Sunday, September 30, 2007

Book Review: Soul Feast

Recently someone suggested that the journey of faith is not necessarily a linear one, in which we move from point A to point B. I’m inclined to agree, although I used to view it that way. If I was not farther along today than I was yesterday, then I was backslidden. Now it reminds me more of math class, where every year began with a review of the basics, of which mastery was critical if you were to move on to higher math concepts. God has been providing me with plenty of opportunity for review lately!

In Soul Feast, Marjorie Thompson takes us back to the basics; those spiritual practices which form the foundation of our walk with God. In the prologue, she summarizes her focus: “I remain convinced that the way forward lies in practicing the truths we know, not merely knowing the right theology.”

By way of introduction, Thompson spends an entire chapter on spiritual transformation. In this era where the word “spirituality” means something different to everyone, from New Age seekers to Twelve-Step program participants, what does it mean as followers of Christ to be spiritually transformed? Paul describes this as the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, continually forming us into the image of Christ. Thompson likens the spiritual disciplines as windows which must remain transparent, never obscuring but always enhancing our view of God. The minute they become a means to an end, the disciplines becomes opaque, “reflecting our distorted motives.”

Spirituality then, and spiritual practices in particular, are simply ways to make space for God to work in our lives. Prayer, fasting, scripture reading and hospitality are just a few of the seven disciplines covered in this book. Each idea is presented along with a few questions and opportunities to pause for reflection, along with suggestions for engaging in that practice. The book is aptly titled Soul Feast, for the myriad of ways in which we can enhance our walk with God are indeed much like a smörgåsbord. Impossible to taste everything at once, but over time we can learn to incorporate many of these practices into our lives.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Word of the Week: Breathe

Or perhaps it should be words of the week: "just breathe!" That's what I'm doing tonight, or starting to anyways, after not being able to OPEN my laptop since Tuesday night! Wow, that was a weird feeling of withdrawal. Even though I've begun shutting my laptop down one night a week and leaving it off for about 36 hours, that's a planned thing. Vastly different from staring at a locked-up-tighter-than-a-drum laptop!

All my husband's years of school paid off tonight though; he had it apart and open in about three hours and I'm breathing regularly again.

Seriously though, I am learning the value of stopping to breathe deeply throughout my day. It's sad that we as believers have allowed the very essence of life - breath - imparted to us by God, to become a scary word. We've kind of relinquished it to the rest of the world - the marketplace, exercise gurus and worshippers of every other god but ours.

Think about it. When God breathed the breath of life into his creation, it was intentional. Unlike the shallow breathing that gets us through most of our day, or the gasping for breath we might do because we're out of shape, deep breathing has to be intentional. It comes with a pause of sorts. It settles you down. Helps you focus. I am finding my prayer time much enriched when I take a moment to breathe deeply and clear my head and heart of cluttering thoughts. A deep breath in the middle of a stressful day beats crawling under my desk!

When's the last time you stopped to breathe deeply? Why not try it? Step outside and smell the fragrance of the rain or the falling leaves. Pause to marvel at the innocence of your children. Let a moment etch itself in your memory. Claim it for yourself again, this marvelous gift of God. Just breathe.

P.S. It's All Good

When I was a dorm supervisor at Bible college, I once shared a devotion on Romans 8:28. You're familiar with the verse no doubt, quoted below in the KJV I used at the time:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Using the ingredients panel of a cereal box, we agreed that a few ingredients seemed palatable - sugar, raisins, nuts, etc., but that most either taste bad on their own (salt, flour) or have no taste at all (niacin and all the other good-for-you vitamins). And then we discussed how all the ingredients God places in our lives are important and together, he works them for our good. This meant, for us seventeen to twenty-five year olds, even the not so pleasant things like family struggles back home, final exams, broken-down cars and break-ups with boyfriends. Oh and of course, the perpetually empty wallets!

Fast-forward twenty years - wow, has it been that long? I still believe, without shadow of doubt, that God uses everything he brings into our lives. But if I could share again today, I'd add two postscript thoughts.

One, God is at work in my life and yours - this we know. But I think his work is evident in so much more than just negative circumstances. We don't have to wait until we've got our backs up against the wall to be assured of his amazing presence. He is at work in our lives day in and day out, through the people he brings into our lives, the books we read, through his providence, through his Word and his Holy Spirit. He is constantly weaving together strands of mercy, hope and grace. I am confident that God works in every detail in my life for his glory.

For his glory. That's the second thought I'd add. HIS glory. HIS purpose. I'm afraid that for many years, I read that verse this way:

to THEM that love God, to THEM who are the called according to his purpose.

