Thursday, July 30, 2020

Bereavement {a poem}

In one swift stroke
The sharp scalpel of sudden loss
Slices away soul calluses,
Exposing quick and tender heart beneath.

Laughter and tears alike
Bubble over more quickly now,
And keenly.
Her glad tidings, his courageous witness,
Every family celebration,
New thorn of affliction,
Persistent pierce of the old
That had become normal—
All sting as they prod
That raw place
Left by loved one lost.

Each "first" passes with wistful weeping
And the ache of remembrance.
Slowly, inscrutably,
The soul accrues fresh calluses
To shelter the quick and tender heart
From the vicissitudes of postlapsarian life,
Until the scalpel strikes again,
Until the woman's Seed shatters it in pieces
And wipes away all tears,
Our hearts made whole.

The long night shortens.
Soon we shall weep no more.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Endure: 5-Minute Friday

The very word evokes
Teeth gritted in determination,
Toughing it out.
I don't even need to unclench my jaw
To spit out the word.

Hupomeno, though:
The Bible word begins with an exhale,
Tells a different story--
To remain under,
To stay and not flee,
To hold fast and not retreat,
To dwell under the yoke with Christ
And not to look for shortcuts,
Escape routes.

Will I pitch my tent
In the barren waste of wilderness
Because the pillar of Shekinah glory fire
Hovers overhead
And warms the night?

Will I step into the raging furnace
And let the Fourth Man
Loose my bonds
And companion me there?

Will I abide in the fiery trials
Without numbing,
With surrender
And submission,
For the sake of knowing better
The fellowship of His sufferings?

Will I pray,
"Thy will be done,"
Though it cost me bloody sweat
And a cross of pain,

Will I trust Him enough
To wait
And stay
And listen
And watch for His appearing?

Lord Jesus,
Make a way out of the desert,
Quickly, if You will;
And grant me the courage to endure
With patience
And hope
Until You show Yourself strong
For those whose hearts are completely Yours.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Transformed by Truth {Book Review}

      More than a decade ago, my husband and I had the privilege of walking alongside a small group of bright students through 3 1/2 years of their high school journey. The Tuesday Night Tangent Society members are all grown up now. Some are married. One just completed his M.Div. and was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Communion.

We studied Ephesians, the beatitudes, the life of David, and 1 John. We divided the group by gender for some of the discipleship and prayer. If I had it to do over again, the element I would most like to add is training in Bible study methods. We did try to incorporate those principles in our lessons, to teach by example, but those concepts are so important that they deserve undivided attention. Time spent learning how to study the Scriptures will pay dividends the rest of one's life.

"The goal of Bible reading and study is worship. Not finding more rules to follow. Not finding reasons to feel good about ourselves. The goal is to see God in all his glory and to enjoy him" (p. 150).

Katherine Forster's 2019 release Transformed by Truth (Crossway) is the book I wish we'd had for that group. Forster, a National Bible Bee Champion, writes as a teen for teens, to inspire and instruct them to read and study their Bibles for themselves as a means of knowing and loving God more. That factor sets this book apart from other guides to inductive Bible study like Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word, Kay Arthur's How to Study Your Bible, and Howard Hendricks's Living by the Book.   The principles she communicates are essentially the same as the ones in those books. The writing style, examples, and tone here lend themselves better to a high school or even early college audience. I had considered working through this with 11 year-old and 13 year-old family members this summer, but I think it would be just a smidge over their heads (and therefore frustrating). 

For nearly half the book, Forster lays a foundation: why teen years are not too young to establish a personal Bible study practice, the relational and transformational goal of Bible study, the "big picture" of the Bible as one unified narrative, and the gist of inductive Bible study method. Then she dives deeply into observation, interpretation, and application with ample examples, tips, suggested free online resources, and questions that guide the reader in personal practice of the principles.  (Those would work great in a small group setting.) Throughout, she emphasizes the need to saturate Bible study with prayer.

She does a good job of continually bringing the reader back to the goal of knowing and loving God, even through some academic and seemingly rote exercises:

Remember—the Bible is all about God. The ultimate end of our study should be to see him and delight in who he is. Making lists doesn't seem very worshipful or spiritual; it seems academic. But as you write down everything the text says about God, you'll see more clearly who he is. Aspects of his character that you never noticed may pop out to you. In writing everything down, you'll get a chance to slow down and meditate on God's character and works (p. 127).


The end notes and appendix listing recommended resources provide plenty of leads for further learning and do credit to the author's reading and study of her topic. As befits a Bible Bee champion, she also includes an appendix on memorization tips.

In summary, Forster has provided a well-written, accessible guide for teens and those who love them on how to love God more through studying His Word well. (As an added benefit, the same close-reading skills taught here and cultivated in inductive Bible study will improve reading of other material in all aspects of life.) I highly recommend Transformed by Truth to parents, youth leaders, and self-motivated teens. Adult readers will benefit too, even though the examples will not suit them as well. I only wish the target audience were a few years younger, but boys grow quickly, and they will soon catch up to this book. 


If you’d like to delve a bit deeper before deciding, here are two free sample articles by Forster on the publisher's website:

To purchase:

Directly from the publisher:

Christian Book Distributors:

Barnes and Noble:;jsessionid=2D2441C4FA56D98F394024238CAD9DC8.prodny_store02-atgap18?ean=9781433564055

Amazon (affiliate link; at no extra cost to you, I will receive a tip for the referral): 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

For the Birds {Just Photos}

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
- Matthew 6:25-28

Cedar Waxwing

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Carolina Wren

Dark-eyed Junco

Orange-crowned Warbler

House Finch

White-winged Dove
Mississippi Warbler

Downy Woodpecker

White-winged Dove

Eastern Screech Owl

Tufted Titmouse

Mississippi Kite

Blue Jay

European Starling


House Sparrows