Sheltering Mercy

Short but sweet this week! I figured ya’ll are like me and up to your eyeballs in Easter Preparations, so another thought from me is just adding to your list… but I did want to share a little something that I have been dying to get my hands on since it arrived in my mailbox. Besides, it’s been a while since my last book review and I figured it was about time.

Let’s dive in. “Sheltering Mercy” by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt is described as “prayers inspired by the Psalms”… and it is exactly that! A little purse-sized hardcover containing a collection of poems or writings based on the first 75 Psalms. The writings are not exactly scripture, nor paraphrases, but, as the writers put it, “free-verse prayer renderings”. For me, they are perfect for quiet meditation, and I have been dying to do some journalling, artistic illustrations to go along with each collection! (If only there were more time in the day, right?). I think this little book would be perfect for that type of meditation as the paper is heavy and the margins spacious. There are a few black and white illustrations scattered through the book, but a splash of coloured pencils would be perfect!

If you’ve been reading mittonmusings for any length of time, you know that I have a love-hate relationship with David and the psalms, not to mention my own practical versus artsy personality. I’m just not sure where I fit in. This little collection hits home when I need to foster the creative side of my devotions. In case you didn’t pick it up, Ryan Whitaker Smith is the son of worship singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith. That collaboration is a lesson in itself for worship, reflection and artistry in the contemporary Christian world. Why wouldn’t these potential song lyrics be just right?

So, if you are itching for some traditional written prayer meditation for your Easter Season, or maybe you are looking to branch out with your artistic side, give “Sheltering Mercy” a gander. Published by Brazos Press and lovingly donated to mittonmusings by Nuts About Books, I’m looking forward to marking it all up over the holiday weekend!

Happy Easter, my beloveds, until next time!

It’s a Double Edged Sword

Welcome back! April has begun and our calendar is looking busy busy busy! Are you in the throes of preparations for Easter yet? Our schedule has a few things booked before then, but our pastor has been doing a few preparation messages for us these last few weeks… which had me musing…

Sunday, we spoke about Jesus’ arrest and Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier. Which had me wondering, did men in Bible days just indiscriminately carry around swords and swipe at each other randomly whenever the notion took them? Was it a simple dagger? A knight-in-shining-armour sword? What does it symbolize? Why didn’t the soldier fight back and chaos erupt in a full-on Narnian war in the Garden? Yes, my mind goes there.

I do love a good sword fight. The chink and clash of ancient battles. The courageous “charge” – full speed ahead into death and bloodshed for the sake of honour and justice and true love. Okay, maybe it is my romantic side and one too many movies speaking… but have you thought about biblical swords before?

Apparently, the word “sword” appears 424 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The context is somewhat varied… many times in the Old Testament the sword was referenced in war, where enemies were “smitten” in battle. It was a great symbol of power and defence. Think about the angels who wielded their firey swords at the gate of the garden of Eden when man was cast out. A deterrent. A symbol of strength and power.

The sword was also a symbol for anything that inflicted pain on another. The tongue or the actions of a promiscuous woman. Danger, danger! Be warned by such things. Or, let’s think about the double-edged sword. Extra sharp for the deep cuts to the bone… often needed when speaking about God’s judgement. How sharply are we cut down by our own faults and sins. God’s word (the sword of truth) is part of the whole armour of God as we go out to fight the spiritual battles before us.

 “It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions”

(Heb 4:12). 

My studies tell me that a “two-edged sword” marks its own meaning. A double-edged sword is tricky, in that it is sharper and does more damage, potentially, but the damage is not only reflected towards your enemy, as one sharp edge is still pointing towards you as you wield it! (FYI, if you say that something is a double-edged sword, you may be referring to an Arabic expression that basically says if two sides of the same blade are sharp, it cuts both ways.)

So. A lot of info out there about ancient swords. And a lot of symbolic meaning behind such weaponry. And Peter’s little dagger? Yeah, a common tool used by the men of his day. The people Jesus spoke to would have understood about swords and their uses. They would have wielded them honourably in defence. Do we do the same with our sword of Truth? Do we use it as a defence against the rhetoric of today’s world? Do we say: “the Bible tells me blank in answer to your question or statement”. Perhaps Google is our go-to instead. Or Alexa before Jesus. I’m afraid I’m not like Peter coming to Jesus’ rescue when He is questioned.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Yes, indeed the sword is a powerful tool. We must learn to use it well in battle, my friends.

Spring Cleaning

My goodness! Where has the time gone? This week marks the end of March and the beginning of another spring season! We started a little spring clean-up in our yard this past weekend… and then, in true Canadian fashion, it snowed this morning! My poor little urban garden’s seedlings are feeling the pinch of the dip in temperature, too, as they sit on my windowsill. Still, Time has a way of ticking on, and spring weather will soon arrive. I’m looking forward to it. How about you, my friend? Do you do the traditional “spring clean”?

Do you participate in the big spring clean?

It’s what I’ve been musing about this week… spring cleaning. Not that it is a task I enjoy immensely, but I do love the result of a little elbow grease after a tired winter season. I need more time to really get in all the cracks and crevises of this ol’ house, but, well, every little bit counts, right? We’ve chatted about it before. I’ll leave some previous posts down below if you want to follow up. You can even check out the pictures from our decluttered furnace room… or the fish tank clean-up! Ever wondered where the idea of “spring cleaning” originated?

So, I did some digging. Turns out there are a few “thoughts” about where the idea of a spring clean up came from. In 19th century America, March was considered the best time to dust because the windows to the home could be opened without the fear of flying insects invading your space! The coal furnaces would have stopped running and all the soot leftover could be swept out and the house aired. Nowadays, I suppose, we could open the windows to let all the ammonia smells out from our chemical cleaners! (Anyone else love a good bleach?)

Some sources say the deep clean is associated with a new year. In Japan and Scotland, the “spring clean” is in December. Persian new year, “Nowruz”, is the first day of spring and involves a truly deep clean of the whole house. Many traditions evolved around Lent’s “purging” in time for Easter. This is also true of the Biblical Jewish tradition of house “cleansing” during the time of Passover and the remembrance of the Jewish exodus in haste from Egypt. Jews even clean out the pantry. I wonder if they get to eat all the snacks? I like that kind of clean up!

Whatever way you think about your physical clean-up, whether it be in preparation for a new year, or new season, or just an excuse to get all spick and span, it is important to remember that a clean “outside” cannot compare to a clean inside. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that a carefully cleaned outside that hides a heart of deceit and greed is futile (Matthew 23). And how grateful am I that God promises my sins to be completely cleansed? As clean as the new-fallen snow ! (Isaiah 1:18). Even if it is spring snow in the middle of our yard clean up!

So, if scrubbing the baseboards or dusting, or open window airing out is on your agenda this week, I hope it reminds you that your inside should be just as glowing! May your efforts be blessed!

Here are a few more muses about all things tidy!