To Him Who Sits on the Throne

We join the universal chorus of praise to Christ Jesus that will come from all created life!

(sung by Acapella)

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

"To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever."

(Revelation 5:13)

(With apologies for any ads they place over the words. Thankfully, the ads are brief and you can ignore them - or you can make them disappear instantly with one click on the x in the top right of the ad if you prefer.)

Racism is More Than Just a Social Issue

Listening to John Piper this (early) morning, and greatly appreciating the masterful job he has done of presenting the biblical view of this issue.

~Thank You, Lord, for excellent teachers who see through to the heart of the matter and faithfully labor to help us to know Your truth. Our hearts are weary from the world's fare with its focus sadly misplaced on a myriad of unsatisfying thoughts and words that would distract us away from You. Bless You that You give these excellent teachers the ability to present Your truth in a powerful way that pulls our eyes off what surrounds us, what tries to strangle us... and onto things eternal, things above, that rightly focus on You! In Jesus' Name I thank You.~

Please watch this video...

A synopsis of his teaching:

About Moving...

Often what I write has nothing to do with this blog, but it's what takes up my best writing time for the day (meaning... nothing gets posted on here). Just thought I'd share some excerpts from what I wrote this morning to a very dear young mom. Perhaps it will help others who are fairly new to the moving scene.

The two connected issues she asked help for were when to start packing and how to decide what would be needed until the move (in other words what not to pack just yet). She was due to move in 10 days, so I wrote...

"We've moved more times than I care to count in our almost 44 years of marriage. I've learned that as soon as I know we will be moving... that is the time to start packing - even if the move is still a couple of months away. I have found the more I get done at a leisurely pace each day beforehand, the MUCH LESS stress there is come the day of the move and the more prepared I am.

(Shared a freckle about our moves.)

You are pregnant, so it might be good to think in terms of slow, steady, and light work now so you won't have to strain or overwork your body with too much to do right at the end. (Learned that one the hard way. LOL!) Don't hesitate to ask for help packing (but if you are like me and want to know where everything is - a tremendous help if your husband asks you where something is - you will want to pack and label the boxes yourself or at least oversee it).

As for what you will need over the next week or two (until you get resettled)... you could think in terms of being away on a vacation and set aside (or pack in your suitcases) only those things you would actually take with you for it (clothes, toiletries, etc.) and then start living out of the suitcases. Since your move is pretty imminent you won't have to do this for very long. With those set aside everything else is fair game for being packed. The exceptions are if you plan to cook - do only the minimum and keep out only what you truly need, and also keep out your cleaning supplies.

Of course you can wait to pack whatever else you feel you just have to keep out until the end - but look at each thing with this thought... would you be doing without the thing if you were away on vacation? If you would, you can pack it! You can do without it for a mere week. 

A fool-proof way to get over any fear of packing too early... if everything is packed and you find you really do need a particular thing - if your boxes are labeled you can go to the right box, take the thing out and use it, and when done pack it back up. Super simple!"

Day Brighteners!

Beautiful silk daylilies (my favorite flower) from Lauren and little Miss Shannon to add to my basket! These are already brightening up our days! We love them! Thank you so much!

How Should We Then Live?

If you have Amazon Prime... there is a video series available right now to watch for free.

It's called 'How Should We Then Live?' a 1977 film with Francis Schaeffer teaching the material found in his book of the same name. We're up to episode 3 and it's great to see this (again? finally? can't remember). We read the book a long time ago.

By the way today is February 17, 2018 - and this is important info because Amazon does not keep their free videos/movies online forever. They rotate them out after a bit. Looks like it's also available to purchase on DVD. (My guess is those may be first come, first serve - with limited copies available.)


Eager to Dig Into This Book!

John and I are going to greatly enjoy going through this book we just downloaded on our Kindle! It's been a few years since we last went through a systematic theology book.

We are eager to be refreshed once again on the great doctrines of the Bible!

This book was written by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue

Not What My Hands Have Done

I love the way this hymn speaks through the generations, through different people, through different styles...

(Nathan Clark George)

(Aaron Keyes)

Not What My Hands Have Done (public domain)
(words by Horatius Bonar, original tune 'Leominster' by George W. Martin)

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul,
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God,
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest and set my spirit free.

Thy grace alone, O God, to me can pardon speak;
Thy pow'r alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine, no other blood will do;
No strength, save that which is divine, can bear me safely through.

I bless the Christ of God, I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
This cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace, I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, my God, my joy, my light.
'Tis He who saved me and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loves me, I live because He lives.

(I apologize for any ads played at the beginning of a hymn above. Just check the x to remove it.)

What Place Do Ideas For Spiritual Growth Have?

As regards good things to learn and do for spiritual growth...

1) I believe the Christian life is first and foremost internal.

(The following are not Ordo salutis - they are not meant to be in any order of what happens first, second, etc. as regards our salvation - but are some of the many things that happen in conjunction with our salvation.)

. Our once dead spirit is made alive by God. His Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. God justifies us (declares us righteous with a righteousness not our own but that of Jesus Christ). God works in us, in our inner man, conforming us to Christ's image. He does all these things and much more!


