Review of The Organized Heart: a woman’s guide to conquering chaos

God has appointed all my tasks – my work is planned by Him from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 2: 9-10) Do all that I do with enthusiasm and purpose because I’m doing it for God. (Colossians 3:23) These are things that I remind myself of often, and that Staci Eastin also thinks of when she goes about daily life. In The Organized Heart she uses her 103 pages well, to with humility and grace, skip the fluff and hone in on why we do what we do. Motives are examined (I can hear you now – I just want to have order so I can think!) and dealt with so we can live our lives with peace in our hearts and heads. (You will be able to think.) From putting things off, to doing something else we’d rather do, to working our fingers to the bone to maintain a ‘perfect’ home, this book has something to say.

Most books on home and life organization are all about the tools we need to get the job done. Staci starts with the heart of the matter, which is our motives. In four chapters, she deals with Perfectionism, Busyness, Possessions and Leisure. Each chapter ends with “Explore” questions to help us see where our hold ups are and what to do about them. After dealing with heart issues she discusses the tools we need – calendars, lists and such. I think the difference is when we deal with our motives first, we use the tools rather than being slaves to them.

If you need a little extra kindness Staci Eastin has that, too. She addresses single moms and those who have health issues. She writes with wisdom about the different seasons in our lives and the fact that our personalities are not all the same. I appreciated her tenderness for those who are discouraged and feel hopeless. This is a book that I will refer back to many times. It is written by a wise woman who knows how to shine light where it needs to be shone in order to help us face ourselves, but who also applies God’s abundant grace to help us heal. I’d rather read this book than any of the other home organization books I’ve read over the years.

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Serendipity in Bible Reading

Last night I discovered a flow from one place to another, and then to a third, in the Bible that I’ve never noticed before. First, I’ll explain what I’ve been doing in my reading lately, since that has to do with how this was discovered.

Sometimes, like last year, I read through the Bible in a year, following a reading plan. On Saturday evening I would also read the chapter that our pastor would be preaching from the next day. He preaches straight through books, so it makes it easy to know where he’s going. I haven’t been reading by a plan this year. I’ve been reading a chapter of Proverbs each night that corresponds to whatever date is on the calendar. You can read the whole book 12 times through the year that way, only missing the last chapter a few times, unless you just tack it on when you come to the 30th day of the month. (I got that idea from a pastor years ago.)

I’ve also been reading the section that our pastor covered two weeks back, the one he preached from the past Sunday and the one where he will be on the coming Sunday. I read those in rotation, one chapter or section a night, starting with the one to come on Sunday evening. The way this works out has me reading through those three sections twice in the week, ending (for its third reading) with the part he will preach from the next day. This helps me keep things in mind that he has said in his sermons and helps me learn the books better.

Along with these two things, I read from another book, or section of a book. I read just sort of wherever I feel like reading, or I go to a subject that has been on my mind. A few weeks ago I started reading Romans. When I came to chapter 8 I just hung out there for several nights and kept reading it over and over. Then a few nights ago I saw Isaiah 53 when I was turning pages going from one place to another, and I stopped and read it. Two nights ago I read Isaiah 53 then went to Romans 8. That was pretty cool. But last night, seeing how Isaiah 53 ends and also seeing a note I had written in the margin, “John 17,” I decided to read that chapter then go to Romans. That’s when I saw an interesting progression and flow from Isaiah 53, to John 17, and then to Romans 8. Oh, man, I think I’ll hang out on this one for a while!

People Say “They all read the same book”

I am up early this morning and have slept only about four hours because I am astonished and frightened by the hatred I saw expressed in comments yesterday on Facebook regarding a news item. The link to the story said, “What should Texas students learn about Islam” and some of the reactions to that were awful. The Texas State Board of Education issued a resolution regarding Islam in textbooks. They said there are some history textbooks that devote more copy to Islam than to Christianity. The article didn’t say what was said about each religion. In comments some people said nothing should be taught about Islam and some said if anything was they would take their children out of public schools. People said Islam is a cult and not a religion and some even think all Muslims ought to be wiped out. People called each other names and yelled at one another over this. (In case you don’t know, to use all caps is yelling.) The article said none of the textbooks mentioned in the resolution are being used in Texas schools.

