Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Memory Verse

What happened to last week? It went by so quickly I barely noticed. And now it's Monday again. I screwed up last week. I waited so long to post my verse online and then forgot to study it. So I'm starting over with this text and I'm going to learn it again this week.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV

I study Japanese for hours every week and memorize Kanji, vocabulary, etc. so I really have no excuse for not memorizing Scripture. It just needs to be more of a priority. I'm telling everyone that I made a mistake last week in hopes that it will encourage me to do better this week. I don't want to post this same message again next Monday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weekly Memory Verse

I can't believe I haven't posted this week's verse yet. I think I'm going to start posting them on Sundays, so that I remind myself to start memorizing it.

Last week's text went well (Romans 8:1) so I'm going to memorize another that has the same theme.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV

The second verse is the one I greatly need to memorize. It's such a reassurance that God wants all men to be saved, not just a few.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's On My Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

I didn't do that much reading in January. I wanted to, but I felt a greater drive to progress in my Japanese studies. Almost all of my free time has been working with Japanese, so I've already completed 30 study hours so far this month.

Books completed in January (links are to my reviews):
Slave, John MacArthur
Bleak House, Charles Dickens - dropped it 1/3 of the way through. I just couldn't get into it and didn't see the point of forcing myself to finish.
A Proper Pursuit, Lynn Austin
Fire by Night, Lynn Austin

Currently reading
Memoir/Autobiography/Biography - Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

Health/Cookbooks - Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It - Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

Christian life - The Walk: Clear Direction and Spiritual Power for Your Life (Review copy)

Theology - Proverbs (Bible) - reading a chapter a day, will finish January 31.

To-read in February
Homemaking - The Well-Ordered Home: Organizing Techniques for Inviting Serenity into Your Life

Christian life - Becoming a Woman of Excellence

For fun - Beaded Hope

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We seem to be on a Mexican food kick! I love Mexican food, so I don't mind.

Monday - Tacos
Tuesday - Stir-fry (new recipe, carryover from last week)
Wednesday - Pizza Margherita (new recipe from Skinny Italian)
Thursday - Tacos and Mexican rice
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Breakfast burritos
Sunday - Spur of the moment meal based on cupboard contents

I've been working on breakfasts lately. We don't usually eat breakfast together as I'm ok just eating fruit but hubby needs something substantial. He doesn't always get to eat lunch and doesn't like being hungry all day! Instead, I've been setting my alarm for the past week and getting up early enough to make muffins or pancakes before he has to leave for work.

So far, here's what I have for breakfasts. We've been eating a ton of oranges lately!
Muffins & Fruit
Cornbread & Fruit
Cold cereal & Fruit
Hot cereal (for me)

Maybe one of these days I'll try making breakfast burritos for breakfast instead of dinner!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Sabbath is almost here

I know I say this a lot, but I am so grateful for Sabbaths. I kept myself pretty busy this week, trying to stretch my productivity in both homemaking and studying Japanese. The apartment stayed pretty clean this week and I have invested over nine hours in Japanese studies since last Sunday. The accomplishments are nice, but I'm tired and ready for a day off!

We've been blessed with several answers to prayer in the past week. Hubby needs to get a certain certification for his job. Thankfully, his boss offered to pay for the exams! We've paid out of pocket for all of his certifications up to date, considering it an investment in his career. So to have an employer pay for a certification is a huge blessing! There are three tests required. Hubby passed the first last Friday and the second exam this morning. He has the third and final exam scheduled for next Friday morning.

I'm headed to the kitchen shortly to start making our Friday night curry. We've tried various curries over the past few months, but we love eating a great curry meal to start the Sabbath.

I hope everyone has a very restful Sabbath day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slave - A Book Review

Slave was offered for review on BookSneeze and I snatched it up. I loved John MacArthur's book The Jesus You Can't Ignore and Slave sounded like another great read.

From Amazon's product description: "What does it mean to be a Christian the way Jesus defined it? MacArthur says it all boils down to one word: Slave. 'We have been bought with a price. We belong to Christ. We are His own possession.'"

Unfortunately, the book got off on the wrong foot. The preface talks about an intentional translation cover up, a conspiracy, if you will. While I do believe that conspiracies exist on occasion, I find it rather suspect that multiple Bible translators have intentionally made a mistake. Perhaps it's true, but this accusation made me wary of anything else MacArthur proposes in this book.