THEM = ME. I loved God. I was the "called." So his work was on MY behalf. So he could bring about his purpose in MY life.

Today, I'd have to change the emphasis, based on a better understanding of the context (here in the more familiar NIV):

And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love HIM, who have been called according to HIS PURPOSE.

Emphasis on God. In fact, much of chapter 8, especially from verse 18 on, speaks of the glory that will be revealed in us, and the whole creation waiting anxiously for redemption. It's not about me. It's his story, not mine. His creation. His plan. His purpose. His glory.

All things. It means so much more to me now and I expect in years to come, this verse will continue to mean more to me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall into Reading 2007

I've been looking forward to this Fall into Reading Challenge for quite sometime. The beginning of the challenge has been just resisting the urge to dive right into all these books before the challenge begins. But it's also been challenging to read more purposefully, as well as holding off buying quite so many books. The other thing I'm doing differently this time is purposely rereading a few books.

Anyways, here's the list for starters. I don't feel obligated to read everything on this list, but what I do read this fall will most likely come from this list. I've decided to keep my most current (3-4) reads on Shelfari, and the complete list here on the blog. In the interest of saving my wrists, I'm not bothering to hyperlink them all, since they're linked to on Shelfari.


  • The Renegade Writer - Formichelli & Burrell
  • The Sound of Paper - Julia Cameron
  • The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
  • Head Game - Tim Downs
  • Meet the Austins - Madeleine L'Engle (goal of reading the Austin series)
  • The Moon by Night - Madeleine L'Engle
  • A Ring of Endless Light - Madeleine L'Engle
  • Troubling a Star - Madeleine L'Engle
Devotional: Celtic Daily Prayer

  • Listen:Finding God in the Story of Your Life - Keri Wyatt Kent
  • Surrender to Love - David Benner
  • The Jesus Creed - Scot McKnight
  • The Road Less Traveled - M. Scott Peck set aside halfway through, not what I was expecting!
  • The Life of the Beloved - Henri Nouwen
  • Under the Overpass - Mike Yankowski
  • Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture - Michael Frost
  • Abba's Child - Brennan Manning
  • Sacred Rhythms - Ruth Haley Barton

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What's in Your Closet?

The approach of fall always brings the need to clean out my closet. Since I can't fit fall/winter clothes in my closet along with my spring/summer wardrobe, the sweaters and corduroys get packed away under the bed until the cooler months arrive. I don't consider myself a clotheshorse by any means, nevertheless I know I have a lot of things that need to go. That dress in the back of my closet, a gift from some friends years ago (about thirteen to be exact) - will I ever wear that again? Those way-too-big articles and the way-too-small ones too - isn't there someone who could use them now? That wool blazer that I just had to have . . . I haven't worn in about ten years.

I'll stand and deliberate over each item. Should I give it to a friend? Sell on ebay? Or just give to Goodwill. Or should I hang onto it for one more season? No, if I haven't worn it in a year, I most likely will not wear it in the coming year. It must go.

But thinking about cleaning out my closet reminds me of some other business to which I must attend. I feel like I've been on an emotional journey over the past year, as God has taken me into some deep places in my heart and soul. And I realize there are some things that must go. Some attitudes which just don't fit any longer. Some habits and ways of thinking which are proving useless. Some outdated mindsets.

The best part about a clean closet is space. No, I don't mean space in which to fit more things! But space for what I already have to fit well and hang neatly. Things are more likely to be worn when I can see what I have.

And so it is with my heart. Though the process is a admittedly painful at times, I know God is right there with me. As I drag some of these things out of the depths, as I face them with God and he gently suggests I turn them over to him, I am loving the space it affords me to more fully enjoy the good things God has placed in my life.

So . . . what's in your closet?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Word of the Week: Leadership

So this was the word that floated to the top of my consciousness over the last week or two, both spoken and unspoken.

First, these alternate leadership models as described in a recent message: servant leadership - that of an inverted pyramid, where the leadership leads by serving and supporting others. (Sounds like a carpenter-turned-rabbi I read about once). And another interesting idea, that of a sideways pyramid, where the leadership leads by forging ahead into previously unknown territory. Most of my experience with leadership has been the top-down model, where the leadership is somewhat removed from those who follow. I've been blessed to see some servant-leadership models in action of late. Lucky for me, one example has been my boss who just rolled up her sleeves and grabbed some work off my pile today, since we're once again shorthanded in our department.

