Saturday, 31 December 2011

Books of 2011

Okay, so I should be doing a "top 10 of 2011" post. Mine would be about books. Here's the problem: I don't actually know all the books I read in 2011. In fact, I only know one person who knows what books she read because she made a list. I think I'll do the same for 2012; I'd like to track what I read.
I have looked over my bookshelves, checked my library records, and looked at what I bought on-line. It helped a bit. Instead of a "top 10" I'll tell you what I read that you should read, in no particular order (most of them were read in the past 3 or 4 months, because that's how far back my memory goes).

God's Wisdom in Proverbs, by Dan Phillips: go down a few posts and find out why you should read it.

But God...
by Casey Lute: To be completely honest, I bought this because I like the words "but God" but mostly because I know Casey and wanted to support him. It is a very, very good book. I wrote a review of it somewhere.

Just Do Something
, by Kevin DeYoung: I did a review of this too; it's really good for countering the "you need to hear a voice or have a feeling before you act" crowd.

Uneclipsing the Son
, by Rick Holland: One of the best books I read this year, and so convicting that I made a friend read it so I didn't have to be convicted alone.

A Passion for the Impossible
, by Miriam Hufman Rockness: This is a biography of Lilias Trotter, who headed off to Algeria with a friend in 1888 to be a missionary. They didn't know the language (although they did know French, which helped) and they didn't know anyone in the country. It's amazing how God worked through her and her willingness to go.

When the Darkness will not Lift, by John Piper: This is a short, quick read, but deep enough to make you think. He writes about dealing with depression as a Christian, possible causes, and how to support people who are walking in this darkness.

Those are the big ones, the ones that made an impact on me in a big way. I also read and enjoyed:
Fine China is For Single Women Too, by Lydia Brownback
Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini (the last of the Eragon books)
From the Christian Heroes Then and Now series: Betty Greene and Wilfred Grenfell
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (about Louis Zamperini)
12 Stories of Christmas, by Joe Wheeler (the type of stories that might make you cry)
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Why One Way? by John MacArthur
A Cup of Cold Water, by Christine Farenhorst (about Edith Cavell)
Hostage Lands, by Douglas Bond
The Betrayal, by Douglas Bond (a novel about John Calvin...I almost forgot about that one (I think it was this year))

There have been other books, but they were either for school, or not so good, or okay but not enough to recommend, or I've forgotten them!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Girls

I have the younger girls over right now. There are 5 of them: 2 4-year olds and 3 6-year olds. I've never had them over as a group before, but I've had all of their older siblings over (and some of them have come with other family members). Today I finally found time and energy to entertain a group of small, giggly girls.

Actually, they're very easy to entertain. They played with my toys and then we had a picnic of pizza and cookies and Sprite on the floor. I made them very happy by letting them paint Christmas ornaments just like the big girls (but with t-shirts to keep them clean and a lot more supervision), and they were very careful to be neat and did a fairly good job of it. We also coloured and we had princess Christmas crackers. Now they are watching Bolt and eating popcorn and sour keys.

The line of the day....
Me: They made the biggest mess ever!
Small child: No, the rapture is the biggest mess ever!

Much later edit: It disturbs me, the number of hits this post gets. I'm changing the name in the hopes that it won't get found as much.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Why People Deny Creation

These are my thoughts on why people deny creation; I may not have all the reasons and I may be speculating. The thing is, I've never doubted creation as it's laid out in Genesis 1-2. I think the Bible is amazingly clear: God made everything from nothing by speaking it all into being. I don't see how you can read the Bible, accepting it as God's inspired word, and deny creation.

Oh... and I'm talking about professing Christians here; nonchristians deny creation because they are in active rebellion against the Creator.

First: They haven't been taught properly. They've been around people and in churches that teach alternative views of Genesis 1-2, and they've simply accepted what they've been told. They have also likely never been taught to read the Bible and think about what it really says. Either they are expected to accept what they are taught, they think that the Bible may be too hard to understand, or they are lazy.

Side note: I know that I am extremely blessed to be in a church family where reading the Bible regularly and thinking critically and making sure the teachers/pastors are teaching/preaching truth and asking questions or raising concerns if what they say does not seem to match Scripture are all encouraged. I send my Sunday School students home with orders (usually ignored) to read certain passages to make sure what I am teaching is truth. It's a very, very important part of their learning because one day they will run into people who claim things as Biblical that are not in the Bible.

Okay, second reason: They want to gain the respect of the scientific community, maybe with the intention of "finding common ground" to "start a conversation" and preach the gospel, so they start to compromise (maybe a day isn't a day....) and then it all goes downhill from there. Guess what? A day is a day...and there is nothing in Genesis 1-2 to say otherwise. Besides that, compromising to win the approval of the world is wrong and will never, never, never cause anyone to listen to the gospel. Read Acts; they opposed all sorts of beliefs with no compromise and God saved people. Got that? Compromise does not save people; God saves people.

Finally: No creation = no Adam and Eve = no fall = no original sin = I'm a pretty good person, really, with just a few flaws. I don't think anyone would state that as a reason, but I think it's there. I think that denying creation leads to a better view of ourselves than we should have, and I think it might be a reason, however subconscious, for the willingness to deny what is so clearly stated in the Bible. This way, they can feel good about themselves, and believe that they aren't so bad, and brush off any guilt, and go through life believing that God loves them just the way they are and sin isn't a big deal. And Jesus died just to show us how much He loves us (not to save us from eternal wrath and punishment which we deserve and can do nothing about because we are dead in our trespasses and sins), and He loves everyone because we're all good people (except maybe Hitler and Stalin and the like). It's a nice story...too bad it isn't true. And believing it undermines the cross, makes Christ's sacrifice and God's justice a sham, calls God a liar, and leaves people feeling happy and guilt free on their way to hell.

People... creation matters. Truth matters. And denying what is clearly stated in the Bible won't change the truth.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Joy of Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

John 1:1-5, 14, 16

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Head on over to Pyromaniacs, watch this and have a lovely, lovely Christmas.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Proverbs Book

Actually, there are 2 Proverbs books: the book of Proverbs (you the Bible...right after Psalms) and God's Wisdom in Proverbs by Dan Phillips. I'm guessing that my readers know my feelings about the Bible, so today I'm going to focus on God's Wisdom in Proverbs.

I've been reading Dan's blog, Biblical Christianity, for a long time, and was excited when he announced that he was having a book published. This is not about that book; his first book is The World-Tilting Gospel, and is on my pile of books to read. The Proverbs book is actually his second book, published not long after his first.

To sum it up: this is a great book. It's well written, it's well researched, it's interesting, and it's very thought provoking. In fact, I really can't write about all of it because I need to go back and read and think about a lot of it. Right now, though, I want to give you an overall picture of the book, with a slightly greater focus on certain bits.

First, Dan gives background information: how to understand Proverbs, who wrote Proverbs (he gets into that more in Appendix One), and what the different types of proverbs are. He makes it very clear that proverbs are not promises or formulae guaranteeing success if you just follow the right steps. He says that "Proverbs are wonderful at being what they are: proverbs. They are not failed prophecies or systematic theologies.... Proverbs both teaches wisdom, and requires wisdom for its correct interpretation and application.... A proverb is not a magical formula, bringing wisdom and blessing by incantation." (p. 21-23, emphasis in the original).

Having set the stage, he goes on to talk about the fear of Yahweh as the foundation of wisdom and how to gain wisdom. This is about where I was when I last mentioned the book (below, discussing hearing God). Dan is very clear that everything we need for wisdom comes from God and that He has told us everything we need to know in the Bible. It is there that we learn to know, trust, and worship Him.

There are three chapters on what Proverbs says about relationships with others as well. There is one on general relationships, including what makes a good friend and a bad friend; how to be a good friend; and who to avoid. The advice in Proverbs includes looking for loyalty, honesty (someone who will give proper criticism and not flattery) and avoiding the hot tempered and easily offended.

Then there is marriage. To be perfectly honest: I tend to be hesitant about marriage books and marriage chapters. They have a very bad habit of assuming that everyone will be married and that being single means that there is a problem with me that I need to fix. Or, they set up unrealistic expectations of marriage. Or, they talk about how to fix the problems in your marriage, mostly by reading the Bible more or communicating better or something (honestly, I tend to stop listening after a while). And it's always so easy: follow the 5 or 7 or however many steps and your marriage will be perfect. If it isn't, you didn't do the steps properly.

I am happy to say that Dan avoids all of this (Mr. Phillips, in case you ever read this, I apologize for ever doubting you). If you're married, go read the chapter yourself and see what you think. I'm giving you the single person's perspective: it's a very good chapter to read when thinking about marriage or dating. From it I learned what Proverbs says about what I should be looking for in a husband and what I should be as a wife. From it I learned how to avoid a lot of trouble up front by being careful about who I marry and by studying Proverbs (and the entire Bible) to be a godly woman and wife. In the event that I start thinking about marriage (hey, it could happen) I fully intend to look at the chapter again. In fact, as I read it I though about how great it would be if I could find a way to teach this to my high school girls who are just starting to think about boys. Actually, I should give it to their parents.

The next chapter is on parenting. Again, I have no experience, but I have spoken with parents and read some parenting books and done a lot of observing. Here's what I take from this chapter: if you a a good parent, a godly parent, who attempts to parent your children according to Biblical principles, disciplining faithfully and training them in God's word, and your children walk away from your teaching and lead rebellious's not your fault. There is no magic formula here either. There is also no guilt as long as you are doing your job. Appendix three talks about Proverbs 22:6, looking at it as a threat rather than a promise. This will upset everyone who wants it to be a promise that one day their children will follow God and will reduce the guilt of everyone who has rebellious children. Only once before have I heard it explained this way, and I still can't remember where. I am glad to have it all spelled out for me.

That's just about all I have for you. You really need to read this book for yourself. It gets pretty deep at times, and delves into the Hebrew words, but don't let that concern you. Dan is good at explaining the meanings of the words, the background, and the way they are used.

Finally, 3 other pluses of the book...

