Monday, December 31, 2007

It's a boy!

We're getting a new addition to our family. Chester, an orange tabby, will be joining our household on Saturday morning at 9 am, pending my current cat's updated shots. Crystal seemed a bit lonely, and considering she spent three nights in a row with me when I returned from Christmas, I realized that she probably shouldn't have to spend so much time alone. I read that birds or fish can keep them stimulated, but I wasn't about to have a bird around, and I thought about a beta fish instead.

Then I saw Chester at the pet store. His back was so tall! I have been wanting a big cat! I walked over to the viewer and waved the little wand I was getting for Crystal at the glass. He immediately took an interest in it.

I can't wait to bring him home!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

everything in its place

So many times I have looked around this apartment and felt nothing but dismay and stress. Stuff. There was constantly stuff everywhere. And I never seemed to find a proper place for much of it. I kept coming back to "Do I have too much? I'm going to need this or that again, but where do I put it??? Do I need a bigger place?"

This has gone on for years.

And then, I discovered STORAGE FURNITURE.

See, A) I don't shop for things and B) I don't like to keep things around. I felt guilty with my wire shelf "impulse buy" this morning, but the closet contents are not threatening to open the door and overtake my apartment anymore.

I am borderline ascetic. But we'll go there another time.

So, it all started with IKEA. Last year, I bought some high-stacking shelves for the living room. My coworkers helped me carry them out of the store and drive them home and assemble them. And they worked so well... they weaned me into the realm of "you, too, can own furniture, Marcia!"

This winter, things have gotten to the "squeeze" point. Things were tumbling all over each other in the closet. Ironically, the architect looked at the mess, and thought "now, why doesn't this look right?" Somehow or another I found myself at the website of the Container Store, and I never looked back.

I'm raising the bed so I can FINALLY more appropriately store bins that are fighting my pants for room in the closet. I bought stacking wire shelves at Target to make better use of the two shelves in my hall closet, and the almost three feet of clearance between the closet shelves and the ceiling. I even bought another set of stacking (not according to the manufacturer, however) shelves from IKEA for the living room. Baskets and low shelves for the closets to keep things off the floor. Stacking plastic drawers for the closets and cabinets. I take the old concept of "built-ins" to a whole new rearrangeable level.

I stepped back to look at the last few projects I have left, and thought "wow, this feels good to have a place for everything." When it hit me: Order. Order is really important. Where there is no order, no matter how good the intentions, chaos will always be lurking. I used to think it was rather silly and frivolous to feel so good about having ordered something. But what is it about order that sets us upright and on our way? What is it about order, even if it's just making better use of closet space, that makes us feel more disciplined, or that makes discipline feel more achievable? What is it about disorder that weighs the spirit down? I'm sure there is a spiritual implication here, but I just can't seem to put my finger on it.

This is all coming right in time for my test in a month. Having the apartment neat, orderly, will give me that clarity of mind needed to concentrate and perform well. It will certainly keep distractions away as I continue my Bible study and Scripture memorization. I'm looking forward to see how great the benefit is.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Who was it?

I would have to go back through the archives and see just who it was, but someone mentioned Matthew Poole's Commentaries being a bit more readable than Matthew Henry's. So I put them on my wishlist. And unwrapped them this Christmas day. I love MANY things about these commentaries.

1. They are in three volumes! No more lugging around a massive unabridged single volume, worrying the spine isn't going to hold up against much further wear.

2. They are USED! I love old things.

3. The entire text of the Bible is in them! No more looking back and forth for the text I am reading about.

4. There are cross references within the text of Scripture, AND the text of the commentary! Enough to keep me on my toes.

5. The method is expository! Word by word, phrase by phrase, the entire verse is broken down.

Matthew Henry was a very flowery man, but Matthew Poole was a workhorse. Just the facts, ma'am. I like them both, but as for what my mind can chew through, I like the smaller, meatier bites of Poole.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to work.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A money and time and contentment post

I'm currently considering buying a house. I'm well in the financial way to do so, and even to buy something that needs work. I'm quite ready to start doing my own architecture for once.

