Theological Term of the Week: Pantheism


Last week’s term:

Hylozoism – the doctrine that all matter is endued with life. This doctrine is friendly to Materialism, and is the philosophical companion to Hinduism.

This week’s term:

Pantheism – The denial of the personality of God. The belief that God and the universe are synonymous, as opposed to God being a personality.

Thanks for reading,


Events Surrounding My Father’s Death


It was a hot July day in Kansas, a hotter one in Arkansas. My dad had been working on a doghouse for our dog, Libby. This would be his last act on Earth. You see, my parents were taking care of Libby for us since we had just moved from a three bedroom, single bathroom home with a fenced yard in Topeka, Kansas, to a duplex in the ghetto of Lawrence, Kansas, which did not allow pets.

On July 28, 2004, while Dad was slaving in the backyard in Arkansas, I was at my home in Kansas caring for my two children. Terry was working at Amarr Garage Door factory. My mother called around 1:00 to tell me that Dad had been taken to the Heart hospital in Little Rock for surgery for an aortic aneurysm. She was talking quickly while eating, something that struck me as odd, knowing how proper her manners are, but at the time, it did not cause alarm. I was twenty-six years old. I was alone that day, except for my four year old daughter and my one year old son, both of whom were napping. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Someone else was silently, powerfully standing by, preparing to lead me gently through the greatest tragedy of my young life. Our dial-up internet was so slow, and searching for things online was so new, that I never considered looking up an aortic aneurysm on the web. I see now that that was the first gift that my Father gave me that day, the gift of ignorance. This gift kept me from panicking. I didn’t think an aneurysm was anything that serious. I knew Dad had a history of heart trouble in his family, but I still was not worried.

I cannot tell you what I did that afternoon. I don’t remember if I called Terry, or if I fretted a lot. I do regret not trying to talk to Dad in the hospital. I suppose the ignorance, and the complete confidence that I would speak to him soon, kept me from having that thought.

Mom called us to say that the surgery was just beginning around 6 PM, and she did not seem worried. Terry and I went to church.

When we got home from church, I got a call from Mom. Dad had made it through the surgery, but things were not good. The doctors could not get Dad’s blood to clot. It was at that moment that I began to feel fear. Tears came in a mighty torrent. I went to our dingy bathroom, closed the door, and bowed at the bathtub begging God to “please let my dad’s blood to clot!” Over and over I said these words.

Somehow, I got to bed. Around 2, or maybe 4 o’clock in the morning, my father-in-law called. Terry answered.  I don’t know Terry Sr.’s exact words to my husband, but when my Terry hung up the phone, he said to me quietly in the dim light of my bedside lamp, “He’s gone.”

For many years I felt guilt over the fact that Dad died right after working so hard out in the heat for my dog. I felt guilt over not being there, not getting to say goodbye, not getting to hold his hand as he stepped from this muddy beach onto that golden shore. In fact, in the months to come, guilt would be a close friend, second only to the oceans of grief that swept over me. 

Back then, I felt responsible for Dad’s death. I didn’t fully grasp the fact that God is sovereign. What does this mean? It means that God is in control. It wasn’t the doctor’s fault that Dad died. He didn’t die because he didn’t get to the hospital on time, or because he’d been out in the heat working on a doghouse. He died because God said that Ron Courtney should come home. Dad left this earth at the precise moment in which God decreed that he should, and not a minute too soon or too late. It was right on time.

Many people want to declare that God is sovereign over some things, usually the things that we say are out of our control. But the truth is, He is sovereign over all things. And if you don’t believe He is sovereign, that’s okay, He is sovereign anyway.

The sovereignty of God has been a comfort to me whenever guilt comes knocking, as it still sometimes does. I don’t have to answer the door and entertain it. I simply call out, “The Lord handles all my guilt. He owns my life.”

God is sovereign over the heartaches that come our way, and He is sovereign over the blessings. We can rejoice in all things because He is in all things.

With love,


My Book Bag: To the Golden Shore

5127J5CDA4L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_A few weeks ago, a lady at our church who is fellow book-lover, loaned me a missionary story called To the Golden Shore. “I think you’ll like it,” she said, and she was right. I wanted to share it with you, and encourage you to read this wonderful book about Adoniram Judson.

I must say that I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw that it was 500 pages long. I had read about Adoniram Judson a little beforehand, so I knew he had a hard life. I am affected deeply by words, and I was concerned that I would be in an emotional downswing due to living the life of Adoniram Judson vicariously through the printed page. But, I put aside my fears and dove headfirst into the summer of 1788 in Massachusetts and met the Judson family as they welcomed their firstborn child, Adoniram, Jr. I traveled across the ocean to England and back to Salem, Massachusetts, then on to India and Burma, (back and forth many times), I visited prison, suffered losses of loved ones and ached through much illness, and then, finally, I walked to the dock to wave goodbye to Mr. Judson as he stepped onto that blessed Golden Shore. With the last page of this book, I felt a greater longing than ever before to do a good work for my Lord. On the contrary, rather than suffering an emotional downswing, I felt more thrilled than ever at the prospect of meeting the One Who died for me in that pristine land.

