Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home Makeover: Parsonage Edition - Coffee Table and End Tables finished

Part of the fun of having a home is making it your own.  Even though we don't own the parsonage, we have been in the process of taking it from being a house that we live in to a home we enjoy. 

When we first were married, my husband gave me this long story about how he is not good with tools/building things.  Then we bought our first home, you guessed it, a fixer-upper.  We both learned. We made a lot of mistakes.  But even with a crawling toddler underfoot, we renovated our home from top to bottom.  Seriously, check out his baby pics and you'll see bare subfloors and half started projects (because we got most of our projects completed during his naps). 

We completely wore ourselves out with repainting our last home, so you will not see us doing any painting here at the parsonage - at least if I can help it. 

But my husband came across Ana White's website where she has tons of free furniture plans.  He started out easy and has worked his way up to more impressive projects.

So here is one of his latest projects taken from plans on her website.  This is the coffee table.

And he also made two of these end tables to match.  The cost of making them himself was way cheaper than buying these tables. Plus, it's kind of a sense of accomplishment to make them yourself. 

During this year, I am hoping to go room by room and focus on decorating a particular room each month. The living room has been my first order of business and then I will be working on our master bedroom.  I'll post pics to keep everyone up-to-date.  So stay tuned.

Gardening - Time to get started again!

It is that time again!  Last year was my first year doing a real garden (before that I had only done container gardening on our deck) and I am so excited to get started again.  I was inspired by this website to try winter sowing last year using empty milk jugs and I hope to do some more this year.  I have a bunch of jugs that I have been saving in the garage - so my hubby will probably be glad to get them out.

So right  now I am just getting organized - and we'll go from there.  I am still very  new at this, so these posts will just track my progress.  Don't expect any tips or tricks - but you may get a few laughs at this newbie along the way.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Review: Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll

After reading another of Driscoll’s books, Real Marriage, I sort of told myself that I wouldn’t waste my time reading any more of his stuff.  Not that it was a bad read, I just didn’t understand why it was so popular when I feel that there are plenty of other books on the topic that are way better.  

But. . .
Here I am reading his newest book Who Do You Think You Are? which is basically a study of finding our identity in Christ as outlined in Ephesians.  The book contains 16 chapters which finish the sentence “I am _____” (e.g. reconciled, gifted, new, forgiven, and so on).  

He contends that we as believers in Jesus Christ must understand our identity in Him and that understanding that concept will enable us to “discover the power and joy that is found only in an identity founded and sustained in and by Jesus.”  Sounds great, and I really had high hopes for this book.  

But I found myself confused while trying to follow his train of thought.  Instead of 16 chapters flowing from the book of Ephesians, it seemed somewhat disjointed.  Some of the chapters fit nicely in the study and I definitely thought he brought up some good points.  But quite a number of chapters didn’t seem to fit into the general purpose of his book.  I mean, really, in the chapter “I am afflicted” he listed 14 types of affliction.  And as another example, the chapter “I am appreciated” is a nice concept but I didn’t see this as a necessarily Biblical concept.  

I would be remiss if I neglected to note that his language is a bit “coarse” sometimes. It wasn’t a huge deal, but enough for me to notice.  So I asked my husband about it and he said “oh, yeah, he is the cursing preacher.”


Does anyone else see this as a problem?  I thought my husband was joking, but I looked it up online and sure enough. . .

Anyway, back to this review.  In a general sense I agreed with his premise, but there were a few areas of pretty major disagreement.  For one, he is reformed (which kind of made me chuckle that he “announced” it in the book) and I am not, so I took major issue with a quote from Spurgeon that he included.  Secondly, I have strong disagreement with his chapter “I am gifted” mostly because he would hold that tongues and faith healing still exist today.  So I have listed my bias, and humbly realize that others will not agree with me.  If it were just these points of disagreement, I would say that I could still read the book and gain from it.  However, I just didn’t think he brought much new insight to the topic.   
In short I was disappointed.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review for Jesus The Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel's King by Herbert W. Bateman, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston.

            This new work by Bateman, Bock, and Johnston takes a slightly new tack in examining the prophecies of the Old Testament that point to Israel's Messiah. The book is divided into three different sections, each one written by a different author, and each one with a slightly different purpose. In the first section, Johnston traces Messianic trajectories throughout the Old Testament, examining pertinent texts in their original (contextual) and canonical understandings. He does a nice job of looking at prophecies as they would have been understood by the Israelites of the Old Testament, and then how they would have begun to be seen as pointing to the Messiah who would come. Johnston, I think, does a very good job of refuting those who force Old Testament prophecies to have only one single fulfillment, either in the immediate context, or strictly in the future. 