Another thought: a position does not necessarily indicate leadership. Haven't we all had managers who, in their failure to convey vision and goals, never took us anywhere? Where we never grew as a person while we worked for them, or perhaps we even backpedaled a bit? Sad to say, I think I've been that kind of manager in the past. I had a job to do and those who worked for me were simply a means to get my job done. I can't be too hard on myself though, since I was barely out of college and quite immature myself and every semester I had to train a new crew. I wish I could say it was a learning experience but the gist of what I learned was that I'm really not the management type! That said, not everyone is called to lead others, but are we not all called to serve one another?

Third idea: Leadership is not something to be grasped at. I thought this post entitled "Leading by Stepping Aside" really hit the nail on the head. So many times we as women think we have to do it all. And then we complain when we feel burned out. Go figure! I found this applicable as I will need to hand over some accounts to other customer service reps in the near future. My tendency is to think it's just easier to do it myself but helping someone else step in and get up to speed quickly will benefit us all in the long run.

Lastly, unless you're in their shoes, it's really difficult to understand the positions leaders find themselves in. Plenty of people stop by my cubicle last week to give their opinion on how the open position should be filled. I happen to know (because I happen to be good friends with my boss, from her pre-boss days) there's much more involved than just plugging a person into the empty chair. Anyways, my impression is that those with leadership responsibilities need our prayers, more than we probably realize. I wonder if anyone ever prayed for Jesus as he walked this earth?

So those are my rambling thoughts for the week: serving others and praying for those who serve others in a leadership capacity.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reading Non-fiction Like a Pro

Many of you are hard at work finalizing your reading list in anticipation of Katrina's Fall Reading Challenge. If you've never done something like this before, I encourage you to give it a try. Although I was skeptical at first, the challenge encouraged me to become more disciplined and intentional in my reading habits. Um - not to mention saving some money by reading what I had on hand!

Perhaps you're scrambling to get the obligatory non-fiction title or two on your list. You know, the one you should read because you're a parent and you just know you need some help! Or the one your relative gave you for Christmas last year. Or the one all your friends at church seem to be reading and talking about! If you find yourself less than enthusiastic about non-fiction, here are a few tips you might find helpful:

  1. Allow the Lord to direct your reading path. In what areas of your life are you struggling? Trust that he can use certain authors to reinforce the principles in his word and bring about his good work in your life.
  2. When choosing books, seek the recommendation of friends and avail yourself of the many reviews posted at sites like and Note authors of magazine articles you enjoy and check out the Internet to see what books they might have written.
  3. Read according to your personality. Are you a how-to person who loves lists and action items? Or are you a more contemplative person who appreciates great literary quotations interspersed in your reading? Can you relate better to books filled with personal stories? As you select books, keep your personality and preferences in mind.
  4. Get in the habit of reading the prologue, dedication and introduction to books. Doing so gives you personal insight into the author's intention for writing that particular book. Getting to know the author a bit always whets my appetite for the rest of the story. In today's Internet world, it's easy to connect to favorite authors online via their personal blogs and websites.
  5. Read slowly and set attainable reading goals. As a college student, I boasted a 2000 wpm reading level in a speed-reading course. That's great when your goal is to complete hundreds of pages of required reading with only three days left before finals. It's not so great when you come to the end of the book and realize you missed most of the author's best ideas. If you're new to non-fiction, perhaps just one chapter a week or just 1-2 books a year would be achievable goals.
  6. Read with a pen and paper at hand. If you own the book, stop and underline parts that speak to you. Fill the margins with notes if you're so inclined. Or jot down important thoughts in a notebook, remembering to note page numbers for future reference.
  7. As the Lord leads, incorporate the thoughts you're reading into your daily quiet time. If the author provides a study guide or questions for reflection, consider taking the time to contemplate at least a few of those questions. Recently I read If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get out of the Boat, by John Ortberg. In Chapter 7, Ortberg points to Psalm 142 as David's great cave-time lament. So for the next few days, I spent time meditating on that Psalm during my quiet time.
  8. Share your reading with others. Perhaps your church would appreciate a short review for the church newsletter. Post a snippet on your blog, along with your insights. Or challenge a friend to read the same book you're reading, and then meet occasionally to share your insights. Something happens when we try to summarize and share what we're learning; it reinforces it in our own minds.
And now, I have a reading list to tend to!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nothing But Chocolate!

That's all I got - 2 chocolate recipes! Plenty of other posts "in the oven," so to speak. But God and I have this little agreement that nothing gets posted until he says it's "done."

