Thursday, June 20, 2013

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this book less than a year ago and didn't like it b/c I didn't really understand it. (Shorter paragraphs would be a big plus, for instance.)

But really liked it this time. Reminds one that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Reminds one of the reality of the sinful nature. Reminds one that while ideals and noble aims can may fill a man's mind, a base impulse resides in a man's heart, and it must be recognized and dealt with, or the ideals and aims can easily be subverted. The heart of darkness is the heart.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Suffering has an up side

At the Nicene Council, an important church meeting in the 4th century A.D., of the 318 delegates attending, fewer than 12 had not lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith.  (Vance Havner)
 
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.  (Helen Keller)
 
Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.  (Malcolm Muggeridge, in Homemade, July, 1990)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy Father's Day ... Not!

King Lear (SparkNotes No Fear Shakespeare)King Lear by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two fathers have problems with their kids ... on a grand scale, and most everyone dies in the end. 

Three stars is based on my own reading.  Discussing King Lear with the book club at the library gave me greater appreciation for it. 

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Old-fashioned charm

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting BoyThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this along with my 12-year-old. These good-hearted sisters' zest for life get them into several entertaining predicaments. Their father, a widower and botanist, is both wise and loving. A summer vacation to a cottage on a large estate proves to be quite an adventure for the Penderwicks and the estate. Good clean fun.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Put money in the offering plate

Proverbs 3:9-10
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.  (NIV)
 
Contextualizing:
 
Put money in the offering plate.  This benefits the Lord’s work, yes, but it also benefits you.

It checks greed in your spirit.

It reminds you that you owe all things to God.

It checks the human urge within you to put money above God, to trust money more than God to take care of you.

It loosens your grip on material things, and it loosens materialism’s grip on you.

It brings about the blessing of God in your own life.  God is generous towards the generous.

I believe there is a very real material component to this reciprocity.  God takes care of those who regularly give to God.  People who don’t put money in the offering plate have become their own gods, taking on the responsibility of taking care of their needs.  So God backs off.

But those who give to God, especially when funds are tight, are demonstrating their trust in God to take care of them.

Didn’t the widow who put in “all she had to live on” demonstrate that?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Victims of the rumor mill

The first year of our marriage, Sara and I attended Aboite Missionary Church.  They were in the process of calling a new senior pastor at the time.  When we told friends and family who was candidating, someone warned us that we did not want him as a pastor. 
 
We believed them.  The frustrating thing was that, even though his candidating message was good, we knew he wasn’t good for the church—but no one else seemed to know it!  They were deceived by his good sermon!

Well, Aboite called him, and guess what?  Sara and I loved him.  He was a great pastor!
 
Ahh, the rumor mill.  Be gracious, and give people a chance.