Friday, November 30, 2012

She Remembered!

Almost two weeks ago, a dear friend visited to show us her two-month-old daughter. I can't remember the last time anybody had been willing to let me hold their baby, but this young woman saw no reason I shouldn't try, other than the baby's reluctance to go to strangers. So she placed the little one in my lap. To our amazement, the baby broke into a wide smile and began "dancing."

At that point, my friend remembered all those dinners she fed me when during John's hospitalization. Often, when I'd speak, her baby responded to my voice by "dancing" in her mother's womb. Apparently, once she was on my lap, she recognized my voice and knew she was with a friend!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Only One King

I've gotten our Christmas newsletter written and emailed, and am making good headway on cyber shopping, so I'm feeling pretty smug as I reflect on my efficiency. Super Wife does it all with a flick of her headstick, and still has time to watch  her husband's favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein musical (The KingAnd I) with him! Are you duly impressed?

But as I pat myself on the back, the Holy Spirit reminds me that Christmas isn't about showcasing my organizational skills. How easily I forget the wonder of God becoming Man, for the sole purpose of dying the death that you and I deserved! In my so-called Christmas activities, I've once again managed to put the spotlight on myself. But in His faithfulness, the Lord used a friend's email to introduce me to a new Christmas song that reminded me why I celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 38 Years of Nanci

Nanci befriended me somewhere in our second semester when we were college freshmen. We hadn't yet had a class together, though we were both English majors and therefore struggled and laughed our way through many required courses. If I typed faster, I'd recount some of the funny stories, such as the April 1st morning (senior year) when I told her I'd been accepted to grad school at U.C. Berkeley, and she told half the campus before I could say "April Fools." (Yeah, I was that mean.)

But she loved me, volunteering to push my manual wheel chair on  graduation day for me to collect my diploma. For a few months after graduation, she served as my Personal Care Attendant during the hours that my mom worked. Then she got a job at a publishing house, got married and had three sons. Though we saw each other with decreasing frequency, letters and phone calls (and, when I was in Memphis, a delightful care package that she and her sons assembled for me) maintained the bond between us.

After my return to California, email increased our contact. The one describing her I-Love-Lucy escapades in preparation for a trip to Aruba had me laughing for a week. The frustrated one about her teenaged son missing curfew drew me to prayer...and, paradoxically worry. And the one telling me that her 20-year marriage was ending broke my heart.

Facebook and blogging has put me and Nanci back in daily contact, allowing me the pleasure of watching her romance with "the R-Man" move to a joyful wedding and an extremely happy marriage. If you'll scroll through the "Blogs That Make Me Think" section in the right sidebar of this blog, you'll find Sassin' Back, in which Nanci blogs about everything from the U.S. economy to her resolve to enjoy Tuesdays. I don't always agree with her, but I love reading about her life. Her blog keeps me close to her.

In response to a recent move Nanci and her husband made, she's started a second blog: City Folk Farmers. Please, if you want to read something fun and refreshing (with Nanci's characteristic humor), spend some time enjoying City Folk Farmers. I think you'll understand, as you read it, why I've loved this woman for 38 years.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Broader View

It must have been August when I finished studying 2 Peter and decided to read through the whole Bible (generally three chapters from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day, with occasional variations). It's been much too long since I've read the Bible this way, as I prefer studying a few verses at a time, comparing commentaries and examining Greek or Hebrew words. And such study is important; if more Christians used the Bible Study tools that are so readily available online or through e-Sword, perhaps less deception would be floating around evangelical circles. Ya think?

But I realized that I needed to reacquaint myself with the broader context of Scripture, laying aside my beloved study tools. I highlight, underline and take notes, making sure that I understand the flow of thought. As someone who, in times past, hasn't made a great deal of effort to follow progression of thought in the narrative books (preferring to pull out isolated passages  to serve as talking points), I find that reading so intentionally gives me a much more solid base for apprehending the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.

Currently, my Old Testament reading has me in 1 Samuel, where once again God has been rejected by the very people He called to be separated to Himself. He wanted to be their King, but they wanted a human king like the nations around them had. Interestingly, though He gave in to their insistence on having a king, the Lord took control by selecting Saul as Israel's first king. Therefore, while Israel enjoyed the illusion that they governed themselves  on their own terms, the Lord remained sovereign, guiding history to work toward His purposes.

