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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).

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.

Sunday
Jul022017

Daily Readings - John 13:12-17

J.C. Ryle, Daily Readings 
John 13:12-17

For I gave you an example that you should also do as I did to you. (John 13:15)

There seems little doubt that our Lord's all-seeing eye saw a rising unwillingness in the minds of the apostles to do such menial things as they had just seen him do. Puffed up with their old Jewish expectation of thrones and kingdoms in this world, secretly self-satisfied with their own position as our Lord's friends, these poor Galileans were startled at the idea of washing people's feet! They could not bring themselves to believe that Messiah's service entailed work like this.

The lesson is one of which we all need to be reminded. We are all too apt to dislike any work which seems to entail trouble, self-denial and going down to our inferiors. We are only too ready to depute such work to others and to excuse ourselves by saying, 'It is not in our way.' When feelings of this kind arise within us we shall find it good to remember our Lord's words in this passage, no less than our Lord's example. We ought never to think it beneath us to show kindness to the lowest of men. We ought never to hold our hand because the objects of our kindness are ungrateful or unworthy. Such was the mind of him who washed the feet of Judas Isacariot as well as Peter. He who in these matters cannot stopp to follow Christ's example gives little evidence of possessing true love or true humility.

Saturday
Jul012017

150 Years

Happy Canada Day!

I tried to find a good quiz about Canadian history, but the ones I looked at contained either things which were too obscure even for Canadians or trivial things that simply perpetuate stereotypes of Canada. So, in light of Canada's 150th birthday, I compiled some links I thought were interesting.

Events Leading to Confederation. This timeline includes the American Civil War as an influencing factor, which it was, but it left out the Fenian Raids, which was also influential.

Confederation Timeline: This doesn't show much leading up to the event, but goes beyond 1867 to show when the rest of Canada joined. 

Confederation Overview: This is probably the best link I found. I has great photographs.

Significant Events in Canadian History. The title says it all.

And for fun:

Thirty-five Things Canadians Say That Americans Don't Understand. And just to remind Canadians that regional dialects live within Canada, here are 7 Strange Newfoundland Phrases.

Eight Medical Breakthroughs Canadians Should Be Proud Of

Wednesday
Jun282017

The temptation of the academic exercise

Many years ago, a friend and I spent some time at a summer camp teaching the Bible to women. The camp was held in early August, and we began preparing in the spring. We met often to pray about what we would be doing. One thing my friend prayed often was that our study would not become mere academic exercise. That is a prayer that I have to repeat to myself often since beginning seminary.

Last year, I took systematic theology over two semesters and each time we began a new topic, I took note of resources for further study so that I could go back and re-visit the topics. It is not hard to see how theologians ultimately focus on a specific area of study. Recently, I began my foray into the world of Logos software, and as I began browsing and compiling a wishlist, I saw how easy it is to investigate every fine of point of theology we want. It is tempting, however, to poke and prod at theological issues without ever addressing my own heart. 

No matter what kind of theologian we are -- the ordinary kind or the professional kind -- there is a responsibility before God to be holy because he is holy (I Pet 1:13-16). It is easy to think we are holy because we are engaged in deep study of theology, but pursuing holiness means we have to actually look away from the study and examine ourselves. I love the study. I love following the bunny trails. But if the end result is nothing but a head full of facts without any heart impact, I may as well study something other than theology.

Last semester, as we studied sanctification, it became apparent to me that there were holes in my understanding. When school was over and I had time, I started reading Sinclair Ferguson's book Devoted to God and then J.I. Packer's Re-Discovering Holiness. I'm glad I read those books. I'm glad I took the time to look at my own heart; to get to that place where the rubber meets the road. 

It's easy to become immersed in doctrine while checking my heart at the door. What good does a reading list of ten or twenty books on a subject if I'm not pursuing holiness? Does all of the doctrinal study I do lead me ultimately to praise God? To love his word more? It's actually quite easy to know a lot of theology, to read a lot of books on the subject, and maybe even write eloquently about it, but never actually spend a lot of time in the Bible itself. There are so many experts out there who have done the work for us that it's easy to just take their word for it and never engage scripture with any depth.

My mother used to say two contrasting, but complementary things: "A little knowledge is a light load to carry," and "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Knowledge can be a benefit, but used incorrectly, it can become a source of pride. Study is good, but if we're not paying attention to our own sanctification in the process, then all of that knowledge is a hollow accomplishment.

I want my studies to make a difference in the every day. I want them to make me more thankful, more prone to praising God, more yielded to God's will, more gracious, and more at peace. It is still my prayer that study will not be mere academic exercise.