Jacob and I started reading The Saint’s Happiness by Richard Sibbes when we got home from our honeymoon. I was afraid it would be a Puritan tome in archaic English. I was dead wrong. The Saint’s Happiness was a quick read, the English wasn’t so old, and the content was pure gold. I even read it again after we finished.
Considering the book’s title in isolation makes it sound much like a self-help book, a guide to the happiness you desire. You could take it as such, I suppose, but Sibbes knows that God is our only help and the only one who makes the way for happiness. Any happiness is only found in knowing God and being near him.
In the last six weeks, I finished my summer school teaching gig, got married, and moved to Texas. I’ve thought a lot about my former students during this transition, and at the strangest times I think of new and better ways to teach various first-grade skills. This, combined with the great societal need for a renewed understanding of how to use grammar, was the inspiration behind a new series.
Grammar for the People aims to straighten out some of our modern misunderstandings about grammar and help those who want to write correctly, even when no one else bothers to.
It is important to use grammar correctly because it is the set of rules that guides the understanding and interpretation of written language. We are past the “age of technology” excuse for our lazy writing. Technology is now the norm and without anyone heeding the rules of written language, subjectivity is beginning a furious reign.
We need the objectivity of the rules of language to know how to read and understand what words mean in the way they are used within their sentences and paragraphs. This is especially true regarding reading the Bible and guarding the truth. So here goes Grammar for the People: capital letters.
The weeks leading up to spring break are harried for teachers. Third-quarter grades are due, parent conferences need to happen, regular teaching must go on, and everyone is desperate for the break’s arrival.
When the days seem short and the weeks long, it is easy to feel that nothing will be done on time and that everything is out of control. Well, everything is out of my control, but I know the one who is in control. So as I counted down the weeks to the break, I turned my thoughts to consider God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty (or his supreme power and rule) is not limited to the ability to make something happen or keep something from happening. While that is certainly part of it, it is only a part of it. We are known and kept by God Most High more intimately than that.
It was a cold and rainy day—the kind where rain boots are the only sufficient footwear and a Starbucks cup is an indispensable accessory. So with my rain boots on my feet and a latte in my hand, I headed to my car. It was one of the rare days I decided to listen to the radio while driving. My iPod is usually plugged in but this day was different. It was Christmas break, freezing cold in Florida, and raining in January. It was a classic winter day; so far from the norm that it was fitting to listen to the radio for a change.
While I was backing out of my spot, I paused and strained my ear toward the absurd clip of a message littered with vocalized pauses that I was hearing on Christian radio.
James MacDonald—pastor, author, and radio speaker—was in the middle of telling his audience to look at God’s resume to prove his character. He suggested taking a minute to “interview God” to see how he was worthy of the task set before him.
My ears started to bleed. I punched the radio button to stop it and I reversed and sped away, as though driving away could put physical distance between myself and the ridiculous scrap I just heard.
As you read the Bible, you see that the lives of the saints who have gone before were shaped or marked by some sort of affliction and suffering. Job is possibly the most prominent name associated with suffering, but he is certainly not the only one who suffered. Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul, Peter and plenty others are on that list.
King David, who is equally as well known, though for different reasons, also lived a life full of challenges and affliction. Some came from being a soldier; some came from being a king; some came just from being human. The psalms that David penned are both a cry for help and comfort and a record of God’s faithfulness and love as he experienced them. These two themes are tightly woven into Psalm 119, making it clear where David sought his comfort and strength. In Psalm 119:50, 51, David says, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”
The campaign to be your best self is gaining momentum. It’s established by psychology and human development studies, then made fashionable by culture. Like any form of self-help, becoming the best version of yourself demands that you call to action the long-dormant, inner and secret motivation you have to conquer addictions, break bad habits, get out of debt, or retire at the ripe age of 38.
A how-to article by Scott Barry Kaufman from the HuffPost blog describes your best self as someone who lives “a life rich in health, growth, and happiness.” Melissa Camara Wilkins writes that to be your best self you draw from your strengths, do things that make you happy, and act in ways that feel right.
There’s a strip of street that I drive on daily that is somewhat run down and speaks of a time when businesses were popular in that area. They were perfectly located in a long-ago small town, but with the late outward expansion and developments, they look forgotten. Tumbleweed blowing down an abandoned, dusty street is a picture of the apparent desertion.
There is one particular store in that forsaken spot that was renovated and opened as, what looked like, a consignment store, thrift store, and ongoing yard sale. The owners—whoever they may be—made slow improvements. First came the inclusion of local art. Then came the updated outdoor space. Then a fresh coat of paint and new green awnings. Then a new sign and better name: Muse Emporium. Then the merchandise started to look less yard-saley. What sat as a forgotten and sad building has become a lovely place that breathes life again. (I have made all of these observations on my commute; I have yet to go in!)
I have always loved space. I love the science behind space exploration, and the pioneering souls who take on such boundless adventures thrill me. Last weekend I went to the Kennedy Space Center for the first time. I walked around wide-eyed and enchanted by everything I read and saw.
What I love most about space and what fills me with the most dread are one and the same: its immense and unceasing span. Space stretches on in grandeur for light years. It is endless.
NASA finds purpose and determination in this endlessness. We know that the Milky Way is a little blip of a galaxy among many others; we know that within the Milky Way, the Sun is one little blip of an average-sized star; and we know that Earth is a little blip of a planet in the average-sized star’s solar system. Since the Hubble Telescope launched into a low-Earth orbit in 1990, we have seen things we never imagined and learned things we never thought to know. Hubble data have given insight to astronomers, astrophysicists and engineers alike. But we want to see and know more. Continue reading