Mr. Courtney Anderson (and what a great first name he has!) did an excellent job of removing “some of the grimy crust of time, and revealing, at least a little, the bright features underneath.” He wrote about Judson, his family and friends; and led us across continents with ease. His descriptions were enough to make you feel everything that the Judsons felt, whether physical or emotional. I couldn’t wait to keep going, to see what would happen next! And the best part? It’s all true. I personally enjoyed the early-American historical tidbits at the beginning, which gave the book a firm and familiar start. The pilgrims, Squanto, Nathaniel Bowditch, and John Adams are all mentioned, and I relished each reference.

I was particularly moved by the following passage, taken from Ann Hasseltine Judson’s journal, regarding her husband’s and her own decision to be baptized by immersion, thereby abandoning the Congregationalist faith (in which they were brought up), and moving to the Baptist faith (in which they knew no one):

Thus, we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wanted to be, but because the truth compelled us to be. We have endeavored to count the cost, and be prepared for the many severe trials resulting from this change of sentiment. We anticipate the loss of reputation, and of the affection and and esteem of many of our American friends. . . We feel that we are alone in the world, with no real friend but each other, no one on whom we can depend but God. [page 146]

I can – in a very small measure – understand what Ann is saying here. I too, have been compelled by truth to have a change in sentiment. I have feared the loss of friends and loved ones. I have lost what bit of “reputation” I had, as several friends have written to say just how ashamed they are of our decision to adhere to the Doctrines of Grace. In the beginning, I felt that I no friend but Terry, and that only God was with us as we labored in ministry. But, as Ann discovers in her journey with Christ, I, too, have learned that Christ is enough. I’ve learned that where there is one believer, there will be others. I’ve learned that I have not disappointed everyone I know, just as Ann and Adoniram hadn’t either. In fact, when Adoniram Judson, Sr. was 67 years old, he too, became a Baptist, resigning his pastorate in Plymouth to do so. It is true that when one person stands for what is right according to Scripture, others will follow.

Judson labored tirelessly, in sickness, despair, loneliness, and poverty, to share the Gospel, but went no further than simply sharing Christ with others. He told them to “Pray to God for light. If you receive light, you will be able at once to distinguish between truth and falsehood.” [page 279] There was no mention of his leading anyone in prayers or asking for a show of hands after a sermon. Christ was, and is, enough.

In several chapters, most notably the one entitled, “Give us a Writing”, we see how Adoniram suffered with depression, feeling that the trials he endured were punishment from God for his selfish and prideful behavior. He would climb out of that pit by the Savior’s helping hand, only to fall back again later. I was encouraged that if a great man such as Adoniram Judson could be depressed, then anyone can. And like Judson learned, Christ is the answer to relieve us of that burden.

Adoniram Judson did not approve of temporary missionary trips, where one would only serve in a country for a limited time. He said, “The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be ‘Devoted for life.’ [page 409]

Also, here is an encouraging little couplet:

Beware of desperate steps; the darkest day,
(Live till tomorrow) will have passed away. [page 481]

These are just a few highlights from this moving book. I don’t see how any Christian can read it, even if you’ve read other books about Adoniram Judson, and not be inspired by his faith in the very same God that we have the privilege to serve today. What a thought! This book exclaims, “Christ is Lord of all!” from beginning to end.

With love,


Theological Term of the Week: Hylozoism


Last week’s term:

Polytheism – The belief that there are many gods.

This week’s term:

Hylozoism – (hy-luh-zoh-iz-um) The doctrine that all matter is endued with life. This doctrine is friendly to Materialism, and is the philosophical companion to Hinduism. 

Thanks for reading,


My School Room

I don’t have any super-unique idea to share, just thought I’d show you where we do our lessons each day. When we moved in over two years ago, we turned our dining room into our “school room”. This is my HQ for lesson plans and grading, and it’s the room where Leslie, Laci, and Matt do their work. Lauren and Mitch each have desks in their rooms. While I teach Matt each day, Leslie and Laci work at the kitchen table, but the rest of the time they are in here.

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I really like my little bulletin board to show off the good work they are doing. My sister knitted the little banner at the top to celebrate our arrival to North Carolina last May. I wanted to use it for something here because it’s so adorable. This is what I came up with. It’s a duel-purpose banner. Every time I see it, I’m happy that the kids are learning, and I’m happy that I have the world’s greatest sister.

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This is my magnetic chalkboard. I love it. I used a marker board for years, but kept losing the markers or the little ones would write on things that weren’t erasable. Aaaaand, I have more fun writing with the chalk. (That’s the main reason.)
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This is my messy work station. The clock is something I added this year. It says, “It’s time to LEARN!” And it’s always time to learn. See? It’s a constant reminder.
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One of my banners. When chaos explodes, I look at Snoopy and think, “This is just an adventure! Yes, that’s what I’ll call it, an adventure.”  And you know, it really is!

