Tag: reformed theology

“Right Now Counts Forever”

I stole that title from RC Sproul. Those words are more timely than ever. We all just learned we might be in this state of social isolation for another month. We’re now facing not just 2 weeks but possibly 6 weeks of lost wages, lost investments, lost fellowship opportunities, lost milestones like graduations and weddings and funerals, lost advances in education, in health, in orthodontic progress :). But what if we lived the next 4 weeks in the reality of Romans 8:28? “That for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

If you haven’t read the rest of Romans 8 in a while, right now is the perfect time. In that one chapter you will find no condemnation, freedom from sin and death, fulfillment of the law, life and peace, the indwelling Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ in you, the Spirit of life, Jesus Christ risen from the dead, life to our mortal bodies, life through the Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, fellow heirs with Christ through our suffering with Him, future glory revealed in us, redemption of our bodies, hope in salvation, help in our weakness, intercession of the Spirit, calling, purpose, foreknowledge, predestination, conformity to the image of His Son, justification, glorification, God for us, ALL THINGS, Christ Jesus at the right hand of God interceding for us, victory over tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, the sword, and the inseparable love of Christ Jesus our Lord…

What if we took just one hour of each day in April to set our minds on the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:5-8). You could choose any hour during which you would normally be filling other obligations outside the home.  Are there lessons or practices you are now missing on Monday? Make that hour count forever.  Tuesday’s playdates canceled? Make that hour count forever.  Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday no longer meeting? Make that hour count forever. Thursday’s client consultation postponed indefinitely? Make that hour count forever. Friday’s date night on hold? Make that hour count forever.

Start now. Instead of spending another hour scrolling through social media and blog posts click on this link to a short 25-minute devotional called “Right Now Counts Forever” given by RC Sproul during his last year on earth. Then read Romans 8.  Spend time in prayer thanking God for the bounteous gifts laid out in that one chapter. Don’t know how to pray? Whatever groanings this Corona Virus has produced inside of you, know that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26).” Maybe use part of that hour to memorize a verse a day from that chapter.  By the end of this quarantine you could have the whole thing hidden in your heart!

Below is a list of other ways your family could make an hour a day count forever during the month of April. What a triumph it would be if holy habits cultivated during the Covid quarantine resulted in life long practices among God’s people!

  1. Did you know that there are 30 books in the Bible that contain fewer than 10 chapters? That means they can be read aloud in there entirety by your family in 30 minutes or less. You can alternate daily through the month of April between Old and New Testament books.
  2. Do you have young people in the house? There’s no better time to start reading aloud the wisdom book of Proverbs than on April 1.  There’s one chapter for each day of the month and the last one, Proverbs 31 can be saved for Mother’s Day on May 10.
  3. What’s the best weapon against Covid-19? God’s Word!  Psalms 1, 9, 19, 91, and 119 are great reminders of how God makes Himself known through His Word and that it will stand forever as surely as He is eternally seated on His throne. If you’re not in the habit of singing Psalms try learning Psalm 19. We use the version from the “Book of Psalms for Singing” but you can click here for a link to a more familiar version that even your youngest family members will enjoy.

Since I’m a spreadsheet kind of gal, I’ve put all these options (including memorizing Romans 8) on a calendar to help make April count forever. You can choose just one of the options to redeem that extra hour or all of them and still have time for prayer!  In this time of uncertainty, the promises of God are the only investment that promises guaranteed returns. Isaiah 55:10,11 says,

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Now more than ever, it’s time to keep the feast. Click the link below for a printable copy.

April 2020 Printable

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* I just listened to Allie Beth Stuckey’s podcast “10 Tips to Make Quarantine Count” and she recommends memorizing Romans 8, too! Furthermore she says John Piper just said the same thing! So if you won’t take my word for it, take theirs! And make sure you click this link to Allie’s podcast!

Screen Time and Sound Waves: Utilizing Technology During Quarantine and ALL the Links You Could Ever Want

I’m almost embarrassed to say how little this “shelter-in-place” mandate has altered our lifestyle. Other than not going down the mountain every one or two weeks for church, music lessons, shopping and appointments, the only real change has been the increased screen time. Church, lessons and shopping are now all on-line. Plus we’ve been taking advantage of some of the great on-line learning resources that have now been made temporarily available for free.  We just started The Great American Story course through Hillsdale College. Next will be the World War II course taught by Victor Davis Hanson. How cool to have my own kids able to learn from one of the same instructors that I sat under while studying philosophy at Fresno State! Downside is that it’s more screen time.

