I read this book four months ago. I have been thinking about it almost daily. I was reading it solely for the purpose of reviewing it; I did not intend for it to impact my life much in any way. I have been a Christian for over 35 years. I understood grace. Sure, I still need growth, but I didn’t expect the scriptural applications and illustrations to convict, comfort, and challenge me like they did.
I am tempted to list the portions I highlighted in the book, since I am still not sure I can describe the challenges and rebukes I encountered as I read.
The beginning of the book was what I expected, an explanation of salvation by grace. When we realize that we are spiritually dead in sin and bankrupt, we know that it is only because of His grace that we can be saved.
I was not sure why it would take the author, Jerry Bridges, another 200 pages to discuss this ‘grace.’ Then the teaching was expanded to reveal that grace is NOT the result of Christ’s sacrificial death, but that His death is the result of grace, was forced upon my conscience. His death isn’t the beginning of grace and my salvation is not the end of it.
While I knew this in my head, I don’t think I was living it in my life. Sometimes Christians are afraid that if we live in the power of God’s grace we will slack off in the doing of His will. We like to think that we earn God’s favor by doing right things. And to be certain, when we yield to His will and are obedient, it is pleasing to Him, but do not be confused we cannot earn His favor. I wanted to chalk up the blessings that God had poured out in my life as a payment for “my righteousness.”
“Only when we are thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve Him out of a grateful and loving heart.” (pg. 94)
I was having a hard time giving up my “points system.” It was almost scary to cast myself upon His mercy – probably because I knew I was unworthy – and yet this is how God operates and always had. His mercy was abundant in my life and His goodness was evident. I had to realize that I was not changing Him; I was changing my perception of God to a true reflection of Him.
Jerry Bridges goes into depth about legalism in relation to grace. I boiled the teaching down to the fact that God’s law is good because it is an expression of His unchanging self. Legalism is not about obeying the law. Legalism it is rooted in seeking justification and a good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience. Grace did not make the Law optional, but our motive to obey is changed to a loving response to His grace.
From there the author expands on grace in relation to suffering. God wants us to be acutely aware that He is our sustainer. He does not waste pain in the life of a believer. He works it together for their good. He wants us to experience His sufficiency. Mr. Bridges says, human weakness and divine grace go hand in hand.
He does not skim over the fact that God can and does use hardship to discipline those He loves, but that discipline is never administered in wrath, but always in love.
This book helped me remember that I was bankrupt when I received salvation and I am still bankrupt today. I need His grace – every moment of my life. Every believer should read this book, especially those that think they understand grace.
It always make me feel good to accomplish things – even little crafting frivolities. This is the chunky scarf that I just completed. It went so fast and was a ton of fun. I found it on Pinterest, which linked back to Ravelry. Ravelry is a great forum to view and post your own yarn creations. From there I could purchase and download a PDF of the magazine with the pattern. (I am loving all this technology!) The particulars: Pattern is: Ghost Cone Scarf, by Sue Perez, published in Interweave Crochet, Winter 2013.
I enjoy crochet because many projects don’t require careful attention once you have the pattern down. That makes it easy to watch a movie with the family and still feel productive. It was finished in just a few evenings…. I think I might have spent more time looking for the perfect yarn and “just right” buttons than actually crocheting the scarf. But that is a different and very long story.
The hardest part of the pattern was getting used to the fact that it is worked in columns rather than rows. The design looks like broomstick lace, but is really just a simple chain, stitched to make loops. The pattern recommends fingering weight, which I could not find at the general craft store so I substituted sock weight (1). It uses a double stand of yarn throughout and called for six (1.75 ounce) balls. but I used four with only a few feet to spare. You could make it easily with five balls, but since it is worked with a double stand you would need to roll the last skein into two separate balls.
My daughter asked me to make a scarf for her. Any other orders? It would be more fun to teach you to crochet so you would reap the benefits of creativity too. I know God is a creative God and the creativity I have is part of being created in His image. You have it too.
