"Biblical religion is aggressively internationalist." Eugene Peterson

Musings: October 2018

When jets fly overhead, stitching up the airspace between Boston’s Logan and somewhere-in-Europe, by the time they reach the sky over Mid-coast Maine they are barely visible, nothing but contrails. My roots are deep here on this country hill, thirty thousand feet below, so I’m no globetrotter, but over the years, visitors from around the world have eaten apple pie, soaked up their gravy with warm yeast rolls, and responded in grace to the imperfections and barely managed chaos of this busy household.

At the same time, they have enlivened my family’s vision of an international, border-crossing Gospel and a God with room in His heart and in His plan for everyone He has created. It turns out that missionaries are some of God’s best warriors against small-minded belief, because they put flesh and bone around this truth:

“Biblical religion is aggressively internationalist.”

In Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best, Eugene Peterson writes about Jeremiah, the “prophet to the nations” (1:5) who barely ever left home. Since October is missions emphasis month at my church, it is well and good that I am deep into Jeremiah’s letters to “the nations.” By “nations,” God meant foreigners, in the same way that people around here might describe you, if you happen to come “from away.”  You see, folded into Jeremiah’s job description–along with carrying to Judah’s kings all the bad news about Nebuchadnezzar– was the task of writing ten oracles to ten different nations comprising an area of about 750,000 square miles. He was “the prophet to the nations” who only left Jerusalem at the end of his life because he was carted off to Egypt, probably against his will.

Hand-Carried Judgment

The letters Jeremiah wrote were hand-carried–but not by him. We know the identity of one courier, Seraiah, the messenger to Babylon with the news  that she would “sink to rise no more because of the disaster [God] will bring on her. And her people will fall.” By way of Jeremiah’s tethered pen, God’s message was delivered to nations that could have been written off as hopeless pagans. Eugene Peterson notes that letters of condemnation employed “judgment in the service of salvation.” Read for yourself:

This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“See, I will break the bow of Elam,
the mainstay of their might.
 I will bring against Elam the four winds
from the four quarters of heaven;
I will scatter them to the four winds,
and there will not be a nation
where Elam’s exiles do not go.

“Yet . . .

I will restore the fortunes of Elam
in days to come,”
declares the Lord.  (Jeremiah 49:35-36, 39)

God extends a glimmer of hope, not in all ten oracles, but then, He went on record with some stern words to Israel as well, and He did not relent.

This Month at Living Our Days

We’ve run the gamut from poetry to memoir to biblical exegesis in October, and I love offering resources here and sharing my reading with you.

First poetry:

As Christians, we have no light of our own, but the nature of our Borrowed Light is so compelling that others are drawn to its warmth and luminosity, just as we are drawn to the borrowed light of the moon against an inky sky.  In her poetry collection (The Consequence of Moonlight: Poems), Sofia Starnes has expressed this exact quality of sainthood, the here-ness or there-ness of a life that “orbits the earth but [is] not of the earth.”  It is the discipline of recalling the source of our Light that keeps the underlying Presence in proper view. And maybe it’s because of Mr. Roger’s influence, but when I reviewed the book, my takeaway was that the believer’s right response to our borrowed light is to run toward the darkness with it.

That same week, I shared one of my own poems, inspired by a sermon series on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount from my excellent pastor. If His warning to “beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” has ever jarred you into pondering your motives, you can read my own reflections on it here.

Bring Me a Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope is the true unfolding of BeckyReview of Bring Me a Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope Moreland’s story. Founder of RAHAB Ministries, she lived a miracle of turn-around and her co-author Pam Ecrement bore witness to it, first as her counselor and then, later, as her friend and colleague in ministry. When Becky first approached Pam for counseling, she was seeking help for her children, but Pam soon learned that Becky’s own traumatic childhood was impacting her mothering in ways that were detrimental, in spite of her best intentions. The glory of God is put on display as His story runs its course in the life of an ordinary woman who has been impacted by the love of an extraordinary God. Purchasing details and a link to RAHAB’s website are available here, as all proceeds for the book will be turned over to RAHAB ministries.

Nancy Guthrie picked up her pen, gathered up the tangled threads of the earliest story set in a garden, and then she moves forward in hope through the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in her latest book, Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story. On her meandering way from the thunderous God-force of creation to the end of the ages, she shares stunning truth about “what the original garden has to show us about the more secure, more satisfying, and more glorious garden we’re destined to live in forever, which will be even better than Eden.” (14)  This was one of those books that I can’t stop thinking about. If you’ve read it, too, I’d love to have a conversation with you. Here’s a link to more details.

As a long-time journal-keeper, I was happy to review Deborah Haddix’s is Journaling for the Soul (Nourish the Soul), a handbook of journaling methods that goes beyond pen and paper and invites readers to span the spectrum of spiritual disciplines in their walk with God. Deborah explores the use of drawing, paper crafting, photography, and even decorative lettering as an expression of her heart to a God who is NOT in the business of putting His children in ill-fitting boxes.

In The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement: Hearing the Words of God for Others, we find Kitterman’s confidence and fervor flow from years of learning alongside biblical characters like little Samuel that the voice of God in our ears and in our hearts requires action on our part.   We are built for connection, for relationship with God and with each other. Living in harmony with the example of Jesus means embracing a lifestyle of encouragement. “Jesus had radical encounters with ordinary people every day. By listening to the Father’s voice and doing what the Father said, Jesus was able to release heaven into the situations and lives of those He encountered.” (21) You’re invited to read more about Debbie’s bridge-building ministry of encouragement here.

