Wow! Look at the Traffic!

traffic

Looks like today has been a busy day on this lil’ ol’ blog!  Maybe not quite like the photo accompanying this (probably more like Main Street in Kooskia, Idaho where I graduated from high school).  But thanks to all who have dropped by!

I hope that life will get to the point that I can post here more often, but that might just be wishful thinking.  Currently, I am in the middle of reading Rosaria Champlain Butterfield’s latest book Openness Unhindered:  Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ.   Maybe I will have the time and work up the courage to write an actual review of the book, once I’ve read it.  Who knows?  It could happen.

If you are not familiar with Butterfield’s story, I recommend her first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. It’s an amazing story of Christ’s redemptive power in justification and sanctification!  I think you will find Butterfield’s writing easy to read–she is a masterful story teller!

So, check back here over the next few weeks.  You might just find something new.

Tagged , ,

Thanksgiving Train

images

I haven’t posted in a while, and probably shouldn’t post this as it needs some polishing, but I have decided to take you on a rambling ride on my train of thought.  Please keep your hands, arms, and other body parts inside the vehicle—this train’s engine could get difficult to follow.

I was thinking about thankfulness today (I know, odd, given the day and all).  I have seen posts online all month where people describe the things for which they are thankful—their family, homes, jobs, salvation, grace, etc.  Some have even included to whom this thankfulness belongs—God. This then got me pondering that we give thanks to God with our words for those things for which we are grateful, but how do we show our thanks?

My thought train went on to Sunday morning worship and stopped at that station for a bit.  When the Church meets with God to worship Him, how is our thanks shown?  Do we have a casual or cavalier attitude?  Do we think more about what we will get out of the service than the worship we bring?   Do we think more about how the songs make us feel than what the words are saying back to our King?  Are we more concerned with the lunch we will partake of after the service or the football game that will be on the TV instead of what God is saying through the minister of His Word?

The thought train went further down the track.  Even though, I think we all know the answers to the questions I just posed would not be positive most of the time (if we are being honest with ourselves), God still loves his bride!  He loves us despite the fact that we don’t approach Him with the reverence and awe that He deserves!

Finally, the train that is my rambling thoughts jumped the track to Derek Webb’s song “Wedding Dress” (lyrics below) and that is where it has stopped for now.

If you could love me as a wife
And for my wedding gift your life
Should that be all I’ll ever need
Or is there more I’m looking for

And should I read between the lines
And look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich and wise
Is that really what you want

‘Cause I am a whore, I do confess
I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle

Or I’m a prodigal with no way home
I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don’t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
And with the other in your side

‘Cause I am so easily satisfied
By the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood

‘Cause I am a whore, I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle

Or I’m a prodigal with no way home
But I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle to you

Because money cannot buy
A husbands jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife

So I am a whore, I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle

Or I’m a prodigal with no way home
I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle

Or I am a whore, I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle

Or I’m a prodigal with no way home
I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle to you
To you

Jamie’s Top 15 Favorite Fiction Books (Read Since 2010)

Since 2010 I have kept track of every book I have read, and thanks to Goodreads this has become an easier task.  One of the best things about Goodreads is that I can look back and see what I rated the books (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best).  So here is my list of my favorite works of fiction read since 2010.  I have put them in order by author’s last name.

 

1.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready player one

2.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova

still alice

3.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

the curious incident of the dog in the night time

4.  Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

curse of the spellmans

5.  Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

revenge of the spellmans

6.  The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz

spellmans strike again

7.  One Day by David Nichols

one day

8.  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

attachments

9.  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park

10.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell

landline

11.  Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirts

12.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Guernsey

13.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

rosie project

14.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

the help

15.  This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

this is where I leave you

Book Recommendations on Corporate Worship

Since I have been busy with traveling for work, I haven’t been able to post much here, so I thought I would post a list of the books I have read over the past couple of years on corporate worship/the Lord’s day/practical theology.  As I read more, I will add more.

Here is the list in the order I have read them:

1.  A Better Way:  Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship by Michael Horton

Better way

2.  The Lord’s Day by Joseph A. Pipa Jr.

The Lord's Day

3.  Revealed to Babes:  Children in the Worship of God by Richard Bacon

revealed to babes

4.  With Reverence and Awe:  Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether

with reverence and awe

5.  Singing the Songs of Jesus:  Revisiting the Psalms by Michael Lefebvre

singing songs of jesus

6.  Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs

Gospel Worship

The following were added 6/23/15:

7.  The Day of Worship:  Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan M. McGraw

 mcgraw

8.  Welcome to a Reformed Church:  A Guide for Pilgrims by Daniel R. Hyde

 Hyde

9.  Recovering the Reformed Confession:  Our Theology, Piety, and Practice by R. Scott Clark

clark

10.  Worshipping with Calvin:  Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism by Terry L. Johnson

johnson

And finally, Ligon Duncan has done a wonderful blog series on Gathered Worship.

Bible-259x180

“Getting to know you / Getting to know all about you”

getting to know you

I have attended the same church for about 2 years, after several years of non-attendance.1 I have been a member of this body for about a year now.  Yet, I still have not made any real connections, or developed any real relationships with the other members.  There are several barriers that I contribute to this.  Now, someone might say that these are excuses and not barriers, but I prefer the previous term, because it is my hope that by laying these out there, that work can be done (on both sides) to make these barriers easier to overcome.