I am intrigued by the Tunisian crochet circulating now. I tried doing the Tunisian stitches (also called Afghan stitch) when I was a girl and couldn’t figure it out, but that was before U-Tube and video demonstrations were so available! Maybe my next project will use that technique, but it will have to wait until I sew the jacket I have cut out. Of course by then it will be time to plant the garden……
Are you working on any projects during this cold winter evenings?
These are some of the special things happening around our home since Thanksgiving and through Christmas and New Year’s.
We added a pet to the family. Bear bought a chocolate Labrador puppy. His name is Mudder. We have not had a dog for two years and we have missed it. Mudder is going through all his puppy phases, chewing, eating, and sleeping. So far he has not destroyed any expensive items. He is retrieving and shows great promise as a bird dog. We all love him.
JP and his family were able to make a short visit for Christmas. Most of the family had not personally seen ”W” so this was s special time for everyone to get acquainted. The aunts and uncles were eager to meet him – and that did not even come close to how excited his grandpa was. Eight of us showed up at the airport with signs in hand. One sign said “JP” another said “Erin” and the remaining ones all said “W”. We made quite a sight on the Saturday before Christmas day. It was worth a laugh.
I skipped both of the ice fishing trips so far. I was cooking and preparing big meals on both days. The first day the seven fishermen (and woman) caught 23 fish! All were good-sized and they came home with good memories despite the bitter cold temps. On New Year’s day they went again. This time they went all the way to Steamboat Lake. They caught some big ones – but not nearly as many. Personally, ice fishing is more fun when you are catching lots of fish even if they are only 10-13 inches.
One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 is to be more productive. That means less time spent playing Words with Friends and Letterpress and less time spent on social media and Pinterest. Oh, well, I know in the end this will make me more productive. I might even have more time to write. The amount of time I was spending on these harmless little things was pushing everything else into crisis mode. My house wasn’t as clean as I liked it and it seemed I was always behind in laundry, bookkeeping, or school work. This made me unhappy and caused a lot of stress. So I have decided to manage my “free time” with a heavier hand. Hopefully I will be able to get back into my creative groove instead of just “pinning” [Pinterest] what everyone else is doing.
This year I am working on memorizing Ephesians too. I have 7 verses down and only 148 to go.
I am wishing you all a great new year. Make time for the most important things everyday and you can’t go wrong. God bless you in 2013.
Merry Christmas (after the fact) and Happy New Year!
We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with all ten children – and our grandchild! – at our home this year. There are no guarantees that we will all be together next year (or any year) so I treasure these times.
I used several Christmas ideas from my Pinterest boards. And now that it won’t ruin any surprises, I wanted to share with you the best and worst of my Pinterest projects.
My biggest disappointment was the candy cane place holders. I wanted to use these for place cards at Christmas dinner. The link didn’t include instructions, just a cute picture, but a previous pinner noted: “just glue mini canes together.” I am sure there is a way to make these, but gluing them was a failure. I waited hours for the glue to dry and set up……. I kept rubber bands around them…….. I tried to make them stand……. and when they fell, the canes broke. I didn’t even take a picture of this failure.
Another pin was a decorating idea for the banister. This would have worked very nicely if I was hosting a big event and wanted an exceptional look for just one day.
I made my spray with fresh greenery. I was trying to decide if I would put some white paint on the pinecones I gathered or if I would use some mini Christmas bulbs along with the greenery. I am glad I wasn’t ready to put it all together, because when I was going to finish the project about 30 hours later, the fresh greenery was dried out and brittle. I tried soaking my branches and that helped. but it would never last a month when used inside a home. But it did inspire me to do something different with our banister this year. I had to use what items I had left over, but I liked it.
This idea is only disappointing because I didn’t get around to making the slippers. I purchased the wool and this is exactly how far I got. If you are family, please be surprised next year when I get them done.
This was a simple and great idea. I didn’t do it in my kitchen, but in the dining room on the china hutch. I love it!
Another fine stocking stuffer was the lotion bar that I made for each girl. I got the “recipe” from nurseryofthenation.blogspot.com and scented them with jasmine. I have been using them on my old, dry, cracked feet for the last two weeks and now my feet are just old. They really do work.
