More New Year Thoughts
I admit, it is really nice to have this sort of private, needle-in-a-haystack place to jot down my thoughts, which are then accessible to me wherever I am at the moment. For instance, at 12:30 am at my office on top of the Love Field Main Terminal building here in Dallas. I didn't have to worry about forgetting a notepad or journal, or toting it around, or what have you. I can simply sign in to my blogspot account and away I go.
Now that it is the new year, well, I have been giving the first month to the thought of what to pursue this year. I have established a few goals that I thought I'd jot down here for the sake of accountability. Not that anyone else will hold me accountable, but I am sure I will look back at older entries, as I always do, and see how close to the path I've remained. As far as goals go, here is a general outline:
1. Stay focused at my jobs, whatever I happen to be doing at the moment. Whether it is architecture or weather, stay focused and find a way to make them challenging and enjoyable, doing all things for the glory of God.
2. Learn to write shorthand. This subject has always been fascinating to me, and as I get older I find learning new things to sometimes be harder to begin, but once I get back into that "focused" mindset that seeks to pursue something for the pure pleasure one can take in an activity, I find the learning to come easily once again.
3. Memorize a book of the Bible. I would really like to get to Colossians, but for now, I'm starting in Titus. I don't think I've made a poor choice in books, though. How can I? It is all profitable.
4. Get back on the exercise wagon. This one is self-explanatory, really, but I see that much of everything I must do to in order to gain benefit from a pursuit ought to be grounded in enjoyment. If I see exercise (or learning to write shorthand, even) as a drudgery, then I will not pursue it with excellence, to the glory of God. I may not even pursue it at all! This leads me to number 5...
5. Enjoy what you do!!! This is something new I've learned, and has required a real mental shift in how I view life. I often pursue things because of the greater benefit to doing them, not because I enjoy them at all. Really, I often enjoyed the pleasure of seeing the outcome, but when you deal with something that may not always produced the desired results in the desired amount of time, you are often relegated to simply enjoying the task, knowing that the wind will return to the place from where it blows, and the rivers reutrn to the place from where they flow.
6. Read one book every month. Much of the time, I start a book and never finish it. This has always been irksome to me. With the challenge of finishing the book before the end of the month, I have a deadline, and the ability to look forward to starting a new book within the next thirty days.
7. Glorify God and enjoy Him. This is really the summary of my plans for 2012. Enjoy the Lord. Enjoy His law. Delight myself in Him.Lord, may this year be a year of seeing the glories of all that You are: your love, your mercy and condescension, your attributes, your grace.
A More Helpful Way to See It
Well, before I expand upon my cryptic title, I should say that I am being faithful in my Scripture reading, and even more faithful to enjoy it. No, it's not being done every day. It is being done as I have time, being picked up where I left off, and being done with either a notepad and plenty of writing, or with the frustration that I didn't remember to bring a notepad for plenty of writing.
That said, the purpose of this post is to make mention of something that is on my mind: pleasing God. And I've come to determine that I ought not to think of my actions in that vein, whether they please God or not. Rather, I ought to think of whether my actions gloryify God or not. See, there is a difference, I believe. Pleasing God means that my actions themselves own some inherent quality that brings God pleasure. After years of trying, I can confidently say that there is nothing in ME, let alone my actions, that can please God. Nothing I offer can be worthy of Him. And I believe that is because I am starting with ME, a terrible place to start. Instead, my business ought to be about glorifying and magnifying God. I ought to start with HIM. Starting with the Lord brings me to such abject humility to start with, that I cannot look anywhere but up. I can do nothing but rejoice over HIM. The way I see it, pleasing God is like starting at the top and looking downward, attempting to perform in any way that could possibly meet the holy eye of God. But glorifying God is like starting at the bottom, where I am, and doing the only thing a humble heart can do: look upward, point upward, announce the upward view of my eye by the way I live my life. My actions may look quite similar to the person who cannot see the heart. But the motives for one couldn't be farther removed from the other.
Is that a more helpful way to see it?
Okay, so I'm a little behind on the reading. But I've decided that the plan will stay in place, no matter how long it takes my discipline to catch up. To make matters easier, I will probably not write out so much for each chapter. Sometimes, I start out of the gate with too much enthusiasm, and set goals that are, for the most part, beyond my reach. So, here goes...
What stuck out to me here was the way the narrative moved back and forth between the events, to bring out the depth of what was occurring. This isn't an exact timeline. Second, God used only the rib to make the woman. That's exactly what the text says. He didn't just use the rib in combination with a few other things. He used only the rib. And finally, the two were naked, and not ashamed, meaning they had not sinned, and had no reason to feel the need to cover ANYTHING, not even their bodies. What must that be like, to not know any shame whatsoever? We will know that in Heaven.