Anyways, sometimes you just need chocolate. Me - I've never really been a chocolate person. I can pass on Reese's cups, M&M's and the like. A box of Valentine candy lasts me two months and that's the 8oz size. Just not a fan of milk chocolate. When I want chocolate, I want it dark and rich. And you only need a little of the good stuff. Give me a piece of Dove dark in the middle of a bad day at work and . . . okay, I admit, I have a piece almost every day -it's my antioxidant! Anyways here are 2 Seriously Good Chocolate recipes:

Starbuck's Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Chocolate Batter
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups Dutch-processed cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark, of course!)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa-Spice Sugar Crust
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon Dutch-processed
cocoa powder
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves
¼ cup decorating or sparkle sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Make the Chocolate Batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed, until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.
Meanwhile in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, water and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to butter, beginning and ending with the flour and beating just until blended. Divide the batter between the two pans, shake the pans to even the tops and set aside.

Make the Cocoa-Spice Sugar Crust: In another small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ginger and cloves. Sprinkle the surfaces of both batters with the decorating sugar. Sprinkle with the cocoa sugar mixture, dividing evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely, run a thin knife around the sides to release the breads and remove from pans. From the kitchen of Marcus Samuelsson

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 t. baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted. (1 stick plus 2-2/3 T)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I sometimes use 1/2 peanut butter chips)

In large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda; blend in 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water; stir until well-blended. stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into greased 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or just until brownies begin to pull away from side of pan (do not overbake). Cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Word of the Week: Healthy

You may have heard it said about someone, "She's the picture of health." But what does that mean?

Both the words health and healing have at their root the idea of wholeness. Perhaps at times you've been the picture of health, fit and feeling great, while other times you struggled through an illness or injury to return to a place of healing. You might see two apparently healthy women at church; one may be enjoying her health due to a proactive lifestyle of eating right and exercising, while the other may be grateful for her health due to restoration and healing.

I think as Christians, we also can experience both types of health. There's the healthy kind of Christian living that evolves as we practice spiritual disciplines such as scripture reading, prayer and community. As we seek to integrate all our parts - emotional, spiritual, physical and mental - we grow into the whole person God intends us to become. But at times in our spiritual lives, the health we enjoy is a result of God restoring a broken relationship, healing past hurts or freeing us from some besetting sin.

Wholeness. It's a beautiful thing. And it's ours in Christ, no matter how we come by it.

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind,
had settled on us as the focus of his love,
to be made whole and holy by his love. Ephesians 1:4 (MSG)

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Middle Years

I thought about titling this post "A Middle-aged Woman." After all, I'll turn forty-three next month. And yet, I hardly feel middle-aged. I feel like I'm just beginning, in so many ways. Even though I am coming to accept the reality that at least half of my life is probably behind me, I am confident that "the best is yet to come." The following prayer spoke to my heart this morning and I wanted to share it here:

A Prayer in 'The Middle Years' of Opportunity

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life,
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings inside me,
I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness,
I give you my doubt,
I give you my despair,
I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

from A Celtic Daily Prayer

Saturday, September 08, 2007

There's a New Scone in Town! Tomatoes Too!

I went to the local bagel place today, part of a chain of places that offers among other things, free internet wireless and these delicious scones made with ham and cheese. I was in line to buy a few bagels for my husband and a scone for myself when it occurred to me: I could make 8 of these for less than the cost of one! About an hour later, this was the result (the recipe makes eight - I shared!):

All I did was modify this recipe for scones, posted here below with modifications:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and parsley. Quarter butter lengthwise, then into 1/4 inch slices. Work into flour mixture with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir ham and cheese into flour mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. They are just as good the next day, if they last that long!
While I'm at it, might as well mention that this idea for roasted tomatoes is out of this world! I made two trays Wednesday night and two more on Thursday night. I also made the sauce Lisa recommends and it is to die for! It's worth the little bit of effort it takes. Each tray makes about a freezer bag worth, and I used half of one bag to make some of the sauce, which yielded about two cups. I took some to work yesterday, with some plain pita chips, fresh mozzarella cheese and roasted red peppers. We killed it! I like how Lisa put it: I'm just saying!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sad News: Madeleine L'Engle dead at 88

I was deeply saddened today to learn that Madeleine L'Engle passed away yesterday . She was one of those authors I read as a child and enjoyed as only a child can. I began rereading her fiction several summers ago and loved them in an entirely new way. Then I began delving into her non-fiction, starting with A Circle of Quiet. It's a semi-autobiographical recounting of her life, interspersed with her deep insights and perspectives.

The thing I appreciated most about L'Engle was her childlike awe and humility. She never confessed to know or understand everything; in fact she was not afraid to voice her doubts. I think that's pretty amazing in this world where what we know (or think we know) seems to hold rank over everything else.

