Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Let Us Press On to Know the Lord

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like light that goes forth.
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
But like Adam, they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me. Hosea 6:4-7

Most of my book loving friends will be familiar with Anne Lamott, the dreadlock-wearing, uber-progressive author who made headlines with her conversion story many years ago. I know I was surprised. And although she credits a friend of hers, she's also famous for saying:
You can safely assume you have made God in your own image when it turns out that He hates all the same people you hate.
Amen, sister.
But let's take the whole coin and look also at the other side:
You can safely assume you have made God in your own image when it turns out He loves all the same things the world loves. (I John 2:15)

CCM artist Lauren Daigle made headlines of her own this week with her admission that she "doesn't know" if homosexuality is a sin. The quick backstory is that Ellen DeGeneres invited Daigle to sing on her show. And the two women are friends. Who wouldn't want to be friends with Ellen? She's cute as a button and funny as all get out.

She's also gay. So scriptural teaching on homosexuality is causing Daigle some real angst, as it should, once you realize that there are real flesh and blood people you love and that the implications here are horrific. If you can't picture a person you know when you read Leviticus 18 or 1 Corinthians 6, you might not get out enough.

Here's the problem, though, with Daigle's reticence to commit (unless she is truly unschooled in the Word, which I have a hard time believing, considering her lyrics, which are basically sound): Deconversion.

Deconversion is essentially shorthand for: I have weighed Truth in the balance and found it wanting.

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.

Deconversion starts with questions.
Last spring, I printed off the above link on Deconversions and crawled through it with my high schoolers. I asked them if they ever had questions about scripture, if they ever had a hard time with anything they ever read in the Word. They were reluctant to say, so I shared that I did have questions. There are things in the Bible that have offended me, that I have had to wrestle with.

But my starting point is that the Word is holy, inspired, and inerrant. So if I am offended or confused or unconvinced, the error always lies with me, not with the scripture. The only other starting point is that error lies in the Word, and it must be made to submit to Truth as I understand it. One person questions the Word from beneath it; one questions from above.

Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like light that goes forth.

Questioning the Word from underneath makes a woman humble.
Questioning the Word from above make a woman a heretic.

Two things I have learned as a parent. Maybe they will help you, too.

First, it is extremely important to let our kids struggle with the Word of God. You do not want your kid to believe It--whatever It is--just because you believe It. Trust me on that. Wrestling over the Word builds spiritual muscle, and spiritual muscle is a good thing. But it is also extremely important that they wrestle from underneath the Word rather than above it. We want them to love and trust the Word because they love and trust the Author.

Second, teach your kids to press on to know the Lord.
Let me qualify that. Theologian Cornelius Van Til correctly says, exegeting Romans 1, that there are only two types of people:
1. Those who know God and love Him because they have been delivered out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
2. Those who know God and hate Him.
So there is no question that, at bottom, all of our kids know God. The question is whether they love Him or hate Him. But assuming they love Him...

Teach them that God's Word is the final arbiter of Truth. We don't weigh It in the balance; It weighs us.  Teach them that when they encounter things in scripture that are counter-intuitive--and they will; boy howdy, they will--that's their flesh speaking. Teach them to bang their head on that passage until God makes it real and true to them.*

To be sure, there are secret things that belong to the Lord. There will always be some things that God holds close to the breast. He is God. That is His prerogative. But there are other things that have been revealed to us, and they are for us and for our children to know.

For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
But like Adam, they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.

What is the antidote to transgression and treachery? Loyalty (I stand with You) and the knowledge of God (I think like You). Knowing the Lord will help us be nuanced where God is nuanced and straightforward where God is straightforward. Not knowing the Lord puts us at risk of making God in our own image, an image that hates what He loves AND loves what He hates.

Lauren Daigle needs to press on to know the Lord, but she is just representative of the rest of us.
We need to press on to know the Lord, too.
And so do our children.

*I believe it was John Piper who said this, but I can't find the link, so I want to be both careful and cautious in giving credit.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Resting Like a Tax Collector

"All God asks is that we lay down our insistence on contributing to God's estimation of our merits and embrace Christ's record as our own. Nothing is to be added to or subtracted from this message of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord."*
Question: Is it possible that a shape can both be a triangle and not a triangle?
Answer: No. In logic, we call this the Law of Noncontradiction. The rest of us just call it Common Sense.

