Posted in reading, theology

2020 Christian Reading Challenge: My Big, Fat Book List!

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to read. But as much as I love it, my fleshly sinful nature will rear up to divert me from any wholesome activity, even one I love. My eyes tire more quickly too as I’ve gotten older so I struggle against the pull to just watch TV. I motivate myself to maintain this important habit in a number of ways. One of them is doing Tim Challies’ Christian Reading Challenge for 2020. He sets out a four-tiered list of themes to match with books you choose. You also choose the pace at which you want to read them. I chose Avid Level, reading 1 book every two weeks. His list is below. You can see the themes. Continue reading “2020 Christian Reading Challenge: My Big, Fat Book List!”

Posted in reading, theology

Challies Reading Challenge 2019: How did I do?

By Elizabeth Prata

Since it’s year-end and I’m concluding the Challies Christian Reading Challenge, the next couple of days will be about books and bookish things. I already wrote about a Bible Reading Plan.

I like a challenge. I like to have goals. I need them in order to stay on track and be productive. I like Reagan Rose’s Redeeming Productivity blog and podcasts, “A Christian Approach to Getting Stuff Done”. Otherwise I’d melt into a puddle of TV-watching couch potato with a melting brain to match! I recommend Rose’s blog and podcast, they’re great.

Here’s my reading progress for 2019, as I get ready for another Christian Reading Challenge for 2020: Continue reading “Challies Reading Challenge 2019: How did I do?”

Posted in love, theology

What is love?

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t like writing about myself and I never talk about my internal emotions and thoughts. I’d really rather die than talk about what’s going on inside me. But I have to this time, because it’s about Jesus.

As a woman who grew up in a difficult circumstance, I learned to rely only on myself and to be strongly independent and self-sufficient, and have been so for 50 years (since I was 8). Yet when I was given the grace of salvation 15 years ago, I learned also that the Lord wants me to share my burdens and to interlock in mutual submission with others in caring relationships. I don’t know how to do this, it’s literally beyond my life experience and my emotional capacity. But with God all things are possible.

I am learning His lessons about trusting Him in sharing burdens and loving others- as well as accepting love from others. My prayers are being answered day by day, His glory is being shown- through all of my different families- Twitter tweeps, School family, Church body in a huge and impactful way.

Life before salvation and outside of church, was a bewildering swirl of relationships between others…not knowing how to break in or even particularly wanting to:

relationships1b
I still have difficulty with socializing and developing or maintaining relationships. It’s not a matter of trying harder or willpower or shyness. It’s irritating when people try to sympathize by saying “I’m shy too” when it’s literally a matter of different brain wiring, and not behavior modification. I know they are trying to be nice, but it’s a totally wrong thing to say.

Though my brain is made differently, nothing is too difficult for God. Through the incessant work of the Holy Spirit, like water eventually wears through stone, the glory of God that is shown through my friends, after 5 decades and a loving set of families the Lord has given me, we have this:

relationships2b
I still don’t know the “how” of it. But I can feel the love. I love you back.

The important thing is to keep persevering.

persevere
Further Resources:

RC Sproul lectures: Love

19 Secrets Autistic People…(what not to say)

14 Things not to say to an Autistic Person (I’ve actually had someone say #11 to my face, except it was phrased more rudely)

Love for the Long Haul: The Autism Pastor

Posted in book review, theology

Book Review Shots: Updates on books read and to-read

By Elizabeth Prata

Time for a reading update!

I am on summer break from my job in an elementary school. I’m a teacher’s aide, now called “para-professional.” I enjoy summer break enormously and one of the ways I try to ‘redem the time’ is to catch up on some quality reading.

I set aside a bunch of books to read, and a schedule to read them in. Here’s the list of books and my short reviews of each.

  • Bible
  • Biblical Doctrine, John MacArthur et al
  • Competing Spectacles, Tony Reinke
  • Her Husband’s Crown, Sara Leone
  • Idols of a Mother’s Heart, Christina Fox
  • In a Different Key: Story of Autism, John Donovan
  • Internet Inferno, John Michael Beasley
  • It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
  • Life of David, RC Sproul (lectures)
  • Lit!, Tony Reinke
  • Margaret Paton Letters from South Seas, Margaret Paton
  • Phantom Rickshaw & Other Eerie Stories, Rudyard Kipling
  • Selina Countess of Huntingdon, Faith Cook
  • The Believer’s Joy, Robert M’Cheyne
  • Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet, Ed
  • Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

I have added a few books to my original list:

Empty Nest, What’s Next by Michele Howe
Mayflower by Nathanial Philbrick
Life of Moses by James Boice

I decided to read Internet Inferno again even though I finished it, it’s THAT GOOD.
Books I’ve finished:

I mentioned that Beasley’s Internet Inferno is good. He applies the warnings and commands of James about the tongue to our practices and behavior online. Very clear writing and excellent application of the verses. Highly recommended.

