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Celebrating Ascension Day

Tomorrow is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate that Jesus went to heaven.

But why is that a cause for celebration? Why is it good that Jesus went to heaven?

  • First of all, of course, he is interceding for us at God’s right hand.  (Romans 8:34)
  • And, amazing thought, he is busy preparing a place for us and will come again and take us to himself.  (John 14: 2, 3)
  • Finally, he went to send us his Spirit to dwell in us and be with us forever, and to be a guarantee to us of our resurrection.  (John 16:7, John 14:16, 17, and 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)

So, yes, the fact that Jesus ascended to heaven is indeed worth celebrating!

Furthermore, we can look forward to the day when he will return, just as he ascended into heaven.

When I see majestic clouds, especially the ones with sunbeams streaming out from behind them, I often wonder if those are the kinds of clouds our Lord Jesus will return on.  Or sometimes I wonder if, perhaps, he is returning right then.

Of course, he can return on dull rain clouds or fluffy summer clouds as well.  And when he does return, we won’t be wondering if it is actually him; his return will be blindingly obvious to everyone.

So, this Thursday is Ascension Day.  Although it is not commercialized like Christmas or Easter, or even remembered like Good Friday, it is a day worth celebrating, both for what it means now and in anticipation of Jesus’ return.

You, like me, may want to spend some time looking at clouds, dreaming of when Jesus does actually return.

And then, since all celebrations involve music, you may also wish to rejoice along with Bach’s beautiful Ascension Day Oratorio (lyrics here).  Especially the beginning and end of this piece make me think that this may be like the music in heaven, but Miss 15 wisely pointed out that that music will be even more sublime.

Your church’s songbook likely has some music for Ascension Day, or you may wish to check out these lists of traditional hymns, praise and worship songs, and contemporary hymns. One of the newest, written only last year, is “Christ Went Up on High Far Above the Sky.”  And then there is this recording of All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I, eventually, share what I read.  

This post may be linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Time Sensitive: Being a Woman of the Word by Nancy Campbell

I just listened to “Being a Woman of the Word” by Nancy Campbell.  It is probably the most important talk I have heard in years, and I encourage you to drop everything to listen to it!

Yes, now, or tomorrow.  Just take one hour to be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to be a woman of the Word.  You will be so grateful that you did!

You will be able to listen to the talk until early Monday morning, as far as I can tell from an email I got, but the countdown on the link says it’s sooner than that, so do listen sooner rather than later.

I cannot recommend this talk highly enough for any Christian mother.  We all need to be women of the Word, and Nancy Campbell is brimming with passion, ideas, and encouragement.

Please forward this to your friends so that they, too, can benefit.

Note:  If you missed the deadline for Nancy Campbell’s talk, you can get about ten percent of the value of the talk from an old blog post I wrote sharing Six Tips for Bible Reading.  

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

Disclosure: I am aware that this sounds very excited, like some sales letters do, but it is just because I am so eager to share this talk with you.  I am in no way compensated for recommending this and have no affiliation with the Homeschool Summit this talk is part of.

 

Review: Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

Occasionally I feel burdened by stuff.  Sometimes it’s our stuffed bookshelves, other times it’s my to-do list, and often it’s my desk which seems to attract all the piles that build up nowhere else.  Usually my approach is to get busy and do something about it, but recently I was too tired for that so I read about it instead.

Unstuffed: Decluttering your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup is an easy read and full of helpful information.  It has countless checklists, not only about how to get rid of stuff, but also about how to neaten, prioritize, plan, organize, and make wise decisions.

Ruth covers many expected areas, from creating a vision for your home, considering storage, and stopping the flow, to paperwork, kids’ stuff, and other people’s stuff.  In addition to the usual decluttering topics, she discusses authentic friendship, wellness, and how God has cleaned up our mess.

Although Ruth’s life has been very difficult at times, she provides hope by presenting the wisdom of the Bible.  For example, in the chapters on schedules and on wellness, she points out that we cannot create balance.  Achieving balance is not something to add to our to-do lists, but something that comes from rest. We were made to rest as well as to work.  Ruth highly encourages taking a day off each week and she actually lists the benefits of going to church.

