What part of you is redeemed by the blood of Jesus? Only the parts you are able to polish up?
When you mix legalism with Gospel, you end up preserving the Gospel as a priceless artifact, instead of living it as the scandalous reality Christ meant it to be. You relegate it to a supernatural idea, or a stern standard. The law cannot vivify anything, and make it leap to loving life.
But grace! Ah, grace is alive with earthy life. We encounter grace in exactly the way we body-bound mortals encounter all of life, that is, by "doing the dishes." We encounter grace in our flesh, through our work and through our relationships.
Ordinary living, when you finally "get" grace, becomes the powerful vehicle that drives the message of the Gospel deep into your consciousness - and not because there is some transcendent secret to be found in cooking, cleaning, crying, forgiving, friending, laughing, shopping, drinking coffee, doing dishes or making love. Rather (in light of the fact that you are the very righteousness of God, in Christ) all those activities simply serve to mediate the mystery to you - namely, the mystery of "Christ in you, the hope of glory".
Christ in you, Christ "as" you, Christ as your wisdom, sanctification, and redemption. Your choices become the fruit of the Holy Spirit, as your mind renews itself to the exact proportion you apply the Gospel to your day, not just your destiny.
No easy road, this. Those who talk of "cheap grace" have never understood grace at all.
"The grace of the Lord JESUS Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
"Grace be with all those who love our Jesus in sincerity. Amen."
"I am the First and the Last. I am He that lives, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death."
When it comes to this baby, Timothy, I won't pass this way again. I know every grandmother says this, but aw man...this kid is special. He's amazing. (And for the record, I'm not the only one who has taken note of it.)
If you miss getting to be with us in the morning, to receive from the Jesus who Joe incarnates, don't hate on me for saying it: you really will have missed a blessing.
Today is his bride's birthday, so we felt a celebration was in order...
There is no other way to be truly blessed, than to be part of a local church.
And I do mean a part...not scaffolding, helping to build only up to a point, and then disappearing...I mean a load bearing wall. Integral. Part.
If you think you are blessed, and you are not an integral part of a local church, that is because you have only known a measure of blessing, and you think that what you know, is all there is to know.
There is so much more in store for you, if you'd but let go of the bitterness and pride, and become part of something that actually requires you to stick it out, love past your limits, past your pain, beyond the imperfections you find in local church leaders.
If you could...oh, if you only could become part...you'd understand the privilege of knowing people like this:
Said project has the potential to be very interesting, having to do with our ongoing dabbling in urban homesteading! But it might be a 2012 kind of thing, instead of this year - simply because of our schedule between now and the end of the year. We don't have a lot of breathing room. This project will take some research, then the building of it, then the ongoing maintenence. More time for all that next spring, perhaps?
The gist is this: we are developing a clearer and clearer vision for the sort of life we want, in this brand new season called "Grandparenting". After a lot of wisdom-seeking, we are seeing that we will, Lord willing, grandparent babies and young ones for even more years than we parented babies and young ones.
We think there will be a wagon load of 'em. Each one, as celebrated as the first.
(my next dog...huge!)
...of Poppy and his pond, and of his "Tracker Rides" - getting to ride with him in his Barbie jeep to drop the canoe-boat into the lake and go fishin'!
Vision. We set out with a vision when our children were being born. We are satisfied with the results of it - things didn't turn out perfectly. Perfection visits no one, so it is quite a good thing to simply be fully satisfied, so far.
We gave our children a beautiful childhood, replete with read aloud books, music, uncounted nights spent around our outside firepit, woodworking, crafts, and time with mom and dad. And we did it on very little income, at the time. We did it right here, in quintessential suburbia.
Now, we set out with a new vision for the "grands"....those ones we will assist in raising up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but only to the precise point their parents ask for our assistance. Mostly, we'll be here, ready to make a childhood memory, which is what raisin' children or grandchildren is all about.
Our kids are, and will be great parents, so we don't anticipate doing a whole lot of raisin' - maybe a summer or two, or a weekend, here or there, from time to time. But we want to be ready.
Ninety-plus percent of living is doing the mundane work that prepares the way for mere moments of glory. We want, when our job as grandparent is done, for the suitcase that is in each little heart, to be stuffed brim-ful with quirky, hilarious, serious, moving, and musical memories.
This means we must continue to be vigilant about living this life we've dreamed, being unafraid to tweak it and change it until it looks just like the life we further imagine. What we imagine is so sweet.
