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Wednesday
Jul272016

Why study Leviticus?

I know, I know; that sounds about as appealing as watching paint dry. Personally, I find Leviticus fascinating. And it is necessary to understand. I'm talking a little about that at Out of the Ordinary this morning. Here is a snippet:

There are many reasons to study Leviticus, but time and space don't allow me to probe them all. I will, however, share one good reason: because in his first epistle, the apostle Peter relies on it to explain what holiness is.

When a New Testament writer uses an Old Testament reference, we should stop and ask ourselves why. How is he using that Old Testament citation to build his teaching? What does the reference say about the unity of the two testaments? It's a time in our study when we must stop and think about what lies behind the author's purpose.

Click to read more.

Monday
Jul252016

My kind of woman

Katharina Schütz Zell was my kind of woman. A Reformation woman from Strasbourg, she was devoted to learning as well as service. As was typical, she had no formal education, but she did not let that stop her:

Her lack of formal higher education did not hold her back, quite the contrary: she continued her independent learning throughout her life. She studied the lectionary and Luther's 1522 New Testament translation (which replaced the earlier German Bible dating from 1485) and other of Luther's works. Her correspondence with major reformers, such as Bucer, Capito, Hedio, Calvin, and Luther, served as an important form of "distance learning." Her marital years would become the essential period for her theological formation and the time in which she found her own voice as a theologian. In that regard, her husband's role would be vital in welcoming and supporting Katharina's ambitions and initiatives with apparently no "ifs and buts."

Women today can follow in Katharina's footsteps. We can study from a distance with great ease. There is so much at our fingertips. Books are much cheaper and easier to get than they would have been for Katharina, and formal education is available. However, if a woman cannot attend formal education, she has so much at her disposal to learn from, beginning with many resources to help her understand Scripture. And unlike Katharina, we have modern conveniences to help us with domestic chores. There is time. It's up to us to use it well.

Sunday
Jul242016

Praise to the Redeemer

From the Olney Hymns
John Newton
Praise to the Redeemer 

Prepare a thankful song
To the Redeemer’s name
His praises should employ each tongue
And every heart inflame!

He laid his glory by,
And dreadful pains endured; 
That rebels, such as you and I,
From wrath might he secured.

Upon the cross he died,
Our debt of sin to pay; 
The blood and water from his side
Wash guilt and filth away.

And now he pleading stands
For us, before the throne; 
And answers all the Law’s demands,
With what himself hath done.

He sees us, willing slaves
To sin, and Satan’s pow’r; 
But, with an outstretched arm, he saves,
In his appointed hour.

The Holy Ghost he sends.
Our stubborn souls to move; 
To make his enemies his friends,
And conquer them by love.

The love of sin departs,
The life of grace takes place, 
Soon as his voice invites our hearts 
To rise and seek his face.

The world and Satan rage,
But he their pow’r controls; 
His wisdom, love, and truth, engage
Protection for our souls.

Though pressed, we will not yield,
But shall prevail at length, 
For Jesus is our sun and shield,
Our righteousness and strength.

Assured that CHRIST our king, 
Will put our foes to flight;
We, on the field of battle, sing
And triumph, while we fight. 

Thursday
Jul212016

Thankful Thursday

Gratitude never goes out of fashion. Even amid days where every other tweet and blog post is full of indignation and challenge, there is room for gratitude. I don't have the energy for indignation on a regular basis. So, I will be thankful.

I am thankful for our harvest of cherry tomatoes. They are so sweet.

I am thankful that my GERD isn't troublesome at the moment, and I can eat said tomatoes.

I am thankful for the promise of family gatherings, this weekend, and one in August.

I am thankful for the recent engagement of my youngest child. I liked his fiancée the first time I met her, even before they were a couple.

I am thankful for the day I had my first child, my daughter, 27 years ago today.

I am thankful for the reminder that God is good (Ps. 145:8-9). I am thankful for his greatness, that his gratefulness is unsearchable.

I am thankful for my husband being on vacation this week so we can do some painting. He is a much better painter than I, and I am a much better cleaner-upper. We're a good combination.

Gratitude begins with recognizing what we have in Christ, and we have so much!

Wednesday
Jul202016

Back it up with Scripture

The first assignment I had in my seminary course this past semester to was to disscuss the importance and implications of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. I always feel uncertain about first assignments, because one does not know how the prof will mark. I'd had this prof before, but it was a Bible survey course, and we had exams instead of writing essays. 

When I got my paper back, I was relieved that I had not completely fouled it up, and I was happy with my mark. However, there was a comment from the prof saying that the strength of a few of my arguments would have been bolstered with some references to Scripture. That is not a new thing. I had that observation from my hermeneutics prof. I can be lazy with that.

Sometimes, when we've been in the church a long time, we know the general principles, but we may not know exactly where to find biblical support. That means getting out our Bibles and looking. I've done it myself on previous occasions while writing something.

When I was in high school, I had a really excellent history teacher, and he advised me to write as if the reader knows nothing about my topic. Of course, depending on our audience, it could possibly come across as patronizing, but I think the principle is a good one. We can't always assume the reader understands. When it comes to writing biblical content, we most definitely cannot assume that everyone understands. Levels of biblical literacy vary from person to person. Furthermore, we have to ensure that our understanding is biblically based, so when we write, showing our readers our sources is advisable.

In teaching my Sunday school class this spring, I asked my students (all who have been in the church for many years, most since they were children) if they knew who the Moabites were. No one could tell me. There are women in that class who have been in studies in Genesis and Exodus, and they did not know. I took them to some passages in Scripture to show them. Especially when we teach, we need to show the students how and where we drew our conclusions. It's part of modelling good teaching.

I can be lazy about providing the proper references myself in within the body of a blog post. When I make assertions about the nature of God, I should provide support. It's a good exercise, after all. In the 2016/2017 academic year, I will be taking Theological Foundations. I'd better get used to providing support for what I write.