Saul's ascendency to the throne is just one of many incidents of human rebellion against the Lord and  His mercy to continue caring for His people, even in the face of their repeated and very deliberate rejection of Him. His patience, even though He disciplines them (sometimes in anger), permeates the pages. Where Israel is unfaithful, He responds in faithfulness. Of course, God's faithfulness makes human willfulness that much more noticeable...and reprehensible!

As I read this history, I'm careful not to throw stones at Israel. Like them, my rebellion against the Lord is willful and repeated, causing me to wonder why I never seem to learn my lesson. Yet the Lord shows me the same mercy and patience (even in those times He disciplines me) that He showed Israel. And when I demand my own way, as Israel insisted on having a king, He uses my poor choices to bring about His purposes. Sometimes, I shake my head in astonishment at His sovereignty in my life.

So this time of reading the Bible, as opposed to the in-depth study that  I usually enjoy, is giving me deeper appreciation of God's nature. Certainly, the Old Testament demonstrates His judgment and wrath as completely justifiable responses to the unceasing rebellion of His own people, but it also reveals His love and forgiveness. When I complete this time of simply reading and resume a more detailed regimen of Bible Study, may my overview of God's merciful dealings with sinful humanity deepen my understanding of His Word.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Black Friday

Black Friday may be about hunting down really great bargains for most Americans, but for me, it's traditionally the day to "do" my annual Christmas Newsletter. Not so fun when using a new version  of Paintshop Pro, and then a new version of Microsoft Word, which resulted in me finishing the project after 1:30 this afternoon. It came out very well, and printed nicely, leaving me pleased.

And tired.

So, as much as I'd hoped to write a good blog post today, I don't think it's going to happen. My creativity bank account has been depleted. Oh, I have plenty of ideas rumbling around my head, but the energy to harness them into words simply ain't there. Not today. Oi vey...I think I'm getting old!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Unwanted Implication Of Thanksgiving

Years ago, a friend of mine sent me an email, listing her reasons for being thankful. I noticed that, in her abundance of thanksgiving, however, a certain aimlessness to her gratitude. Yes, she offered thanks, and offered it with a joy and intensity that few people possess. But, despite the unmistakable genuineness of her thankfulness, the focus was on the gratefulness itself, with no object.

To what, or whom, was she thankful? God? What sort of "God" did she thank? My guess is, she embraced a hybrid "God" composed of the more agreeable attributes of the Christian God mixed with more Eastern ideas of benign cosmic energy. (I could be wrong, which would be nice.) She never mentioned any form of God, however; she merely exulted in her thankfulness.

I thought of her email, which she sent so many years ago, as I read Avoiding A Generic Thanksgiving on must be directed to a benefactor, and Abraham Lincoln had a very specific benefactor in mind when, in 1863, he proclaimed that the fourth Thursday of November be a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." Look at the complete text:

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Whether Lincoln truly was a biblically defined Christian or not, his proclamation leaves little doubt that he intended this holiday to focus on the Christian God, even to the point of national repentance. To him, that God was the necessary object of thanksgiving.

Bringing the Lord into thanksgiving, especially a Lord that both deals with us in anger for our sins and remembers mercy, causes us considerable discomfort. We'd much prefer to thank a mindless universe than acknowledge how indebted we are to an actual Person! If we are in His debt, it follows that He has some type of authority over us. And none of us, if we're honest, embraces that idea!

The implications of true thanksgiving challenge our increasingly secular culture, compelling Americans to make the day about food, family and football, to be followed by Black Friday bargain hunting. If we must talk about thankfulness, we prefer to keep that aspect minimal, emphasizing our blessings over the God Who blesses us. In short, we insulate ourselves from our debt to Him. And that insulation is incredibly sad.