The Phantom ‘Rickshaw & other Eerie Tales, is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling, first published in 1888. I always try to include a literary classic in my summer list, and this book was it. I’d found it in a vintage store for $1 and was delighted to try a Kipling. #TrueConfession: I’ve never read The Jungle Book or any other Kipling.

Kipling is no doubt a literary giant and a master storyteller. He is so good in fact, that this eerie set of stories made me highly uncomfortable and creeped me out. I stopped reading the book at the story about the living dead, it was vivid and put pictures in my mind I didn’t want to carry with me. However, the stories are well-done so if you’re less sensitive than me I recommend the book. It’s little known so you might have difficulty finding it.

It Can’t Happen Here is a Sinclair Lewis political novel written in 1935. It’s about just how easily a representative democracy (ours) can become a dictatorship. Last summer I’d read Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, (1927) which turned out to be the best book I ever read on religious hypocrisy. Talk about chilling, Kipling has nothing on creeping you out. Lewis definitively captured the emptiness and evil of a Christ-less convert turned celebrity pastor. The book was long and a bit of a slog, but I kept with it and I was glad I did. The book still haunts me.

It Can’t Happen Here is also a slog, but try as I might I couldn’t get through it. Lewis’ language is terrific, his turns of phrase and word pictures are unmatched. It’s just that there is so much of it. The story slows down and suffers because it seems Lewis was more entranced with his artful turns of phrase than just telling a good story. Gantry was a masterpiece, Happen Here, sadly, isn’t. I took it off my ‘currently reading shelf.’ Maybe next year.

FMI on 4 Lewis books that are better than It Can’t Happen Here

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018) was a ‘can’t put down book’. It’s everything a well-written, gripping, emotional novel should be. I raced through it. When I wasn’t reading it, I wished I was. Recommended.

I reviewed Her Husband’s Crown earlier this summer. It was just a 42 page book, a small pamphlet really. It’s a practical bundle of advice aimed at pastors’ wives but applicable to any women who is a member of a church. Recommended.

My Bible reading right now is through Proverbs, which, being wisdom books, coincide nicely with Lit!, Competing Spectacles, and Internet Inferno.

Ladies, don’t feel bad about reading books, even novels. Sometimes I get a twinge, thinking that if I have this time shouldn’t I devote it totally to the Lord, and read only the Bible and theological books. Are novels, or even historical fiction, taking away time I could better redeem? Tony Reinke in Lit! answers that. And because I agree with him, lol, I’ll post his bullet points here.

  • Fictional literature can help us explore abstract human experiences
  • Fictional literature can deepen our appreciation for concrete human experience
  • Fictional literature expands our range of experiences
  • Fictional literature provides beauty and creativity to be enjoyed

In Owens’ Crawdads book I thoroughly enjoyed her atmospheric descriptions of the Low Country, the marshes, estuary, and ocean of South Carolina, and the lushness of her language. The scenery reminded me of a fond memory I have of anchoring our sailboat in the Georgia marshes and hearing the rushes shake as the tide turned, and the owls hooting under the moonlight.

As for the remaining books on my list that I’ve begun already, I am enjoying them to greater and lesser degrees. I grade them all from a B to A+. More to come as I progress through each book.

Happy Summer Reading!

summer reading

Posted in summer reading, theology

2019 Summer Reading Schedule: My most ambitious ever?

By Elizabeth Prata

I work in education as a teacher’s aide. That means I get summers off. At this stage of my life I enjoy the time off more than the money. Yes, I get paid through the summer, but it’s pro-rated. I live for 12 months on a 9-month salary. They just stretch it out. Which means I really stretch it out.

But as I said, the time is important to me. I live frugally and simply. I have all I need. I’ve been blessed to have had many experiences in my life that would cover many lifetimes. So I have zero to complain about. I have all I need and more.

As a single person I am ever mindful of Paul’s admonition to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) and to remain anxious for things of the Lord since I have no husband and I am not anxious for things of the world-

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:34-35).

I have an opportunity to secure my undivided attention to the Lord. Yay!

But I’m lazy. Waaah.

