The Fabulous Plane Ride

 

20170731_153219-1.jpg

My darling nieces and our jet.

British Airways is one of the best,” my friend told me when I shared about my forthcoming trip. So I had high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. Of course, it probably helped that I was already one of the happiest people in the world at the time of boarding. However, there were some truly nice things that I noticed about the airline.

 

Professionalism. There is something to it. Neatly dressed staff that appear rested bolster one’s confidence when boarding a flying tube of metal destined to fly thousands of feet above the ground. My husband and I flew domestically on Delta later in September and I was rather unnerved when the attendant at the entrance to board us came to work with hher shirt untucked and her hair askew. At that moment I felt retroactively thankful for the tidy Brits who welcomed me onto their giant plane a month earlier.

I haven’t been on a plane for years. My nieces and I oohed and ahhed as we passed a  flight of stairs leading to the plane’s SECOND STORY–which we weren’t on. We squeezed our way down the aisle into our economy seats which, to our delight, had built-in head supports on either side! I still used my neck pillow but for people who forgot theirs, these head supports must have been life-savers.

You can imagine my delight when the stewardess came by and offered us a cup of tea. Yes, this was really happening. I really was heading to the British Isles! What further proof did I need?

We left at 4:30 pm and arrived at 11am in London so we passed the night in the air. However, even though I knew that I SHOULD sleep it was hard to when I had had access to movies, music, and a cool screen that showed me just what part of the northern hemisphere I was over in real-time. I think one of my nieces didn’t slept at all!

20170731_180245

I took advantage of the chance to watch La-la Land

At this point I would like to issue a fair warning: you will see frequent shameless tourist photos of quite ordinary things.

So I don’t know what this says about me, but I found the airline food DELICIOUS! It seems like most people roll their eyes when they talk about airline food, but British Airways did a fantastic job! They served curry chicken, tea, a salad, a roll with butter, and a delicious cheesecake. I expected it to be ho-hum but it was much better than that! Of course, not having to cook the food added its own charm to the experience.

20170731_180256

The flight lasted around 11 hours, so after I finished a movie and my dinner, I decided to try to get some zzzzz’s.  Things that helped on the flight: ear plugs, an eye mask, a neck pillow, a dose of Dramamine that I took before the flight as a pre-emptive strike against air-sickness, and comfortable warm clothes.

We touched down with just a little wobble. Dad had requested a wheelchair and British Airways had a chair ready and along with a guide to help us navigate the small city that is Heathrow Airport. We all breathed a sigh of relief to have our luggage safely in hand once more.

Here we are, on the bonnie shores of England– tired, excited, and well-fed.

 

20170801_114520

My fam after a great plane ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art Of Feasting

large_the-lost-art-of-feasting-retjrwiuArticle by

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

 

We might suppose that overstuffed American bellies would hardly need any instruction on feasting. So many of us have grown so accustomed to having so much to eat. Then here comes Thanksgiving. Just put it on autopilot. Fasting is the discipline today that is grossly under-served; no need to consider feasting.

Not so fast. It’s true that fasting is sadly overlooked, and too often forgotten. And yet, perhaps counterintuitively, true feasting is also in decline through familiarity and lack of spiritual purpose. Most of us have never given any serious thought to what it might mean to feast with Christ-honoring intentionality.

We’ve grown dull to the wonder of ample food and drink through constant use, and overuse. When every day is a virtual feast, we lose the blessing of a real one. When every meal is a pathway to indulgence, not only is fasting lost, but true feasting is as well.

Feasting as a Spiritual Joy

The Bible is replete with the goodness of food and the holiness of feasting. God in his goodness made his creation edible. He made trees “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:9), and created us to eat his world: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). Then after the flood, he extended the gift to eating animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). But distinct from the kindness of God in everyday food is the special grace of a feast.

In the Old Testament, God structured the seasons and years of his chosen people with fast days and feast days. Then he sent his Son as the great culmination of his nation’s feasts. Now those who make up God’s multinational people through Christ are no longer under obligation to practice Israel’s ancient feasts and rituals (Colossians 2:16). They were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Christians are free to feast — or not to feast:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5–6)

But what we’re not free to do is feast in a way that dishonors God. And forgetting him altogether is profoundly dishonoring. As Christians, we want to learn to feast in such a way that we’re tasting God’s supernatural goodness as we enjoy natural tastes.

