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Sunday
Feb182018

O Worship the King

O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing his wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days!
Pavilioned in splendour, and girded with praise.

O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space!
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail:
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end;
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

It wasn't easy finding a version I really liked. This version is played on the accordian. I have a soft spot for Celtic reels, so I liked this one. It's really cheerful sounding.

Tuesday
Feb132018

How Koine Greek is teaching me to slow down

I am afraid that I have very fast reactions. That can be good when a kid has hurt himself or something needs to be done immediately. It means that even in my ten year old car, I am often the first one away when the red light changes. But it often has bad repercussions. When we react quickly, we may end up being careless.

Most of the errors I make on Greek quizzes are stupid things. Last week, for example, I got 22.5/25. Two of the mistakes were real mistakes; things I just didn't know well. But one arose from acting too quickly. Instead of translating "waters," I said "water." A half a mark because I was careless. I hate losing marks when I know it but reacted too quickly.

And now we meet participles. Our textbook, by Bill Mounce, has us quaking in fear about participles. They are weird things. They are part verb, part noun, part adjective. We have been pouring over verb endings and tense formatives to learn our verbs cold, and now we have to put noun endings on them. It feels strange. It looks like a verb, and it kind of acts like a verb, but it isn't a verb. It means paying attention.

The verb translated "I am loosing," λύω (lu-oh), in the third person singular ("he is loosing") looks like this: λύουσι (lu-oo-see). The dative, masculine, active, plural participle, translated "loosing," looks exactly the same. "Loosing," and "he is loosing" are not the same thing grammatically. This is where context becomes really important, because it will tell me if I'm translating an indicative verb or a participle. It means I have to slow down. And the kicker of course is that there are countless examples where words look the same but only context will differentiate them.

I could not help but think that the whole issue of learning to slow down is not only beneficial for studying Koine Greek, or any other subject for that matter. I still have nightmares about failing algebra tests because of something as small as a forgotten negative sign. We are a society full of distractions and lacking silence. When we start thinking that 500 words is long, it reveals a lot about how we read. We don't like details; we just want the basic facts. That isn't going to work in Greek, and for much of life, it won't work, either. When it comes to listening to others, it can be crucial to avoid miscommunication. Instead of mentally preparing our response while the other person is still speaking, we need to really listen to others. That means slowing down and paying attention. It may mean asking the person to clarify. Learning how to be thoughtful and measured is still a work in progress for me. But I'm thankful that I'm learning, however slowly.

I highly recommend Christians try their hand at Koine Greek. It's a lot of fun even when it's difficult. And the side benefits are an extra bonus.

Sunday
Feb112018

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown him with many crowns,
The lamb upon his throne;
Hark! how the heav'nly anthem drowns
All music but its own;
Awake my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

Crown him the son of God,
Before the world began,
And ye who tread where he hath trod,
Crown him the son of man;
Who every grief hath known
That wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for his own,
That all in him may rest.

Crown him the Lord of love,
Behold his hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visiblel above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye
At mysteries so bright.

Crown him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those he came to save.
Hi glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of lords,
Who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth th'incarnate Word,
For ransomed sinner slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with angels sing
Their songs before him day and night,
Their God, Redeemer, King.

The video for this is from the 50th coronation anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II. It is a magnificent rendition, which is fitting for such a magnificent picture.

Thursday
Feb082018

Why we need kind, compassionate dialogue about mental illness

Recently, in conversation with some family members, I learned that there has been a history of depression on my father's side of the family. My mother's father suffered from depression, and was actually institutionalized at one point, and I was aware of that. The news about my father's family has been a recent discovery. And it is only recent because no one talked about it. It was a shameful thing to admit, so it was never addressed. But now that we are getting more information about mental illness, we can gain a little understanding into what some of our family members experienced.

Three years ago, I felt like I was losing control of myself. I told my husband one day that I felt like anxiety was coming from outside and attacking me. I knew something was wrong. I didn't tell very many people. Why? Because of the guilt associated with it. Especially as a Christian I was embarrassed. And I was aware of the attitudes of other Christians in the face of mental illness from having heard comments over the years: 

"Philippians commands us not to be anxious."

"They just need to trust God more."

"Don't they know that anxiety is a sin?"

"They're self-absorbed."

Today, I don't mind so much talking about it with others, but I'm careful, because frankly, there are just some people I know who will not be kind. And it is the people who have never struggled with it or have never known someone who has struggled with it who are the worst.

One of the things that helped me was knowing that I was not alone. My own father went through five years of clinical depression, and when he knew what I was going through, he called me and offered the kind, tender sympathy that only a fellow sufferer can offer. His attitude was not dismissive nor did he suggest things that would promise instant results. No, my father did not remind me to "Be anxious for nothing," but he patiently listened. 

We need people to talk about their mental health issues because those who came after us need to know; our children or our grandchildren. For some, the first signs of mental illness may frighten them. They may not understand why it's happening. They may need to know if there is a familial link. It can help them cope with it, and provide guidance to their doctor.

Not all people who are depressed or struggle with other kinds of mental illness are obvious about it. Some people are able to mask their suffering quite well with outgoing, gregarious behaviour. They may even make you laugh. But after the laughter has died down, their feelings return. I was able to teach a Bible study regularly while at the worst of my anxiety, and no one but those closest to me knew what was happening. My closest friend sat in on my studies and told me one day that she would never guess that I was overwhelmed. We find coping mechanisms. Simply because someone doesn't look like they are suffering doesn't mean they aren't.

It's lonely to struggle with anxiety and depression. I can testify to that. I was in God's word daily; sometimes hourly. There were nights when I couldn't sleep and I poured over the Psalms and the gospels. I credit that with keeping me from completely falling apart. But it didn't cure things instantly. And I am thankful that I know about our family history. As a mother, it has helped me to discuss things with my children, and to be observant and attentive. We need to talk about mental illness. But more than that, we need kindness and compassion. And we definitely don't need simplistic remedies that betray ignorance.

Sunday
Feb042018

Behold Our God

I heard this the first time at T4G a few years ago. I was thankful when our associate pastor at the time brought it into our worship services.

Who has held the oceans in his hands?
Who has numbered every gain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at his voice.
All creation rises to rejoice.

Chorus

Behold our God,
Seated on his throne,
Come let us adore him.
Behold our King,
Nothing can compare,
Come let us adore him.

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of his words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all his wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon his hands,
Bearing all the weight of sinful man?
God eternal, humbled to the grave.
Jesus, Saviour, risen now to reign.

You will reign forever!
Let your glory fill the earth!