Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cutesy Critters And God's Honor

A renewed interest in Paintshop Pro, as overdue and welcome as it is,  can prove a distraction from the things of God. Not that faithfulness to Him requires me to renounce Paintshop Pro. It doesn't! But I need to keep it in perspective, thus ensuring that the time, thought and energy I invest in it doesn't replace the time, thought and energy I invest in the Lord and His kingdom.

The Lord, may I hasten to say, isn't an unfeeling task-master Who relentlessly drives me with a whip and chain. On the contrary, He gave me a talent for digital drawing, and He blessed me with software, tutorials and resources for expressing that talent. At times, I can use my creations for Him--making birthday cards, decorating mugs or keeping my blog visually interesting. Therefore, my little hobby can, on occasion, actually be a way of  serving Him, and having tremendous fun in the process.

How I use PSP also offers a testimony to my desire to honor the Lord in  purity. I've noticed that, while many people in PSP forums and blogs tend toward projects which  feature scantily clad girls with suggestive expressions or Gothic figures like vampires, my subject matter tends to be innocent and cheerful. I don't consciously choose such subject matter; it simply appeals to me to draw whimsical animals, portraits of smiling people and pretty spring flowers. Possibly, people in my forums think I'm a bit cloying with my cutesy squirrels and goofy elephants, but they sure have no cause to view me as yet another hypocritical Christian.

Yes, Paintshop Pro has the potential to divert my attention from Jesus, as evidenced this morning by my reluctance to pray and read my Bible (which, once I obeyed by doing so, turned out to be exceptionally rewarding). But Paintshop Pro can honor Him when I use it properly, and with balance that doesn't neglect Him. In  the end, He may surprise me by how He uses my artwork to accomplish His purposes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Walking: The Overrated Ability

People assume, for reasons that totally baffle me, that I wish I could walk. They ask me if I dream of walking, and tell me how they anticipate seeing me running in heaven. Bless their poor little well-intentioned hearts, they're usually quite shocked when I tell them that walking isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

I'd rather have the use of my hands.

If I could use my  hands, even without the ability to walk, I'd have much more independence. Being able  to feed myself would, in and of itself, be huge! So would styling my hair, turning pages in books, tapping my Charlie Card at subway gates, operating elevators and typing with ten fingers instead of one headstick. I could draw and paint with more traditional media, meaning that my art would be taken much more seriously. And I'd be much less dependent on my computer, and therefore less addicted to it.

But even more than having the ability to use my hands, I'd like to speak clearly. Freedom from my speech defect, on a practical note, would certainly leave me less vulnerable in my dealings with Personal Care Attendants, nurses and doctors. And I could use speech recognition software to operate a cell-phone, as well as my computer's word-processing applications. Even without the use of my  hands, clear speech would probably make me  more employable, and therefore perhaps even decreasing my dependence on the government.

Beyond those practical implications of not having my speech impediment, clear speech would offer me broader and deeper relationships. People at large would be less likely to assume that I have an intellectual disability, and consequently treat me with more respect. And I believe I'd have more friendships. As it is, my speech defect creates a profound isolation, especially in New England's impatient culture (I've never found my speech to create such a relational barrier as I have since moving here).

So walking doesn't hold as much attraction for me as using my hands does. And the ability to speak clearly trumps both. Perhaps most people find my perspective odd, but they haven't walked a mile in my shoes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Letter To A Revolutionary War Soldier

All  I know about you is that you fought in the American Revolution. Several years ago, I made some attempts to find out your name, but no one seemed to have any information and I got discouraged. Maybe I should have tried harder in reverence for the sacrifices you made to free America from England's tyranny, but it became easier to visit the graves of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis, John Hancock and the victims of the Boston Massacre.

Yet your broken, illegible headstone creeps into my consciousness from time to time, and I considered going to visit it at Hancock Cemetery in Quincy today. But with the buses on holiday schedule, it was easier to visit John's family here in town, and then to get a burger at Five Guys. But you're in my heart this Memorial  Day, as I gratefully remember that I owe my American freedoms to you, and to thousands like you who fought in America's wars. So, although I may never know your name, I'm thinking of you today, thankful for all you've given me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Start...Hopefully Not False

For quite a while, I've been ignoring Paintshop Pro, and in the past few days I've wanted to start creating things again. When I  got my new computer in November, you may recall, I was forced to upgrade from Paint Shop Pro 8 by JASC to Paintshop Pro X5 by Corel (Corel bought the product from JASC somewhere after Version 9). When we transferred files from the old computer, I quickly discovered that Corel wouldn't accept my JASC PSP files--meaning that much of  my work is gone.

