Thursday, April 25, 2013

Theology of the Home

We all have our ideal home. And most of us have given up trying to make our home into that ideal. It's just too exhausting to even think about. Where do you even begin? How can everything that needs to be done possibly get done in the amount of time we have to do it -- on top of all of our other responsibilities? And so our ideal home serves only to haunt us and make us feel like we should be doing more than we already are. And we're already

I'm not talking about your dream home -- I'm talking about how you wish your current home looks. Dishes all cleaned and put away; laundry washed, dried, neatly folded, and put away in precisely organized drawers. That never-shrinking pile of mail dealt with appropriately - all of the stuff that every available flat surface somehow seems to collect when you aren't looking, vanquished.

Or maybe it's just me.

And then you come home from and see everything a mess and get stressed because you only see even more work for you to do. Or maybe you're home most of the day keeping track of your children and juggling everyone's schedules and you also only see more work for you to do when you look around your home. It's not peaceful, it's stressful ... which doesn't naturally lend itself to keeping up a positive and upbeat attitude.

You get cross. Not because anyone has done anything wrong. But because there is so much to do. And you feel like it falls on you.

I totally understand. I'm there myself.

I was talking to my husband about everything that needed to be done and how overwhelmed I was and how I didn't know where to begin and ... well, rambling. Somewhere in there a light bulb went off that had flickered several years before.

My home was not glorifying to God.

Huh? My home, with all of its clutter, mess, disorganization, uncleaned up spills, and piles of "organized mess" was not honoring to God - it did not reflect his intended created order. Instead, my home emulated the order of the Devil, HaSatan, the Accuser (is it any wonder I never feel that enough is done? That I always have more to do? That I'm a sorry wife and mother because of all this?!).

Let me explain.

God is a God of order.

He created the world in an orderly fashion - 6 days, tackling like things on a given day. Untainted. Unmarred. It was perfect. When he was done, he pronounced it "very good."

Imperfection - disorder - entered the world upon man's sin.

God created an orderly world. Satan, in his opposition, created (and creates) disorder.

As Christians, we are supposed to reflect God and his intended order for the world. That means we should be orderly - that our homes should not be a chaotic mess, but should instead be clean, neat, and peaceful. If we do that, we are glorifying God.

I would argue, that if we do that, we are proclaiming the gospel. Why? Because redemption through Jesus brings our lives back under God's order. This redemption accomplished by the first coming of Jesus paves the way for his second coming when the world will be brought back under God's rule.

By modeling our homes to reflect God's intended created order, we are also proclaiming our redemption and the coming restoration of the world - the ultimate defeat of Satan and therefore also of disorder.

By defeating disorder in our homes now we are foreshadowing its ultimate defeat. 

By ordering our homes, we are proclaiming God's victory.

I don't know about you, but that makes keeping my house clean seem a lot weightier - like something I ought to make a priority in my life...instead of being the thing that always gets pushed aside because I have so much else to do. We can't allow Satan to have any place in our home.

The disordered must made ordered.

So how do we begin? How do we go about changing our priorities so that the theology our homes ought to reflect is actually present?

Spend some time answering that for yourself and your family. Think about what I've said. Share your thoughts below.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on how to answer those questions in the next week or two.

photo credit

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are You Shunning Sin or Pursuing Holiness?

Aren't they the same thing?


And no.

See, it's a perspective - an attitude difference. I saw this idea a few weeks ago in a comment on another blog. I cannot remember which blog. Nor who the commenter was. But the idea stuck with me, and that's the important part.

The commenter made the observation that as we look at our lives and try to follow after Christ, we often ask ourselves "is this sin?"

Of course, we don't want sin in our lives, so this is a natural and a good question. But it might not be the best question. Ever notice that grey area? When you get the I'm-not-really-sure feeling? It might not be inherently wrong but does that mean we should okay it for our lives and the lives of our families?

Instead of asking ourselves, "is this sin?", the commenter suggested asking ourselves, "is this holy?" That puts a different spin on things. I find that when I ask that question, instead of asking the other, there's a whole lot less grey.

No, something may not be morally wrong, and not therefore sin, but that doesn't mean that it's glorifying to God. And that is what our goal should be.

We shouldn't be looking at the world, wondering how close we can stay and still be safe. We should be looking Jesus and trying to see how close to him we can get instead.

Pursue holiness ... you'll be shunning sin as a natural result.

picture credit

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Redemptive Animals?

"The most priceless possession of the human race is the wonder of the world."

So begins the Foreward to the 1966 edition of Wind in the Willows.

