Work: Evaluating Our Hearts

As part of the children’s school, we’ve been reading through CMI’S Christian Character Curriculm Vol. 2. This is from the lesson on Virtue:

“How would living (working) to please God differ from what we commonly call ‘good works’?

The former follows our submission to God, while the latter, all to often, are done to find acceptance with God.”

Eh… I don’t quite agree with the implication that “good works” is negative — it is a phrase positively used in scripture. I do, however, appreciate the opportunity to evaluate the motivation of my own heart. I’ve rewritten this quote to help apply it to me:

“Am I doing this work because I love God, or because I’m trying to get Him to love me?”

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:4-10

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. – Colossians 3:23-24

Quote: Roger Ebert’s Tweet on Breasts

Gustav Klimt : The Three Ages of Woman (detail)

“Am I odd? Cleavage doesn’t awaken my feelings of lust, but those of the hope to be comforted. Cleavage. It speaks to us from the time before memory of love, comfort, warmth, softness and food. Cleavage. Oh yes. Cleavage.” – Roger Ebert, via Twitter. (Tweet #1) (Tweet #2)

This is a beautiful quote describing the nurturing aspect of breasts! (Did you know the word nurture and nursing have the same Latin root, nutritus?) I’m making a note of this quote for the next time I teach on breastfeeding during my Bradley Method natural childbirth classes.

Reminds me of the feeling of peace and comfort captured in Isaiah 66:11-13 :

For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance. For this is what the LORD says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

As we see here, the Creator even uses breasts in an analogy, demonstrating that He knows and cares how we humans think, feel and function, and that such wording would resonates within us with understanding. I can’t even think of a clearer metaphor, can you?

God made breasts. God made the warm fuzzy feelings of both desire and comfort that humans naturally associate with breasts. He made these feelings work together to form a loving bond – between mothers and babies, and between husbands and wives.

Praise Him!

As Christians, let’s not be embarrassed to tastefully mention breasts, m’kay?

By the way, Klimt is one of my favorite painters. A large print of Mother and Child (detail from The Three Ages of Woman), used to hang in my living room back home, just above the rocking chair where I would often sit and nurse my babies.

(HT to @clergygir1, my Twitter friend Jen, who is a breast cancer survivor, for ReTweeting this! Please check out her encouragement-filled blog, Clergygirl : Waving a flashlight through the murkiness of life.)

Just Another Rainy Day in April

Rice Fields on Fire : View from Today's Trip to Misawa

I’ve just returned home from a two hour trip to Misawa today, a drive over woodsy mountain roads, snow still lingering under the cover of the deep conifer forests lining the roads, to pay yearly Japanese transportation taxes. We were the last customer to slip in before they closed their doors.

We brought with us, this time, the offending library book – an orange board book called “Opposites” – that had prevented us from borrowing the stack of books we’d chosen last time from the library’s shelves. It’s hard to find good books there, sometimes, amidst the Best Sellers and Neocon Captain-America titles. So, having had put the effort into finding the carefully selected books, only to be rejected at the front desk by the meticulous male Japanese librarian whose fingernails are glossier than mine, because patrons are forbidden to borrow more books if a borrowed book has yet to be returned, to be able to borrow again felt like we’d been vindicated. In the true fashion of someone who has just been allowed to do something once forbidden, we borrowed about 30 books. Hopefully, every book will remain in the library books adjacent to the couch this time — and not find its way underneath the couch this lending period.

I had selected a few books today, but placed them back upon the shelf. They were books that merely affirmed my thoughts instead of presenting a challenge to them. I kept a book on herb gardening, something I’m attempting to do in containers in my concrete yard that is mockingly situated on acres of untouchable rice fields and greenhouses, and an updated AP Stylebook in hopes my herbs will be hearty and my punctuation improved.

In the children’s section, Tom found an audiobook version of Inkheart, a self-contained listening device that we hooked into our stereo, and we listened to six chapters during the winding drive home in the dark. Aiden said it frightened him, although nothing particularly scary has yet happened in the story. The description of the character Dustfinger was a bit menacing, however. To admit he was afraid was to admit that Aiden was listening, a backhanded confession that made me laugh given the protests that had come from the same child’s lips moments before.

Green cloth grocery bags are scattered all over the kitchen floor. It is midnight. My children are still awake. I will put away the perishables, and call it a night. Tomorrow, well, when the sun is up at least, because it is tomorrow already, hopefully before my Saturday completely escapes me, I’ll sort out the items that go into our upstairs make-shift industrial metal shelves pantry and those that will go in the limited space of the Japanese kitchen cupboards. I’m thankful for the inexpensive meats, pasta, canned tomatoes, broths, and baking supplies that can be purchased on the base, but the two hour distance means that we must stock up on such things if we want to have a supply on hand in between infrequent trips.

Tonight, as the children spent their energy on the indoor playground, I talked to an atheist friend for a while. She had many questions for me — mostly about the inconsistency of Christians and about why God does what He does.

Quite simply, there are many confused, inconsistent Christians out there and God can do whatever He pleases, no matter how arbitrary it may seem to us. And, no, I do not think every naturally occurring disaster is because God is trying to punish someone or because He is judging people. Rather, we live in a fallen world, and it’s a wonder any of us are still alive and breathing given the circumstances. God isn’t any less God just because His actions make us uncomfortable.

Before I left, she said, “I hope that you’ll still speak to me and be my friend even though you now know I’m an atheist.” I assured her I would and thanked her for the conversation.

What Do You Do When a Bible Verse Hurts Instead of Helps?

Note:

After I posted this, I caught something as I watched again — I said that we aren’t justified through faith. That’s not quite what I meant. To clarify, before someone else catches it:

Galatians 3:7-9 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Ephesians 2:7-9 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

My point was that faith by itself is meaningless. It’s what we have faith in that justifies us.

Have you ever gone through a hard time, read the Bible, and then felt more condemned than encouraged?

Here, I offer some thoughts on what to do in this situation based on the temptation of Christ as recorded in Matthew 4 .

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and feedback.

Do you think this interpretation is correct? What do you do when scripture hurts?

“We can’t take someone else’s rights away to avoid our responsibilities.”

Saw this at Mommy Life and had to share!

Twelve year old Lia Mills wrote this speech for a contest at school. On March 12, 2009, she was given the Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award.

My favorite line: “You have to remember that with our rights come responsibilities, and we can’t take someone else’s rights away to avoid our responsibilities.” (Wow. Applicable in so many ways!)

Mills ends the speech by bringing in a quote from Horton Hears a Who!

The full version of the speech can be found here.