So, knowing that I'm, for the most part, having to start all over again, I've felt overwhelmed. Where should I begin? Finally I visited the PSPFamily website (I belong to that group), and one of the moderators directed me to this challenge:

After church today, I tried it, making this   mask:

Then I used the mask this way:
I figure doing this challenge is a start, and hopefully I'll get started on other creations.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Down To Go Up

This quote on Twitter caught my eye today:

We cannot seriously aspire to [God] before we begin to become displeased with ourselves ~ John Calvin

It's admittedly a one-liner, but a great summary of how the Lord prepares a person to receive His grace. Until we accept our complete moral bankruptcy, nothing in  us will long for a Savior. To put it more accurately, we really won't believe we need saving. Oh, we might consider ourselves to be spiritual, or even Christian, but we  take satisfaction in our own imagined spirituality instead of humbly acknowledging our total and unqualified dependence on Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for us.

To receive His grace, we must first recognize our need for His grace. Sounds all too obvious, but the reality is that few of us honesty view ourselves as sinners. And our sense of self-satisfaction locks us away from the joy of having Jesus clothe us in His righteousness.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Passing Surprise

For reasons I'd prefer not to disclose, I very much wanted John to cancel his appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday afternoon. He did offer to let me stay home while he went, but I didn't really want to be home by myself, either. So, quite grudgingly, I boarded The RIDE van, wishing we could get off at Quincy Market.

We saw his pulmonary doctor, who found each of us amazing. He did not expect John to be so healthy, especially after all John went through last year with colon cancer and the heart attack. (He has no idea what a Superman I married.) And I bemused him by saying that, in looking up his profile on the MGH website I'd discovered he speaks Yiddish.

With John being one of the few remaining Polio survivors, the doctor wanted to show him off to an intern. He's obviously fascinated with John.

After the appointment, John and I ate supper at the hospital cafeteria, and then waited for The RIDE (which came 15 minutes late). As we boarded, the driver informed us that he had one more passenger to pick up before leaving Boston. This meant a 20-minute drive to Back Bay through really nasty traffic, and I really wished we'd canceled The RIDE and taken the Red Line home. Until...

We reached Fenway. Terry Francona, the former (and wrongly dismissed) manager of the Boston Red Sox had brought his current team, the Cleveland Indians, to play. The fans were pouring into the Stadium, making a truly impressive sight! John managed to take a picture from the van!

As inconvenient as the day had been, passing Fenway just before such an important game delighted us. Even on bad days, the Lord gives us little surprises to cheer our hearts.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Uncomfortable Bible

Yesterday, my Bible reading schedule took me to 2 Kings 22, introducing me to Josiah, king of Judah. Unlike all the other kings of Judah, Josiah loved the Lord completely (as I read today in 2 Kings 23:25). Not surprisingly, then, he responded in grief and repentance when Hilkah the priest found the long-neglected Book of the Law of the Lord in the Lord's house.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” ~~2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV)

Chapter 23 narrates the sweeping reforms Josiah made as he eradicated idol worship and occult practices from Judah and re-instituted the Passover in Jerusalem. God's Word completely transformed Josiah!

As I read 2 Kings yesterday and today, of course I got the bigger picture that Josiah's reforms came too late to deter God from judging Judah, and that bigger picture is precisely why I've been reading straight through the Old and New Testaments. At the same time, the above quoted passage made me think about the fact that many people--including professing Christians-- display varying levels of antipathy toward the Bible.

Some of those professing Christians honestly believe they love God's Word, yet they avoid passages about hell, reinterpret passages condemning fornication and homosexuality, supplement it with yoga and/or "listening prayer" and minimize its use in evangelism. And actually, I understand why they add these buffers to it. 