John and I have so much to thank our Lord Jesus Christ for, as we remember His mercy in sparing John's life from the heart attack and colon cancer. Daily, we praise the merciful God Who graciously allowed us to see our tenth anniversary, and Who continues to shower us with undeserved blessings--especially the overwhelming blessing of eternal salvation. May He grant us the grace to keep the attention on Him, rather than on His blessings.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Experience And Scripture Vie For Authority

Pro-gay theology largely depends on two factors: reading the Bible through the lens of personal experience and taking verses out of context. My plan was to examine the major passages on homosexuality, present the Gay Christian Movement's interpretation of each passage and then demonstrate how and why their interpretations fail to correctly align with Scriptural teaching. And I still may pursue that plan.

Yet, several Christian websites already refute pro-gay theology. My links to those sites, of course, resided on my old computer, which is now in a graveyard for outdated electronics somewhere in Quincy. I will locate those websites again, and will share them here for anyone interested. My question, therefore, is not about my ability to present solid arguments against their theology. I believe I'm very capable. But I question the necessity of repeating information that my readers, simply by typing a few key words into their search engine of choice, could easily find for themselves. Do I really have anything to bring to the table?

No...I truthfully don't believe I do.

Yet, I'm concerned that so many young (and a few not-so-young) evangelicals have begun to accept pro-gay theology. And not just pro-gay theology, but many other distortions of God's Word. The Gay Christian Movement represents a wider problem of Biblical illiteracy among professing  Christians, as well as a dependence on subjective experience, and a growing tendency to bend Scripture into conformity with that experience. I grieve over times in my own life when, to protect an experience I had, I sought ways to adjust God's Word to accommodate it.

At times, I knew I handled Scripture dishonestly, though I'd never admit to my dishonesty. I fit in with my friends who also enjoyed spiritual experiences, and I lost my social status in my church when I began evaluating, and consequently rejecting, experiences that didn't line up with the Bible.

I'd cherished some of those memories of "hearing from God." When honest study of the Bible refuted those precious experiences, I didn't surrender them easily. Some had been dear companions to me for decades, assuring me of my spirituality, which made letting go of them painful. Quite literally, admitting that they were Biblically invalid required dying to a part of myself that I really loved.

But dying to self is mandated for those who propose to follow Jesus.

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ~~Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV)

In listening to pro-gay Christians, I often hear them claim that they can't deny who they are. I might make the same claim, and in so doing cling to those experiences that gave me a reputation of being a spiritual giant. God, however, calls us to put aside our identities in favor of following Him. As much as I sympathize with those who cling to homosexuality as the very definition of who they are, I know that they must join me in rejecting what appears to be intrinsic to their nature in favor of believing His Word. So if I do decide to address the fallacies of pro-gay theology, I'll do so in hopes that all of us will learn to evaluate our experiences by Scripture.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Out Of "Nothing"

Granny admired my mom's ability to "make a meal out of nothing." Indeed, with dinner only 25 minutes away, and nothing planned, Mom possessed an astounding knack for scrounging around the refrigerator and cupboards, brilliantly concocting delicious suppers! Maybe they weren't gourmet fare, and perhaps their simplicity kept them from rivaling the creations of Julia Child, but they nourished us and tasted good, in addition to dazzling me with Mom's creativity.

It's amazing what people can come up with when circumstances demand action. I'm not sure I want to go as far as attributing anything to "the triumph of the human spirit" (as if we had anything in and of ourselves to offer), but the Lord made us in His image, giving us an ability to create. Sometimes, when I'm writing or drawing, I catch a glimpse of Him as the Creator, and appreciate the privilege of creating on a much smaller scale.

No one, no matter how innovative they may be, can really be a creator. Mom did have ingredients in her kitchen. I do have tools for writing and drawing. But God created the universe from nothing, simply by commanding it to come into existence! He had neither materials nor tools, yet He made everything from galaxies to atoms, and from mosquitoes (though we wonder why) to sunsets. From nothing! Our miniscule creations merely remind us of how powerful and amazing He is!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Can't Wait!

As I often do, I was going to share this praise video tomorrow. But why wait?

Mrs. Geek's Private Accomplishments

Today, I began replacing things on the computer. First, I restored some modules to e-Sword. I still need to contact the vendor for the New American Standard and the Amplified, each of which asks for a password but rejects the Product Key. But I successfully added the New International Version, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Antiquities by Josephus and Sketches of Jewish Social Life to the modules I installed last week, so I'm making good progress!