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to Heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other. (Luke 18: 9-14)

The Pharisee: He rocks merit, and he knows it and wants God to know it, too.
The tax collector: He's got no merit and no hope of ever accruing any, and he knows it. His only hope is a merit from outside himself, an alien merit. One of them went away justified; we know that. 

But don't miss, on this Reformation Day, what else the Lord is saying: Both of them did not go away justified; one of them went away not justified.

A shape cannot be both a triangle and not a triangle.
Salvation cannot be by faith alone and not by faith alone. These two paths cannot be the same gospel.
The Savior cannot save completely by His own merit and not save completely by His own merit. These two persons cannot be the same Jesus.

There will not be in heaven a set of people who rested in Christ's merit alone and a set of people who did not rest in Christ's merit alone.  No matter what your faith community is, at least be intellectually honest and admit they cannot both be true.

So, mamas, what are we teaching our children? Are we being as precise as Jesus in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? Or are we teaching them that there's no fundamental difference between Grace and Grace-Alone?

"The only thing you contribute to your salvation is the sin that made it necessary." Jonathan Edwards**

Have we said that to our kids lately? Do they feel, like the tax collector, a hopelessness and a helplessness to fix their own predicament? Do we throw ourselves entirely upon the mercy of God and teach our children to do the same?
Or are we teaching them to think like a Pharisee, that as long as they are baptized and taking the Lord's Supper and going to church and reading the Bible then they are safe?

Salvation belongs to the Lord.
It always has.

Salvation belongs to the Lord. (Psalm 3:8)

But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; 
He is their strength in times of trouble. (Psalm 37:39)

After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; (Revelation 19:1)

The opening quote bears repeating:
All God asks is that we lay down our insistence on contributing to God's estimation of our own merits and embrace Christ's record as our own. Nothing is to be added to or subtracted from this message of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I really believe that salvation belongs to the Lord, then I need to check my gimbals. How is salvation presented in my home? Either I am living like a Pharisee and raising little Pharisees, as we go through life accruing our own merit, or I am resting like the tax collector and raising children to rest like little tax collectors, embracing Christ's record as our only hope and salvation.

Glory and power to the Lord, who owns our salvation.
On this Reformation Day, may you and yours, like the tax collector, find Rest in the record of Jesus and go to your homes justified.

*Gospel Transformation Bible, 2008, study notes on Revelation 22:18-19 
**I've already commissioned my daughter to hand-letter this, and I'm going to hang it in a prominent place in my house. Thanks, Babylon Bee, for the reminder!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Be Back Soon!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for sticking around. We have had a whirlwind year! One more grandbaby was born in April far away, whom we will meet soon. Another grandbaby was born right here in Texas in June. My daughter had an unexpectedly difficult birth, and I was able to be there for a while to help wherever they needed help. A son was married in August, and a daughter will be married in November. So by year's end, the current tally will be four kids-in-law and four grandchildren. After eleven children, I've decided that marriage and grandbabies are my favorite ways to grow our family. And I just LOVE every one of these new family members. God has been ever so kind to us.

Also, I've been on a social media hiatus since May. And the internet silence has been good for my soul. It has been good for me to just listen to the Conversation and not talk. It has been good to gather my thoughts on a number of issues without all the noise. It has been good to think without speaking.

But I do have a number of blog drafts I have been working on. And I plan to start posting again in the next week or so.

Anyway, I'm still here.
Be back soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hell Yes

Back in college, I had an art appreciation professor who cornered me on my definition of Christianity. When I said that Jesus saves us from Hell, he cut me off with, "Hell is never mentioned in the Bible." His smugness told my 300 classmates that he won the day. My takeaway was that he was an idiot.

About a month ago, Brett was reading the headlines at breakfast when he sat back and announced, "Oh look. The Pope has declared he doesn't believe in Hell."

