Hat Tip Monday

In the busy-ness of getting ready for our Christmas visit to New Jersey (and wrapping up grading papers, and baking cookies, and finalizing the gifts), I'm afraid I don't quite have the time to post all those scintillating thoughts on Isaiah and The Shack, which I am reading for critical thinking and dialoguing purposes.

See Challies' review of the book here.

But, in the interest of pointing you in the direction of some good reading, please check out Joel's Information Overload over at token lines. More from me later!

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?

You do what you are, according to Mark Driscoll (and Scripture!). You're a sinner by nature, who as a result has sin in your life. You're not a good person...deep down, you're a really bad person! According to Psalm 5:5, God hates those who do evil! There is no separation of the sinful deed from the one who is sinful in God's eyes. This is why it's so imperative that we be covered in the shed blood of Christ, who once and for all bought us and rescued us from the wrath of God which we justly deserve. In Christ, we are a new creation. Just as the sin cannot be separated from the sinner, so Christ's righteousness cannot be separated from those who are in Him. Our sins are forgiven and are as far from us as east is from west. Be assured, beloved of Christ, that your standing is certain before the Lord.

How incredibly humbling...

Do not flatter yourself so much that you cannot detect or hate your sin (Psalm 36:2). As believers, we are still in the process of sanctification. We ought to live holy and blameless lives out of obedience to our Father, who has adopted us as sons and daughters through Christ. We are no longer slaves to the law, in that we are not condemned for our failings and are given life apart from it. However, we are slaves to righteousness, Paul says, and should draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and seek to live out our love for God.

Isn't That the Point of Prophecy?

For the last couple of weeks, the book of Isaiah has been repeatedly grabbing my attention. Which is, ironically, kind of what the prophets were originally designed to do. I'm sure this is at least partially due to the whole Advent season thing, what with Isaiah containing lots of prophecies about the coming Savior and all that. But situational influence or no, I plan to devote substantial time in the coming weeks to reading through this entire beautiful book.

Just thought I'd let you know, in case you found yourself staying awake at night wondering what in the world I plan to read during Christmas break.

Also, I hope to have some blog content deriving from Isaiah, to share the messages that impact me the most and what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me through my reading.

If you weren't already staying awake thinking about my reading habits, I know you'll spend the next week sleeplessly anticipating my thoughts on Isaiah.

For Those Who Care

Map of Interview Locations

I wish there were some just a little further west...

Realtime Update

Hey there, sports fans, how about a little live blogging to keep you updated on the oh-so-hot AAPIC action?

The Jersey connection will be excited to hear that I have an interview with Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, date TBA. That's only about 45 minutes from y'all! I'll be contacting you soon to invite myself to spend the night when I have my interview :-).


I'm up to 2 interviews, with three sites left to hear from...still a long shot, but hope springs eternal!

I Need a Tums Milkshake

Remember that old wooden dueling coaster called the Racer? Of course you do, if you are one of my three readers from the Pittsburgh area. Oh, Kennywood, surely established before the days of safety codes, how fondly do I cherish my memories of your Log Jammer and Raging Rapids, and the slightly life-threatening Jackrabbit. Oh and that one that takes you through the morbid remains of some creepy mining town or something (why would they put that in Pittsburgh?).

Ok, so the Racer: say there's an internship on the Red train and a baby on the Blue train.

I feel like we're at the part where they both go in crazy circle-loops right before they pull back into the final stretch where you see which train wins. (And don't worry, the baby is very well-padded and tightly secured...and apparently immune to the whole shaken baby thing.)

I have absolutely no idea, literally zero, of what the next year of our life will bring. So far I have one interview, and yet to hear from several sites tomorrow as to whether they'd like to interview me. If I had no interviews, we would know that an internship is off the table and we can hop on the baby train, but nooooo I have ONE interview. Which means that the internship odds are against me, but certainly still there.

I am a planner, people. Meaning that I would much prefer to have a PA realtor on speed-dial, our future address safely on the in-laws' refrigerator, and Joel's resume on the desks of every HR person from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, not to mention our budget for 2009-2010 delineated in a highly detailed Excel spreadsheet.

