Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Are You Friend or Foe?"

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man stading in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, "Are you friend or foe?"

"Neither one," he replied. "I am the commander of the Lord's army."

At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. "I am at your command," Joshua said. "What do you wnat your servant to do?"

(Joshua 5:13-14, NLT)

I was reading along this week and found this incident again- one of my favorites. I would so like something like this to happen to me! I want to see the guy with the sword.

It's such a great reminder. God isn't on anyone's side but His own!

Then, of course, Joshua leads the people into the "battle" of Jericho, where they clearly did not take the city by their own force. God wanted it to fall, so it fell. They really couldn't claim that victory as their own in any way. Love it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

For a Rainy Day

From one of my favorite Ned Rorem art songs, "Rain In Spring":

There fell a beautiful clear rain,
with no admixture of fog or snow,
and this was, and no other thing,
the very sign of the start of spring.

Not the longing for a lover;
nor the sentiment of starting over;
just that clear and refreshing rain,
falling without haste or strain.

I was so struck by that poetry, set by Rorem to a calm, contemplative melody, and had it on the program for my junior recital when I was in college. It's perfect for today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Controls The Conversation In Your Head?

"Since no one is more influential in my life than me, and because no one talks to me more than I do, what I say to myself about myself is very important. The little kingdom, being more dominated by my internal conversation than by God's revelation, does not encourage a humble and accurate view of self."- Paul Tripp, "The Quest For More: Living For Something Bigger Than Yourself"

This is so true, isn't it? Our internal conversation, when controlled by self, elevates and defends self. It proves the old saying "The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is self."

When, on the other hand, the internal conversation is controlled by the Accuser, it demeans and destroys self- that very self which God lovingly created.

I thought of all that today as I read this:

"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are under control of the sinful nature can never please God.

"But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."

Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verses 9-11 (NLT)

Life and peace are ours if we let the Spirit of Christ control our minds.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Expanding On Yesterday's Sermon Topic

Luke 14:27-"...if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple."


Forget the "prosperity gospel".

(HT:Desiring God)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Stroll-April 10, 2009

Despite a steady drizzle, everything outside looked so fresh and green, and I had to go out for a damp stroll around my yard, and record what spring was offering us today. Above are the lily-of-the-valley that have sprung up in only the last four or five days, and are already developing flower buds. These were originally transplants from my grandmother's place. She gave me strict planting instructions: put them in the bed that is surrounded by concrete sidewalks and the house; if they escape, you will never see the end of them in the lawn! I took her at her word, and have been able to confine them and enjoy them for years, though, if I'm not vigilant, they will actually try to advance toward the lawn by way of the sidewalk cracks!

We had a remarkably long, cold winter, with some long spells of single-digit temperatures, and unfortunately that means that there were no forsythia blooms this year, and possibly we won't get our pink cloud of crab apple blossoms, either. I also noticed as I worked yesterday that we've lost two rose bushes.

That means we'll just have to enjoy the other, more subtle blooms and foliage that go with April, such as the soft, pale green of the oak leaf hydrangeas.

The Japanese spurge is blooming, and smells heavenly

Wrapped around the foot of the crab apple is a skirt of violets.

The peonies are not only robust, but have far and away outgrown the cages I use for them.

This is a clump of Moonbeam coreopsis, something that also seems to have sprung up over night. I love that soft, feathery foliage.
In the shade garden, chartreuse hostas are proliferating. These were also pass-along plants from a friend, so I can't tell you their name, despite scouring hosta sites to try to identify them.

It would hardly be April without daffodils. I need to remember to divide these poor things next fall; they're looking pretty crowded!

I have a favorite green glade, where the maple and Ye Olde Yew compete for space, and purple wintercreeper is sending out it's new bright leaves. I keep this groundcover trimmed at about four feet up the tree or it would climb to the top, I think! I saw that way of pruning it in a couple of English gardening books, and liked the effect. I think English gardeners value mature plantings and contrasting greens perhaps a bit more than most American gardeners, while we tend to go for color more. I'm glad I have this little spot near the patio.
There is also a "view" that appeals to me through an opening in this area. It would be even more striking on a sunny day. I'll try to remember to capture that on film sometime soon.
That's the end of my stroll; I needed to get back in out of the rain.
To see who else is strolling, visit Aisling at The Quiet Country House.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Okay. I'm Back. I Think.

Well, that was certainly a longer blog hiatus than I had planned on. Just to update you, if I had been blogging over the last month it would have been something like this:

Today I laid on the couch and coughed.

Today I laid on the couch and coughed, and also watched a little HGTV.

Today I slept on the couch, even though HGTV was on in the background.

And so on, for about three weeks, until I finally got over pneumonia. Then the posts would have suddenly switched to this:

AAAACK!! I HAVE TO GET EVERYTHING READY FOR EASTER!!

That would have been good for about another two weeks.

Now, Easter is over (and everything went well, which just proves that panicking works!), and I am back in my regular routine again, meaning I will be conjuring up blog posts while I stand at the crossing or do my yard work. I'm not guaranteeing anything interesting, mind you, but you know that's the way this blog goes anyway.

So if any of you are still stopping by, thanks for hanging in there with me, and let's get some conversation going!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Silliness

I'm dedicating this one, with highest respect, to the guys who came to our house a couple of Christmas Eves ago and rodded out our sewer so that we could have Christmas dinner at our house the next day.