Thursday, July 30, 2009

J.C. Ryle on Matthew 6:9-15

I read this piece from J.C.Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew and thought I would share it with you if you have time to read it. It is a little lengthy. Hope you are doing well. :-)

"After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
(Matthew 6:9-15)

THESE verses are few in number, and soon read, but they are of immense importance. They contain that wonderful pattern of prayer with which the Lord Jesus has supplied His people, commonly called "The Lord's Prayer."

Perhaps no part of Scripture is so well known as this: its words are familiar, wherever Christianity is found; thousands and tens of thousands, who never saw a Bible, or heard the pure Gospel, are acquainted with "Our Father," or "Paternoster." Happy would it be for the world if this prayer was as well known in the spirit as it is in the letter.

No part of Scripture is so full, and so simple at the same time as this: it is the first prayer which we learn to offer up, when we are little children: here is its simplicity. It contains the germ of everything which the most advanced saint can desire: here is its fulness. The more we ponder every word it contains the more we shall feel "this prayer is of God."

The Lord's Prayer consists of ten parts or sentences. There is one declaration of the Being to whom we pray; there are three prayers respecting His name, His kingdom, and His will; there are four prayers respecting our daily wants, our sins, or weakness, and our dangers; there is one profession of our feeling towards others; there is one concluding ascription of praise.--In all these parts we are taught to say "we," and "our." We are to remember others, as well as ourselves.--On each of these parts a volume might be written. We must content ourselves at present with taking up sentence after sentence, and marking out the lessons which each sentence contains.

The first sentence declares to whom we are to pray: "Our Father which art in heaven." ' We are not to pray to saints and angels, but to the everlasting Father, the Father of spirits, the Lord of heaven and earth. We call Him Father in the lowest sense, as our Creator: as St. Paul told the Athenians, "in Him we live, and move, and have our being,--we are also His offspring." (Acts 17: 28.) We call Him Father in the highest sense, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, reconciling us to Himself through the death of His Son. (Col_1:20-22.) We profess that which the old Testament saints only saw dimly and afar off,--we profess to be His children by faith in Christ, and to have "the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Rom_8:15.) This, we must never forget, is the sonship that we must desire. if we would be saved. Without faith in Christ's blood and union with Him, it is useless to talk of trusting in the "Fatherhood" of God.

The second sentence is a petition respecting God's name: "Hallowed be Thy name." By the "Name" of God we mean all those attributes under which He is revealed to us,--His power, wisdom, holiness, justice, mercy, and truth. By asking that they may be "hallowed," we mean that they may be made known and glorified. The glory of God is the first thing that God's children should desire. It is the object of one of our Lord's own prayers: "Father, glorify Thy name." (Joh_12:28.) It is the purpose for which the world was created; it is the end for which the saints are called and converted: it is the chief thing we should seek, that "God in all things may be glorified." (1Pe_4:11.)

The third sentence is a petition concerning God's kingdom: "Thy kingdom come." By His kingdom we mean, first, the kingdom of grace which God sets up and maintains in the hearts of all living members of Christ, by His Spirit and Word. But we mean chiefly, the kingdom of glory which shall one day be set up, when Jesus shall come the second time, and "all shall know Him from the least to the greatest." (Heb_8:11.) This is the time when sin, and sorrow, and Satan shall be cast out of the world. It is the time when the Jews shall be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in (Rom_11:25), and a time that is above all things to be desired. It therefore fills a foremost place in the Lord's Prayer. We ask that which is expressed in the words of the Burial Service: "that it may please God to hasten His kingdom."

The fourth sentence is a petition concerning God's will. "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." We here pray that God's laws may be obeyed by men as perfectly, readily, and unceasingly as they are by angels in heaven. We ask that those who now obey not His laws may be taught to obey them, and that those who do obey them may obey them better. Our truest happiness is perfect submission to God's will, and it is the highest charity to pray that all mankind may know it, obey it, and submit to it.
The fifth sentence is a petition respecting our own daily wants: "Give us this day our daily bread." We are here taught to acknowledge our entire dependence on God for the supply of our daily necessities. As Israel required daily manna, so we require daily "bread." We confess that we are poor, weak, wanting creatures, and beseech Him who is our Maker to -take care of us. We ask for "bread," as the simplest of our wants, and in that word we include all that our bodies require.