Not the Same as Indulging

Feasting is not first about the food. It is foremost about the Godward celebration of some specific occasion together. Good food and drink, in abundance, come in alongside our corporate focus to accentuate the appreciation and enjoyment of God and his kindness. The heart of feasting is not the food itself, but the heart of the feasters. A true feast is bigger than the food — infinitely bigger. The center is God and his greatness and grace toward us in Christ.

For Christians, feasting is not the same as mere indulgence. There is nothing particularly Christian about eating and drinking more than usual. What makes feasting a means of God’s grace for nourishing our souls is explicitly celebrating Christ together in faith. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Easter, a birthday or anniversary, when we feast as Christians, we celebrate the bounty and kindness of our Creator and Redeemer. Feasting in Christ is no mere physical event, but deeply spiritual.

Prepare the Way for Feasting

Good preparation for a good feast typically begins before the feast day — not only in our planning, but in our pattern of eating. When our normal daily consumption is characterized by sufficient restraint, then feasting is something we can rise to on special occasions, by faith and in good conscience, rather than being the baseline of everyday eating. If you’ve so overindulged leading up to the feast that you feel a need to count calories at the feast, something is not right. Daily restraint both keeps our stomachs primed for times of fasting (so we’re not miserably famished) and makes possible a kind of special indulgence on feast days.

But exercising self-control in eating and drinking as a habit of life is only a prerequisite to good feasting. For a big Thanksgiving dinner to honor God — and feed not only our stomachs, but our souls — we need a few simple, but significant, steps to make it holy.

continue reading here….rest of post

Treasuring God’s Word: Psalm 127:3

lightstock_62397_small_elizabeth.jpgbaby

 

Treasuring God’s Word Together – Psalm 127:3

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

When Scripture is our starting position, great clarity begins to inform the issues and questions of our day.

1. “children are a heritage” A blessing, not a bother. One who belongs, not a burden.

2. “from the Lord” A gift, not an accident. An image-bearer, not a coincidence.

3. “the fruit of the womb a reward” Value and Purpose, not choice or hinderance.

With Scripture as our starting point, may we uphold, defend, rejoice, and celebrate life! For if children are truly “from the Lord”, then there really is no such thing as an “unplanned pregnancy”!

Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

Walking Towards Sunday: Frankenstein’s Second Monster

Benedict-Cumberbatch-Frankenstein

Photo: National Theatre

Frankenstein’s second monster is himself. And not for the most obvious reason. Yes, he was presumptuous and careless in his pursuit to create life. But it is what he does AFTER he succeeds that could arguably be his worst crime.

Frightened of his own creation as soon as it comes to life, Frankenstein bolts. He runs away and stays away, overcome by remorse. When he finally returns to his apartment, he finds the monster gone. At this point the true tragedy occurs. 

He does nothing.

He rejoices to himself that his problem is “gone”. His selfishness lumbers large as he doesn’t give even a thought to his poor neighbors who might encounter the creature or what damage might befall them.

He also gives no thought to the needs of his unnatural child. He does not consider how it will eat, grow, and develop. Here Mary Shelly does a masterful job of entering the monster’s mind. Starving and lost, Frankenstein’s monster spends his “childhood” in a forest, searching desperately for food and trying to make sense of the world. He is gentle and curious–until he encounters his inevitable problems with humanity. It’s a tale of tragedy from there on out. The repercussions of Frankenstein’s selfishness reach its zenith in the destruction of both the creator and the created.

Who knew that a reading assignment for my teens could help me love my children more? Mary Shelly’s drop into the monster’s mind is so tender and empathetic that it gave me a much needed reminder of how dependent our children are on us. And not just for food and shelter, but for understanding, tenderness, and moral guidance. They need our support long past the unsteady steps of early childhood.

Suddenly, driving my boys to soccer practice did not seem like such a chore–or making that casserole AGAIN.