To start off with, I am an introvert.2 To most people, this means I am shy, but being shy really has little to do with being an introvert.  For those of you who know me, you know I really don’t fit the definition of shy—I have few reservations about telling you what I think when the opportunity is right (which is part of the reason I started a blog, because I have lots of things I would like to get out there).  No, I am an introvert—a person who is energized by having time alone, a person whose energy is depleted by being around others.  I tend not to approach someone; instead I often wait to be approached to avoid the drain on my emotional and mental energy. Because of this, it is really hard for me to get to know others unless I spend a lot of time around them.  And this, in turn, can make it difficult for others to get to know me—especially extreme extroverts, who just can’t relate to my need for time and space before I am willing to share with them anything, let alone the deepest issues of my heart (if I ever get to that point at all).

Next, I have trouble relating to many women in the church.   Some of this might be attributed to my feelings of not fitting into this church’s definition of womanhood (or at least my perception of their definition).  I am not a stay-at-home mother; instead, I work full-time outside the home in a higher-level management position.  I don’t enjoy things like sewing or knitting, or small-talk over coffee or many other activities that are seen stereotypically as women’s interests.3 Most activities focused at the women of the church are just variations on these types of themes.  I love to read and to study issues of theology and doctrine, which many churches still focus toward the men (if they focus on it at all).  Because of my past struggles with SSA, I find I sometimes put up walls and shy away from deep friendships with women, in an effort to avoid situations where temptation may creep in.  Obviously, with these issues, it is hard to develop the intimate friendships that other women have and make look so easy.

Finally, I am used to being part of very small churches (an average of about 10 families or so) where you get to know everyone very well over the course of time.  I am still somewhat intimidated by the size of this congregation, which if I had to guess would say averages 150-175 at the weekly Sunday morning worship service (I know, really not very big by others’ standards), where I will never get to know everyone, no matter how long we attend there.

There is a quote from Rosaria Champagne Butterfield in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith that says, “I think that churches would be places of greater intimacy and growth in Christ if people stopped lying about what we need, what we fear, where we fail, and how we sin.”  This is what I would like to see and what I would like to be a part of, this is what I want for me and others in the church—that we would be people who know each other well enough that we can honestly talk about the things in our lives and pray for each other and grow in our love for each other and for Christ.   I ask those of you who claim the name of Christ to pray with me and for me in this regard—that God would work on my heart and the hearts of others to break down our barriers so that this can be accomplished.

1. There are a few long stories related to the reasons for our non-attendance that I may or may not broach in future blog posts.

2. For those of you who understand MBTI-speak, I am actually an INTJ, which will tell you even more about me.

3.  Providentially, my love for the game of softball has been beneficial to me getting to superficially know a few of the other members as I have joined a team from the church that plays as part of a local inter-church league.

Thoughts on the Elements used in Communion: The Bread and the Win…Welch’s®?

SONY DSC

Let me start this post by putting it out there–I believe that wine should be used by the Church when it comes together to commune in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  I know that there are Christians who do not hold to this (most likely, many reading this).  But when the word wine is used in scripture related to the Lord’s Supper, I have not come across a good, exegetical argument for the use of grape juice as the element of the cup.

I recently was involved in a conversation where the concern was brought up about what to do with alcoholics in the church who wish to partake of communion, but might not if wine is used.  And I will be honest, this concern baffled me.  Why?  Not because I don’t have concern for those who struggle with alcohol (I am the last person who would lack empathy for those who struggle with a particular sin), but because it seems to show lack of faith in the power of the Gospel and the work of the Spirit in sanctification!

The Lord’s Supper is a tangible way the Gospel is preached to Christians. When we partake of communion, we are having the Gospel preached to us with physical representations that we can touch, see, taste, and smell, and which point to Christ’s death and atonement for our sins.  The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way,

“Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.”

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!  Do we not preach the Gospel in our churches?  Should we not preach the Gospel to all, including alcoholics?   The Gospel is the means God uses to transforms lives.  His Spirit works in the believer to sanctify them, enabling “more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness” (WSC Q35).  Do we truly believe this?  And if we truly believe this, we will be faithful to worship him using the elements he has outlined in his Word.

Throughout Old Testament history, when Israel was faithful and kept the religious festivals as God commanded and worshiped God according to His statutes, God protected them, and restrained their enemies from taking advantage of the fact that they were largely undefended.  From that we can be assured today that God will protect His people, His children, from stumbling into sin through their faithful observance of the sacrament.

To buy into the idea that alcoholics should abstain from participating in communion if wine is used is allowing the Big Book a higher place in the life of Christians who struggle with alcohol than the God’s Word, and that’s a slippery slope that needs to be avoided at all costs.

