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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Authentically In Need of a Savior

My friend Alicia, in her new blog "Life as I see it...," is thinking about authenticity today. Why, she wonders, do we live behind masks? She suggests,
I know there may be several reasons. But I think the most pervasive reason is fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of rejection. Fear of conflict. Fear of condemnation. Fear. It is a powerful element in our lives.

But fear does not come from a relationship with God. Jesus taught us that perfect love casts away all fear. And yet, we live in fear and even at times embrace it.

I guess I am at the point in my life where I don't want to live in fear anymore. I want to live an authentic life. I want to take off the masks and tear down the facade.

I believe God came to give us an abundant life. And I don't think the abundant life has room any room for fear. And I am convinced the abundant life is characterized by authenticity.
(Be sure to read her whole post here.)

Alicia's right. Many of us wear masks in fear of all the things that she mentions. Judgment. Rejection. Conflict. Condemnation. But this sort of fear is rooted in pride. In pride I seek the praise of men (and women, and Facebook friends, and bloggers) and fear that my real self is unpraiseworthy.

But there's the rub. I am unpraiseworthy. The truth is that there is nothing praiseworthy about me, even though, like you, I'm desperate for the praise of others.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)
Authenticity is an elusive quality that, like humility, seems to vanish in your hand the moment you feel you've really grasped it. We can only really become authentic and honest about ourselves when we are able to say,
"Help me to humble myself before thee
by seeing the vanity of honour as a conceit of men's minds,
as standing between me and thee;
by seeing that thy will must alone be done,
as much in denying as in giving spiritual enjoyments;
by seeing that my heart is nothing but evil,
mind, mouth, life void of thee;"*
For when I have a correct view of myself, I know that
"I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive, and satisfied;
that I am feeble and unable to do any good,
but that in him I can do all things;"*
For a Christian, being authentic is not about being candid or outspoken. Authenticity is not the opposite of reticence, it is the opposite of falsity. Let us understand clearly our need for a Savior. I need Him. You need Him. At the Cross we can put aside our masks (which never fooled God anyway), repent and be made new.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 
John 10:10

*From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, p. 79.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Indoors Going to Africa

There is just something so Christopher Robin-like about being a five-year-old boy. This Christopher Robin moment is the kind of thing that routinely happens to now-five Tobias:
"Christopher Robin had spent the morning indoors going to Africa and back, and he had just got off the boat and was wondering what it was like outside, when who should come knocking at the door but Eeyore." (From The House At Pooh Corner)

Tobias recently celebrated his fifth birthday. He requested another cowboy cake, just like the one I made him when he turned three. Alas, he had to settle for this hat-cake, not quite as cowboy-like as the original.

Indian Pudding

Our Tapestry of Grace Year 2 studies have us in the Colonial America era. Here you see Edwards Academy kids, along with another family that partners with us for TOG discussion and projects, making Indian Pudding. As you can see, the boys weren't so sure about the aroma of cooking molasses, milk, and cornmeal.

The boys made a batch and the girls made a batch and each family enjoyed Indian Pudding for dessert. Unlike the colonists, we had our warm pudding over ice cream. Although the boys were pretty suspicious about it, in the end they found the pudding yummy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Affection for the King James Bible

Just in time for the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible (or Authorized Bible, which was completed in 1611), I have finally recognized this treasure for what it is.

I have had little regard for the King James version of the Bible for most of my life. My first Bible, given to me in Sunday School, was bound in imitation leather, imprinted in gold lettering with my given name, and contained the Holy Bible in the King James Version. I didn't give the translation much thought, except that I knew it was different from the New American Standard Bibles my parents had--I loved tracing the swirls in the lettering on the front of Dad's NASB during the sermon--and mine said "King James Version" on the spine.

When I was still a youngster, the New International Version was published. Soon I had a beige-colored NIV hardback children's Bible, with a nice picture of Jesus on the front. I became an NIV devotee and my first Bible was relegated to the shelf.

True, my private Christian grammar school insisted we get New King James Bibles and I memorized plenty of verses out of that translation, but for church and any devotional reading, I used NIV.

The KJV just struck me as old-fashioned and out-dated, so when a college New Testament professor lectured on some of the shortcomings of the King James translation, it confirmed my preference for NIV. My no-need-for-KJV attitude grew stronger in reaction to the strand of Christendom that insisted on only the KJV. After studying the history of the Biblical translations and manuscripts in college, I couldn't see how anyone could insist that only the KJV was inspired.