It’s funny to me that I found motherly inspiration in such an unlikely place. But I’ll take it wherever I can get it! More often, lately, I find myself asking…how selfish am I? And am I really looking out for them– heart, body, and soul? Motherhood is a marathon and it’s good to realize how important we are to those dependent on us. It’s a long journey and keeping perspective is half the work!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

Elizabeth Hiett

 

Calling Parents Back to Their God-given Joy and Responsibility

family driven faith
Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God. Voddie Baucham Jr. Wheaton: Crossway, 2007.
This is one of those books that comes along every so often and causes quite a stir throughout the church, not only by its content but also by its implications. To some it sounds so radical, so out of the box, even shocking. In the final analysis though, it is very biblical. The shock value and the wake up call this book represents only goes to show how far we may have moved from a simple and precious biblical standard.
So what’s so shocking? Parents are called by God to be the primary disciplers of their children. Now that may not sound so unusual at first glance, but when you begin understanding the ramifications of such a calling, it forces Christian parents to re-evaluate how they parent and churches to re-evaluate how they minister. Now the wide-eyed faces appear!
Voddie Baucham, through personal experience and application of key biblical texts, outlines in this book how taking on the role of primary discipler for his children transformed his life, started the making of a new church model, and calls on all Christian parents and churches to seriously consider how the Bible prescribes raising our children.
In terms of strengths, this reader thoroughly appreciates Baucham’s contribution and would highlight at least three. First, Baucham encourages parents to not only embrace the Bible’s call to be the primary discipler of their children but he provides anecdotal illustrations to enable parents to catch the vision and begin the journey. Second, Baucham stresses how the church has, even with good intentions, structured itself to allow parents to set aside their role and rely solely on the church. This is not God’s will for the home. As parents teach and discipline their children, the church is meant to reinforce and support. Third, since this reviewer was only familiar with the content apart from reading, Baucham’s approach was far more inviting, charitable, and balanced than previously suspected. Granted, if one disagrees with Baucham’s conclusions, he will be tasked heavily to prove his own point because it is clear that Baucham has carefully thought through any objections. However, the tone is not dogmatic but rather graciously challenging.
No doubt the impact of this book surfaces when you finish reading. Parents will need to think through with much prayer and confidence in Scripture how to discipline, how to educate, and how to disciple their children. This may call for a radical change in priority, scheduling, and perspective. Churches, particularly leadership, will need to think through prayerfully and biblically how it is structured so that corporately and within each ministry the church is supporting and encouraging families. Some adjustments may be minor – some may be massive!
In terms of weakness, there is only one that stands out. Baucham’s resulting metaphor for the church is that it is to be a “family of families.” While that rightly emphasizes some glaring corrections the church needs to make, it doesn’t fully satisfy the NT presentation. It seems that the NT church is rather a brand new family, one composed of families for sure, but one also composed of singles, believing children without believing parents, and believing spouses married to unbelievers. No doubt Baucham and his church has a strategic way to incorporate these into the church, but the metaphor indicates these believers are somehow not “completely” in the church because they are not members of a believing family within the larger believing family of the church. However, to be entirely fair, Baucham acknowledges in his preface that this metaphor was intended to be a statement on the structure of the church, not the nature (p.7). So in essence, this weakness vanishes with this clarification. In the same way, however, the church model, family-integrated church, may unintentionally place an unnecessary burden upon those members who do not fit because they do not come to church as part of a complete believing family unit. The fully family-integrated model could cause frustration for singles, single parents, divorcees, and children who are the only believer in the home. That’s not to say these hurdles cannot be overcome through intentional design by the family-integrated church. It is only to say not every believer belongs to a believing family unit. So the question becomes how do these genuine believers, genuine members of Christ’s body, fit and feel welcomed into the family-integrated church model. How do you meet them at the “front door” without them turning away from first impressions? Is there some elbow room for these considerations in the FI model? Have these considerations already been acknowledged and alleviated in the FI model?
That being said, the model should not discourage parents and churches from fully examining this book’s helpful, biblical corrections and encouragements. Having grown up in the traditional model of church ministry and having in recent years discovered the joys and trials of educating, biblically disciplining, and intentionally discipling my own children, this one is a must read for every parent and church leader.
Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

Cyber Book Club–Week 1: Bonhoeffer’s Family… and Yours

Paula Bonhoeffer with her eight children. Dietrich is the blond boy by his mother.

Paula Bonhoeffer with her eight children. Dietrich is the blond boy by his mother.

Hopefully you have your book by now (audio, e-book, or real 😉 and maybe a friend who you would like to get to know better to read along with us.

This week we are reading Chapter 1. Pretty simple! Not too long.

Here are some questions to think about as we read.

How has the family in which God placed you played a part in who you are today?

What traits have you inherited from your parents or grandparents that help you in your work today?

How did WWII affect your family?

We want to hear from you! Share thoughts in the comments section! Or better yet, share with the person next to you!

EBH