The sixth sentence is a petition respecting our sins: "Forgive us oar debts." We confess that we are sinners, and need daily grants of pardon and forgiveness. This is a part of the Lord's Prayer which deserves especially to be remembered. It condemns all self-righteousness and self-justifying. We are instructed here to keep up a continual habit of confession at the throne of grace, and a continual habit of seeking mercy and remission. Let this never be forgotten. We need daily to "wash our feet." (Joh_13:10.)

The seventh sentence is a profession respecting our cure feelings towards others: we ask our Father to "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." This is the only profession in the whole prayer, and the only part on which our Lord comments and dwells, when He has concluded the prayer. The object of it is to remind us that we must not expect our prayers for forgiveness to be heard if we pray with malice and spite in our hearts towards others. To pray in such a frame of mind is mere formality and hypocrisy: it is even worse than hypocrisy; it is as much as saying, "Do not forgive me at all." Our prayers are nothing without charity. We must not expect to be forgiven, if we cannot forgive.

The eighth sentence is a petition respecting our weakness: "Lead us not into temptation." It teaches us that we are liable, at all times, to be led astray and to fall: it instructs us to confess our infirmity, and beseech God to hold us up, and .not allow us to run into sin. We ask Him, who orders all things in heaven and earth, to restrain us from going into that which would injure our souls, and never to suffer us to be "tempted above that which we are able to bear." (1Co_10:13.)
The ninth sentence is a petition respecting our dangers: "Deliver us from evil." We are here taught to ask God to deliver us from the evil that is in the world, the evil that is within our own hearts, and not least from that evil one, the devil. We confess that, so long as we are in the body, we are constantly seeing, hearing, and feeling the presence of evil. It is about us, and within us, and around us on every side; and we entreat Him, who alone can preserve us, to be continually delivering us from its power. (Joh_17:15.)

The last sentence is an ascription of praise: "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. We declare in these words our belief that the kingdoms of this world are the rightful property of our Father; that to Him alone belongs all "power;" and that He alone deserves to receive all "glory." And we conclude by offering to Him the profession of our hearts, that we give Him all honour and praise, and rejoice that He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

And now let us examine ourselves, and see whether we really desire to have the things which we are taught to ask for in the Lord's Prayer. Thousands, it may be feared, repeat these words daily as a form, but never consider what they are saying. They care nothing for the "glory," the "kingdom," or the "will" of God: they have no sense of dependence, sinfulness, weakness, or danger; they have no love or charity towards their enemies: and yet they repeat the Lord's Prayer! These things ought not to be so. May we resolve that, by God's help, our hearts shall always go together with our lips! Happy is he who can really call God his "Father" through Jesus Christ his Saviour, and can therefore say a heartfelt "Amen" to all that the Lord's Prayer contains.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Amanda got a call from Kim's mom, who said everything was not as bad as Kim made it out to be. I'm not sure what the problem was/is, but please do continue to pray for her. Thanks!

"Embracing Eternity's View Amidst Earth's Challenges"

(The title of this post is taken from Pastor's message on Sunday afternoon.)

The Lord has been teaching me so much lately about trials, and about seeing things from His perspective. In fact, I am becoming addicted to trying to see everything from Christ's perspective. All the events of this year have really helped me to do that. Following is some of what I have been learning.

