Good vs. Great (and Why I Don’t Like War Room)

I read great books all the time. Sometimes, it almost feels repetitive to say “this is such a great book!” because I’ve said it literally a hundred-plus times before. But the truth is—there are lots of great books out there. Yes, there are a lot of “good” ones, too. Ones that aren’t really great, but are still good and still teachable.

Often, I ponder the difference between these books. What makes one book just good and another really great? Do I judge a book as great simply because it had an adventure-filled storyline, or is it something deeper?

01

Case in point: Just recently, my family and I got to watch War Room for the first time. If you’ve followed Christian news at all for the last year or so, I’m sure you’ve heard of this new movie from the Kendrick brothers. Having watched and appreciated the four previous movies, I figured this would be another great one as well. Well…I came away feeling less than impressed. The overall theme of the movie? Yes, that’s great. But the movie itself? Good, at best. Now, that isn’t the opinion of everyone in my family—praise God for different people with different strengths who can appreciate things I can’t so much!—but for me, I was disappointed to some extent.

As far as the encouragement to pray, I can go along with that 100%. I also appreciated the (whats-it-called?) cinematography—that was also well done. However, I felt like some of the things added to the movie were only there for the excitement factor (such as the jump-rope competition; yes, it was part of the story throughout, but it felt contrived). Many of the scenes felt like telling, not showing (characters just sat and yakked…which isn’t all bad AND there is some good stuff shared there, but it still was “telling”). And overall, I felt like the winning was contrived—whether it was the tension at home (wrapped up way too soon), or the bad guy being let off with a way too easy fine (considering the circumstances, he should have gotten a lot more punishment than he did), it wasn’t all that satisfying. Yes, it was good. Yes, I did mostly enjoy it in the end. But I’ve found a few bones to pick about it.

02

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Knowing that I tend to write some pretty lame fiction, I really don’t want to pass judgment on other people’s books. Maybe I’m cut out to be more of a reader than a writer, although I’m sure I’ll always secretly wish that I could be a writer too. Writing is just so fun! At the same time, though, I wonder why one book that should be great is just good. Average. Why somehow it’s failed to hit the higher point on the judgment meter, even though I know the author is a dedicated Christian who has the ability to craft amazing stories.

In rereading my review of 21 Days of Grace tonight (review will be up in about a week), I think I may have discovered a partial answer to that: The characters weren’t needy. By that I mean they didn’t desperately need an out, whatever it is. They weren’t flawed.

Is it possible that in writing Christian fiction we’re so steeped in our ideal of what Christianity should look like that we miss the fact that underneath we’re all sinners? That we’re all flawed, in some way or another? And as a result of this ideal we create people—saved or unsaved—in our stories that ultimately end up “perfect” (which, of course, isn’t possible or plausible in real life)?

03

Of course, there’s got to be a balance here. We can’t glory in sin in order for characters to be flawed. And we can’t have them so flawed that it makes it unbelievable that they can ever be a true Christian. But perhaps we need to step outside of our idea of perfectionism just a little bit in order to grasp the beauty of what Christ has done for us. Perhaps once in a while we need to distance ourselves from what we know and believe is right and consider another point of view, in order to see the truth more clearly.

I’m sure there are more pieces to this puzzle that I haven’t figured out yet. There’s got to be. But maybe this is one key to work with, one reason that makes some books that should be great just good, and makes some books truly amazing.

What do you think? What are some differences that you can see between a “good” and a “great” book? Do you think we could be so blinded by our worldview that we can’t create engaging, useful stories?

He Will Be There for You

This is a mantra I’ve been chanting to myself over the past week or so. Things don’t always go as planned, and when disappointments arise I find myself asking “what, Lord? What do you want me to do in this situation? Was I assuming something wrong all along? What’s Your plan for my life—what should I be doing right now?”

This coming weekend, our homeschool group is holding their annual concert. It’s a time for families and individuals to share something—a piece of music they’ve learned, a short skit, a poem, or something along those lines. It’s a fun event, often going on for an hour and a half or more.

We first attended the concert five or six years ago. It was the first time in my life I’d ever been on stage, ready to say something to almost a hundred people, and I remember clearly the knee-shaky feeling as I stood there staring out over this group of almost-strangers. We sang four songs that time, songs that I had memorized but my brothers hadn’t had time to. It wasn’t that great, but we made it through—and what a relief to have it over with!