Book Recommendations on Christianity and SSA

Over the last few months, I have had several requests for a few book recommendations on this topic.  I thought this would be a good place to start putting together a list for anyone who might be interested.  As I read more, I will add more.  I hope you find them as helpful as I did. So, here they are in the order I have read them:

1.  The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert:  An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.

secret thoughts

2.  The Gospel and Sexual Orientation by The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Michael Lefebvre (Editor)

Gospel Sexual Orientation

3.  Is God Anti-Gay?:  And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction by Sam Allberry

God antigay

4.  Love Into Light:  The Gospel, The Homosexual and The Church by Peter Hubbard

Love LIght

The following were added in a 6/23/15 revision to this post:

5.  Washed and Waiting:  Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

hill

6.  Compassion without Compromise:  How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau

compasstion

7.  The Bible and Homosexual Practice:  Texts and Hermeneutics by Robert A. J. Gagnon

gagnon

8.  The Plausibility Problem:  The Church and Same-Sex Attraction by Ed Shaw

shaw

9.  What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

deyoung

And though not a book, a great website full of resources and articles is Living Out.  Their welcome page description:  “We’re a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction, and we want to share our stories, answer your questions, and recommend resources about Christianity and same-sex attraction.”

1176173_158611537679342_31521361_n

Musings on a Favorite Song

I’ve become quite a fan of the band NEEDTOBREATHE.  If you haven’t heard these guys, you really are missing out—impressive vocals and enjoyable instrumentation.  My current favorite song is from their latest album, Rivers in the Wasteland, and is called “Multiplied.”  When I hear a new song, I try to spend time focusing on the meaning of the lyrics.  And this is particularly true when it comes to singing songs about God.  After all, because of who He is, I want to be sure that what I am singing is true and reverent and honors the King of the universe, the Lord of all creation.

So, as I’ve listened to “Multiplied” over and over again over the last few weeks, one line keeps jumping out at me—“God of Mercy sweet love of mine/I have surrendered to your design.”  What is His design, His plan?  And what does it mean to surrender to it?  Have I surrendered to His design?

I know for me, this can be difficult.  As a wife, I find that I sometimes fight against God’s design of a husband being the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. The struggle isn’t because my husband is harsh or cruel, but because I want the authority for myself.  It is because of my sin that I that I fight this, not his.  Many days, I would rather God would submit to my design rather than the other way around!

The Church has had difficulty surrendering to God’s design in many areas as well.  The opening chapters of Genesis tell us that God designed  one day in every seven be a Sabbath, a rest, to the Lord.  Many in the Church fight this because they want to decide how to spend the day and spending the day doing the things they want to do (worshiping themselves) is much more appealing to them than spending it worshiping God.

More recently, the Church is having difficulty surrendering to God’s design for marriage.  The same opening chapters of Genesis mentioned above tell us how God determined that it was not good for man to be alone and so he created woman–we have the first marriage between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.  Yet many in the Church want to have God surrender to their design for marriage and to condone same-sex marriages.

There are many other areas where we fight God’s design–children/parents, citizens/government, the role of women in public worship, and on and on.

Why would God design things the way He does, even when those designs seem so difficult for us?  I think the answer to that lies in the first part of the song line mentioned above.  God is a God of mercy, a God of compassion.  He is a loving father who knows what’s best for us, even though we are rebellious children who want to fight his will for us.  Those of us who are parents have all experienced a time where we have had to tell our children that they couldn’t do or have something that they desperately and sincerely wanted because we loved them and we had some knowledge or experience that taught us that allowing them to do so would hurt them.  It is similar (though I dare not say the same) with God’s love for us.

Remembering this and keeping this at the front of my mind, helps me (with the power of the Spirit working in me) to be truthful as I sing, “God of mercy sweet love of mine/I have surrendered to your design.”

Welcome!

welcome

For quite some time now, I have had the desire to start this blog, but for various and sundry reasons and commitments, I haven’t done it.  Well, I guess as of today, I am finally taking that plunge and posting something here.  And if you have found yourself reading this, for some odd reason, you have at least an inkling of a desire to read what I have to say.

I have several goals or purposes I would like to see for this blog.  The first would be to have a place where I can write about what I am learning about God.  Many people shy away from the word theology thinking that it is only for their pastor or elders or the “super-religious.”  And I have found that especially among women this tends to be the case.  But theology literally means the study of God.  I can’t imagine being a Christian who does not want to learn more about the God I serve.  I hope I can be a resource for others, but especially women, who want to learn more than just mere sentiments when it comes to God.

As a second goal or purpose, I want this blog to be a place where I can lovingly engage those in the LGBT community and especially help Christians who experience same-sex attraction (SSA).  This is a subject that is near and dear to me, because I am a Christian who has experienced and struggled with SSA.  I want this to be a safe place to discuss this issue, but under the framework of the traditional Biblical understanding of sex and marriage (i.e., marriage is between a man and a woman and sexual relations are meant for marriage).

Finally, I hope this blog can be a place where I can discuss the ordinary and every day things that happen as I live out my life and identity in Christ, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him.  I might talk about some work of fiction I am reading, some new recipe I want to try, the new Hollywood blockbuster I saw last weekend, or some new beer I ordered.

So, feel welcome to drop by and read things as I post them.  I would welcome any comments, thoughts, and to dialog with any of you if you find that a topic I have written about piques your interest!