Given half a chance, I’ll secure my undivided attention upon myself.

More than one school vacation or summer break has gone by, both before and after becoming a Christian, where I had grand plans for home or garden improvement projects, or craft projects, or reading through my piles of books, and none of it got done.

A few years ago I put two and two together and finally acknowledged that I’m on the autism spectrum. Autistic people typically have a poor sense of time and difficulties with time management (because executive function is impaired). At school I’ve got an excellent sense of time because the day is broken into segments to the minute. My day is neatly prescribed for me.

But like in tug of war, if you let go of the rope you tumble, when the school year ends and I’ve let go of the rope, I’m in free fall. Time here in this life on earth is a finite product, a discrete thing. In May I think I have all the time in the world to start reading and then suddenly it’s July 30 and I have to go back to work. All I’d accomplished is navel gazing.

Is that why the Lord made me a single person? I think not.

Anyway, I created a schedule. I replicated my days and weeks at school by making them segmented. I piled up the books I want to read, divided the pages into number of pages to read weekly, interspersed Bible reading and devotionals, and voila, I have something tangible to keep me on track.

I’m not rigid about it, it’s a tool, not a ball and chain.

This year’s schedule is a lot more ambitious than last year’s. Last year I read 8 books along with my personal Bible reading, Dr Abner Chou theology lectures, and Systematic Theology lessons.

This year I topped out at 14 books, personal Bible reading, devotional reading, systematic theology reading, and lectures from Ligonier (to be decided). I’m almost done with Sproul’s lectures on Life of David so I’ll buy another series this Friday at teh Ligonier $5 sale. They are usually 24 minutes long and there are about 9 to 12 lectures in the series on average.

I stalled out on my annual Bible Reading plan, but I’m looking forward to resuming. It’s organized by chronological authorship, earliest book to the latest book.

I do not have any trips planned. My cats are sick and need to go to the vet, so the timing is a blessing in that I can staying close to home to watch them, or get an appointment at any time of day.

For other hobbies, I bought a set of watercolor markers at school from the pop up shop, so I’ll do some crafting. Evenings I’ll be read-ed out, lol, so movies or TV for me. I will make a photo expedition or two, but gracious sakes, the temps have suddenly shot up to the upper 90s all of a sudden and are predicted to be that way for this week and next. This is unusual. I hope it cools down some so I can pound the pavement at the Golden Hour to get some cityscapes. I’m not THAT dedicated to my photography hobby to go to the city in hundred degree weather just to amble around and get pictures.

Here are some ideas for inspiration on a 365 photo series (A Photo a Day). I did a picture a day last year, testing my creativity to snap something just from around and within my very tiny environs here in the apartment and the yard. I might make a theme this year. Maybe “Metal.”

I’m not tied to the reading schedule, as I said, it’s a tool to help me make sure I’m doing the most for the Lord I can do. So, if something comes along in terms of fellowship, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I refuse to be a slug! Saturday and Sunday of the first two days of summer vacation are booked. Saturday is a wedding and Sunday is church and then I’ll start the Reading program on Monday. Monday is a good day to start things, isn’t it? 😉

books summer
The one on top is Kipling’s Stories, the slim one you can’t see under Competing Spectacles is
Her Husband’s Crown, just 48 pages. A pamphlet, really.

books list

books schedule chart

books2
The books at home on the bookshelf next to my kitchen table. Too ambitious? We’ll see

VoV is Valley of Vision
II is Internet Inferno
Com is Competing Spectacles
Key is In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

 

Posted in theology

Why Write?

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m a writer. It’s not my profession, though I’ve tried. I can’t live off my writing. I write on the side. I have a job I love, that not-coincidentally affords me time to ponder, percolate, and write. I’ve kept a blog every day for 10+ years, and another personal blog on and off for 13 years.

I’m not introspective. Being on the Autism Spectrum, I am not adept at looking internally and understanding what I feel or why I feel it. I have never written in a journal or a diary. I don’t even journal my thoughts about my Bible reading after I became a Christian.

Rather, I chronicle.

Before I learned I was on the Spectrum, I’d obsessively chronicle everything that happens, looking for reasons as to why things happen. I’d hope that a pattern would emerge, so I could understand the cycle of life here on earth. I looked for meaning to it all.

I didn’t find it.

Being a journalist, I’d investigate, interview, and again, chronicle events so that the readers would know what was happening in their town. They’d learn who the people were and what they did the things that were going on, so then, maybe they would learn the meaning of it all, and in turn tell me.

It didn’t happen.

