Oppression.

I live in a rich nation, with lots of taxes and lots of greedy little bureaucrats.  I worked for the government for over a decade. A large part of that decade was spent working with money for the public education system.  For some time, I took classes with the end goal of becoming a teacher. What a way to make a difference in a life! What a way to help change the world!

However, as I began to see exactly how much money was involved and that big chunks were going to suits that sat behind a desk, I began to suspect that it really was more about money than anyone cared to let on.  I even reached a point that if I had achieved my goal of obtaining a degree and becoming a teacher, I would have cut my pay “in twain”. So I put college on hiatus and in the meantime gave birth to our son, who I planned to keep out of “the system”. 

Now, I find myself in an awkward position: being too broke to pay for private therapies long term and a private preschool because we are being taxed to pay for “the system” and so some suits can sit behind a desk (among other things). Oh, we’re broke enough that I could turn to another “system” and get a bit of help robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It really is quite a seductive thing that Nanny government has going on.

And in the middle of all my opinions and thoughts is a little boy who needs all the help that we can give him so that he can live a full and productive life as an adult.  Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for a miracle before August.

Book Review: Galatians for You by Timothy Keller

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Image courtesy of The Good Book Company

Galatians for You by Timothy Keller is the first in a series of “expository guides” which aim “to be: bible centered, Christ glorifying, relevantly applied and easily readable” (Loc 32).  This title can be used for “reading, feeding or leading” (Loc 32).  I am pleased to report that Galatians for You hits the mark on all counts.

Galatians for You is full of so much information about the impact of the gospel to the Christian’s daily life that it’s hard to narrow down the focus of this review. There are several things that stood out to me: the blazing firepot when God made His covenant with Abraham (Loc 997-1000), the significance of women as heirs (Loc 1145-1159) and Paul’s example of Sarah and Hagar in Galatians 4:21-31 (NKJV) to illustrate the difference in “being related to Abraham: one right way and one wrong way”(Loc 1522).

“Paul says clearly that Hagar and her son, Ishmael, represent the law covenant of Sinai and the earthly city of Jerusalem, which by and large consists of persons who have not accepted Christ.  And these people are “in slavery”(v.25), because they are under law.  Paul is linking several things together: the Sinai covenant of law; the present Jerusalem; Hagar; and all who make the law the means of justification with God and the main principle of life…..By sleeping with Hagar, Abraham was choosing to rely on his own capabilities.  He was opting to “work” and gain his son.  He was acting in faith; but the faith he had was in himself, as his own “savior” (Loc 1558).

“Though the false teachers proudly consider themselves related to Abraham by Sarah and Isaac, Paul says that they are spiritually descended from the slave woman, the Gentile (Hagar), the outcast.  Their heart and approach to God is like Abraham with Hagar, and the fruit in their lives is like Ishmael-just more slavery!  Though racially they are from Sarah, in their soul and heart they are like the people they despise.

They rely on their own ability rather than the supernatural grace of God. The most religious people can be furthest from freedom” (Loc 1558-1570).

That last sentence is chilling and a crucial reminder to be sure that we are looking to the gospel for our freedom, and not anything else!  I highly recommend Galatians for You. It’s an understandable read with an easy to use concordance to identify terms that the reader may not know and also contains an appendix that briefly discusses a “modern” debate about another aspect of Galatians.

A copy of this ebook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: To Walk or Stay by Lara Williams

Image Courtesy of Christian Focus Publishing

Image Courtesy of Christian Focus Publishing

I’ve been through a divorce, so I was immediately interested in reading To Walk or Stay by Lara Williams.  To Walk or Stay chronicles a period of spiritual growth in the author’s life while she and her husband began the process of reconciliation after he committed adultery.  This is not a book that dishes out all the nasty details. As the author states in the introduction:

The ultimate point of this book is to show you how I wrestled before my God in the midst of a devastating valley and to testify to his faithful guidance (Loc 89).

