September 30, 2013

Something Pretty on a Monday

Just because... sometimes you want something pretty to see.

September 16, 2013

Lines (15) The final chapter

Continuing notes from "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction"
***we made it!***

Chapter 16   Blessing   Psalm 134

pg 184  "In Psalm 120, the first of the Psalms of Ascents, we saw the theme of repentance developed.  The word in Hebrew is teshubah, a turning away from the world and a turning toward God; the initial move in a life-goal set on God.  It was addressed to the person at the crossroads, inviting each of us to make the decision to set out on the way of faith.  Each of the psalms that followed has described a part of what takes place along this pilgrim way among the people who have turned to God and follow him in Christ.  We have discovered in these psalms beautiful lines, piercing insights, dazzling truths, stimulating words.  We have found that the world in which these psalms are sung is a world of adventure and challenge, of ardor and meaning.  We have realized that while there are certainly difficulties in the way of faith, it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called dull.  It requires everything that is in us; it enlists all our desires and abilities; it gathers our total existence into its songs.  But when we get to where we are going, what then?"

pg 185  God shares himself with us - he gets personally involved - generously - graciously.
God stands - foundational & dependable
God stoops - he meets us where we are - we can't get ourselves cleaned up enough to approach him - so he comes to us - this is a demonstration of grace!
God stays - he sticks with us, sharing his life with us in grace & peace

pg 186 Psalm 134 features an "invitational command"  (I like that wording!)  "Come, Bless the LORD..."

pg 187  "Bless the Lord.  Do that for which you were created and redeemeds; life your voices in gratitude; enter into the community of praise and prayer that anticipates the final consummation of faith in heaven. Bless the Lord."

pg 189  "Feelings don't run the show.  There is a reality deeper than our feelings.  Live by that."
pg 190  Luke 15:7 Jesus speaks of the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, not relief, not surprise - joy!
pg 191-192  The Westminster Shorter Catechism's 1st question -
"What is the chief end of man?"  - this asks us what is the final purpose, the main thing, why are we here?  The answer is "To glorify God and enjoy him forever."  Glorify.  Enjoy.
This book has journeyed through these passages looking at things involved in Christian discipleship and finally arrives at this point - Bless the Lord.  Glorify & Enjoy God in all things.
"Grace and gratitude belong together...(snip) We are so created and so redeemed that we are capable of enjoying him.  All the movements of discipleship arrive at a place where joy is experienced.  Every step of ascent toward God develops the capacity to enjoy."
"Best of all, we don't have to wait until we get to the end of the road before we enjoy what is at the end of the road."

Some final thoughts:  This is the only book I have read by this author and I have heard some criticism of his total theology from some people that I respect.  As I am not God - I have no way of knowing the heart of another person and would not presume to pass judgement on his motives/ideas/etc.  I don't think I found anything glaringly inconsistent with my own beliefs in this book generally speaking.  (I suppose that sounds wishy-washy, but honest at this point as I can't remember every word I read in detail).
I found much instructive and helpful here - I love the visual of life as a journey upwards ( title!)  I pretty much always consider myself on a journey, following Christ and learning as I travel.  This book gave me pause to consider some things I hadn't previously and allowed me to ponder the long journey that discipleship really is.

Blessings on the journey,

Lines (14)

Continuing notes from "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction"
***almost done... hang in there!***

Chapter 15     Community  Psalm 133

pg 169  "For God never makes private, secret salvation deals with people.  His relationships with us are personal, true: intimate, yes: but private, no.  We are a family in Christ."
I find this idea to be interesting and thought provoking ... and for someone like me, slightly intimidating.

pg 170  Psalm 133 puts, what is said & shown throughout scripture and church history, into words of song - community is essential.  "Scripture knows nothing of the solitary Christian.  People of faith are always members of a community."
Again this is a tough one for me... perhaps it is just the area of the country where I live or my limited exposure to faith communities at large - but here, for me, community is hard to come by in the sense that my soul longs to find.