After I was saved by faith in Christ, I understood the meaning of life. So writing didn’t have to perform that function for me any more. But I still needed to process the world by writing. I’d become so used to chronicling everything, and writing down questions to be followed up on later, I transferred that habit to my blogging. I’ve written 4,788 essays. This one when I hit the publish button will be the 4,789th. That’s a lot of words.

Social media in many of its forms offer an opportunity to extol the virtues of Christ and to exhort others (and by immediate extension, myself) to holy living. I can and do warn, encourage, think, promote Him, and explore verses. It’s great. I mean, it’s great for me, I hope for others, too.

Now comes this essay by Andreas Kostenberger called “Reflections on Writing: Why Write?

It’s so good!

“Writing can be a strategic stewardship.”

Kostenberger continues with talking about passionate persuasion, making a contribution, etc. It’s aimed at seminarians and those who plan to pursue a writing career, or at least, plan to author a book or contribute to the scholarly canon.  But I thought it was a good article and food for thought for any blogger.

I try to say something that adds to the general Christian discussion, edifies women, and doesn’t hinder or confuse. The Lord gives talents and abilities as well as the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts. I have written since I was a child, making lists, notes, observations,  snippets of lyrics or poems that struck my fancy- and I’ve continued to this day at age 58.

Putting that God-given ability to use for His glory, shepherding it and using it for His purposes is very sweet. Any talent or ability that God has endowed you with can and should be turned into a stewardship that strategically promotes His good name. Carpentry, music, maths, speaking, decision-making, researching, graphics, foreign language…any talent can be used for Him. Keep doing it, see where it leads you, organically.

When I was young, there were no blogs. But I wrote for the school newsletter. When I was a young adult there were no blogs, no self-publishing platforms, but I wrote for academia. When I was an older adult, there were no blogs, but I wrote for a newspaper. The Lord was propelling me toward that vertex where suddenly I’d be saved AND there would be a self-publishing platform on which to write about Him. And so it was.

Why write? To proclaim Christ. Why employ any talent one possesses? To proclaim Christ.

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Posted in theology

Dudette, where’s your gravitas?

By Elizabeth Prata

Last week I asked Do You Like or Dislike Podcasts? I’d admitted that my toleration level for any and all auditory stimuli is low, due to my autism. Therefore if I’m going to listen to something I’d rather it be a sermon or soft classical music (very calming).

The title question is a paraphrase from a Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood article which asked the men “Dude, Where’s Your Gravitas?

Gravitas is a Latin word meaning dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner. Bible teachers, speakers, and podcasters are handling the word of God. They are conveying or teaching doctrines or concepts related to theology and its application to Christian living.

Sadly, many podcasts by both men and woman sink into silly behavior from the podcaster, especially when there are two or more hosts, or a host and a guest. There’s so much giggling, laughing, and off-topic, random chats that I usually reach my limit within just a few minutes, and turn it off or move the dial to something more productive. I also think it’s asking a lot of the podcaster to expect busy moms and outside the home working women to devote their limited time listening to their tee-heeing and non-productive repartee.

Quite often when I publish an essay regarding false doctrine brought by a false teacher, I receive angry comments and emails telling me to ‘judge not’ and the like. But strangely, the angrier emails and comments I receive come when I publish an essay urging women to behave biblically. My, how so many women resent being urged to behave like biblical women!

But the Bible demands certain behavior from all of the faithful in every age group. We women, we are told to be a graceful pillar

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; (Psalm 144:12).

Pillars, ladies, Not a braying donkey.

clipboard3

A friend sent me a link to an Elisabeth Elliot talk on Youtube. Elliot (1926-2015) was a missionary along with her husband to the unreached group the Auca of eastern Ecuador. After what seemed a successful first few contacts, the Auca massacred her husband and four other missionaries with him. Elliot remained in Ecuador after her husband’s death for two years as missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. She remained in Ecuador overall until 1963.

Elliot was a popular speaker and author. Many of her talks to women about wifelihood or missionary life were recorded, as the one my friend sent.

Something one notices immediately upon listening to Elliot is her demeanor. She speaks slowly, carefully, soberly. (Titus 2:3,5). I think of someone like Beth Moore, where her speech patterns are so frenetic that when Chris Rosebrough introduces a segment about her he plays “Flight of the Bumblebee”. Or Christine Caine, who, at Passion 2019, yelled a lot and never stopped striding around the stage (in a track suit). A Bible teacher’s demeanor like Elisabeth’s will cause one to stop, listen, and take what is said more seriously because of the gravitas inherent in the woman. She spoke of heavenly things with respect for heaven.