As soon as I settle into this new computer, I plan to redesign this blog a bit. (I haven't been happy with the background for a while, and this new screen makes the color quite ghastly.) Of course, before that, I need to put our Christmas newsletter together, hoping that I've mastered PaintShop Pro X5 enough to throw together some Christmas artwork. November is really an inconvenient time to get a new computer with a drastically higher version of PaintShop Pro, but I had no choice. So then, I'll do a little here, a little there...and will get it all done. After all, I've made progress today!

Friday, November 16, 2012

In My Best Interest

Slowly, I'm getting acclimated to both Windows 8 and Corel PaintShop Pro X5, sacrificing my typical daily activities in favor of educating myself on these two new additions to my life. There's so much more yet to do! I won't bore you with the details, rest assured.

I'm realizing that I'm more interested in myself than others are interested in me. Even worse, I'm more interested in myself than I am in other people. Actually, I believe everyone (in moments of honesty) could make the same admission. But, while I'm far from alone in being self-centered, clearly my attitude runs counter to the example and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider the following passage, which my pastor has been preaching through lately:

 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

The majesty of Christ's example lies in His divinity. He, being no less than God incarnate (a fact that absolutely fascinates me), condescended to take on human flesh! If that thought doesn't leave you breathless with astonishment, I suggest you think about Bethlehem--or about Him (the very Creator of the universe) growing inside of His mother for nine months.

But His humility went further than the Incarnation, leading Him to die an ignoble death usually reserved for criminals. As He (again, the very Creator of the universe) allowed His blood to be shed, He atoned for the sin that He never committed. You and I committed the sin that He willingly took as  His own. He looked out, not for His interests, but for ours.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Magnificent Imposition

Typically, after visiting The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I'll recount pretty much the entire visit, showing one or  two photos from each exhibit. Today, however, I'm going to concentrate on only one photograph that John took yesterday. Not that I know much about it. Frankly, I don't. But it's too impressive to be tucked into a blog post with several other items, even though I'd probably have more to say about the others. Take a look at this breathtaking display, and I'm confident you'll agree that it demands undivided attention.

On September 8 of this year, the  buffet of Hanoverian Silver took up residence in the Koch Gallery, a magnificent large room with high ceilings that primarily displays European painting from 1550 to 1700. Shaped as a pyramid, the buffet climbs 18 feet from the floor against a rich red damask that, regretfully, John's camera discolored.

The silver, from the duchy of Hanover, Germany, is primarily from the late 17th Century, barely overlapping the period that the Koch Gallery represents. Anachronistic? That point could be argued either way, with convincing results, but I'm definitely unqualified to enter into that particular discussion. Certainly, my initial reaction was one of mild resentment that silver had displaced a few of the paintings that I'd grown accustomed to seeing in that gallery, but soon it intrigued me. It indeed is magnificent, with an imposition that welcomes the viewer. I'll still go to that gallery mostly for the paintings, of course, but I believe I'll learn to enjoy the Hanoverian Silver.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Such A Lovely Spring Day!

The calendar says Thanksgiving is nine days from now, but yesterday looked and felt like spring in the Public Garden. The colors, admittedly, were the colors of late autumn, and had faded considerably since our last visit, but the mid-60s temperatures fooled my senses into believing the approaching holiday simply must be Easter!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Faith To Suffer

Today, coinciding with this coming Tuesday's International Day Of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a representative from Voice of the Martyrs gave a hour-long presentation during our Sunday School period to a combined class of adults and teens, followed by a short  talk during our service's Missions Moment. As she told us about Christians in the over 50 countries where following Jesus is either illegal or violently opposed by acts of terrorism, I thought about how privileged I  am to have access to a Bible, as well as how cowardly I am about sharing Christ with family and friends.

Although my YouTube search failed to yield any of the videos our speaker showed, I found a video by them that, while it's difficult to watch, vividly shows what Christians in many countries endure because they refuse to deny the Lord Jesus Christ:

 I can't watch things like this without asking myself some hard questions. I've failed in suffering for Christ before, not to the point of renouncing His name, but in un-Christlike anger that brought Him dishonor as I sought my own interests rather than His glory. If, faced with trivial discomforts, I behaved in such self-seeking ways, how would I respond to real suffering?