To those who protest that they have too much to do to be able to take a day off, she says “…there will always be more to do. Every day. For the rest of our lives.  Look at it this way—if God could take a day off without the world falling apart, so can we.” p107

In the final chapter “Spirit” Ruth discusses “Letting Go of the Need to Do It Yourself.” She tells how God worked in her life, watching over her as she went from being a go-getter, do-it-yourself Christian girl through rejection of Christianity and horrible mental illness to being a happy wife, mother, and business woman, still a go-getter, who realizes that

“The world tells us we have to do something to matter but the reality is the opposite.  It’s already been done. The most important task on our to-do list is simply accept it.” p97

In conclusion, Ruth points out, “Grace is the answer we are often too stubborn to believe and too proud to receive…. The gift has already been given.  The work has already been done….I can’t think of a better way to become unstuffed than to finally recognize, understand, and truly believe that my slate has been wiped clean, once and for all.”

If you are a person overwhelmed by physical stuff I recommend Unstuffed.  You will find effective practical help with the nuts and bolts of decluttering and neatening as well as with your mindset about stuff.

If you are overwhelmed by trying to achieve worth by doing more, by trying to fix your own life, by trying to be good enough for God, you will benefit from Unstuffed even more.

May God bless you as you seek to declutter your home, mind, and soul.

If you are uncertain about how to take a day off, why not look at how God took the first Sabbath rest, in this practical article by Rev. Ken Koeman.

Note:  Ruth Soukup, blogger, author, and mentor, is currently starting a new podcast, Do It Scared, to help women dare to do what matters.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

Disclosure: We borrowed this book from our library.

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Online Homeschool Conference: The Fitting-It-All-In Summit

If it is at all possible, do attend your local homeschool conference.  Last week I listed 8+1 benefits and 8 tips for attending your homeschool conference.  It is a golden opportunity to learn, be encouraged, and check out resources.

Sadly, however, sometimes going to a ‘real’ conference is not possible.  There can be any number of reasons, but at times we have no choice but to admit that, this year, God has something else for us to do at that time.

I missed our local conference last weekend as well.  That meant I had energy to attend both church services on Sunday, which is probably a good exchange, but, really, it also means that I. Missed. The. Conference.

What to do?  Well, a friend mentioned a free online conference, the Homeschool Fitting-It-All-In Online Summit from April 30 to May 5, and it looks good.  (Note that, as always, I do not use affiliate links.)

This is how the Homeschool Summit is described on the website:

  • Decide what matters to your family using Christ-centered values
  • Create a workable homeschool plan
  • Keep your path centered on the eternal – even when life happens

I checked out the speaker list and saw some familiar faces I would love to listen to as well as many new ones, so I’ve signed up. Between April 30 and May 5 I will be spending a few hours listening to Nancy Campbell (“Being a Woman of the Word”), Sonya Shafer (“Laying Down the Rails”), the Zwaynes (“The Ultimate Goal of Education”), and maybe others.

Of course, it would be possible to spend the entire summit week at the computer watching sessions but that is not a great idea.  It could even be counterproductive.  As always, it is better to pick out a few sessions, learn from them, and then focus on applying what you’ve learned than to attend every session, become overwhelmed, and lose it all in a blur of busyness and missed duties.

So if illness, busyness, ‘overwhelmedness’, or other obligations force you to miss your local conference, this free online conference could be a welcome opportunity to help you think about homeschool goals and plans while focusing on the eternal.   Perhaps you will want to participate even though you attend your local conference as well.  But please don’t use this online conference to replace your local conference. As even the organizers say,

“We ARE pulling together a fantastic lineup of speakers and even shopping options, but it won’t replace attending your local homeschool conference…. As awesome as this summit will be, we still believe that the in-person networking of a local conference is invaluable!”

Yes, we need each other’s presence, support, and encouragement in real life.  God created us to connect with others, and to really do that we need to be physically present with them.  But when life gets in the way, connecting online is better than nothing.

God bless you as you consider your priorities and decide whether or not this online conference is a wise use of your time and energy.

Thanks to Kathleen for telling me about the Homeschool Summit.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

DisclosureI am not compensated for recommending the Homeschool Summit but just want to share this free opportunity with you.

