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Sunday
Jul092017

Daily Readings - John 13:27-30

J.C. Ryle - Daily Readings
John 13:27-30

After the morsel, Satan then entered into him (John 13:27a)

Let us take heed that we are not 'ignorant of Satan's devices.' He is still going to and fro in the earth, seeking whom he may devour. He is about our path and about our bed and spies out all our ways. Our only safety lies in resisting him at the first and not listening to his first advances. For this we are all responsible. Strong as he is, he has no power to do us harm, if we cry to the stronger one in heaven and use the means which he has appointed. It is a standing principle of Christianity and will ever be found true: 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you' (James 4:7).

Saturday
Jul082017

The tongue is a fire

I once overheard a teenager at my church complain about having to study the book of James again. As I thought about it, I realized that we had taught that book on more than one occasion. I've taught it more than once over the years. I don't think it's a bad idea. James is a great little book, but I think one of the reasons why this young person may have been rolling her eyes was because inevitably, we have to confront our speech when we study James.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world in iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell . . . But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (James 3:5b-6, 8)

I love paradox, and I think that is why I love words. They can be beautiful and ugly at the same time. I know my own propensity to reveal the deadly fire of a tongue myself. And it's something about myself which I hate. Words cannot be unsaid. How many of us have been the victim of a nasty word which is later repented of, and even though we've forgiven the perpetrator, we still roll those words over and over in our minds?

This past spring, a relative revealed to me something unpleasant about someone whom I love very much. My first reaction was denial; I did not believe it to be true. After some weeks, I found myself looking back over time and re-evaluating. Regardless of the truth of the words, they have cast a shadow over my perception. Those words may have taken less than 60 seconds to say, but they have opened up a Pandora's Box of doubt in my mind.

You can't unsay words. We may think our apologies have smoothed things over, but we don't know the lasting effect those words can have.

I am often shocked at how people speak to one another on social media. Sometimes, pastors will use their platforms to belittle and condescend to people they didn't even know. I wouldn't want a pastor like that. We often feel like we have the right to say what we want. Free speech and all that. But how free are Christians to say what we want?

I think that's a good question to ask ourselves.

Thursday
Jul062017

How technology spoils us

In recognition of Canada's 150th birthday, Via Rail sold tickets for $150 to young people 25 and under enabling them to travel anywhere in Canada for the month of July. I wish I could have been eligible for this ticket. My son, as a graduation present to himself, bought one. This month, he is traveling across the country by himself. This week he is on the east coast.

When he first mentioned this, I was hopeful it was just an idea he would forget. I didn't like the idea of him traveling alone across the country. When news stories come up on my feed saying that so and so has been missing from home for ten days, it doesn't help. He was home the weekend before his trip and there were jokes made about him being kidnapped, etc. He promised he would check in regularly, and he has been giving me updates and sharing photos on Instagram of where he's been. So far, so good.

I read Rebecca's post at Out of the Ordinary this morning, and when she mentioned that her son travels to places where there is no cellphone coverage, I realized things would be worse. And then I realized that when I was a 23 year old, if I had made that trip, I would have been able to check in only through a telephone. Have you tried looking for a telephone booth lately? It's like they've gone the way of the dodo.

On Canada Day, I listened to Gordon Lightfoot's "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," a song which was written in honour of Canada's 100th birthday. The song tells of the building of the railroad. Now, there was a risky venture. A young man who decided to join the crew of builders who put down the railway may have never returned east again. Mothers didn't hear where their sons were. Much of the history of Canada involves people picking up and moving west to start new lives. Mothers watched sons and daughters leave. They may have never seen them again. They would have relied on sporadic letters. And here I was getting antsy because my text message had gone unanswered for a while.

Technology spoils us. It makes us feel entitled. I feel I deserve these updates. I tend to worry, and it is so easy to have my worries soothed by an opportune text message or Instagram post. Rather than simply trusting God, I will rely on the promise of those updates. This is where technology can become a temptation. It gives us control, and when we have control, we don't feel the need to trust God.

I am appreciative of my son's updates. I looked with envy and joy at the selfie he took at Peggy's Cove. He was alive and well. But I can't rely on those to have a sense of peace. The month of July is not over yet. And even when he returns, I'll still worry. But I as Rebecca's post so aptly points out, our children are never beyond God's control. 

Wednesday
Jul052017

Digital vs paper: it doesn't have to be one or the other

I recently bought an iPad. I bought it mainly for school. Supplementary readings often come in the form of downloadable PDF's and for a bifocal wearer such as myself, it's easier to read the screen of an iPad than my desktop. It is very convenient to simply save PDF files to iBooks or Kindle.

Since buying my iPad, I've downloaded the Logos Bible Study app, which gives me access to books that come with Logos software. I also bought a NASB bible for my iPad, which is nice. I have had a Kindle for a long time, but don't own a lot of Kindle books. I'm very attached to my pencil and paper. Reading fiction on a digital device is okay, but when I'm looking at a commentary or a textbook, I do like paper. I did buy a commentary on Ephesians after buying my iPad and it is very convenient to have my NASB and the commentary open side by side on the screen. I can definitely make use of digital books.

This week, I began re-reading the book Rebecca, by Daphne duMaurier. I purchased a Folio edition of this book, splurging a bit by using some money I received with an award. Last night, as I read, I thought how much I love the feel of a well-bound, hard cover book printed on beautiful paper. This is a book bound for longevity. I don't think I would ever be able to go completely digital.

And why would I want to? I don't have to do one or the other. I like the freedom to buy a book for my iPad that I will, in all likelihood, read only once. But then there are books that I will re-visit; books I want to pull down from the shelf to check something out. Yes, I can do that with ease on an iPad, but ultimately, does it matter if I have to get up and look on my shelf or scan through my library on an iPad? How many seconds will I save? Am I so pressed for time that getting up to search for a book is a hardship?

And then there are the times when people look at our bookshelves and say, "Hey, can I borrow that book?" I like to be able to loan my books out. I like to have conversations that are inspired by someone looking at our bookshelves and saying, "Is that a good book?" I like to see someone who is visiting scan the shelves, take down a book, and open its pages. 

I can see myself buying more books for my iPad simply because shelf space is at a premium. But I can also see myself wanting a hard copy of a particular book. I'm not ready to dismantle my shelves and box up my paper books so that I can say I am 100% digital. I guess I still like the tactile experience of flipping through a book, and I definitely like being able to annotate in the margins of a book with a pencil. Note-taking in iBooks or Kindle is manageable, but it's not the same as seeing the words beside the actual text. 

It really doesn't have to be one or the other. There are books I will never consider buying unless it's for my iPad, and then there are others like these, which I need to hold in my hands.

Monday
Jul032017

The "real" older woman

I belong to a Facebook group of theologically-minded women on Facebook. I don't usually join such groups, but I joined this one. I don't participate in a lot of the discussions, but when I saw one about young people walking away from biblical teaching, I had to say something.

Experience Makes a Difference

During that Facebook discussion, I was talking to a woman whose children were 16 and under, and we were talking past one another, which was frustrating. She was perplexed when I asked her the age of her children, and the reason I did was because I have found there is a difference in discussion between women whose children are grown and women whose children are younger. Experience can make a big difference.

I have a friend who recently lost her son. I can offer prayer, love, and support, and even try to be empathetic, but I have no concept of the depth of her grief. Nor can I fully understand my friend who is a widow. Any counsel I have is purely theoretical. Now, if you want to talk about young people rebelling, I can do that, because I have been there.

The Sun Will Come Up

We want our children to embrace biblical truth, and the fear of them walking away from it can turn us into micromanagers. We may feel that we must "do" something to prevent the unthinkable. We may tend to treat spiritual training like making their bed, putting their toys away, and brushing their teeth; like a checklist. But spiritual training is much different. At some point, our children must take responsibility for their faith. When my children were younger, I was guilty of micromanaging, and it was borne out of my own fear. I was afraid of them turning away from biblical teaching; afraid of what would happen.

What happened is that the sun came up the next day. I learned that life goes on, that God is gracious, that he still loves me despite what happens with my children. I did not disappear. I was okay. When our kids turn away from biblical truth, we're still their parents, and we still love them and still speak the truth, even if they don't act on what we've told them. I wish when my kids were teenagers, I'd had someone who took me aside and said, "I've been there, too; you'll be okay."

Twaddle?

It is true that every woman is an older woman to someone, but I am coming to understand that there is something special about the real older woman: the one who is 60, 70, or 80. She has time on her side. She has lived through a variety of experiences and seen God's faithfulness through them. Much of our maturity is born out of struggle and suffering, and the woman who is truly older has had those opportunities. A 28 year old woman is an older woman to a teenager, but when I think about how immature I was at 28, and think back to some of the counsel I gave, I see that it was a lot of twaddle. I didn't know as much as I think I did.

I am blessed to have real older women in my life and I am seeing that there is no replacement for the simple life experience they have. I have not lost my parents, or a child, or a spouse. I am healthy, and have had a happy marriage for 30 years. Any struggles I have are really minor. Compared to what they have endured, I have had very little struggle. I have a friend who has lost both a child and her husband, as well as siblings and both parents. There is wisdom she has which I just don't have yet. Yes, we are an older woman to someone, but it's not the same as what a real older woman has to offer.

There are times when experience doesn't count for much; in fact, sometimes, relying on experience can lead us astray. In the case of older woman, experience is important. It is what makes a woman a real older woman.