trap...especially when set by a 13-year-old boy!  By now, I should know it leads to trouble...every...single...time. 

I wisely attempted to diffuse the compliment by telling him to knock it off 'cause flattery will get him no where.  Then...I promptly set aside my crochet and followed him outside, placing myself squarely on the path to humiliation.  But seriously.  What have I got to prove?  I'm just the old mom and they're just my boys, afterall.

First Try:
Stud Son #1: 58
Stud Son #2: 169
Super Stud Mom: 185

I have to admit...they were more than a little surprised.  Suddenly, they respect me. Dang.  If only I had known that's all it would take, I'd have started jump-roping a LOOOOONG time ago!

Yes.  I am all too aware that this was an entirely braggadocious, self-absorbed, egotistical, narcissitic post!  Apparently I am desperate for affirmation...even if it's self-originating. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Named by Riesa



I had the privilege of being introduced to these 3 this morning.  They had been stored in a drawer in her room.  When I saw she had them out, I commented about them and she proceeded to tell me their names! 
Scrant & Erin (Grant & Eric)

She can SPELL their names correctly, she just can't PRONOUNCE them!
Garfield (Julian)

This is the one that cracks us up the most...we have NO IDEA where it came from.  Riesa has dozens and dozens of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and she knows every name, plus most ages and birthdays.  She knows every family connection...but for some reason, she CANNOT get Julian's name right!!  She got it in her head that he is "Garfield" and I cannot persuade her otherwise!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

Time for some more analogy fun!  Excited?!  I understand.  Me too.

Last time we did analogies, we started with the most basic idea:  "An analogy is a symbolic statement in which two word pairs share the same relationship."  We looked at forming a specific and accurate "relationship sentence" identifying the connection between the words or ideas.

This time, I'll name & illustrate some of the TYPES of Analogies.   

1)  Object/Person : Description 
      (ice : cold)
2)  Agent : Object 
      (artist : brush)
3)  Agent : Action
      (doctor : heal)
4)  Object : Function
      (closet : store)
5)  Object/Action : Greater/Lesser Degree
      (tap : bang)  (glad : ecstatic)
6)  Cause : Effect 
      (ignite : burn)
7)  Part : Whole 
      (soldier : army)
8)  Object/Person : Category
      (elm : tree)  (thief : criminal)
9)  Object/Person : Location 
       (king : castle)
10) Word : Synonym 
       (angry : irate)
11) Word : Antonym 
       (sad : happy)

Identify the type of analogy represented by the following: 

1. nudge : shove :: glance : stare

2. brake : stop :: motor : run

3. malodorous:fragrant::unsightly:handsome

4. solemn : serious :: bewildered : confused

5. ocean : salty :: river : fresh

6. welder : heat :: tailor : thread

7. coffeemaker:brew::food processor:blend

8. sentences : paragraph :: notes : melody

9. spark : ignite :: catalyst : change

10. skater : rink :: runner : track

11. trumpet : brass :: clarinet : woodwind

Names of each person who scores 100% will be put into a hat and drawn at random.  The winner will receive a copy of G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marquee Madness 2

WHAT??!!!  Jesus has a cell phone?!  And...why didn't I know this?? Apparently my pastors have been holding out on me...telling me I have to do this whole "prayer" thing.   

But the LEAST these people could do is give me His number.  I mean...really.  I can't text Him if I don't even know His number!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...Spring has returned with a perfectly cool, overcast day...perfect for opening windows and cleaning the house.

From the kitchen...blueberry pies for Men of the Covenant meeting tonight.

Around the house...the dryer is requiring 2 cycles of 80 minutes each to thoroughly dry the laundry.  I'm thinking it's time to replace the exhaust duct.  Shall I attempt to do it on my own or put it on the "Honey Do" list?  Hmm...

A favorite thing...this leather rag-rug.  I found it a few years ago at Target.  It weighs a ton (which makes it a challenge to shake out!), but feels awesome underfoot.  Plus, it gives Grant's room that manly smell of leather...which beats the smell of teenage boy anyday, right?