Proven fact: people grounded in the doctrines of grace have the ability to project themselves into the future ("For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord!"), and come back with a happy set of blueprints for today, and the optimism to always be working hard - building towards the freedom and joy they see in all their tomorrows.
I'll never forget, when a friend of mine made the remark, in our church's online ladies' "Cafe". The question on the table (about three years ago - we've come a long way since then!) was "do we balance law and grace"?
My friend said, "Grace IS the balance."
So, so true. For all human history, from Mt. Sinai until a mere 2011 years ago, law held full sway. Most legalists and their legalista counterparts, don't take the law nearly far enough. They pick and choose the parts of the law (about less than 2% of it) that are palatable to them, and try to claim they are "blessed" by keeping those parts...that 2%.
Let me point out - the law was radical. If you - regardless of your age right now today - dishonor your parents, for any reason, you forfeit a great deal of blessing. A rebellious son or daughter was stoned. For most of us, both we ourselves, AND our children, should not be living long lives on the earth. And if you were the source of sin in the camp (greed for financial gain, for example)...well...
But it was not so, from the beginning. I say this, not because God changes, He does not. I say this because Christ is the exact image of God, not the law, not the Torah. Before there was a law, there was Christ, planning in His wisdom to die for us. Before there was a law, God knew that the law, once it was given, would not be kept by any human being from Adam till Christ.
Therefore, a righteousness by the law was not the plan from before the beginning! (And a truly mature believer knows He who was from the beginning...very significant!) Nor was it so, under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant in force through "the seed, singular", Christ Jesus. God made that covenant with Himself, by Himself.
And don't even bother to wave the Scripture under my nose where God says, "Be ye holy as I am holy." You still aren't getting it.
That would be precisely like me telling you, "You must be an Atchley, as I am an Atchley." To accomplish that, I would have to adopt you.
You can't be holy as God is holy! Are you crazy?? Friend, you have to be adopted! You have to have the mystery, once hidden from the ages, now at work in you, that being, "Christ IN YOU, the hope of Glory!"
You've forgotten that holiness has less to do with your petty behaviors, and more to do with His Name. Oh, His Name is Holy! To be a Holy one, you have to be adopted into the Holy Father's family. You can't keep the law good enough to earn the name.
Here is your takeaway:
The law, as a schoolmaster, to teach us what righteousness looks like?
The law as a means of righteousness?
We are no longer blessed by keeping the law. Suddenly, a radical change came about, as it pertains to the promises of God. (Any and all promises of blessing...)
The change? Suddenly, after thousands of years of blessings coming through obedience to the law, today every promise of God is now "yes and Amen" through Christ Jesus, not through the law. If even one promise was "yes and Amen" through keeping the law, the Holy Spirit would not have made this distinction.
Funny thing is, those of us who have repented of our law addiction, who have had our veil removed, are characterized by keeping the law. We sort of bear the kind of fruit, against such there is no law.
But that's another post for another day, delving deeply into the book of Isaiah, side by side with Galatians, and going back and forth, letting Scripture confirm Scripture.
And your problem with any of this is....?
Oatmeal is a known "superfood", but not the oatmeal you might think. Not the kind in the little packets, that comes in "flavors". Not the instant kind.
Think steel cut, whole grain oatmeal instead. The difference in appearance is big. The difference in nutrition is big. Difference in taste is....big. Think margarine-versus-butter-kind of big difference in taste.
Steel cut oats. Beautiful.
It's a big deal, people. Superfoods are a big deal. I have been incorporating them into my diet more and more, with the goal being almost every meal featuring a superfood. It is a slow process, because I also prefer to eat seasonally...so I won't be eating alot of pumpkin (also a superfood) until the fall.
Guess what else is a superfood? Blueberries. Guess what goes together beautifully? Oatmeal (the steel cut kind) and blueberries.
How to prepare steel cut oats? A pre-soak is best. About a cup of water, to 1/4 cup of oats (for one serving), and soak it overnight.
Next morning, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer it for about ten or fifteen minutes. (If you don't presoak, make that thirty minutes). Add some butter, some brown sugar, some salt, and even some cream...I do it. Not everyone does it, but everyone should.
That's my motto.
...and lots of blueberries.
...read on. Imabouttatellya my new favorite indulgence.
