Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wait a minute, is this right? Let me try it in her ear.
Do babies take bottles in their ears? Nooooooo!
This is something I struggle with, as I sit at my computer, making the most of my time. Do you know anyone like Roan of The Joyful Johnsons who can get so much accomplished on a given day it wears you out just reading her to-do list? Doesn’t it seem like these industrious souls have been given more time somehow than the rest of us? Well, we know that’s not possible, but sometimes it seems like it anyway. Edwards wrote much on his use of time because he realized that while lost money and health can potentially be recovered, time lost never can.
Resolution 5: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” (Lawson p. 95)
Lawson explains that when Edwards penned this resolution he was completing a master’s degree, serving as interim pastor, and pursuing many interests such as the natural sciences. “So zealous was Edwards to improve his use of time that he calculated ways to gain minutes from tasks large and small.” (Lawson p. 95) (I felt somewhat vindicated that Edwards wasn't feeding people 3 times a day, or homeschooling or potty training anyone.)
Edwards prioritized time according to the will of God and also scheduled certain matters like prayer and study for times of the day when he was most alert. This rigorous prioritization required that he devote less time to other tasks that had to be done nonetheless, those he called “the tyranny of the urgent”, and to entirely neglect less important matters. He made these difficult decisions by keeping in mind the brevity of life.
Resolution 7: “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.” (Lawson p. 96)
You know that country song, “Live like you’re dying”, or something like that? That’s the idea. If I knew I had one year to live would I really want to spend it traveling the world or sky diving, or would I want to value each precious moment with my family and study God’s Word and pray all the more fervently with the knowledge that I would soon be meeting my Maker?
Resolution 19: “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.” (Lawson p. 100)
And as you can imagine, Edwards was NOT a procrastinator. He believed that delayed obedience is no obedience. (I’m quick to remind my kids of this, but all too often I neglect to apply it in my own life.)
Resolution 11: “Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.” ( Lawson p. 98)
Really, Edwards thought of his life on earth as a training grounds for all eternity.
Resolution 50: “Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, most prudent, when I come into the future world.” (Lawson p. 101)
In his diary he wrote of his struggle to keep his eyes fixed on heaven. “Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy…” (Lawson p. 102) Edwards felt keeping his heart focused on heaven would help him to better live for God’s glory in the present.
Resolution 52: “I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.” (Lawson p. 103)
Pondering the imminence of either his death or Christ’s return also helped Edwards keep materialism in check.
“Let every thing have the value now which it will have upon a sick bed; and frequently, in my pursuits of whatever kind, let this question come into my mind. ‘How much shall I value this upon my death-bed?’” (Lawson p. 97)
I hope to follow Edwards example as I make my New Year’s resolutions and prioritize first things first. C.S. Lewis once said, “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” (The Quotable Lewis edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root p. 411) That’s what I’m counting on!
I have the wonderful color, counting, and shape-sorting games that Tara from too many kids in the bathtub sent me and even some puzzles and games from when I was little. You can probably tell they're the ones with taped up boxes. There's even a block puzzle from my dad's childhood days. Amazingly enough we still have all the pieces and pictures! Let's just say I come from a long line of pack rats. I do see that I need to order a second wire puzzle rack.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Mr. Monk inspecting the goodies in his stocking. I'm not sure why he didn't just take it down like everyone else did.
Success! She got it unwrapped, or so I thought. Then I noticed a little foil in her mouth. Oops.
Group shot in their coordinating Gymboree Christmas jammies. Guess who lost her shirt before Christmas eve? If you guessed Measle, the same one missing her skirt for our Christmas card phots, you were right.
I think it was while taking this second shot that I noticed Lu was having some trouble. Right after this I took her into the kitchen and tried to get her to take her bottle. When that didn't work I did a little Heimlich over the kitchen sink. I also did a finger sweep and came up with a big chunk of chocolate and some foil wrapper.
She took it pretty well. After all, she did get a new purse with lots of cool stuff in it to take out and carry around. You see the chocolate incident left its mark on her new jammies, though.
Below are a few shots of the kids opening presents. I was very proud of myself this year. I stood over them with a camera instead of a trash bag. Surely that's progress, isn't it?
As Christians, we all want to sin less, this is unanimous, but how we go about that pursuit can determine the degree to which we are successful. Edwards recognized that his sins were symptoms of the corrupt desires of his heart and he took his heart seriously.
Resolution 24: “Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.” (Lawson p. 84)
Resolution 56: “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” (Lawson p. 85)
When I look at Edwards’ life, I think he must have been one of the most godly men to live on the face of the earth, but when Edwards’ examined himself (which he did often) he saw his sin and it was terribly offensive to him.
“My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and infinitely swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or infinite mountains over my head. I know not how to express better, what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite… When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell.” (from Edwards’ Personal Narrative, taken from Lawson p. 89)
They say the first step in tackling a problem is admitting you have a problem. Edwards proves this. He was a man perhaps more preoccupied with holiness than any other and we see in his above reflections that when he looked into his heart he saw a big problem. Do I take my sin as seriously as Edwards did? How often do I allow myself to think that since I’ve been saved from my sins that they don’t really matter anymore? As if God doesn’t care one way or the other since it's all just water under the bridge. Edwards understood the call to holiness in Scripture and he took it seriously.
Putting away his sin wasn’t just theory for Edwards either, like it often seems to be for me. I have these epiphanies during Bible study about ridding myself of sin, but all too often the convictions end there, as convictions. Edwards made actual escape plans to avoid sinning when temptation called.
