Monday, January 31, 2011

Amazing Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much everyone who entered the giveaway and spread the word.

And, of course, thank you so much Zbet Designs for sponsoring this giveaway!
If you haven't checked out her stuff, you really should. It's totally amazing!

I wish you could all win, but only one of you did. :-) Sorry about that.


I'll be posting a new giveaway this week, so all of you who didn't win have a chance at something else awesome. :-)

Thanks for entering all of you!
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Josh Groban's Illumanations

So...I've been having an interesting time listening to Josh Groban's new CD, Illuminations.

I know there's been some discussion on it since it is pretty different from his other CDs. The instrumentals are different and the songs are different.

I love the instrumentals, but to be honest, I'm not sure what he exactly meant with all the lyrics.
For instance, Please Follow Me puzzled me for the first dozen times or so...I think it's an amazing song and I know what I think it means, but still not confident on what he wanted it to mean.

Higher Window is my second favorite-

Over all, I like the CD better than his previous ones, but I wish there were more notes with the album. I think I know what they mean and I often like lyrics you have to think about (I'm a Bob Dyan fan if you hadn't noticed).
But would be interesting to know what he meant when writing them.

What do think Please Follow Me is about? How about War at Home? Or this one, Higher Window?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rewrite that...

I often think that I was born to be a writer not because I write well but because I speak badly.

There's a pretty good chance when I open my mouth it's going to be something ready to delete, but at least when I'm working with a pen revisions are more commonly acceptable.

I hope this is the pain of being revised.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes - Derek Kidner

The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes: An Introduction to Wisdom Literature by Derek Kidner

Rating: 5
Readability: 6
Impact: 5

Read it Again: Not before I investigate some other books on the subject...
Recommend It: Maybe, for a quick overview... I don't know.

What to Expect

An overview where Kidner pulls from multiple biblical scholars and gives you various opinions on different aspects of wisdom literature.
Explores the text, background, and other issues briefly.

My Squib

Could have been much better if he hadn't been so eager to use a wide vocabulary...really slowed the book down and obscured what he was actually saying. (This wasn't just a nice variety..."anon" was employed combined with copious members of it's kin.;-)
He's very smart and has an amazing knowledge of the Bible, I just didn't deal well with his vocabulary and style.

Glad I read it. A lot of excellent things to think about, but not satisfying on the subject (which isn't something against certainly made me want more!)

I've heard that his books specifically on the Psalms and Proverbs are good. It would be interesting to read those.

From the Book

Proverbs claims the whole of life for wisdom, and the whole range of wisdom for God.

...True, it will encourage clear thinking, but the wisdom it speaks of is the kind that must engage the whole man: not only his power to think straight, but his management of affairs, his sensitivity to people, his character and his morals; above all (or rather, at the root of all) his relation to God.

This is the last word on the matter, both in the book of Job and in the New Testament's reflection on it. And that will be the last word in the bigger drama: not that man will demand and get his answers or his imagined rights, but that God will give, to those who endure to the end in this bitter war, 'such good things as pass man's understanding.'

Doug Wilson and Jeff Meyers have books on Ecclesiastes, but does anyone know of a good book on Job? I'd be very interested in reading one.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Emergencies Only?

We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it.

From The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Goodness of God - Randy Alcorn

The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering by Randy Alcorn
Multnomah Books 2010

Rating: 8
Readability: 8

Impact: High, I believe.
Doubting the goodness of God has not really been an issue to me...which scares me a little.
Am I overlooking something? God not testing me? Or...will God test me? These are all frightening thoughts. But I can be confident that God is good. What that will mean for me in the rest of my life...I don't know, but I do not doubt that it is true!

Read it Again: Yes...
Recommend it: Yes, especially for people who struggle with this issue. And for those who are watching someone or going through intense suffering themselves.

What to Expect

Short, direct chapters that end up covering all sort of subjects.
After all, if we don't believe in God's goodness we certainly have a messed idea of everything that following Him means.

He addresses many basic doctrinal issues, uses stories as illustrations, and tells stories of real suffering people.

Well-written, poignant, and often convicting.