Scripture, by itself, exposes sin before it offers salvation. In order to comfort us with the Lord's mercy and grace, it must first make us uncomfortable by establishing His right to judge us. When we read it honestly, it slices us to the core, and boldly claims that it deliberately inflicts those lacerations.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

The discomfort of the Bible leads the penitent Christian into the comfort, peace and joy of knowing the grace of Jesus Christ. In reading 2 Kings 23 this morning, I imagined Josiah's exuberance as he cleansed Judah for God! And I rejoice that Jesus has paid the penalty for my sins! For all its discomfort, the Bible is a gloriously comforting Book.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Cutting Email

By May 7, we had gotten really fed up with the overgrowth of shrubbery on the sidewalk leading from our apartment to the center of town, and John photographed my laborious effort to negotiate it:

His photo inspired me to type the following email to the town's Department of Public Works (with a Cc to the Disability Commission) the next day:

My husband and I both use power wheelchairs. As residents of [our building's street address], we use H_______ Drive to get into town. The C_______ Condominiums at 59 H________ Drive has shrubbery that  grows over on to the sidewalk, making it difficult and dangerous to negotiate that stretch of sidewalk (I'm always fearful that my tilt switch will catch on the shrubs). We've tried contacting C________, but our call was not returned. On April 25, we reported the matter to Town Hall. Nothing was done. I'm attaching three photos that my husband took yesterday as we came home and I struggled past it.
Please enforce the law; require C________ to trim these shrubs so that wheelchair users can safely travel on that sidewalk.

Thank you.

A mere two hours later, the head of the DPW emailed back, assuring me that he'd take care of it. John and I speculated that my Cc to the chair of the Disability Commission helped my email to be taken seriously, though I'm sure John's photos made it quite evident that the shrubbery did, indeed, obstruct the sidewalk.

On May 9, returning home on The RIDE from a trip to Boston, I glanced out the van's window, telling myself it was ridiculous to entertain the hope that DPW could possibly have acted that quickly. To my amazement, the shrubs had been chopped off, leaving a fine, open sidewalk with nothing threatening my tilt switch. Last Thursday, as I confidently wheeled up the sidewalk, John took a final photo:

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Unpopular Proposal

As "seeker sensitive" models continue to permeate even churches that loudly deny being "seeker sensitive" (reminding me of the famous quote, "The lady doth protest too much"), one obvious question begs to be asked. Is the purpose of evangelism to fill pews and offering plates, or to bring people into a saving relationship with Christ?

If it's the latter (as all churches will invariably claim), won't we fearlessly accompany the Gospel message with warnings on the cost of discipleship? Jesus told His prospective followers, on many occasions, that following Him would result in being rejected, ostracized, persecuted, and possibly martyred for our faith in Him. You see, He wanted true converts, who followed Him with full knowledge that doing so would require everything of them.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. ~~Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

Calling people to turn from sin in order to entrust their lives hardly makes Christianity appealing! But showing people their hopeless enslavement to sin, and then demonstrating that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin, offers a reason for risking everything in order to follow Him. What they may lose in this present life pales in comparison to the glories of heaven!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Make Believers

How can we make the Gospel attractive and relevant? What techniques can we employ to entice the unsaved into our churches? How can we communicate Scriptural truths without "beating people over the head" with the Bible and consequently confirming their negative stereotypes of Christians?

Those who pose such questions maintain that they reject the seeker-sensitive label, and that they in no way desire to compromise the Bible. They merely want to develop effective strategies for church growth, and therefore think it befitting (if not necessary) to devise methods of evangelism that avoid offending potential converts. Christians, they reason, should show the world that we are just like them, making Christianity comfortable and winsome.

Well, yes.....

And no!

Peter, in his first epistle, certainly urges Christians to love and care for each other, structuring their lives to arouse the curiosity of non-believers. As we respond lovingly in the face of persecution, imitating Christ's humility and submission, we indeed may draw some non-Christians to ask questions that will open up conversations about the Lord. So in that sense, "lifestyle evangelism" definitely has merit.