Here is Satan's greatest strategy, even in my own life: causing us to question God's goodness in light of His law. May I say it is even my own sin root? It is what I can trace every sin back to in the end: questioning the goodness of God's law, and the necessity of following it. I do this without thinking about it. My own flesh will take the bait, because it would rather be happy than trust Someone else for its happiness. May the Lord have mercy on me. Also, it does not state here that the Lord clothed them with lion's skin. Where do we get that??
Here is a verse I need to commit to memory: 7b - And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it.
In the margin I wrote this note: "Have a heart that is sensitive to sin!" May the Lord have mercy on me to grant me daily strength to master the sin that ever crouches at my door, whose desire is to have me! I have seen it! My second observation is of the parallel of the Lord's statement of The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground
and Revelation 6:10, where the blood of ALL those martyred saints cry for judgment and vengeance from the Lord. In verse 13, I observed that Cain was still worried about his own skin, and that he doesn't seek repentance of forgiveness. He says whoever finds me will kill me
and he's worried about his punishment. He never seeks the Lord's forgiveness. Then in verse 16, he goes out from the presence of the Lord. Is it fair to say here that being in the presence of the Lord was not a priority for Cain? Is it our priority? Oh, Lord, may being in your presence be my priority!!! I know it is not as high as it ought to be. But I need to go back to verse 7b and master the sin which has its desire for me. And in the end, remember that it is all of grace, from the desire to fight sin, to the strength to do so, to the forgiveness my wretched sins need from the wrath they require. My final note is over the last verse: To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord
. I wondered, at reading this, if Seth had an impact on this godly line, and perhaps this is the significance of Genesis 6:1-2, where the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
Were these the godly men of Seth's line who considered the outer beauty of a woman over the inner beauty of a woman who fears the Lord? Whether this is what happened or not, I think it's worth noting here that it is important to identify the temptation that exists to overlook a man's heart (speaking as a woman here) when his looks or personality, or the way he treats you, or the way you get along so well, is more attractive than his heart. Do yourself a favor and silently strip away all that fancy facade, all the vanity, and take a good look at what you have left. If there is no fruit of the Spirit in his life, if he would not sacrifice, but be selfish, then keep on looking.
I should have listed this in the previous chapter, but it was already too long. I found it interesting that the Bible mentions two Lamechs so close to each other. The one mentioned in chapter 5 was a vengeful man, clearly not of godly character. The one mentioned in verse 28 of this chapter seems to be a godly man who acknowledged the curse that sin had brought upon the earth, and appears to look forward to the Messiah, even in the birth of Noah! I'm sure he had no idea how appropriate this foreshadowing was, because Noah DID find grace in the eyes of the Lord and was used of the Lord to save mankind from being permanently destroyed in the Flood, and indeed is a picture of what Christ does, and will do, when the judgment comes. And I also think that Lamech was a godly man, because he dies five years before the Flood begins. I think that if he had been a godly man and still alive, we would have found him on the ark, too, but we are told that Noah specifically found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord opened the eyes of Noah to sin, to his need for repentance and obedience, and a Savior. And we see that Noah LIVES OUT his faith by obeying the Lord's command to build a boat for the coming judgment. Had anyone else on the earth found sovereign grace in the eyes of the Lord, he or she would have been on that boat. We can safely assume, then, that none of Noah's brothers or sisters were ever convicted by the obedience Noah displayed by his shipbuilding. On another note, God tells us that God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their was upon the earth.
Our WAYS, the way we live our lives, are what are corrupted. May we look inside at the root cause for our decisions, and may we find those causes to be rooted in God's Holy Word. In verse 14, Noah is told to make for yourself
a refuge as the Lord precisely prescribes. In this same way, we must make Christ our refuge as the Lord prescribes, not adding anything on our own strength or merit. Finally, in verse 22, Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.
I wrote "so must we." I remember learning that when something is repeated in Hebrew, it is for emphasis. I think it then bears considerable meditation that God wanted written in His Word here and emphasis on Noah's obedience to all that the Lord had commanded him. Oh Lord, may this be the pattern of my life!!! May others see me living out my faith in obedience to your revealed will, and taking refuge for my soul in Christ, both for the trials of today, and the final judgment of the future.
I thought it was important to note that after all that occurred as the Lord commanded in verse 16, that the Lord closed the ark. I cannot help but think of how comforting that is, for the Lord to say in a way "well done" and to take care of the final necessary act that Noah, presumably, couldn't do, and that was close the ark. And I only say that because of the water pressure that the door would have been up against, and would have needed to have been closed from the outside for a proper seal. But more to the point, how comforting it is to trust that in those times of trial and crisis, and in the time of the judgment, we are sealed inside our refuge by the hand of the Lord Himself. Who can interrupt our safety? (Romans 8:38-39)
This chapter communicates the creation of the earth and its inhabitants having God as the very force and reason for their existence. God made the earth as an act of the will by speaking forth the words, "Let there be.." In other cases, He is credited with directly "creating". Verses such as 1:7, "God made the expanse;" 1:21, "God created the great sea monsters;" and 1:25, "God made the beasts of the earth." This chapter gives us no other outside acting force on the existence of anything other than His sovereign will. By that reason, we must recognize that God is the sole possessor of everything created. From the smallest baby, to the International Space Station, to the moon, to a drop of water. May we rest in the knowledge of our God's sovereign, skillful, and omniscient oversight of His creation, and glorify Him through humble submission to His created purpose for all our days. And may we pursue the knowledge of Him as our supreme treasure and possession.
Jeremiah 9:23-24; Colossians 3:10.
On Bible Study
It's only 2 pm, but I am already beginning to succumb to the cocktail of melatonin, Unisom, and warm milk (not to mention the weariness from my early morning gym routine). Sleep shall be mine soon, for about 6 hours, before waking for the midnight shift at Dallas Love Field as the weather observer. I anticipate all of two flights maximum will either arrive or depart the station, but that has no bearing on my duties. I will keep the hourly reports flowing, with possibly a special if the weather requires. Tonight, the TAFs are forecasting high clouds that may require me to bring some extra reading material to work to ruminate on between hourly reports.
But that was not the point of this post.
The point of this post is my new Bible study plan. See, I am a planner. I don't just like to plan, I HAVE to plan. Even if I never follow through, I feel that part of the entire process was making the plan in the first place, and on that account, I feel at least moderately successful at anything I start. But my Bible study plans have been 99% good intentions, and 1% follow through. Maybe less.
This year, I thank the Lord for rattling my cranium a bit with some good old fashioned common sense. Not only am I a planner, but I like to have a system. It feels safe, manageable. Do-able.
This year, I'm going through the Bible in its Chronological order of events. I think that will be a good place to start, and hopefully it will make more sense to me. Not that the Bible doesn't make sense, but I know that there are a lot more connections that can be made in, say, the Psalms if one understands the circumstances under which they were written. That is my goal. To not just read through the Bible this year, but to understand what I've read.
Enter this blog.
I have thought it might be a smart idea to share what I've been learning. I have written a summary paragraph of each chapter as I've read it, and plan to insert it into my 3-ring-Bible. Additionally, I'll be posting them here for consideration.
And on that note...
Sitting here in my living room, having just finished off a few bites of stuffing, and preparing to drink a modified steamer in the hopes it will allow me to sleep through the night. Some websites recommended eating before bed to prevent the 4 am melatonin-killing, heart-pounding adrenaline rushes. In my experience, it only worsens it. Oh well. Moving on.
It's already late as it is, but I'm still awake giving thought to a very serious matter. Serious to a semi-young person who still has not shaken all of the "who am I?" matter from the tips of her cerebrum. Even at almost 33 years, the temptation to contort who I am into the perceived boxes of others is a very real and very dangerous threat. So, I thought I'd spend some time tonight reminding myself of a few things:
- Don't turn your back on who God made you, simply because you're not like others.
- Don't question your interests simply because they're different from others' interests. The Lord has made you for a reason, and given you those interests for a purpose.
- If you seek God's kingdom first, you CAN enjoy the interests He has given you with a clear conscience.
- Don't long to think like or be like others when you know God has clearly given you desires and thoughts that lead as a path to Him.
- Remember: Others May, But You Cannot.
When the fleshly desire to be liked, to be accepted, to be understood by others gets intense, remember that there's nothing wrong with being different, having different interests, skills and abilities. God has clearly done this with a purpose in mind. Don't tempt God to discipline you back in line when you can easily submit, trust, and follow the Holy Spirit's leading in your life, including the earthly abilities and gifts you've been given.LORD, please HELP me to invest wisely the gifts You've given me, and not to let the feeling of "standing out" hinder me from loving and serving my brothers and sisters. You have given me the gifts of architect, storm-chaser, weather observer and photographer, and I will be held accountable for their wise investment. Please graciously grant me WISDOM and STRENGTH to do with them what brings You the most glory. Amen.
Thoughts on suffering
Now, I don't for a moment imagine that anyone will find this post to be helpful, though perhaps some do, and that only by the grace of God. Only.
As I think back on 2011, I have to say, it was a year I'd consider a year of an introduction to suffering. I am sure that there will be more to come. I am not promised an easy life here, no matter how well I may plan for contingencies. God alone is the planner of my days. I know this well. But something I have learned from this year is not to hold on to this earth too tightly, but to be willing to let everything go, and bless the Lord at the same time. I have faced a number of fears and trials and have come to see that when I do not value the Lord supremely, I suffer more. James was not trifling with his words when he said to Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
This year, I've learned the continuing lesson to embrace suffering. To put down what may be too much for me to hold after all, and to just rest in His unfailing love. It all used to be such a trite saying, but now it is how I live my days.
What a difference a year makes.
