Friday, June 24, 2011

Pithy sayings - 3

Friends love through all kinds of weather (Prov 17:17a).

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you!

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we have no idea where she is.

I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible. (Jane Austen)

When words leave off, music begins.

I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer. When I took it out, it was gone.

I love to go to Washington - if only to be near my money.

"I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better." (Plutarch)

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

Don't sweat petty things...or pet sweaty things.

He who hesitates is probably right.

"We read to know that we are not alone." (CS Lewis)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Neither repetition nor supplementation needed

The Law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, O God.'" First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the Law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy
(Heb 10:1-14).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Last summer our youngest daughter spent two weeks in Arkansas hanging with her cousins and brought this recipe home.  Her grandmother made these muffins one of the first mornings of her visit, and she loved them so much that she asked for the recipe and proceeded to make them over and over again while she was there —  for her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, anybody — just so she could eat more of them.  I must say, they are very good.  They're moist, and the dark chocolate chips and sweet raspberries make a great flavor combination.

1/2 c butter (not margarine)
3/4 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c mini chocolate chips
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c milk
2 c fresh raspberries

Cream butter and sugar together, and then add the vanilla.  Mix together chocolate chips, flour, and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Now add these dry ingredients, a little at a time, to the creamed mixture.  Slowly add in the milk.  Then fold in the raspberries.  Spoon into muffin tins, sprinkle tops with sugar, and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Yields 8-10 muffins.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


A storm brews.  Dark clouds move in as the air, still, holds its breath.  Then suddenly, lightning strikes and the rain pours.  Some people are like this.  Because they give you signs along the way that trouble is coming, you can prepare yourself and at least have an umbrella handy.  But other people hit you straight on — giving no warning at all — and you just get drenched. 

Why does this happen?  And is there anything you can do to prepare yourself for future unforeseen storms?  I suppose you can close yourself off in a storm-cellar, which is, incidentally, my natural tendency.  That way you'll never have to worry about storms again, except the ones you generate, that is. 

You see, that's the thing.  God in His wisdom has given human beings endless personality differences, but because these differences have been perverted by the fall, we all produce our own unique storms.  Some brew over time, while others hit head on, seemingly from out of nowhere.  Of course we know that when we become Christians we are instantly given a new nature, which is perfect in every way, and that if we walk in it, we won't produce these storms.  But, we also know that our old natures remain, and that we will have to constantly contend with them until the moment we go home to be with the Lord.  So there is no way to completely avoid the storms — because we will always have our own.

Over the past few days I've been thinking about the four temperaments. I remember learning about them as a teenager.  They were a big thing back in the seventies.  Maybe you've heard of them, too?  The four temperaments were: the sanguine, the choleric, the melancholy, and the phlegmaticBasically, the sanguine was the life of the party; the choleric, typically impatient and a workaholic; the melancholy, moody and introspective; and the phlegmatic, generally calm and a little boring. You never hear about the four temperaments anymore.  I think the experts have probably debunked them.  But I still find them somewhat helpful when trying to understand where people are coming from, why they produce the storms they do.

Two things that stand out in my mind about the four temperaments is that nobody fits perfectly into just one temperament; people are usually a combination of two or more.  And secondly, although they each have their bad qualities, they also have opposite good qualities — just like our old and new natures. 

Take, for instance, the phlegmatic.  She, by nature before conversion, may not be particularly excited about life.  She takes things pretty much as she finds them and does not get overly up or down about things.  Her chief aim in life is to be let alone — not harassed, not bothered, not involved.  In her old nature, she may be indolent, lazy, and undisciplined.  When it comes to other people, she can take them or leave them.  However, when she allows her new nature to be in control, she may become the unsung hero in the local church — always there, quietly doing her job, receiving and asking little recognition for what she does.  She will not participate in conflicts or division.  If asked to do something, she will do it and do a good job.  If not, she will be uncomplaining and accept the status quo.

Both of our daughters lean toward the sanguine type.  By nature before conversion, sanguines appear to be pleasant, easygoing, and happy.  They don't seem to worry about the past, present, or future.  They like people, get along with people, and are loved by people.  And this is very important to them.  They don't take things too seriously.  They may lose their tempers momentarily but within minutes forget the incident and move on to the next fun thing.  When people like this become Christians, they are often described as delightfully spiritual people.  Someone might say, "That's the kind of Christian I'd like to be — friendly, outgoing, never worrying, and likable."  But it may be that people are really seeing characteristics of the old nature and not qualities of spirituality at all.  Sanguine Christians are also especially susceptible to being led by their feelings.  The old nature may trick them into thinking that an emotional experience is a deep, spiritual awakening, which may not be true.  They may make promises to the Lord with the best of intentions, but be undependable and break the promises.  Ideally, if these Christians allow their new natures to use the characteristics of their natural temperament, their ministry can be enhanced in a tremendous way.  Their friendly, outgoing manner can give them the ability to witness easily to everyone they meet.

The melancholy, on the other hand, is completely opposite to the sanguine. She tends toward depression and self-analyzing.  In her old nature, she may feel sorry for herself and be extremely self-centered.  She is quick to be critical of others, but oversensitive when she is criticized.  However, when her new nature is allowed to be in control, the Holy Spirit uses these characteristics positively.  She can become interested in others, sensitive to their needs, and able to interpret life for them.  She may make a very sympathetic teacher or counselor.  She may even have a musical gift that can uplift fellow believers.  But her old nature will constantly tug her toward depression and defeat.

Finally, the choleric may have characteristics that cause her to seem unfriendly.  She may be a serious and determined person and perhaps seem to lack a sense of humor.  If she allows her old nature to have control, she may be hard, cold, and cruel.  She may use people to gain her own ends.  She will often be a loner and slow to show sympathy.  But when a person like this walks in her new nature, the Lord can use her mightily. She can develop into a tireless worker, a disciplined student, or a person who can handle the Lord's money with no-nonsense efficiency.  Yet this same Christian may be looked upon by other Christians as aloof, cold, and conceited.  This is why the Lord warns against judging.  Every believer should accept every other believer, knowing that the Lord uses differences.

You can certainly see how our own personalities overlap within these four temperaments. Years ago I was told I was a phlegmatic/melancholy. There may be some truth in that. But whatever my temperament, whatever my weaknesses — my storms — I know that the Holy Spirit can turn them into strengths.  And that storm-cellar?  I don't recommend it.  Take it from me, it's damp and lonely down there.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The quiet life

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
(1 Thes 4:11-12)