Friday, April 29, 2011

The Glory of it All

I've been thinking on this for several months, now, and it gets sweeter every time I think about it.
The great thing about heaven will be that it never ends.
Of course the glory of it all will be to finally, at very long last, to be with our glorious Savior, and no more sin, tears, pain, suffering..... Yes, true, no doubt. But, if I might dare to say it, more glorious than all of that will be that it will never end. If we could enjoy a moment of heaven here: a moment with Christ right with us, with no sin, all pain gone, all tears dried, all suffering forgotten, rather, not even a reality, it would be glorious, but it would end 60 seconds later.

Every great thing here, ends. The most joyful wedding day ends - joyfully, yes, but the next day comes and the wedding day is gone, the dress put away, the bride a day older, the sin still very present. Every little foretaste of heaven is marred with the reality that we're not there yet, and the foretaste will end. Every Lord's Day lasts for only those 24 hours, and then it's Monday morning - 6 days from the next one.
The great thing about heaven will be that it will never end.

Christ and Heaven

"I shall not again quarrel Christ for a gloom, now He hath taken the mask off His face, and saith, 'Kiss thy fill;' and what can I have more when I get great heaven in my little arms?" ~Samuel Rutherford

"I know no wholesome fountain but one. I know not a thing worth the buying but heaven; and my own mind is, if comparison were made betweixt Christ and heaven, I would sell heaven with my blessing, and buy Christ." ~Samuel Rutherford
"I bless His great name...who spendeth largely His rods, that He may save me from this perishing world." ~Samuel Rutherford

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Two Towers

I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. ~Samwise Gamgee
I tell you right plainly that I do have a hard time watching movies (a recent post on that, here) but I know what it's like to be in this quote, so bare with me as I attempt at entering into Sam's mind, a bit.

There are times we don't want to know the end because how, in all this crazy, sad, broken world can the end be anything but more sadness and brokenness and loss? How can it be good? How can the diseases that invade our bodies and the hurts that keep us awake at night and won't let us get out of bed in the morning; how can the marriages that we think are strongest, break and shatter into millions of pieces; how can the friendships we treasure and hold dear that are suddenly snatched away and rip out part of our heart; how can the children that we long for, who never take a first breath in this world; how can the job loss when we've fought so hard to provide; how can the plans of a lifetime that suddenly crumple in our grip; how can the wedding day we've longed for and prayed for and looked for and planned for be, in a moment, just another dream, another longing, no longer a reality; how can all that's broken and hurting and lost and won't ever be ours to have and hold again, how can it end in any other way than it's begun? How can the cross be anything but a shriveled up hope for redemption?
"How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?"
It's hard to see, this sunshine we're looking for, through the broken clouds. But, "A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." Will not some of the wonder of Heaven be that it's so "other" from what we've ever experienced? Because of all this sadness and darkness and brokenness that "new day" will shine out all the clearer.

And what we've lost, it's all restored to us at the cross, and Heaven will be so sweet ("sweet" doesn't even capture it) because we can see He did it all well. Not one stroke was laid on needlessly, even if we be too small to understand it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nearer to Him

I read this precious quote on Jen's blog, Stepping Heavenward. I'm right sure it's worth a repost in our quiet corner.

“Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. ‘Happy is the man whom God correcteth.’It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so many further off from God in the full-moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab’s corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodical was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father. (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark.

When God brings deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.”

~ All Things For Good by: Thomas Watson

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Posting From Another Corner

I read this over at Pastor Miller's blog, Relocating to Elfland, and thought, "wow! that's a great quote. I should post that, too." Glad he plucked it off of pg. 2,378, so I don't have to!
“[The] self-sacrifice of God in His Son is in fact the love of God to us. ‘He gave Him,’ which means that He gave Him into our existence. Having been given into our existence He is present with us. Present with us, He falls heir to the shame and the curse which lie upon us. As the bearer of our shame and curse, He bears them away from us. Taking them away, He presents us as pure and spotless children in the presence of His Father. That is how God reconciles the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). We can, indeed, speak of the love of God to us only by pointing to this fact. It is the work and gift of the Holy Spirit that the fact itself speaks to us, that in the language of this fact God says: ‘I have loved thee . . . fear not, then; for I am with thee’ (Is. 43:4ff). No other saying is needed, for this one says all there is to say.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, p. 2,378)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Shall I Say?

Last night our family (minus Ethan, who is eagerly anticipating the day that he can read the book) watched The Fellowship of the Ring, in celebration of Noah having recently finished reading the trilogy.

Now be it clearly said that I do not enjoy watching movies all that much. I actually watched it last night (for the first time) for the simple purpose of working on my movie-watching/enjoying/interpreting skills, which are dull and unpracticed. There are exceptions to every rule, such as Pride and Prejudice, but even then, I can enjoy that movie (many times) and by about 3 hours into it I'm just ready for it to be over and can we please not sit here anymore watching a love story? Not because I don't enjoy a love story (I do!) but because I would rather sit across the table from a dear friend who just got engaged and enter into her love story over a cup of tea (or hot water) and enjoy love stories that way, rather than watching an imaginary one on a screen, that stirs up the emotions without satisfying, and then leaves us to turn off the movie and walk away with nothing but the feeling that will be half gone when I wake up the next morning.