Thoughts for the new year
While thinking about this new year, I've been admittedly entranced by the idea of the "fresh start." What changes would I like to make in my life, and what would I like to pursue? I feel as though I'm at the starting line for another race, the gun about to go off. What will my chosen course be? What path will I take? What will I pursue? What will I avoid? Not that all our days go as we have planned, but it takes some effort to pursue the beneficial things, and avoid things not as beneficial.
Effort. It really does take effort to live a purposeful life. And this year, my effort, by God's grace, will go toward valuing the Savior and His sacrifice supremely. As supremely as a human can, at least. To value it more than anything on this earth, which will be impossible if left to my OWN effort. I need the grace of God to value Him, simply put.Lord, may this year be spent investing my heart, my time, my mind in YOU and in YOUR WORD, which endures forever. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of the Lord will stand.
What I've been up to
One of my favourite photos from this year's chase. I'm taking 2012 off from chasing and hope to get caught up on my photos, so for any chasers reading, take heed: this will be the year of the "big one".
More content-rich words to come...
The sin of pride
It's been nine, ten months or so since I've last posted on here. When I look back at who I was that long ago, and who I've slowly become, I see a lot of good change, but I also see a lot about my soul that has been content to remain unchanged. Reading through James 4:5-105 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
The one thing that I constantly struggle with (the more accurate explanation is that I'm not struggling nearly as much as I ought to) is the need to humbly accept the Word of God in practice. I have found myself believing that both my way and God's way can co-exist in my life, and they cannot. My own reasoning thinks "why of course they can. you haven't had any trouble with it yet." But that's not what God says.
My pride stands in the way of accepting God's Word as true, which affects my own ability and desire to obey it. Verse 8 is my remedy: Draw near to God [in humility] and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Are you frustrated that God isn't answering your prayers, or seems far off. While not always the case, it could be that you are pridefully resisting God's Word and revealed will. Instead, humbly submit to His providence and law of love. Then, he WILL give more grace.
Photo Entry #2
This one from the Pawnee National Grasslands in NE Colorado. We drove very slowly on the all-dirt roads to avoid hitting potholes, cows, and prairie dogs. The reduction in pace made photo-taking much more pleasant, and the drive altogether enjoyable. Contrary to what one might believe, the views were absolutely breathtaking in the afternoon sun.
What about love?
Our pastor has been conducting a brief digression from our normal Sunday morning study over the book of Ephesians to talk about loving God, the greatest commandment. I think it's ironic (?) that I have been struggling with this same issue myself, and ordered several books on the matter of what it means to love. If there is any proof that humans are not naturally inclined to love, it is this: I have turned it into a research project.
D A Carson's Love in Hard Places
is where I've chosen to start this trip. So far, I am encouraged by his commitment to understanding what love is
and what it is not
. He says in Chapter 1, Love and the Commandment of God, "Because all of the expressions of our love take place in a fallen and broken world of which we are part, we are unwise to retreat too quickly to merely sentimental notions of love. To love wisely and well, to love appropriately, to love faithfully, to love in line with biblical expectations of what it means to love, is commonly a very difficult thing to do
I am looking forward to what the Spirit does in my heart as I study this topic. Your prayers are earnestly coveted.
Photo Entry #1
Taken in 2006 with the 20D and 15-30 Sigma. A bit soft, and not too faithful to the highlights, this kit got the job done. Not a bad view.
What being reduced to a part-time employee has taught me
1. My mouth. It likes to say things that imply I do not trust God. Much of the time this is a weak attempt at wit or to be funny and entertaining. Being witty and entertaining are horrible foolish things to pursue if they come at the expense of holiness and faithfulness to my God. And most foolish if I am aware of the distinction and pursue vanity over purity nonetheless.
2. My work ethic. It stinks. This has prompted a great call to the Lord for grace in this area. Not just for forgiveness, but for gracious strength and power. I look back on my life, and while I hold no regrets, I do not think it imprudent to learn from past decisions that were unwise or foolish. I trust God's sovereign hand in all of it, even His power to use my sin for my own spiritual good, and the comfort that brings me.
2.5 Concerning my work, and trust, I do not seem to trust God with my job, with my gifts and with how they are developed. I feel the need to be in control of all of that, and all attempts to do so result in frustration.
3. This time has caused me to SLOW DOWN and think about things I feel I have otherwise been too hurried to consider. I meditate more, because I have less to otherwise occupy my head and heart.
3.5 I believe that I have a wrong view of what my "needs" are, and so seek to fill needs that do not really exist.
4. The most important thing I can do is trust and obey God. I see avenues much more clearly to do so now that more of my dreams, what I thought was "mine" and needed to be closely guarded and coddled, have been sheared off.
4.5 My heart's first inclination is to say "I have not sinned." 1 John has something to say about that, I believe. And it's not a hearty approval. Furthermore, our sins are never beyond the reach of God's grace and redemption. However, I do nothing concerning the matter. It is all God's power affecting the redemptive outcome. I think I fail to grasp the magnitude of that.