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Books, banners, and a bee, all to encourage a strong work ethic. I believe that subliminal messages speak volumes.

unnamed (7)Here’s my cabinet. Notice that globe on top. It serves as a reminder of where places are located in the world, and how long it’s been since I’ve dusted up there. I also store lots of charts on top. I’ve tried to strike a balance: No child left behind, and no space left unused.

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Here’s the inside. I also have two shelves packed with books in a closet…and three other bookshelves.

So, there you have it. This is where we slave all day, every day. Homeschooling is work, that’s for sure, and I know I’m not the greatest teacher in the world. In fact, one thing that homeschooling has taught me is that I need the Lord’s help to do it.  If my kids turn out even halfway normal, it will be because of the grace of God.

Thanks for visiting.

With love,


The Doctrine of Godliness


A few days ago, I listened to a sermon by Pastor Don Fortner of Danville, Kentucky, entitled “The Doctrine of Godliness”. It is from the sixth chapter of Romans. It is rather long, so it took me about three sittings to hear it all the first time through. It was such a blessing to my heart, that I wanted to pass it along to you. I know that you are just as busy (or busier!) as I am, or you may not have the capability to listen to sermons online, so I gave it a second listen while taking notes.

I wanted to share the highlights with you here, but please, if at all possible, listen to the message by Brother Fortner. I have never met him, but the 10 – 15 sermons that I’ve heard have been a blessing. You can listen, download, or watch the sermon by clicking HERE. You can also view his sermon outline by clicking HERE.

Here are my notes:

All religion attempts to give men laws and rules by which to live. They have the notion that by obeying certain rules, we can be holy. These churches preach doing good works constantly. However, we are not justified or sanctified by works, but by grace.

These “self-righteous, will-worship Armenians, and works-religionists” respond to the message of grace with the cry of “Licentiousness!” However, these that proclaim to live the law, are really against the law. They, in fact, are the antinomians. What they call “obedience” is really just their best effort at obedience, and their best effort is still disobedience. God doesn’t say, “Give me your best effort”, He expects perfect obedience. “Try” isn’t good enough with God.

In Romans 6:1-2, Paul addresses the issue of those who are no longer under the law and yet who would live a licentious life:  “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” What is he saying? He’s saying “It’s absurd to even imagine that grace promotes ungodliness!” Why? Because of Romans 6:14:”For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Christ doesn’t simply repair our old heart, He gives us a new heart! (Ezekiel 36:25-26)

So what is “godliness”? To most folks, this is “touch not, taste not, handle not”. But anybody can keep rules! No, godliness is living for God; consecration to God.

Godliness is both our responsibility and God’s promise:
Our responsibility – ” Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” – Romans 6:12 This doesn’t mean not wearing a beard, or smoking tobacco, or anything like it. It means things like covetousness, lust, greed – all the things no one else knows about but you. Sin doesn’t just live in me, it RAGES in me. We must always fight it, never giving up.

God’s promise – the power of Christ in me. God holds me back from sin, not me! “Our responsibility is our response to His ability!” – Harry Graham.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. ~ Psalm 119:117
“Sin becomes more bitter as Christ becomes more precious.” ~ Robert Hawker

The above points are just the things that leapt out at me. I can in no way do the actual sermon justice, so I beseech you to give it a listen. I have heard a lot of sermons that included long lists of rules for me to follow. And, since I’m a control freak, it’s kind of fun to have a checklist and go through and tick each one off as I complete it. The problem with that is that I begin to feel puffed up and proud as I look at my accomplishments. I then start comparing my list to another’s list. “Hmm… she wears that!? For shame! Doesn’t she have the list? She should know better!” But while I’m thinking about her list (or lack thereof), I’m committing a sin – the sin of pride. And that’s the very thing that I must fight against. And not just pride, I also have to fight laziness, selfishness, lust, gluttony – oh my, the list is too long to put here.

Rules may make you feel safe and happy, but rules don’t please God. Only Christ can please a thrice holy God. I hope you know Him. If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit on your life for what you are – not what you do – then believe on Him for salvation and enjoy His free grace.

With love,


Zesty Biscuit Bean Bake


This is a recipe that my mom made when I was growing up. It’s a nice change from the chicken casseroles or crockpot meals that I usually make, and like 99% of the meals I prepare, it’s super easy. I hope you’ll like it, too!


1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup onion
1 envelope sloppy Joe seasoning
large can (about 30 oz.) of baked beans
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar (I used 3)
1/2 cup ketchup
10 half-inch cubes of cheddar cheese
10 oz. can of biscuits


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Brown beef and onion, drain. Add sloppy Joe seasoning, except one tablespoon. Also add beans, sugar, and ketchup. Heat till bubbly. Place one cheese cube in a biscuit and seal. Roll into a ball. Roll each biscuit in reserved sloppy Joe seasoning. Pour mixture in a 9 x 13 inch dish. Top with biscuits. Bake 20 – 25 minutes.

Bon appétit!