Now if this had been RC Sproul or John Piper, or my pastor, or one of my close friends who made this declaration, it would have been shocking. But this was Pope Francis. Francis, who announced in a May, 2013, mass that if atheists 'do good, we will meet one another there,' (there being Heaven). This is Francis, who in December of 2015, opened a 'door of mercy' (I am not making this up) in St. Peter's Basilica, granting an indulgence (and you thought they died with the Reformation) to those who passed through the door. Unfortunately, the good Pontiff closed that door in November of 2016. (I...I...wow.) If I were Catholic, that would be a chilling click indeed.

So, no. I was not in the least surprised to find that Francis declared he didn't believe in Hell. I just sat back and waited for the dust-up. Sure enough, Vatican spin doctors kicked it into overdrive in the following days, telling us what Francis did or did not mean by his comment. After all, even Catholicism has a doctrine of Hell, albeit a flawed one. But here's one glaringly important detail: Francis did not himself ever offer clarification. What's a poor girl to think?

I just shook my head. Not my pope. Not my problem. But it was quite interesting to then attend Together for the Gospel 2018, where 12,500 gospel Christians gathered to be reminded of this one glorious truth: we are distinct from the world.

Ligon Duncan, chancellor of the Presbyterian Reformed Theological Seminary, and R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presided over a session to discuss the current theological challenges to the gospel. And those challenges?

My own observation is that these challenges have been going on for many years. I have a friend from a rather liberal denomination who told me about fifteen years ago that her church never talks about the devil. To my friend's credit, she acknowledged that this was probably ill-advised, but she explained that the church's position was that the devil is not a positive topic.  And we all know Rob "Love Wins" Bell, who can't imagine a loving God sending anyone to Hell. So let me say right now that this is hardly a 'Catholic' problem. But let's be crisp. Anyone who denies the existence of sin, wrath, and Hell is an enemy of the gospel. 

Listen up. It is one thing to be an atheist art prof and deny Hell. But denying the existence of sin, wrath, and Hell while simultaneously claiming identity with Christ is like singing the praises of reading while denying the existence of the alphabet.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 2 Corinthians 2:2

If Paul thought he should know and proclaim not just Jesus Christ but Jesus-Christ-crucified, then there must be something critical about 'crucified' that cannot be separated from Jesus Christ. What in the world would make a compelling need for something as hideous and awful as crucifixion?

I am currently reading through Revelation with my kids. Yesterday, we were reading about the wrath of God being poured out on the peoples of the earth. I asked the kids if they could think of any distinctions between the words "anger" and "wrath," to which my 13 yr old replied, 'Yeah, anger is inside you, but wrath is when you want other people to feel it. It is outward.' Out of the mouths of babes.

Hell exists because it is the consequence of God's wrath. God's wrath exists because of our sin. And sin exists because of our first parents. Hence the need for Jesus-Christ-crucified, who bore our sin, absorbed God's wrath, and saved us from Hell.

Is this really that difficult?

Mamas, teach sin, wrath, and Hell. Teach them to your children with the same intensity and the same commitment with which you teach them the alphabet. When they ask you if sin, wrath, and Hell exist, respond in the Scripture-believing, Gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting, Truth-loving affirmative.

Sin. Yes.
Wrath. Yes.
Hell. Yes.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 2 Cor. 2:14-16

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What am I Building?

It's been almost a year since I've given up politics. Not only has it been good for my blood pressure and my relationships, it has also clarified a few things. I can see clearly now that my chief end is not preserving the Republic and enjoying it forever. (To my politically involved friends, I do not say that this is in your heart; I say that this was in my heart.)

I have begun to think more globally than ever before, a trend that has a couple data points over the past couple of years. The first data point my study of the book of Acts last summer. There, in the second chapter, God undoes what He did at Babel. At Babel, He scattered the peoples of the earth, separating them both geographically and linguistically. But at Pentecost, He gathered them back in. Lo and behold, the gospel, as it turns out, is for all nations, tribes, and tongues.  And then, via persecution, this time He scattered His people. And this time, it was not to divide but to unite the Elect from the uttermost parts of the earth. Because where His people went, there went the gospel with them. This was the first and ultimate Church building project.

The second data point has been our school study of the 20th century this year. Do you know how many millions of people died at the hands of patriotic nationalists in the last century? "Our country for our people" thinking has yielded precisely zero benefits.

The third data point was a lunch meeting our pastors had with a couple guys from The Gospel Coalition's Theological Famine Relief Fund. These guys shared an interesting stat. Did you know that, from the countries of Cuba and Sweden, the most requested language for the Famine's gospel materials is Farsi? Farsi. Do you know who speaks Farsi? Iranians speak Farsi. So do Afghans. So do a number of other people in the Middle East.

What is your reaction when you hear that news? Be honest. Does it stress you out that speakers of Arabic are 'this close' to our shores? Or does your heart rejoice that God is once again scattering peoples and bringing the gospel to them? People who have only every known Islam and and Islamic theocracies?

I'm as white-bread middle class as they come. If there is a non-European gene in my ancestry, I am unaware of it. But God is not white-bread middle class, and neither is His good news. So it was with great dismay that I listened last week to my president (I've given up politics, not the news.) insinuate that Dreamers are simply gang members waiting to happen. That's the logical equivalent of saying I'm a Nazi because I'm German.

It's not disturbing--or news--that my president thinks this way. It is disturbing that we think this way. Is it possible that we have categorized these people the wrong way? Is it possible that we should see Dreamers and refugees, not as threats to our 'way of life' but as future brothers and sisters in Christ? How hopeful should we be? How hospitable should we be? How 'righteously compassionate'--to borrow a term from last Sunday's sermon--should we be?

Full disclosure: I do not come at this naturally or easily. There's not much in me that desires to be exposed to other cultures. But I cannot read the Word and be transformed by it without also becoming more hopeful, more hospitable, more compassionate. This is my challenge; I know that.

So go ahead and build your wall if that makes you feel better. But I appeal to you, as you stack those bricks with the zeal of a kid in a nerf gun war, to take an occasional break, place your hand over your heart, and ask yourself:
Does this wall strengthen the Kingdom?
Does this wall further the gospel?
Does this wall glorify God?

As for me, I'd rather build the Church than a wall any day.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9-10

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Apology or Doxology?

If there is one thing I've learned in 29 years of marriage, it is to seek clarification. If there is one thing I have learned in the past nine years as a debate mom, it is 'define your terms.' In the current climate of gender/sexuality issues, lots of people who self-identify as Christians use the term 'love' and yet seem to be talking past one another. A few weeks ago, some friends and I began A Beautiful Design by Matt Chandler.* It was a safe place for us to ask hard questions and grapple with concerns we have as friends, families, and moms. It was in that setting that I began to get my aha! moment about doxology.
If you love Him, then you love holiness. What you please shouldn't present a problem. (ND Wilson) 

Two truths:
1. God is love. (I John 4:16)
2. All scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim 3:16)
If you disagree that these are true, then we've come to the part of the flowchart that says "END." Have a great day. But if you agree with me...

If you agree that God is love and that all scripture is inspired by God, then all scripture must be love because anything that proceeds from a God who is love must necessarily be loving. Or else we negate the proposition, in which case we come again to the part of the flowchart that says "END." Have a great day. But if you agree that all scripture must be love...

Then why doesn't all scripture elicit worship from us, His Church?
Why does a six-day Creation make us squirm?
Why does Leviticus make us squirm?
Why does a bloody cross make us squirm?
Why does the Final Judgment make us squirm?
Why does God's Word, which is love because it proceeds from God who is love, make us squirm?
And, conversely, why don't people who identify as Christians but squirm over scripture make us squirm?
Why is there so much apology and so little doxology?

DOXOLOGY /dahk SOL' uh jee/  [Gr. "δοξα" praise, glory and "λεγω" to speak] (n.): a hymn in praise of the Almighty; a particular form of giving glory to God

A church in our neighborhood has this tag line under its title:
"Where Jesus is the key and people are the point."
Ah. No. As Charles Spurgeon would remind us, there is a difference between 'right' and 'almost right.' That tag line is almost right, but it is not right--which makes it wrong. People are inherently valuable. We are not incidental, but neither are we the point. God is. Loving God is the first and greatest commandment. Loving my neighbor is the second commandment. (Matt 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30) The first commandment bounds the second, not the other way around.

