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Tuesday
Jan312017

Beware of slacking our hands

From J.C. Ryle, Daily Readings, January 31, morning:

Let us never despair about the cause of God's truth, however black and unfavourable its prospects might appear. At the very time when things see hopeless, God may be preparing a mighty deliverance. Let us beware of slacking our hands from any work of God because of the wickedness of the times or the number and power of our adversaries (Eccl. 11:4). Let us work on, and believe that help will come from heaven when it is most wanted.

Monday
Jan302017

Thankful Monday

I need to be thankful. After a weekend like the one that has just passed, I really need to focus on what I can be thankful for.

I am thankful for having dinner with all three kids last night. Yes, we talked a lot about politics. I am so thankful my kids are kind, compassionate, and thoughtful people.

I am thankful for God's truth, which endures forever. I am thankful for those who share a reverence for God's Word. It isn't just a book. It isn't just propositions and poetry. It's his revealed will.

I am thankful for Canadians who are loyal and supportive to this country, and who aren't afraid to show their patriotism.

I am thankful that I have a warm home, food to eat, and am not wandering aimlessly, looking for a place to live. I have done nothing to deserve this. It is all God's goodness and grace.

I am thankful for school, and for my classmates who challenge and encourage me. I am thankful for learning so much and seeing how much more there is to learn. I am thankful for good books and resources to help me with my studies.

I am thankful for my salvation, which was not my doing, but was a gift. I am thankful for the ability to be led by the Spirit, and to be enabled to love others because Christ first loved me.

Sunday
Jan292017

Daily Readings - Luke 2:41-52

Daily Readings, J.C. Ryle
Luke 2:41-52

There is a lesson in this passage for all married people in the conduct of Joseph and Mary. We are told that they regularly honoured God's appointed ordinances and that they honoured them together (v.41). The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem was great. The journey, to poor people without any means of conveyance, was troublesome and fatiguing. To leave house and home for ten days or a fortnight was no slight expense. But God had given Israel a command and Joseph and Mary strictly obeyed it. And all that they did concerning the Passover they did together. When they went up to the feast they always went side by side.

So ought it to be with all Christian husbands and wives. They ought to help one another in spiritual things and to encourage one another in the service of God. Marriage, unquestionably, is not a sacrament, as the Roman church vainly asserts. But marriage is a state of life which has the greatest effect on the souls of those who enter it. It helps them upwards or downwards. It leads them nearer to heaven or nearer to hell. We all depend much on the company we keep. Our characters are insensibly moulded by those with whom we pass our time. To none does this apply so much as to married people. Husbands and wives are continually doing good or harm to one another's souls.

Let all who are married, or think of being married, ponder these things well. Let them take example from the conduct of Mary and Joseph, and resolve to do likewise. Let them pray together, and read the Bible together, go to the house of God together and talk to one another about spiritual matters. Above all, let them beware of throwing obstacles and discouragements in one another's way about the means of grace. Blessed are those who say to their partners as Leah and Rachel did to Jacob in Genesis 31:16.

Saturday
Jan282017

Where can a gal find an objective book review?

I know that the reality of complete objectivity is a myth. We all bring presuppositions to matters. However, there are times when we bring more or less. I have thought about this as I've watched my social media feed over a number of months presenting book review of numerous new books that came out over the past few months. 

I was approached by a publishing company recently to review a book. I had reviewed for them before, so I was among their contact list. This idea of hand-picking people to review new books is definitely the result of social media. I'm sure this practice is a very effective way of getting the news out about a good book. But are the people being asked the ones publishing companies know will give a positive review? When one receives a review copy, how much pressure does she feel to avoid saying anything negative?

In the past when whenever I have reviewed a book I have been requested to put the review on Amazon as are all the other people who received a review copy. Amazon is frequently filled with book reviews which are 90% five star reviews. Perhaps this reveals my glass half empty view of the world, but I want to hear what some of the downsides are. I'm aware that many people who received review copies are already pre-disposed to like everything the writer does, so will that reviewer be willing to share something negative?

Quite a while ago, I saw repeated rave reviews of a book and I resisted buying it because I didn't really have time to read it, and I didn't want to buy another book which would sit on the shelf unread. As it happens my friend had it, so I borrowed it. Ultimately, I was disappointed, and frankly, I could not see what all the fuss was about. Yes, it was good. But it had some problems, too. I looked at some reviews to because I thought "Why am I not seeing what everyone else is seeing?" I thought there was something very crucial missing in the book, but every review spoke about it as if it was the most perfect book ever written. Perhaps the problem is in how we review books. 

I have participated in review initiatives when the majority of the participants are already supportive of the author in general. It is a good way to promote a book, but I do feel a concern about there being a hesitancy to give a negative review. We follow these authors on social media; we read their blogs; we feel like they are our friends. How willing are we to point out something negative?

It's something I continue to think about when pondering books. I am finding more and more that the best place to hear about good books is a good book itself. I love books with notes and recommended resources. I've been very fortunate in gettng great recommendations from seminary profs. My theology prof will even recommend we read dissenting views. I have benefitted from Amazon reviews, but it's not always a place to find the best ones. I have also been more convinced that I'd much rather buy the book myself, read it at my own pace without a deadline, and enjoy it.

Wednesday
Jan252017

Stereotypes of Canada live on

I had a chuckle this morning. I have been reading my theology textbook alongside portions of Michael Bird's Evangelical Theology (which is really good so far), and in discussion about the atonement, Bird makes this comment:

In the story of salvation, the fall of Adam is undone by the obedience of Christ. Believers shift from being under the jurisdiction of the old Adam to being under the jurisdiction of the new Adam. If one is united to Christ, one is identified with the obedient and glorified Son of God. But this new reality that God creates for us in Christ only comes about because of Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. It would have been no good for Jesus to be an obedient person living among the Eskimos of northern Canada (emphasis mine).

To be fair, Bird is Australian, and is clearly not aware that we don't use the word "Eskimo" anymore. Apparently, the editors at Zondervan also don't realize this. Bird has a particular view of the Canadian North, and I'm curious as to where he got it from.

There isn't just one people group in Canada's north. In fact, there are many different Aboriginal people groups in Canada. I am not an expert on the north, but according to Statistic Canada, Eskimo is not among the terms used.

I suppose this is no different than the stereotypes of Australians that Bird must face. How often does he get met with "D'day, mate!" or asked if he is hungry for some Vegemite?

That said, I am really enjoying Bird's book. He uses footnotes, an added bonus to his excellent prose.