1. Footnotes. Sometimes they give references and other times they further explain things. The important thing is that they are not end notes (I once read a book with so many end notes that I had to keep a separate bookmark in them).

2. The bibliography. I like going through bibliographies, first to see if I know any of the books, but also because I may want to study more. In this case, the bibliography is extra good since for some of the items Dan has added notes on which ones are good, which ones are good for more advanced studies, and which ones are not as good. My personal favourite: "Museum-piece of unhinged liberalism." Which brings me to

3. The language. Dan has a wonderful grasp of the English language and uses it extremely well. I knew from years of reading his blog that he was a good wordsmith; I know from his book that he is a master wordsmith. From the first page of the preface: "Proverbs is a kaleidoscopic microcosm of the wisdom of God." It starts well, it keeps going well, it ends well.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

And So We Survived the Christmas Concert

And it went well. The grade 1-3 class was up first and they belted out Joy to the World, which was not only great to hear but set the tone for the rest of the evening! My kids did a great job with the nativity play and no one turned his or her back to the audience. They were very proud of themselves. The junior/senior high did a good job with readings from the prophets and then the fulfillments in Christ's birth; one girl jumped the gun a couple times which threw another girl a bit, but it still flowed really well and we could hear the promises that were fulfilled just with Christ's birth (and at that not all of them). The special music was really, really good as well. In the end, we had candles (real candles instead of battery operated ones) and sang Silent Night and it was properly Christmasy.

And now we are done for another year. We already have big plans for next year's concert, but for now we will rest!

And for a touch of class for a change....

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bits and Pieces

It's been somewhat busy at work, with teachers off sick and writing exams, and kids having to change their schedules, and me getting to cope with everything. It's not terribly busy, just the usual December issues. One more week, though, and we're closed for Christmas (well, I have to work one day between Christmas and New Year's, but otherwise we close that week).

I'm pretty much ready for Christmas. The tree is up and decorated (last year it only got the lights) and Christmas parcels have been sent and received. There are presents hiding in my laundry room so I don't give in and open some before Christmas! Some of them I'm fairly certain about and others have me very, very curious. There are Christmas cookies in my freezer and the kids came over for our annual cookie decorating. I've been assigned a veggie platter and pickles as my Christmas dinner contribution, so that's nice and easy! One more week....

Even though I'm not doing school right now, I'm still incredibly busy. Most of all, I want to rest so I'm ready to start again in March. I'm hoping January is nice and quiet and peaceful so I can rest and maybe catch up on all the things I wanted to do this winter!

Today was pretty quiet and I didn't do much beyond laundry and a bit of cooking and a lot of reading and a nap. I'm still tired, but I feel better than I have most of this week. It just seems that when things start relaxing and going well, someone has to step in a make life complicated again and I just want it to stop! Still, just one more week to Christmas break. At least then work will stop interfering. is good. There are rough days and easy days and in the is good.

Friday, 9 December 2011

A Quick Book Review

I was doing a quick blurb for the book recommendation section of the women's ministries bulletin board and I though I'd share it with you. I really enjoyed the book (and found it rather convicting).

Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland

“Jesus, the Son of God, has been eclipsed, and we’ve made ourselves at home in this new normal.”

Rick Holland has seen a problem in the church: we have allowed many, many things to come between us and Christ. We do not desire Christ as we should, being content with shadows and a good life rather than the abundant life that God promises.

Holland does not stop with diagnosing the problem; he offers the cure as well. We must put aside all idols and focus on Jesus instead. Holland takes us through Scripture to see the place Christ must have in our lives, in our worship, and in our churches. And he brings encouragement: we can walk in the full light of the Son.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bonus 2nd Post (a video counts as a post, right?)

This one made me laugh...enjoy!

Christmas Concert Update

It's all coming together...I know what everyone is doing and just need to confirm one group and it's all ready to go. Well, sort of ready! I was teaching Sunday School and it seems that some of the children in one of the Sunday School classes don't know what they're singing; it seems that rehearsals haven't started yet in that class!

In my class we had our second rehearsal and our first with the small children. I may need to find a way to inform a mom that her son just isn't ready to be in the concert and maybe next year. He doesn't want to be in it but she wants him to participate. The rest of the little guys did well, except the one new little guy who refused to join us, but that's fine; I don't want to push them. The angels mostly know their lines and are working on being happy when they speak; the shepherds are only looking a bit afraid and not like they're going to die of fright; the chief angel looks less afraid of the shepherds; and the narrator is learning to speak slowly the whole time.

The big kids seem more aware of what they're doing (last week they were handed a script and I don't think any of them read the whole thing). They had to rearrange some parts since their teacher (bless his heart) didn't stop to think and some students may not be around the day of the concert and made sure everyone had a part. I've been assured (by a wonderful friend who has taken over training them) that once they learn to speak slowly they'll do fine. We're bribing them to memorize their parts by next week!

It will be a good concert. I need to remember what I've been telling the kids: it's for God's glory, not ours, and our goal needs to be to bring Him glory by spreading the good news of Jesus to our audience.

And now, some classic Christmas music for your enjoyment...