I recently shared this quotation from A Circle of Quiet with someone. I'm pretty sure it's been one of the most influential things I've ever read. I can't say it has changed me, but rather that it's changing me.

"When we are *self*-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves. The Greeks had a word for ultimate self-consciousness which I find illuminating: *hubris*: pride: pride in the sense of putting oneself in the center of the universe. The strange and terrible thing is that this kind of total self-consciousness invariably ends in self-annihilation...

I was timid about putting forth most of these thoughts, but this kind of timidity is itself a form of pride. The moment that humility becomes self-conscious, it becomes hubris. One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. Therefore, the act of creating—painting a picture, singing a song, writing a story—is a humble act? This was a new thought to me. Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.". ...that special kind of creative courage which is unself-conscious: the moment you wonder whether or not you can do it, you can't."

Rest in peace, Madeleine L'Engle.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reading Ramblings

I'm not sure quite when it began, but I've long had a passion for the written word. My mom will tell you I was reading at three years of age. I can't vouch for that but I do remember the huge cardboard cards she put around the house to get me started with sight words. When I was in grade school, I remember excusing myself from the table right after dinner and hiding out in the bathroom with a book! When she and I went to Ireland back in 1990, I swear we took 2 changes of clothes each and a suitcase full of books! I sneak out at work on my lunch hour (which is technically only 30 minutes), head for the parking lot behind the local Krispy Kreme and indulge, not in a "Hot Now" donut but in whatever book I have at hand. And to this day, I actually get slight heart palpitations if the day draws to a close without having had time to read!

I'm often more drawn to a book because of the author than the subject. I enjoy learning about the authors' lives, and will often try to read through several of an author's works before moving on. I'm a "cover to cover" reader; I enjoy every single page of a book, including the copyright page, prologue and especially the bibliography. I read one book recently which, although it was a good book, had no bibliography. The author chose to just quote his sources right in the text. I found that left me hanging a bit. In my opinion, one good book should lead to another.

I can tend to start too many books at once though and come up shy of finishing them. My friend Katrina has been hosting these reading challenges; the fall one is just around the corner. They've been a great way for me to discipline myself to finish more books. Last year I started keeping track of what I read here on my blog. And recently I discovered Shelfari, a really neat way to keep track of what I've read, what I'm reading and what I hope to read as well as see what other people are reading. If you get a chance, hop on over and check out my "shelf" and if you create one, feel free to add me as a friend so I can check yours out!

Over the past few years, I've come up with a few rules for myself where reading is concerned:

1. I borrow books when I can. This can be a drag when it comes to non-fiction, because it's really not appropriate to write in other people's books! That means I have to take notes. Which can turn out to be a good thing in the long run.
2. When I do buy a book, I must finish it before I can buy another. I can start another and I can borrow others, but no more buying until I finish what I've bought. That is precisely why I'm stuck on Founding Mothers right now!
3. I've been trying to write a review on all the non-fiction I read. I don't always get around to posting them here or on but I find I actually read better when I'm thinking of how I might share what I'm taking in.
4. Four, although it's an even number and even numbers are evil, seems to be the magic number for me - four books at a time. One by my bed, one in my bookbag or purse, one by my chair in the livingroom and the odd one here or there.
5. If the book's just not working for me, I'm not afraid to put it down. Rule #5 even supersedes Rule #2. Life's too short to read a really bad book!

And after this entirely too long and boring post, I'll bet you're glad I don't have comments enabled! And now I need to go . . . you guessed it . . . read!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Love That Surpasses Knowledge

Ephesians 3:17-19 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I'm still working my way through Ephesians. What a rich book! I especially love the prayers Paul inserts for the believers. Did someone ever pray for you and you just felt blessed from head to toe? That hugged feeling perhaps? That's how I feel when I read Paul's prayers, and they also help shape my prayers for others.

But one phrase stopped me in my tracks this morning. I'll confess, it may have been the English teacher in me, questioning something. Paul prays that the believers might first of all be rooted and established in love. He then goes on to pray that they might have power to grasp the breadth of Christ's love. Power? Power to understand love? Why not wisdom or understanding? Why power? Power and love? How do they go together?

The Message puts it this way:

. . . you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

We naturally associate power with action. But love is to be associated with action also. Paul probably understood our tendency to let love get hung up in our heads. He reminds us that this love of Christ is a "love that surpasses knowledge." It has to be that way, expressed and lived out. And that takes a supernatural power, something that is not of ourselves.

God, empower us today to grasp this great love of yours. It's not something we'll ever be able to get our heads around. Help us to live deeply in your love and, having lived in it fully, to live it out amongst those around us.