pg 173  "Living together in a way that evokes the glad song of Psalm 133 is one of the great and arduous tasks before Christ's people.  Nothing requires more attention and energy."
I would add that it is perhaps something that is sorely lacking in a lot of places for precisely this reason.

 pg 175 Quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~ "Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community.  What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ.  Our community with on another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us."

pg 176  "Important in any community of faith is an ever-renewed sense of expectation in what God is doing with our brothers & sisters in the faith."
Ah, perhaps here is part of the key found... that we don't really expect to see God move in our own lives or in anyone else's life.  And we never spend enough time together - talking about God and what He is doing in our lives to know differently.
Shared experience builds community.  If we never share our lives in any real sense, genuine relationships and true community can't be built.  If we are all so fearful of being real with one another that we live in shallow pleasantries and false masks - how can we build 'family' ties that are strong enough to weather persecution or even a minor challenge?

September 12, 2013

A Coat of Paint Changes Everything

I forgot that I'd promised to post about our exterior painting project. Whoops!
Here are a few 'before' photos of the house and detached garage.

The house originally had about a zillion of those thin plastic louver type shutters in that same awful green color (you can see them on the corner of the garage) but Steve ripped those down as soon as possible after we'd moved in.
We are guessing that the prior owners were trying to achieve an 'apple theme' with the color choices given we have apple trees on the property and border an old orchard.  We didn't like it - especially the green accents that were just awful in our opinion.
We had several painters and painting companies come out to give us estimates and chose to work with a friend of a friend and we are so thankful we did!  Mark Cedras was great to work with and answered all my questions patiently and helped immensely with color choices.  He is a talented artist and it comes through even in something as mundane as painting a house - though after seeing how much work he did, I am doubly impressed with the transformation he brought about for us.
First he power-washed everything and scraped to get rid of all the loose and peeling paint - which there was plenty, especially on the garage.  He also let us know of any spots that needed repair due to rot/neglect.  We had a friend from church come and help with a lot of that, and another friend of a friend do some siding replacement where it was really bad.
When we'd been in the process of checking Mark's references we happened to do a drive-by of a prior project he'd done and fell in love with the color of that home.  With Mark's encouragement we did something that seemed brave to us (though we've discovered it is fairly common) and opted to make the house one color and the detached garage/barn a different color.
The paint/stain used are all Benjamin Moore products purchased through Milford Paint and we are very pleased with the final product.  The house color is called "Kendall Charcoal" and is a dark gray, white trim and the doors are accented in a dark green called "Black Forest".  The garage is "Country Redwood" with white trim.

We think the entire thing is just lovely - classic and a touch elegant for our little corner in the country. We are happy to recommend Mark if your looking for a great painter!

Blessings on the journey~

September 11, 2013

Lines (13)

Continuing notes from "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction"

Chapter 14     Obedience      Psalm 132 

pg 160  "The first half of Psalm 132 is the part that roots obedience in fact and keeps our feet on the ground."

pg 162  "Christians tramp well-worn paths: obedience has a history. This history is important for without it we are at the mercy of whims. Memory is a data bank we use to evaluate our position and make decisions. With a biblical memory we have two thousand years of experience from which to make the off-the-cuff responses that are required each day in the life of faith."

pg 163 "Obedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race toward God's promises."

pg 164 "The second half of Psalm 132 takes seriously what God said to David and how David responded. (snip) and uses them to make a vision of the reality that is in the future of faith: (vs 15-18). All the verb tenses are future. Obedience is fulfilled by hope."

pg 165 "Psalm 132 cultivates a hope that gives wings to obedience, a hope that is consistent with the reality of what God has done in the past but is not confined to it."
"Christians who master Psalm 132 will be protected from one danger, at least, that is ever a threat to obedience: the danger that we should reduce Christian existence to ritually obeying a few commandments that are congenial to our temperament and convenient to our standard of living."

pg 166 "What we require is obedience - the strength to stand and the willingness to leap, and the sense to know when to do which.  Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God's ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises."