What’s the Difference?

DSC01974John Piper has written a more comprehensive book, called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, but I found this short work (just 82 pages) very useful in providing a simple framework for understanding the essence of the differences between the mature, healthy mindsets of men and women. At the deepest level, these differences have nothing to do with “who does what” in the home, sex or gender per se; rather, they have everything to do with attitudes and trust, allowing men to take on the challenge and women to relax into the way God designed us as complimentary partners. I found myself really resonating with his ideas, and as Elisabeth Elliot says in her foreword, “I think his thesis rings true to the manliness or the womanliness in each of us.”

I will give you Piper’s thesis statements, although they may not seem very profound to you. It was definitely through reading his discussions that the definitions  came to life for me. However, here they are: DSC01971“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.” DSC01973“At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”

Do you find these ideas soothing or distasteful? I suspect Piper’s thesis might not be popular at a gender studies conference, but I found my heart saying, “Amen!” Many people have grown up without good role models and therefore find themselves all the more confused about who they are, who they want to be, or what healthy adulthood even looks like. If you or someone you love struggles to understand what mature manhood and womanhood are, you might appreciate this short book. I certainly did!

Laughs on Computer Life

-2Alan and I are back from South Korea, totally time-whacked -2 and sick with rather miserable colds, although I’m not complaining! -9 In fact, I’m thankful not to have picked up any Ebola virus along the way, -7 since we did fly through Dallas. (I tried not to touch or eat anything there!)-3 However, I’m really struggling to catch up with life,  -6am way behind in everything,-1 making lots of mistakes, having trouble concentrating, -8 and can’t seem to make myself do any research or writing! -1 I was feeling quite low over my lack of productivity when I got a forward -10 filled with computer jokes from my dear sister (in Christ) Sarah J., -1 who’s just returned from a two-month trip ’round the world visiting relatives. -4 So, thanks for the cheer, Sarah! I’m passing it forward! :) -5

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

Rise Up, My Love (107): View from the Lions’ Dens

Lion on Rock+ 01.29.144:8 “Look…from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.” What is the invitation Solomon extends to his wife here? Unless one has studied lions, the natural assumption would be that Solomon is referring to lions’ dens that were far up on the tops of the mountains, perhaps in caves overlooking a rocky ledge, as in Disney’s animated classic The Lion King. Lions in SunsetHowever romantic this view may be—to imagine Solomon and his spouse overlooking their world beside the gigantic “king of the beasts”—it can’t be what the Scriptures intended, because true lions may sit on rocks and mountain ledges, but their dens are not on mountain tops.Male and Female Lion in grassThe majestic “king of the beast” dwells in the grasslands. His tawny coat is the color of dead grass—ideal for hiding and stalking prey. And, lions do not live in permanent, cave-like dens! Lion with Cubs The mothers bear their young in the long grass and hide them for only the first few months, often moving them from one hiding place to another, just the way domestic cats move their kittens. Male lion with sons Lions are social creatures, living in prides with one to four males and numerous females and cubs, often consisting of as many as thirty-five members. Young female lioness The “lions’ dens” refer not to specific places, but to the entire regions or territories occupied by the lions, who travel an average of five miles a day through territories ranging from 15 to 150 square miles. Male and female lion resting“Look…from the lions’ dens” then, is not an invitation to further view Solomon’s kingdom from the mountaintops. It is an invitation to traverse the land that God has given them—not only to understand it from God’s eternal perspective, but also to experience it first hand…to face and conquer the dangers…to “subdue it, and have dominion over” it (Genesis 1:28). African SavannaThere is a moving theme song in the movie The Exodus: “This land is mine, God gave this land to me—this brave and ancient land to me…So take my hand, and walk this golden land with me.” This is the invitation that Solomon is extending here, and this is the invitation that Christ offers us. The kingdom of this world, lost to Adam and Eve, is to be re-found as a spiritual kingdom, subdued and ruled by Christ and his bride. Lioness standing on rockAlthough this sounds simple, and our eyes can scan this phrase—”from the lions’ dens”—so quickly, there is a world of challenge! To look from the lions’ dens requires meeting and overcoming the lions. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Satan, like the evil king of the pride, is our most formidable foe, but he is attended by a pack of “roaring lions,” evil men (Psalm 22:13), and false prophets (Ezekiel 22:25). Small pack of lionsLions generally hunt in groups. They are known not so much for their swiftness (their top speed is about 35 m.p.h., and many of the animals they prey on can run faster), but for their tremendous strength and brilliant hunting tactics. Lionesses hunting             Although most of the hunting is done by the females in groups, King of the Beasts the male lion is an incredible foe by himself. The male weighs up to 400 pounds, is almost nine feet long (nose to tail), and stands as high as three and a half feet at the shoulder. His shaggy mane, unique to the lion, makes him appear even bigger and more ominous. Lions do most of their hunting in the night, stalking their prey by slowly creeping forward, their bodies close to the ground. When they get within about fifty feet, they suddenly leap on the unsuspecting animal, grabbing it from behind, dragging it to the ground, and then strangling it by seizing its throat. According to the World Book encyclopedia, one lion overcame and dragged off a 600-pound zebra—something that six men would find difficult to do. When they hunt together, one lion typically distracts the animal while the others silently encircle it. When all is ready, the lead lion lunges at the nervous prey, sending it flying into the waiting jaws of the hidden lions (World Book, 298-301). Male Lion