  1. God allows trials in our lives to make us more like Jesus. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [various trials]: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7). For the first time yesterday, I read 1 Peter 1 as though it had been written directly to me-- something I had never done before. I was reading it in light of Megan's and the Wagoners' deaths (it sometimes strikes me afresh as though it had never struck me before, and yesterday was one of those days), and it just seemed so real, so alive, so applicable. I learned that instead of responding to life's trials in a fleshly way (v. 14), we now have the power to be like Christ through it all, to be holy as He is holy (v. 15). During tragedy, we learn to depend on the Father as Christ did-- even though He is God. During conflicts with others, we learn to love as Christ loves-- unconditionally, sacrificially. In trials such as these, we ought not to look for others to change, but ourselves. Perhaps the Lord is trying to purge us from something in our lives, and fire is the only way.
  2. God allows trials in our lives to glorify Himself. Read Ephesians 1. Over and over again, Paul proclaims that it is for "the praise of His glorious grace". He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. We hope in Christ to the praise of His glory. We will one day acquire possession of our inheritance to the praise of His glory. God loves to show us how good He is, how omniscient, how omnipotent. In the normal pace of life, when all goes well, ease and carelessness clouds His goodness from our human eyes. It is in the times of trial, when we think life is so dark, that God actually pulls back the clouds and shows us how wonderful He is. I have learned more about His trustworthiness, goodness, wisdom, and strength in the past few months of tragedy and trial (big and small) than I could have in a whole year of living in a bed of roses.
  3. God allows trials in our lives to prove us. In Matthew 7, we read of the "wise man" and the "foolish man". Usually, when we read that passage, we start singing that children's song: "The rain came down, and the floods came up..." and of course, we think the hand motions. But for once, let's try to think of that passage in a different way. Let's see it for what God is really teaching. The storms in our lives-- be they small or great, physical, emotional, spiritual-- prove the integrity of our lives and the foundation we have built upon. Trials prove where we place our hope. For instance, a huge economic crash will show whether a man put his hope in the Lord or in riches. A breakup with a boyfriend will prove whether a girl had given her whole heart to Jesus or absolutely lost it to a fallible person. A tragedy in the family or in one's circle of friends (as we had this year) will prove whether a person really believed, or whether they just said they believed, that God is always good and wise. God's Word tells us that the earth will one day dissolve, but He is unchanging, unshakable... forever. The biggest storm in life cannot shake the life that is founded on the Rock of Ages.
  4. God will bring us triumphantly through each trial to eternal peace and blessing. In Revelation 7, we see the glorious scene of countless people, clothed in white and praising their Saviour in glorious chorus. These are the people who came through the great tribulation-- they suffered such terrible things, and yet they stood firm through Christ, and He brought them through to glorious rest. In this chapter we see such a beautiful picture of our Jesus-- He shelters them with His presence, He leads them like a Shepherd, He wipes all tears from their eyes. During trials, however big or small, we must remember this. Spring follows winter; rainbows follow the storm; peace follows pain; eternity follows earth (and proceeds it). Our struggles will one day end in glorious rest for all eternity. What a thrilling joy it will be to praise our Saviour in Heaven after the play of earth ends and we see Him glorified. What a great sight that will be! What words can describe it?
In Wives and Daughters, we follow the protagonist, Molly, through all sorts of heartache-- her father's remarriage, the man she loves throwing away his affections to another girl who doesn't care a wit for him, friends dying, and her being criticized for things she didn't do but being unable to defend herself due to promises. But in the end, everything turns out for good. I feel like crying as I watch Roger and Molly standing in the rain... "Molly, have I any chance with you?" Through all the trials, she learns Christlike love, patience, endurance, discernment, and constancy. She comes through like gold, and when all she could wish for finally comes to be, it is even more wonderful, more exciting, than if it had all worked out in the first place, and she has grown into a beautiful, godly young woman. It the same type of story with Cranford. Disappointments, secrets, misunderstandings, even deaths... but in the end, Dr. Harrison and Sophie marry, Martha and Jem marry and are able to help Miss Mattie, Harry finally gets to go to school, Lady Ludlow finally comes to see what is important in life, Miss Mattie's brother comes back... and I just gave away a lot of spoilers... But there is joy after sorrow, and that is what makes Wives and Daughters and Cranford such sweet stories!