My Squib

I really enjoyed this book, however, I thought Notes of a Tilt-a-Whirl covered many of the same issues more directly and beautifully. But that was only part of N.D. Wilson's book and I do think this is an excellent read for people struggling with this issue or more of a "topical" study.

Randy Alcorn did force me to think about some things which I hadn't before and certainly made me realize how important it is that we don't have doubts in this area...and how many people do. How can someone even want to exist if they do not believe God is good?

He talks about American health and wealth religion and other issues that really brought up the lives of the Biblical writers and heroes. Paul did not have a healthy, wealthy life. We are called to follow Christ. Are lives are to look like His.

In many ways this seems like a non-issue because if we think there is good and evil, then we have to believe there is a God that makes these definitions...unless it is just every man for himself. Or every man creates his own god with its own definitions.
But if God makes up these definitions who are we to impose them against Him? How can we possibly understand this? Us--Sinful. Fallen. Incapable of "goodness" without God!

Like pretty much every issue, this seems to come down to a wrong view of who we are and who God is.

God is past our understanding.
But we know that He is all good, all merciful, all powerful, all knowing. Completely sovereign. What that means or looks like, we might not be able to comprehend, but we can be confident that it is true!
All His plans work together for God to those who fear Him. And all things are His plans.

How different I should be. Believing in God's sovereignty is an action, not something we read heavy tomes about in a dusty armchair and just believe in our head.

When something falls out of the fridge seven times in a row, when I trip and fall on my face in the middle of a restaurant, when I smash into something in our room in the dark...all these things were written into my story. How do I react? How often do I get frustrated?

How about bigger things? Discontentment. Regret. Tragedy. Death. Am I angry at the Author of these things?

As strange as it sounds, I believe sometimes it is easier to accept the the "big" things.
At least the big things in my life. God has given me a glimpse of how these are working together for good. How He uses tragedy for joy. How He uses evil for good.
Yes, they're hard-- suffering is real, but we know He has it under control.

How about when you break your toe by hooking it on a stool walking through the kitchen? Or when your sibling gets on your nerves by asking the same question a hundred times? Do we see God orchestrating all these things? Or do we lash out at His plan for us?

I certainly have some work to do...

From the Book

I loved this tidbit about G.K. Chesterton-

The London "Times" once asked various writers for essays on the topic "What's Wrong with the World?" G.K. Chesterton's contribution was perhaps the shortest essay in history.
"Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton"

For turning us toward God, sometimes nothing works like suffering. C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

God calls us neither to victimization nor fatalism, but to faith in his character and promises.

Good book. Glad I read it. Now I want to retain some of it and put it into action!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Necessary Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Much Ado's "Sigh No More"

Words: Obviously... Shakespeare :-)
Music: Patrick Doyle

A detailed review coming one of these days... ;-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keep Persevering....

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
~Gene Fowler

Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators
~Olin Miller

Write without pay until someone offers to pay.
~Mark Twain

Monday, January 17, 2011

Amazing Giveaway :-)

A very big thank you to Zbet who custom made this beautiful necklace!

It is proper for the Christian to use symbols and reminders in daily life. (Many of the commands given to the Law are representations and reminders of something greater.)

This necklace is made of three "symbols"--

The cross was a sign of suffering and shame and it has been turned into a sign of hope and triumph-- the burial marker of Death.

The cross is a reminder of Jesus love, suffering, death, and resurrection.
We were dead sinners but Christ took those sins upon Himself and we are now alive in His resurrection. Although we will die, it is in that turning page that Death proves it's powerlessness. It can not hold those claimed by the Living God.

It is also a reminder of the words of Christ-

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

That cross is real, but we know that it is conquered. May we carry it joyfully and may these words be true of us--

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Galatians 6:14

The Pearl is used as a symbol of the Church of Christ. It is a sign of value, purity, unity, and growth.

It is created through suffering. An impurity enters the oyster side and the oyster uses itself to create the pearl. The pearl, at first something useless and impure becomes something beautiful reflecting the beauty of the inside of the oyster's shell. Read this review...

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
Matthew 13:45-46

The pearl is a reminder of the beauty and glory, that someday will be fully true, of the unified Church through Christ.
It is also a common sign of purity and holiness.

