Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Prodigal God...

I just heard of this book from a friend of mine, Amy Cathy (I also follow her blog -- "My Place in the Sun"). She mentioned that it was the first book she downloaded to her Kindle. I, too, got a Kindle for Christmas so I decided to see what the book was about. After reading the short description on Amazon, I decided I wanted to read it. So, I bought it with "one-click" and was able to start reading it about a minute later. :) I do love my Kindle!! (In case you have not heard of a Kindle, it's an e-book reader offered by Amazon. You can download somewhere around 1500 books on this little electronic device that is about the size of an average paperback, but is only about 1/4" thick. Most new releases are around $9.99 and there are thousands of books that are "public domain" that you can download for free.) Anyway, I only planned on beginning the book, but I just kept reading until I was done.

The book is based on a parable in the Bible from the book of Luke (Chapter 15) about the Prodigal Son. I've heard this parable many times and the times I've heard it, the emphasis has been on this prodigal son. However, this book brings to light not only the sins of the Prodigal Son, but also those of the elder brother. One of the features I really like about the Kindle is the ability to highlight passages within the books I read. The Kindle stores all those highlighted passages into a separate file called "my clippings." Throughout this book, I highlighted several passages that stood out to me. I wanted to share those with you.

"Religion operates on the principle of "I obey -- therefore I am accepted by God." The basic operating principle of the Gospel is "I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ -- therefore I obey."

"As Richard Lovelace has written: "[People] who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons...Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive assertion of their own righteousness, and defensive criticism of others. They come naturally to hate other cultural styles and other races in order to bolster their own security and discharge their suppressed anger."

"As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for him. You simply aren't sure God loves and delights in you."

"Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness."

"Martin Luther's old formula still sums things up nicely: "We are saved by faith alone (not our works), but not by faith that remains alone." Nothing we do can merit God's grace and favor, we can only believe that he has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. But if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors. If we say "I believe in Jesus" but it doesn't affect the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so much as that we haven't truly understood or believed in Jesus at all."

As you can see, I really liked this book! I liked that it brought to light that you can take "doing the right thing" to the extreme. Our service to God should come from the heart. Not because it's what we are "supposed to do."
I'm so thankful for a Heavenly Father full of grace and mercy!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Where does the time go?? I can't believe Christmas is just under 3 weeks away!! Wow!

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day....we celebrated with my parents at our house. Mom spent the night with us on Wednesday and we spent the evening making some delicious desserts for after our Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. We made chocolate truffles, cookies, peanut butter balls, chocolate eclair pie, and pumpkin pie. All three of the girls helped prepare our Thanksgiving feast...and a feast it was! We had turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, potato salad, deviled eggs, and cranberry relish. It was a very delicious meal.

Thursday evening, we went to visit David's mom and some of his family. We had more desserts and some of us girls made a fun gingerbread house. We played card games and just had a great time of fellowship. Then began the shopping expedition! Toys R Us opened at midnight! Last Christmas season, I went to Toys R Us and did the majority of my this year, since I was going to be in the area (David's mom lives in Fayetteville, close to Toys R Us) I decided to go ahead and knock it out that night...then shop in my own area (Newnan) the next morning. My brother & sister-in-law joined me for the midnight madness. And, suffice it to say, madness doesn't even begin to describe how crazy it was!!! I'll just say what I thought would take me 2 hours at tops, ended up taking 6 hours. I stood in line for a miserable 5 hours. I did get some great deals, but I did not get ANY sleep. I left the toy store at 5 a.m. and drove home to pick up my Mom and Emma for some more shopping!! We hit several other stores (none were as crowded as Toys R Us was!) and were very successful. I think overal, in the 16 (yes, 16) hours I shopped I saved close to $400! Pretty impressive! I am thankfully almost finished with my shopping....all I have left is to get a few stocking stuffers and get something for David (who I am convinced is one of the hardest people to shop for) and my parents.

Saturday....after sleeping very late, we decided to decorate the house for Christmas. The girls had lots of fun pulling out their ornaments. My mom has bought them special ornaments every year and they each have a special box just for their ornaments. They really have fun putting them on the tree....and they did a great job! I only had to remind them a few times to spread the ornaments out! :) One of my favorite things about my Christmas tree (besides the fact that it is a pre-lit tree -- NO stringing lights for me!!!) is that it has a rotating tree stand. This is a feature that can be turned off and on. Last year, we didn't have it rotate, this year the kids decided they wanted it to rotate. Well...little Miss Molly (our dog) decided that she wasn't so sure about this rotating tree!! She spent the better part of the evening barking like crazy. It was quite much so that I had to capture it on video. She especially didn't like one particular ornament that kept dragging over the tree skirt. Brace yourself for the video...she is quite ferocious!

Now...weren't you frightened by that!!! :) We have a busy couple of days ahead, we are having David's employee Christmas party this Sunday, then we are taking his managers out for dinner on Tuesday evening. Next Saturday will be my birthday, then we have Emma's chorus recital on the 17th, followed by class parties on the 18th, then it's just one week till Christmas! What a wonderful time of year it is!