4.75 I do not live a life of gratitude. My boss has done so much to keep this little office together, and I do not work with an eye toward that. Much less do I live my life with my eye set toward the cross, and the gratitude that His sacrifice ought to stir in my heart. This grieves me every time I think about it.
5. I see now how much MORE I sin than I did before. It is a strangely unpleasant and yet hopeful place to be, because I know much more the love of God as a result of it. I cry out to God less for my physical comfort than I do for the comfort of my soul. I do not believe this to be at all unprofitable.
I am putting another "bookmark" in my mind here. Please forgive the rather detached-ness with anything in particular in my life. But my mind was piqued yet again with a certain occurrence having a great similarity with an occurrence nearly four years ago. And the bottom line in both of these occurrences is my need to wrestle with scripture until I get it right, and plead with the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom as I read and seek to discern what the will of the Lord is. It is so easy to read a passage of scripture and make a quick assumption that we know what it means. But that isn't always the case; we don't always have that instant understanding.
We are given so much in society, we don't have to go looking for much anymore. We have cell phones that tell us where the nearest pizza place is if we will only speak our preference into the microphone, GPS that instantly tells us where we are, and multi-media presentations that put all of the information together in one neat package that precludes any necessity to go out and actually get our hands dirty with the facts ourselves. Now, I'm not advocating reinventing the wheel. However, I think there is a laziness that pervades our current society that should cause those who wish to be sober to stop and question whether the amount of effort we put into something (understanding God's Word, for example) couldn't be greater and more robust. We are called to seek wisdom as for precious metals and gems. It has a high value. We should esteem it so, and our efforts to gain it ought to convey that value.Lord, grant me the heart of repentance and humility necessary to seek out the wisdom found in Your Word alone. May I never merely accept my own understanding of scripture without asking You first for your aid in understanding. And may I not be lazy about seeking out wisdom, halfheartedly as if it was not worth the immeasurable value your Word tells me that it is.
I am reading through Spurgeon's The Saint and his Savior: The progress of the soul in the knowledge of Jesus.
Here is a tidbit I will be thinking on a bit more:
Let not a libation of tears be the only offering at the shrine of Jesus; let us also rejoice with joy unspeakable. If we have need to lament our sin, how much more to rejoice at our pardon! If our previous state moves us to tears, shall not our new condition cause our hearts to leap for joy? Yes, we must, we will praise the Lord for His sovereign, distinguishing grace. We owe Him an eternal song for this change in our position; He has made us to differ, and this from mere unmerited mercy, since we, like others, "esteemed Him not." He certainly did not elect us to the high dignity of union with Himself because of any love we had toward Him, for we confess the very reverse. It is said of the writer's sainted predecessor, Dr. Rippon, that when asked why God chose His people, he replied, "Because He chose them;" and when the question was repeated, he answered yet again, "Because He did choose them, and if you ask me a hundred times I can give you no other reason." Verily it is "even so Father, because so it seemed good in thy sight." Let our gratitude for divine grace leap forth in praise; let our whole man be vocal to His honor Who has elected us in sovereignty, redeemed us by blood, and called us by grace.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
As you can see, I have not written in a while. To inform my few (are there any left?) readers of my whereabouts, let's just suffice to say that I'm taking a mental break for the moment. Thinking is essential. But love even more so. It is on the foundation of the knowledge I have that I am standing in order to urge my own soul to love others. There is no middle-of-the-road with me, only extremes, and it's time I examined the other important side of the road: love, grace, mercy and compassion, girded by the Truth, and prayer.
In quietness and confidence is your strength
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?
Baxter on sin
But he that confesseth his sin, doth as good as say, " Lay all the blame on me who do deserve it; and not on God, on Christ, on Scripture, on religion, or on the servants of God : for I learned it not from any of them, nor was encouraged to it by them—none are greater enemies to it than they; if I had hearkened to them, I had done otherwise." It is one of the chief reasons why repentance is so necessary, because it justifieth God and godliness.
It is hard to believe there is much sense in updating, but I will do it anyway.
I have begun studying for a position with a company which contracts with the FAA as a Certified Weather Observer. I have no guarantee to get this job. And those that I have spoken with have told me that I will have to work twice as hard as the next guy to get my foot in the door simply because I have no experience. I put the idea on the shelf for about six months, and now am ready to commit to the time necessary to get the job done. The point will be to go in to the contracting company and say something like this: "Hi. I want to be a weather observer. Here is the evidence of all the work I've put into learning the ins and outs of weather observing. Ask me any question. I can answer it. I love weather and know how to write a METAR in my sleep. If this work here isn't evidence of that, I don't know what is. Will you hire me?"
On another note, I thought I'd share something a little personal. Perhaps it's news (though perhaps not) to those reading r&r that I'm prone to a spell of melancholy now and then. I've learned to live with it. Partially by recording and focusing on the goodness of God, and partially by suppressing my emotions. I'm not so sure the last one is a wise move, but it's where I am with it. We are not called to be controlled by our emotions, but to have a spirit of self-control. And of love. I am learning that exercising that love for God and for others (which Romans 6 plainly gives me quarter to do, even commanding me to do so) is a good practice for dispelling the darkness that creeps in when I'm not looking.
This painting by Frank Bramley expresses much of it. I know the painting looks hopeless -- in fact it is titled A Hopeless Dawn -- but I can relate so well to the image that I have fallen in love with it. The sun is rising, there is food and fire on the table, and a home with company. And yet the disconsolate figure in the foreground is quite often my soul in the midst of the provision of the basic necessities of life and beyond. It is utter insanity, yet I have learned the compassionate response to such emotions is paramount. I fail to exercise it, but I cannot say I do not know it.
Finally, I have decided that a bit of sharpening of my mental skills is needed. I am spending the evenings not spent in study for the test in study of other matters. I am currently reading a biography of Michael Faraday, jotting notes in the margins and generally awed by the providence of God in the life, gifting, and struggles of one of His children. In the end, Faraday would exercise his love of science to provide a blessing for all humanity with his advancement of electromagnetism, and his diaries and lab notes which provide keen insight into what appears (to me) to be the Christian's encouragement gained from the philosophy of scientific inquiry. I wish I was less dull in order to provide a clear exposition of my thoughts, but it will be sufficient to say that the search for truth, both physically and spiritually, both require the careful attention paid to words and a reliance upon clear communication and exactness of meaning. In other words, no fluffy stuff. Today's science has welcomed fluff and I believe we will see a consequent decline in the amount of "real" science and "real" benefit to humankind.
That's all for now.
It must not be dissembled, that, in the progress of such a reform, certain inconveniences will be necessarily encountered; but these will be speedily compensated by an influx of real and permanent advantages. The pangs which accompanied the "death unto sin," will be soon forgotten in the pleasures which result from a "life unto righteousness;" and the peace and hope which abound in the way, will efface the recollection of those agonistic efforts by which it was entered.
So this is what is meant by "regretting the poor decisions made in one's past".
XV. "Watch against the pride of your own reason and a vain conceit of your own intellectual powers, with the neglect of divine aid and blessing. Presume not upon great attainments in knowledge by your own self-sufficiency : those who trust to their own understanding entirely are pronounced fools in the word of God ; and it is the wisest of men gives them this character. "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool," Prov. 28: 26. And the same divine writer advises us to " trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not to lean to our understandings, nor to be wise in our own eyes," chap. 3 : 5, 7.
XVI. Offer up, therefore, your daily requests to God the Father of lights, that He would bless all your attempts and labors in reading, study, and conversation. Think with yourself how easily and how insensibly, by one turn of thought, He can lead you into a large scene of useful ideas: He can teach you to lay hold on a clue which may guide your thoughts with safety and ease through all the difficulties of an intricate subject. Think how easily the Author of your beings can direct your motions, by His providence, so that the glance of an eye, or a word striking the ear, or a sudden turn of the fancy, shall conduct you to a train of happy sentiments. By His secret and supreme method of government, He can draw you to read such a treatise, or converse with such a person, who may give you more light into some deep subject in an hour, than you could obtain by a month of your own solitary labor.
Implore constantly His divine grace to point your inclination to proper studies, and to fix your heart there. He can keep off temptations on the right hand, and on the left, both by the course of His providence, and by the secret and insensible intimations of His Spirit. He can guard your understandings from every evil influence of error, and secure you from the danger of evil books and men, which might otherwise have a fatal effect and lead you into pernicious mistakes.
Even the poets call upon the muse as a goddess to assist them in their compositions.
The first lines of Homer in his Iliad and his Odyssey, the first line of Mussaeus in his song of Hero and Leander, the beginning of Hesiod in his poem of Works and Days, and several others furnish us with sufficient examples of this kind; nor does Ovid leave out this piece of devotion, as he begins his stories of the Metamorphoses. Christianity so much the more obliges us, by the precepts of Scripture, to invoke the assistance of the true God in all our labors of the mind, for the improvement of ourselves and others. Bishop Saunderson says, that study without prayer is atheism, as well as that prayer without study is presumption. And we are still more abundantly encouraged by the testimony of those who have acknowledged, from their own experience, that sincere prayer was no hinderance to their studies: they have gotten more knowledge sometimes upon their knees, than by their labor in perusing a variety of authors; and they have left this observation for such as follow, Rene orasse est bene studuisse, "praying is the best studying."
To conclude, let industry and devotion join together, and you need not doubt the happy success. Prov. 2:2: "Incline thine ear to wisdom; apply thine heart to understanding; cry after knowledge, and lift up thy voice: seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord," etc., which "is the beginning of wisdom." It is "the Lord who gives wisdom even to the simple, and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."