The oval stamped with "Hold Fast" is a reminder of our only purpose and goal. To hold fast to our faith. To press on toward the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

He taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth."
Proverbs 4:4-5

To Paul, "holding fast" is a pretty intense action--

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:9-12

Necklace Description:
High quality oval charm hand stamped with "Hold Fast", complimented by a double sided cross, and wire wrapped, fresh water pearl on a 16" sterling silver chain.

This amazing piece was custom made for this giveaway!

Zbet uses high quality materials, beautiful designs, and an eye for carefully crafted artistry. Besides already-made creations, this shop hand stamps and custom makes art and jewelry especially for you!
I am certainly going to be commissioning some work here. :-) It's going to be difficult to part with this necklace.

Zbet has been wonderful to work with and has very graciously sponsored this giveaway.
You must check out the shop! It is so cool!

How to Enter

1. Visit Zbet's Designs.
Discover how amazing it is and come back and let me know what you like best.

2. Follow me.

3. Post about it on your blog (or facebook or both).

4. Put my giveaway button on your sidebar.

You must comment once for every entry. Giveaway ends January 30th.

Note: Sorry for previous link that didn't work. This one does! :-)

Thank you for entering!
Miss Pickwickian

Ruth meets Boaz - Edward Burne-Jones

Ruth meets Boaz
Ruth 2
Drawing from 1876
by Edward Burne-Jones

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Five for Five

Ellen from The Everyday and the Unusual tagged me with this.

Normally I am not a fan of tags, but I am a fan of Ellen and this was a very thought provoking post. It kind of helped me review this past year. :-)

Things you have learned this year

1. Life is both more complicated, and much simpler, than I used to think.

2. God is good all the time...even when we feel crushed. He has a plan for everything and He knows what He's doing and how it will turn out. Acknowledging this totally changes everything.

3. Perseverance and patience seem to be the key to most everything...and I don't have them down very well.

4. Studying God's Word is an amazing gift and I have never valued it enough. I want to.

5. Nothing is ever hopeless... Because of Christ we can be wildly and ridiculously optimistic (and this is a big lesson for a natural-born cynical pessimist).

And this perfect hope does not mean we have to go around with a dorky smile on our faces (although sometimes that might be the only way to release our joy). There is still real sorrow, real tears, real suffering. But life is not hopeless. This story will have a good ending.

Things you want to accomplish next year

1. Be more bold and confident in Christ.

2. All the goals written in this post- Words for 2011 . Basically, read a lot, finish both book projects, and get published. Perhaps I'm being a bit to optimistic. ;-)

3. Journal better. I haven't decided what all this is going to entail yet, but it's still mulling about.

4. Read, memorize, and treasure God's Word.

5. Be more diligent in practicing music. Learn all of the awesome sheet music for Les Miz my sister got me! (Among many other things.:-)

Things you've always wanted to do but have never done before.

1. Finish a full length novel. :-)

2. Take a mission trip to a very poor country.

3. Learn a foreign language fluently (German would be first choice).

4. Memorize the Psalms.

5. Touch Michelangelo's Pieta.

Things you see as important in life

1. The triune God.
That might sound silly...but besides the fact that being a Christian changes every single aspect of every thing we do (or should), I have never really understood how extremely important it is that our God is a Triune God.

2. Honesty.

3. Faith, hope, and love. And these have a deeper, tougher, sometimes painful reality than we try to make them. They aren't just fuzzy bunnies. ;-)

4. My family. :-)

5. My Church.

Mishaps. Otherwise known as embarrassing (wonderful) moments that I get to laugh at.

1. Recently I walked past a crowded table at Chipotle carrying a bunch of food, tripped, spilled water everywhere, slipped in it, laughed hysterically, finally reached my table and began to feel mortified. (Part of the crowd that witnessed it happened to be a bunch of young males who had no qualms laughing loudly..if that makes you laugh more, Ellen...)

2. I sprained my ankle frolicking through the back hall and crashing into the wall.
Not stretched. Genuine sprain. And then when everyone asked with touching concern "what did you do?" I had to answer... "uh, crashed into a wall."

3. I once spent a whole meal discussing mysticism with a stranger, only to discover near the end of our conversation that he had just finished the manuscript for a book that argued the opposite view we'd been discussing, and that he was a pastor and college teacher on the subject...