Yet, downplaying Scripture until we "get them in the door" not only smacks of dishonesty, but it ignores the primary means of communicating the Gospel.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ~~Romans 10: 14-17 (ESV)

At some point in presenting the Gospel, we must appeal to Scripture. Doing so, admittedly, will offend and alienate people, but those who are offended just my  not be  called to salvation in the first place. So, while strategies and methodologies may fill pews (and offering plates), faithful preaching of God's Word yields converts and disciples.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Division For Unity's Sake

Among many evangelicals, doctrine brings connotations of unnecessary division that undermines our unity, therefore damaging our credibility to a watching world. This attitude toward doctrine highlighted the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and extended into the Charismatic Movement of the 1980s before permeating evangelical churches at large. And some verses of Scripture appear to support the abandonment of doctrine:

 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. ~~1 Corinthians 2:2 (ESV)

Of course, the context of that particular verse had nothing to do with doctrine. Rather, Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to remember that his preaching depended on the actual gospel message as opposed to the fancy rhetoric of gnostic philosophers.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. ~~1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)

As a  matter of fact, Paul's letter to the Ephesians flat-out said that solid teaching ("teaching" being a synonym for "doctrine") would provide protection against all the false doctrines that threaten spiritual maturity.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ~~Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)

According to Paul, who wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit, God had  provided apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (or pastors) and teachers to instruct Christians on how  to serve one another, thus promoting a unified faith which isn't swayed by Christian  fads. Good doctrine, rooted in Biblical teaching,  may divide us from error, but it unifies us with the Lord.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fear, Bringing Tenderness, Mercy And Compassion

Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As I consider certain points in my relationship with Him, however, I must admit my disrespectful attitudes towards Him, particularly when He's not doing things my way. Lately, He has brought Proverbs 9:10 to me repeatedly, and I again wonder if my self-centeredness will lead  me to rage against Him the next time He allows circumstances that I don't like.

May He teach me healthy fear of Him. Such fear, or respect, is no longer taught in Christian circles, where God's Fatherhood takes on the lopsided characterization of tenderness, mercy and compassion. Certainly, He is tender, merciful and compassionate, but He also loves us enough to discipline us.

All of us (and me especially) need to remember that He is the Lord, worthy of our respect. As we cultivate a healthy fear of Him, acknowledging His authority to  govern our lives as He wishes, He will tenderly, mercifully and compassionately reveal His wisdom.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let Me Explain

This past five days, typing has been physically difficult for me. I hope you won't mind if I choose to omit the  details, but there are just some matters I'd prefer not to discuss.

My purpose in bringing it up at all is to explain that my blog posts may be shorter than usual, at least for a while, until I can find ways of typing more comfortably. I'll keep blogging, rest assured, but probably not as copiously or intensely as I had been. So, I figured I'd be honest enough to explain this change, rather than leave things open to speculation.

And the situation does show signs of improvement, so it's entirely possible that I'll be back to normal in no time! Please pray that I'll have patience, wisdom and creativity in finding a resolution to this situation so that the Lord might be honored.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All The Modern Conveniences

So, I spent my free time today downloading Google Chrome, in hopes of  resolving an issue with Yahoo mail. I really don't like, nor do I trust, Internet Explorer, but Firefox refuses to send emails to the woman who coordinates our church's Email Prayer Chain. Since  I forward prayer requests from the missionaries our church supports to the Prayer Chain, it's crucial that my browser and email actually cooperate.

Setting up Chrome took a while, but thankfully it imported my bookmarks from Firefox. As a result of fiddling with all this, however, the day has gotten away from me. Weren't computers supposed to make our lives easier?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dinosaur Grumblings

As professing evangelicals change with the culture, acquiescing to lowered sexual standards and dumbing down hymns in favor of praise songs with low (and sometimes incorrect) theological content, I realize that I'm hopelessly behind the times. I have the audacity to believe that God's Word isn't subject to cultural interpretation. Unlike many evangelicals, I grieve that the church takes its cues from the world, ordaining women, blessing same sex marriage and building sermons around "felt needs" rather than verse-by-verse Bible exposition.

I don't mind guitars and drums accompanying hymns and praise songs, as long as the lyrics offer sound teaching. And a pastor doesn't need to wear flowing robes (or even a suit and tie) to please me, as long as he handles Scripture accurately and lives a life of integrity. In terms of style, I can be quite progressive.

The "seeker sensitive" approach  to ministry, however, increasingly confuses style with substance, compromising Biblical principles in order to fill pews with young families who have disposable incomes. While pastors and elders may publicly deny such allegations, their actions prove otherwise. Sermons use Scripture as springboards for motivational speeches, playing on emotions and wrenching verses from their proper context. Meanwhile, the people filling the pews openly talk about horoscopes, practice yoga, or post on Facebook that they're watching TV shows that promote ungodly values.