And here that is the way our lives are. One day we will come through, and how glad we will be that the Lord brought those things in our lives to make us all the closer to Him, and all the more joyful in Him. Now does it seem so strange that Peter says we "rejoice" in various trials? Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, "Rejoice!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What is Prayer?

"Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies."

-Westminster Catechism, #98

"If I stoop into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,

It is but for a time,

I press God's lamp close to my breast;

It's splendour, soon or late,

Will pierce the gloom;

I shall emerge one day."

-Robert Browning

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Child's Perspective!

Amanda was rubbing out my shoulders on the back deck when two little neighbor boys, ages 6 and 3, appeared at the edge of our yard and called, "Do you think you guys can come over?"

We hadn't seen them since last year, and weren't busy, so we went over to keep an eye on them and play with them. They've been staying at their grandma's this week (it's actually their grandma who is our neighbor) to attend the VBS in the next town over. I was pushing Matthew (age 3) in the swing when he suddenly called out, "Look! There's a jet!"

Me: "Yeah! It's high up there, isn't it?"

Matt: "Yes! Jets fly higher than airplanes!"

(a moment later)

Matt: "I wonder if a jet kept on going, if it would fly all the way up to heaven!"

Me: (laughing inside) "I don't think a jet can get to heaven!"

Matt: "Yeah." (excitedly) "Do you know what color the streets are in heaven?"

Me: "Gold!"

Matt: "Yeah! Everything in heaven is gold!" (remember, he's three years old ;-) )

Me: "And do you know what the best part of heaven is?"

Matt: "What?"

Me: "Jesus is there!"

Matt: (with conviction) "Yep! And Jesus is bigger than anything! He's bigger than you, so He's in control of you!"

Ah, the faith of a little child! Isn't it sweet that they don't have to have all the "intellect" and unending doctrinal discourses and arguments we "grown-ups" feel to be so necessary? In their little minds, they see Jesus as bigger than anything; therefore, He must be in control! To them, it's very obvious; it's rhetorical.

Why do we always think we're so big, so in control? Why do we so often act as though our problems are bigger than God? If only we would stop trying to solve life's problems ourselves, and have the unhesitating trust of a little, three-year-old boy. :-)

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Verily I say unto you, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.' "

(Matthew 18:1-5)


Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

-Frances R. Havergale

Monday, July 20, 2009

Times and Seasons

Times and seasons come and go in each Christian's life. Sometimes we enjoy times of great spiritual victory, and events in our lives go well for us and make us feel like nothing could ever go wrong. But these seasons do not last. Sometimes we feel defeated in our walk in the Lord, and things happen-- disappointments in others, hurt feelings, shattered dreams, ruined plans-- that leave us wondering, "What happened? Where was God? Did I do the right thing? Why is life so hard?"

To be completely honest, this season sort of came with the summer for me. I feel like I can say that to you, because I know you've had times like this too-- not that all of you have shared that with me, but it's really inevitable. We all feel this way at one time or another.

Last night I went to bed disappointed in some people that I had looked up to, and discouraged to see hopes I had entertained for some time pretty much dashed. I had tried hard all day to keep my chin up, trust God, and love others, but at the end of the day I felt so worn and drained, like I couldn't possibly do it anymore. I woke up this morning feeling the same way.

I cleared off my desk and sat down with my Bible as I usually do in the mornings, but as I opened it's pages, I felt I didn't know where to turn to. I tried Philippians. The words seemed just like letters on a page. My mind was distracted and my heart was questioning. After trying to get through the first chapter of Philippians unsuccessfully, I paused and looked up from the page, thinking. Then some words I had posted on my wall grabbed my eye.

"The LORD upholdeth all that fall,
and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways,
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
to all that call upon him in truth.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
he also will hear their cry, and will save them."

