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Friday
Jan192018

Aorist tense, Swiss Reformers, and a word fitly spoken

This was such a great week. In Greek, we're getting into more verb tenses, and I can see that it will be challenging in the days ahead. I've been consistent with my review, so I'm off to a good start. This week, we were introduced to the aorist tense. When I was taking Precept Ministries workshops and teaching Precept studies, I was told that the aorist was a "punctilliar" action. Our Greek textbook made it quite clear that "punctilliar" isn't really accurate, but rather the action is undefined. The action happened, but no specific time is given. I'm thankful for that correction.

In Church History, I've been reading about the Swiss Reformers. This is good timing, because my term paper this semester will be about Menno Simons and Anabaptism, and getting familiar with this material before I start researching will be helpful. I took a history of Mennonitism class in university, and I remember some pretty horrifying stories about how Anabaptists were tortured. There were a lot of stories of people being taken to rivers and drowned. Anabaptists are known for their views on the rejection of taking up arms. I wonder how much this violence against them contributed to that.

Yesterday, I went to chapel for the first time this semester, and was so encouraged. The speaker, the Hebrew prof at the seminary, was full of energy, passion, and exhortation. He spoke from 2 Samuel 8, about Christian leadership. It was an excellent message. It reminded me that when we hear preaching, we really are being exposed to another of God's gifts to us. I could sit down and read 2 Samuel 8 and get some feedback from a commentary, but hearing it preached was something different; a good kind of different. It was a great way to end the week.

Monday
Jan152018

Do you ever feel afraid?

The first time I ever watched Schindler's List, it left me feeling sick and afraid. I'm a master of allowing my imagination to run wild, and while watching those scenes where Jews are being herded like cattle on to trains which will take them to the concentration camps, a thought ran into my head: "What if that happens to Christians some day?" What if there is a day when Christians will be forced to wear an identifying mark on their clothing? Those fears are the kind that run away with themselves, and can leave us feeling paralyzed. As Christians, we should not fear, because we know where our hope is, and we know that if those days arrive, God will be with us. And even though we know that intellectually, we still feel apprehension.

Right now, even today, the news is filled with content that could cause people to be afraid. Here in Canada, we have a government which wants to make it mandatory for summer students applying for government programs to endorse what the government sees as "reproductive rights." If such values are not supported, the student's application may be rejected. It is an infringement again upon Christian rights. It can leave us feeling afraid. The last few weeks, daily, has featured a host of sexual scandal inside and outside the Church as well as the often not so astute commentary on such issues. I don't even want to contemplate what the US president utters from his social media account. 

It's all rather overhwelming these days, and I feel like that time I watched Schindler's List. The fact that some Christians would rather pick apart those issues over and over (and over, and over) again, day in and day out, adds to the general discouraging climate.

Sometimes, I want to shout out, "Someone please tell me the good news! Someone please write a beautiful piece about how God is going to wipe away every tear and how there is going to be a new heaven and earth! Someone please write about who God is. Remind me of who he is so that when such things cause me uneasiness, I can be reminded!" That cry is not just for bloggers; it's for pulpits too.

Christians don't need a rehashing of what's going on in the world. We can find that out. It's only a click away. But what we do need is exhortation from God's word. We need voices to encourage us from the Word. I understand that we must be informed, but sometimes, I feel like there is a sick pleasure in constantly bearing bad news. I don't like to be someone who avoids the news, but there are days when I do. And there are days when I feel like the most depressing place to read online is Christian blogs.

I am not helpless. I can open up my Bible and study for myself. But what about those who don't? What about people who are not so inclined? Who is feeding them spiritual food? And spiritual food is not a Christian analysis of whatever ugly story is demanding our attention. It starts with the word of God, and who God is.

When I am afraid, I like comfort. It seems not to be found much these days.

Sunday
Jan142018

Be Thou My Vision

I had never heard this song or sung it until I heard Michael Card's CD, Starkindler. I've heard many other versions since, but this one is still my favourite .

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom and thou my true word,
I ever with thee, and thou with me Lord;
Thou my great father, I thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one

Riches I heed not nor man's empty gain,
Thou mine inheritance now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart,
High king of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High king of heaven my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun;
Heart of my own heart whatever befall,
Still be my vision, of ruler of all!

 

Friday
Jan122018

Blog? What's a blog?

This was such a good week. I started back to school on Tuesday, and after hearing what lies ahead, I was excited. And determined. Our prof told us that stastistically, most students experience a drop in their grade in the second half of Greek. The content is harder and there is just much more to learn. It's unlikely that I will improve my mark, and I'm good with that. I just want to either maintain or keep the drop small. And above all, I want to understand the material. I want to be successful at readng the New Testament, and grow in my understanding. On the ride home, I took a moment to think seriously about how I'm using my down time. I always find myself looking at how I use my time online.

I barely thought about blogs this week because there were other things to think about. I kept my social media time limited, and that's a start in the right direction. And the thought of listening to podcasts just isn't on my radar at the moment. It's always surprising how our intention to spend "just a few minutes" peeking at things online becomes thirty minutes. I think I fell prey to that last semester. My intentions were good, but I can improve on that. I only read about five or six blogs regularly, and one of them is Daily Dose of Greek. That seems to be enough. It's those blogs with "good stuff I read online this week" that can be the killer, because all of a sudden I find myself spending time on an article that looked good, but when I got into it, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. The world won't end if I don't read a lot of blogs this semester, and it definitely won't end if I don't write much. Who cares what I think, anyway? I will stay committed to writing at Out of the Ordinary, but I'm afraid that this blog will likely feature only Sunday hymn posts.

Now, good hymns are always words worth reading.

Sunday
Jan072018

Thy Mercy, My God

This one of my absolute favourite songs; ever. When I die, I want this sung at my funeral. 

Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone from the first to the last,
Has won my affection and bound my soul fast.

Without thy sweet mercy, I could not live here,
Sin would reduce me to utter despair;
But through thy free goodness my spirit's revived,
And he that first made me still keeps me alive.

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found.

Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of thy crucified son;
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteous mine.