Training in Righteousness
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Vanity of Life

From The Olney Hymns
John Newton
Vanity of Life 

The evils that beset our path
Who can prevent or cure?
We stand upon the brink of death
When most we seem secure. 

If we today sweet peace possess,
It soon may be withdrawn;
Some change may plunge us in distress,
Before tomorrow’s dawn. 

Disease and pain invade our health
And find an easy prey;
And oft, when least expected, wealth
Takes wings and flies away. 

A fever or a blow can shake
Our wisdom’s boasted rule;
And of the brightest genius make
A madman or a fool. 

The gourds, from which we look for fruit,
Produce us only pain;
A worm unseen attacks the root,
And all our hopes are vain. 

I pity those who seek no more
Than such a world can give;
Wretched they are, and blind, and poor,
And dying while they live. 

Since sin has filled the earth with woe,
And creatures fade and die;
Lord wean our hearts from things below,
And fix our hopes on high. 


Theology in Story

I'm over at Out of the Ordinary this morning sharing about reading Old Testament Narrative.

I may think to myself, "Sarai followed Abram without question when God called him out of Ur. She was a good wife. If I want to be a good wife, I need to be like Sarai." That is moralizing. It is a noble thing to be a good wife, and there are other places in Scripture which support the principle of being a responsible wife, but this account of Sarai and Abram leaving Ur is not about marriage. Esther is not about how to be manage a difficult husband. Every story about Moses cannot be reduced to a lesson about effective leadership. 

Click here to read.


Pleading for Mercy

From the Olney Hymns
John Newton
Pleading for Mercy

In mercy, not in wrath, rebuke
Thy feeble worm, my God!
My spirit dreads thine angry look,
And trembles at thy rod. 

Have mercy, Lord, for I am weak,
Regard my heavy groans;
O let thy voice of comfort speak,
And heal my broken bones! 

Thus I sit desolate and mourn,
Mine eyes grow dull with grief;
How long, my LORD, ere thou return,
And bring my soul relief?

O come and show thy pow’r to save,
And spare my fainting breath;
For who can praise thee in the grave,
Or sing thy name in death?

Satan, my cruel, envious foe,
Insults me in my pain;
He smiles to see me brought so low,
And tells me hope is vain, 

But hence, thou enemy, depart!
Nor tempt me to despair; 
My Savior comes to cheer my heart,
The Lord has heard my prayer. 


Thankful Thursday

It's the kind of winter day I like: light snow, a little below 0° Celsius, and bright.

I'm thankful I will enjoy a nice walk today. I'm thankful I haven't fallen down this year. My husband reminded me yesterday before I took our recycling bins out to be careful because it was slippery. I'm determined that I will not break a bone in 2016. I had a bone scan this past year, and I'm not in any particular danger, thanfully. Just clumsy, I guess :)

I'm thankful for a visit this past weekend with all the kids. It usually means meeting in a restaurant somewhere, which is nice for me. I love to watch my children enjoy each other's company. My son said as we left he wondered if we'd become that annoying family that is rowdy in public places.

I'm thankful I've spent time over the years acquiring hermeneutics books. This semester, my professor has referred to a few, and they will be helpful as I study. It's rather providential that three of the books I own are ones he refers to frequently.

I'm thankful for groups who come to pick up used clothing. They help me de-clutter. I'm thankful the one who is coming today takes books. I was able to get rid of some this past week that I'm sure I won't read again.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn the Bible in a group setting.


Individualism and hermeneutics

Yesterday's hermeneutics lecture was really great. I am regularly copying down some of the interesting things my prof has to say. Last week, my favourite was when Dr. B. made a play on word with "hermeneutics." He said "Herman must be there. Make him your friend."

Yesterday, we got on the topic of how we interpret Scripture keeping in mind the community of the church. Not only do we give credence to interpreters of the past, but we don't isolate ourselves as we interpret, rather, we seek the interpretive voices of others. Dr. B. did not have much good to say about the approach that says that I just need to take myself and my Bible somewhere quiet and figure it out on my own. He believes this attitude arises from the individualistic bent of our society. He encouraged us not to make every application about us personally, but move beyond ourselves to look at what the implications are for the entire church. Yes, there is room for personal piety, but if we continually look to make everything a personal message for us, he belives we are missing out. He also is not entirely in favour of, as a preacher, making applications for others, but rather isolating principles and seeing what the implications are.

In light of the ensuing dicussion, which took us off on a few bunny trails, I think the other students were in agreement with him. Yesterday's comment of the day was: "Commentaries are your friend."

At one time, I viewed commentaries as a last resort. Somehow (probably from my own dimwittedness) I got the notion that there was some sort of failure involved if I had to consult a commentary, never mind more than one. I have since learned that while we definitely need to pursue a diligent study of the text, commentaries provide us with a way of watching someone else interpret the text.

Dr. B. suggested that disregarding what other scholars, past and present, have to say about a text is short-sighted. He pointed out that many of the scholars have spent years reading and studying the text, and we should not be unwillinging to consult their expertise. Studying the Scriptures in community is a valuable and necessary thing. We gather together on the Lord's Day to hear the word in a community. I think we sometimes get so focused on our individual life of faith, we neglect our part in the Body of Christ. Perhaps this individualism is where the "what does it mean to me" line of thinking originated.

I was really thankful for this perspective. It conformed some of my thoughts, and it is always good to know that we're on the right track.