            The second section was written by Herbert Bateman, and begins by identifying some major obstacles in tracing the expectations of a Messiah through the Intertestamental period. He then traces through some of the material written during that time period what the Jews were looking for as far as their Messiah. References to the "Messiah," the "Branch and Prince," and the "Son" are all found within the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other literature. Bateman looks at the expectations of various sects of Judaism, demonstrating the different emphases that various manuscripts had. 

            In the concluding section, Darrell Bock goes into the New Testament and looks at Jesus and how He fills the role of the Christ, the expected Messiah. The book, when put together, is a very neat work and reflects some of the best research on the subject available today among Evangelicals. The work is lengthy, but an interesting read, written in language that most Christians would be able to grasp, and the continuity really ties the line of redemptive history together. This will be a reference work that I will go back to every time I preach through prophetic portions of scripture, or simply want to remind myself of the glorious story of redemption that threads its way through the entirety of our Bible.

 I would give Jesus the Messiah 5 out of 5 stars. 

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: David Sticker Book

The David Sticker Book written by Karen Williamson and illustrated by Amanda Enright is a great interactive story for your preschooler.  What could be better than lots of stickers and the story of King David?  As you read the story to your little one, they can place the stickers on the picture.  They will be drawn into the story of David’s life by the adorable illustrations and the text is written so they can easily understand. 

But for me, the $5.99 price tag (printed on the back) is a tad high for such a thin book for children.  Admittedly, my husband and 3 year had a lot of fun putting the stickers in this book and reading it together.  So maybe that alone could make it worth the price.

Also, the book very quickly covers the span of David’s life, but I would have liked to at least have seen a reference to David’s importance in light of the eventual coming of Christ the Messiah.  I know that is being picky, but just thought I would throw that in.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Recent musings

I was looking around on the web to connect with other pastor's wives recently and came across an interesting article on the 9marks website.  Thabite Anyabwile wrote"Don't make your Pastor a Statistic?" and it definitely got my attention.  I'll admit, I am always fascinated by statistics and his article is full of them. But it was quite saddening to read these statistics because they demonstrate how tough it can be for a pastor.

In a lot of ways I feel so unprepared as a pastor's wife - to support him in a way that honors God.  I consider my children, "pastor's kids," and wonder what sort of challenges they will face as they live life "in the fish bowl" as one person I know calls it. 

I am reminded once again of how much I NEED Christ.

Not the cute, cliched sort of Christianity we often see posed for others to see.

But the real, raw, I-need-you-every minute, kind of faith that won't let go. 

And realizing that He is the One who won't let go - ever. Love that.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

When you need to laugh

Our church sign, seen from the highway, "Our church is like fudge - sweet with a few nuts" - displayed a while ago. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teaching our Children Through Song

Yesterday I mentioned Dana Dirksen's music in my post and I went to her site this morning and found a sampler that she has available to imbed.  (Plus it looks like her family has a pretty cool music ministry.)  So if you scroll waaaaay down you will see it down on the right side of my blog. 

If you have young children especially, take a listen. Give them a chance.  Admittedly when I first listened to a couple of the songs, I wasn't sure if he would like them all that much.  But it didn't take long to see the benefit of adding this music to our family stash of music that we play.

 Personally, I have seen our son pick up lines from movies that he watches or just random things that he hears.  That is why I love playing Dana Dirksen's music for him.  He is "picking up" deep Biblical truths just by listening to these songs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

4 Ways to Be a Better Friend

photo credits
I once heard it said that a person who has a few very close friends in a lifetime is very blessed.  While I don't like to refer to someone as being my "best" friend to the exclusion of others, we can all acknowledge that there are some friends who God brings into our lives that touch us deeply.  They laugh with us, cry with us, pray for us and with us - they demonstrate their love to us in a way that leaves us different.   

Recently I was teaching our son the verse Proverbs 17:17 " a friend loves at all times" through learning a song from Dana Dirksen's album Songs for saplings.  (Yeah, go and listen to it if you have the chance - the tune is still stuck in my head.)  So I got to thinking about how we will teach our son about friends and how to be a good friend.  I know, at the age of 3, this is only a fledgeling concept for him, but you have to start somewhere.  But more than just teaching him through my words, I want to attempt to teach him through my life's example.  Whew, as many moms can relate, that can be a tall order. . .but I am so glad that God gives us grace for the task.
So I asked the preacher man for his thoughts on friendship and this is what I got. 