I trust God's Holy Spirit to keep me faithful to Him. He has graciously exposed my weakness so that I see my absolute need to rely on Him. But I praise Him for these persecuted Christians who lay down their lives for Him, unwavering in their conviction that He is the Truth and that denying Him will result in far worse suffering in  eternity. May He grant me the courage to follow their example!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life With Poindexter

Deciding on a name for my new computer required a certain amount of thought. I wanted something that was simultaneously geeky and powerful (sort of like my husband). After serious deliberation, I finally settled on Poindexter H. Voltage.

I've always liked the name Poindexter, though it definitely shouldn't be given to a human! When I lived at my mom's back in the 90s, a possum took up residence in her woodshed, and I called it Pondexter because of its beady eyes and pointy snout. I fell in love with the name. Early in our marriage, John and I considered getting a Betta fish, and I would have named him Poindexter. So, the geek part of  my new computer's name was quite obvious.

I cudgeled my brain over the powerful part, however. Hercules didn't seem quite right, but neither did Superman. Popeye seemed more geeky than strong, but Brutus had negative connotations. Sledge had a nice rhythm combined with Poindexter, but its connection with strength was much too esoteric. Then the idea of high voltage hit me, and I was sold!

Poindexter is patiently acquainting me with Windows 8, and I'm setting up my programs and documents. My e-Sword Bible is usable now, and I got Adobe Reader set up so I can print time sheets for my Personal Care Attendants (the time sheets are due to be faxed Monday, though we generally  put them in on Sundays). So excuse me for rushing off--Poindexter and I are busy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hope From A Dismal Election

Of course the election results disappoint me. But four years ago, I literally wept with grief, and did so again when Obamacare was rammed through Congress before our legislators even had a chance to read it. Last Thursday, John and I attended a meeting concerning managed care for people with disabilities, explaining changes under the new healthcare law, and a lot of us foresee less consumer control and more bureaucracy. (Might the management team hire, fire and regulate our Personal Care Attendants?) So yes, I'd prayed for a Romney win.

I suppose I could write about all the reasons Elizabeth Warren's Senate victory disturbs me, but the biggest one is that, with one less Republican in the Senate (and Obama still in the White House), all hope of overturning Roe v. Wade has evaporated. For 32 years, I've longed to see abortion eradicated from this country, so her campaign ads charging that Scott Brown could actually give us Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe excited me. How could I not be disappointed?

But the Lord, being sovereign, has allowed these election results for His purposes. My personal opinion is that, in giving us our own way (letting us elect leaders who champion abortion, homosexuality and restrictions on religious freedoms), He is bringing America under judgment. Whatever His purposes in allowing last night's events to transpire as they did, I believe He has a plan beyond our limited understanding. Although I would have liked this election to turn out differently, I'm much more able to trust God with the outcome than I was four years ago.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. ~~Romans 13:1 (ESV)

Furthermore, I will continue praying for President Obama, and I will begin praying for Senator-elect Warren, asking the Lord to help them lead well, give them wisdom and (most importantly) bless them and their families with salvation. I will speak of them respectfully, even as I probably will disagree vehemently with their policies. I believe they will create an Orwellian society that will be especially hard on Christians, and I fear for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, but I trust that Jesus Christ will ultimately have His way. So, rather than mourning, I rejoice that He is Sovereign.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Black Beauty's Retirement

In May of 2003, John bought me a black Dell computer, which (for obvious reasons) I named Black Beauty. She served me well for eight years, but by May 2011, she had slowed down considerably. Thankfully, a friend from church replaced her hard drive, and she's been spunky ever since! In fact, Saturday I sort of bragged to my sister about BB's longevity.

Yet, John and I had been talking with increasing frequency about getting me a new computer, and even mentioned to Black Beauty's "surgeon" as we were leaving church that we wanted his input on ordering a new one. I'd been very resistant to replacing Black Beauty because my Paint Shop Pro8 software wouldn't be compatible with Windows7...and now we're on Windows8! But Saturday I discovered that Corel PaintShop Pro X5 has all the features I need for my digital artwork, and it's amazingly affordable. I was actually researching it when my sister called--hence my bragging about having Black Beauty for nearly ten years. When my sister declared that it was time for a new one, I had to agree.