The following is from Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, it says of gravitas in men (change the pronoun to woman)-

“That is a man of gravitas. There is a solemn weight to the way he carries himself. He believes in truth. He walks in love, joy, passion, and conviction. There’s an undeniable winsome seriousness evident in his character, his words, his thoughts, and his motivations.”

The Bible says of women,
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5).

From Strong’s,

 

  • reverent in Titus 2:3- means, befitting men, places, actions, or things sacred to God, reverent
  • self-controlled in Titus 3:5- sṓphrōn (“acting in God’s definition of balance”) makes someone genuinely temperate, i.e. well-balanced from God’s perspective. True balance is not “one-size-fits-all” nor is it blandly static. This root then reflects living in God-defined balance.
  • The root is the root of “diaphram,” the inner organ (muscle) that regulates physical life, controlling breathing and heart beat.
  • The whole word-family comes from sōos “safe” and phrēn “what regulates life”, which is the root of the English term “diaphram”.
  • Example: An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm which even controls the ability to breathe and moderates heartbeat. Hence it regulates (“brings safety”) to the body, keeping it properly controlled.

A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. (Proverbs 11:16)

The word honor as used in the Proverb here means ‘of a woman’. It’s used elsewhere to indicate- a doe (Nahum 3:4); a precious stone (Proverbs 5:19); of ornaments (Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 4:9; Proverbs 3:22.) Source, Strong’s.

One thing that Phil Johnson and Todd Friel remarked upon when discussing a “teaching” clip from Beth Moore was that her demeanor strayed from teaching the Bible with reverence and gravitas, to performance as a stand-up comedian. Dear sister, speaker, podcaster, ladies, if we are blessed with the gift of teaching and undertake that endeavor, do we want to point to ourselves in performance, or do we revere the subject matter enough to speak about our subject with not only skill and clear doctrine, but reverence and self-control?

If women are going to teach on Bible subjects, shouldn’t we act like the Bible says to act?

Just some thoughts. Let me know what you think.

———————————————–

Further reading/listening

Podcast by The Thankful Homemaker: Cultivating Self-Control. Contains good thoughts on approaching Christian life and holy things with reverence, which includes self-control.

Equipping Eve by Erin Benziger is a good podcast for content, and also to demonstrate a woman with gravitas in handling the subject matter well.

Michelle Lesley is a Christian blogger, speaker, teacher, and vlogger. She projects a demeanor of joy without silliness. Both the theological content and her speaking style are, in my opinion reverent, and self-controlled. Check out her Youtube channel here

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Thoughts on introspection and journaling

DebbieLynne Kespert wrote a great piece about journaling the other day. I recommend it. I linked to it below, too.

Journaling is the act of consistently writing down one’s thoughts, feelings, and events in a notebook, as the definition goes. Some people do that to track growth, or to leave as a legacy to coming generations, or to vent. Journaling is distinct from many other kinds of diaries, like food diaries people keep for medical reasons, or weather diaries farmers keep, stress or anger management diaries, and the like. Journaling expressly focuses on one’s conscious inner thoughts, sensations, and feelings. It is a method of emotional self-examination.

I’ve never gotten into journaling. I like to experience the day and then move on. As someone on the autism spectrum, I’m not that in touch with my feelings anyway, seeing them as not precisely unnecessary, but usually as unhelpful. Yet many others see journaling as very helpful–

Ever wondered why history’s great minds including Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou would spend so much of their precious time writing things that will never be seen by another soul? … Many famous creatives, writers, innovators and original thinkers of our generation keep journals— for many, it is a creative necessity, for others, a place for exploration, and for some an art form in and of itself. (Source)

For Christians, some self-examination is good. It is worthwhile to examine one’s self to see if one is in the faith. Scripture admonishes us to do just that. (2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Peter 1:10-11).

In the Christian spheres, Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, kept a diary and also wrote letters constantly. Those became his autobiography after he died. The great theologian Jonathan Edwards kept a journal. In it, he penned his famous 70 resolutions. As the pastors say at the Netherlands Heritage Reformed Congregation, “these resolutions were birthed out of his felt weaknesses and known deficiencies, not his personal attainments. They represent, therefore, his sanctified, biblically-conditioned aspirations.”

My personal journal: In my journal below, I am trying to figure out from the Bible
about the different resurrections.

Christian journaling can be very good.