Truthfully, I prefer to be out-of-step with the world (including liberal evangelicals) in favor of faithfully applying sound doctrine. I won't win popularity contests, I realize, but maybe I'll honor the Lord by embracing His standards. If so, I succeed!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Works For Me!

We went to the Museum of Fine Arts without our camera yesterday! Kinda makes it difficult to tell you much about the excursion. Of course, not having to spend today preparing photos and researching artists and dates gave me time to make  a Mother's Day card for John's mom--a project that took much longer than I expected. So maybe the Lord worked everything out perfectly. Doesn't He always?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Three Boston Dignitaries

As John and I debated about where to play in Boston yesterday, the Fox 25 meteorologist made our decision by announcing that the swans, Romeo and Juliet, would be released into the Public Garden lagoon. Even though we knew we'd miss the actual ceremony,  we wanted to see the swans' return from  their winter hiatus at the Franklin Park Zoo.

Imagine our surprise at arriving just after the ceremony to learn that Mayor Menino was still there! We watched him walk to his  car on crutches, and after taking his photo John suggested he get a power wheelchair like ours!

If you'll look closely, you'll see the reflection of me and John in the mayor's car door.

Of course, we'd been thrilled to see the mayor. We never know what we'll encounter on our Boston Adventures, and this moment with the mayor certainly ranks as a definite highlight!

But, we'd come to see the real honorees of the day: the swans. As usual, they started off being most uncooperative whenever John lifted his camera, as if to assure us that they remembered us...and had every intention of being as difficult to photograph this year as they'd always been. We were sure they recognized us and admonished each other against letting us get a decent picture.

After a while, however, they repented of their contrary attitudes, and swam right up to John. Perhaps they reasoned that anyone who photographed the mayor mustn't be all bad!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Letting Emotion Teach

Some treasured old hymns (such as "In The Garden") lack sound doctrinal content, while some contemporary praise songs (like "In Christ Alone") offer a rich, but digestible, feast of Biblical teaching. The battle, then, shouldn't be over hymns and praise sings, but rather over music  that enhances our understanding of the Lord and songs that reduce the gospel to mere emotion.

Not that worship excludes emotion. Even a cursory reading of Psalms demonstrates that emotions can be very much a part of worship! God wanted music, which generally triggers emotional responses, to play a significant role in how we worship Him, so we mustn't completely discount its value. By the same token, however, true worship goes much deeper than feelings by focusing on Whom we worship and why He deserves our praise, connecting us back to the great teachings of Scripture.

Songs which eroticize the Lord or shift the focus from Him to us, as well as those employing repetitive phrases that really say very little, may be fun to sing (for instance, Michael W. Smith's "A New Hallelujah"), but they offer no spiritual nutrition. In contrast, hymns (like "Crown Him With Many Crowns") remind us of Christ's death, resurrection and rightful place as King. When music joins with sound doctrine, the resulting emotion instructs us, helping us know the Lord more fully.

Let's dispense with the false dichotomy between hymns and contemporary praise songs to instead demand that our churches stick to songs that communicate the Gospel.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

No Babylonian Captivity, Even For Those With Homosexual Inclinations

Prior to becoming a Christian, I dabbled in astrology.

While my involvement in astrology had no time to develop into anything serious, I believe I would have followed it, even to the point of becoming an astrologer, had the Lord not intervened. At a school fair just prior to my conversion, I hid my astrology book behind a crystal ball and told "fortunes" based on peoples' "signs." When several of my predictions actually came true, I wondered if I'd been "called" to read peoples' charts and write their horoscopes.

Shortly after I became a Christian, I learned that astrology came from the Babylonian religion, and therefore Scripture condemns it. So, although I  greatly enjoyed it, out of my love for Christ and zeal to obey Him, I burned my books and flushed my Libra earrings down the toilet. I made my decision, at that point, to turn from astrology permanently, convinced of its sinfulness and its demonic roots.

To this day, I rejoice in having renounced astrology, preferring to worship Jesus. Yet, when I happen to see a horoscope, I still feel drawn to read mine. On those terrible occasions when a fail to resist that temptation, my weakness disgusts me. Thankfully, the blood  of Jesus atones for my rebellion, and the Holy Spirit kindly limits my exposure to horoscopes. Most of the time, by God's grace, I don't even think about such vile things, even though I understand my vulnerability in that area.