MacArthur believes that the Greek word doulos has intentionally been mistranslated as servant rather than slave. He writes that "whenever it [doulos] is used, both in the New Testament and in secular Greek literature, it always and only means slave" (pg 16). Both in this chapter and in others, MacArthur stresses that Christians being a slave to God is completely involuntary.

I am not a Greek scholar, but I looked up one example listed in the footnote: Revelation 1:1. Both in my Bible's Greek dictionary and on Net Bible, I found the following definitions:

doulos <1401>
1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
1a) a slave
1b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another's will
those whose service is used by Christ in extending and
advancing his cause among men
1c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
2) a servant, attendant

from 1210; a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary;
frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or
subserviency):-bond(-man), servant.

Again, I don't know much about Greek, having never studied it. But the definition says that this word can be literal or figurative, voluntary or involuntary. MacArthur asserts that doulos only refers to involuntary slavery.

The chapters dealing with what it means to be a slave to God are actually quite good. Whether we call ourselves as Christians slaves or servants, whether it be involuntary or voluntary, we do have a specific relationship with God. One of the best summations in the book is that "a slave's life was one of complete surrender, submission, and service to the master - and the people of Jesus' day would have immediately recognized the parallel. Christ's invitation to follow Him was an invitation to that same kind of life" (43).

I fully agree with the above statement. A Christian's life should be one of complete surrender, submission, and service to the Master. The discussions detailing parallels between Roman slavery and our Christian responsibilities toward God were really insightful. Too often, the church gets caught up in grace and forgets that the Jesus who said "you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind" also said "if you love Me, keep My commandments" (Luke 10:27, John 14:15).

All of that said, I had a deeper problem with book. I walked away from it feeling incredibly depressed. As good as the message is about serving God, it was completely overshadowed by the author's belief in predestination. MacArthur states that "God, in His infinite mercy, chose to save those sinners on whom He had set His love in eternity past" (147). There are a few other quotes that address the same issue - God chooses who He will love and only saves those people. Not only does God only love a select few, MacArthur states that everyone else has no choice in the matter; they were born into sinfulness, have no possible chance of responding to the gospel, and will die and be punished for their sins.

I don't have all the answers. I don't understand God completely. But the idea that God may not love me, that He doesn't want me, and that I don't even have a chance in becoming His daughter is repulsive. I've been depressed for a week because of this idea. If this idea is true, then God may have chosen me, in which case He loves me and I have the opportunity to respond to the gospel. But if God didn't choose me, then I am unloved and will be punished for my sins even though I had no choice in the matter. Is that fair? Is that even Biblical?

I can't recommend this book unless you are extremely secure in your beliefs and want to pick out the nuggets available. Slave does have some nuggets of truth and insight, but it is completely overshadowed by the idea that God does not love everyone nor does He want everyone to be saved.

This week I chose to memorize Romans 8:1 in response to reading this book. Another text I need to memorize is 1 Timothy 2:3, 4.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit

Romans 8:1.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth

1 Timothy 2:3, 4 (emphasis mine).

I received a reader copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly Memory Verse

One side benefit to being involved in the Bible in 90 Days ministry is that you get to meet great people. Katia is one of my fellow mentors for this session and I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know her via her blog.

Katia has invited others to join her in memorizing a Scripture verse every week. I haven't memorized Scripture in years. Thankfully, there is no better time to start than today!

The verse I chose to memorize this week is really comforting me right now.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1, NKJV

I started reading this verse over and over on Friday but I can't seem to let go of it. It's a good choice for memorization this week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday! We are doing a couple of new recipes this week that I'm really excited about.

Monday - Tacos
Tuesday - Breakfast burritos
Wednesday - Penne Arrabbiata (new recipe from Skinny Italian) and Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread
Thursday - Stir-fry (new recipe)
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Hot dogs
Sunday - Spur of the moment meal based on cupboard contents

Last week's successes
Cranberry Orange Muffins - These were REALLY good. I've made them three times already. This morning's batch was made without salt and we didn't notice a difference.
Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread - My loaf came out a bit shorter than it was supposed to, as it spread too much on the cookie sheet. I'll try adding a bit more flour to the next loaf so that the dough isn't so thin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Entry 3

I haven't done a Daybook entry in awhile and decided today would be a perfect day for it.

Outside my window... kids walking home from school.

I am thinking... how excited I am that Sabbath starts in only an hour!

I am thankful for... A God who loves me.

I am wearing... a long jean skirt, black leggings, and a purple long sleeve shirt.

I am remembering... the spiritual struggles I've been going through this week.

I am going... to study my Bible more.

I am currently reading... Slave, by John MacArthur, Proverbs, and Romans 8.

