Terri Kraus

Monday, October 19, 2009

Best Words Blog

100 Best Words

#9  caliginous
Dark and misty.

#10  champagne
An effervescent wine.

Martin Luther (Germany/1483—1546):
God's love gives in such a way that it flows from a Father's heart; the well-spring of all good. The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious; as among ourselves we say of even a trifling gift, "It comes from a hand we love," and look not so much at the gift as at the heart.  

Augustine of Hippo (Algeria/354—430):
Since love grows within you, so beauty grows.  For love is the beauty of the soul.

O Lord, my God,
Grant us your peace; already, indeed,
you have made us rich in all things!
Give us that peace of being at rest,
that Sabbath peace,
the peace which knows no end.

Quotes:  Kallistos Ware

The church as a whole is an icon of God the Trinity, reproducing on earth the mystery of unity in diversity.  Human beings are called to reproduce on earth the mystery of mutual love that the Trinity lives in heaven.  
Quotes:  Mother Teresa

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest and transparent anyway.

Passages:  A. W Tozer, from Knowledge of the Holy (a MUST READ for all Christians!)

...In spite of the tears and pain and death we believe that the God who made us is infinitely wise and good.  As Abraham staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving the glory to God, and was fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform, so do we base our hope in God alone and hope against hope till the day breaks.  We rest in what God is.  I believe that this alone is true faith.  Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith...
     The testimony of faith is that, no matter how things look in this fallen world, all God's acts are wrought in perfect wisdom...
     It is vitally important that we hold the truth of God's infinite wisdom as a tenet of our creed, but this is not enough.  We must by the exercise of faith and by prayer bring it into the practical world of our day-by-day experience.
     To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction.  Many of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way.  This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.
     There is a better way.  It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God.  Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress.  God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him.  Here is His promise:  'And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them. and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.' 
     God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark.  'I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; and I will gee thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.'
     In is heartening to learn how many of God's mighty deeds were done in secret, away from the prying eyes of men or angels .  When God created the heavens and the earth, darkness was upon the face of the deep.  When the Eternal Son became flesh, He was carried for a time in the darkness of the sweet virgin's womb.  When He died for the life of the world, it was in the darkness, seen by no one at the last.  When He arose from the dead, it was 'very early in the morning.'  No one saw Him rise.  It is as if God were saying, "What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace.  I will do what I will do, and it sill all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret.  Trust Me, and be not afraid.'
     With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?  Surely we are the most favored of all creatures."  

Sermon Snips:  from the current series "The Gospel of Grace and  Peace" by Dr. Josh Moody, Sr. Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL—September 27, 2009—Galatians 4: 17—20

…Instead, there is Christ and His servants.  They have agony at times.  They have a parental attitude, not so they can keep their disciples hanging onto their apron strings. Which is what the false teachers were doing.  But rather so that they can help them move on to mature independence in Christ, formed in them themselves.  I think of an unknown visit to a hospital; a prayer there, a word of witness.  It think of a sermon that feels like casting bread upon the waters, trusting that it will do its work.  I think of the foolishness of preaching Christ crucified at all.  I think of the failure of truly devoted lives to Christ, in the world’s eyes.  “Poor things, they give their money away, and no one even knows they do.  Poor things, they send their children to the mission fields—who’s going to care for them when they’re old?  Poor things, they are serving and caring and no one ever notices.”  They are like the glass in a greenhouse through whom the sun of Christ’s righteousness shines, and the plants grow under their care, but all they see is Christ, and they do not even notice the glass through which the light shines hotly.
…all the while the true engine of the church runs by people who write an anonymous card of encouragement, who sign a check, who pray a prayer, who preach a sermon, who visit a sick man or woman, who get on their knees in the quiet of the night when no one sees nor notices, and pray that Christ would truly be formed in them.  Their scars are unknown, their agonies are often unseen, and they seem to have nothing—that is, in the world’s eyes.  But to be cared for by such a one, to care ourselves for people in this way—well, my friends, that is the grand root to having Christ formed in us.  And I, for one, despite all that we leave behind, would rather have Christ than all that this world—even this religious world—with its baubles and temptations, affords.  

Fiction Book Review:  Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum

The review from Publisher’s Weekly:

Blum, who worked for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, takes a direct, unsentimental look at the Holocaust in her first novel. The narrative alternates between the present-day story of Trudy, a history professor at a Minneapolis university collecting oral histories of WWII survivors (both German and Jewish), and that of her aged but once beautiful German mother, Anna, who left her country when she married an American soldier. Interspersed with Trudy's interviews with German immigrants, many of whom reveal unabashed anti-Semitism, Anna's story flashes back to her hometown of Weimar. As Nazi anti-Jewish edicts intensify in the 1930s, Anna hides her love affair with a Jewish doctor, Max Stern. When Max is interned at nearby Buchenwald and Anna's father dies, Anna, carrying Max's child, goes to live with a baker who smuggles bread to prisoners at the camp. Anna assists with the smuggling after Trudy's birth until the baker is caught and executed. Then Anna catches the eye of the Obersturmführer, a high-ranking Nazi officer at Buchenwald, who suspects her of also supplying the inmates with bread. He coerces her into a torrid, abusive affair, in which she remains complicit to ensure her survival and that of her baby daughter. Blum paints a subtle, nuanced portrait of the Obersturmführer, complicating his sordid cruelty with more delicate facets of his personality. Ultimately, present and past overlap with a shocking yet believable coincidence. Blum's spare imagery is nightmarish and intimate, imbuing familiar panoramas of Nazi atrocity with stark new power. This is a poised, hair-raising debut.

My review:

This book is certainly a page-turner.  I tore through it in a couple of days.  I’ve read several books on the Holocaust, but what makes this one so compelling is that it is told from the perspective of ordinary Gernans.  It explores how they responded to the atrocious treatment of the Jews in their town—whether they chose to ignore what was happening or secretly become part of helping them, and how they survived themselves through this dark period.  It not only does a great job of conveying not only the historical events, but probes deeply into the personal themes of intergenerational damage caused by the actions taken when survival is at stake:  the moral/ethical questions, the loss of identity, self-respect and conscience, and keeping secrets of the past.  I found myself caring about the characters and wondering how I would have dealt with life in their circumstances.  This is not a book for the faint-hearted or those sensitive to a very raw and graphically descriptive telling of horrific situations, but it certainly brings home what it must have felt like to be a German unwillingly caught up in a change in their world over which there was little control and which made choices very difficult.  The writing is excellent, the plot grabs you and doesn’t let go, and it is crafted with intimate passion. 

Scripture:  Psalm 139

 O Lord, you have examined my heart
      and know everything about me.
 You know when I sit down or stand up.
      You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
 You see me when I travel
      and when I rest at home.
      You know everything I do.
 You know what I am going to say
      even before I say it, Lord.
 You go before me and follow me.
      You place your hand of blessing on my head.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
      too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
      I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;      
if I go down to the grave,you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,     
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
      even there your hand will guide me,    
      and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
      and the light around me to become night
      but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
      and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
      as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
      before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
      they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
      you are still with me!
O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
They blaspheme you;
      your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
      for your enemies are my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;              
      test me and know my anxious thoughts
Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

(Are there any better words than these?)