Almost-Right-People-Are-The-Point is epidemic in the Church and has taken us down the Bunny Trail of Apology. Take the hot topics of our day: gender and sexuality. Who of us has more than two degrees of separation from someone who is confused by these issues? Either we know someone who is confused, or we know someone who knows someone who is. And we were sovereignly placed in such a time as this.
when we think that people are the point, we start to apologize. They're real flesh and blood, after all, not some proposition on a page. (A hearty amen! to that). They're really great folks, too! (Possibly an amen! to that, too).

So down the Bunny Trail we go.
I'm sorry that God created only two genders.
Next comes, I'm sorry for Leviticus.
I'm sorry for the Law.
And pretty soon, we've arrived at:
I'm sorry for the cross. Let's just call it symbolic and call it a day.
I'm sorry that there are certain people who will never inherit the Kingdom.
I'm sorry. I didn't write it. My hands are tied on this one.

We're not quite willing to jettison the Word. But we do want to put some distance between It and us, because, remember, people are the point, so making our people feel badly must be avoided at all costs.  And while we're busy kicking the dirt, avoiding eye contact, and making God the bad guy, what we are really communicating is that if we were God, we would have done things differently. If we were God, we wouldn't be so hard line. If we were God, we would celebrate you.

People are the crowning jewel of God's creation. But we are creations. What makes us feel good on the one hand or guilty on the other is not the weighing mechanism for what is really and truly Love.

God is the point. And if God, who is love and who authored all of scripture, is the point, then His instructions should elicit worship and wonder, not apology. Never apology. And we shouldn't find ourselves affirming anything at all that is contra-God and contra-scripture.

Further, if God is love and all of His Words are love, it must necessarily follow that God's Word is the most loving thing we can share with our people. It must follow that His Words are the best way for our people, who are really great folks--but also under wrath--to reach their full flourishing potential.

Who are the covenant people of God, after all?
For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10
The covenant people of God have God's law on their hearts--because He put it there--and they love it, and they love Him.

The opening quote bears repeating: If you love God, then you love holiness. What you please shouldn't present a problem. 

So, gospel Christian, do we love Genesis 1 and Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6? Do they bring forth doxology from us? If God has written them on my heart, then the answer is yes.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

*a wonderful series on gender that offers the compassion of Jesus without cratering His Truth

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Reading List

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So are books. Here are mine for the year, opinions occasionally included. Because, well, me.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Silver Lining by Nancy Wilson. I turned 50 two weeks ago. Time to face facts; I am the older woman. And this is a good book for such a time as this.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Comraderie of Confidence by John Piper
Madeleine Takes Command* by Ethel Claire Brill
Brave Companions by David McCollough. I'm not big on biographies, but these short sketches were actually very interesting.
A Child's History of the Life of George Washington* by Josephine Pollard. A little dry but more information here than most high schoolers get.
Discipleship by Mark Dever. Dever can be a little...aggressive...about evangelism, so I read with a 'we'll see' attitude. Turns out this was a great book affirming the power and appropriateness of one-on-one discipleship.
Thoughts for Young Men by JC Ryle. Written as a Titus 2 exhortation to young men to be sober-minded.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith Fernando. A little elementary.
Peter Pan* by JM Barrie
Mr. Standfast by John Buchan. Richard Hannay is my favorite spy. I would not usually classify a spy novel as literature--except for this one. I love Sam Gamgee and Boo Radley and all unsung heroes. There's one in here, too.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. Best book of the series. Juxtaposition of magic vs. legitimate 1 Samuel witchcraft. This is the one that really pulled me into the series.
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by JK Rowling
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. Second time on this one. Improved upon further acquaintance. Provides what she-who-shall-not-be-name failed to: the emphasis on the need for a fixed point of reference.
The Black Tower by PD James. Meh.
Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore.
Reb and the Redcoats* by Constance Savery. Thought this would never end.

