Thursday, December 8, 2011

God Sent His Only Son

I had anticipated enjoying some devotions this month specifically focused on Advent. I always looked forward to our Advent family devotions as a kid. But alas, December started, and I never quite got my act together. So, instead, I've continued on in my reading of John Piper's book The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 Reasons Why He Came to Die. Now, I realize that might not sound like Christmas-focused reading. But, truly the reason that Jesus was born, was so He could die to save us.

In my reading this week, I read the following passage and was silenced into thought:

What then does it mean that because of Christ's death for us God will certainly with him graciously give us "all things"....
It's the same as the other Biblical promise, "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). This promise is clarified in the preceding words: "In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:12-13).
It says we can do "all things" through Christ. But notice "all things" includes "hungering" and "needing." God will meet every real need including the ability to rejoice in suffering when many felt needs do not get met. God will meet every real need, including the need for grace to hunger when the felt need for food is not met. The suffering and death of Christ guarantee that God will give us all things that we need to do his will and to give him glory and to attain everlasting joy.

I'm not entirely sure why, but The Lord's Prayer has been often in my mind lately. In particular the petition Give us this day our daily bread. In our culture of abundance, we don't often think about daily bread. But, I believe that our daily bread goes beyond just physical food. Sometimes I think of daily bread as energy and patience and other qualities I need for each day. I don't know if that's right or not. But, knowing that God supplies what we need each day physically, mentally, emotionally is a comfort to me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

November Reading

November fell short in the reading department. I never got a great rhythm going and most of the books I read were filled with highly dysfunctional families and adultery. I always find that a bit of a downer. In addition to my completed reading list, I read partway through a couple Christian growth books. And I finally started (after nearly the entire year has passed by!) tackling my goal of reading a Russian novel this year. So, I'm about a quarter of the way through The Brothers Karamazov and hoping I will finish by the end of December.

Loving Frank is the story of Frank Lloyd Wright's years long affair with a married woman. They were both from Chicago, where Wright had designed a home for Mayma Cheney and her husband. It was a tragic story filled with desertion, betrayal, and so much selfishness! The story is based on fact, though I don't know how much liberty the author took. After I finished the book I thought to myself, Should I pass this book on to anyone? While it is an interesting, well-written story, I just decided it's not a story that I wanted to pass around. So, into donation it went.

White Truffles in Winter is the story of a famous French chef Auguste Escoffier, who apparently was very influential in the creation of restaurant dining as we know it today. He and his wife lived apart for the majority of his career. And throughout many of those years, he and Sarah Bernhardt were lovers (according to the book, she had scads of them). Food is an ever-present focus. Particularly as portions of the story follow the remaining days in the life of the chef and his wife as they wither from illness and old age. Their memories spark with remembrances of foods and meals that sparkle in their twilight. Again, this story is based in fact.

A Reliable Wife is the story of a woman who answered an ad to become the wife of a businessman in rural turn-of-the-century Wisconsin. Nothing and no one is quite as it seems as there are so many deceptions from every character. I picked up the book because I've always been a bit fascinated by mail-order brides. And I found the book somewhat hard to put down, mostly because it was like watching a train-wreck and I wondered which character was going to meet their fate in the end because it could have easily been any one of the three main characters.

The Family Fang is the story of Annie and Buster, the grown children of performance artists. As children, Annie and Buster were used as "props" in their parents weird displays of performance art (which essentially involved creating scenes of chaos in public places and observing the results). Needless to say, these two grow-up in a rather dysfunctional home and find themselves as struggling adults, who both end up back at their parents house trying to sort through layers of confusion, which is made more difficult when their parents go missing.

Found and Sent were probably my favorite books of the month. (Even though I read them for work.) They are the first two books in a science-fiction series for kids. The gist of the story is that a plane full of babies appeared from nowhere one fall day at an airport; the government got involved; once the babies were taken off, the plane simply disappeared; those who witnessed the bizarre impossible pretended like nothing happened. All the babies were adopted into families. And 13 years later, the kids start receiving mysterious letters saying, "You are one of the missing." and "Beware! They are coming to get you."

November Reading List:

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelly
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (work)
Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix (work)
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