Training in Righteousness
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Wednesday
Apr232014

Middle age and inactivity

In the past month, since I broke my wrist, there has been a certain amount of frustrating inactivity. I won't complain, though. I have the promise of this ending, so the frustration of not being able to wash the windows on a nice day isn't earth-shattering. The fact that I have to get my shopping-phobic husband to take me for groceries will not be a concern after next week.

I am by disposition someone who doesn't like to be idle for long. While I do love to spend a few hours lost in a good book, I enjoy it much more when the house is in order and the laundry is folded. I don't think I'm as bad as my father or the next door neighbour, whom we call "The Veteran." He's 90 years old, and still drives (well, I might add) and walks his dog twice a day. On Monday, I saw him in his yard, with a lawn chair, sitting down and picking up twigs to put in a yard waste bag. Even if I had two good arms, had I offered to help him, he would have been offended. I'm not that bad.

But being aimless, without any specific thing to tackle, is hard for me. That is why I know that some day, should I be terminally ill, the illness won't kill me, but the discouragement of being able to do nothing might.

Recently, I was remembering how busy I was when the kids were being homeschooled. It was a good kind of busy, because it was domestic and inellectual. There was the challenge of details, but there was the always present thought of how to tweak the curriculum, the hope of really good materials, and ways to achieve goals. My mind worked fast, and I seemed to have a lot to say. Life was very focused. I knew exactly what my resonsibilites were every day.

With adult children and a big empty house, it's not always so clear. As my husband reminds me, my job is to live in a God-glorifying way. That's the big picture, and I know that. Without specifics, sometimes, I find myself at odds. What is my purpose? Where do I fit? Who cares what a wet blanket, 49 year old woman has to say? It's a young woman's world these days.

Sure, I could get a job, but I have seen what happens with women my age who go back to work, "part-time" they say. It turns into being away from home more than one wants. It means spending money on work clothes, on gas, on convenience food.

It means becoming unavailable. I know women who are so busy between their jobs and their service at church that there are completely unavailable when there is an unexpected need. I want to be available. I want to be able to visit my kids, or be here for them when they want to come home. Lord willing, I want to be a grandmother who knows her grandchildren.

Many afternoons, as I become aware of the quiet in the house, it occurs to me that this time in my life is a respite. I'm in a place of limbo, almost. I don't have grandchildren yet, nor are any of my children married. Both sets of parents are healthy. I have so much freedom. And while I like it, I often feel its weight. 

Young mothers with small children aren't the only ones who need encouragement.

A woman whose children are gone from home need to be reminded to find God in the every day moments; in the quiet moments, on the days when no one is coming home for dinner, and when she hasn't uttered a word to anyone other than her dog since her husband left for work. It is very easy for a woman to stop rejoicing in the Lord when she sits in an empty house all day long. Discouragement can come to women in all sorts of places; frantic and busy ones, and silent ones.

In response to this quiet life, I do what I have always done: I put my head down and I keep busy. I study. A lot. I read. A lot. I prepare my Bible lessons. I listen to sermons. I take pictures. And I find ways to serve others, whether it is a meal for a friend just out of the hospital, or a note to someone who needs encouragement.

This is a time of quiet. Like hibernating, I guess. What will I take away from this time? Will I waste it? I don't want to to. Whatever this time is for, I feel compelled to learn as much about God as I can.

Perhaps days are coming when that will be especially necessary. 

In the meantime, I'm thankful for this little piece of the world and for the God who has blessed me so abundantly.

Tuesday
Apr222014

Many long processes of final convergence

Fred Zaspel discusses B.B. Warfield's view of inerrancy and inspiration, specifically the role of human agency in transmission of the Scriptures. They were not just dropped into the minds of a willing participant, and then blindly scribbled down. There was an intimacy between writer and God:

The intimacy of relationship with men by which God gave us his Word, moreover, assumes a "complex of processes" by which God actively assured the result. The various books of the Bible were not produced suddenly by miraculous act or fiat or handed down complete out of heaven. They are the result of many long processes in final convergence. Before the writing of history there was the preparation of the history to be recorded. And before the writing there was the preparation of the writer himself -- his religious experiences; revelations of divine truth; his education; his physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development; his gifts and biases and vocabulary; and so on. God did not decide finally to give his Word and choose men at random, any of whom would do for the conveyance of that Word. No, before giving a series of letters to the churches he first prepared a Paul -- called from his mother's womb -- to write them; and in preparing Paul, God made him all that would be necessary for the writing of these letters. To provide us with th psalms, God first prepared a David. In his providence God first provided a fervidly impetuous Peter, a tender and saintly John, a practically wise James, each of whose personalities dominate their writings. All these considerations contribute to the many "marks of human authorsip" so evident in Scripture. And so the idea of inspiration entails not only the final product but the entire process by which god gave us his Word through human agents.

