Friday, July 28, 2006

Wuthering Heights

I was in complete ignorance of the characters or plot of Wuthering Heights when I first pulled it off of the shelf and began to read. It was one of the books that I felt I should read since it is considered a masterpiece of the English language and appears on all of the classic book lists.

The only novel written by Emily Brontë follows the lives of three interconnected families in the secluded moors of northern England in the second half of the 18th century. Mr. Earnshaw, the wealthy owner of the gothic house of Wuthering Heights appears to be doing a good deed when he adopts an orphaned gypsy child and names him Heathcliff. As with all beautiful things in this novel, however, good is blighted by jealousy and hate and thus begins the tale of thwarted love, rage, and despair.

This singular story is unlike any book I have ever read before. The writing style is intriguing and creative, but the themes are dark and disturbing. It becomes evident that the author was not a follower of Christ. As one reviewer wrote,

“And, despite being the daughter of a clergyman, Emily Brontë contrived to describe a world without God.”

A world without God? Can you imagine a place where hate, anger, and revenge bind the inhabitants in a cruel cycle of despair, misery, and taking joy in others' discomfort?

As the story progresses, there is no doubt that we are dealing with unregenerate sinners. Although some of the story twists seem unlikely, they are completely logical considering the hopelessness of their foundation and the belief that there are no eternal consequences for their actions. There is no comfort or rest for them in the knowledge of a loving God. They are left to work out their problems on their own; sadly, the solution usually involves inflicting pain upon their enemies.

This story is not without its “Christians.” There are two in the entire novel. The first, a minister, appears near the beginning in a nightmare. He is a vindictive judge who preaches on the 491st sin – the one that no Christian is expected to forgive. This is a blatant misrepresentation of Jesus Christ’s instruction to not forgive seven times but seventy times seven.

The second “Christian” has a slightly larger role. As a pious but vindictive and self-righteous servant, Joseph rejoices and thanks God for the untimely death of his sinful master. This is not the response followers of Christ are to have when a man dies in his sins and faces eternal punishment. Everyone hates Joseph, and his pious readings and sermons are laughed at.

Emily Brontë was not trying to write from a biblical perspective, but in many ways she succeeded. This novel accurately depicts what life would be like without God. It is only despair.

Have any of you read Wuthering Heights? If so, what was your opinion?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grandpa!


"Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."
Ephesians 6:2-3

I am thankful that God allowed my father to learn discipline, respect of elders, self control, and a good work ethic at an early age. In many ways, my grandpa has helped my father become the great man that he is.

Thank you, Grandpa!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Jonah Days"

Have you ever had a “Jonah Day?”*

Experience has taught me that some days are simply more challenging than others. Trouble tends to come in threes, and it is tempting to become discouraged when problems start to overwhelm and can be counted instead by multiples of three. "Jonah Days" can become "Jonah Weeks" if we fail to look to the Lord for the comfort that only He can provide.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

It is hard to look for the silver lining when your precious cat dies, car problems plague us, the air conditioning goes out, and the dog runs into a metal pole causing him to require many stitches and a weekend visit at the veterinarian’s clinic!

This has been a challenging month for many reasons, but it has been full of joys as well. Our garden is thriving, and we had a wonderful trip to New Mexico for my grandma’s birthday. I was able to visit with cousins, aunts, and uncles that I haven’t seen in years. The best news could even be that the air conditioning was fixed!

God is our comfort. He always provides. We do not need to wonder if we will make it through our "Jonah Days." He never leaves us, and He never gives us more than we can handle. Our lives can be wrought with troubles and tribulations, but God is our source of joy.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

*“Jonah Days” were used by Lucy Maud Montgomery in the Anne of Green Gables books to describe excruciatingly difficult days.

*Pictures are from my recent trip across Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Your Kingdom Come

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


Daniel bar Jamin was searching for the Kingdom of God – fighting for it actually. The Kingdom could only be attained for Israel once the pagan Romans were driven out, so Daniel and his ragtag force of escaped prisoners, slaves and a few rebellious but pious youths attempted to do just that.

Bitter and angry against the Romans for the death of his parents, Daniel believed that his anger was a righteous tool to be used for God’s Kingdom. But what is God’s Kingdom?