Ordinary by Michael Horton. If I gave you all the thoughts that impacted me in this book, I'd be violating copyright. Fantastic!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther. Luther did not get everything right, and some things he got very, very wrong. But his grasp of the scriptures and the sovereignty of God, demonstrated here, is what made him one of the greats and one of my favorites.
Fellowship of the Ring* by JRR Tolkien. How many times can one read LOTR? Well, I don't know; how many times are there?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Amazing! We're still talking about it!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. And thus ends the tale of Harry Potter. Great fun! Thoroughly enjoyed!
Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs
Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling. Not quite as good.
Vendetta by Lisa Harris

The Two Towers* by JRR Tolkien
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
John Calvin edited by Burk Parsons
Befriend by Scott Sauls. I wanted to like this one more than I did.
Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. Every pastor and pastor's wife should read this.
Watership Down by Richard Adams. Have wanted to read for a long time. Now I'm not really sure why.
Ten Ways to Destroy Your Child's Imagination by Anthony Esolen. Decent book but not a fan of Esolen. Blogpost forthcoming.
Return of the King* by JRR Tolkien
North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson
Revelation and Reason edited by K. Scott Oliphant and Lane Tipton . Mind-blowing read, really. If everything was corrupted in the Fall, including our ability to reason (and it was), and if we are knowing-but-suppressing (and we are), then we must jettison classical apologetics in favor of the far more scriptural pre-suppositional apologetics. Heady stuff and slow reading but worth it.

Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson
Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson. No secret that I love this series. Not since Narnia has there been such a thematically strong tale for children that adults should also read. Maybe one day I'll read it without crying. Maybe.
The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe. Scathingly humorous review of modern art. Laughed out loud.
Reading Between the Lines by Gene Edward Veith. I should probably have liked this more than I did.
For the Time Being by Annie Dillard. I'm not silly enough to give Dillard another moment of my life.
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin. That's some good readin' there.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Now I can say I read it. And I never need to do that again.
The Road Home by David Kherdian
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie--one of her best.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Beautiful, tragic book by a soldier who was there. More convinced than ever that every politician who votes for war, arguing a 'just war,' should put their son on the front line first. Then we'll see how committed to their cause they really are.
Acts: The Church Alive by R. Kent Hughes
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not a single good guy in the whole book. Ick.
Luther and Katarina by Jody Hedlund. No.
Water From My Heart by Charles Martin. Yes! Martin is one of my faves!
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Really short and really brilliant.
Long Way Home by Louise Penny. This is my favorite new series. But do NOT do what I did, and that was read them out of order. Because of an ongoing plot line, you need to start at the beginning and keep to the order. Caviat: Penny's likely not a believer; hold your fire.
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch* by Jean Lee Lantham. Fourth time through. Really good.
Still Life by Louise Penny. THIS is the first one. Start here.

Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler. Chandler knows storms. And she knows Who holds us during the storms. Lots of comfort here.
Book of Dragons* by E. Nesbit
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase* by Joan Aiken
Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp. Thoughtful meditations on Psalm 51.
My Father's Daughter by EL Konigsburg
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

China's Long March by Jean Fritz. I don't know if Fritz is unhinged from history or just unhinged.
Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer. The story of a young Jew and a Hitler youth and their eventual collaboration. Worth reading.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I didn't quite agree with Bonhoeffer's take on the Sermon on the Mount, but he does prove he's not a red-letter Christian later in the book. Really good nuggets here.
The Little White Horse* by Elizabeth Goudge. One of those genuinely great read-alouds, riveting to both kids and their parents.
Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist by John Severance
The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse by Michael Gungor. Jeff Baldwin of Worldview Academy exhorts young people this way: "If you want to go to MIT to learn to build bridges, go to MIT. If the professor at MIT starts talking about the meaning of life, flip the switch in your brain and turn him off. When he starts to talk about building bridges again, flip the switch and turn him on again." You'll need to read Gungor the same way. When he talks about God, the gospel, or faith, turn him off. When he sticks to what he really knows (art/music/creating), he has some worthwhile things to say about why we create, who we create to please, and how that impacts the outcome.
After the War by Carol Matas
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

That's it, folks. May your new year be filled with a comfy chair, lots of great new books, and the time to read them!