Sunday
Apr202014

Hear the Bells Ringing

A few years ago, I heard a piano and organ duet of this song, and really liked the tune. As the mother of boys who play the guitar, I like this version, too.

Saturday
Apr192014

The difference is the reason why

I just finished reading the first volume in R.C. Sproul's commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, Truths We Confess.

The more I read the Confession, the more I see it as an amazing piece of writing. And Sproul's well thought out commentary is very helpful.

The very last section of the book, Chapter 8, Section 8 of the Confession, deals with the matter of definite (or limited) atonement. This, of course, is the doctrine that makes a lot of people squirm. 

Sproul makes helpful distinction regarding the difference between Reformed theology and Arminians:

Universalism teaches that everybody is saved. Particularism teaches that only some people are saved. The difference between Reformed theology and Arminianism, then, is the explanation of why some are not saved. Arminians say that some people are not saved because they do not co-operate with the grace of God in order to be saved. The Reformed believe that some are not saved because God has not given them the effective grace to be saved.

The problem always comes when we go to extremes. The extreme application to Arminianism is "try harder." We may feel that we have not done enough to "win" that person to Christ. The risk of the Arminian view seems to me to be an inflated importance on the human witness to others. If our child has not become redeemed, it is because we did not share the gospel enough. If our friends are not saved it is because we did not do enough. This just leads to a lot of unnecessary guilt. It also downplays the utterly lost state of the one we're witnessing to. They just don't understand; they need it explained a different way. That may be true, but it may be because they are blind and no amount of discussion will remove that blindness; only the Holy Spirit will, and we may not be the vessel God uses to effect that removal.

The extreme with the Reformed view is that of apathy and laziness. We think we have no control over salvation, so we do very little, or maybe nothing at all. We become complacent about sharing the gospel, or we give up entirely, thinking that no matter what we say, God's going to do it, anyway. We have to remember that because we don't know who is elect and who is not, preaching the gospel whenever we can is important.

Human agency in evangelism is crucial, but we must not take anything to an extreme. As those who bear the gospel, we must be dliigent to preach the gospel message, but confident enough in God to have peace that He will bring about what He has ordained.

Friday
Apr182014

Why the internet should make us humble

A while ago, I was checking my Twitter feed, and as I scanned the variety of items calling for my attention, I felt a little overwhelmed.

An article to encourage young moms; a book review; an article highlighting why I should care about a "Christian" movie made in Hollywood; an article highlighting why I shouldn't care about a "Christian" movie made in Hollywood; news from the Ukraine; news from Afghanistan; news from South Africa about a man who is on trial; a funny picture of a dog wearing an article of clothing.

Information everywhere; we're inundated with it. In days gone by, newspapers only came out monthly or weekly, because technology did not allow for this constant hum of noise. Information can be good. But infomation isn't understanding, so we must be careful to know the difference.

Then I think of blogs. This little space here is fun for me, and I'm grateful for it. I love to write. But having a blog space can trick me into thinking I have the right to say something without knowing what I'm speaking about.  It can fool me into thinking I know more than I do.

I could sit here, make an assertion, scour the internet for supporting articles, and seem like I know what I'm talking about. And all without even putting more than a couple of hours into the project.

In recent days, I have been reading books by and about Lucy Maud Montgomery. In addition to the books themselves, I've been reading critical works. As I have read,  I've begun to recognize the names of the Montgomery scholars.

Mary Rubio is one of the pre-emininent scholars, and the author of the best Montgomery biography. Rubio has spent years researching. Years.  All of the scholars I have confrontred have worked for years, and focus on very specific facets of their topic. As I watch my own daughter working toward her PhD, specializing in American noir fiction, I see the amount she reads. I see the work she puts in gaining understanding and mastery. This is the anthithesis of what often happens on the internet where hyperlinks distract us.

What the internet ought to reveal to us is how small we are. As we read stories of places like Ukraine and Afghanistan, we should be mindful of the fact that 500 years ago, most people would have known little (or nothing) about those places, let alone see day to day information coming out of them. That missing Malaysian Airlines plane? Most people would have heard about it weeks, months, or even a year later. Now, we see minute by minute glimpses into places on the other side of the globe, places we will never see. We live the reality of a "global village."

This should inspire humility. As we view the vast arry of information, it should communicate to us loud and clear that we don't know everything. We don't even know a fraction of what there is to know, whether our topic of choice is theology or L.M. Montgomery. We cannot presume to say we are an expert in anything simply by having access to the internet. Instead, we should see clearly how vast the world is, and how small we are. Just when we think we have written a profound blog post, a few clicks later will show something better. Just when we think we've read "the must read" of the year, three weeks later, a new book will be released, and we will be confronted with a "must read" again. 

The internet reminds me of the fleeting nature of earthly things, no matter how good they are. 

I find it encouraging to know that no matter how long I live, there will always to more to discover. I love the internet for that reason. It shows me just how much there is to learn. It ought to inspire me to humility in what I say and to be careful that I don't promote myself as an expert of any kind.