He’ll Be There for You 01

Being up on stage has gotten somewhat better since then. I now know almost everyone in the audience, and knowing in advance about stage fright has made it a little less frightening (funny how that works!). Still, as I prepare for another round, I often think back over the last few years. The hilarious skits we watched (or participated in), a few flunks, that time when several people were unintentionally mean…almost a microcosm of life, in some ways. There’s great, there’s bad, and as always just a bit of average. In the end, we all have an enjoyable time and are drawn together just a bit more as a group.

About two weeks ago, I picked out several songs to go along with a poem Mom suggested—What God Hath Promised by Annie Johnson Flint. We’ll be singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and My Ways Are Not Your Ways to go along with that.

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

I find the messages of these songs quite an irony now. Of course, I had no idea then what personal significance they would have for me, even though they’ve always been encouraging. But as I struggle with disappointment, I realize the Lord knew all along. He knew that I’d find the words strangely thrilling as I sing them over and over trying to memorize the songs.

You know, God never promised things would be easy for us. But He’s promised that whatever the trial, He’ll be with us. Sometimes, He calls us to walk with Him in the darkness, and often we can’t understand why (Psalm 22:1 would be an example). Sometimes, we can’t see Him—but by any even small examination of the Psalms, we can easily see that the Lord hears us. He understands, and more than that, He is worthy of our praise!

Consider Psalm 28:6-8, for example:

Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

He’ll Be There for You 02

Then there are other beautiful passages like Isaiah 43:2-3:

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.

Despite the pain, look to Jesus. Trust that He’s got a plan—a better plan—in place for you. You may be in the dark now, but He is your light. More than that, He understands and is more than willing to help you.

So this weekend, as we’re singing these songs and trying to be an encouragement to the dear friends who will be there, I’m praying that we will above all glorify the Lord. No matter what the future holds for any of us, He’s still there. As I was reading in Zechariah 2 this morning, He calls us “the apple of His eye” (I know, somewhat out of context…but it does apply, because just a few verses later we learn of “many nations being joined to the Lord”!).

Take courage, my friend. Stand in the strength the Lord has given you. I don’t know what you’re facing right now—perhaps, just maybe, you’re in a time of relative peace. Or maybe the devil seems to have all his guns out against you. I don’t know. But whatever is going on, know that if you’re truly following the Lord, this promise is for you: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

Guy/Girl Relationships: An Aha! Moment

These last few days, I’ve been really wondering what a Biblical perspective for guy/girl relationships is. How are we girls supposed to treat guys? Is it possible to be friends with a guy, and yet not have to worry about coming across as romantically interested when all you intend to do is simply be a friend? For me, it hasn’t been that hard to be friends with other girls. Yes, I’m always nervous when I meet new people, and am generally pretty quiet until I get to know them better. But I’ve never really had the chance to be friends with guys, probably at least partly due to the fact that I’m always worried that I’ll come across in a different way than I intend to.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, and while I’m sure I don’t have the entire answer yet, I think I’ve found the key to the solution.

My problem is that I’ve always imagined friendships with guys with the view of them being possible future marriage partners. Never simply as “friends”.

Guy/Girl Relationships

From what I can see, these are two completely different friendships—the one with my girlfriends is mostly about being a blessing to them, listening when they have struggles, sharing struggles of your own, being together and talking about everything under the sun. However, what I’ve always imagined in a guy’s friendship is mostly stuff centered around romance and marriage. How selfish and pointless is that?

I think what’s happened is that I’ve unconsciously bought into a lie—and I’ll explain that in a moment.

I’ve got an older friend (and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this!) that made a bad decision in her younger years. She went against the advice of her friends and family, and many years later realized her mistake and tried to correct it. However, from what I read in the Bible, her method of correcting the situation was wrong. That fact aside, she’s since told me that in effect, you should do what you deem is right, no matter what others say. That you should follow your heart no matter what the outcome will be, instead of leading your heart.

From what I’ve heard from modern music, TV, blogs, movies, the internet, and other sources (intentionally or not), I believe this is a modern worldly view. Modern media is pushing the thought that girls’ relationships with guys (and vice versa) can never be simply friendships. It’s okay to have lots of friends in your own gender, but if you cross over into the other gender, that most likely means that you’re interested in dating or going out with them.

The sad thing is, it’s so prevalent that I have unconsciously accepted that as truth. That I can’t have simple friendships with guys without having a “purpose” behind that friendship.

This is not only a lie, but it’s dangerous. And completely unbiblical.