“When I am violently beset with temptation, or cannot rid myself of evil thoughts, to do some sum in arithmetic, or geometry, or some other study, which necessarily engages all my thoughts, and unavoidably keeps them from wandering.” (from Edwards’ diary vol. 16, 776, taken from Lawson p. 86)
He was truly taking his thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ!
Resolution 3: “Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.” (Lawson p. 79)
Resolution 8: “Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings of others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.” (Lawson p. 81)
So Edwards understood his propensity toward feeling self-righteous toward others and realized the antidote was reflecting on the magnitude of the sins forgiven him by our merciful Lord.
In summary, our resolutions should reflect our knowledge of our sins, the importance of searching out our sins so we can confess them and repent of them, the priority of putting away our sins, and the plans of action that will help us to avoid future sins. Wow, that’s quite a list. So, as we make our New Year’s resolutions let’s try to keep in mind what activities will help us keep our sins before us and what actions will help us to sin less.
Monday, December 28, 2009
"Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever." (Edwards' first resolution copied from Lawson p.65)
Notice how Edwards assumes that whatever is most to God’s glory is also to his own good, profit, and even pleasure. My, how we’ve redefined “good”. How often do I consider some difficulty that is to my spiritual benefit and God’s glory “good”? Therein must lie the key to suffering well, the perspective that if it’s to God’s glory then it really is to the believer’s benefit, too. I don’t just have persecution in mind here, but the daily suffering of giving up my frivolous wants (and I have lots of them) in order to seek God’s glory. This is very convicting to me when I see how short I fall in the goals that I have set for my life. My goals are usually more short-term- like what I want to achieve over the next 1-10 years. Edwards truly had an eternal perspective in that he desired for every second of his life to count for eternity.
The next 69 of Edwards’ resolutions consisted of every possible way in which he could live out his primary goal of doing everything to maximize God’s glory. In the same way, I hope to establish some resolutions for myself for the upcoming year that will also stem from that same purpose to glorify God. I hope you will join me in brainstorming about the details of our lives- schedules, reading time, family time, diet, ministry, Bible study, friendships, marriage, “free” time, etc. and let’s establish a few resolutions that will spur us on toward holiness for the glory of God. Will you join with me? I’ll look at some more of Edwards’ resolutions in my next post and then start to make a few of my own. I’m NOT going to make 70, so don’t worry I think I can wrap this up in the next few days.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
He also reviewed and analyzed the degree to which he was keeping his resolutions. He actually quantitated his progress so he could compare his success from month to month and year to year. For those of you who don’t know what that means, he used numbers to calculate how well he was doing. He implemented a grading system! Are you exhausted yet? Oh, and I forgot to mention that he was only 18 and 19 and a new believer when he wrote them. What were you doing when you were 18? And he reviewed them for the rest of his life!!!
I don’t know about you, but I usually keep my New Year’s resolutions for about 2 weeks. My mom says it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so I guess that’s my problem. If I could just hold on for one more week maybe I could keep it up for the rest of my life. Ok, back to Jonathan Edwards. You might be wondering why in the world did he do all that? Didn’t he know that we’re saved by grace? The answer to the second question is “yes”. In fact, he understood that not only are we saved by grace, but that the degree to which he would be able to successfully keep his resolutions also depended on the grace of God. “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.” (from Edward’s preamble to his resolutions) And also from his journal Jan. 2, 1722 “I perceive if God should withdraw His Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself.” The answer to the first question then, of why he wrote his resolutions is that he wanted them to serve as purpose statements to direct him on his Christian journey. “Edwards consecrated himself in all things in order to glorify God and gain the incorruptible crown.” (Lawson p. xiii) His two-pronged goal with his resolutions was that he wanted to keep his spiritual priorities always before him, and he wanted his resolutions to serve as guidelines for self-examination. In other words, he wanted them to help make him holy. He wanted to live his life to the utmost for the glory of God.
Did it work for Jonathan Edwards? Well, in short, yes. He didn’t live a very long life (55 yrs), but he left a legacy of godliness that helped shape America over the next 100+ years. Edwards was a pastor, theologian, philosopher, university president (for 5 weeks) and left an indelible mark on our nation. His descendants include 300 clergymen, missionaries, and professors of theology; 120 college professors; 110 lawyers; over 60 physicians; more than 60 authors of good books; 30 judges; 14 presidents of universities; numerous giants in American industry; 80 holders of major public office; 3 mayors of large cities; 3 governors; 3 U.S. senators; one chaplain of the U.S. Senate; one comptroller of the U.S. Treasury; and one vice president of the United States. He’s heralded by many as the most influential single figure in American Christianity until the 20th century. It’s hard to measure success in the Christian life, though. His church certainly didn’t appreciate him, as he suffered a big church split and then was asked to step down from the pulpit. He lived out much of his life in relative obscurity ministering among a group of Native Americans. He used the time to write and left us with many works, the most influential of which were Religious Affections, Freedom of the Will, and The Nature of True Virtue.
Now that you’re primed for more Edwards, you’ll have to tune in next time to learn just what these resolutions were that helped make this man so great.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I planned the above photo shoot at the last minute after we made our thankful tree on the day before Thanksgiving. Of course, Measle couldn't find her knit skirt that matches her vest, though we looked everywhere and at Nana's, too. It turned up a few days later! I didn't get that shot I was hoping for, but this one came close. From left to right: Monk (10), American Boy (3), Measle (6), Baby Lu (1), and Twinkle Toes (8).
Since I wasn't thrilled with the first picture, I decided to try again with them dressed in their formal Christmas attire. Baby Lu was NOT happy with sitting on anyone's lap so finally I tried putting her in the chair. That was a little better, but she kept trying to push everyone away.
So I don't win mother of the year, but it is pretty funny. She's my first one that has climbed out of her high chair. I guess the crib's next.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.