scandalous...

i just finished reading this book...

in a word it was...

freeing.

ha.

and yet really it was.

here are a couple of my favorite quotes...

“You ought to live your life with such freedom and joy that uptight Christians will doubt your salvation.” 
“If there is no laughter, Jesus has gone somewhere else. If there is no joy and freedom, it is not a church: it is simply a crowd of melancholy people basking in a religious neurosis. If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.” 
“The good news is that Christ frees us from the need to obnoxiously focus on our goodness, our commitment, and our correctness. Religious has made us obsessive almost beyond endurance. Jesus invited us to a dance...and we've turned in into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we're doing it right and are in step and in line with the other soldiers. We know a dance would be more fun, but we believe we must go through hell to get to heaven, so we keep marching.” 
“You are really and truly and completely free. There is no kicker. There is no if, and, or but. You are free. You can do it right or wrong. You can obey or disobey. You can run from Christ or run to Christ. You can choose to become a faithful Christian or an unfaithful Christian. You can cry, cuss, and spit, or laugh, sing, and dance. You can read a novel or the Bible. You can watch television or pray. You're free...really free.” 
“The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway.” 

all quotes from Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel

you can also listen to free podcasts that look like they mirror the book's chapters... how kind of steve. offering something FREE. ha.

i love that he defines himself as a very conservative guy theologically. and as a pretty hard core calvinist. two things that i ascribe to as well. i liked how he said this about most hard core calvinist churches...

“I’m a Presbyterian, and we believe in a doctine called ‘radical and pervasive depravity.’ If we find any depravity, however, we kick you out!”

which is one reason why i don't attend a hard core calvinist church. because they would kick me out. for radical and pervasive depravity. and they would use this blog as proof. and they would be right. and wrong.

make sure and notice on that podcast page that he says that you can buy his book or the CD's of the podcasts "both make excellent gifts for uptight religious folks." ha. that steve. he is a laugh a minute. wonder where he got that from? oh, i think i know because...

my favorite line in the book is one about his mother...

My mother is one of the most godly and earthy women I have ever known. She read the Bible in in the morning, Spurgeon in the evening;  and in between, she taught me how to cuss.

may my children rise to greet me with such praises....

but more importantly may they know the scandalous freedom that ONLY Christ offers...

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. galatians 5:1

Freedom_by_sharkkk.jpg

courage...

i have been doing a little light reading of aristotle. NERD ALERT. NERD ALERT. 

il_fullxfull.393996151_57hn.jpg

i like aristotle. this isn't a valentine's day confession. but as far as dead philosopher's go, he is one of my favorites.

i have been reading about the four cardinal ("cardo" means "hinge" in latin) virtues espoused by aristotle (and his teacher, plato). and by "reading about" i really mean "bemoaning over the lack of these in my life"...

and for those of you who aren't reading aristotle (or weren't even aware that he was a dead philosopher) the four cardinal virtues are...

prudence- able to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time, this one is the BIGGIE! knowing what to do... then the other virtues help you to carry out what you know to be wise actions. 

justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one what they deserve. this virtue is the only one directed specifically at others. it is the perfect mediation between selfishness and selflessness.

temperance or restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetite. this virtue is directed inward.

fortitude or courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation, the "mean" (middle area) between rashness and cowardice. the "sweet spot" as you will. this virtue is directed toward difficult situations

aristotle's big thing (if i am interpreting him correctly) is that a virtue becomes TRULY virtuous when we have done it so much that it is a habit. when we do it without thinking about why we are doing, or if it is the right thing, or what we will gain, or lose, or how hard it is... but when we just do it. over and over and over.

9d0fb075d7ad280206aa85b626dc250f.jpg

c.s. lewis has a lot to say about virtue in the screwtape letters. and i thought of this quote by him when i was reading about courage...

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ” {c.s. lewis, the screwtape letters}

and i was thinking about that today when i saw this quote as my quote of the day in my inbox (see this is all going somewhere...)

“Optimism is true moral courage.” {ernest shackleton}

b.t.w. ernest shackleton was one of the great antarctic explorers. i knew this because rosie had to do a research paper on antarctic explorers once and we rented a movie about matthew henson, a great and unsung african american arctic explorer. the movie, glory and honor, was a fantastic and riveting true tale of exploration and courage and dsicovery and freezing temperatures until this one SEX SCENE stuck in there right smack dab in the middle of all that exploration and discovery. so i am fully versed on antarctic exploration. and fast forwarding rapidly through surprise sex scenes. thank you.

when i read that quote from ernest (who knew a thing or two about courage)  i thought about aristotle and i thought about cs lewis and i thought about virtue... because i have not been optimistic as of late. i have been pessimistic. a paragon of pessimism, if you like alliteration. which i definitely do like. a lot.

you should all be glad that i didn't blog last week whilst hopelessly adrift in this "blue fog of pessimism." it would have gone like this...

whine whine. we are all going to die. whine whine. especially me. whine whine. and maybe you too.

perhaps i should avoid blogging (or you should avoid reading my blog) during one week every month. not so veiled euphemism there...

any way. i have decided that i need to be more courageous. aristotle would want that of me. c.s. lewis will want that in a neighbor (of course i do understand that by the time i am his neighbor i will be perfectly virtuous. but it won't hurt to practice it now.)

optimism is true moral courage. to choose it first. automatically. not to travel down the road of "what if's". 

i have always loved this quote by carolyn mahaney...