A pertinent verse that comes to mind on this subject is one from 1 Timothy 5:1-2: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethrenThe elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (emphasis mine)

Taken at face value, this literally means we girls should treat younger men as if they were our brothers, and for the guys to treat younger women as if they are their sisters. Note that nothing is said like “but it’s best if you’re only friends with those of your own gender.” The only stipulation is that you treat them “with all purity”. That would apply to both parties, I believe.

For me, this is revolutionary—that it is okay to simply be friends. Of course, we still have to be careful in our friendships. We still have to be aware that others may see and interpret our words and actions differently than we do. But if we keep to treating everyone “with all purity”, in Christ’s love, be sober minded (yes, I’m talking to myself), and continually commit every friendship to the Lord—whether it be within our own gender or not—we should be alright.

Oh, and sober minded? Different definitions could include self-controlled, wise, discreet, or sensible.

Here are two other helpful passages as well:

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” —1 Timothy 4:12–16

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”—Titus 2:4–8

The Flow of History

If there’s one thing I remember doing in my earliest memories, it would be having our family worship time. Although the times of day when we do it has changed over the years, it’s an every day occurrence aside from Sundays. I only remember one time when we’ve actually missed having it, and that was not on purpose, believe me! This is a long-standing tradition, one that I’m sure will never stop, even after all of us children eventually leave home.

01: Flow of History

I really respect my dad for keeping it up all these years. It can’t be easy for him; often he’s had long days at work and he’s physically drained, but he always makes sure that we have our Bible time.Over the years, we’ve done at least two almost cover-to-cover read-throughs of the Bible (we’ve skipped some of the genealogies—the younger children have a hard time reading, let alone understanding, all the names!). I can’t remember exactly when we started the last read-through, but it was probably a year or two ago. We got up to 1 Kings 7 by October last year, then Dad decided to switch to Blue Letter Bible’s Chronological reading plan. Reading the Bible this way adds a whole new dimension to the stories and context, which makes it quite interesting! Currently, we’re reading in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah.

As we’ve been reading through Kings and Chronicles, I’ve noticed some interesting “threads” of history. I’m keeping track of those findings on slips of paper, and eventually I’ll transfer them into my journal for safe keeping. I thought I’d share them here today, since I find the similarities so interesting.

The Flow of History #1:

Taken from: II Kings 15, especially verses 9, 18, 24, and 28.

Zachariah, son of Jeroboam, king of Israel (not related to the first king of Israel; he was Jehu’s great-great grandson, according to the word of the Lord—see II Kings 10:30)

  • Departed not from Jeroboam’s sins (Jeroboam the son of Nebat was the first king of Israel, and this is who it is referring to)
  • Was conspired against and killed by Shallum (vs. 10; who was in turn killed a month later by Menahem)

Menahem, son of Gadi, king of Israel

  • Killed Shallum (who had killed Zachariah)
  • Died a natural death
  • Departed not from Jeroboam’s sins

Pekahiah, son of Menahem, king of Israel

  • Departed not from Jeroboam’s sins
  • Conspired against and killed (vs. 25)

Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel

  • Killed Pekahiah
  • Departed not from Jeroboam’s sins
  • Conspired against and killed by Hoshea the son of Elah (vs. 30)

IN CONCLUSION:

Jeroboam the son of Nebat set a precedent that was never overturned. He went down in history as the “man who made Israel to sin.” What precedent are YOU setting?

I found it fascinating that of the five kings in this chapter, all followed the sins of Jeroboam and four out of the five were conspired against and killed. Isn’t that interesting? Reminds me of Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

02: Flow of History

The Flow of History #2

Taken from: II Chronicles 21-29

Chapter 21: Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, who was the son of Asa, king of Judah (the latter two followed the Lord)

  • His mother’s name is not mentioned
  • Married Ahab’s daughter (21:6)
  • Compelled Judah to sin (21:11)

Chapter 22: Ahaziah, youngest son of Jehoram, king of Judah

  • Mother’s name was Athaliah (22:2; we find out later in the chapter that she killed all her grandsons so she could reign over Judah)
  • Walked in the ways of Ahab (an evil king of Israel; 22:3)

Chapter 24: Joash, son of Ahaziah, king of Judah

  • Mother’s name was Zibiah (24:1)
  • Did that which was right all the years that Jehoiada the priest was alive (24:2)

Chapter 25: Amaziah, son of Joash, king of Judah

  • Mother’s name was Jehoaddan (25:1)
  • Did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not perfectly (25:2)

Chapter 26: Uzziah, son of Amaziah, king of Judah

  • Mother’s name was Jecoliah (26:3)
  • Did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not perfectly (26:4-5)