What a wonderful God we serve! He knew what I needed to hear and had prompted me to put those words up on the wall right in front of my desk so that, when I needed them, they would be right there to remind me. In these verses, He reminded me of His love and care. He reminded me that He sees my hurts and heals them with his presence. He reminded me that He is aware of my needs and satisfies them out of His abundant store. He reminded me that He knows the desires of my heart, and fulfils them in His own perfect way. He reminded me that He is always righteous and holy, and He is always kind.

I don't know about you, but that lifts my spirits and gives me hope. While it doesn't take away my problems, it offers a solution through Jesus Christ. Dwelling on His character and feasting on His promises gives me hope for a new day and strength for the seasons ahead. If I have a personal walk with Christ-- and I know I do by His grace-- I need never walk the road of life alone. That puts a light on the path, doesn't it?

A lot of girls read my blog, and I can imagine at least one of you may be going through a "winter" season as well. Don't let circumstances of life get you down. Look to Jesus and let Him guide your feet. One day you and I will look back on the seasons of our lives and see that God was working out every circumstance for His glory and our good.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I love tags. :-)

The Rules
1. Copy the questions and then answer them (post it on your blog remember).
2. Tag 4 people and let them know you have tagged them.
3. Let the person [who tagged you] know that you have done a post for the tag.

What are your nicknames?
Emmie, Mellie, Mackie, Em, Melanina, Lady MacMel, and many others, thanks to our dear Teddy Skaggs :-)

What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?
Usually my mom buys the movies we have, but I think the first that I bought was The Inheritance. Besides that, I’ve only pitched in money to buy my mom Wives and Daughters, North and South, and the Planet Earth series.

What is your favourite scent?
Apple blossoms.

If you had one million dollars to spend only on yourself, what would you spend it on?
What a selfish question! Why would I want to spend a million dollars on myself!? There are such better things it could go to. I can just hear Harry Gregson from Cranford say, "You can build a whole school with that! Everyone could go!"

What is one place you've visited, can't forget and want to go back to?
Campobello Island, Canada.

Do you trust easily?
Not really. I don’t easily trust others easily because of betrayed trusts in the past, and I don’t easily trust myself because I know how deceitful my heart is. My sinful nature often struggles to trust God, but when I renew my mind with Scripture, I remember that He alone is worthy of all my trust, because He has promised to never fail! Why would I be hesitant to place all my hopes and dreams in His hands and know He will use them for His glory and for my good?

Do you generally think before your act, or act before you think?
It depends. Sometimes I think so much that I never do act. That is way too typical of me. But in more mundane situations, I tend to act before I think.

Is there anything that had made you unhappy these days?
Yes, but it was the work of God prodding me so that He can change me and make me truly happy/joyful in the end.

What is your favorite fruit?
The question should be, what is your least favorite fruit, for if I was to name my favorite, I would name almost all of them! :-D

What websites do you visit daily?
My blogs, Sense and Sensibility forum, and friend’s blogs (if they updated :-) )

What have you been seriously addicted to lately?
Historical/movie costuming. :-P

What's the last song that got stuck in you head?
“Slow Fade” (from Fireproof). What thought-provoking words!

What is your favourite thing to wear?
My Regency gowns. You saw that one coming, didn't you! :-P

Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?
Not unless they are a Rice Krispies treat. (“TREAT, Mother!”)

What items couldn't you be without during the day?
The most obvious necessities! Clothes, food…

What should you be doing right now?
Uhhh…. Probably straightening up my room. :-P And getting some fresh air outside. And letting the people I tagged know I tagged them. :-)

I tag:
Leah at The White Woods
Rosebud at Amanda's Journals
Ana at Ana's Corner
Uh.... I seem to have run out of people! Any one else who wants to do this tag may do it too, just let me know. :-)


Do the cares of life ever press in on you? Does your life ever seem like one long, cloudy day? Do you ever wake up and sigh to yourself, "Another day"? Do you sometimes feel like your questions will never be answered, that your trials will never end? Do you ever take a look inside your heart and feel like you are a hopeless case?

"This I recall to my mind,
therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him,
to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope
and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."