This would be the appropriate time to remind me of that Lord-of-the-crapshoot post I did way back when.

Joel and I are so grateful to our great God for the promises in His revealed Word and for the faithfulness He has already demonstrated so consistently in our lives. Were it not for the trustworthiness of our Lord, we would be all sorts of messed up over this time of uncertainty. As it is, the emotions come and go, but we rejoice that we are not subject to their whims for our long-term security. Our feet are upon the solid rock of Christ, who will go before and behind us through this next year and forever. My heart is quiet only at the feet of my God, of whom I beg: remind me every moment that You are the one who directs my path.

I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.
'Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go, But oh, I know my Guide.
His love can never fail, His love can never fail,
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.
[Matthew Smith, "His Love Can Never Fail"]

Ok, I was mistaken about having literally zero idea of what the next year will bring. By God's grace, we will enjoy the great bounty of His blessings as we have always done. And if He has hardship in store, may our hearts rejoice in that, too, as our portion from Him and an opportunity for Him to do a great work in our lives.

The Bethlehem Star

For an incredibly thorough and awe-inspiring explanation of the Bethlehem star, click here.

Click on "1. Setting the Stage" and proceed through the presentation. It will take some time, but it is worth it to learn more than you thought possible about the astrology involved in Christ's birth and, later, in his crucifixion. I would tell you more, but really the presentation builds in such a dramatic way that I don't want to give anything away. I'll give you just this much: it wasn't a meteor, a comet, or a supernova. Then what could it have been??

In the last segment, "What Does This Mean?", the presentation follows an evangelistic message with this closing statement:

For if the Star wasn't magic or a special miracle from outside of the natural order, then it was something even more startling. It was a Clockwork Star. And that is overwhelming. The movement of the heavenly bodies is regular, like a great clock. The Clockwork Star finally means that from the very instant at which God flung the universe into existence, he also knew the moment he would enter human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He marked it in the stars. And from before the beginning of time as we experience it, God knew the very moment when Messiah would breath his last on the cross.

Jesus is "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."
Revelation 13:8

I am humbled to my knees before the great God who orchestrated the starry dance that would coincide in myriad marvelous ways to tell the story of His Son, our Savior.

[ht: rayfowler.org]

Sabbath Rest

"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord thy God. In it, thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that in them is, but on the seventh day He rested. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." ~the fourth commandment

disclaimer: dictated by my husband, whose memory may be fallible, though the Word he may be misquoting is not.

The Lord takes the Sabbath very seriously. This commandment refers to the act of Creation - He created all that is in only six days. Should we not also be able to get our business taken care of in six days? The Sabbath is given to us for rest, but it is not only because of our need that we take a Sabbath. It is because the Lord God Himself, Yahweh and Elohim, has ordained that it is good and commanded us thus.

Who am I to argue?

For what it's worth, it makes all the difference in the Pearce household. As our pastors preached through the ten commandments recently, we talked about our observance of the Sabbath and whether we indeed keep it holy. We made a decision to set aside the Lord's Day as one of rest, to be focused on fellowship with other believers, preaching of the Word and the sacraments at church, and on rest and worship at home. Though it doesn't happen every single week, I try to make dinner in the crock pot and we enjoy leftovers for supper. The afternoon is spent with friends, enjoying or extending hospitality, reading the Word and related things, and/or listening to recorded sermons and lectures. And of course, taking the Sabbath Nap.

I can't emphasize enough what a difference it makes to truly set aside an entire day to the Lord. The things that He commands are to His glory and for our benefit - and the Sabbath rest is a great example of this. We find ourselves nourished by His Word, replenished in His grace, and ready for another week of labor for the Kingdom. Not only is the Lord's Day a source of rest and nourishment, but what assurance we receive from the preaching of Christ each Sunday! The rest of life is placed in its proper perspective when we return week in and week out to the Source of life Himself.