2) I believe the internal Christian life we have will be seen externally.

. God works in our outer man. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name's sake - which includes righteous living, righteous actions. Our old man and the associated deeds of the flesh, and all darkness, has been (and is being) put off, our mind has been (and is being) renewed, and our new man (with all our actions - what we do, how we live, as seen and experienced by others) has begun (and will continue) to resemble Jesus more and more according to what He has done (and is doing - and will perfect unto completion) in us internally first, as well as externally.

a. We are inwardly being renewed in our mind
(by His power, through His Word)

b. which transforms (is transforming) our life
(inwardly, and outwardly)
(Romans 12:2b)

The point?

God is at work in us both internally AND in our outer man (which includes our actions). He is at the helm in it all.

He is doing His work in us
to will (desire and choose in the inner man)
and to do (our actions as seen in the outer man)
of His good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:13)

Our inner man WILL give rise to changed outer actions. We WILL show our inner person - our faith in God - by our actions, by what we do, by how we live. (James 2:18b)

So that all things we do - and we are to do things, to act (all things initiated by God, directed by His Word, empowered by His Spirit, sustained by God) are truly helpful toward a holy walk before Him.

And this is where we place all ideas for good spiritual growth. They are things we can do that He might be pleased to use to accomplish His will for our life - things which can be His tools. But none of them are essential. They are good to learn and become skilled in, being beneficial and profitable, but they do not produce holiness. God can use them toward that end, but they themselves can never accomplish what only God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit can in a person. Doing works of holiness can never make us holy, but they can show the work He has done (and is doing) in us - they can show the faith He has given us that we now exercise in Him and live out.

A verse that helps explain our daily experience of pursuing spiritual growth things - because of and as we abide in the living Christ Who now resides in us (broken into sections to help clarify this important point) :

I have been crucified with Christ
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me;


the life which I now live in the flesh
I live
by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

Early Morning Habits

As I work on my laptop in the wee hours of the morning (my best time for thinking things through is right after waking up for the day - it's 1:38 a.m. as I write this) I often let a favorite song loop in the background.

With a pair of headphones on to keep the silence in our home undisturbed, I enjoy a repertoire of songs - but I usually only let one play over and over the mornings that I listen. Letting it continuously play in the background doesn't seem to distract me from my work; it just gently wafts in at different parts of the song.

A wonderful bonus comes when I find I have learned the words to these songs as they saturated my heart in this kind of repetition.

This morning I'm listening to Damaris. Would you like to listen with me?

'He Has Forgiven Me' Damaris Carbaugh 

A Dead-End?

Do you ever feel like you've been doggedly sticking to a mountainous and winding road you thought had your name on it, only to find it's a dead-end?

And it's a dead-end because that's what God ordained for you. He never planned for the road to go all the way through, or it certainly would have. You didn't know that, though, until you reached the end of it (or you might have tried not to take it).

Yet... the road did have your name on it, and you can see it did as you start to head back down on it. God gave it your name and mapped it out for you ahead of time. He supplied many things for you to learn and do on that road, and because He perfectly orchestrated it, it became the only road that would accomplish all His will for you.

Even now as you once again arrive at the beginning of the road (and the assumption is you will find a new road to travel next) you look back and see an array of beauty and a bounty of fruit brought about by that dead-end road He laid out for you.

So you decide 'dead-end' just doesn't fit what the road has been to you. God traveled it with you and He taught you on it, beauty was seen, good fruit came about. And even though it had an unexpected 'turn-around' at the top of it you know you would take this road with Him again, and gladly, if you believed He wanted you to!

But for now, it's time to change direction! Do you suppose there's a new path up the mountain to be found? 

(Written as I change plans for this blog. 'We make our plans, but God directs our steps!' Proverbs 16:9. ~Thank You, Lord!~)

Funny Papers : Yoder Hair

We like the Funny Papers of our family life because we think keeping a gentle sense of humor is a wonderful thing!

We were at a 'Sing' late one Sunday afternoon - where everyone blends in harmony singing hymns a cappella and people take turns blessing the congregation with individual songs.

I reach up to the dear older gentleman in the pew in front of me to pull one lone and very long white hair off his neck. It's obviously mine from the quick hug I had just given this dear friend in greeting a few minutes before. Tug. What? It doesn't budge! Oh man, it's attached! I immediately let go and slink back into my seat.

Thankfully, I see that neither he nor his sweet wife notice anything because they don't move a muscle. Whew! My failed attempt at being 'helpful' went undetected.

Moments later during the next hymn I see his wife, without turning her head or saying a word, reach her arm around behind her husband's neck and snap the wayward hair off. I can also see that both of them are smiling broadly.

I am so busted!

Gospel Studies

These are some of the studies we are doing regarding the gospel.

. The Gospel Defined  (an in-depth definition, a succinct simplified definition)

. In the Beginning, God  (it all starts with God, He ordained the gospel - verses)

. Gospel Verses : Verbatim  (verses that contain the word 'gospel' - glean and list bible facts from them)

. Gospel Verses : Plainly (verses that do not contain the word 'gospel' but that clearly express it - listed and studied)

. How Jesus Shared The Gospel  (how He presented Himself and His Good News, the various ways He shared the one message - listed and studied)

. Gospel Facets  (the individual parts of the whole - listed and studied)

. Gospel Aspects  (what Jesus did - listed and studied)

. Gospel Blood and Cross  (verses containing these two elements - what they mean, what they do not mean)

. Gospel Presentations  (gathering them - practicing and using them)

. God's Sovereignty in Gospel Giving  (as relates to our imperfect sharing of the gospel - His absolutely essential work)

. Gospel Reminders  (the gospel is not just for our initial salvation, but for our entire lives - importance of and ways to remind ourselves of this regularly)

. Gospel Declarations  (gospel truths personalized using language that exhibits our appropriation of them)

(Re-Post) There I Go Again

(This is a re-post from one of our other older blogs - with a few revisions to it. I'm hoping to slowly post some of our previous work on this blog before closing all other ones. The irony is not lost on me that the content of this particular post from years ago is still an ongoing life experience for me. sigh... )

Do you see me here? Behind the scenes trying to organize everything?

So what labels / categories will I use on this blog? And what formats will I use for the different kinds of posts? And which method of recording the posts do I want to use this time?

And what content do I want on here and which of the (literally over 16,000) files do I need to pull from and prepare stuff from so I can easily post it all? And how will I ever write all this stuff?

Oh, and exactly what is this blog's purpose in life? Tell me again why I'm doing it? What's its theme so I can stick with it? Does it even have a theme? Does it have multiple themes? Oh yeah, we decided it would.

And look at that! While I'm working out these details (and a bazillion more) no actual posts - or not many considering how many potential ones there are - are getting put online yet because I'm still busy with all my organizing! (Is there such a thing as Organizers Anonymous? If there is, I need it! LOL!)

This challenge comes from decades of writing informational type curriculum where the gathering of content and the pre-organizing of it (or in this case the over-organizing, and then re-organizing the over-organized stuff, aka a scope and sequence style) have been crucial to the finished product. You've got to know what you want to say ahead of time and in what order, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

I forget (again and again) that I'm supposed to just talk on this blog. Be conversational. But that's a problem because it's not my first and easiest language when writing - informational-ese is.

I probably just need to begin talking to you and writing! Like I am now. And I may still get to do some occasional informational writing, too.

Quick! I need a file folder to organize all these thoughts into! (Or perhaps I'll just learn to ignore that urge from now on.)

The Bookends of the Christian Life

We love this wonderful little book!

It gives some much needed encouragement and excellent truth that help toward living the Christian life and understanding how to do that.

We've enjoyed reading it multiple times and hope to do so again and again.

It's written by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington who "...use the creative metaphor of 'bookends' to help us fully embrace the two things that are absolutely crucial for staying steady in the Christian life: our justification in Christ and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Here is a guide to experiencing the peace, joy, and stability we all desire." (quote from Amazon synopsis)

We highly recommend this book!

Time to Prep

My vision has just taken another major step in the wrong direction, so it's time to prep our home with more helps for these new impairments.

It's also time to prep our blog 'home' with more helps for my fellow visually impaired readers, as well as make it easier for me to keep working on here.

I've been exceedingly blessed that the process of worsening vision has been going slowly over the last decade. I still see everything ~Thank You, Lord!~ it's just getting more splotchy and wobbly and obscured.

Thankfully, I can still read (using a monitor hooked up to my laptop and a Kindle reader for books - regular ones are pretty much out these days) but it's becoming a bit more frustrating and challenging, especially with certain blogs, articles, and memes on Facebook. I'm not referring to difficulty with the content of what is written, but to hindrances like long paragraphs and large amounts of writing (which can usually only be skimmed), ornate styles of font, small sizes of font, and lavish colors and illustrations (too much embellishment makes it harder to read).

Shouldn't I try to avoid unnecessary hindrances on here? Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too. Being part of a community of visually impaired now, I'm beginning to feel a responsibility to do what I can to be more helpful on this front. I realized I've been writing to sighted readers up to this point, but attention to the needs of visually impaired readers will now be a goal as well.

I've been getting an education on ways to make this blog more accessible for everyone. And as my education continues the guidelines continue to change.

. use an easy to read font type, and a larger font size

. use 'vision helps' like bolding in key places, . bullets, removing most italics, and helpful spacing with what's written

. be brave and adventurous enough to be freed up from normal conventions of punctuation and grammar (for the purpose of making what is written easier to read - and write - as is deemed necessary)

. use shorter paragraphs and some incomplete sentences (gasp! oh wait! I've been doing that for a while already. LOL!)

. make definitions, explanations, and instructions brief and simplified

I waffle back and forth on whether or not to use subject categories before each post title. ('Discernment: The Mental Checklist' versus 'The Mental Checklist' - the first one alerts you to what the post is about, the second one keeps you guessing.) I don't usually see these on vision impaired people's blogs, but I still think they can be helpful organizers for everybody (but most especially those that find it hard to skim and scan what is written to see what it's going to be about - these tell them right up front).

I'm sure I'll find other changes to make in the future.