I've tried to buy property twice in the past, and the Lord had other ideas. Of course, His ways were best, and I'm still in an apartment. Looking back, I think the fruit of apartment dwelling has been mostly maturity. I'm in a new church, my job is becoming more of my life now, and I'm feeling that desire to "settle in" somewhere. Should the Lord have other plans, I won't bemoan them.

God's Word says that godliness with contentment is great gain. Paul learned to be content in all circumstances. And truly, in all of life, there are no perfect circumstances. Ever. I have been content with my nomadic existence for years. The Lord has provided the grace for that. Now that I am desiring more responsibility (right Kim?), and with that a responsibility to teach those younger than I about responsibility, I have pondered much about this decision.

We live in a society that takes the path of least resistance. While I should not throw myself into dire straits, I ought to consider if another path will be more beneficial both to my character and my earthly work. I consider how easy it is to call maintenance when something breaks. Or not have to mow the lawn. This isn't a bad thing. They were blessings when I needed them. But I'm moving out of that cocoon phase and into a phase where I have a lot of opportunities, and I ought to stop sitting on what I am capable of, and what will help me learn and grow in maturity. Currently, I see habits I have that are characteristic of someone who doesn't have to consider much, who relies thoughtlessly on others, and who rarely experiences an inconvenience (for goodness sake, I walk to work!). I would like to move past that.

I know that if I were to stay in an apartment, I could be content. And that if I buy a house I could be content. Because my contentment is not based on reaching the limits of an ever-increasing ceiling, but on God. Craving something "new" and "exciting" only leaves one worn out and depressed when the fun is gone. If I move into a house, it will be "fun" to paint and "fun" to move walls around. But there will be days when I come home and I will wish I had more room, or higher ceilings, or a second floor, or that I didn't live in a construction zone, that the painting was done, and that it could all be over finally. There is always something better out there.

Which leads me to another thing. The "have it right now" problem. I am a card-carrying member of the Entitlement Generation. I am learning how to trust in the fact that this is all temporary. And that anything I do must be done with the gospel in view. I also must learn that time is a factor that must be embraced. I see myself running away from anything inconvenient, that would take too much time. Instead of allowing myself to take things one step at a time, I want to see the end right now, and I want to be there right now. Patience is clearly a virtue I must work on. Even the cost of renovation. I may only be able to afford one thing at a time, and that even only months apart, without taking out small construction signature loans on zero equity. Just save and pay zero interest. And be content with the house where it is at the moment instead of jumping into debt (at interest) so that I can have it all RIGHT NOW!!! Be patient. And remember that this isn't for enjoying NOW, as much as it is for being responsible with my resources, and being the light of truth to others, reflecting the change that has been made by my Lord. I just keep thinking, not even sitting in a finally finished (according to plan, of course) house is as good as being matured by the hand of the Lord, and holding fast to the hope I have in Him. That makes anything I enjoy here on earth enjoyable to begin with.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

quick question...

Does anyone know if I can post texts of entire sermons on here (installment by installment) without violating the law? My initial review of the four-factor balancing test says it shouldn't be a problem, with the exception of the bulk of the material posted (in my case, all of it).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Every day I am reminded that I am nothing, nobody, and I ought to live in the light of that fact. My life is but a vapor. This world is passing away. The world doesn't revolve around me or what I do here. I am a meager human, abundantly blessed, and striving to live in the fear of the Lord with the lights of American Materialism and Morality causing a bit of glare in my eyes.

"Aim at satisfaction by proportioning desires to the number and measure of probable gratifications. Desires indulged grow faster and farther than gratifications extend. Ungratified desire is misery. Expectations eagerly indulged and terminated by disappointment are often exquisite misery." -Timothy Dwight

Friday, December 14, 2007

I have just found a new favourite blog.

details, details

You know, I never considered myself to be a very detail-oriented person. I enjoyed looking at the bigger picture and feared getting so caught up in the finer points of something that I risked being blinded to the issues at hand.