News from the Hill

The garden has exhausted itself just in time for our kitchen to be torn apart and put back together again. The new cabinets arrived on the 15th in a very impressive truck, and since that day we have been moving toward the goal of peace and order. Let us live in awe of the Lord our GodNonetheless, homeschooling, enjoying the grandchildren, the comings and goings of turkey hunting and trumpet playing sons, and a glorious fanfare of fall color have filled this month with plenty of joy.

Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics) by Wallace Stegner is the book I used to re-read every fall. It’s a story in which a friendship is so front-and-center that it seems to become one of the characters in the book. I’ve been luxuriating in Stegner’s gorgeous prose this month, so I will leave you with his rich definition of friendship, and with the prayer that you have people like this in your life.

Friendship:
“It is a relationship that has no formal shape,
there are no rules or obligations or bonds
as in marriage or the family,
it is held together by neither law nor property nor blood,
there is no glue in it but mutual liking.

It is therefore rare.”

Blessings and love to you,

Michele Morin

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the resources mentioned in this post, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Image credit:  Jason Leung of Unsplash

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

63 thoughts on “Musings: October 2018”

  1. Love your monthly recaps, Michele. And I’m intrigued by the Wallace Stegner book. I’ll be seeking this out at my local library. I like the idea that one can have an expanded view of the world, even without extensive travel, since I am not a jet setter either. Nor do I want to be. Books can take us everywhere, right?

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  2. “Crossing to Safety” is one of my all-time favorite books and Wallace Stegner one of my favorite authors. I was just discussing him with a friend from my book club this Sunday. While I don’t go back and re-read the book over and over (I usually do that with “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”), I can see how you would gain new understanding each time you read it.
    Our book for next month is “The 4 Agreements”. Not digging it! 🙂

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  3. It is impossible for me to read all the books you list! But…knowing Eugene Peterson was gravely ill, I added Run With Horses to my kindle. I’m anxious to read after I finish the present book. I appreciate your book reviews and sometimes add them to my Amazon wish list! Thanks, friend!

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  4. Wow, what a busy month! I can’t believe with all the remodeling going on you still managed to read all these books. When my life is in chaos, reading is one of the first things to fly out the window.

    I’m very interested in reading Eugene Peterson’s “Run With the Horses,” but it doesn’t look like I will get to it anytime soon,

    October is missions month at my church as well. Along with Pastor Appreciation month, we’ve quite the packed calendar!

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    1. Yes, missions emphasis month makes for a busy time. With the kitchen renovation going on, I’m missing the blessing of having them around my dining room table, though.
      Eugene Peterson has so many great books.

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  5. Michele, I have seen firsthand, by traveling to other cultures and by friends that live in my city that are from all over the map that God’s heart and love are for all people! I have a beautiful medical doctor friend from Cameroon who is in my Sunday morning small group. Her testimony of how she became a follower of Jesus is so amazing. I need to read the Wallace Stegner book.

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  6. I just noticed on my last reading through Isaiah something that I had apparently missed in previous readings, similar to what you shared about Elam. In Isaiah 19, after half a chapter of judgments about Egypt, God said that someday “the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.” And ultimately “Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” Wow! Reminds of Hosea, when those who were “not my people” can become His people. Though sometimes God’s judgments are final, sometimes they’re part of the process of bringing people to Himself. That gives me great hope for loved ones who at this point in time are determined to remain outside the faith: there is still hope.

    New cabinets! Fun! I hope order is restored soon, if it hasn’t been already. My husband and I have talked about painting ours. I am hoping to pin him down as to when he might think we’ll do that. 🙂 Probably not before the end of the year.

    Sweet quote about friendship!

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    1. Yes, judgment in the service of salvation! I was so grateful for that insight from Peterson.
      Right now we are living in chaos with every single step requiring a thought: “Where’s the toaster today??”

      And I love that quote about friendship too. There’s someone I need to send it to in real life, so thanks for mentioning it.

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  7. Michele,
    Boy would I love to pluck from your pantry come January!! Don’t know how you do it all? I love the thought that we have no light of our own but are carriers of “borrowed light”….wonderful imagery. I love poetry. I also enjoyed the book review and quote on friendship at the end. Always enjoy your musings.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  8. Another fascinating read Michelle I find your posts so thoughtful Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

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  9. Thanks for sharing each of these hand-picked treasures, including your own poem, Michele! You always serve up the best reading resources. And I’m so grateful for Eugene Peterson’s life and impact! He was quite the spiritual giant!

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  10. Such a lovely roundup — and a fantastic collection of books 🙂

    I love midcoast Maine. We have vacationed in Northport (near Belfast) a few times. It is amazing!

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  11. Michele, I always love to read your musings! What a beautiful description of friendship by Wallace Stegner! Thanks for sharing your thoughts for us. Blessings to you! xo

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  12. Thank you for sharing your October with us. Your book reviews are one of my favorites. Your blurbs about life on the hill are the best. I hope your kitchen reno is moving along and will be finished soon.

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