Ditto for Ligonier Ministries who has just made all their on-line resources available for free through June, including their interactive group Bible studies! We’re talking about a monumental amount of sound Biblical teaching now just a click away. For example, you can take Elisabeth Elliot’s video course “Suffering Is Not for Nothing” with over 1000 other participants and invite a bunch of friends to be apart of your on-line study group. Downside is that its more screen time.

Not all of Ligonier’s resources require a screen. One of my favorite freebies is their internet radio app called RefNet.  We discovered this audio resource when Tom’s Mom was sick with cancer. We even added it to her Alexa so all she had to do was say “Alexa, play RefNet” and a 24/7 line up of her favorite teachers–Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Nancy Guthrie, and dozens of others–would play at her command. The messages are interspersed with quality traditional Christian music, Bible readings, devotional readings, and even news breaks from a Christian perspective. At a time when our elderly are now even more isolated than ever, this could be a life changing gift for someone you know.  They even play the Lamplighter Theatre’s audio series in the evenings for the kiddos. My younger boys love these action packed stories and I love that they don’t need a screen to enjoy it. Last night we blasted “Escape From the Eagle’s Nest” from the front porch while they sledded and built a line of snowmen down the middle of the road (fewer than 10 and they were all at least 6 feet apart, of course).

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I’m a serious podcast junky and being home 24/7 has only fed that appetite. Growing up  in a house without TV meant the height of electronic entertainment was listening to Family Radio. The voices of J. Vernon McGee and Charles Swindoll were as familiar to me as the sound of the furnace clicking on in the morning or the crunch of the gravel as my Dad’s car pulled into the driveway every evening. I love it that my boys already know by name the voices of Steve Lawson, Doug Wilson, Paul Washer, James White, Alistair Begg, the Apologia guys, the Cultish guys, the G3 guys, the Just Thinking guys, and even the gals from Sheologians, What Have You, Relatable and my favorite Mama Bear apologist, Alisa Childers.

But even the voices of the best teachers can become a distraction and like Saul, we need some music to soothe the soul. I used to be a hymns and classical-only kind of gal so Bach was my go-to method of relaxation. The whole world of classical music is available for streaming on-line. Now I get the even greater privilege of hearing Joel practicing my favorite hymns on the piano, or Nathan doing the same on his violin or cello, or Titus rearranging some Bach for his mandolin. But Titus has also broadened my musical horizons with other genres and now I’m enjoying listening to him play things like “Take Me Home West Virginia” or “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” or even his original “A Blues 65” on his Youtube channel. If you all aren’t subscribed to it yet, you should be.

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The boys have also figured out other ways to utilize the airwaves during this time of social distancing. A while back I bought a cheapo 4-pack of walky-talkies which they managed to rig discarded radio antennae onto. From the top of our ridge they’ve been in communication with their good friends who live in another town about 30 miles away. These friends also own a weekend cabin up here so they’re sheltering in place less than 1/2 mile away but no one can get together. So out come the walky-talkies. They’ve even been playing games over them by drawing out each-others’ moves. Radio Jenga anyone?

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With all these sounds and lit-up screens around me, I’m left wondering what a pandemic would have looked like before the age of wifi.  For us that was just last summer.  Until then our only option up here was very costly satellite internet. We had to walk down the road to a friend’s house to catch a signal or to the camp office to plug in. Then Tom signed up to get his Mdiv through the distance learning program at Master’s Seminary. That’s when we realized just how much of a pain it was going to be to get all his work done at the office and just how impossibly expensive it would be to pay for satellite ourselves. So we prayed about it. We prayed that if seminary was really God’s will for Tom that He would provide the way to get it done. THE NEXT DAY Kingsburg Media Foundation was at the camp, scouting it out to see if we were a possible candidate for their reduced-cost internet services.  What a timely provision!  And even more so when I think of how difficult it would have been to shelter-in-place without being able to access our church service live-stream, shopping, classes, music lessons, and more on-line.

I guess there’s never really a good time for a pandemic but it amazes me how the advent internet has changed the face of this one.