My favorite pin this year was the rice bag/hand-warmers. I chose to use sweatshirt material, but you could also use fleece or a flannel. (If you use flannel, you will probably need to finish the edges.) I started out with roughly a 4-inch square and cut my shape from it. I used hearts for the girls and house shapes for the guys. Using a decorative stitch I stitched around the shape leaving about an inch so I could fit my funnel into the hole. Then I filled them with 3-4 tablespoons of rice and closed up the hole.
Warm for 30 seconds in a microwave and you have re-useable hand warmers. We have already tried them out when shoveling snow and they would be perfect for taking the dog for a walk. I am wondering if placing them in a soup thermos for a trip to the mountains for skiing or ice-fishing would keep them warm. Maybe placing them over the defrost vent in the car for the last 30 minutes of the ride could heat them up too. I will have to update this post after I figure it out.
(This past month has been a blur: getting ready for hunting, taking a trip to visit my grandson, going camping/hunting with the family, and finally returning and trying to find the “routine” in our schedule. )
On opening day, as we hiked through the forest in the darkness, the wet snow fell steadily. Soon it would be light and we were hoping for some action. Carl, who is 7 years old sat with me while Paul took Grace about 70 yards away. It was cold and we were wet. I was excited and ready, but Carl was not. He begged me to take him back to camp; or at least back to the car at the trailhead so he could warm up. I told him that we would go back after we filled our tags; I told him to be tough; I told him that this was part of hunting……. but when Paul came back and suggested that we start a fire, Carl perked up, quit complaining, and started to gather wood. Amazing change!
The first day ended early without seeing elk or even a track. The animals were sitting tight through the storm. Each of our five groups that day made a fire and each returned to the tent before sundown. There was much storytelling and quoting of Jeremiah Johnson as we filled our bellies, visited with a few friends who showed up at camp, and made our lunches for the next day.
The next day dawned crystal clear as we were walking once again through the forest. There was silence except for our footsteps on the icy snow. The elk tracks we saw brought renewed excitement. When we heard shots fired, we waited for the text messages that would tell us the good news – or at least that was our assumption . Finally, we heard that Jake had shot a 5X4 satellite bull.
Since we were only a few miles away, we decided to hunt our way over toward his group. On the way, Grace had an opportunity at a bull. She wasn’t quite as ready as her guide had expected. While that was frustrating for him (Paul), it put a new fire in her and for the remainder of the hunt she would be ready.
We saw some lion tracks and as we passed “The Morgue” and I thought of all the places that the family had named: Turtle Rock, The High Camp, EZ Quil, The Old Camp, The Spring ……. I guess in a strange way, it makes the mountain ours.
We never located Jake and the girls at the kill sight, so we started back toward camp. This time we traveled by trail instead of the overland route we took in the morning. The sun was melting the snow and the air was scented with the slightly acrid smell of wet aspen leaves . As we walked and waited, we listened for the sound of elk crashing through the timber. I heard him and when I did see him, it was apparent that he was late. I got the safety off, but didn’t even have time to count the points and see if it was a legal bull before he was gone.
My final day of hunting started much the same way. Our walk to the beaver ponds was a bit longer, but more promising as we saw more tracks. I set up my spot by a large fallen tree. I listened to the scratching sound of the last tenacious leaves being driven from their summer home to the winter abode. I watched a pair of downy woodpeckers hammer, flit, and “cheet” through the aspen grove. I waited patiently for the sun to rise above the trees and spill its warm rays on my flourescent orange jacket. And while I waited, I tried to identify the green herbs that seemed to have missed the notice that winter was on its way.
Later, we hiked to the site of Nick’s kill from the day before. I had a bear tag and we wanted to check the gut pile. There was no sign of activity, so we posted ourselves on the edge of a meadow and waited.
The little breezes were now stronger and more frequent. They start with a faint hum and soon the trees are swaying and it sounds like you are standing at a base of a mighty waterfall. And just as suddenly it is gone and all is still again.
The breezes turned to gusts as we walked and hunted. We saw a spike bull (not legal in Colorado) as we crested a hill. The larger part of the herd had passed ahead of him. Paul cow called and we got an answer. While we tried to decide how far ahead they were, what direction we should approach from, (since the gusts had turned into strong winds) and if the herd would cross out of the forest boundaries before we caught up to them, we heard the sound of cracking wood and we watched another tree fall – the second one that day. We decided that we would heed the National Weather Service’s high-wind warning and continued on our way toward the tent.
