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Tuesday
Jun182019

The reality behind "opposites attract."

There is a saying that "opposites attract." I don't necessarily believe that. When it comes to meeting someone with whom we will spend our lives, true opposites likely don't come together. While there may be some different personality traits, at their core, there is something foundational which binds them. I could never have married someone who didn't believe in God. It was too important to me. It was what drew me to my husband. 

In many ways, my husband and I are very unlike. He is scattered and forgetful; I am scheduled and organized. He doesn't not speak, but rather things first; I speak before I should. He is spontaneous; I like to have my ducks in a row. He likes science fiction shows; I run the other way when they're on the television. But are we opposites? No. Instead, what drew us to one another was the reality that the other brought something to the relationship we needed, but lacked ourselves. Even in friendships, we are often drawn to others who have what we lack ourselves.

I read this today in Bavinck's Dogmatics, Volume 2:

The pinnacle of beauty, the beauty toward which all creatures point, is god. he is supreme being, supreme truth, supreme goodness, and also the apex of unchanging beauty. "Who is is that made these changeale things beautiful if not the unchangeably beautiful One?" God is the highest beauty, because in his being is absolulte oneness, measure, and order. He is lacking in nothing, nor is there anything superfluous in him (emphasis mine).

As human beings, created in God's image, just as we are aware of the existence of God, we are aware of our own shortcomings. We are fully aware that we lack. We lack a great deal. If we didn't think we lacked something, the world wouldl not be full of people who are so miserably discontent. There would be no attempts to draw attention to ourselves, to prove ourselves, to show that we are "good enough." It's an aspect of pride. We want to think we are lacking nothing; that we are God. But we do lack much. God doesn't. 

What draws me to God at my lowest points is the reminder that while I lack the strength I need, he lacks nothing. When I lack the will to do something, God lacks nothing and meets me in my need and fulfills what I lack. Just like I'm drawn to my husband because of the way he provides what I lack myself, I am drawn to God daily because of the reality that he lacks nothing. Let's face it: it's scary to realize that we are weak and dependent. It's like a badge of honour to say that we don't need anything or anyone. Deep down, we know we do need. We get sick, we suffer, we can die. Our frailty is all too evident. But God lacks nothing. That truth is a great comfort.

Monday
Jun172019

We can't always wait for the ducklings

I was walking through the park last week wth my dogs, and as we approached the river which flows through it, I saw a mother duck and her little ones with her. I held back, because the He-Beagle can't control his voice when he sees little creatures. I didn't want them to be scared, so I held back, watching. I love watching ducklings following their mother. They scurry along behind her, speeding up when she speeds up, and slowing down when she slows down. As the mother approached the bank of the river, she hurried, and the little ones followed. When one or two did not proceed as quickly, she stopped briefly to wait.

That picture is in my mind often as I look back to mothering my children. Spiritually, speaking, we are mother ducks, and we lead our children where we want them to go. We teach them truths, we model truths, we wait for them to follow. Like a mother duck, we don't let them dive in to the water without proceeding to show the way. We want them with us. When it comes to raising children in the fear of the Lord, it is our most pressing goal: to raise them to follow us, and ultimately, follow the Lord themselves.

As they get older, and are independent and they do not need to stay so close behind us. They follow their own paths, for good or bad. Even if our children are redeemed and living for the Lord, they have their own path to proceed upon. And if our children are wayward, we cannot stop ourselves to wait for them, as much as we would like to.

As a mother, I have too often felt impeded in my walk with the Lord because I felt like I needed to wait for my kids to catch up with me. That is a grave mistake. Sometimes, the impediment involves grieving for things I can't control. That leads to a stagnant faith. One of the most difficult things to learn as a mother is how to rejoice in our own lives in Christ while bearing burdens with regard to our loved ones, including our children. And despite the choices our children make, we must learn to rejoice in the gift that they are. And that are most definitely a gift.

I've heard of fellow Christians who have refused to attend the weddings of their child because he married an unbeliever. I've heard of Christians who reject their children because they have left their denomination and embraced another. I've conversed with fellow Christians who have had only bitterness because their children have not followed them in the ways they hoped. I have a child who no longer attends church. I have a choice to be part of that child's life or not. I choose to be a part of that child's life. And I don't, like a mother duckling, stop and wait hoping that the child will catch up with me.

I am growing in my faith. I have things I want to do; ways I want to serve. I have never been more intent on learning more and seeking God's direction in using what I learn. I taught my children what they needed to know to be used of God. I didn't do it perfectly. But my work is completed. Now my job is to continue to follow God. I am, after all, also like a duckling myself, following my heavenly Father, going where he leads.

Sunday
Jun162019

The Resignation

O God, whose thunder shakes the sky,
Whose eye this atom globe surveyd,
To thee, my only rock, I fly,
Thy mercy in thy justice praise.

The mystic mazes of thy will,
The shadows of celestial light,
Are past the power of human skill,
But what the Eternal acts is right.

O teach me in the trying hour,
When anguish swells the dewy tear,
To still my sorrows, own thy power,
Thy goodness love, thy justice fear.

If in this bosom aught but Thee
Encroaching sought a boundless sway,
Omniscience could the danger see,
And Mercy look the cause away.

Then why, my soul, dost thou complain?
Why drooping seek the dark recess?
Shake off the melancholy chain,
For God created all to bless.

But ah! My breast is human still;
The rising sigh, the falling tear,
My languid vitals' feeble rill,
The sickness of my soul declare.

But yet, with fortitude resigned,
I'll thank the inflictor of the blow;
Forbid the sigh, compose my mind,
Nor let the gush of misery flow.

The glomy mantle of the night,
Which on my sinking spirit steald,
Will vanish at the morning light,
Which God, my East, my sun reveals.

~Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770) 

Friday
Jun142019

What the profs suggest works

I'm not bragging. Really. I have so far to go when it comes to reading and correctly understanding the Greek New Testament. But I have made progress. And that is exciting.

My Greek prof, Dr. Baxter, encouraged us with some wisdom he learned from Dr. Scot McKnight, and that is to read the Greek NT for seven minutes a day in order to keep our Greek. I took that advice to heart, and since I finished Greek Exegesis at the end of Decemver 2018, I have been spending regular time in the Greek NT, depending on my schedule. Last semester, with my Pentateuch and Aplogetics classes, the time wasn't there, but since the end of April, I've had more time.

I have worked daily on translating I John. Some days, I have missed, of course. But generally, what I've been doing is taking one verse, breaking it down into its phrases, and translating it. I copy the Greek text in a notebook and then I translate. I also purchased Martin Culy's exegetical commentary, which spends time discussing grammatical issues. It has been so hepful.

I recently started reading Matthew in the Greek NT, along with Grant Osborne's commentary. I have the Greek NT in Logos, so I can hover over unfamilar words. I have surprised myself by being able to manage quite well without looking things up.

Of course, I John and Matthew are among the easier books. But we all start slowly and build. When I start Hebrew in September, all of this progress may slow down a bit, but I've built a habit over these months, and I hope to continue having the Greek NT as part of my regular Bible reading.

Professors make suggestions to help, and more often than not, they work. Especially if they've tried them out themselves.

Monday
Jun102019

There's more than one way to skin a cat

I love that phrase. I tend to be a problem solver, so this has always appealed to me.

I was thinking about all of the furor in the Christian blog world over the matter of the Southern Baptist Convention and women preaching. It would be very easy to get caught up that, but I'm trying to stay focused on what is pertinent to me. That simply is not. I'm not part of the SBC, and do not anticipate it ever being so.

I have been thinking a lot about my schooling and its eventual conclusion. It won't be this academic year, and likely not next. I have certain core courses I need to finish, and I only take 2 per semester. I want to enjoy this time; I'm in no hurry. But I still think. I'm more than half completed my MDiv.

One of my oldest and dearest friends and I had tea last week. We have shared many things together: raising daughters, raising sons, homeschooling, teaching the Bible, children who walk away from the Church, and one of the most profound experiences, anxiety. We were discussing the fact that in our local church, there was a need to have more female biblical counselors. There are women who do not want to open up to their pastor, and not every pastor's wife wants to or is equipped to counsel (that may come as a shock to some, but I have it on authority from a pastor's wife that they aren't all built the same).

When I hear that a fellow Christian is suffering with anxiety, I immediately feel sympathy. I know that feeling. I know that helpless feeling; the shame; the paralysis. I try to encourage anyone who asks for help. It's quite co-incidental that there is a certificate program at my school for biblical counseling. It would mean an extra academic year in addition to meeting the requirements of my MDiv. But it is an opportunity to take Scripture and apply it to the lives of others. Is that not what women who want to preach seek to do?

I have no aspirations to be a lead pastor. I can't imagine the pressure. The reality of being scrutizined every Sunday and have my personal life under a microscope. Aside from what I think about what the Bible says on the matter -- and in all honesty, I've never really sat down and examined both sides -- it is not for someone like me. 

But counseling is a way of preaching. No, there isn't an expectant congregation, but counseling is definitely where the rubber meets the road. How does one take the Scripture and apply it to those who are hurting? Struggling? Confused? Pastoring is not all about being in leadership. It's about shepherding, guding. Women do that all the time. Counselling is pastoring even if it doesn't involve church office.

This is something that I'm thinking about lately.