(Lamentations 3:21-26)

See? Scripture always has the answers! :-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mansfield Park

Jane Austen had already published her beloved Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice when she introduced her readers to Mansfield Park in 1814. Of a more serious nature, Mansfield Park is not as well known as the first two, but, in my opinion, it is just as wonderful. It has been proclaimed by one as "the most sensible novel I have ever read."

Fanny Price left her large, poor family at the age of ten to live with her wealthy relations, Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, and his family. She is viewed as the poor and inferior relation by most of her cousins, except Edmund, who is a pillar of strength for her. She grows up to be a quiet yet inwardly strong young woman with a heart to serve and a deep sense of what is right. When she is eighteen years old, her quiet, contented world is turned upside down when her uncle leaves for the West Indies to oversea business there, and Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in their circle of friends, fresh out of London society.

Fanny alone observes the trouble in their midst as Henry Crawford plays with the affections of her cousins, Maria and Julia, the former of the two already being commited to marry a Mr. Rushworth of great fortune. Things go from bad to worse, from Henry's flirtations and Mary's spiteful remarks on the clergy (Edmund's profession), to the decision to perform a play at Mansfield Park, which would put all propriety at naught. Fanny alone stands her ground on what is right; even her noble cousin Edmund is drawn in by Mary Crawford's charms. Her strength of character is put to the ultimate test when she is sought by a man whose love, she knows, is as quick to pass as summer storms, and when she sees the man she loves fall for a woman with almost no sense of righteousness and honor. Will Fanny be vindicated, and the reputation of Mansfield Park spared? Can Edmund ever come to see Mary for who she really is, and love Fanny instead?

Miss Austen's narrative of sense and true godliness snatched me up so that it was almost impossible to put the book down. I read with admiration of Fanny's quiet courage and inner strength; I sighed with frustration over Edmund's blindness and foolishness; I rejoiced to see the Right conquer. I stayed up until midnight so that I could see how everything concluded, and I closed the book reminded of the quotation I once heard that says, "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."

Fanny Price is not your typical heroine and is often misunderstood or even frowned upon by worldly critics. She is no spirited, vivacious Elizabeth Bennett or wild, passionate Marianne Dashwood. She is not "handsome, clever, and rich" like Emma, nor is she romantic and imaginative like Catherine. She is extremely shy, hesitant to voice her opinion or step out in the open, and susceptible to headaches. However, beneath it all is a well of strength, goodness, and constancy that makes her a model for any young woman. As one writer put it, she "has the passion of Marianne, while possessing the rationale of Elinor." In her meek and quiet spirit is a picture of a life controlled by the love of Christ. She is a true heroine.

What a delight to slip again into the world of Jane Austen! It is not just a world of balls, rank, barouche boxes, and elegant gowns. It is a glimpse into the hidden corners of the heart, which remain the same throughout the ages. I highly recommend Mansfield Park to any reader who wants a book with a delightful story, a delicious style, and an unforgettable message.

Note: The picture above is from the 2007 movie version of "Mansfield Park" that aired on Masterpiece Theatre. It's a tolerable rendition, but nothing compares to the book!

P.S. I am happy to say that I have now read all six of Jane Austen's novels! :-D

Friday, July 10, 2009

Letters from a Lover

Ann turned on the lamp on her nightstand and turned off the overhead light so that she could enjoy the soft light of the lamp. She drew her covers over her knees and looked at her journal, which lay near the edge of the nightstand. She picked it up and flipped open to some blank pages in the back. From in between the two pages she pulled a folded sheet of paper. It was a wrinkled paper, blotted in a couple places from water drops, and obviously handled frequently. With a smile, she opened it and read it... for at least the hundredth time.

It was a letter from her "dearie", with a poem of his own writing at the end. It was months old now, but oh! the delight in reading it again and again. Just to read his words, and know he meant them. Just to see the spirit of Christ radiating off that page and through that bit of rhyme at the end. Ann was certain of his love for her, and though there was nothing knew in the letter since last time she read it (just last night), it was just a delight to read it again and be reminded of the loving, steadfast character of the man she had come to love. She knew it would be a while before he could afford to marry her, but this letter was almost like a guarantee until that time came. She knew she could trust her whole heart to him.