4. Once I stood in the middle of a room where everyone was sitting down (which happened to be mostly best-selling Christian authors). An editor/agent/publisher was reading the beginning of my book and he pronounced loudly at the end that it "was not terrible". At the moment it made the happiest person alive.

5. In one of the multiple times I have employed crutches I fell down the stairs at church and nearly impaled myself. There was a long line of people watching behind me.

Bonus: I lept onto a horse bareback but overestimated...There was a huge prickly bush on the other side. Remember that Anna? I recall you thinking it was really funny. ;-)

I hope you are amused at my expense, Ellen. :-)

I tag the following-

Raquel of God's Daughter
Jordie of Crazy as Me
Anna Olivia of Ooooh la la!

Please comment if you can with a link to your post. Thanks. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Novel Update...

I mentioned that I had 60,000 words in this one millionth draft of Where Loyalties Lie... While I can't believe it but I'm considering changing the POV again. It's been mulling about for along time.

Remember the NaNoWrMo story? While I did finish that and got some very encouraging and helpful feedback on it. (I can talk about it now because it was a present for my mother and now she finally has it. :-)
I wrote it in first person just how it came out and it was extremely liberating and fun. (Don't worry, I went back and edited before I handed out any copies. ;-)

I feel like when I write in first person POV it is so much easier and it actually has some life. Nearly all the books I really adore are in first person. But my story has some essential plot elements that will be really tricky written this way.

I've read books that switch from one first person POV to another, but I've never liked it. One exception is Frankenstein and which is in letters or stories that the main character hears or reads. Gail Carson Levine's Ever was one example of this that failed for me (although I love her other books).

I have seen some authors pull off writing in first person for one character and third for another. Robert Newton Peck's Bro is like this and it's very powerful.

I don't know...

One huge advantage in first person POV is that your POV character can be relatively unlikeable but it's still easy to be sympathetic with. Reading back through what I've written I feel like Lilly is a very unlikable character, but that she just might pull it off in first person. I've never thought of her as unlikable, but that's certainly the way it comes across.

Of course there are a lot of edits that need to be done and the manuscript might look a little nicer with them, but right now... I'm seriously thinking about changing it.

I can't believe it... Ugh. I've already written most of it in about everybody's perspective under the sun, including multiple first persons.
I think I might be more cut out for just trying to look through one insignificant person's eyes than in trying to master the epic.

We shall see...

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Precious Pearl - Robert Lloyd Russell

One Precious Pearl: God's Design for His Church by Robert Lloyd Russell
Christian Concepts Series: Timeless Truths and Contemporary
Infinity Publishing

Rating: 7
Readability: 7
Impact: 7
I'll never think about pearls the same way. It certainly made me do some good thinking.

Read it Again: Yes.
Recommend it: Yes!

What to Expect

One Precious Pearl focuses on Jesus parables in Matthew 13, especially the parable of the merchant and the pearl. He also touches on other uses and context of the gem in the Bible.

The second portion of the book explains analogies and symbolism that can be seen in the actual pearl and through history and tradition.

The book can be easily used as a personal or group Bible study or can be read in a couple sittings. It's divided into 22 short chapters with questions, and thought and discussion ideas at the end of each. The book is engaging.

My Squib

I really enjoyed the book. The symbolism and analogy are all very exciting. (Especially after just finishing Through New Eyes.) Russell has a wide Bible knowledge and pulls passages from throughout the Scriptures. The style is understandable and relatively direct, although not outstanding.

One Precious Pearl gives the three common interpretations of Matthew 13:45-46 and than argues for what the author sees as the correct view, why this is important, and what it means.

The book then moves on to actual aspects of the pearl and how it may symbolize different qualities of the Church.
A pearl begins by something "piercing its side", the impurity (us sinners) is then transformed through the body of the is a result of suffering and "sacrifice", the pearl is formed layer by layer, it is a perfect unit, etc... This whole section is very interesting.

One chapter that really made me think was on the pearl reflecting the inner shell of the oyster...which is actually very pearly and beautiful.
Jesus was not comely that we should look at Him, but obviously He is truly more beautiful and pure than we can imagine. And someday, as the Church becomes more like Him, it will become glorious and beautiful, reflecting His perfection.