But even if it made no difference whatever in our experience, His commandment would be no less true and binding.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." ~Matthew 24:35

There are those who argue for a cultural or contextual view of the fourth commandment, saying that the Sabbath rest doesn't apply to us in our time and culture (or that it's just impossible/impractical to observe the Sabbath). But which of the other commandments is culturally bound? Has the Lord ceased to be our God? Is He any less jealous of our love and worship? Are we to steal and murder at will? Our culture is far from the law of the Lord on these matters, endorsing the self and experience as god and abortion as a viable option (but another post on that...). But the covenant elect are to remain faithful to His Word and to His Law, joyful at the revelation of His character and standards and grateful for His grace through Christ's atoning work since we can never perfectly achieve those standards.

I will close with this thought concerning the beauty of the law:

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." ~Psalm 19:7

Thank God that we are righteous in Christ. But thank Him also for His law and statutes that bring nourishment to those who are alive in Him! When I am able by His grace to keep His laws, even in my fragmented, human way, He is glorified and reflected in me. When I walk in His ways, then do I most fully reflect His image. May this be the chief end for which we strive: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever! (Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 1)

How my heart leaps at those words!

It's Science

I've just completed a highly scientific analysis of the data that Google Analytics tracks from my blog, regarding blog traffic, hits, time spent on the blog, etc. I noticed that there have been several spikes in blog hits over the past month, and clever me decided to see what was happening on the blog when those spikes occurred.

You'll never guess.

They occurred when I actually POSTED.

So here is my profound thought for today, designed solely to lure you to my blog:

Consider yourself suckered in.

Also, my (our) semester is FINALLY winding down, meaning after this week I will have only (!) to propose my dissertation (we FINALLY scheduled it for next Tuesday!!!) and then a random final on December 18, after I will have been school-less for a good two weeks.

What does this mean to you, fair reader? Actual blog-worthy content, I hope! My thoughts will turn from frenetic checking of school, internship, and dissertation-related to-do lists to....frenetic checking of home and Christmas-related to-do lists, I'm sure. But also deep introspection and weighty ponderings about the Christmas season and the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

You know, the serious, meaningful things upon which this blog was founded. Right.

A cat, a belt, and long rubber gloves

I don't know if it's her, um, generous girth, but Merlot seems to have difficulty cleaning herself. We've noticed lately that her fur has been rather oily and dull, and decided that something needed to be done. I mentioned this to our friend Josh several weeks ago, and ever since he has been asking me whether we've washed the cat yet.

Yeah. During all that extra time we've had.

So today Josh was here working on our consultation paper with me, and I confess we weren't being very productive. He brought cinnamon scones to snack on...we started with those, and it was downhill from there.

But I do have a headstart on rental housing in Reading, should I match for internship there.

Obviously, we needed some incentive. And, as is his custom, Josh asked if we had yet washed the cat. No, Josh, that has not been at the top of our to-do list. But his query sparked an idea in my mind...Joel isn't all that enthusiastic about taking time to wash the cat, but if I can get some free help from Josh, and he would be immensely entertained by washing the cat...win-win situation, right?

So we agreed that if we finished our paper elements by 4:30, he could go to the store for cat shampoo while I synthesized our paper and then we would wash Merlot before his 6:00 class.

You know you want to see the pictures.

I couldn't find our camera, due to lazy unpacking efforts since our return late Sunday night, so these are from my phone...

Merlot sans dignity:

That's a belt around her middle. It's amazing how merely a sense of being restrained can render a cat quite serene. Only after we removed the belt for one final rinse did she begin struggling and mewing to break your heart.

Merlot enjoying a bit of after-bath refreshment:

I think a half-hour at the spa really did wonders for her complexion. She looks cleaner, healthier, younger even. And, dare I say....thinner?

I blame the fifty or so hairballs left in the bathtub.

We're still waiting for her to dry. She's been parked in the dark hallway for the last 45 minutes licking her wet paws and wounded pride. Niko acts sympathetic, but you can tell she's laughing inside. Hopefully Merlot will venture out soon and forgive me for scandalizing her delicate sensibilities with two different showerhead settings. But I hope she'll also realize that she can stop craning her neck to get at those hard to reach places and thus arrive at a place of contentment and gratitude.

How like a cat I am...how many times has the Lord washed me of some sin, only for me to struggle and protest, ignorant of my need? May I always be grateful for His firm hand and cleansing Spirit. (I'm sure it would help if He were to provide a bowl of delicious Good Kitty after the fact...)