Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suffering

This month I've read Simply JesusWrecked and More or Less.  I've already mentioned two of them (Smith Scale & Hunger). You may not be able to tell from the titles, but all three are about the problem of poverty and suffering. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vacations, Retirement and Self-Employment

Who doesn't love vacation time?  Although some do get bored if the break is too long, I certainly haven't met many who don't enjoy the occasional time off.  I sure have been enjoying my time away from work this summer.  How about retirement?  I know my mom loves hers. She likes having her time to do as she pleases or nothing if she so desires. Also, my husband along with many others dream of being their own boss.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taking Grace for Granted

This month we've tasted grace, through searching, story, and study.  We've rejoiced in our redemption and praised God for his free and abundant gifts.  With all this talking about it there's no danger that we'd take it for granted, is there? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Graceful Speech: More than "Not Cussing"


Mouth
When I was in graduate school, my mouth got me into trouble.  We had multiple group projects,  and at times, our professors would choose the groups.  I hated that because there always seemed to be one person in the group that didn't work well with the others. On one particular project, we had what I thought was a great group, except for one guy. He wasn't lazy, and he tried to pull his weight, but he just didn't understand what the rest of us were trying to do in the project.  I'm ashamed to admit that my mouth was a much bigger problem than his misunderstanding.  When our group got together without him, we would all "vent" about it, and I joined right in.  Eventually, as so often happens, word got back to him that people were talking about him.  Not only that, but he knew I was one doing it.  My words were twisted, and he believed I said things I hadn't, but the fact remains that my speech was totally lacking in grace.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hunger

I am listening to a convicting audio book, More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger. In the chapter on food he describes one January in detail.  Shocked by the ugly wake-up call of the post-Christmas credit card bill, he and his wife decided that they were going to have to cut corners.  They trimmed the budget, and half joking Jeff suggested that they just not buy any groceries for the month.  So they didn't. 

What followed was 9 weeks of rice, box brownies, pancake suppers, and glimpses of the bottom of the freezer and the back of the pantry.  He writes that they gained both a renewed perspective and 7 pounds apiece from their unhealthy diet.  They learned just exactly how far from hunger they were.   

A New Tool

Do you find Bible study hard?  I do.  I just get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of Scripture and study aids. Simply picking a single book to study out of the 66 is hard for me, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of commentaries, dictionaries, concordances, and websites that are out there.  I'm always afraid that one of the study aids will lead me astray.  False teaching exists, and I'm a very gullible woman; I'm always interested in new Bible study tools that don't rely on extra-Biblical material.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Deodorant, Incense, and the Will of God

I'm not from around here.  When I'm in America, it's my ignorance that makes it plain. Music, movies, TV shows, and all things slang elicit a baffled smile.  When I'm here in Asia, it's my hair.  I'm not too tall, too big, or too oddly dressed but that headful of disheveled brown hair marks me as clearly as a neon sign, "Not from around here!"

I'm cool with it.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Grace of Giving

In the past several years, a willingness to give to my local congregation has not been a problem for me.  We make my budget; we get paid; I write the check and drop it in the plate.  Easy-peasy!  I never really miss the money we've contributed, and I don't know exactly where it goes.  We trust our elders to distribute it in an appropriate way.  For instance, our congregation supports four missionaries, gives to the Churches of Christ relief fund, and provides food for the hungry in our community.  While this kind of "put the check in the plate" giving is necessary, I've begun to feel that sharing God's grace through giving involves something more. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Pawn Shop

Imagine strolling into a pawn shop. The bell rings as the door opens.  You're struck with the masculine smell of oil and gun grease. Overhead you see things too big to sit on shelves strung from the ceiling: canoe paddles, a bicycle... On the shelves lurk abandoned books, knick-knacks, and depression era glass.  Glancing at the glass counter you see the reflection of wedding rings, the picture of desperation and betrayal.  

Then to your surprise you see a sticker. Peering about you notice lots of big yellow stickers with one word, "Redeemed."  Someone wanted this one back, someone paid back all the money that it was sold for and then some.  Someone thought it was valuable, desirable and precious.  It's no longer for sale.  It may be sitting here, but it's not destined for the pawn shop.  It's redeemed.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Grace of Spiritual Gifts

At the congregation I attended in Alabama, there was a wonderful and hardworking family.  Ashley, Emily and their mother Martha were almost never seen in an adult Bible class.  While most of us teachers looked forward to our quarter off, these ladies happily taught all ages of the preschool wing each and every quarter.  They developed curriculum; they bought supplies; they taught our children with infinite patience, smiles on their faces, and obvious love in their hearts.  Teaching was their gift, and they were diligent in using it for God's glory and the building up of the church.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Amazing Grace

Abortion has been much on my mind lately.  Between the sensational Kermit Gosnell trial and Texas Senator Wendy Davis's now infamous filibuster, there has been enough news about the controversial topic to keep it in the forefront of anyone's mind. Perhaps that's why when I watched the movie Amazing Grace, I thought about abortion.

Amazing Grace is a film chronicling William Wilberforce's struggle to abolish the English slave trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  I rented the movie because I knew that July was going to be our "grace" month here on the blog (Benedict Cumberbatch's role as William Pitt was only icing on the cake).  As I watched the film, searching for evidence of grace, I was instead struck by the similarities between Wilberforce's battle to end the slave trade and the political battle raging today to end abortion.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Grace of Adoption

In my class, I often say, "Would you like to hear a story?"  My students may not be children anymore, but they never turn me down.  When I'm lucky sometimes they turn around and tell stories to me.  

One summer day a student began a story with this intriguing sentence, "I am studying medicine because my dad is such a responsible doctor."  I smiled encouragingly at her, waiting for some tale about how he told her stories from work. I guessed wrong.  He brought something quite different home.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Grace of Forgiveness

Because it was my bright idea to devote a full month to the concept of grace here at Maidservants of Christ, Helene asked me what angle I wanted to take for the month.  If she could have seen me from across the world, she would have witnessed a great "deer in the headlights" look.  I don't know; I just like grace.  It's nice to remember grace amidst our sometimes painful confession filled posts.  Framework?  Um.... I like grace.

Helene was not going to let me get away with weaseling out of a more concrete idea.  "You chose it; you decide how we write about it."  Drat.  So I started a preliminary look at grace as we read about it in the Bible, particularly the New Testament.  I found a lot of verses I memorized as a child about our salvation through grace and how it colors our relationship with God.  That aspect of grace was familiar to me.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let Me Point Out

Recently as I was scrolling down my Facebook home page, I found one of those articles that pops up again and again in your feed.  By Daniel Howell, the article was "Four ways to encourage your kids to leave the church."  I read it and snickered in agreement.

Before I was a blogger, I didn't read comments or leave them.  I know that this is a bad lurker habit. I just didn't realize how much that interaction could mean to the writer.  These days I'm a serial scroller.  Down I went.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Grace of Watermelon


Furoshiki-wrapped Christmas gift
I am terrible at giving gifts.  A real disaster.  I get the cold sweats every time birthdays or Christmas rolls around. I never know what to get anyone, even the people I love the most.  I often buy presents in bulk! For example on any given year all the kids in our extended family will get the same t-shirt that has the name of whatever SE Asian country we visited on vacation.  Lame.