Once we'd eaten lunch, I started my computer, and immediately something called "Outside In" installed itself. I searched for it in my programs, and couldn't find it, which made me suspect malware (though my firewall was enabled), but the computer seemed okay, so I spent an hour reading my Bible on e-Sword, happily highlighting verses and making notes. Next, I opened my email, and successfully backed up my Personal Care Attendant's time sheet by emailing it as an attached file to a web-based email address that I use specifically for that purpose (in case Black Beauty were to crash). That done, I read an article on that I wanted to post to Facebook and Twitter.

At which point all my windows began flashing, and nothing would type.

Outside In was malware!

John managed to get a MacAfee scan going, and then he grabbed his laptop and went straight to the Dell website. He assembled a good bundle--including Corel PaintShop Pro X5 for 75% off it's regular price! It will arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, MacAfee apparently silenced Outside In, so John and I spent all morning putting various files on CDs, to be transferred to my new computer. So, I'm putting Black Beauty out to pasture, knowing she's earned her retirement.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Non-Post

It's late. Between the various distractions that crowded my schedule and the slowness of tapping one computer key at a time (unless I use a word or phrase from my TypingAid library), I've used up my entire day, leaving myself little time to type any of the interesting, entertaining and informative blog posts that I'd formulated while lying in bed this morning. A typical five-paragraph post generally takes a little over two hours to type--if I don't research facts or include links or pictures.

So, I've just spent 20 minutes explaining why I can't blog today. But perhaps this non-post might help you understand what it takes for me to post, and (more importantly) how much I really love blogging. As much effort as it takes, you see, I derive tremendous joy and satisfaction from it. Which is why I'm sorry I got such a late start today.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The True Celebration

What can I add to any discussion about the Reformation? Although I enjoy history, I'm hardly a historian. I doubt I even merit the title of "History Buff," despite John's frequent claims about me when he introduces me to people. My grasp of Boston's history leading up to the American Revolution is better than that of most people within my social sphere, but when I read history blogs like 1775, I can't escape the knowledge that my acquaintance with that period is actually very shallow. And even more shallow is my understanding of the 16th Century European world that produced Martin Luther and John Calvin. As a result of this shallowness, I realize how thoroughly unqualified I am to contribute much of anything to a conversation about this important turning point in Christian history.

Yet I've finally understood, after nearly 42 years of being a Christian, that October 31 is a day of rejoicing for Christians. I'd always associated the day with Halloween, and thus generally spent it grieving and/or angry over the pagan influences in Western Culture. Oh, I don't begrudge the little ones their chance to dress up in cute costumes (as long as they're not witches, devils, or anything else representing evil or the occult), but beyond such innocence, I see Halloween as a testament to paganism, and consequently hostile to the Gospel. In short, the day repulsed me.

When I woke up day before yesterday, however, a sense of joy and wonder filled me. My first thoughts settled on Martin Luther's 95 Theses challenging the Catholic Church to abandon false doctrines and practices in favor of returning to the clear teaching of Scripture.

Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, saw Scripture as a door of liberation from the rituals of penance he painstakingly observed, often with great physical suffering, for the purpose of atoning for his own sin. As he read Paul's epistle to the Romans, the phrase, "the just shall live by faith"  (Romans 1:17), opened his eyes to the magnificent truth that salvation comes by faith as one trusted in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. Luther hoped his discovery would lead Rome back to Biblical teaching. But the pope excommunicated him as a heretic, thus forcing the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

I'm grateful that men like Luther and Calvin restored to Christianity a reliance on Scripture, which in turn sets us free from the lie that we can somehow merit salvation. These wonderful men brought us back to the glorious truth that Christ paid our debt, asking only that we trust Him rather than ourselves. As I consider Luther's small, but bold, act of inviting debate on the issues of doctrinal purity by nailing his 95 Theses to that church door in Whittenberg, Germany, October 31st loses its association with evil to become a celebration of Jesus Christ's wonderful victory over the powers of darkness. I may still have much to learn about the Reformation, but I know enough to celebrate the day as one of great freedom for Christians.


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