 

 

 

 

And Just Like That Everyone Went Home

So we’ve all been sent home to “shelter in place,” to school our children at home, to eat food together as a family around our own table, to clear our schedule of meetings and practices and play-dates –in other words, to cease the madness of a frantic go-go-go lifestyle at once. Could be a good thing. After all, I could smugly assert that’s basically how our family’s been living for years. But forcing the entire country to do so is another story.  Our rights and freedoms are being stripped from us at a pace that would make even Stalin’s head spin. I’ve wondered the past few days if most people are even aware of the first or fourth or tenth amendments to our constitution. They’re kind of a big deal, folks. Take it from someone whose mother had her whole world stripped away from a war between totalitarian regimes and fled to the only place on earth where she trusted that could never happen again. In fact, if you have to choose between reading this blog and reading your Bill of Rights (assuming you’re a U.S. Citizen– sorry those are the only people it covers), I’d way rather have you pull out your Pocket Constitution (which every citizen should have in print and on hand, btw) or just click here. Of course, all of that means nothing when a national emergency is declared. I just think it’s good to be aware of what’s actually being taken from us in the name of public health and safety.  Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  Of course he also said a lot of other things that were bunk, so take it or leave it.

But as much as I believe in the excellencies of the Constitutional Republic we inhabit, I believe in the sovereignty of God and His Kingdom more. And as much as I believe every U.S. Citizen should have a copy of the Constitution in print and on hand, I believe it’s even more important to have an actual copy of sacred Scripture in your hands. It too, has a few things to say about government and our response to it. God says He’s in control. He sets up those in authority over us and He removes them. He knits our bodies together and numbers our days. There are no maverick molecules in God’s universe. Not even Covid-19 shaped ones. He is working all things together for our good and for His glory.  And yes, if you have to choose between reading this blog, reading the Constitution or reading your Bible, please pick up your Bible!

Trying to make sense to my children of the bewildering changes upending our world in the last month, I have to keep in mind that as God sets up kingdoms (was Trump’s victorious State of the Union address only a month and a half ago?) and tears them down, it is all with His eternal kingdom purposes in mind. And the marvel is, He is doing that great kingdom building through OUR OWN HEARTS.  What are my boys learning about the Christian walk through all this? Are they learning as much about what it means to be a Citizen of Heaven as they are about what it means to be a Citizen of the United States of America? Can they see where my true allegiance lies?  How I respond to these inconveniences, injustices, and financial uncertainties speaks volumes to them about the Lord’s sanctifying work in my own heart.

I’m pretty sure I can already see some of the good being wrought.

  1. Most immediately, I’m looking at my husband right now who is also a full-time seminary student at TMS, studying hard for his Greek mid-term. Normally he’d be at work instead. He’d fallen a little behind due to all the back and forth travel surrounding my Dad’s death a couple weeks ago. Now he can finally get caught up on his Mdiv studies!
  2. My boys are finally hearing from sources other than their own nagging mother that our elderly people matter. That they should be honored and cared for. It’s a soap box issue of mine that I’ve written about here, here,  here and here and it has been such a blessing to hear it now proclaimed from places like the White House.
  3. My natural tendency toward social distancing has been overwhelmingly affirmed as not only healthy life-styling but the law of the land!
  4. The first two weeks of Feb. we were all sick in bed with the worst flu ever which was immediately followed by two weeks of taking care of my Dad. It was a crazy time of upheaval for our family during which I longed for days just such as the ones we are now getting to experience indefinitely.
  5. The time is ripe for compassion. Everyone in the world seems to be making it very clear that they are very much afraid of death. So many opportunities to share the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. From a distance of course :).
  6. I’m relearning the sweetness of trust. Yes, “Tis, So Sweet to Trust in Jesus!” Don’t just click on the link and listen, dust off the old hymnal and sing along!

Finally, as disturbing as this government overreach might be, we haven’t been required yet to do anything sinful or dishonoring to God. We’re simply being told to “Go home.” And while that might ruffle some feathers in the feminist coop, in the end that might be right where God wants us during such a time as this.  Yes, the first and the fourth and the tenth amendments to our Constitution are pretty important, and yes, if we want to remain citizens who benefit from them, we better be willing to take up arms to preserve them. But let’s not forget the 10 Commandments are so much more important than that. And Jesus said they could be summed up this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”