There are some awesome spiritual parallels that can be drawn from the physical world of lions. Satan, like the impressive male lion, is a formidable foe. He is much stronger than the strongest man and should never be taken on alone, for even the archangel Michael would not attempt such a thing (Jude 1:9). However, Satan would like to frighten men into believing that he is even more powerful than he is…just like the lion’s shaggy mane makes him appear even more threatening to his enemies than he truly is. Satan does most of his destructive hunting at night…very often in the blackness of physical night, but certainly in the shadowy midnights of our soul…at the times when we are exhausted, weary, and most vulnerable. LionsSatan uses treachery because he cannot outsmart and outrun truth. He sneaks up on his unwary prey with half-truths, and by incremental changes, like a lion stalking his prey, hidden by the long grasses of “grey areas” in life. The old serpent, Satan, like a lion crawling on his belly, stalks closer and closer until he is within striking range, then springs at his unsuspecting prey, biting it in the back, dragging it down, and strangling it. Lion growlingWhat unsuspecting saint has not had the experience of being “bitten in the back” by malicious gossip or unjust criticism and been dragged off to the “Dungeon of Despair” at some point in his Christian experience? Satan and his evil accomplices are like a pack of snarling lions: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Kaui from helicopterBut, despite the terror of the night and the greatness of our foes, we have nothing to make us fear, because we are not sent to walk through the lions’ dens alone. Just as God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in the lions’ den (Daniel 6:22), and just as the form of the forth was “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25) when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were cast into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace, so Christ himself, the great Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9), leads us and walks with us all the way. “Come with me,” is his call. What have we to fear since greater is he who is in us (the Lion of Judah) than he who is in the world (the snarling but conquered lion, Satan). Male Lions “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5).  If ever we find ourselves fearing as we walk through the land that God has given us to walk, let’s remember these words, and fear nothing but displeasing the heart of him who loved us and gave himself for us!

(I took about half these pictures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but the other half are from Disney’s wonderful documentary on the subject,  African Cats. Oh, and I took the next-to-the-last picture from a helicopter flying over coastal Kauai.)

The Armstrong Archives (107): The Flu Bug Tries to Spoil Christmas

Wednesday, December 9, 1981  We were very excited to hear that you might be coming for Christmas; we all hope everything works just perfectly so you can!Family Portrait with Parents + GPEnclosed is a picture—one of the proofs from our sitting.  I think it’s beautiful and I want to keep it. Do you like it too? Would you like to have some prints made to send to friends and family, or a print to keep yourselves? Tell me what you want and I can get them. Or, you can wait until Christmas and see everything and decide then. Aaron's Kindergarten ClassLast night was Aaron’s Christmas program at Faithway. It was just grand, and everybody sang so lustily. We took Aaron out for a hamburger afterwards. He also got his second report card—all A’s and O’s (for “Outstanding”) except on B+ in hand writing and an S (satisfactory) in music. They not only grade academic subjects, but such things as” “Is courteous, Obeys quickly, Works well independently,” etc. On the back the teacher commented on how much she enjoys having Aaron! We were all very happy about that!!