"Yet, latterly, the utmost endeavours of mankind have been directed towards the dissipation of that wonder. ... Science analyses everything to its component parts, and neglects to put them together again. ... Nobody, any longer, may hope to entertain an angel unawares, or to meet Sir Launcelot in shining armour on a moonlit road. But what is the use of living in a world devoid of wonderment?" 

This is something that has been impressed upon my mind for a number of years now. Ever since I first read Sophie's World, which has to be one of the more formidable books I have read in my life. Wonderment can lead to science, no doubt, but science should only increase the wonder in return. It should not leave you cold and mechanistic. Life goes by too quickly to allow our appreciation of wonder, awe, and beauty to fade away as we grow up.

"Granted that the average man may live for seventy years, it is a fallacy to assume that his life from sixty to seventy is more important than his life from five to fifteen. Children are not merely people; they are the only really living people that have been left to us in an over-weary world."
Without wonder, we are left with dreariness. We are left with nothing new - nothing to stir the imagination. We are bored.

"In my tales about children, I have tried to show that their simple acceptance of the mood of wonderment, their readiness to welcome a perfect miracle at any hour of the day or night, is a thing more precious than any of the laboured acquisitions of adult mankind."

Children have one foot in our world, and one foot in the fairy world. This is how we ought to live - not to forsake actual explanations of things, but to realize that we do not know or understand everything, and the explanation we are given - no matter how fantastic - may be the truth. Living with one foot in fairy land allows us to understand our world better. It allows us to see things from another perspective, which can only enrich our lives. It allows us to understand ourselves ... for in fairy land we are allowed to explore and think in ways our world cannot accommodate.

"As for animals, I wrote about the most familiar and domestic in The Wind and the Willows because I felt a duty to them as a friend. Every animal, by instinct, lives according to his nature. Thereby he lives wisely, and betters the tradition of mankind. No animal is ever tempted to belie his nature. No animal, in other words, knows how to tell a lie. Every animal is honest. Every animal is straightforward. Every animal is true -- and therefore, according to his nature, both beautiful and good."
Given this, when we anthropormorphize animals, we are able to communication great truths to others in ways we would be unable to do with humans because of our bent nature. Animals, too, do not behave as God intended, but that is because of man's wrong choice. Animals can only do as their nature dictates -- man can resist, for good or ill, while animals can only live according to their instincts. Grahame is right. They tell no lies, and thus, perhaps, they are closer to what God intended for his creation than man.

Perhaps, in stories, they also are redeemed, and can help lead a child, or the child at heart, to the good life.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breakfast Muffins

 This is the best muffin recipe I have found yet. And it's versatile. I found the recipe here, labeled "To Die For Blueberry Muffins." While I wouldn't go quite that far, they are quite yummy.

What You Need:
Muffin tin(s)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh fruit

n.b. on the fruit - the recipe originally said fresh blueberries. I have only used frozen fruit in these, and they have worked just fine. Here is what I've found out though

-- Huge blueberries (or pieces of fruit) don't work. It creates these caverns that fall in and get filled. It still tastes great, but looks less than great ... and isn't very functional as a muffin. So make sure you cut your pieces up into small pieces of fruit
--  Coat the fruit in flour. This prevents all of the fruit from sinking down to the bottom of the muffins. The flour coating helps ensure that the fruit doesn't sink, so it's evenly disbursed throughout the muffin.

-- Experiment. We did blueberries the first time. It was good. We did strawberries the second time (that's what I have pictured) Ah-may-zing. Truly. This is our favorite so far. We tried peaches the third time. Honestly, didn't give it much flavor. At all. Was disappointed, but the muffins still weren't bad. Next: we plan to try with mixed fruit!

-- Crumb topping: If you click through to the original recipe, absolutely do NOT use their recipe for crumb topping. 1. It makes wwwaaaayyyyyyyyyy more topping than you need - and this is coming from a girl who loves her crumb topping! 2. It melts (as you can see in the pictures). It doesn't keep a crumb-like consistency. ... Which also means that sometimes IT sinks into the muffin. Especially if it happens to be right over a really large piece of fruit. I haven't perfected a crumb topping yet in it's stead, but I think just sprinkling brown sugar and cinnamon on top would probably be sufficient. But I haven't tried that yet soo no promises.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done. I start keeping an eye on mine between 10-15 minutes ... I can't stand a muffin that's over cooked. I like mine soft and springy.

This recipe makes 8 oversized, bakery style muffins, or 12 regular size muffins (which I what I always do). I think this would make 24 mini muffins.

Usually, when I make this recipe I double it. It doesn't take that much long on the prep side, and then I have delicious muffins for breakfast for longer ... which means more time I can spend doing something else, instead of standing in the kitchen. These muffins also freeze well, which is always a nice bonus. *grin*