There are many reasons for this lack of interest in film which I am still puzzling out in my mind. There's much I'm thinking about and working on and learning about myself and about how to enjoy good film. Perhaps my thoughts will one day spill into a blog post here in this quiet spot.

But as I was watching last night, (without wanting to allegorize the story too much - it's clearly not as strictly an allegory as, say, The Chronicles of Narnia), I do think it's allegorical in some ways, but without wanting to go into all of that, I did want, so badly, to end a blog post this way...

"Let's hunt some orc."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

O the Wonder of Heaven and Earth!

"This is the great mystery of the Gospel; this is that which the angels (as I tell you) pry into; nay, this is that which the angels and saints too shall admire, and bless God for to all eternity; this is that which set the infinite wisdom of God on work from all eternity. If all the angels in heaven, and all the men in the world, had been put to it to find out a way to answer this question, "How shall sin be pardoned, the sinner reconciled, and God glorify His justice?" they could never have done it; this cost God dear, it cost Him the heart-blood of His own Son, and that is a sure sign that God's heart was much in it, and indeed we are not Christians, until in some measure we see and have our hearts taken with the glory of God in this mystery. O the wonder of heaven and earth!...God will have mercy on the man, and He will take vengeance on that sin; the eternal wisdom of God hath found out a way to translate this man's sins on another person who is able to bear them, and to interest this man's person in another's righteousness, which is able to cover him: so that now all is one in regard of man, as if the law had been utterly abrogated; and all is one too in regard of God, as if the creature had been utterly condemned. And all this is done in our Jesus; on Him was executed the curse of the law, by Him was fulfilled the righteousness of the law, for Him was remitted the sin of man, and through Him were all things made new again. The world was in Christ as in its surety, making satisfaction to the justice of God; and God was in Christ as in his ambassador, reconciling the world unto Him again, (O bathos!) "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out?" (Romans 11:33). You have seen the project and the councils of God for man's salvation, before all worlds; it is but dimly "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?" (Romans 11:34). ~Isaac Ambrose, Looking Unto Jesus

Ere It Be Long, He Will See Us

"...I will show [you] a privilege that others want, and ye have, in this case. Such as are in prosperity, and are fatted with earthly joys, and increased with children and friends, though the Word of God is indeed written to such for their instruction, yet to you, who are in trouble...from whom the Lord hath taken many children, and whom He hath exercised otherwise, there are some chapters, some particular promises in the Word of God, made in a most special manner, which should never have been yours, so as they now are, if you had your portion in this life, as others. And, therefore, all the comforts, promises, and mercies God offereth to the afflicted, they are as so many love-letters written to you. Take them to you...and claim your right, and be not robbed. It is no small comfort that God hath written some scriptures to you, which He hath not written to others. Ye seem rather in this to be envied than pitied; and ye are indeed in this, like people of another world, and those that are above the ordinary rank of mankind, whom our King and Lord, our Bridegroom Jesus, in His love-letter to His well-beloved spouse, hath named beside all the rest....Go the strength of your Lord...with your face toward Him, who longeth more for a sight of you than ye can do for Him. Ere it be long, He will see us." ~Samuel Rutherford, Letters of Samuel Rutherford

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Homeschool Morning

You know you're a homeschool family when this is your conversation at 10:15 on a Friday morning (no offense to those of you who are not homeschool families. I'm just saying, you probably don't have conversations like this... but try to enter into the humor of it anyway.)

During Chemistry this morning, Leah and I are working through our practice problems. We're reading Mama the questions and then giving the answers and she tells us if we're right or not (in this module, we actually got them mostly right, surprisingly enough!). Noah's at the other end of the kitchen table doing a math test. The conversation (after talking about chocolate ice cream (and the gelato that's on sale at the grocery store this week), flowers to be planted this afternoon, what kind of Lily of the Valley Mama ordered for Leah, cinnamon tea and does cinnamon really help to keep your blood sugar stable?, where Ethan's book is and did he look under Mama's bed where it was the last time he couldn't find it?, can we have warm bread for lunch? will you please make grilled flat breads to go with lunch on Sunday? what are you wearing to Mr. Davenport's ordination tonight and can you wash my skirt this afternoon?, etc.......) after all of that (and a few Chemistry problems sprinkled in between it all):

Mama: Read me number nine.
Sarah: Give the abbreviated electron configuration for the following atoms.
At the exact same time Noah said: Is the area of a triangle half the base times the height?

Making good progress this morning. Noah's still taking his math test. Ethan found his book. We finished our practice problems. And we decided that chocolate ice cream should always be in the freezer; no, Mama hasn't decided what to wear tonight; yes, I can wash Leah's skirt this afternoon; no, we don't know who's preaching tonight - "some guy Daddy's never heard of"; yes, Mama will think about making grilled flat breads on Sunday; no, we can't have warm bread for lunch; and the flowers Leah planted the other day are starting to come up. All very important things to discuss when you're doing Chemistry.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For My Dear Friend

If you have a moment or two before this crazy busy day begins, might you pull up a chair and share a cup of tea on Lily's birthday?