Friday morning, December 18, 1981 Hi! Just a note to let you know that as of this moment, we are all feeling well and nobody has a cold.

Aaron has already left for school and a nice party there (his last day). Alan is on “Super Call” today, so we won’t see him until tomorrow. JJ is still sleeping, and MM is eating his fourth slice of toast and jam. We’re going shopping as soon as Jolly Jon Jacque wakes up.

It’s a glorious, sunny morning with about two inches of fresh snow everywhere. The Christmas tree is all a-twinkle with lights and presents. Mikey picked it out, Aaron chopped it down, and the three boys totally decorated it. (Well, after they went to sleep, I rearranged things just a little. JJ wanted to put most of his ornaments in one patch at the front of the tree!)

We will be eagerly watching for you on Tuesday, and we’ll have a good, hot dinner waiting (unless there’s a big storm and we hear otherwise)!! 1981 Christmas Kathi with kidsWednesday, December 23, 1981 Wow! Thanks for the gifts! No wonder Rob likes you to send candy!! I just made cookies and peanut butter fudge this year, but when I’ve tried to make the other kinds, it hasn’t turned out as professional looking and yummy as yours.

We had about four inches of thick, soft snow fall last night. It was just beautiful. Alan and I sat up for a long time watching the snow fall and all the twinkley tree lights glow. He spent the whole evening teasing me because he said he missed having Dad to hurl abuse at! What a rascal! Building a SnowmanThe snow was thick on everything this morning. The boys and I built a snowman and shoveled the walks, then we went sledding. About six neighbor children invited themselves along, but it turned out just fine. Everybody was good about taking turns and rolled in the snow and threw snowballs while they waited.

Tuesday, December 29, 1981 Thanks for all the presents! Alan and Aaron built a really nice airplane ride from the erector set. It is pretty hard for little fingers. In FACT, Alan says it’s challenging for him, but they had a lot of fun working together. Aaron built the airplanes and Alan built the platform and crank shaft.

Alan’s getting better. Today we’ve had a constant stream of people in [mostly neighbor children who loved to play at our house], and I started to get very harried, so Aaron just put a sign on our door. “No coming in except members of our family.” Maybe I’ll at least get this letter done before someone comes! Thanks again!! We miss you. Aaron's Rainbow-colored Lorikeet[This letter was written on paper decorated by Aaron of a rainbow-colored lorikeet with AARON printed on the picture. Michael's pictureAlso, Michael included a crayon drawing of “Grandma and Grandpa” with “Michael” spelled backwards, but so neatly that it hardly seems like it could have been his handwriting…]





Take Off Your Shoes!

Comedy 103.1As you may know, I’ve been helping out with my new grand baby for a couple of weeks. Here in South Korea, it’s written right into the housing contracts that you must remove your shoes before entering the house, and at Mike and Grace’s home, there is a foyer just for this purpose! Every time I take off my shoes, I’m reminded of God speaking to Moses in the burning bush: “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). DSC00903Although I don’t think of it as often, that command is repeated in Joshua 5:15: “And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”  Do you take off your shoes before entering your home? We do. Rita Savage. Shoes by door My friend, Rita S.— who was helping her son and daughter-in-law with their fourth new baby just exactly one month before I came to help my son and daughter-in-law with their fourth new baby—shared this picture of her grand kids, who not only took off their own shoes at the door, but carefully removed the doll’s shoes too! Isn’t that precious? Talk about showing respect! IMG_3282 What occurs to me as I take off my shoes is that our homes are (hopefully) “holy” also, just like the ground upon which Moses and Joshua stood, at least in the sense of being consecrated to God. I want my home to be a place of peace and refuge, where the dust and dirt from the streets is left behind and all who enter can feel clean and safe…enjoying a sense of sanctuary and God’s presence.Jane AndersonGod also wants our very lives to be consecrated, “holy ground.” We can’t always prescribe what lies ahead or behind us, but we are totally responsible for what lies within us! Are we filling our lives with that which is pure and protecting ourselves from evil? Is our heart God’s home? Are we tending the garden of our souls by pulling out weeds of bitterness and poisonous thinking? Are the fruits of the Spirit flourishing in us? When I catch myself dwelling on negative thoughts, I try to remember to go back to the front door of my mind and take those dirty shoes right off! May the interior of our minds be filled with praise and peace.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
(Ephesians 4:31-32).

