Tuesday, November 26, 2019

fur family

vacation at home for a week = a week of cats

Thursday, November 21, 2019


a visit to hillwood estate in nw dc on a cloudy + cold day. some favorites were baby citrus fruit in the conservatory and socks w sandals from the 1950s.

no extraordinary means

From Samuel D. James' most recent post "There Are No Extraordinary Means"

Recently in my reading I came across this sentence from a theologian and it stopped me in my tracks: “There are no extraordinary means of grace in the Christian life.” I lingered over that line for a while as it delivered a broadside to most of my Christian walk. How many years have I spent as a believer earnestly, diligently, even tirelessly, seeking an extraordinary means by which I would finally feel the intimacy with Christ I desire and the temptations that beset me just fall off like sawdust? The matter-of-factness of that sentence pummeled me. That one book, that one sermon, that one conference or that one conversation I’m looking for to put all the jagged parts of my spiritual life into an incandescent whole…it does not exist. There’s always something else to do, but there are no extraordinary means of grace. 
Extraordinary means are what most people want: in their spiritual lives, in their careers, and even in politics. Most political discourse, at least in the US, can be reduced to the following formula: 
My unique solution + my unique implementation – the obnoxious, interchangeable input of others = the outcome you want. 
What we want are extraordinary fixes to ordinary problems. In this desire we miss the reality that there’s always something else to fix, there’s always something else to do, and there’s always something we’ll miss. Looking for extraordinary means is a roadmap to variously intense levels of personal frustration.

national cathedral

glimpses of the national cathedral in nw dc, taken over a long holiday weekend

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

enjoyment is praise

From John Piper, as he explains facets of "Christian hedonism":

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  
It’s not enough to say that praising God is the completion or consummation of enjoying God. In fact, that doesn’t go to the heart of the relationship between God’s glory and our joy. The heart of the matter is this: Enjoying God is the essence of praising God. Enjoying God from the heart is essential to glorifying God from the heart. Where God is not enjoyed as he ought to be, he is not glorified as He ought to be. That’s the essence of the relationship."

sinful goodness

Thoughts on virtue as seen in non-Christians vs Christians, from James McGlothlin's article "Can the Godless Do Good?":
"The apparent goodness of non-Christians can sometimes confuse Christians. Is this apparent goodness actual goodness — and if so, how does it fit with the Bible’s teaching that, apart from God, “no one does good”? Pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards provides the categories for making sense of non-Christian virtue. According to Edwards, the apparent goodness of non-Christians is not merely apparent, but nor is it “true virtue.” Rather, it is limited virtue, which, though similar to true virtue from the outside, falls short of participating in the triune goodness of God...
Edwards helps us to explain how Christians can affirm that the virtue and love they correctly recognize among non-Christians is indeed good and virtuous, though only in a limited way. With Edwards, the Bible attests that a non-Christian never pursues or exemplifies anything with the goal of glorifying God (Romans 3:10–12; Matthew 22:37). But Edwards suggests that we reject the tempting inference that all of a non-Christian’s seemingly good actions and character are never good or beautiful in any sense. Rather, their seemingly good actions and character are indeed morally good, but only in a limited way — that is, they are short of being done or lived for the glory of God."
Edwards so clearly explains the intersection of thoughts I struggle with: how morality differs between believers and nonbelievers, the main aim and motivation of good works, and how nonbelievers can seem to be genuine in their giving and acting even while maintaining a state of unbelief. 

nothing lasts forever (thankfully)

Encouraged by Samuel D. James' newest newsletter (one of my favorites to see in my inbox):
There are two principles that have become incredibly valuable to me as I’ve gotten older and everything, from jobs to relationships to amount of sleep, has been transformed. They are:
  1. Life is seasonal.
  2. Remembering this is the key to enduring.

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