Zabaglione = love. Egg yolks + sugar + Marsala = zabaglione, which is love at first bite. Therefore, zabaglione = love. It sounds fancy, it sounds difficult, but it isn't. Here are your ingredients:
about 1/3 cup of sugar
about 1/3 cup Marsala wine
a dash (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) vanilla
...and berries or peaches or whatever. I had blackberries, just picked last night. Yum! Okay...on to the easy-easy instructions.
Put your egg yolks in, and start whisking! (save your whites in a small container! "Waste not, want not".)
whisk, whisk, whisk, and while you do, add your sugar, your marsala, and your vanilla...whisk, whisk, whisk...
...for four minutes straight, at least. Whisk until the egg yolks nearly double in volume, until you don't see any of the brown Marsala wine, until this stuff gets luscious and thick and fluffy-cloud-like...
Pour some over your berries (this will make enough for about 4 people)
Enjoy. You will so want to hug me, if you make this!
Last week, we received an invitation to be the guests, this 4th of July. We haven't been the guests very often in the last couple of years...we are usually the hosts. We like it that way - however, I do admit that I was relishing the idea of being guests.
Honestly, we became torn, because our good friends the Buycks have moved back to Knoxville and to Harvest, and the whole church was invited to their home, where they provided most of the meal for everyone, plus water festivities! But we had already accepted our other invitation....so today, we happily loaded up the whole family, grandson included, Jonathan and Sarah too, (Isaac and his sweet girlfriend had already committed to the 4th at her family's house)
...we spent the afternoon with some new-ish members of Harvest. We were treated to ribeye steaks, shrimp, homemade salsa (two kinds, one hot, one mild), salad (two kinds), corn on the cob, baguettes with garlic and butter, an amazing homemade cake...and I seriously could go on.
Cut-throat. These people are brutal board gamers.
Gerda Blizzard was my pastor's wife, in the Bible Presbyterian Church, when I was a very little girl. From the time I was four years old, until I was about eleven, she taught me the Bible every single Sunday morning...after playing the piano for the whole church, as we sang from our hymnals.
I think she told me every Bible story from Genesis to Revelation, via felt board. She assigned me memory verses every week, and patiently prompted me with only one word when it came time to recite. I was so motivated to please her.
When I was older, I well remember Paul's missionary travels, taught complete with maps that pulled down like shades, small footprints on them, traversing the then-known world.
With the wonders of modern technology, I googled Mrs. Blizzard just now. She was so fondly in my thoughts, I've been thinking all afternoon of her, and of how much I owe her.
She passed away one year ago today.
Tearfully, I am one year too late to tell her how much she meant to me. She taught the Bible faithfully to a little girl who, I am sure, seemed a frightful and precocious mess. I was a mess. But praise God for His great grace, for Presbyterians, their doctrinal views on election, and their emphasis on teaching the Bible to children.
All of it has been used of God to make me the woman I am, the wife I am, the mother and grandmother I am, the pastor's wife I am.
Wow. I am a preacher's wife, just like Gerda was. I could only hope to be so effective and selfless.
Strawberries are on the vines, herbs like mint and rosemary and basil are bustin' loose. There's squash and cantaloupe and cucumber out in my garden. And today, I put garden soil in some bushel baskets and planted some quick-harvest bush beans. They should be on my plate in about 40 days.
So much to love about summer at the cottage, not the least of which would be Tracker rides, my grandbaby, and my cute new-ish cowboy hat. I wear it when we take those top-down rides, and when I work outside in the sun. It is made of straw, and Tim thinks I'm adorable in it. That trademark cowboy hat-brim dips low in front, keeping me from squinting overmuch. I caught a glimpse of myself the other day, in the window reflection...hat, skirt, tank top...and purple rubber gardening boots.
(my Mother's Day gift from Sarah, and I use them pretty much every day, lately!)
Today it was cut-off shorts, T-shirt, hat, and those purple gardening boots.
Oh, dear. My grandbaby is way, way, way cuter.
This shot taken by his momma (my daughter), with my Nikon, just this past week. Hannah takes better pictures with my camera than I take with my camera.
Cute, or what??
This shot was taken on daddy Justin's birthday. I think this boy makes all our hearts ache with pure joy.
It rocks to be me, in spite of the fact that I wear purple garden boots and cowboy hats.
Oh, and summer has become my favorite season! If you only knew...that is huge. Autumn has been my favorite time of year all my life, previously. Summer is my husband's favorite season, and the sentiment was never shared by me. But the song of the cicada and garden chores and gardening boots and long days and Tracker rides on summer nights have won my heart.