Ephesians.4.32(This picture is of the chalkboard in Mike and Grace’s kitchen right now. Also, the quote from Emerson is from a card belonging to my friend Jane A, and the thought on pregnancy is from my niece, Andrea P. [who's also expecting a baby]. Thanks, dear friends, for all the things you share that enrich my life so much!)

42: Jackie Robinson: The True Story of an American Legend

TT_taglineI love stories with happy endings, and the 2013 movie, 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, is one of the best! 42 is a biographical sports film starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, who was the president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. imagesI was so inspired by the movie that I did a lot of  research on both Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. The movie does an excellent job of portraying not only the events but the character of these two remarkable men. 42-dvd-cover-26Jackie Robinson was the son of sharecroppers in Georgia, but his father left when Jackie was just 6 months old, and his mother moved the family to Pasadena, CA. Jackie was a uniquely gifted athlete, and he lettered in four sports both in high school and then in college at UCLA, including baseball, basketball, football, and track! forty_two_ver7_xlgRobinson entered military service during World War II and eventually received officer training (only allowed after protests by heavy-weight boxing champion, Joe Louis), becoming a commissioned officer before the end of the war. At 28, Robinson entered the Brooklyn Dodger’s clubhouse, the first African American to sign with a major league team, ending almost 60 years of segregation in professional baseball. 42-Movie-Chadwick-BosemanThe movie focused on  the opposition and persecution that Robinson (and Rickey) faced in desegregating major league baseball. Although Robinson had to endure the lion’s share of the emotional (and physical) trauma and exercise the greatest self-control, both men were giants of courage and faith. wedding-edit-cDuring his military career, Robinson spent much of his weekend leave visiting his former pastor, Rev. Karl Downs. He was clean-living and well-respected by all who knew him. Jackie married Rachel Isum after the war ended and just before signing with the major leagues. TD_JackieRobinsonWife_2 Rachel was a truly supportive wife; they had a sweet marriage and three children, and Rachel (now 92) has remained a widow since Jackie’s death, although she pursued a career in nursing and became an assistant professor at the Yale School of Nursing after Jackie retired from baseball. She is a truly virtuous and godly woman! rachel_robinson_fullAs a rookie, Robinson, batted second and played first base, scoring 125 runs to win the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award. By 1949, he was the National League’s most valuable player and batting champion with a .342 average, 203 hits, 124 runs batted in, 122 runs scored and 37 stolen bases. HOF, Robinson Jackie 32.62_Bat_ NBL.previewThe story in the movie about Robinson having no locker at first and being handed a jersey with “42” in blue on the back is true, as were the stories of Mr. Rickey’s dedication to desegregation and the difficulty of breaking the color line.42-movie“I remember when Mr. Rickey signed me in 1944,” King said in a telephone interview, “he asked me the questions he asked everybody: ‘Do you plan to have a family? Do you believe in God?’ Then he asked me, ‘Would it bother you if you played with a black man?’ So he was thinking about it even then.” Phillies players and manager Ben Chapman really were terribly ignorant and abusive, yelling names and taunting Robinson that he should “go back to the cotton fields.” Rickey really did feel that Chapman “did more than anybody to unite the Dodgers. When he poured out that string of unconscionable abuse, he solidified and united thirty men.”  Robinson also received great encouragement from several of the players. Pee Wee Reese came to Robinson’s defense:  “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.” In 1948, Reese quieted racial slurs before a Cincinnati game by putting his arm around Robinson’s shoulder. gallery_12Over the course of his illustrious career, Jackie Robinson made 1,518 hits, 137 home runs, and stole 197 bases! He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, and in recognition of his achievements (both on and off the field), Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. 16robinson06 According to Wikipedia, “In 1997, MLB ‘universally’ retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Initiated for the first time on April 15, 2004, MLB has adopted a new annual tradition, ‘Jackie Robinson Day’, on which every player on every team wears #42.”  I think this movie truly lives up to its claim:  “It will make you believe in heroes again!”16robinson-600Branch Rickey was also a man of vision and valor. He had such deep Christian faith and  that he earned the nickname “the Mahatma,” but he’s best remembered for signing Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers, which  shattered the baseball color line that had been an unwritten code since the 1880’s. It was Rickey unshakable faith that gave him the courage to stand up for right and against racism. He lived a long and worthwhile life and died just before his 84th birthday: While giving an address in conjunction with being elected to the Missouri Hall of Fame, Rickey told  a story about physical courage and then said, “Now I’m going to tell you a story from the Bible about spiritual courage…” but he collapsed and later died. Those were his last words! gallery_10Two remarkable men of courage and conviction: Jackie Robinson in the starring role, and Branch Rickey as the supporting mover and shaker. I think Robinson speaks for all men and women when he said, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” Oh, that we would universally learn to respect one another! branch-rickey-1-sized I don’t know exactly what Rickey was going to say, but I do believe there’s no greater story of spiritual courage in the Bible than that of the Lord Jesus Christ, who withstood terrible abuse to the point of death so that we can experience forgiveness and eternal life. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