This article may be linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Review: Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey

As soon as Love Thy Body arrived, Miss 15 asked permission to read it and ran off with it.  Who better to teach her than Nancy Pearcey?

But after a while she came back.  “I don’t like it. You will, though.” And later, to someone else, she said, “It hits all the hot button topics, every single one of them, and it makes me so mad!”

It makes me mad, too.  How we humans have messed up the world and destroyed so many lives by our stubborn refusal to follow God’s ways!  How Satan has twisted truth and now enjoys the suffering of so many!  But Jesus has come to destroy the devil’s work and that’s good news, the best news in the world.

Nancy Pearcey helps us understand how to share this good news in our society, how to reach out to those whose lives and identities are fractured due to inaccurate ideas of how the world works.

As she puts it, this is a rescue mission, not a culture war:

As we work through controversial moral issues, it is crucial to bear in mind the main goal.  It is not first of all to persuade people to change their behavior.  It is to tear down barriers to becoming Christian. No matter who we are addressing, or what moral issue the person is struggling with, their first need is to hear the gospel and experience the love of God.  The most important question of their life is whether they will have a relationship with the living God that lasts into eternity….

The main reason to address moral issues is that they have become a barrier to even hearing the message of salvation.  People are inundated with rhetoric telling them that the Bible is hateful and hurtful, narrow and negative.  While it’s crucial to be clear about the biblical teaching on sin, the context must be an overall positive message:  that Christianity alone gives the basis for a high view of the value and meaning of the body as a good gift from God.  In our communication with people struggling with moral issues, we need to reach out with a life-giving, life-affirming message.  We should work to draw people in by the beauty of the biblical vision of life. P 260, 261

With this mindset, Pearcey analyses the ideas fuelling abortion, euthanasia, the hook up culture, homosexuality, the transgender movement, and the failure of social contract theory.  It all comes down, she says, to a profound devaluation of the body, driven by personhood theory.  Rather than accepting that God made the body and that it, therefore, is good and meaningful, personhood theory in its many guises suggests that people are not their bodies, being human is not enough to be considered a person, and that, basically, we are fragmented beings whose physicality is at best meaningless and at worst something to objectify, subdue, and overcome.

With compassion and clarity, Pearcey explains how this idea recurs throughout society and demonstrates the havoc it causes in individual lives. She notes that the prevailing paradigm has no way of integrating people’s fractured selves, their minds and their bodies, so that they can become whole again.  Only Christianity can do that.  Throughout her book she gives practical suggestions for reaching out with that good news.

Pearcey also quotes secular philosophers who point out that without a Creator there is no basis for any human rights.  People with power get to make decisions about and for others, decisions that could even mean death for those whose life is ‘not worth living’ according to those with more power. This is considered progress, survival of the fittest.

This idea of a split between the actual reality of who people are (their ‘personhood’) and their bodies has a long, deep background, reaching back at least to Plato and, via his thought, permeating various aspects of Christianity.  Following Descartes who said, “I think therefore I am,” this concept has become one of our day’s powerful philosophies, legitimized by Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Even though the ideas discussed in this book are complex, Love Thy Body is not a terribly difficult read. Pearcey fills it with stories, research results, and careful explanations.  She has taught the material many times to various audiences and has obviously incorporated their feedback into her thought.

Even so, I am planning to read Love Thy Body again soon and perhaps study it with others.  The study guide in the book looks both thorough and helpful.  (If you are local, please let me know if you are interested in studying it this summer.)

I highly recommend Love Thy Body for homeschooling parents and older youth.  Furthermore, it is indispensable for anyone interested in spreading the good news of the gospel, understanding our society, or generating change.  As such it should be in every homeschool and church library and ideally it would also be in all public libraries.

For more information about the duality between body and mind and how it is a reflection of similar dualities throughout Western thought, see Pearcey’s earlier book Total Truth (see my review, our Total Truth summer study).

For those who suggest that these evolution-validated ideas are necessary because ‘evolution is a scientific fact’, there is an alternative view that fits the scientific data much better, the idea that the universe was designed and created, recently.  For more information see my review of No Christian Silence on Science as well as Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favorite bookseller.

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

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