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Friday
Jul232010

Oh my....

Phil Johnson had a little blurb on his Facebook status that mentioned Rick Warren's recent accident, which resulted in an eye injury.  Phil linked an update on the Christianity Today site, noting in particular the crazy comments.

I had a little peek and was astounded at the nature of some of the comments.  The way people reacted to this was pretty sad in some cases.

Even if we vehemently disagree with Warren's theology, methodology, or choice of attire on the platform,  the fact of the matter is he was injured and is enduring pain and suffering.  It is not up to us to ask why this happened or to pronounce judments on the reason for this happening.  Our response is to show compassion, and to pray.

Wednesday
Jul212010

Warfield Wednesday

Continuing in the topic of predestintion in Warfield's volume on Biblical Doctrine, he very concisely summarizes that to which the elect are elected: 

That to which God's elect are elected is, according to the teaching of Jesus, all that is included in the idea of the Kingdom of God, in the idea of eternal life, in the idea of fellowship with Christ, in the idea of participation in the glory which the Father has given His Son.  Their choice, and the whole development of their history, according to our Lord's teaching, is the loving work of the Father:  and in His keeping also is the consummation of their bliss.

I love that phrase, "the consummation of their bliss."

Tuesday
Jul202010

Boys Will Be Boys, and Girls Will be Girls

A few years ago, I was sitting here at my desk, working on something on a summer Saturday afternoon.  I happened to look up and through the window, out into the back yard.  I watched as my husband chased my son with the garden hose.  Boys will be boys.

A few weeks ago, my husband and a young friend of ours went for a bike ride.  When it began to get dark, I wondered where they were.  When the phone rang, I heard my husband's voice, asking for me to drive out and pick them up.  He had dared our young friend to do something which ended up with the kid crawling through a mud pile.  Boys will be boys.

Our husbands sit on the couch watching sports (well, some do.. mind doesn't watch sports all that often) with their brothers or sons or buddies, and they are cheering for their favourite, oblivious to their wives talking to them:  "Honey, could please peel Junior off the curtains, the rod is about to fall off the wall."  We shake our heads with fondness and slight irritation.... oh, those boys.

We women tend to "cluck, cluck" when our men show signs of wanting to forever be boys.  Having a dad who is young at heart is good for kids, but sometimes not good for the wife.  We chalk it up to the nature of those men whom we can't live with but can't live without.

Women are no different.  Really.

Women have their own forms of "eternal adolescence."  While men often demonstrate their boyishness through sports or fun and games, women demonstrate their latent immaturities by often acting similarly to their adolescent daughters.

We still giggle and act silly when we get together with our female friends.  We still obsess over our clothes and our hair and our make-up.  On the more negative side, we compete with one another, gossip, are cliquish, and two-faced.  We can't find it in ourselves to be happy for our friend when something good happens to her.  We make comments that are borderline malicious and then follow it up with a "just kidding."

I am not alone in this observation.  My daughter, almost 21 years old now, has observed groups of adult women, and she said to me recently that she doesn't see a lot of difference from when she was a teenager.  Even within her own group of 20-something friends, she wonders if they will ever grow up.

We are commanded in Scripture to grow up in Christ.  We must put aside childish things.  I sometimes find that it is social suicide to be of a more serious nature.  I often have trouble reconciling when Scripture commands older women to be "dignified."  I wonder what that means.  I try to be dignified, but I'm afraid most read it as me being "too serious."  Men may have a weakness for behaving like boys when they are with their friends, but so do women when they get together with their friends.   

Part of growing up is putting off the old and putting on the new.  It is about becoming a new creature in Christ.  Is is about approaching everything and everyone in a way that is radically different from the world, from what we were outside of Christ.  We struggle and we strain to do this, and ultimately, we won't be perfect, because perfection does not exist on this side of heaven.  The essential element is grace.  We have to live a grace-filled life.  I know I sure do.

Sometimes, when women get together, conversation can degenerate to a lot of "men bashing."  I am not a fan of that.  I think we women often forget that it is difficult for us to see how we behave, and that often, the only difference between us and the men who are behaving like adolescents is that they don't seem to mind admitting it.

Tuesday
Jul202010

A Reluctant Poet

How does a Puritan wife and mother in the 17th century become a published poet?  Faith Cook, in her book Anne Bradstreet, Pilgrim and Poet tells us.