Chapter 27: Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah

  • Mother was Jerushah (27:1)
  • Did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not perfectly (27:2)

Chapter 28: Ahaz, son of Jotham, king of Judah

  • No mother named
  • Provoked the Lord God to anger (28:25)

Chapter 29: Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah (one of the most righteous kings in Judaean king history; he prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians and the Lord defeated the army)

  • Mother’s name was Abijah (29:1)
  • Did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that king David had done (29:2)

IN CONCLUSION:

The Godly mothers are named for the kings that followed the Lord. Only one evil king out of the three mentioned had his mother named, and that was because everyone knew how evil she was. We are all examples to someone, just as these mothers were to their sons. What kind of example are you setting before your coworkers, your siblings, your children, or others that you come in contact with on a frequent basis? What kind of Godly influence are YOU?

Indeed, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

Be blessed, friend. Live for Jesus today.
-Esther

Why It’s Important to Choose Your Books Wisely—I’m Guest Posting!

Why you should know what your child is reading

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Kendra Stamy, author of the blog A Proverbs 31 Wife, asked me to write a guest post for her. This was a difficult post to write, because I know some of the things I talk about could potentially be very controversial. At the same time, as Mom kept reminding me, these are the kinds of things that need to be shared. After lots of prayer and writing and rewriting, it’s now live. If you’re interested to hear my thoughts on why it’s important to know what your child reads (or why it’s important to choose wisely yourself!), go here.

One Year Thankfulversary: Giveaway Time!

When I mentioned that I wanted to do a giveaway yet this month to my mom, she asked “is it because you launched the site about this time last year?”

“No…but that could be the reason!” I replied.

One Year Celebratory Giveaway

While that isn’t the only reason why we’re having a giveaway today, it is part of it. I enjoy giving things to people, love celebration, and love meeting goals. One of my yearly goals was to have a giveaway sometime here in the first quarter, and with that coming to an abrupt end in about a day, I think it’s about time to try to accomplish that goal!

Like I said before, I love celebration. For the most part, I love this thing called life that God has called each of us to live. And I love celebrating the little things—hasn’t He given us so very, very much? Just pause and look around for a moment, if you’re in doubt. See that bed? He gave you the gift of being able to relax and rejuvenate in sleep. Hear that bird? He made that amazingly complex machine. He made it all. And we should praise Him for that.

Beach

Today, I’m praising Him for a year well lived. Yes, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but He’s been there through it all. Through His love, He has brought many people past this website, and I’m thankful for that. And I hope in the coming year, we’ll be able to help even more people find good books.

Thank YOU, too, for sticking with me through the ups and downs and learning curves and pictures blowing out the side of your inboxes…thanks for understanding. 🙂 And thank you in advance for your support in the coming year.

And now for the giveaway! Since Easter has just finished (how was YOUR Easter?), I’ll do a Bible-themed giveaway. We’ll have several winners, so when you enter you’ll have the chance to receive one of the following:

  • A $20 Amazon.com gift card
  • Joseph of Arimathea by Sarah Holman: Two Kindle editions (from Amazon.com) of this book will be given away. I was reading this last Easter, and really enjoyed the story!
  • More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell: One paperback copy, can be sent from Book Depository. So far, this is one of my hands-down favorites in the Christian apologetics world—very practical and readable!
  • DVD of ABC Say it With Me: Bible Memory Verses: —Available only within the US. Our family loves this, and I’m sure the younger people in your life would as well.

Note: This giveaway is open worldwide, just as long as you can receive books and gift cards from Amazon.com. Please note that the DVD is only available to people who live in the US.

So in total if you add all that up, we’ll have FIVE winners! Yay!

Enter below. Giveaway begins on March 30th at 7 am EDT and ends in two weeks, on April 13th at 8 am EDT. (I’ll stick with Eastern time—adding New Zealand time to the mix is too confusing.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And legal info: Want to see the Terms and Conditions for the giveaway? Go here.

May God bless your coming week!

Esther

God’s Surprises

This morning, I saw that this week’s five minute Friday prompt was the word “surprise”. Even though I’ve never done it before, I thought this would be a fun challenge, so below is my piece on the topic.

The rules: Write for five minutes straight, with no editing, on the topic given. Share online.

Easy enough . . . hopefully!

Bee on the Goldenrod

GO!

Surprises come in many different packages. Whether it’s your boss at work playing a prank on you, you sharing in a friends’ surprise party, or simply reading the Word and being surprised at its contents.