These days I prefer a literal translation and I love the English Standard Version, even as our children use NIVs for all of their devotions, memorization, and study. The only KJV we have in the house is my very first Bible, saved after all these years for sentimental reasons.

So why the new affection for the King James Version? I am not coming back to it for my primary devotional and study text. For that I am sticking with ESV or NIV. But, I'm drawn back to it for the love of its English. I finally have appreciation for the beautiful, old English I once disdained.

After spending December studying Shakespeare with the kids, which served to train our ears to the hear the melody of Elizabethan English, we then came to the age of King James and his famous Bible translation. Coincidentally, we read quite a bit of King James Scriptures for our Advent study of Handel's Messiah. And, as so often happens, we quite by accident stumbled across this podcast by Albert Mohler and Leland Ryken about the King James Bible. On top of that, I happened to read this article by Lynn Bruce, which extols the virtue of reading the Authorized Version for its literary value.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low:
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The voice said, Cry.
And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it:
surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Isaiah 40:3-8

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wiki Power

The idea of harnessing the labor of countless unknown users to create a massive encyclopedia was, obviously, brilliant. Project Gutenberg, the free electronic book site, pre-dates Wikipedia, but was also built on wiki power.

Now I (finally) discover Librivox, the wiki audiobook site. Project Gutenberg links to free audio recordings of many books, and many of those audiobooks are hosted by Librivox.

We've found several of our history texts (books by Henrietta Marshall and M. B. Synge) as well as plenty of other literature. Toby has listened to Thornton Burgess's "Burgess Animal Book for Children," and Sydney is listening to "A Little Princess," which is an old favorite of hers.

As you know, we're huge audiobook fans, so this is quite the find for us.

Ring Around the Roses

Hope is reading a biography of Isaac Newton.

"Mom," she said, looking up from her book. "It says in here that the 'Ring Around the Roses' song comes from the Black Death. The Black Death gave you black spots with a red ring around them. Your skin turned ashen and you fell down dead, sometimes in just 24 hours."

Lane overheard her. "Why would they make up a song about death?"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Poetic Than "Just Say No"

Whether or not you are a teetotaler, you probably hope with me that your children abstain from strong drink. While just saying no gets the point across, Mattie declines Rooster Cogburn's offer in a far more colorful way:

[Rooster Cogburn said,] "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

[Mattie replied,] "I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains."

From the novel True Grit, by Charles Portis. Mr. Edwards and I have been reading this together aloud after seeing the latest Coen brothers movie adaptation as well as the John Wayne classic. Both movies draw heavily from the novel, which provides a very witty story. The kids love the John Wayne movie and eagerly gather 'round to listen to the read-aloud.

What's the Bible All About Anyway?

On Wednesday evenings, as three of our kids go to AWANA, I get together with two neighbor friends for an hour or so of Bible study. One of our threesome is new to Bible study and so we are doing a survey of the Bible's redemption story, going through the Scriptures from Genesis forward, searching for signs of Jesus and God's ultimate plan for humanity.

Bible scholar D. A. Carson sums up deftly in six minutes exactly what we are studying. It is well worth your time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day Read-Alouds

Hope came to my door this morning. "Mom, are all the schools closed today?" I could hear the howl of the wind outside, even as she spoke.


"Are we doing school?"

"Yes, but Hope, when all the other kids are in school in May and the weather is warm and wonderful, we'll be outside."

She smiled.

We'll stick to our school assignments, but if you have kids that are stuck at home away from their school assignments, here's a way to redeem your day: gather them around for some reading aloud.

They could sit and color, or they could cut-up magazines and paste together a collage, or they could make paper hats and chains as you read. Don't know what to read? Here are some suggestions that you might find on your shelf, or be able to find online or for your e-reader, since you probably weren't planning ahead and stocking your bookshelf for a snow day. You will enjoy reading these as much as they enjoy listening.

Charlotte's Web or Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or other Narnia books, by C. S. Lewis
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, especially Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
Burgess Animal Book for Children, by Thornton Burgess
The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow, by Allen French (After watching "How to Train Your Dragon" your kids might be ready for some more Viking fare.)

Or, for older kids, try reading True Grit by Charles Portis. I'm reading this out loud to my husband this week; what a great read!
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