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Random quickie musings

I have an all day class today; Church History. We're going to be talking about the Englightenment and the Church and 19th Century Liberalism. I'm looking forward to it. It's a long day, but it's interesting. 

Why have Christians gone ga-ga over Jordan Peterson? There are those who are musing over that question, which inspired another question: why?

I have to laugh when I see people say they are "researching" something, and all of their research involves reading nothing but blogs and websites. Then they "present" their research in lengthy tweet threads. When I see tweet threads, I say in my head: "Don't be lazy; write a blog post." But since blogs seems to be a dying breed, perhaps this is the only way we can get on our soapboxes anymore. 

Greek participles are a wonder and a conundrum. They really direct the reader to the temporal aspect of sentences, and describing the means and motives of things, but they are not easy to translate at first. I'm not as automatic as I would like at knowing how to do that. I am perplexed, as well, when I hear the word prounounced "parTICiple." Clearly, those guilty of that pronounciation are anticipating the word "participate." Stress goes on the first syllable. Here is proof.

Last week, I went to Ministry Leadership Day, and heard excellent teaching on the subject. Dr. Thomson talked about worship and music. One of the things he said is something I've been thinking about a lot: "Sometimes, we see music as the mediator between God and man." He also talked about the tendency to turn lights down before congregational singing. I am so thankful my church doesn't do that . . . yet. Hopefully, I won't see that.

Little acts of kindness are so nice. On Thursday, at school, I was waiting to meet with another student, working on my Greek, when one of the profs noticed me sitting there. She was on her way to the seminary lunch. When I told her I wouldn't be going to that, but was meeting someone, she asked if I would like her to bring me a bowl of soup. It is not the first act of kindness she has shown me.

Speaking of acts of kindness: whenever I'm leaving the academic building to go home from school, if there s a young man ahead of me, he always holds the door for me. 

Next weekend, my daughter is coming home so we can go together to visit a possible venue for her wedding. She is finding out how expensive these things are. I don't plan on photographing the visit and posting pictures on Instagram. Does that mean it won't really have happened?

Breakfeast awaits, and so does this day.


Building boxes

One of the things I struggle with the most, (always have, likely always will) is being able to compartmentalize things. I have been told that men do this better, but one of my classmates (a man) says he struggles with it as well. When there are burdens, I find it hard to concentrate on anything else, and sometimes, I accomplish absolutely nothing because I can't stop thinking of those burdens. 

In the past year, I have been given progress in that struggle. I don't remember praying specifically, "Lord help me to compartmentalize things," but in this past number of months, I know he has granted it. Burdens are never gone. For those who think parenting ends when the kids move out, think again. Sorry; it only gets harder. Parents age. We age. Friends age. Friends get sick and die. This side of heaven, there is no end to burden and struggle. I can't let each and every burden flatten me. I have to be able to put them away in a box and focus on each day ahead. For me, at the moment, it means school. I have waited a long time for this, and I want to do well. If I let the things I cannot change drown me, I may not do well with this opportunity God has granted me. Right now, I am so thankful for seminary because it gives me incentive to compartmentalize. And I'm beginning to see the tremendous benefits. Those burdens are there, always, in the background, but if I want to do well on tomorrow's Greek quiz, I have to stop rolling them over and over in my head, and close the lid to that box. And I have to trust God.

This morning, my dear friend Persis wrote a beautiful post about a burden she's bearing. Her comments are worth thinking about:

When circumstances are overwhelming, walking by sight is next to impossible because the way seems so foggy, but that's where faith comes in. It's not faith in the strength of my faith or even how well I can recall God's promises. It is the hand that reaches out and clings desperately to the One who is really holding on to me and not letting me fall.

The only way we can shut up those boxes is what Persis talks about: reachig out to God. As we place our burdens before him, we ask him, knowing he can, to bear them. 

And then we close the box for a while and get on with things.


The weirdest nerd I know

It's my husband's birthday today. I feel kind of bad for him, though, because he is very busy at work, and when that happens, he ends up feeling tired and stressed out. Who wants that on his birthday? 

When my husband was in high school, had I met him, I would have not taken the slightest notice. He was a skinny nerd with braces and glasses. I am not using disparaging language here. I am only repeating what he would tell you himself. I, on the other hand, was a shallow, silly girl, and probably would have not given him the time of day. Thankfully, when I met him at the age of 20, I was over that. Now, I'm a firm lover of nerds. Girls, when you're looking out for a great guy, look for the nerds. They may have been bullied by the jocks, but chances are they didn't peak in high school.

I don't claim to understand how my husband thinks. And that's okay, because I'm certain he doesn't understand me. But I know him very well. Case in point: he is a hoarder. Our garage is full of things that he refuses to throw away because "we may need it some day." My greatest fear of the unwelcome possibility of his premature death (aside from the whole grief thing) is that I will be stuck with cleaning out that garage.

Recently, I had an accident (borne of my own stupidity) with a cooking dish. Apparently, the cast iron skillet can go in the oven, but the glass lid could not. While our tasty meal was cooking, I heard a strange popping sound. I kind of knew what had happened. Yes, the lid shattered in the oven. It remained intact, but it was cracked in a million places. Of course the lid was ruined, but the cast iron handle was still good. My husband cleaned the glass from the sink where we'd placed the hot lid, and he had it all bagged up and ready to take to the garage when I said; "Don't keep that handle. We will never use it." He just grinned at me and pointed to the counter where he had cleaned off the glass from the handle. "Give it to me; I'll put it in the garage." Yes, I know him well. We have been married for thirty years; we'd better know each other well.

I'm thankful for my weird nerdy husband. And I have no regrets in letting him hang a huge Dr. Who picture in our family room. Weird is good. And along with his weirdness comes consistency, integrity, wit, and loyalty. I love the dynamic which exists between us, what he calls "mutual mockery." It isn't for everyone, and maybe people think we're not romantic or mushy enough. Maybe that's true. But on March 5, 1964, God brought into the world the man who was perfect for me.


Wonderful Grace of Jesus

When my daughter was a little girl, she loved it when we sang this song in church; probably because it is so enjoyable to sing when everyone knows his or her part.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus
Reaches me.


Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
The matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea,
The rolling sea.
Wonderful grace all sufficient for me,
(Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain
All sufficient for even me)
For even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgression,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
(My sin and shame)
O magnify the precious name of Jesus,
Praise his name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaches to all the lost;
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost.
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus
Reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making me me God's dear child.
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus
Reaches me.


From preaching to teaching

Yesterday, I spent the day at my school where the day was dedicated to learning about doxology. In the morning, two of our professors held plenary sessions, and then in the afternoon, we went to workshops. I enjoyed every session and found much to think about from each one of them. The hour ride home was spent thinking about all I had heard.

The session which really got me thinking was the first plenary session by Dr. Reed, which addressed preaching as an act of worship. I am not a preacher, but I am a teacher, and this session really got my attention. Dr. Reed pointed out that not all preaching is worship, and through John 7:14-18, he brought out two principles: preaching is doxology when the speaker speaks God's words, and when the preacher seeks God's glory. Of course as a teacher, I know I must focus on God's word, but there is also a temptation to insert my own agenda. Dr. Reed pointed out that there is a danger in simply looking at a passage of Scripture, drawing out our own views on it, and presenting it as our lesson. Instead, he urged us to study the text closely before we speak or teach; to immerse ourselves in it. Second, he advised that we stay close to the text while we speak or teach.

It is tempting when we're teaching to bring in more outside "help" than is necessary. And by "help" I mean object lessons, pop culture references, or the words of others. There is no problem with such things in general, and indeed, they are very helpful for drawing out truth by example. However, when they start to take more room in our lesson than the actual passage and its implications, we are not staying with the text. They can be great introductory points, but we can't stay there. We must return to the text. I believe it is especially important with younger students that they see that our focus is the Scripture. They need to see that we value Scripture.

Immersing ourselves in the teaching content and sticking with it means work. Drawing out implications of a passage is work, and sometimes, it's more work depending on whom we are teaching. I find teaching teens much harder now than I did fifteen years ago. My heart goes out to teachers who have to deal with teens using cellphones in class. The big problem now is that most kids use their phones for their Bible. It's always a tendency to zone out of a lesson, but a cellphone makes it easier to give that wandering mind a place to rest, and it's so easy to look like you're just looking at your Bible. It can be easy to stray from the text to other things to draw back their attention. I'm really torn between wanting to use what's interesting to a teenager to keep his or her attention and not wanting to be the source of fostering an already dwindling attention span.

Teaching is hard work. And the hard work begins with us and how much we are willing to sacrifice to be immersed in Scripture. An hour or two on Saturday night to get our lessons together just isn't enough.