While I don't think you could argue all these analogies are set in stone in the Bible, they can certainly be used as symbols of Christ's Church. I found this very exciting as a way to explain key aspects of the Church after the Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The book is excellent for meditating on and discussing the Church that we are part of today.

The only real problem I had was the book was his theology on "end times"...but he almost seems to contradict himself.

I believe Jesus reigns now (we all sing it at Christmas). His Word will spread and the Church will grow.
Russell seems more dispensationlist in his view, but at the same time has confidence in the spreading of the gospel and growth in the Church...but perhaps not it's visibility. He also seems to believe that Israel is still very important in the future of Christ's kingdom (besides obviously being a nation that will bend the knee to Him).

I found it all pretty interesting and raised lot of questions for me.
And, again, I was surprised how doctrinal differences affect so many more things than I anticipate. I'm afraid I'm not particularly confident I could argue our view of eschatology...but at 19 there's still hope, right?

Russell, however, demands respect when he does not shy away from sometimes tough or unpopular doctrine...or merely applying what he believes. I sincerely believe that his greatest goal is to drive others to open their Bibles and study the perfect Word! It certainly made me dig into my Bible, even if it I was because of a disagreement. :-)

Although I didn't agree with everything, I thoroughly enjoyed One Precious Pearl. I'm very glad I got the chance to read it. I now view the pearl as a beautiful symbol and amazing teaching tool!

I recommend it and would love discussing it. :-)

From the Book

In both the beginning of a pearl and the initial formation of the Church, the side of a living organism was opened.

Both the impurity in the Oyster and sinners in the Church are transformed into items of great value.

Like a pearl, the Church is a product of a living thing--the Church is a organism rather than merely an organization.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Necessary Note: I received a complementary review copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Scenes from the Life of Esther

Queen Esther
by Andrea del Castagno (1421-1457)

The Feast of Esther
by Frans Francken II (1581-1642)

Esther before Ahasuerus
by Claude Vignon (1593-1670)

Haman Begging Esther of Mercy
by Rembrandt (1606-1669)

The Banquet of Esther
by Jan Victors (1619-1676)

Festival of Esther
by Edward Armitage (1817-1896)

by Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

by Minerva Teichert (1888-1976)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Desperado - Michael Ball

Here is a 1994 video of Michael Ball.
His style has changed somewhat, but this is still a beautifully done song. My sister got Encore, a three CD Micheal Ball set, for, we've been listening to it a lot. :-) This is one of my favorites on the album.

I love his voice, but not always the arrangements and instrumentals. His Empty Chairs at Empty Tables is probably one of the most moving songs in the world (at least for me).

Perhaps, like me, you will prefer age and weight to this hair...but this is the only video I can find of Desperado.


Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get

Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it's too late

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, January 8, 2011

To Lose Everything

Today it is 55 years.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Here is a quote from the introduction of Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot--

Jim's aim was to know God.
His course, obedience-- the only course that could lead to the fulfillment of his aim. His end was what some would call an extraordinary death, although in facing death he had quietly pointed out that many have died because of obedience to God.
He and the other men with whom he died were hailed as heroes, 'Martyers'. I do not approve. Nor would he have approved.
Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him, after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first? Furthermore, to live for God is to die, 'daily', as the apostle Paul put it. It is to lose everything that we may gain Christ. It is in thus laying down our lives that we find them.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, January 7, 2011

Threw New Eyes - James B. Jordan

Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World by James B. Jordan
Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers Inc (First printing 1988)

This is a book I've heard about a lot but never read. It was a much easier read than I first anticipated and I really enjoyed it. I wish it was something I'd done a long time ago.

I've never actually read anything by Jim Jordan (besides a few articles) so it was pretty interesting after hearing hours of his lectures. His voice was pretty stuck in my head.

I think Through New Eyes really helped me see better where he and a lot of other writers and teachers are coming from...more of the root of it, you know. It was really an exciting read.

He goes through the Biblical "worlds" and covenants and points out imagery and symbolism that really hit you on the head and make you think. It is a quick but invaluable overview from Genesis to the church today.

Besides the fact that we want to see the world biblically and see the Bible biblically, I found this book really exciting when it comes to trying to write fiction in a way that portrays accurately God's world.