There are so many surprises in the world, and one thing that is often connected in my brain is the word surprise with the word mystery. Both are talked about in relation to God, and there’s that really fascinating verse by Paul, I think, that says the mysteries of God are now clearly seen—that’s butchered, I know, but you should get the drift.

I love that facet of His character. I love how there were (well, still are) mysteries about Him, but through Jesus coming here, living among us, Emmanuel, many mysteries have been cleared up. We can now understand the heart behind the old law, and yet there are so many things—threads—connecting both the old law and the new law.
Such as the oft-repeated command: “Obey my commandments, and you will have My blessing”—I’ve been noticing a lot of those in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and I know Jesus said that several times in John as well. That’s just one of the threads. The threads in His Word are fascinating! And there’s so many others, too!

STOP.

Beautiful flowers!

I didn’t quite finish the thought, so here it is—God’s surprises and mysteries come in many ways. Many mysteries are made understandable through the Word. And many of His surprises come through His Word (wow; I didn’t know this verse/that meaning was there!).

Another interesting related thought is that He promises we will be blessed if we follow His commands (John 14:15—“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”) His blessings come in many forms. Perhaps it isn’t even very obvious at times, but I’ve found that in genuinely trying to care for others—through His strength, because I can’t on my own!—I get blessed in return.

Well, I enjoyed that. I’ll have to do it again.

In more down-to-earth daily life, we’ve had a coolish week this last week. We’ve had some beautiful days, a couple rain days, and today was a bit of a hot day. Praise the Lord, we got about 40 mm of rain (1 ½ inches) about three days ago—much needed, and much prayed for!

Last evening, as we were preparing to have Bible time, I noticed the beautiful sunshine coming through the trees. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but that combined with the ever-sunny Jerusalem artichoke flowers was a gorgeous sight!

As I near the end of this week, I want to pause and take in the beauty around me, all the little surprises God has packed into each day. Whether it’s the sunset, the heart-melting grin of my little sister, or the little brother that wants a cuddle and a story. I want to take it in, and in return thank Him for each one.

I also want to continue to delve deeper, learn more, study Him—and ask Him to make me more like the daughter of God, the “moon” of His Son, that He wants me to be.

Do you have anything you’re wanting to focus on this weekend, and the coming week as we approach the Easter season?

P. S. Yes, I’m on Instagram now. Follow me here, if you like. 🙂

Learning to Love

This month, I’m participating in a study on love, based on 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve had different ideas on the topic over the years—back when I was 5 or 6 and couldn’t write much, the most common phrase in my letters was “God is love”.

Back then, those words were security to me. That is who God is. But my idea of love—God’s love—never went far beyond that. That is who God is, but I never applied it to my life as “God is love, so therefore I should be . . . .”

Learning to Love

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2-3)

The study so far has been challenging and enlightening. Seeing how without love we are practically useless has made me wonder how love is shown in my life.

  • Am I showing love to my coworker when she offers to do the last little bit of cleaning, that can only be done by one person, and I let her do it? Especially when I know she’s tired and would rather go home to rest?
  • Am I showing love to my brother when he has an exciting experiment and I’m feeling tired and grumpy, so I tell him I’m not interested?
  • Am I showing love to my friend when I tell her of my troubles, but never care to ask her about hers?
  • Am I showing love to my neighbor when she stops by, and since I don’t really like her I take the option to duck out to my room and let Mom talk rather than carry on a conversation?

Truthfully, I have to answer no to all those questions. I’m pretty terrible at showing love. So this next week, I’m challenging myself to do at least one thing each day to show love to someone—whether it’s speak a word of encouragement, do something for someone, or simply listen to my brother’s idea and practice some patience.

This week, I want to be proactive about learning to love those around me. I do love and appreciate a lot of people, but usually that isn’t shown.

Will you join me? Can we have a positive influence on the world and the people around us this next week?

And if this aspect of love is a little easier for you than for some of us, do you have any practical tips for how to actively show our love to others?

The Rock Stands Forever

When I got home from work today, I found out that a friend of the family who had been planning to come spend the day with us tomorrow came today instead, and brought a friend along with him. It was great to meet her, and nice to catch up with him a little.

Ocean02

The muddy color in the ocean to the top right is where a river (obviously very silty right now!) is joining the ocean.

After talking for a while this afternoon, most of the family went out to the local beach. We’ve had quite a bit of hot weather lately, so it was nice to relax and wade a little in the beautiful cool Pacific!