In the fictional story of The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare young Daniel struggles with turning away from his anger and understanding what it really means to live and die for God’s Victory.

“Your kingdom come” is the shortest petition in our Lord’s Prayer, but it is the most comprehensive in its application. We are told in Romans 14:17 that the kingdom of God is “…not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
God is the Everlasting King of this universe. He created it and sustains it. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

The Kingdom is not confined to God’s physical rule over His creation. It more specifically refers to the hearts that have been changed by Christ and are actively serving Him. When we pray “Your kingdom come” we are asking that the Holy Spirit work on the hearts of unbelievers and convict them to repentance. We pray that the enemies of God would not succeed in their fight for the hearts of the people.

The Kingdom is not reliant upon outside powers or controlled by the forces who occupy a country. God’s Kingdom is one of the heart, and its subjects are those who display the righteousness imputed to us by Christ, the peace that comes only from God, and the joy that we find in the Holy Spirit.

We are also petitioning for the arrival of the final Judgment Day and Jesus’ second coming. It is our hope and our final destination. What a glorious day it will be when the church is joined with Christ for all eternity! I look forward to that day with great anticipation. It is then that God’s Kingdom will be complete in the new heaven and new earth.

God often works in ways that we cannot begin to comprehend. Many were expecting Jesus to bring the Kingdom of God with a mighty army and overthrow the Roman Empire. The Disciples expected an earthly kingdom, and Daniel of The Bronze Bow thought Jesus should lead the Zealots to victory. God didn’t work in that way. His Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy.

Daniel bar Jamin didn’t rid Israel of the Romans. Nothing changed regarding the foreign occupation or the external world of politics -- it didn’t need to.

Daniel entered the Kingdom when his anger and self reliance melted, and he learned to trust Someone far above himself and his meager efforts at world reform. He trusted Jesus -- and that is the Kingdom.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Grandma

My family is in New Mexico for a few days to celebrate a very special birthday for my grandma. As part of the celebration we all wrote a memory to share. My letter relates to a childhood adventure – a day I will never forget.

Dear Grandma,
You have always been a special part of my life. I feel blessed that we lived only 30 minutes away from you during our Massachusetts years. I loved visiting Grandma’s house, and it was always special when you came to see us.

There is one event that is vivid in my memory. Mom was watching a neighbor girl, and we walked her up the street to the bus stop. Susanna was already an experienced bike rider, so she rode along. Do you remember the hill on Howard Street? While we waited at the intersection of Howard Street and Howard Place, Susanna sped down the hill. She went almost all the way down before turning and working her way up again.

That looked like fun! It had never occurred to me to do something like that before, but now I couldn’t resist. I ran back home, fetched my bike, and hurried back. I went peddling down the hill as fast as I could. It was exhilarating, and I was soon going faster than ever before. My bike continued to gain speed.

My ride soon passed from being exciting to terrifying. I was going too fast now, and I had no way to stop! I did not know how to use my breaks! I had never gone fast enough before to need them, and all instruction had failed to teach me how to stop by peddling backward. Even my usual method of braking with my feet on the ground would not work now. I was going too fast!

Gaining momentum, I went all the way down the hill, crossed Hutchinson Street, jumped the sidewalk, and slammed directly into the brick wall of the neighborhood grocery.

I had never been as frightened as I was at that moment. Here I was at the bottom of what seemed to be a very long hill, scraped up, and in terrible pain. My knee hurt and blood seeped from the fresh wound. Tears streamed down my face.

From my crumpled position on the sidewalk,I desperately looked up for help. What I saw filled me with comfort. I can still envision you running down the hill toward me. You were soon at my side.

Grandma had come to my rescue! You picked me up, sat me on my bike, and pushed me home. Your soothing voice and ready help comforted me, and you sat by me on the couch when we got back to the house.

You have always been a source of pleasure and love, Grandma. My best memories and vacations involve you. Your cooking is superb, your generosity is abundant, and your love for Jesus is exemplary. His love is evident in your life. You are the best Grandma in the world, and I am so glad that God blessed me with you! I love you!


Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fireworks


These are a few of the pictures I took of the fireworks on Independence Day. They cannot begin to do them justice. It was a beautiful night, and I could not take enough pictures.

I will be traveling tomorrow morning to visit my grandma. We will be celebrating her birthday with many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Please pray for safe travels!



Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Father's Daughter

I am my Father’s Daughter, but my sister Susanna is now the “official” My Father’s Daughter. She has been contemplating starting a blog for a couple months now, but inspiration finally struck, and her first post on July 4th is a wonderful example of her beautiful feminine heart and excellent writing ability. Don’t forget to check back for future posts. Susanna has shared with me a few of her ideas for upcoming writing projects, and I am on the edge of my seat to read the completed posts!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Two Nations -- One Liberty

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America proclaimed the right of the people to alter or abolish the Government that violated its people.

Brave Patriots signed this momentous document on that hot July day in 1776 with sufficient reason to throw off the unjust rule of the English government and King.

This is recognized almost universally to be true. It would be unpatriotic and unreasonable to think that John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, etc. were wrong to break from their “Mother Country” and form new ties in the pursuit of their God given liberty and happiness.

Just as these men were willing to risk their lives and fight for the right to be free from a country wholly opposed to their well being, another people sought the same freedom acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence.

Less than a hundred years after the signing on July 4, 1776 the Confederate States of America tried to retain the freedoms fought for by their parents and grandparents in the War for American Independence.

Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, spoke for the South when he stated that,

“We simply wish to govern ourselves as we please. We simply stand where our revolutionary fathers stood in ’76. We stand upon the great fundamental principle announced on the 4th of July, 1776, and incorporated in the Declaration of Independence – that great principle announced that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed.”

The Declaration proclaimed the right of the people to abolish the erring government and form a new government that would protect their God given liberty. The Southerners tried to peacefully use these rights and leave the Union.

They were not prevented by Constitutional law but by the unlawful invasion of the United States Army.

The North played the same role that the British had occupied in the previous War for Independence. Led by President Abraham Lincoln the United States used vicious tactics to crush the same rights that they had defended only 85 years previous.

As we celebrate Independence Day this year remember the freedoms declared in the document signed 230 years ago today. Our freedom has been trampled. Are we now sitting back as our Government continues to take our liberties away piece by piece? Is there any Patriotism left? What would our founding Fathers George Washington, John Hancock, and Thomas Jefferson think if they saw the present condition of the United States as it exists today in the 21st century?

Take this moment to pray that our nation would be humbled and return to its God honoring foundation. "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hallowed Be Your Name

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Hallowed be your name.” This opening petition of the Lord’s Prayer can be thoughtlessly rattled off if we do not take care to give it proper consideration. It has the tendency to simply be a tack on to the address “Our Father in heaven.” This glorifying opening has even caused a misunderstanding in the minds of some young children. Have you ever heard a toddler say that God is a painter named Howard whose art is in heaven?

Hallowed actually means to sanctify or “set apart for a sacred use.” When we pray, “Hallowed be your name,” we are asking that God would cause His name to be exalted, lifted up, and adored. We want our lives to reflect Him, our mouths to praise him, and our thoughts to glorify Him.

God is great, and Jesus instructed us to pray that His name would be acknowledged throughout the entire world and by people everywhere. As believers and recipients of God’s saving grace, we desire that God’s name be above all else. We praise Him and glorify Him first in our prayers, so we will have the correct attitude as we share our other petitions before the Father.

All our requests are to build on the beautiful truth that God is the originator and sustainer of everything. Our lives are to give glory to Him and raise His awesome name up. This is in direct opposition to the self glorifying attitude found at the towel of Babel and the hearts of so many men and women today. They determined, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” (Genesis 11:4)

King Nebuchadnezzar echoed this self congratulating sentiment when he declared in Daniel 4:30, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?"

God judged the people of Babel and humiliated King Nebuchadnezzar. Our Father is above all else, and He will have the glory due Him.

So when we pray, “Hallowed be your name”, it is our responsibility to repent of any pride or stubbornness that may have hindered the glorification of His Holy Name, and seek to give Him all glory and honor and praise.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31