Category Archives: Chapter and Verse

Another incomplete review…Villette by Charlotte Brontë

I’ve been listening to Villette by Charlotte Brontë on audio book and I’m almost done. I have maybe 40 minutes to go. By this point, I’ve gotten the gist of the story and am now simply waiting for things to be tied together. It is a good book. An interesting one. I might even share a more thorough review once I’m finished with it. The thing is though…I feel like I was lured in under false pretenses. This is how the book was described in its Goodreads bio:

“Arguably Brontë’s most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of Villette, flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy’s struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Brontë’s strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free.”

Italics added.

You see, I braced for a love triangle. I expected a “strikingly modern heroine” trying to find a man that would let her continue to teach or at least let have her own opinions or something. That’s not what I’m getting. Lucy Snowe is a somewhat interesting character in the mode of Jane Eyre but nothing spectacular. She doesn’t so much “decide” to look for a man as much as she falls for the only two men of her acquaintance. The one it appears she will end up with in the end is selfish, chauvinistic, sexist, and possibly bipolar. I wouldn’t mind so much if this book wasn’t presented as something modern. Maybe it will end well? We shall see. 

 


Psalm 100

Tonight I decided to read Psalm 100 and I noticed the heading read “A psalm. For giving grateful praise.” That really stuck out to me. I wanted to flip to something else. I had been thinking about posting a Psalm but it seemed like overkill to post about gratitude again. I don’t want to come off as fake. My day wasn’t all good; I had some stressful moments. It wasn’t a bad day. It was a day. However, as I read through the Psalm, I was reminded that even a day has many wonderful moments I can be grateful for. Today I am grateful for Mrs. Hassi who is organizing my office. I am grateful that I have an awesome cousin named Charlie who turned 8 and that I got to be part of his party, even if I arrived late. I am grateful for my wonderful extended family!

My day was a ‘meh’ day until I started to think of things to be grateful for. I may have to make this chapter a nightly reading!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 


Proverbs 16:9

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

I read this verse during my devotion this morning and the words have been at the back of my mind all day. First, I think this would be a great graduation verse, way better than Jeremiah 29:11. 

Second, though, I have been thinking about how hard it is to acknowledge that in the end, God determines the steps I take. I don’t mean in the big things. It is comforting to look back on my big life decisions and see how God was at work. What is hard to hand over is the little things.

Today was a big day for me. I was hosting an open house event for my office and I really wanted it to go well. With this verse in mind, I told myself it was okay to relax. Whether I succeeded or not, God was in control. Almost, I allowed this realization to calm me.

However, there was another voice that refused to calm down. Handing everything over to God was too much like giving up. I told myself I needed a stronger internal locus of control, not something to pass decisions off on. I needed the extra stress, I reasoned, to keep me sharp. I want to be stronger, grittier. Which wasn’t necessary bad. 

The problem is when I begin to draw a false line between ‘handing my stress over to God’ and ‘being responsible.’ They naturally flow together. Letting go does not mean behaving irresponsibly. If anything, it reminds me where my priorities should be. I just wish it didn’t feel like such a hard balance to learn sometimes! 


Galatians 5

So this isn’t the long, thought out post I promised. Sorry ’bout that, this has been a packed weekend. However, I think I would have shared this chapter even if I did have something else prepared. Galatians 5 has been coming up all week and today the pastor used it as his sermon text. It is a good one to review: 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.


Sunday Mornings

I went to bed last night stressed. I woke up this morning stressed. I felt like a crushing weight was overwhelming me. I blamed lack of “introvert” time. Even though I am an extrovert, I recognize I need quiet time almost as consistently as people-time. So I looked at the rest of my day and the week to come and tried to plan a time to “introvert” for a few hours. Unfortunately, this only made me more stressed. There was no time to “take off.” Work may pause momentarily, but life rarely does. 

It was thus with a heavy – and overwhelmed – heart that I went to church this morning. 

Yet, like so many Sunday mornings before, I felt a sense of peace almost as soon as worship began. The weight of the previous week slipped away. The uncertainty of the coming week became manageable. There was no worry or alarm. It wasn’t that the knowledge of what I needed to do slipped away. Rather, it returned to its proper proportion.

I think worship (especially corporate worship) is my main love language with God. I have to credit my Mom with that thought because she is the one who pointed it out. While I do gain a lot spiritually from prayer, fasting, Bible reading, and the many other ways of connecting with God, I experience the most peace and love through musical worship (if you can count my singing musical!). <I realize not all “worship” means music, but for the sake of this post when I refer to it, that is what I mean> It only takes a few songs on Sunday morning to buoy me throughout the week.

This realization really shifts the way I think about my personal quiet time. I easily fall into a check list. ‘Read the Bible? Check. Prayed? Okay….on with my day.’ However, Bible reading and prayer don’t push or uplift me the same way worship does. There isn’t a cookie cutter, one size fits all way to draw close to God. We’re all designed a little differently and we all connect a little differently too. 

Philippians 4:4-7 reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is a familiar passage. I know I have read it many times without really thinking about it. However, today it particularly struck me. When do I rejoice most? When I am worshiping God. When do I feel God’s nearness? In worship. When do I feel at peace, thankful, and most apt to pray? In worship. 

Sundays have always been special to me, but they are even more so now. Sunday mornings represent an hour of getting loved on by the God of the universe!


Psalm 116

I enjoy reading my Bible in different translations. I grew up on NIV and lately I’ve been reading more NKJV and ESV. It often surprises me how a familiar passage can gain new meaning or perspective with just a few different words. Today I read Psalm 116 in NKJV and I was really struck by the opening verses. I decided to share the whole thing: 

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
10 I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
11 I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.