I find it odd that when I get into discussions over religious freedom and the lines are drawn, standing next to me so to speak, are a few Christians and a lot of agnostics, atheists and pagans. Across the line yelling at us and participating in the name-calling are a bunch of Christians.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except through me.” I believe this with all my heart. Having said that just to be clear, here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

People say, “They all read the same book.” Yes, Muslims all read the Koran. Christians all read the same Bible, too. And some wear white sheets with pointy hats and hate people who have a darker skin than they have or who follow a different religion. Some vote not to allow the sale of alcohol in their cities so that if they think it’s wrong to drink the stuff, no one else should be allowed to either. Some don’t believe it’s a sin for a man and a man or a woman and a woman to act like they are married to each other. I don’t agree with any of this and I am a Christian. We all read the same book.

This hatred toward Muslims reminds me of how it was in Germany before WWII, except the Jews were the ones who supposedly were going to destroy the country. I think some people don’t really look at history and current events with their eyes open. Can’t people see that the people in power who want more power create an enemy of the state and drum up hatred against that group? This is what happened to the Christians in the early days of Christianity in Rome. And if folks think that our military is willing to give their lives for only Christians to have First Amendment rights, they don’t understand the Constitution they claim we ought to follow. Some act as if every country doesn’t have Christianity as its civil religion, then God’s Kingdom is going to suffer. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – God’s Kingdom does not have political boundaries, it doesn’t have a flag and I’ll add that it’s not cultural. Talking about God and praying in public doesn’t make one a Christian. It only means we have the freedom to do such things.

My husband said that sometimes ignorance prevails, and as an example he pointed out what happened to Jesus. I sure hope ignorance doesn’t prevail in our country over the issue of religious freedom. Would you hide a Muslim in your attic?

Not Another Gimmick, Please!

This morning I saw a sign at a church that said, “10 10 10 is coming .com.” They had it all spread out like that, I guess so we could make it out without having a wreck while trying to read it. I wanted to look it up but I figured if I didn’t write it down I’d forget, so I reached in the side pocket of my purse, took out a pen and wrote “10” on top of my hand to remind myself. There is a big ditch on the side of the road that I was careful not to veer toward as I did this, and something about the blind leading the blind and both falling into a ditch came to mind.

I looked it up. Oh, please, no. It’s another gimmick some churches are going to use to try to draw attention to the fact that Jesus is perfect. To their credit, they do point out that He is the Perfect Sacrifice for redemption. However, redemption from what, they don’t say. They are also saying that without Him we are a zero, and when we stand next to Him, our “hero” and “champion”, we’re made perfect – like a perfect 10 in the Olympics. And they are using the date, the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010 as the, uh, anchor? for this. The website also says each month has a 10th day so this can go on and on… Ugh. That’s the gospel?! Not hardly. It barely scrapes the surface. That’s a way to sell t-shirts and caps and help out the billboard companies. Reminds me of the “I Found It” thing in 1976 and the more recent “WWJD” bracelets and other assorted Jesus Junk that was sold to promote that one.

Come on, pastors, wake up! I understand that the intention of this whole thing is (not to sell a bunch more Jesus Junk – yeah, sure) to open doors to share the gospel. But, Jesus didn’t say, “Come stand next to me and I’ll make you perfect,” which to the lost just sounds like He makes us look good. Gimmicks don’t attract a world jaded by gimmicks. Most folks are sick to death of slick this and jazzy that.

Jesus calls us to be washed from our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. If we look foolish for any reason, it ought to be because we preach this religion of blood sacrifice for sin and not because we are truly acting foolish. We are called to repent of our sin and take up our cross and follow Him. My Bible has some footnotes to this that explain that we are not only to identify with Christ, but we are to “completely abandon the natural desire to seek comfort, fame, or power.” It’s not about making us more than “zero.” It’s about dying to self. And it’s hard. I’ve heard, and it’s true, that if we don’t come out with that right up front, we’re pulling a bait and switch.

When we remember what we live for – His glory and not our own, and His Kingdom and not our personal this and that – we will have our perspective changed. This is what will attract folks’ attention. Peter didn’t say to cook up an attractive ad campaign or jump on a bandwagon. He said to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us. When our perspective is changed, when we know our sins are forgiven and this world is not our permanent home, we really will stand out among the rest of the world. This isn’t a flashy way to “open doors.”  This is the slow and steady way that the Kingdom of God is increased.

So, come on, pastors. Please preach the gospel according to the Bible and not the latest fads. Your people need nourishment so they will know not to fall for gimmicks that trivialize Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers. How can we expect an unbeliever to have respect for our God if we treat Him like an attraction in a sideshow? Congregations need to be taught how to follow Jesus by taking up the cross. And doctrine ought to be taught so Christians will know how to explain their beliefs. Jesus paid too much for our salvation for us to be spending time on foolishness.