I am hoping... that I can find the answers to my questions about God.

On my mind... what I'm making for dinner and the upcoming Sabbath rest.

Noticing that... my desk is slowly getting cleaner but it still too cluttered.

Pondering these words... "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

In the kitchen... my dishwasher needs emptied and a few hand washed dishes need put away. I'm making curry for dinner!

Around the house... very clean but needs a woman's touch... candles or a finished quilt or some art on the walls. Our apartment still looks like a college dorm!

One of my favorite things... knowing my hubby is home for the day.

From my picture journal...
Mom, I don't know what to think about this thing you call a "kitty carrier."

But I guess I'll lay down in it!

Don't tell him... but that's called "kitty carrier training part 1: success!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kitty Training

I decided it would be a good idea to get both of our cats used to the cat carrier. Fiona hasn't been inside a carrier in several years and screamed the entire time she was last transported in one. Bruno was in the cat carrier several times when he was sick a few months ago. It stressed him out more than the actual vet visit. Poor kitties.

After much thought, I figured the best way to get them acclimated to the idea is just to leave out the bottom half of the carrier with a towel in it. If I can catch them using the bottom half, then I can attach the top half and just leave off the door.

This morning I took these pictures.

Fiona was sleeping in it! Success!

My first photograph woke her up. "What do you want, Mom? I was sleeping here, you know." She looked extremely grouchy.

Now if I can get Bruno to do more than just stare at the carrier... at least he's not running and hiding under the bed like the last time I brought it out!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Our menu reflects the current daytime temperatures hitting a high of around 60 degrees. We are still only running a tiny space heater and our apartment only reaches 65 degrees during the day! Thus, we've picked a lot of our favorite comforting warm foods.

Monday - Orange "chicken styled" tofu
Tuesday - Spaghetti with marinara sauce (new recipe from Skinny Italian) and Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread (also a new recipe)
Wednesday - Pizza with mushrooms, onions, and olives
Thursday - Breakfast burritos
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Unknown...
Sunday - Tacos

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Preparation Day of the new year

Today is the first Friday of 2011, thus the first Preparation Day of the year. I really enjoyed beginning 2011 with the Sabbath last week. It was a great start to a new year, a chance to spend the day with God.

I like to peacefully enter the Sabbath rather than breathlessly sliding into it. Most weeks, I am not prepared for the Sabbath in advance and spend the last half hour before sundown rushing around. That is something I am trying very hard to change.

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 and had Bible study. Then I got to work. Before breakfast, I had already scrubbed down the bathroom, cleaned the kitchen, and vacuumed the apartment. Then I exercised, ate breakfast, and wondered what to do with the rest of my day! I spent a lot of time studying Japanese, working on a menu for next week, and a few other things.

But now sundown is in 40 minutes, dinner is in progress, and the house is clean! It's a great feeling to realize that I don't have to rush to be ready for the Sabbath. Having an entire day to rest and spend with God is such a blessing! I know I've said it before, but it's true. If anyone reading this is interested, try setting aside the entire day to go to church, rest, and spend with God. He will bless you for the time you spend with Him!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Resolutions - Mind, Body, and Soul

I love New Years' resolutions. In the past, I've made some very outrageous resolutions. As I've gotten older (and hopefully wiser!), my goals have scaled down to a more manageable size and become more specific. This makes it easier to actually complete them. This year, I kept my goal making to a minimum and included only things that I am actually passionate about.

  • Complete my reading challenges.

  • Continue learning Japanese. Sub goals:

    • Read 6 children's books in Japanese.

    • Study for 365+ hours total in 2011.

    • Study every single day. Monthly average should come out to 1 hr each day, even if I study half an hour some days and 90 minutes other days.

  • Participate in the SOS Kitchen Challenge. Use the monthly challenge to develop my cooking skills.

  • Run a 5k. I've been aiming for this goal for the past three years and have yet to run one. I ran the distance once, but I haven't completed an actual 5k race.

  • Learn how to bake! My father in law gave me Baking for Christmas and I am really excited to get started. My priority is learning how to bake homemade, healthy bread.

  • Study Genesis in depth. This is the book I'll be studying for the Operation Deeper Faith challenge, reading it in multiple translations (including one in Japanese).

  • Keep reading the Bible every single morning. Right now I am working through Proverbs.

  • Start a prayer journal.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bible in 90 Days - Last Call!

If you've been thinking about joining the Bible in 90 Days challenge, it's not too late! The official information and sign up sheet is here. You will be blessed!