 4 Ways to Be a Better Friend

How many movies have you seen or books have you read in which there are two characters, and one is forced into the ethical dilemma of turning his friend in for something or "being true" to him? The response from the character in the wrong is often, "but I thought you were my friend!" They often express feelings of betrayal. I was in seminary near Philadelphia, PA when the "Don't Snitch" T-shirts became big hits on the streets. The code of the street said that the authorities were the enemy, and that talking to them about crime was a breach of friendship and loyalty. Probably the worst definition of friendship today is found on Facebook. How many "friends" do you have?
If we turn to the Word of God, which is our final authority for faith and practice, what do we find about friendship? I think that we use the term far too loosely, and we often don't take seriously enough the Biblical principles that address friendship. Here are just a few to get you started on evaluating your level of "friendliness"!

            1.         Work to develop an unguarded intimacy (Ex. 33:11; Prov. 27:6). Moses' relationship to God is used in Ex. 33:11 as a description of a true friendship. "The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (ESV). There was an openness in communication between God and Moses that can only exist between true friends. All guards are removed, because we truly believe that the person we are speaking with loves us and wants the best for us. There are no ulterior motives or hidden agendas with true friends.
This extends to the need for rebuke and confrontation. Proverbs 27:6 reads "faithful are the wounds of a friend…" showing that words of rebuke are spoken for the good of the hearer, not to hurt or harm them. How many friends do you have that you experience unguarded intimacy with? Are you developing your own trustworthiness and character to the point that others desire this level of friendship with you?

            2.         Work at demonstrating genuine (Biblical) love (John 15:13; Prov. 17:17). John 15:13 is a classic text on friendship, but is also a stark reminder. True friends love each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other. Proverbs 17:17 reminds us that a "friend loves at all times." There is no such thing as a fair weather friend. No matter the circumstances or the difficulties, a friend will be there. This leads to an important question, "what is love?" Seriously, it needs to be answered, because this is where Hollywood toes the line and we often confuse true love with a misguided sense of loyalty. Love within a friendship could be defined as "seeing innate value in another person and because of that person's value to you, always seeking God's best for that person, regardless of consequences to self." Okay, it may not be perfect, but it makes a point. Love within a friendship is not about trying to make my friends comfortable, happier, etc. It is a mutual relationship based on genuine love and trust in which two people push, pull, and walk with each other towards Christlikeness. We need to get that definition in our heads, because it will change how we look at some of those "ethical dilemmas" that some friendships face, and will cause us to search the scriptures for the "loving" response to every situation.

            3.         Work to be the type of believer who others would seek to emulate (Prov. 22:11, 24). This is scary. Have you ever heard the saying, "if all my friends were just like me, what kind of friends would my friends be?" While I will not attract people who are my "brother from another mother" and mimic me in every way, my character (or lack thereof) will play a major role in the types of people who want to be close to me. Proverbs 22:11 states that the person who loves "purity of heart" and "whose speech is gracious" will be friends with kings. In other words, good character is attractive! Proverbs 22:24 gives the opposite side of the coin, warning people not to befriend a man who is angry, because you will learn his ways. If you want good friendships, you need to be a person of integrity and character! This will make you attractive to the types of people you will want as lifelong, intimate friends! Now, I realize that you will have friends who are at various points in their walk with Christ. Some friends will be mentors to you, while other friends will be those you mentor. I'm not saying we need to be snooty and prideful in only selecting the "cream of the crop" in friends. But we must be going in the same direction. Here is the key: a friendship is two people in the same ship going in the same direction. As long as you are both heading in the same direction, many differences can be overlooked.

            4.         Work to avoid those sins that destroy friendships (Prov. 16:28). Proverbs 16:28 warns about gossips, who go around whispering, and whose stories can have the devastating effect of dividing close friends. We must realize that our friendships are not invincible, and when attacks come, we need to be ready to reconcile, communicate, forgive when needed, and rebuild trust.
            Remember in all areas of friendship that love "believes all things." Don't be gullible, but do be trusting. How many true friends do you have right now? What areas of your life currently hinder the closeness that you desire in your friendships with others? Seek to be a man or woman who loves the Lord, fellowships with Him daily, and cherishes a close walk with Him. Then, seek to be a friend who truly images our heavenly friend "who sticks closer than a brother."

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