However caution abounds. Ligonier says that self-examination is important, but must be done rightly. Faulty self-evaluation, the passage tells us, is an obstacle to walking by the Spirit. If after examining ourselves we “conclude that we are superior to others” the self-examination is faulty, but alternately if we conclude that “if we consider our gifts inferior to those of others, thinking we are unable to assist burdened believers” it is also faulty.

So the Bible does call for some self-examination to be done, and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

But is a good thing, ever too much of a good thing? It can be. In her article, Journaling: The Pitfall We Should Recognize, DebbieLynne Kespert says that she journaled for 17 years, venting feelings, writing experiences, and meditating on her disappointments, her frustrations and her fears. Then she had an epiphany. She wrote:

So when someone uses a personal journal to ruminate on their feelings, should it surprise us that we wind up wallowing in self-absorbtion? Self-absorbtion, however, is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity. Christ demands that His followers actually die to ourselves for His sake.

It’s the tendency of sinful man to wallow in self-absorption to begin with. Journaling only increases that tendency. Excessive navel-gazing is not good as it takes our eyes off Jesus, upon whom we are supposed to fix our eyes. (2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 12:2).

Jared Mellinger wrote about excessive self-examination in his piece “Self-Examination Speaks a Thousand Lies. He said,

Unhealthy introspection is a daily threat to our joy in Christ. Many of us tend to examine ourselves in a way that is excessive, inaccurate, and leads to discouragement. God calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40), but healthy self-examination is a difficult and dangerous duty. The flesh seizes self-examination as an opportunity to turn our thoughts against us. Introspection is deceptive because it often looks like we’re doing the right thing: we’re not indifferent to our sin — we want to seek it out! But when that introspection makes us self-absorbed instead of Christ-absorbed, we undermine our faith.

Providentially, Randy Alcorn wrote an interesting piece a few days ago as well. It didn’t center on journaling per se, it was about self-control, but it speaks to the where we want our mind to go:

What is your mindset? Do you dwell on selfish, envious, jealous, bitter thoughts? Or do you dwell on what pleases God? Do you focus on God, His Word, and His mighty works on our behalf, or do you focus on woes and misfortunes and abuses suffered at the hands of others? According to Scripture, the choice is yours.

The choice is yours. Journaling can be good when the Christian employs self-control during the introspection process. Do you journal? Do you enjoy it? Has it become simply a way to focus attention on one’s self? Let me know int he comments what your experience has been.

Further reading:

The End Time: Is Christian journaling Good or Bad?

Posted in movie review, Uncategorized

Movie Review: Autistic Driving School

I published this on The Quiet Life, my personal blog, earlier. But with so much negative news out there, such ugly discernment fighting, so much false teaching, dispiriting politics, and just general hate, I thought a breath of fresh air was needed, and I’d post this here too. Because it’s positive, inspiring, and heartfelt.

Autistic Driving School is a 2010 one-hour documentary on Netflix (and perhaps other places too) highlighting Julia Malkin’s founding of a UK driving school that caters to teaching autistic people how to drive. Malkin is autistic herself.

With a driving license comes freedom, something most people want. For autistic teens and young adults however, the challenges of learning to drive safely can seem insurmountable, especially if receiving an instructor with no knowledge of how to teach to their special needs. As was stated in the movie, Autistic people are literal, so there’s no saying ‘take the next left’ because they’re likely to wind up in someone’s garden. Some autistic people do not take instruction or correction well. While some can become excessively distracted, following anything and everything that interests them like a rabbit, others hardly notice anything around them, both of which are a problem when driving. The possibility of becoming overwhelmed and having a meltdown while driving is real. And more.

In comes Julia Malkin.

A woman with autism herself, Julia suffered through years of bullying in school, attempted suicide twice, one at age 16 and another at age 18, suffered through a nervous breakdown at 18, and lived as an adult by subsisting on dead end jobs…until….

Her diagnosis at age 40.

Since then, following her diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, Julia started up Excel Driver and Instructor Academy, which expanded rapidly and now helps people with autism learn to drive, provides education support and offers counselling, is still the only one of its kind in the UK.

She has achieved highest honors for her profession as the safest driver in England, earning an OBE, which is “The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry; rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the Civil Service.”

According to the information given at the link, Julia attained four degrees in six years at two separate universities between 2008 and 2015 and became a Doctor of Philosophy, and founded another course of training to train Driving Instructors to teach autistic clients. The UK National Autistic Society shortlisted her as one of three finalists for the National Autistic Society’s award for outstanding achievement by a professional with an autism spectrum disorder.