Recently I've been going through a series of lectures on The Church and Pop Culture. In one of the talks N.D. Wilson says that all fiction would be plagiarism if we weren't so bad at it. And we are miserably bad at it. I don't know if the connection makes sense, but it did to me at the time... :-)

Here are just two portions that I thought were particularly interesting-

What emerges from this discussion is that if we want to acquire a Biblical view of the world, we shall have to make a study of Biblical symbolism. The way the Bible uses symbols shows us how to interpret God's natural revelation.

The Jews of this period had almost completely perverted the law. As we have seen, they were not keeping the moral requirements of the law. Neither did they understand the symbolic aspects. When Jesus told the Jews that if they destroyed the Temple He would raise it up in three days, referring to His body, they were utterly confused (John 2:19-21). Similarly, when Jesus talked with Nicodemus and referred to the water-cleansing rites of the Old Covenant as a means of resurrections and new birth, Nicodemus was confused. Jesus expressed amazement: "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?" (John 3:10).
In the first century, the Jews had rejected Biblical symbolism and typology, and were divided into two groups. The Pharisees had turned symbolism into moralism, and were keeping the law as a means for salvation. The Alexandrian Jews had replaced Biblical typology with allegories grounded in Greek philosophy. As a result neither group was able to recognize Christ when He came to them.

Basically Through New Eyes is amazing and should be a must-read.

I have the feeling that the books I love and admire the most are the ones that get the crummiest reviews... Something I need to work on. But in one sense I just don't feel qualified and I'm not sure what I should add. You should read it. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jewish Violin Music

I love this type of music.

The album Songs of our Fathers by Andy Statman and David Grisman is an intense favorite. So lyrical...and sometimes so energetic. There is a medley we dance Whip-the-Willow to that is just the best. :-)
Songs of Zion by Maurice Sklar is another CD that's been around our house for a long time. And now, of course, the Defiance soundtrack. :-)

We should produce music like this!

This song is played by the French violinist, Patrick Chemla.

I've grown up with pieces of this music but I don't think I'll ever think of them the same after reading Elie Wiesel's Night. The scene where his friend plays the violin while they are all waiting in the cold is one of the most moving of the book.
Elie falls asleep to the sound and wakes up and the violinist and most of the people around him are dead...from cold and hunger. The violinist is still holding his instrument in the same position.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Radical - David Platt

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
Multnomah Books (2010)

Rating: 8
Readability: 8
Impact: Very high. Really made me think and want to talk about things I haven't really.

Read it Again: Yes... I almost did already...writing all the quotes I wanted.
Recommend It: Yes! Emphatically. And then I'd love it if you'd talk about what your thoughts. :-)

What to Expect

David Platt challenges our commitment to Christ and His Church and what we think that means. He comes strait on and doesn't shy away from criticizing the current state of American churches or explaining basic (but sometimes complicated or unpopular theology).

The book is an easy 200 page read and the writing style is engaging. He uses a lot of stories from modern day Christians as well as quotes from previous saints.

His focus is on Matthew 10 and the Great Commission.

My Squib

I'd heard the title of this book off and on, but had never really looked into it. I picked it up knowing no more than the title and that it had created a buzz.

I was suspicious. It was written by the pastor of a four-thousand member church and it's focus was on missions. (Not that either of those things are inherently bad at all!)

But pretty soon I was just enjoying it and feeling convicted...and writing lots of notes.

David Platt is a pastor of a huge church but this book is about the complete failure and sometimes open hypocrisy of the megachurch of America and how they approach "missions"...a better and more accurate name for Platt's perception of it would be "life".

Although there are probably things we could argue about the book it contains a lot of solid wisdom and exhortation in it.
I really needed to read it. I'm relatively comfortable with talking (and/or arguing) theology but miserable at sharing the Gospel with non-believers. And I think this is, unfortunately, a malady with some CREC members. I'm not blaming my church at all here, but I think a lot of us young people have this problem. We don't have any excuse and this is really a horrible failure. Not okay!

I strongly recommend it and I'd love to discuss it with someone who has read it. (If you know me your welcome to borrow my copy.)