Ocean03

We were on the beach for 15 minutes or so, and then headed up the steep, winding hill to the lookout over the bay. This is a favorite spot for us; we’ve taken quite a few different visitors up there. It never seems to get old, though.

Ocean04

While we stood at the railing, enjoying the breeze, the sunshine, and the beauty around us, our new friend commented that these rocks have been there for a long, long time—even longer than she or I have been alive. Pondering that fact, looking at the intricately carved cliff face, reminded me of God.

“His Word lasts forever, too,” I commented as I studied the deep greens of the native bush in front of us.

Ocean01

We might come past and look at it, maybe even dig a little into it to figure out why it looks the way it does. Generations come and go, and yet His Word is always there. Unchanged, unmoved, solid as rock.

“Lots of little faces have come and stared at this rock, just like we are now,” my new friend mused. “Then they go away, but the rock stays there. And more little faces will come and look at it again.”

Through everything—storm, wind, hail, earthquake, beating sun—the rock stands.

Ocean05

Soon it was time to move on. My cousin, who was also with us, wanted to explore a track he had found there—that we had no idea was in the area, even though we’ve explored that particular beach many different times. It was a fun walk; we did a good portion of it in an hour and a half.

Ocean06

A container ship we spotted from the lookout on the track.

On the way down, the boys all went at their own speeds, most getting to the beach and changed before we got back.

Ocean08

I stopped to “smell the roses” for a bit. Except I think I forgot to actually smell them in my attempt to get a good picture.

Ocean07

All in all, it’s been a gorgeous day! God’s creation is so beautiful . . . hearing the twitters and tweets of birds singing in the native bush, the crash and roll of the waves hitting the beach, the sucking knocking sound of rocks rolling in the receding wave, the indescribable blue blue of the ocean, the beautiful piney scent as we drove under pine trees, and so many other sights and sounds and flavors that I can’t even describe. God is good. God is so, so good.

And the really amazing part? Despite all this beautiful creation, that He can enjoy every single day of every single year, He chooses to love us—who scorn His very Gift all too often.

Challenge: What is one thing you can see from where you are right now that shows His beautiful loving care? That shouts that He is in control?

Weekend Musings: God’s Righteousness and Goodness

Written last evening.

It’s been one of those beautiful blessed days. We went to the domain today (like a park, but out in the country and it isn’t as trimmed and polished as one in town), and I basked in the beautiful green, green scenery and the blue, blue sky. It was indescribably gorgeous. I love spring days!

Through different Bible studies lately—what others have pointed out to me, and more personal studies, I’ve had some fascinating thoughts come up. Since I have the chance tonight, I thought I’d jot them down and share.

There are two things I have in mind especially—God’s righteousness and overwhelming goodness.

Just recently, while reading through a study on “justice” in a great book named The Power for True Success published by IBLP, there was a fascinating thought mentioned. This book is VERY in-depth, and I rarely comprehend everything they’re trying to teach. However, one point stuck out to me. I know I’ve heard the teaching before, but I never fully understood all that it implies.

God's Righteousness and Goodness pic 2

It was so pretty! Love the spring colors. Also had to get a picture of my handsome oldest brother.

Once we are Christians, in God’s eyes, we are completely covered in Christ’s righteousness. This means that all those sins we’ve done, all those bad thoughts and cruelty…everything is covered by the blood and we are counted righteous.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

We know Jesus was of perfect character and perfect righteousness (He “knew no sin”!). And yet He was willing to take upon Himself the sins of the world, and substitute His sinless life in our place, so that we could have His righteousness.

Completely covered is, in my mind, like one of the burqas you see sometimes. No trace left of who is actually underneath—that’s how much Jesus loves us!

Wow.

Then there’s this whole thing on God’s overwhelming goodness. You know those verses in John 10 about the good shepherd? As my friend Rachel recently pointed out, there are some golden promises in verses 28–29. Jesus says here that He has given us—all those who hear His voice and follow Him (notice, “follow” is an action word)—eternal life. Furthermore, “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” No one.

So we’ve got a double-whammy here. When we accept Jesus at the cross, and continue to follow Him, God immediately imputes Jesus’ righteousness onto us. Like a burqa, except instead of being a hindrance and cumbersome weight it’s pure, beautiful freedom. Freedom from the ugly desires and lusts of the world, and the immense gift of someone who truly cares for us and will help us when we turn to Him (and often before we even think to ask, or know we need to ask!).

What an amazing God we serve!