The tent was filled with laughter and stories again that night – in between the shrieking gusts of wind. This is what I want to remember forever: the smiles, the teasing, the jokes. The only interruptions were the other would-be minstrels trying to insert their perspective of the story. This is elk camp. This is my family.
Only the most important things are getting done these days. There are so many things to keep up with right now that it makes my head spin…… in fact, I am so far behind that my 15-year-old son organized the linen/game closet without being asked. Apparently, this was bothering him too.
Here are a few things that ARE occupying my thoughts and actions:
My first grandchild. He was born one week ago and his name is “W.” (Well, at least for blogging purposes. ) I shall meet him today!
Sports practices are keeping me busy. We are in mid-season for soccer and the high school boys are in pre-season for wrestling.
The item that is filling most of my waking hours right now is school. We are trying to find that elusive rhythm. We will keep trying…… I just wish I could remember where I put it!
The thing that should be filling most of my time is elk hunting preparation. The whole family is going up again this year. It has been about 4 years since we all went and that means that many more coats, mittens, hiking boots, snow boots, warm jackets, long underwear, knives, food, sleeping bags, and ………. have to be gathered, inventoried, and packed.
Since I am a political junkie, I need to keep up on all the election news. If I had my ballot, I would vote today. My yard is sprouting signs and I have practiced my speeches on why I hope Mitt Romney will win the presidency over Barack Obama. And, yes, I do have opinions about the state and local races that I love to talk about also.
Things that ARE NOT occupying my time right now:
Baseball. The Colorado Rockies held their last home game yesterday. We won! but alas, we did not win enough this regular season to play ball in October. I have to admit it is much more fun being a fan when we are winning.
My garden and yard. The tomatoes are ripening and the zucchini is slowly growing. The cucumbers have stopped producing, but the spinach and chard are enjoying the cool weather. The leaves on the trees are turning and I can even hear the scratching sounds as the wind blows them along the neighborhood pavement.
How is your fall shaping up?
The underlying thought in this book is not only about an earthly marriage, but also about the picture it portrays: the picture of the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church. The author points again and again to the fact that our personal marriages are temporary, because they are an example of the reality. When the “real thing” is here, we won’t need the illustration any longer.
This teaching may seem to marginalize the earthly marriage, but John Piper actually raises the bar for those joining into the covenant of marriage, for the very reason that it is a picture of Christ and His church. It is an example of the searching-out, providing, reconciling, and self-sacrificing love displayed by Christ. For the wife, our Godly submission exemplifies a trust not only in our husband, for they are human, but in God Himself. Our marriages are to show the world this type of permanent love that bears all things, believes all things, and never fails.
That kind of love is not natural and can only come from above. That is why such a high value is placed on this picture, on marriage. A marriage that does not show this kind of love and Godly submission to authority is failing to be the example that God intended.
John Piper elevates the role of the single person too. I am so glad he included several chapters in this book on the single Christian. In the big picture, a Christian is to “make disciples” and for the single person this is the focus. When God dealt with Israel as His people, it was with a nation, and the way that citizens were added to the nation was primarily through birth of children into families. But now, disciples are made of all nations through re-birth, salvation.
The thoughts about “making disciples” lead to the chapters that deal with the purpose of having and raising children in marriage. The book has a message for those dealing with infertility too. Because making children is not always the same as making disciples and making disciples is the primary focus.
The last chapters of the book discuss divorce and remarriage. The author does not shy away from explaining his views. He explains from the scripture how he has come to his conclusions, while at the same time, showing compassion for those in this situation.
This is one of the best marriage books I have read in many years. I liked its emphasis of marriage being more about God and His plan than about us. It confirmed that marriage is supernatural; it is something that requires self-sacrifice and long-suffering, but ultimately it is fulfilling and satisfying, because God created it to be so.
This book is available to download as a PDF for free. I used this version but wished I had purchased so I could have highlighted and made notes in it.