But as I become more focused on my job, assured somehow that I will be in this field for a very very VERY long time (no objections there, though I am not at all omniscient) I have discovered my ability to take something apart to its very smallest components in the midst of the big picture.

I also have begun to notice that the more detail oriented you are in a subject that greatly interests you, the more proclivity you have to pointing out (not deliberately) mistakes.

Of course, who enables human wisdom but God alone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

And another thing...

That Saviour has blessed me with a wonderful job.

Truth be told...

I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Saviour.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On preaching the wrath of God - A Birthday Muse

December 4th, 2006.

I consider this day to be my second birthday. And considering what events surround that day, I consider this to be the only date that matters. I had quite an impressive history beforehand. Well, impressive to man's eyes. But God knew what was going on underneath, and was really using all of that to bring me to the end of my own righteousness. Which was nothing. Filthy rags. Manure.

What I experienced around that date was nothing less than the blessed terror of the Lord. It was nothing less than understanding the unmitigated wrath of God stored up for those with no Salvation from the fires of hell. I chuckle, although reservedly, at the direction I turned immediately after wailing that mournful and desperate question, "What must I DO to be saved?!?!?!?!" I went straight to the law. But I digress.

Well, maybe not, because what comfort is there in a law that I cannot keep? There was nothing but despair on every side. After MUCH struggle, after finding solace in the written works laid across my path like a trail of breadcrumbs, the arrows pointed straight to Christ. (And for this, I recommend reading Horatius Bonar's How Shall I Go to God?)

While reading TeamPyro's post today on the scariest men who ever lived, I thought about the blessedness of coming to an understanding of God's terror and wrath while here on earth. All men will one day see it, on one side of eternity or on the other. I pray that I may, in the narrow span of time I spend here on earth, have an opportunity to point out the anger of God directed at sin, and at what an absolute devastation it is. And may I then point them to the offer of life, salvation, the truly good news to those who have seen a glimpse of the terror of the Lord.

Alive in Christ

I one was rebellious, corrupted by sin,
Pursuing the devil's dark path,
oblivious, dead to the state I was in,
An object of God's dreadful wrath.

But God who is rich in compassion and love,
Not leaving my soul to the grave,
Has given me life; born again from above,
By God's sov'reign grace I've been saved.

God lifted me up to the heavenly realms
Where seated with Christ I am free;
In ages to come he might show me more grace-
So great is his kindness to me.

Since grace is the source of the life that is mine-
And faith is a gift from on high-
I'll boast in my Savior, all merit decline,
And glorify God 'til I die.

Yet now I am living with work to be done
For I am God's workmanship, too,
Created in Christ with a race to be run,
Which God has ordained me to do.

-James Montgomery Boice
"Hymns for a Modern Reformation"

Listen, my son...

[Proverbs 6:20-22]

My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother;

Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck.

When you walk about, they will guide you;

When you sleep, they will watch over you;

When you awake, they will talk to you.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Arrested Development

I'm going to quickly blogspot (because just don't have time for original material right now) a post I thought provided excellent food for thought on the arrested development of our youth, twenty-somethings, and increasingly thirty-somethings (believe me, folks, I've seen it).

Kim at The Upward Call has been very active, in contrast to my current dry spell, and putting up a LOT of great things to think about. I most definitely appreciate her currently calling out of the lack of responsibility of young people these days. She has a few posts on this phenomenon, and if you're interested in ruminating on the topic, you can find her wise thoughts here. Share a few ramifications with her. I've got work to catch up on.

If you're interested in extracurricular work, Al Mohler wrote a blog post on it, too.

Preliminary good news

The test this morning went easily, praise and thanks only to the Lord. I had time left over on BOTH vignettes, which I used to check and double check rooms, doors, windows, orientation, size requirements, etc. The Lord was so gracious.