This is Lily's twentieth birthday. I can't believe I just typed that. Lily and I met when I was 7 and she was 8. We have shared our birthdays in so many different ways ever since. This year, she and I are both running out the door at 8:00 am and won't be back home until late tonight, so I'll call her while I'm driving to the math lesson I have to teach and she's driving to school. No time for tea and a long heart-to-heart about the past 12 years together and what it feels like to be turning twenty, but that's alright. When you share your whole life with someone there's plenty of other tea cup moments to be had along the way.

Lily, I'm so thankful for your friendship and all of the memories we share together. Even though I can't be with you on your birthday, I'm thinking of you and all the times we've spent together; the phone calls every week (can you believe we've probably had 600+ phone calls together!); the e-mails (though they've been scarce lately); the letters tucked in the mail as a surprise drop of sunshine in the mailbox; the book club that we've persevered through even though our video chatting has been somewhat difficult..... There is just too much to say right here. It's been so many years of storing up memories and times together and they're all so special because we get to share them together.

So Lily, I do hope you have a wonderful, very special day. May the Lord bless you and always be drawing you ever-nearer to Himself as you walk along this path heavenward. I'm so glad I get to share the journey with you. I love you very much!

Happy Birthday!

"Blessed be the Lord God, Who daily loadeth us with benefits,
Even the God of our salvation."

~ Psalm 68:19

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Thoughts

Two things that were inadvertantly brought to my attention in conversations this weekend (ya know, when I was in New York!):

1. I don't really like tea. I like the idea of tea. Despite the name and theme of our blog, I don't really like tea. I occasionally drink Earl Grey tea and Chocolate Mint tea (my favorite!). In the winter I drink tea more often just because it's something warm to do. But a lot of the time if I want something warm I'll just drink hot water. On Saturdays I'll drink one of the two aforementioned teas when I book club with Lily because...well... it is our book club after all....we're supposed to drink tea, right? So I thought perhaps it was slightly deceptive to have a whole tea-themed blog and not mention that I'm a water drinker. So when I say "so-and-so is pouring our tea today. Pull up a chair to the tea table" I'm probably drinking hot water.

2. I talk about laundry a lot on the blog. I'm not apologizing for that. But I'm also not complaining. If I mention (and sometimes write whole blog posts on) that endless cycle of laundry – folding socks again and ironing clothes for church again and washing sheets and towels again and stacking piles again I'm not complaining. I love doing the laundry. It's like rewinding the tape of the week and reliving it while I fold all the clothes we wore. There are so many memories in one much grace given that can be relived when you're in the moment of folding laundry...faithful in the small things. So if you get bored of hearing about laundry, well.....grab a cup of hot water and live in the moment of your own week's history. It's not going away.

I'm off to fold some laundry and perhaps grab something warm to drink on the way upstairs. If you think I'm kidding because it's a nice way to end this post, I'm actually not. I have lots of laundry to do after my (wonderful) weekend away. Back on Thursday for Lily's birthday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Gospel ~ What's True Of Us

This is probably the best quote I've read in the past year...maybe longer. I'll just leave the pouring of the tea to Thomas Brooks today. He's got a better brew than me...

“Is not Christ your treasure? Is not heaven your inheritance—and will you murmur? Has not God given you a changed heart, a renewed nature, and a sanctified soul—and will you murmur?

Has He not given you Himself to satisfy you, His Son to save you, His Spirit to lead you, His grace to adorn you, His covenant to assure you, His mercy to pardon you, His righteousness to clothe you—and will you murmur? Has He not made you a friend, a son, a brother, a bride, an heir—and will you murmur?

When you were dead, did not He quicken you? When you were lost, did not He seek you? When you were wounded, did not He heal you? When you were falling, did not He support you? When you were down, did not He raise you? When you were staggering, did not He establish you? When you were erring, did not He correct you? When you were tempted, did not He support you? and when you went in dangers, did not He deliver you?—and will you murmur?

What! you who are so highly advanced and exalted above many thousands in the world? Murmuring suits none so badly as saints.”

Ten Pages A Day, Part Five

Ah....the Part Five that wasn't going to be, and then was.

While I was at the Greenville Conference there were a couple of books recommended that I was able to find online and have added to my reading list, of course.

The Love of the Spirit Traced in His Work by Robert Philip. I've been printing this off about 20 pages at a time. The chapter on Adoption was particularly recommended at the conference, but I haven't gotten there yet. All of what I've read has been excellent, though. So here, go read it for yourself. Quotes coming doubt.
Public Worship Always to be Preferred Before Private by David Clarkson (the successor of John Owen - and you know how I feel about John Owen). I haven't read much of this because I have so many things I'm reading right now, but the first page or so that I've read was good. I'm looking forward to reading more. It's kind-of Saturday reading, don't you think? Here's the link, so you can feast, too. Perhaps Weekends Are For...reading Clarkson on Public Worship before the Lord's Day?

Ten pages a day. There's so much good to be read out there, we'll never get to it all, but at least we can do 10 pages at a time. Baby steps.