I am thinking...that I have become lazy in my blogging.  For whatever reason, it is a chore for me these days and I do it under compulsion...all the while hoping that ya'll can't tell!  I think I need a new muse.

I am hearing...You Come From Rhode Island...a song to which I was introduced last week while listening to John Pizzarelli perform at Jazz at the Bistro.  I couldn't find a link to his version, so I chose an inferior one by Erin McKeown. 

I am reading...The Complete Father Brown...a collection of detective stories by G.K. Chesterton. 

I am creating...still working on that crocheted baby blanket!

I am thankful for...a faithful Christian mother who upholds me with her godly counsel and encouragement, even when she is enduring trials of her own.  A life of genuine difficulties has strengthened, rather than destroyed her faith and made her into a prime example of God's faithfulness in working all things for good. 

A photo/video I am sharing:  For some unknown reason, a friend's FB status which said "Up, up and away" made me think of this old TV show.  Is there a legitimate connection, or did I make that up?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday


tract - to pull, draw or drag


extract (v) - to pull out; often implies effort or force  (tion)

detract (v) - to draw away from; implies a diminshing or subtraction (aha!  there's another one!) (or) (tion)

intractable (adj) - not able to be drawn or pulled out; not easily managed or controlled

contract (v) - to draw together; to shrink or shorten (tion) (or) (ual)

distraction (n) - a drawing away;  that which pulls away attention or concentration

Other derivatives:  

extract (tion)
attract (tion) (ive)
protract (or)
subtract (tion) 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cowboy Church

Heading north on Highway 55, a beautiful Cardinal-red Dodge Ram pickup caught my eye as I passed by.  Adhered to the window behind the driver's head was a decal advertising the "Cape County Cowboy Church." 

This triggered, in my slightly-disturbed psyche, a lengthy meditation on what a cowboy church might be like.

Are all its members tall, tan, muscular males who swagger about in leather boots, Wranglers and 10-gallon Stetsons?

Do they all possess that charm which is singular to real cowboys...with their country drawls, "Yes, Ma'ams", sly grins and that inevitable twinkle in their eyes?

Dang.  I might even be willing to abandon Covenant Renewal Worship to attend a church like that

Speaking of worship...I wonder what it's like there?  I suppose they sing things like:

Friends in High Places
(to the tune of Garth's Friends in Low Places)
I've got Friends in High Places
Where the Father dwells and the Son chases
My gloom away...I'll be OK.
'Cause I've been saved by faith and grace is
The only way to the True Oasis,
Oh, I've got Friends in High Places.

Or maybe the Call to Confession takes this form:
All You Sinners
(to the tune of Desperado)
All you sinners,
Why don't you come to your senses?
You've been called to repentance
For so long now.
Your sins are many
Get on your knees and confess them
Those demons that are temptin' you
Will just bring you down.
Don't you doubt the power of Satan
He'll trip you if he's able
So the cross of Christ is always your best bet.
It's true your sin's forgiven
Yeah, it's more than just a fable
If you only trust the One who paid your debt.

Or perhaps following the sermon - "If a man takes your chaps, give him your spurs also" - they sing:

Grape Juice for My Men
(to the tune of Toby Keith's Whiskey for My Men)
'Cause mercy is the one thing
You should always find,
You gotta forgive each other,
Gotta renew your mind;
When a brother repents
We'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the chapel real soon.
We'll share the Lord's Supper
Give thanks with rejoicin'
Singin' Grape juice for my men,
Oats for our horses.

All I know is...if this city girl is anywhere near Oak Ridge, MO, on a Sunday, she'll be pullin' on her jeans with "plastic" cowgirl boots and stoppin' in to join her voice  with theirs in authentic country style!  Afterall...the Apostle Paul isn't the only one who can be "all things to all people."

Actually...though I let my imagination wander and am poking a bit of fun, I must say that the REAL Cape County Cowboy Church website indicates that, while they may not be exactly traditional, they ARE quite orthodox! Check 'em out here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...a pair of Cardinals are singing happily...hopefully as a good omen for Opening Day today.

From the kitchen...I managed to ruin a whole batch of berries by smothering them in heavy cream which, upon first bite, I discovered to be soured!  I happened not to notice the March 30th expiration date before dousing the berries.  :-(  Live and learn.  Or not...

A favorite thing...My Cardinal hat with "bling"

I am thinking...That Albertus Magnus (aka: Albert Pujols) just might be worthy of the appelation "El Hombre" which I previously thought should be reserved for Stan The Man Musial.  7 games, 5 homeruns, 14 RBI's.  Not a shabby start.

I am wearing...Cardinal red, of course.

I am hearing...An interview with legendary Cardinal broadcaster, Mike Shannon, who sounds surprisingly sober.

I am reading...The Trivium - a rather heady, philosophical book about the nature and form of language.  The parts I understand, are quite good!  An educational, but somewhat laborious read.

I am creating...a baby blanket.  For...a baby.

I am thankful...for the luxury of attending Opening Day.  Seriously.  It's an inconsequential event, but one that inevitably puts a smile on my face.  

Plans for my week...Monday:  Cardinal baseball (duh...)...Tuesday: read,  household chores... Wednesday: Dr. appointment for Riesa Kay (need wisdom and guidance to make decisions about her health and care!)...Thursday:  Bible study, birthday lunch (not mine)...Friday:  night on the town with 12 friends for good food, great music (John Pizzarelli at Jazz at the Bistro!!), and bowling (bring it, Jimmy!) 

A photo/video I am sharing:  5 of the 7 Hall of Famers who showed up for today's pre-game ceremonies: (front to back) Bob Gibson, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendiest, Lou Brock.  Not pictured: Stan The Man Musial (who looked quite frail, but was there, as always!), and newly-inducted Whitey Herzog.

It's definitely a baseball town.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Trova's Wood

Trova's Wood
By:  Lori Shaffer
Silent, unmoveable in perpetual repose
'Neath his shady post the bard reclines.
Jonquils, smiling heavenward, contentedly wave,
Welcoming with quiet joy all who enter.
Finches warble forth their sanguine Song of Spring
While feral-footed squirrels caper in time.
Fallen soldiers lie sheltered in stately mien -
Days of provision and protection past.
As twilight and golden nectar descend,
Copper and azure serenely converge;
Oblivious to, yet borne aloft midst
The beauties of Trova's Wood.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

From Chesterton's Father Brown story: The Flying Stars.

I really think my imitation of Dicken's style was dexterous and literary.  (having or demonstrating skill in use - fr L. dexter, right)

She had a pretty face, with brave brown eyes; but her figure was beyond conjecture... (a prediction based on guesswork - fr. L. com, together, and jacere, to throw)

...looking up at the high garden wall above her, beheld it fantastically bestridden by a somewhat fantastic figure. (to straddle - fr. ME be-, over, and streidh to step)

He took no notice of the girl's adjuration, but leapt like  a grasshopper to the ground beside her.  (a solemn command or earnest entreaty - fr. L. jurare, to swear or take an oath)

...the process was completed and the company, including the saturnine Crook, presented to Sir Leopold Fischer.  (sluggish, morose, heavy and cold - fr. ML, saturnus, alchemist term for lead)

"I think," said Sir Leopold, with a supercilious smile, "that Ruby means a Socialist."  (characterized by pride or scorn - fr. L super, above and cilium, eyelid...references haughtily-raised eyebrows)  

The boisterous Canadian was lifting his loud voice in applause, and the astonished financier his (in some considerable deprecation), when a knock sounded at the double front doors.  (to plead against - fr. L, de, from/off, and precari, prayer...literally to ward off by prayer or pleading)

A harlequinade's the quickest thing we can do, for two reasons.  (that part of a play in which the demon and the clown play leading parts - fr. OFr, hellequin, demon)

He even essayed to put the paper donkey's tail to the coat-tails of Sir Leopold Fischer.  (to attempt - fr. LL exagium, a weighing or testing of)

The clown at the piano played the constabulary chorus in the Pirates of Penzance...  (having to do with the police force - originally meant a companion of the stables, fr. L. comes, companion and L. stabulum, stable)

An interlude ensued, during which the millionaire stared at the priest, and the priest at his breviary...  (a short book containing the Psalms, reading and prayers of the Divine Office - fr. L. brevis, short)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Book A Day...

After last Sunday night's debate on economics, I eagerly devoured GK Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity on Monday.  I didn't expect to read the whole thing in a day, but was anxious to hear his argument in its entirety, so I did.

That made me wonder if I could read a book a day...for a week.  I laid out the challenge for myself.  Here's how it turned out:

Chesterton sets forth his basic economic philosophy, which, according to him, avoids the excesses of both  Capitalism and Socialism.  A pretty interesting read, though I'm pretty sure I disagree with him on several points.  His version of "Distributism" appears to be somewhat impractical, especially in light of technological advantages.  His "living on the land" mentality seems anti-urban and though I can appreciate the motives of creativity and self-sufficiency behind the idea, I think a more biblical view exalts The City.  Afterall, man begins his journey in an uncultivated land and ends in a highly-cultivated, glorified city.

TuesdayOut of the Depths
John Newton's autobiography in which he explains his decision to write it thus: In light of the patience and longsuffering of God, the wonderful interposition of His providence in favor of an unworthy sinner, the power of His grace in softening the hardest of hearts, and the riches of His mercy in pardoning my enormous and aggravated transgressions - in these respects I know no case more extraordinary than mine.  Most of those who have heard my story think that it is worthy of being preserved.

From the Dover edition's back cover:  Charting a passage that takes him from life as an Igbo prince in what is now eastern Nigeria to the New World, Equiano begins with a description of his native land.  In stark and poignant detail he gives a compelling account of his kidnapping and his ordeal aboard the slave well as many other of his vicissitudes and adventures until he finally settles in England, where he becomes a key figure in the British abolitionist movement.

Skillfully written by a man who more than mastered the English language.  A powerful narrative of God's providence in the midst of great horrors.

A compiliation of traditional stories, folktales, poetry and speeches assembled by William Bennett.

Friday:  Poetics
Much to my shame, I had never read this before!  Aristotle examines the elements of tragedy, comedy and epic poetry (with an emphasis on tragedy), highlighting the significant role of recognition and reversal in making a tragedy most effective in producing fear and pity, which is the plot's primary objective.

Good stuff...for those who like to study the art of writing.

So, hey.  I did it.  5 books in 5 days.  I won't likely try it again for a long time.  My house is dirty, the laundry undone and the children are eating pizza...again!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Song for Good Friday

Stricken, Smitten & Afflicted
(follow this link to hear it performed by a handbell choir)

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
'Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, 'tis He, 'tis He!
'Tis the long-expected prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
By His Son, God now has spoken
Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
Was there ever grief like his?
Friends thro' fear his cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress;
Many hands were raised to wound him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on him their hope have built.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Lucky Girl

It is not without some hesitation that I write this post.  I realize that the publication of one's own good fortune can seem bragadocious or can potentially arouse discontent or resentment because of contrary experience.  Stories of a perfectly-suited spouse or a cooperative, excelling child can sting those from whom those blessings have been withheld. 

That's sort of a lengthy preface to a very simple story, but I hope it helps to avoid stirring up negative feelings in any of you.   

I received 2 texts this week from my technologically-savvy father: one telling me he was thinking about and praying for me and one telling me he loved me...out of the blue...for no particular reason.  At 44, there's still nothing quite as comforting and uplifting to me as the love of my Daddy.  I cannot remember a single conversation, from the day I left home at age 17 until now, in which he hasn't said, "I love you, Lori Ann."  He tells me he's glad I'm his daughter...that he's proud of me...that I'm doing a great job raising my children, etc.  He always sends me out with a blessing.  Always.  Not because he's a sappy, emotional guy to whom this comes naturally, but because he knows I need to hear it.

I hope all you fathers will take it from a grown-up: your girls will never stop needing your expressions of love.  Never.

I am a lucky girl indeed.