(All photographs were taken from googling for images of the movie and from Wikipedia, and most of the information was gleaned from reading Wikipedia. I hope it’s all correct!)

Boston’s Emerald Necklace

Muddy River  I’ve been to Boston many times throughout my life, but I’d never even heard of “Boston’s Emerald Necklace” until we visited Joel. Geese Emerald Necklace copy It’s not exactly made out of gems, but it’s a gem of a place! Boston Commons The Emerald Necklace is a sparkling swath of green parks and quiet waterways Emerald Necklace that wend their way  for 7 miles across the “neck” of Boston’s peninsula, Swan Boats in Boston Commonsbeginning at the Boston Common and ending at Franklin Park in Brookline, MA. Roses. WhiteI think the reason I’d never heard of it is that Hydrengeas at Harvard—even though it was designed by America’s first landscape architect, Pink Roses in Sun Frederick Law Olmsted, about 250 years ago Muddy River of Boston in an effort to control and maintain the marshlands in Boston— Crossing bridge over Muddy River it’s just been in the past 10 years that more than $60 million have been spent to Quiet Area renovate this restful 1,100-acre park system where more than 300,000 people Boston Park Geese copylive and many millions work and visit. Joseph B. Martin Conference Center Joel lives in the Longwood medical area, so he took us for an early morning DSCN8730stroll  before church on Sunday morning. (See the green “necklace” above?)DSCN8713 Our meander took us through the Harvard Medical school campus, Ivy-covered bench (—how’s this for Ivy League?—)Boston Latin School past America’s first and oldest existing public school: The Boston Latin School, Muddy River sun and along the “Muddy River,” which flows from Jamaica Pond to the Fens Rose. Red (thus the name “Fenway Park” for the Boston Red Sox Stadium). Chestnut trees on Emerald Necklace It was a simply gorgeous September morning, and I can’t tell you how happy it Path along Muddy River made me to see that Joel has a restful place to walk that seems a lot like home! Great Blue Herson 9.14.14 copy We even saw a great blue heron fishing in the Muddy River, and the river was Geese copyalive with sounds of Canada geese, just like we hear on our little lake! James P. Kelleher Rose Garden One of the walk’s highlights was the beautiful James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, James P. Kelleher Rose Garden Pool a circular “secret garden” of sorts hidden away in the heart of the cityRose Gardenand filled with dozens of varieties of beautiful roses! Pink RoseBecause we’d come so early on a Sunday morning, we were the only visitors, Yellow roseand many of the roses Dewy Roses were still covered with dew! Pink rose in sunshine My heart kept singing one of the songs from my youth…Do you know it? James P. Kelleher Garden flowers“In the Garden” Joel in James P. Kelleher Rose GardenI come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses. James P. Kelleher Rose Garden StatuaryAnd He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known. White RosesHe speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
Variagated Pink RosesAnd He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
~C. Austin Miles (1868–1946) Dewy Rose
“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
(Proverbs 8:17)