A woman came up to me at a party last week, and after we chatted for a minute, she said: “My friend told me about something she heard you say once, and I wondered if it was true.”

I knew where she was going. I get this question with curious regularity.

“Did you say that your biggest regret as a mother was that you didn’t trust God more?”

Yes, I told her, it’s true. I wish I had trusted God more.

As I wrote in our book Girl Talk:

“For every fearful peek into the future, I wish I had looked to Christ instead. For each imaginary trouble conjured up, I wish I had recalled the specific, unfailing faithfulness of God. In place of dismay and dread, I wish I had exhibited hope and joy. I wish I had approached mothering like the preacher Charles Spurgeon approached his job: ‘forecasting victory, not foreboding defeat.”

{a mother's trust by carolyn mahaney}

so i walk on with hope. forecasting victory. courageous.

courage-doesnt-always-roar-inspirational-quote.jpg

and in the words of aristotle...

“well done is half begun.”

and if you think aristotle was a genius... he also had this to offer as wisdom...

07a9dbaa2f14680a4031458d5611098f.jpg

and in case you need to learn more about great arctic explorers and courage and you don't mind fast forwarding through a racy scene...

parenting & sailing...

so the ocean metaphors continue... submerged by marriage and sailing as parenting. i do so like a good theme...

my book club and i had a discussion about parenting a few months ago... and how we know we should do what we do as parents out of obedience and NOT because we expect results. but how do we do it and NOT expect results? that was the part we were stuck on. we desire the result of children who grow up to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. and we have to have hope and expectations that what we are doing is leading them into His arms. it is a good desire... the single greatest goal of our parenting... but how do we keep on doing what we do when we don't see that desire fulfilled? do we give up all the "good ideas and practices" (which are slightly legalistic at best and downright anti-gospel at worst) and just wait on the Lord?

there is a place between the law and grace and we can't find that sweet spot. and we are all searching pretty hard for that sweet spot. between the seven of us we have tried it all. every parenting book. every conference. home schooling. private Christian school. public school. we have listened to every "expert". in our past some of us (yours truly included) have been touted as "experts" and spoken on how is the way to "train up a child in the way they should go..." none of us are being asked to speak much these days. none of us deem ourselves to have any answers anymore. save that one answer of "God knows..."

and so i found this blog post very encouraging. because there are many days when parenting feels very much like sailing. because i don't know a darn thing about sailing. and there might be sharks around this boat...

sailing_to_the_sunrise.jpg

from tullian tchividjian's blog...

Only The Promise Produces

Mike Horton rightly warns against depending on “guidance technology” to put wind in our sails:

Like a sailboat equipped with the most sophisticated guidance technology, our Christian lives are often decked out with the latest principles for living, with spiritual guidance counselors telling us what will make life really work for us and our families. Oftentimes, brand new Christians sail out of the harbor under full sail, eager to follow the guidance system, making use of all the gadgets, enthusiastically listening to every fellow boater who has some advice to offer. Yet as many long-time believers know, eventually the winds die down and we find ourselves dead in the water. Then when storm clouds gather on the horizon, we discover that all of the guidance technology and good advice in the world cannot fill our sails so that we can return safely to the harbor. The equipment can plot our course, tell us that a storm is coming, and indicate our present location, but it cannot move us one inch toward the safety of the harbor. In other words, if we are looking for motivation in the Christian life, it cannot come from motivational principles; only the gospel fills our sails…While God’s wise directions are necessary, apart from the ever present word of promise that, despite our failures at sea, God is at the helm piloting us to safety, we will eventually give up on sailing altogether. Purposes, laws, principles, suggestions, and good advice can set our course, but only the gospel promise can fill our sails and restore to us the joy of our salvation.

The Gospel Driven Life, pg. 143-144

purposes, laws, principles, suggestion, and good advice are needed to set our course... but there comes a time with only the breath of God can move us to the safety of harbor or onto our next adventure at sea. we pray and we wait on the strong wind to fill the sails...

tumblr_leso1e1Y0X1qdnnalo1_500.jpg
     a ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for. {william shedd}