Bring the books!

2 Timothy 4:13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

I read Charles Spurgeon’s stirring observations on this passage, and it was so inspiring that I had to read it again…this time aloud to Bethie. 

We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read… . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!

He is inspired, and yet he wants books!

He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!

He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!

He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!

He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!

He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!

The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.

On my way to school this morning.  That’s a REAL sweet time, right there.

On my way to school this morning.  That’s a REAL sweet time, right there.

As I slowly get to know Ashland, and no longer require a GPS (most of the time, anyway), I’m finding new and quicker ways to get from point A to B.  There is a township road (I finally figured out what TWP RD actually stood for), that connects me to all sorts of fun places.  One of my dear friends actually lives on this road, so I drive down it often, and there is a row of trees bordering a field that never fails to catch my eye. 

When we were here last February to candidate, a clear memory snapshot stands out to me amidst the whirlwind week.  We walked from the Allan’s house to a neighbor’s, carrying food and a custom ‘Marbles’ game board to join other families for a Sunday night game and dinner.  The air was crystal clear and sharp, as only below freezing temperatures can make it, and the moon was full; reflecting brightly off of the snow.  There was a hush that’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever stood outside after a thick snow, you’ll know what I mean.  As we walked, a herd of deer suddenly broke out into the field rimmed by that row of trees, and ran in their graceful, leaping way across the snow.  It looked like magic.

I mean to photograph this row of trees in every season.  It’s kind of a neat way to mark the passing time.

"I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am" 
—John Newton 

Today I’m making soup. 

You hear people talk about taste or smell memories, but I have soup memories.  For me, there’s something soul satisfying about the entire process…preparing, serving, sharing, and eating.

We lost Ronnie’s dad unexpectedly a few years ago, and at the conclusion of that horrendous day I made soup.  Two different recipes, one right after the other.  I stood heart heavy at the kitchen counter, but the process of chopping, browning, stirring, and simmering was soothing in a way that I couldn’t properly explain.  It was mindless, homey work, and it served several purposes. Most of all, people still need to eat, and I could feed them.  It’s life affirming at a time when things felt bleak and uncertain. It’s funny to me now that potato leek soup will always conjure up memories of Jay Martin, but I had never actually made that for him when he was with us. 

Today I’m making chicken and dumplings. Such a warm, hearty soup suits today…snowy, bright, and freezing.  A good friend of ours recovered from surgery in our home a couple years ago, and this was the first solid meal I made her.  Whenever the sherry hits the roux and sends up that cloud of heady steam, I think of Jill.  She’s eternally tied to the recipe now in a very real way.

For a year, I tried to duplicate a recipe for a bowl of soup that Ronnie and I shared in Taipei, of all places.  We were on our way home from a trip to Singapore, and we were stuck in the Tai Pei airport for a six hour layover.  We were so jet lagged and tired that even my eyelashes hurt.  After countless laps around the airport, we were slightly nauseous, grumpy, and still had the knowledge an impending 17 hours in the air once we actually got to leave this airport.  We needed to eat something, but there was nothing familiar or comforting in any way, which was what we both craved.  We settled on a busy restaurant and pointed to a deep bowl of some sort of soup.  It was perfect.  Deeply fragrant, spicy, and absolutely mood lifting. 
I haven’t managed to perfectly replicate it here at home, but it’s close.  We call it our Singapore Soup.

So, I was reflecting on my goals from January 2010, and ended up fairly pleased with my progress.  No, I didn’t really run more…because, well, I really hate running.  And honestly, walking really fast is almost the same thing, right?  right??

I decided last year to read more Books of Substance in 2010.  And I really did.  Which is kind of fantastic for many reasons.  One of which: it helps the cynical…look:  a new year’s resolution that stuck!

This year I was struck with a revolutionary thought.  What if I read the actual Bible as much as I read books ABOUT the Bible?  Nuts, I know.

So, there we go.  My goal this year!  I’m all about moderation, though.  Which is why my nightstand currently has stacked:  My ESV Reformation Study Bible (natch), the new collection of Stephen King short stories (no guilty pleasure…that guy tells a good story, and I’ll fight anyone that says differently.  not literally, our new fellowship is nonresistant.), Keller’s ‘Generous Justice’, and ‘Younger, Restlesser, and Reformeder’, Kluck/Bartels, which is hilarious….go buy it immediately.