I am currently reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species
. What a fascinating book. I have a distinct feeling that those who claim to uphold this text as some great saviour to knowledge of our origins clearly have never read it. Darwin here is providing us with more questions than answers. Thus far, I am getting the distinct impression that what scientific philosophy perpetuated the geocentric model of the solar system is the SAME philosophy behind the perpetuation of evolution. Conjecture, and lots of it. Think what you want, whatever "seems" right. It's not enough to humbly accept missing information anymore.
And I know this from personal experience. How often have I
lied to myself in order to provide some closure to holes in my knowledge. It was not with truth or fact that I closed the gaps, but with conjecture that had absolutely no basis on what really "was". The more I immerse myself in the fascinating world of scientific philosophy, the more I determine that empirical knowledge is still considered a debatable source of truth, and that conjecture is a viable substitute. Some things never change.
Not that all men are to be horribly blamed, I think. After all, we come to conclusions on our own after all the data have been mined, and the experiments are completed. How do we know what data to look at? How do we know what is the "truth" of all that we observe?
I rather like Wernher von Braun's opinion on the matter:Scientific concepts exist only in the minds of men. Behind these concepts lies the reality which is being revealed to us, but only by the grace of God.
and Michael Faraday's as well:
Man's natural mind is a very unstable thing, and most credulous, and the imagination, often rules it when reason is thought to be there.
Now, I'm not going to say this out too loudly, but I figured I'd jot it down here anyway.
I've been very interested lately in scientific philosophy, and how even the way we gather scientific data, and analyze scientific data, say something about our love for truth. For THE Truth. How our knowledge of what God commands, and His sovereignty over all Creation, affects how science is conducted. How our submission to the Word of God, and our obedience to the gospel, affect how we conduct our inquiry into the world. I mean, it certainly ought to be the greatest influence upon how we live.
I'm only whispering this because it might make me look like too much of a nerd.
On doing hard things
Things that are difficult:
1. Being faithful with the little things
. Like keeping the apartment swept clean and keeping up with exercise and staying faithful in the Word and prayer. Like getting to bed on time, and getting OUT of bed when the alarm goes off. Only getting the hot tea at Starbucks because it's the wisest use of my money.
2. Scheduling in the big stuff
. Why is it that the small insignificant things that are selfish wastes of time seem to have no problem making their way into my day? Am I really that selfish?
3. Keeping up with relationships for the sake of the other person
. It is easy to "work on" a relationship with people we enjoy being around. But what about the relationships that really require effort? Are they any less worthy of our time? What does this say about how I feel about my relationship with Christ, probably the most poignant and difficult-to-maintain relationship I will ever have?
4. Being holy
. This one ought to be obvious. But so difficult.Lord, make me ever mindful of my helplessness, and to deny any thought that any duty I faithfully maintain can recommend me more to you than any terrible deed can cast me off from you.
Change Upon Change
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,--
Where none will track thee in this snow,
Along the stream, beside the hedge.
Ah, Sweet, be free to love and go!
For if I do not hear thy foot,
The frozen river is as mute,
The flowers have dried down to the root;
And why, since these be changed since May,
Shouldst thou change less than they?
And slow, slow as the winter snow,
The tears have drifted to mine eyes;
And my poor cheeks, five months ago,
Set blushing at thy praises so,
Put paleness on for a disguise.
Ah, Sweet, be free to praise and go!
For if my face is turned too pale,
It was thine oath that first did fail,--
It was thy love proved false and frail!
And why, since these be changed enow,
Should I change less than thou?
Step 1 of Directing Myself
Step 1: Register and start designing website, www.accasphoto.com.
It seems to me that all throughout life, and through college, I have been responding to a number of requests that have gotten me where I am. Marcia, do this. Marcia, do that. And this is how I finish high school, go to college, choose a career and complete the numerous daily activities that all of this requires.
But what if one discovers that when those external commands stop, one is horrible at commanding one's own direction?
Just because I feel like writing something. maybe this will sound like a complaint, but I'm not complaining. I'm thankful. I'm just also sore from sleeping on the couch. All this North Texas rain and time has sufficiently weakened the roof of my apartment, and has efficiently caused the bedroom to remain in shambles with strategically placed buckets. The couch has been to escape the constant dripping sound of water falling eight feet. So tonight, I'm going to prepare myself for the next deluge promised in a few days. I'm installing string plumblines at the source of the leaks with the weights resting just above the bottom of the buckets. No more dripping noises. And no more waking up extremely sore.
That is all.
It's just one of those places in life where I feel like I'm spiritually down for the ten count.
What I've discovered lately is that we all seem to have answers. Sometimes those answers are not really answers at all, but more like opinions.