So I do understand my friends who continue to experience same sex attractions despite their attempts to turn from homosexuality. And I agree that, because sexuality is so intrinsic to a person's identity, that their battle may be more intense (and less easy to escape) than mine. Yet I firmly believe the parallel exists, and that residual temptation doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of victory or a reason to rewrite Scripture to allow sinful practices.

Just as I no longer accept myself as a Libra, Christians who struggle with homosexual inclinations needn't resign themselves to a gay identity. Yes, they may fall once in a while, just as I have, and the Lord will show mercy. But He helps us walk away!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Wheelchair Owns Boston!

Thursday showed just how powerful my new wheelchair is. With John trailing behind to snap pictures, I drove from Downtown Crossing, through Boston Common and all around the Public Garden. The Garden captured an artist's attention.

Rather than crossing the bridge over the lagoon, I decided to "explore" the perimeter of the park, where I found luxurious flowering trees and loads of tulips.

From there, we wheeled along Arlington Street, crossing Beacon Street to the Arthur Feidler footbridge. That bridge took us across Storrow Drive, bringing us to the Hatch Shell at the Esplanade.

Next, we drove our wheelchairs up the Esplanade. Although John took numerous photos, I'll only share my favorite--the view I'd specifically come to the Esplanade to see.

After passing the boat house, we got on the footbridge to cross back over Storrow Drive to Mass General Hospital. From that bridge, I noticed a splendid view of the Prudential Tower, with the Charles River in the foreground.

Crossing that bridge allowed us to be in beautiful tree tops, while still glimpsing the  Hancock Tower.

Sadly, that's where John's camera batteries died. But our adventure continued as we  steered our wheelchairs down Cambridge Street, through City Hall Plaza and across Congress Street to Quincy Market. We enjoyed a lunch of Lobster Bisque, lemonade and pineapple gelatto before driving our chairs down the Rose Kennedy Greenway to South Station for our train home.

At the end  of the day, our wheelchair batteries were still good!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Please Excuse DebbieLynne From Blogging Today...

With an amazing Boston adventure yesterday, and scattered (but necessary) obligations today, I'm afraid blogging has to take a back seat today. Oh, I have lots to say, and I really wish I could put this afternoon's appointment on hold so I could post a nice, lengthy account (with photos) of our wanderings through Boston, but I need to once again hire a new PCA, and therefore have an interview to conduct. So join me tomorrow, and prepare to see spectacular photos of Boston in bloom!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grace Abused

Most Bible-believing Christians understand that grace means unmerited favor. Our "good" works fall short of compensating for our sins against a holy God, so Jesus graciously died in our place, allowing Himself to take the punishment that rightly belonged to us. Thus, those who will trust that His work on the cross (rather than any human effort) is the only way of dealing with sin will be accepted into heaven.

So, grace is a beautiful blessing, setting people free from the utterly impossible task of earning salvation. In the past year, my understanding of grace has finally moved from mere intellectual assent to an inexpressible sense of assurance, and He has liberated me from fear that any past, present or future sin I commit will cancel out what Jesus has done for me! Because I know the pervasiveness and enormity of my sin, I am thankful for the Lord's mercy and generosity to pay my debt and then claim me as His. As His Holy Spirit deepens my understanding of how grace applies to my life, I love Him more.

Sadly, the false doctrine that God's grace gives Christians a license to sin  is currently enjoying a resurgence among evangelicals. And several people who once identified as ex-gay have  jumped on this bandwagon, jubilant that they no longer need to fight against their homosexuality. They may be celibate (physically), or they may be in committed relationships (even married, in states that have legalized same sex marriage), so I don't regard them as being lawlessly promiscuous. But they are accepting homosexuality as being morally neutral and therefore an identity they must embrace. It is, to them, covered by grace.

But Scripture teaches that God's grace goes far beyond giving us immunity when we sin. God's purpose in providing  grace is to purify and set us apart from the rest of the world.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

The proper response to grace is not to embrace our sin, nor is it to rewrite the Bible so that certain sins are reinterpreted. Instead, grace should inspire a hatred of sin, and a desire to live in ways that honor the Lord. This principle, of course, extends far beyond homosexuality, and all of us need to renounce the things  in our lives that He died to forgive.


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