I turned on the lamp on my nightstand and turned off the overhead light so that I could enjoy the soft light of the lamp. I drew the covers over my knees and looked at the red-bound book laying on the edge of my nightstand. I picked it up and flipped to a page over half-way through. Small letters, some in red ink, some in black, filled two columns. With a smile, I read it for at least the hundredth time.

It was a letter from my lover. I had read it so many times, but oh! the delight of just reading it again and again. Just to read His words and know that He meant them. Just to read of His professions of His love for me, to see beautiful manifestations of His beautiful character, to be reminded of all the wonderful things He had done for me. I was certain of His love for me, and though there was nothing new in the letter than had been there last time I read it (last month), it was just a delight to read it again and be reminded of the loving, steadfast character I had come to love. I knew that it was not yet the time for Him to come and take me home with Him, but that letter was a guarantee until that time came. I knew I could trust my whole heart to Him.

Here are some bits and pieces from that letter:

"Dear Melanie,

"Before Abraham was, I am."

"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?"

"In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

"Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I sighed happily and put the book back on the nightstand. I had sweet thoughts to fall asleep on that night, as well as the anticipation of reading it again the next morning.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

So That's Why I Love Jane Austen!

Today I visited the blog of one of my friends from the Sense & Sensibility Forum. Since it was my first time on her blog, I was looking at old posts and found this excellent one, written in June 2008. It put into words what I knew to be true but couldn't put into words myself. So if anyone ever asks me again what's so great about Jane Austen, I'll link them to this post. :-)

"Love suffereth long, and is kind;
love envieth not;
love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things,
hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth."
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. I know it is translated "charity" in the King James, but I like it translated "love" better as "charity" means benevolence to the poor in our modern language. :-P )

P.S. I am IMMENSELY enjoying reading Mansfield Park right now!! So much more interesting than the book Bleak House! :-P

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Man Without Sin/ The Message for the Nations

The crowd gathers around, snickering behind their hands as they wait for the renowned teacher to answer. After all His claims to be the Son of God, they are thinking Living water! Bread from heaven! Bah! Let's see if He really knows His Scriptures, heh heh.

But what is He doing? He stoops down and begins to write in the ground... what is He writing? Didn't He hear what they were just saying? Here they stand, with a trembling woman held by the arms, waiting for a verdict-- waiting to see if He would obey the Law of Moses. Of course the woman ought to be stoned; she is a sinner! the Pharisees thought contemptuously. Let's watch this fellow take her side! Bet He will... now God would not tolerate a sinner like this woman!

"Jesus!" one of the older, wiser Pharisees speaks up. "Didn't you hear us? We said this woman has been caught in adultery-- in the very act! Moses commanded us to stone an immoral woman like this one-- what do you say? Jesus, did you hear us? What do you think should be done with this woman?" The men holding her arms give them tighten their grip as the woman trembles before the teacher.

Finally Jesus stands up. He speaks-- in a voice calm, and yet full of authority; it is nearly frightening. "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

Silence. One Pharisee looks at another. That Pharisee looks across the group at another. That Pharisee looks down at his elaborate fringe, and then at the fellow next to him. He glances nervously at the older Pharisee who had spoken. That man is looking down at his fringe too. Then he takes a step-- will he pick up a stone? No, he is leaving the scene. Several men follow him. More follow, staring spitefully at the woman. The two men holding her arms release their hold and leave. She stands there and looks around.

"Woman, where are they?"

The voice startles her, and she looks at the man who had stooped and written on the ground. "Has no one condemned you?" he continues.

She bows her head in shame and guilt, and yet in a sort of awe. "No one, Lord," she replies tremblingly, yet reverently.

The man looks in her eyes. "Neither do I condemn you," he says in a calm, solemn, yet amazingly loving voice. "Go, and from now on, sin no more."