As a professional and a believer I am trying to find that balance of ministry and professional growth. It is easy for me to be rather imbalanced concerning the matter. Christ first, indeed. But how do I use my time to maximize my overall effectiveness? I'm not talking about reading books on leadership or engaging any kind of hocus pocus fluff. I'm talking more about learning to do the things that matter. Like being a better writer and communicator for the purpose of serving others. Like managing my time better to also better serve others the Lord has placed in my life.
Bottom line is that the Bible comes first. Nothing can be said or done that contradicts the word of God and still be given quarter in my life. All must point to loving God with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself. I am starting to think that it does not mean what I think it means. Much of what I do is under the guise of loving God, but is really selfish. I know that. Many wasted hours of nothingness come to mind.
Life is to be enjoyed, for sure, and how much better for the one who has the ability to enjoy his life to just be happy? But I can't get past the fact that while all things are permissible, not all things are beneficial. Also, what I consider "happiness" may not coincide with others' definitions. To me, happiness is chasing storms, and being lost in the wonder of its architecture. Man, I'd chase a squall line, to tell the truth. Nothing but linear junk and lots of wind and rain. But there's nothing like sitting out a major downburst in one's car (or even photographing one from a distance).
If this is what I was made to enjoy on this earth (because truly, the capacity to enjoy this is a gift from God) then I hope that all of my enjoyment flows back to God in praise.
What else makes me happy? Conversation over coffee. A good NON-fiction book (but Jenna's latest novel has definitely won me over for the time being to the value of the story). Knowing (and even the search for) the truth about something. Grasping new knowledge.
I was contemplating the general revelation that God has put on this earth for us. It is to point us to Him, and throughout recorded history we SEE that. Religions are so entwined with the earth and sky. But what is missing? There MUST be that special revelation of God through His Word.
So what am I enjoying most these days? What makes me the most happy (clearly, I reason this, because it is what I have been engaging in)? Standing firm on God's special specific revelation of Himself, looking for the general revelation He has placed in the world He created. The meaning of all things is derived from its author. From the meaning of light to the why parents look like their children.
None of this is situational. I hope that by knowing God more, searching out the truth of Who He is in scripture, I may see more clearly how He has revealed Himself in nature.18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
I once asked my boss what it meant to be in a recession. His answer was that we would work more for less pay. He was right on both accounts.
My goal: As much as I hate drafting, to be the best draftsman I can be.
1. For as much as I'm disappointed with Lewis' The Abolition of Man
, in that it seems to be a large bit of man-made wisdom and discusses ideas that could be more clearly derived and explained from the Bible, I am ALSO curious about the fact that not too many people DO seem to either have chests OR a standard by which to make any sort of judgment. My main contention with Lewis in this book is his lack of defense of the real
truth, the only
Truth. Perhaps that is yours, too. He left his readers with guilty consciences and a number of avenues by which to attempt to assuage them. I know it's a philosophy book, but they should probably erase the references to his Christianity from it.
2. I have been reading articles about the benefit of hiring an architect in order to put together a similar summary statement for the brochure I'm designing for the firm. Being fond of old things, I decided to amble through Google books' treasury of architecture magazines from the early 20th century, and I found something strikingly odd. The reason for being an architect has shifted dramatically in the last 100 years. And I began to brood (as I often do) over why this was so (I discovered the bottom line to be money, really) and whether this was "good" for the profession. I haven't found any positive reasons yet.
3. So, what does it mean to be a professional? What does it mean to be a "misfit"? Doctors are regarded as heroes when they defy conventional practice in order to save the life of their patient. Lawyers are regarded as heroes when they risk their neck (and their practice) in order to make a stand for something that is "right". And where are architects? After my (depressing) reading, I think it's safe to say we've already sold out. We're using flowery language about how we can make the world a better place through design, and we're ignoring the fact that we also have a set of professional ethics we're expected to live by to the benefit of our client. If architecture could be a man, he'd be emasculated. While I know this is a result of the fall, it's depressing to go to work in an environment where the only thing that matters is the bottom line and there is no standard of care that is encouraged and modeled.
4. If I were to try to do things differently, I think I'd make more enemies than friends. *sulk*
5. On the flip side, when reading about what it means to be a professional, I am encouraged that there ARE a lot of qualities and values that are comparable to what Christians ought to be doing. Serving. Helping. Exercising compassion. But I'm not quite sure WHOM I should be serving, because the architect/client relationship is so ambiguous. I "serve" Fairfield Residential. It's like showing compassion to an unconscious machine. I can look at it this way, though: "Marcia, you can serve
your boss and coworkers". And yes, that is true; I can, I shall, and I must. But I also want to selfishly interject that this is not the reason I went to school to become a "professional." I am a professional to serve the interests of my client with a clear view to what is right and wrong.
6. I'm not knocking Lewis. I think the book came off the shelf at the right time.
7. I have a lot more to pray about now.
8. My bottom line: Titus 2:9-10 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.