Before I proceed, I’d like to point out that if you’re going through a divorce, in a period of separation or if you’ve been through a divorce in the past, it’s easy to read a book like this and wonder what you “should” have done (or should be doing) differently or to feel guilt over a sin that you’ve already repented and moved away from (see Romans 8:1).  Don’t! There are biblical reasons for divorce and God’s grace is deep. As Mrs. Williams points out in Loc 245 “this book isn’t a prescription”. If you want to read it because you think it will give you a map, A-Z of what to do to fix your marriage, you won’t find that.  You may also think that divorce is something that will never touch your life and you should spend your money elsewhere.

So. Why do I think that you should read this book?

1.  This book is an excellent read for any Christian but especially those who are single, engaged, married or divorced. And it starts off with the acknowledgement that marriage is between two imperfect people.

He takes ownership for what he has done in our marriage to pull us apart.  I take ownership for what I’ve done to pull us apart. And we both believe that God wants us to use our unfolding story of redemption to encourage and empower others. (Loc 96-97)

2.  This book emphasizes trusting God to do the work.

All I can do is testify. I can tell you how I have sought after God through one of the darkest seasons of my life. I can give you tips for your thought life. I can lay out His commands to forgive. And I can share how brilliantly He shows up each and every day through each and every storm.  But ultimately, the victory comes as an outworking of His Spirit. He opens our eyes. He changes our minds. He guides our feet and convicts our hearts. He does the work. (Loc 1651)

3.  This book touches on “how to be a godly wife” without being overly preachy or stuffy.  The author achieves this primarily by humbly admitting the wrong things she’s tried.

I wanted him to change.  I suggested books for him to read and bought different clothes for him to wear.  I tried to coax him with my words in efforts to win his affection-in efforts to control him. (Loc 312)

In this flesh of mine, I tried to control him.  I wanted good things for him mainly because I wanted good things for me.  I wanted to be in control.  I wanted him to stay in my husband-box. (Loc 323)

Overall, this book is a fairly quick read. The book has footnotes for scriptures referenced and there are brief questions at the end of each chapter, which makes it a good pick for anyone who might want to dig a little deeper or to read it with a friend.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, Christian Focus Publishing,  in return for a fair and honest review.

Ordinary (A Five Minute Friday Post)

Image courtesy of Lisa Jo Baker.

Image courtesy of Lisa Jo Baker.

This post is part of a linkup. It’s a writing exercise, to see how much can flow from my brain to my fingers to my keyboard to my computer to your screen-in five minutes. Today’s word is: ordinary.

I am working in the kitchen. Cooking or forever washing dishes (or so it seems). Our Boy is roaming about.  He usually gravitates to me and I talk to him, this mostly non-verbal tot of mine. Our Boy is pushing the kitchen chair to the counter. He always wants to see what I’m doing. He wants to taste test the food or play in the water that flows into the kitchen sink. He tastes it, too.  My husband is home, talking about his day. This time, I’m cooking.  I stop what I’m doing, push the chair back to the table and tell Our Boy, “No.” He fusses with an “Awwwww” and goes back to his toys.  The pan is hot and I toss whatever it is that I’m cooking into it. Suddenly, two little arms (try to) circle my hips and a little head pushes itself onto my butt (yes, I’m short). Demonstrations of affection from Our Boy are very rare and I immediately stop what I’m doing, bend down, and give him a hug. I squeeze  hard and tell him I love him. Just as I pull away, two little hands grab my right hand. They squeeze hard, a little head presses onto my hand, a tiny voice squeals with effort, and a little voice says words that I can’t make out among the sizzling skillet and the closing of the fridge door. I pat Our Boy’s head, and turn back to the pan.

“I wonder what he said?”

My husband exclaims: “It sounded a lot like ‘love you’!”

I squeal, turn again to hug Our Boy, but he’s already gone, running down the hallway to some other mission. And right then and there, too busy with my ordinary, I nearly missed the extraordinary.

(Ok, so it was more like six minutes because I was nervous and kept looking at the clock. And now I’ve made myself emotional. Please pass the tissues.)