Plus talks about and quotes two of my heroes...Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jim Elliot. <3

From the Book

Are we willing to obey the orders of Christ? Are we willing to be like him? Are we willing to risk our lives to go to great need and to great danger--whether it's in the inner cities around us, the difficult neighbor across the street, the disease-ridden communities in Africa, or the hostile regions in the Middle East? Are we willing to fundamentally alter out understanding of Christianity from a luxury-liner approach that seeks more comforts in the world to a troop-carrier approach that forsakes comforts in the world to accomplish an eternally significant task and achieve an eternally satisfying reward?

We have adopted a Christianity consumed with little devotional thoughts from God for the day, supplemented by teaching in the church filled with entertaining stories and trite opinions on how to be a better person and live a better life in the twenty-first century.
Meanwhile, we hold the matchless Word of God in our hands, and it demands a superior position in our lives, our families, our small groups, and our churches. Do we realize the battle that is waging around us? There is a true God over this world who wants all people to bow at the feet of the loving Savior, and there is a false god in this world who wants all people to burn in hell. The battle is intense, and it cannot be fought with little thoughts in a daily devotional or petty ideas from a preacher on Sunday. It certainly can't be fought with minds numbed by the constant drivel of entertainment on television, DVDs, video games, and the Internet. If you and I are going to penetrate our culture and the cultures of the world with the gospel, we desperately need minds saturated with God's Word.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Necessary Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. :-)

Encountering the Book of Psalms - C. Hassell Bullock

Encountering the Book of Psalms: A Literary and Theological Introduction by C. Hassell Bullock
Baker Academic 2009 (First printing 2001)

Rating: 6
Readability: 5
Impact: It might sound cliche to fall in the love with the Psalms...but that's the fact of the matter.

Read it Again: I dunno.
Recommend it: I dunno.

What to Expect:

This book is meant for college courses. Bullock tries to make the whole thing very student friendly with columns, graphs, pictures and such. It does make it a little more interesting, but it's still not a terribly exciting book.

It does have a lot of useful information and some genius quotes. Pretty well organized and easy to reference. Good review questions at the end.

There is no doubt that C. Hassell Bullock has a passion for the Psalms and it comes through..and is rather infectious.

My Squib:

I really enjoyed most of the book. He pulls from a lot of sources and brings in application.

He makes some pretty weird comments about the imprecatory Psalms through out the book but he's last chapter which is devoted to them, seems pretty solid. I'd love to read some other books that address this issue. Anyone know of any? Or other good books on the Psalms?

Glad I read the book.

From the Book:

To praise God is to live, and to live is to praise God. Anything less than that is substandard existence.

Th Psalms of lament attest, lamentation is never very far away from praise.

I know C.S. Lewis had problems with the imprecatory psalms... That knowledge was one of the great disappointments of my childhood...
But this quote that refers to him is very good-

C.S. Lewis takes a different take and observes that, on the side of Christian piety, the imprecatory psalms remind us that the absence of indignation may be an alarming symptom of the decline of righteousness and moral conviction. To lose this sense of conviction is to lose our moral moorings."

I know "moral" has some bad associations as a term, but I thought this quote was good. Indifference...not good.

I would love to have any recommendations on books of the Psalms. We have Calvin and Spurgeon's commentaries.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Will not forget Your Word

I keep going back to this blog post by Leithart- Keeping Words

And to Psalm 119 and the psalmist devotion to God's word.

Make me to understand the way of your precepts,
and I will mediate on your wondrous works. vs 27

I trust in your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. vs 42b-43

Last week we finally got around to watching The Book of Eli. I'm sure there are things we could argue about and I'm certainly not saying it's the perfect movie, but it really makes you think. Right after we finished I went to bed and just wanted to clutch my Bible all night.

How often do we think about this gift?
We live in a nation where you can get a KJV from the Dollar Tree. Our houses are stocked with pocket, study, large-print, and leather bound in dozens of translations.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a town where only the church ministers had actually read the Bible? And some of those hadn't ever seen the New Testament?
You professed Christ but could never actually read His word? Never actually even seen it?

Can you imagine owning a Bible in risk of losing your life?
Of risking your life to take other people Bibles?

We are tremendously blessed. At the same time, how often do we even think of this gift? How are we treasuring it?

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statues!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on you precepts and fix my eyes on your ways,
I will delight in your statues;
I will not forget your word.

