Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stock up for School

Over at Dewey's Treehouse, the Carnival of Homeschooling is having a big blowout sale on fresh ideas for the new school year.

And my friend Arden has an interesting series going about reading hard books with your children. See her dumbed-down-resistant reading list at Woman Come Home.

Me? I'm writing personalized PowerPoint presentations for two different value debate camps, a college prep workshop and a book fair. Well, and a Bible study for publication. Wanna peek? Come back tomorrow!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Taking the Battle to the Enemy

God inhabits the praises of His people. By praises, battles were won and cities were overthrown. By praises, David established the kingdom of Israel, Paul freed prisoners and won the Praetorian Guard.

Recently, I have had occasion to witness how much the Evil One fears and resists the praise of God.

Anne spent most of the summer at the famous Interlochen Arts Camp, studying music composition. Throughout her work there she made no secret of the religious impulse for her pursuit of music. For the culmination of her six weeks of work there, she set a portion of the psalm David composed for the inauguration of his tabernacle at Jerusalem, the forerunner of the Temple proper. (The text is found in IChron. 16: 8-36) She was the only composer to set text for the human voice and hers was the only Scripture slated to be sung by any of the nearly 2,500 music students over the entire summer.

Well, composition students at Interlochen are responsible to recruit and to rehearse musicians to perform their pieces at the three New Composers' Forums. And the quality of the performance has to be approved by their composition faculty.

Throughout the summer, Anne was particularly plagued by difficulties with getting everybody to the right place at the right times. First, one cellist after another forgot or double-booked the faculty demonstration hour or didn't have time to practice. Then the harpist forgot to reserve a harp for the Forum hour. None of her early pieces appeared on the Forums for which they were scheduled. And these were the non-religious instrumental pieces.

For the Chronicles piece, she kept the musicians required to a minimum: two sopranos, a baritone and a piano. Things went along swimmingly until the pianist failed to show up for the warm-up rehearsal for the faculty. Her professor graciously gave her an extra hour to find her pianist before the professor went home for the day.

Anne covered the large Interlochen campus personally and with the help of friends. She called me at Winston's Shakespeare play in great distress. And the whole cast did the only thing we could; we prayed. But the pianist seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth (as far as we know, he was never seen at camp again. But this was the last two days...).

Finally, she was sitting outside her professor's office waiting to tell him the sad news, when another student saw her long face and asked if she was OK. She looked up and realized that this young man was a piano/organ major who is the music minister at his home church.

"How's your sightreading?" she asked. "Pretty good," he shrugged modestly.

'Pretty good' (Ha! I've seen the music. It's challenging.) was good enough. Not only did this young man con the score in 15 minutes, but he had it well enough in hand to help cue the singers from the keyboard - as he so often did back at his church.

So on the last Forum on the the last day of camp on the last Sunday of Interlochen, the praise of the Lord rang from a bastion of secular arts. And I got to hear it!

Whenever God promised Abraham a part of Canaan, Abraham built an altar there and offered the sacrifices pleasing to the Lord. It was a declaration that this land was marked for conquest by God. Interlochen has been so marked by the sacrifice of praise. Won't it be interesting to see the conquest?!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Know When to Say NO part 2

You may be a Wonder Woman, but you're not God. There are some things that are beyond our strength and wisdom. There are some things that aren't our job. How will we tell when we're over the line - without actually fizzing into burn-out?

Sabbath Rest

Well God isn’t a slave-driver, and He doesn’t want you to behave like He is. Slaves never rest; free men do. God calls us to be free in Him, and that includes resting – about one day in seven.

For most of us leader-types, this really goes against the grain. We are certain that we’re able to do just about everything we are asked to do. And we are equally certain that if we don’t do it no one else will. Fools’ gold!

The Sabbath principle reminds us that we are not gods, able to accomplish everything we desire. We rely utterly upon His strength in our work, anticipating God’s completion of what our finite abilities will never finish. God calls us not merely to work, but to celebrate as well. The Sabbath gives us perspective on a God who is mighty and joyful.

If that proposed responsibility means that you can never take a Sabbath, you can be sure it isn’t God’s calling for you. Just say ‘No’ to playing God and to working like a slave. And say ‘Yes’ to joyful action.

Don't miss this week's Carnival of Beauty at Through a Glass. The theme: the Beauty of the Lord's Day.

The Further Adventures of Wonder Woman: Know When to Say NO

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Why is it that when you are already filling multiple leadership roles, you are the one everyone asks do the next thing? How can you distinguish what God is calling you to do, and what is merely a temptation to overload?

Is this new proposal a golden opportunity or not? How can we test the demands made on our time and energy so that we can sift out the fools’ gold and seize on the real thing.

Seasonal Work

What season of life are you living just now: the preparation season, the productive season or the preservation season? Each season of life comes with its own set of primary goals. Each season offers unique opportunities to be of use to God and His people. These are the things we definitely know that God has called us to be doing.

As a young woman our primary focus should be developing skills, contacts and resources. These are school and apprenticeship days, when we are exploring and gathering the treasures we will mine and invest during our productive days.

As a young-to-middle-aged woman the bulk of our time can no longer be spent acquiring new skills or branching out into completely different avenues of inquiry. During this strength time, we are principally working, bearing and raising children, applying those skills and resources to build Christ’s Kingdom.

As a middle-aged-to-older woman, our focus shifts to preserving the wealth God has given us to steward: the hope of the young, the courage of the middle-aged, the advances the Kingdom has made in individuals around us and in the culture at large. Our work must center on equipping, praying, defending and advising as our physical strength wanes.

When a new demand is presented to us, put it to this test: Does it fit with my principal calling during my present season of life? If I have children, does this proposed activity require me to go back to school or to spend lots of time and energy doing something that doesn’t directly benefit my children? If I’m a student, will this activity interfere with my ability to prepare for my productive season? If I’m older, will this activity prevent me from supporting and empowering those who are building and preparing? Will I be the principal builder in this activity or will I be mentoring those who will build?

If the proposed activity impairs your ability to attend to the core activities of your season of life, just say ‘No’. If it is something that enhances your ability to fulfill the calling of your life season, it may be the next golden opportunity God has for you.


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