Wow.

If you listen to Julia on the documentary it’s obvious she is brilliant. She is articulate, passionate, and her powers of observation are astounding. At one point during the movie, she’d been asked to speak out loud what goes through her mind as she drives down the road…her observations of her surroundings combined with lightning fast sifting of that information was remarkable.

The documentary wasn’t about Julia directly though. With sensitivity and compassion, several youths were featured in their process of the two-pronged driving training they must go through to attain a license. There is the book test and the on the road test. Several candidates were followed. Each student spoke of the special challenges unique to autistic drivers, according to the student him or herself, or according to their parents. One young main has set a goal for himself to become a Military Transport driver, so of course passing his first license test was important. But a wrinkle to his story is that his doctor had recommended taking a certain prescription medication for his OCD, but if one is on or has ever taken such a drug, it would immediately disqualify him for ever entering the military in the UK. He had a dilemma. He decided to forego the medication, but the result was he’d have to work even harder to manage his condition while he was on the road.

A 22 year old mother had earned her licence a few years prior, but had lost her nerve to drive. Another, a set of twins, create crafts and wanted to found a business of traveling town to town to fairs and such, selling them.

They all wanted freedom and independence that a driving license would provide.

I found the documentary instructive and interesting. It was produced and edited in such a way that you pull for the students and cheer the inspiring story of Julia. With so little attention paid to adults with Autism, and with so few generally inspiring stories around, this was a documentary I’d recommend as a DON’T MISS!

This is part of the documentary, ‘Autistic Driving School’ which was broadcast on BBC3. It tells the story of Julia Malkin, the most qualified driving instructor in the UK. It shows her battle with autism and her mission of inclusion in education both inside and outside the driver training industry.

Posted in beth moore, john hagee, judge not, prophecy, sarah young

Thoughts about the judge not crowd, fringe prophecy, use of photos, my friend bronchitis

Here are a few updates and thoughts about the blog.

Last October I got the flu. By November it had left me with bronchitis. I’ve been struggling with bronchitis ever since. In November I went to the walk-in clinic and got a course of antibiotics, but it did not defeat the bronchitis. By December, the flu season was in full sway and it was impossible to get seen at the local clinics. I tried three times in person, and once I called for a renewal of the antibiotics. No go. Packed.


In January and February it subsided to manageable levels, and I coughed only infrequently, but was still dragging. The daytime work takes it all out of me and at night it’s only through the strength of the Holy Spirit that I write and study and complete my personal chores around the house. Last week, I got a cold and it revived the bronchitis totally. Yesterday I coughed non-stop. I am home on a sick day today. Even though the course of drugs in November didn’t help, nothing else since has helped either. (Rest, fluids, over the counter remedies, home remedies…) I will likely have to go back to the clinic. I do not like the clinic.

If you notice the photos on the blog, some are labeled “EPrata photo”. I have lots of photos and I like to use them. However you may see other photos with no attribution. It is not that I am failing to attribute, but these photos are Creative Common, license-free photos that require no attribution. Here is a snippet of a photo I used earlier and the CC statement:

Here is the terms of use:

Via download provided Images on Pixabay are bound to Creative Commons Deed CC0. To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images. You are free to adapt and use the Images for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. Although absolutely not required, a link back to Pixabay would be nice.

Pixabay is a nice site and I appreciate the donated photos.

I monitor comments and when warranted, I ruthlessly delete. However for the most part, I do try to give people their say and I enjoy that it gives me an opportunity to engage with folks, and to share insight and verses with them and from them. However I am getting impatient with the plethora of comments that incorrectly use the “judge not lest ye be judged” verse from Matthew 7:1.

It seems that it is the go-to response of everyone who wants to criticize. I appreciate criticism, but when a person uses the ‘judge not’ chestnut, I know they have no biblical understanding of sin, of studying the bible correctly and are simply parroting the one verse they have learned, bless their heart. Most don’t even to add the chapter and verse, but simply and out of context say ‘judge not’ as if that solves everything. It is the religious equivalent in a debate to Godwin’s Law.

Godwin’s Law (or Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches—​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism. … there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress. This principle is itself frequently referred to as Godwin’s law. (Wikipedia)

We can say the same about “Judge Not”. It is the religious Godwin’s Law. Let’s call it the UnGodly Law.

‘UnGodly Law is a new Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion about sin, especially homosexuality, grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving judgment approaches—​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will trot out the misused verse from Matthew 7:1 and say “judge not!”. … there may be a new tradition forming in many newsgroups and other Christian discussion forums (OK, just on this blog) that once such a statement is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the judge not chestnut has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress and will be deleted without mercy or second thought.’