Her heart pounds. Here she was-- so close to death-- and yet this man has saved her. She turns and walks out of the courtyard, everything seeming to spin around her. As she walks into the busy streets of Jerusalem, farther and farther from the teacher, she can only realise a part of what has just happened to her. She knows she is a sinner, who has been overwhelmingly forgiven. And from the way each of those men left, she supposes that every man present there was a sinner too.

She is wrong. In that crowd, there was one man who was not a sinner. In that crowd, there was one man whose life was so clear and spotless, that He alone had the right to throw that first stone at her. But He didn't.

Instead, He gave her forgiveness. In fact, He had come down from heaven to earth for her-- for her, and for countless other immoral people, murders, thieves, liars, slanderers, rebels of all kinds, who DESERVE to be stoned to death. That's you, me, every person you've ever seen or heard of. You name him/her-- that person deserves to die. CHRIST ALONE, the Spotless Lamb, has the right to cast that judgment upon us-- that judgment we so deserve-- and yet He came to take that judgment on Himself, to give HIS life so that WE could live. We come away forgiven by our amazing Lord, while HE takes our sin upon Himself. He died in our place and gave us life.

This thought has really struck me the last couple times I've read this account in John 8. "He who is without sin, cast the first stone--" Jesus was without sin. And He didn't cast a stone. He forgave her. And He has done the same for me. Oh my, Jesus' love and mercy is OVERWHELMING!!!!

Since I'm on the topic of forgiveness/etc. I thought I shared notes from Pastor's AWESOME message today.

We've a Story to Tell to the Nations...

I. The message of redemption which means...

A. Payment has been made.
B. Slavery is unnecessary.
C. Freedom is available

II. The message of forgiveness which means...

A. The debt can be cancelled completely
B. The debt will be removed permanently

III. The message of reconciliation which means...

A. Jesus removes the offense.
B. Jesus satisfies the offended.
C. Jesus welcomes the offender.

IV. The message of justification which means...
A. Iniquity can be transferred
B. Righteousness will be imputed.

V. The message of adoption which means...
A. Strangers are made sons.
B. The hopeless become heirs.


This blog font size is not big enough to express how exciting that is!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In the Name of Liberty

Here is another poem that I wrote a couple years ago. It is one of my favorites. I would like to post a picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence but I don't have one. :-)

When in the course of human events;
When colonies rose up with grandest intents;
When found in the heart of each Patriot home
A cry to have liberty, freedom to roam;
When men and young boys took a stand for a dream—
A dream that would last with a glorious gleam—;
When women and children would do all they could—
Supply some fresh water, or bring them some wood—;
When “Liberty” was the most popular word;
When often the sound of a cannon was heard,
Around fifty men with their pens gathered ’round
And read one great document—so grand! so sound!
And each with his pen signed his name in his space,
And our country was born in that great, solemn place.
This document for which these men risked their lives,
Their homes and their lands, and their children and wives,
Was the start of our nation—the slow painful birth
Of this glorious country—the greatest on earth!
Though followed by bloodshed and sorrowful tears,
The words would ring true through the long, winding years—
Of liberty, justice, and freedom for all—
’Twas born on that day at Independence Hall.
Though time has fast flown, and the clock’s ticking on,
Though those times are past, and the old days are gone,
Let us strive once again to keep freedom alive
And be used of our LORD to our nation revive.
So in support of our grand declaration, pledge we
Our lives, fortunes, honor, in the Name of Liberty.

As we celebrate with friends and family, let us not forget the price man paid for our earthly freedom, and the even greater price our Lord Jesus paid for our eternal freedom.

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;
only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
(Galatians 5:13)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Good Quote for Writers :-)

I found the following quotation today while reading a conversation about favorite quotations. Suppose we aspiring writers could glean a little from it... :-)

"Don't say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we've read the description.
You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, 'Please will you do the job for me.'"
-C. S. Lewis

That's one thing I've been learning over the past couple years: show, don't tell! :-)