Psalm 119: 9-16

What does God's Word mean to us? And how to do we value it?

I think I certainly need to work harder on this. The Bible should be my #1 reading material.
I'm also rotten memorizer and I don't have any excuse. Two very good things to work on in this new year!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Words in 2011

Happy New Year! :-)

2010 was a wonderful year. So many things happened I can hardly remember them. Pant, pant...

And now there's 2011. How weird that sounds... I have a lot of goals, and I want to focus on my writing/reading ones here. Hopefully this will help me check back to them and see how I'm doing. You all can pester me about them too. :-)

1. Finish non-fiction book. (March 2011)

This is a big one and I'd like to have the rough draft completed by February and the it off to the printer's by March. We'll see... I need some wisdom to pull this off well. The time part should be greatly helped by the Mexican work cruise Mama reserved last minute.
Thank you to the business! I will (hopefully) not disappoint and finally get this poor thing in some sort of intelligible state.

2. Finish fiction book. (August 2011)

It might sound crazy to finish this too but after 5 years I think it's about time. I'm currently on chapter 62, and of course having huge doubts about the POV, plot, style, get the idea. Some self-confidence issues here. I'd like to at least have the 2nd draft done before the OCW conference. We'll see. I know there's going to be some pain involved in this one.

3. Write Articles

I have places to send these and I even have people who have said they would publish them.. What am I doing?
This is really something I need to buckle down and accomplish. I know it will really help me in my writing and it will certainly look better on a proposal to be published somewhere, even if it's only a magazine.

4. Go to the OCW Conference

The dates for this conference conflict with a sheep event, but I'm going to try hard to balance them and make it to both...somehow.

I'd kind of like to explore some other conferences too.

I was ecstatic when I received the info on Three Days in the Wordsmithy: A Writer's Workshop with Doug and N.D. Wilson and Aaron Rench. I'm sure this is going to be amazing!
Unfortunately there are some unmovable scheduling in it's during the only two weeks that I absolutely can not reschedule...because, Lord willing, I am going to be in Poland! Yup! I'm going on a two week mission trip to Poland!!!!!!

5. Read up on and learn how to write Screenplays

Sound a little to basic?
While I at least need to dig into them. Everything has to start somewhere even if it's bad at the beginning (as I am sure I shall be).

6. Continue tutoring writing students

I almost wrote "torturing"...

Maybe get a few more, but still make sure it doesn't take away from my writing time.

7. Finish my biblical studies Ligonier Academy Course. (September 2011)

Maybe look into some other online courses there or elsewhere.

8. Read!

There are a lot of books I want to get my hands on and a ton of subjects I want to learn more about.
Most importantly-

a) The Bible. Yeah!
b) Biblical studies/theology/living
c) Fiction and non-fiction writing
d) Screenplays
e) Biographies and history

f) More Shakespeare and older classic sort of things.
g) Fiction!
I'm having to make sure I leave time for just fiction reading recently because I have so many non-fiction books I want to read. If I want to be a fiction writer I think it's important to read it! I'd also like to read some more historical fiction since that's something I haven't really looked into specifically for several years.

9. Enter something in at least 3 writing contests

Something I've said I was going to try for years...

10. Submit short stories

I only have a couple that are remotely presentable, but I want to work on them and to try a few more. I have a very hard time writing a descent short story and it's something I need to work on. It's also something that would be easier to get published... comparatively...

Believe me...I don't have any high hopes of getting published anytime particularly soon, but you have to start trying sometime.

11. And of course, if all these get accomplished and if Where Loyalties Lie doesn't consume my life in rewrites- Start a new novel! Yeah!

So I guess I have a lot of goals... Especially considering I do have a life that isn't only comprised of books and things pertaining there unto.

I'm going to need a good schedule and a serious commitment to keeping myself locked in this chair.
I considered annihilating this blog, but I think for now it's helping me think through things and not take myself to seriously. So...I guess at least it's a tool for me. I'd like to write more intelligent book reviews, too...btw.

Hope you have a wonderful New Years and New Year!
That this is a year we are all spurred on to greater devotion and greater productivity for the Kingdom of Christ!
May all that we do be for the glory of God!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian