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Saturday
Jun082019

Huswifery*

Make me, O Lord, Thy spinning-wheel complete.
Thy holy word my distaff make for me.
Make mine affections Thy swift flyers neat,
And make my soul Thy holy spool to be.
My conversation make to be Thy reel,
And reel thy yarn thereupon spun of Thy wheel.

Make me Thy loom then, knit therein this twine,
And make Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, wind quills:
Then weave the web Thyself. Thy yarn is fine.
Thine ordinances make my fulling-mills.
Then dye the same in heavenly colors of choice,
All pinked with varnished flowers of paradise.

Then clothe therewith mine understanding, will,
Affections, judgment, conscience, memory,
My words and actions, that their shine may fill
My ways with glory and Thee glorify.
Then mine apparel shall display before Ye
That I am clothed in holy robes for glory.

~ Edward Taylor (1642-1729)

* Huswifery means housekeeping.

Friday
Jun072019

The best tip I've had for how to engage in debate

One of the best profs I've had at school thus far is a 70+ gentleman who is also one of the more progressive profs. He's an Emeritus, but he does still teach part time. I'm thrilled to be able to sit under his teaching this fall when I take Theology of Church and Ministry. He was also my Systematic Theology prof. I watched him for two semesters engage in respectful discussion with others. I watched him listen patiently, consider the question, and respond constructively. He is not the type of personto shun another Christian because that individual doesn't agree with him on every point. I learned a lot from simply watching.

By far the best tip I've ever had regarding debate, however, comes from my husband, and the tip is this: stop debating. Or in other terms: if you think the other guy is wrong, let him be wrong.

Being insistent on pushing our (perceived) right to be correct, we can easily become proud and arrogant. We mistakenly think we can change people. We can't. Or we want to be the one who says "that thing" that will alter a person's future. When it comes to the spiritual life of another person, we should want the best for them so much that we don't care if we're the person who changes their thinking. Changing one's thinking takes time; years, perhaps. I've wrestled through things for years (and I'm still wrestling with others) before being convinced one way or another. After we've had our say (respectfully, of course) if it seems like we're not getting anywhere, there comes a point when we must simply look for another alternative: to put it crassly, we should just shut up.

Monday
Jun032019

Dynamite is dynamite; power is power

The Greek word δυναμις (dunamis) means power. It is also sounds a lot like the English word "dynamite," and it is indeed the source of the English word. Have you ever been in Sunday school lessons or sermons where much is made of the relationship between dynamite and power? I have. Of course, that is not what the original authors envisioned. They had no inkling of dynamite.

Reading contemporary meanings into words can be entertaining, but it's not sound exegesis. Grant Osborne, in his The Hermeneutical Spiral comments:

". . . beware at all times of the tendency on the part of both you and your listeners or readers to read modern meanings into ancient meanings. It is the author's intended meaning that is paramount at this stage. We cannot transform the context crossculturally until we have determined first of all its meaning in the original context. This becomes the basis for the dynamite transference of that meaning into our modern context. Good expository preaching will always blend what is meant with what it means and will seek to unite the hearer with the message of God in the text.

Sunday
Jun022019

The Dying Christian to His Soul

Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, O quit, this mortal frame;
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! They whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! My ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! Where is thy victory?
O Death! Where is thy sting?

~ Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Saturday
Jun012019

What do women lose in seminary?

When I first began to contemplate seminary, a well-meaning women suggested to me that it would be dangerous for me to put myself under the authority of professors rather than my husband. I did not point out to her that I basically did that every Sunday when my pastor preached. But I understood her concern. I dismissed them, but I understood them, and I knew she only raised the question because she cared about me.

I was having a conversation with a friend about some of the things I was learning, and it really troubled her that in one of my classes, we discussed the ending of Mark. To her, the fact that it is in her New King James Bible means it is meant to be there. It also bothered her a great deal to know that professors I have don't believe in the rapture. It was shocking to her that an evangelical could possibly not believe it. I didn't have the heart to tell her that in the last year, I have had conversations with at least four young men (under 35) who have put aside their dispensational roots and begun to ask questions.

I have had at least one older woman tell me that I don't need to know Greek and Hebrew, and that by discussing things too deeply, I could lose my faith. I need a "simple faith."

There is something that I have lost since beginning seminary, and it isn't my faith. I am more sure of my need for Christ than ever. I am more certain that he is the author of my salvation; that I am powerless on my own. I am more amazed than ever about what it really means to believe in a God who created me and this world. But I have lost one thing: my fear of asking questions.

When I moved here to southern Ontario in 1996, I wanted very desperately to fit in; to have a community of support. I had left my family behind and put myself in a place where I had to start over again, building relationships. There was a particular view of womanhood in my church. The thought of a woman getting up on the platform to make an announcement was an anathema, never mind a woman song leader. When I became a Bible study leader with Precept Ministries, my pastor asked me if I was aware that Kay Arthur taught men, and did I want to put myself there?

Homeschooling, Growing Kids God's Way, courtship; all of it. I accepted it without question. And a lot of it blew up in my face when my children began to question what I had been too afraid to ask. I was more concerned about fitting in. And of course, all these years, I have never felt like I fit in unless I was conforming to whatever group I had aligned myself with. It even happened when I began blogging.

I'm tired of working to fit in with other people. When I think back to the woman I was in 1996, I realize I have re-made myself into something that isn't entirely me. While I have grown and matured (thankfully), and put aside some things which needed to be discarded, I had begun to fear asking questions, and I was careful where I asked them. 

It is fear that keeps us from asking questions. We fear that we are wrong in our core belief systems. We are afraid that our faith isn't strong enough. We are afraid to seem vulnerable or dependent. But the reality is that we are dependent. We are weak. We are limited.

This past semester, I had a class in the Pentateuch. The prof is wonderful. He is sharp, articulate, passionate, encouraging, and a very conservative complementarian. I asked him a question about the meaning of the words in Genesis 3:16, that verse that supposedly tells me I want to control my husband. There was a bit of awkwardness at first, but he answered it, and we moved on. I drove home agonizing over even asking it. He was going to think I was crazy or apostate. But it was okay in the end. Having the space to ask questions is a huge relief.

So, no seminary won't make me lose my faith. If I can lose it, did I ever have it? When people ask me that question, do they know what they mean? Maybe they should ask themselves.