I decided that if anyone uses the ‘judge not’ verse in the incorrect way from now on it will be a trigger for automatic delete. In the past, I’ve attempted to reason with the judge not crowd, but their gross lack of understanding is too weighty to overcome in the space allowed in the comment box, and too deep to instruct in the time a life can be lived. So. Delete.

Back when I started the blog 8 years ago, I enjoyed posting some of the more speculative prophetic passages such as Nephilim, or cryptids, or sinkholes, or the changing behavior the animal kingdom is exhibiting, and musing on them in light of contemporary news. The autistic brain excels at seeing patterns, and with the Holy Spirit inside, and the bible to show all of human history, detecting a pattern is made even easier.

I still enjoy seeing today’s news, knowing history, and looking back to see where the current news fits in to the past pattern. However I haven’t posted about that for a while. Here’s why.

— I don’t want to go beyond scripture. I don’t think I have done that in the past, but I don’t want to even creep off the yellow center line by an inch because the longer I go on in sanctification the less I trust myself,

— I don’t want to cause someone else to stumble,

— Mainly because it seems that even a mere mention of such things nowadays opens the floodgates. In the last 5 years, people have gotten both stupid and irrational about the scriptures. Not that people weren’t before, but like interest that compounds, the stupidity and irrationality has compounded to levels unmanageable by me. Spiritual discernment is at an all-time low (a record which will likely be broken tomorrow) and biblical literacy is at an even all-time lower level. People don’t know their bible, they don’t quote their bible, they don’t use the bible as a basis for discussion, and they go off the deep end into conspiracies at the drop of a hat.

The acceptance of demonic proclamations by Beth Moore and Kim Walker Smith in visions and Sarah Young’s declarations in book form attest to this. So does the popularity of Johnathan Cahn’s books in 2012 such as The Harbinger and the Mystery of the Shemitah: The 3,000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future, the World’s Future, and Your Future!, and John Hagee’s  Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change book published a year later.

I mean, come onnn. The hubris of Cahn’s proclamation that he knows the future of all persons on earth (who would buy his book) and the world’s future ‘unlocked’ nearly equals satan’s when satan promised to unseat God from the throne.

And as bad as Edgar Cayce and Jeanne Dixon were, at least they were more specific in their false prophecies than Hagee, who simply subtitles his book, “something is about to change.” Really? I’d never have guessed that. Let me know when it happens.

That people accept these ‘Christian’ books and visions and attempt to learn from them is saddening. In stepping to the fringe, people nowadays seem to more easily hurl themselves off the edge of solid biblical foundations. They gleefully run toward the latest prophetic fad, and in so doing, give real prophecy a bad name. It makes many people not want to study prophecy and the times, but that is not good either. As my friend and pastor in Maine said,

My brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of the Lord not to dismiss current events or to become discouraged by them. 

We don’t live under a rock. We live in the world, and that means we are living in biblical prophecy because prophecy is always current. World events are important, and when understand the times and we point to the Lord it ignites our fervor for His soon return, which grounds us in our work until He comes.

However today’s superficial, nominal, or false Christian doesn’t get to the end of the last sentence. They focus on current events as if they are the be-all and end-all of truth. When I try to turn their head to Jesus, the author of these events, they balk. When you try to say that some of these things go beyond scripture and we should be careful, they scream judge not! ‘men of Issachar!’

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

As the Treasury of Scripture says of the Men of Issachar verse,

understanding of the times That is, as the following words indicate, intelligent men, who understood the signs of the times, well versed in political affairs, and knew what was proper to be done in all the exigencies of human life; and who now perceived that it was both the duty and political interest of Israel to advance David to the throne.

If I may be allowed to paraphrase, we have understanding of the times, That is, as the following words indicate, intelligent men, who understood the signs of the times, well versed in political affairs, and knew what was proper to be done in all the exigencies of human life; and who now perceived that it was both the duty and spiritual interest of the church to advance Jesus on His throne.

I have been remiss. I have not thanked you, the readers, in a while. I do thank you and am energized by you and I do love you. The Holy Spirit fills me with strength and insight and for the sake of the Name I want to share what He does in my mind and heart when I open the bible. That people out there would read and respond and as some of you have said, pray for me, is simply lovely. It is the expression of the Kingdom on earth, the church glorious and invisible, worldwide and intimate. Thank you friends.