Anne Bradstreet was a busy mother of five, living in Ipswich, Massachusset when tumultous events erupted in her home country, England.  The start of the Civil War was a cause for concern to the colonists in the Massachusset Bay area.  Amid these international changes, Anne was going through personal changes, this time in the form of a move away from Ipswich.  Her husband, Simon, was extending his business affairs, and that required a move fifteen miles upriver.  Even in the midst of all of the change and uncertainty, Anne continued to write poetry.  No doubt her personal circumstances were reflected in her poems.

Anne's brother-in-law, John Woodbridge, was asked to return to England to take part in dialogues with Charles I, who was imprisoned.  Parliamentary forces were in charge of the country, and these Puritan men, many who supported the monarchy, were going to make an attempt to reason with Charles.  When John Woodbridge went to England, he asked Anne if he could borrow the manuscripts of her poetry.  She agreed.  I don't know as if she was aware of what would happen with them, but I have to say that if that had been me, and especially in an era of no photocopiers or hard drives, I would have been quite reluctant.  There was also the possibility that Woodbridge would die at sea, and the manuscripts be lost.  She obviously trusted him.

While Woodbridge was in England (and finding that reasoning with Charles was a rather fruitless exercise) he determined to have Anne's poems published.  In a day when women were not usually afforded such assistance in these endeavours, this was quite a task Woodbridge was taking on.  Obviously, he thought highly of the poetry and the writer or he would not have sought to do this.

Woodbridge, with the help of Nathaniel Ward, Anne's former pastor, found a publisher for the work which came under the title The Tenth Muse.   Faith Cook says:

In July 1650 The Tenth  Muse - lately sprung up in America took the English reading public by surprise.  Measuring less than six inches in height and with diminutive print, this first volume to be given over entirely to a woman's poetry began to circulate.  But John Woodbridge had a problem.  He had acted without Anne's permission, and might well face his sister-in-law's indignation.

Cook comments on the success of the book:

The reception of The Tenth Muse was euphoric.  War-weary, uncertain of the future and troubled, the English people were both diverted and encouraged by the novelty of a woman who coul write excellent poetry.  Better still, Anne's strong Christian faith shone through her lines, even though she had not set out to write religious verse.

Anne's reaction was one of mortification; mortification, because the verse had gone to print unedited.  The volume contained not only mistakes of her own, but of the printer.  I don't think many writers like the notion of having their work published in an unedited format.  However, seeing as the work was published beyond her control, it is not surprising that she had not opportunity to voice her opinion.  I rather sympathize with Anne.  Considering the way other intellectual women were regarded, it was perhaps frightening to her to have this attention on her.  Anne looked forward to putting out a corrected edition.

She did get over her embarrassment, and could not have been to upset with her brother-in-law; she named her eighth and last child after him.

Published poet that she was, there was some hardship in Anne's future.  Tune in next week if you're interested.  Either that, or buy the book.  You could have the whole thing done in a week!

Monday
Jul192010

Teach me to pray

I'm sure many can relate to my sentiment when I say I don't think I'm good at praying.  Prayer is such a difficult discipline to develop.  It requires time, concentration, and proper foundations.  I remember being told when I first became a Christian that praying was just talking to God.  Shortly after becoming a Christian, I went to university, and I can remember laying in my bed at night, talking to God in my head.  It was the start of a prayer life, but I still feel like I'm so far and away deficient in that area.

D.A. Carson's book A Call to Spiritual Reformation points out ways to develop a solid prayer life.  In the chapter entitled "The Content of a Challenging Prayer," Carson talks about how Scripture shapes our prayer lives:

The study of the Scriptures with a view to strengthening one's prayer life has two foci.  the first is general and comprehensive:  the more we learn about God and his ways and his perspectives, the more we improve our grasp not only of elemental theology but of prayer as well.  All praying presupposes an underlying theology; conversely, our theology will have a decisive influence on our praying.  Of course, the direction of influence is not just one way:  it is also true to say that our prayer (or lack of praying) will also influence our theology.  Even so, deepening our grasp of Scripture is bound to have a reforming influence on our praying.

The second focus is narrow and powerful:  the study of the prayers of Scripture.  Learn to argue in prayer with Moses, to sing with David, to be farsighted and expansive with Solomon at the dedication of the temple.  Think through what it means to pray the prayer taught us by the Lord Jesus himself.  Learn to pray with Paul.  Such study will help us identify what to pray for, how to approach God, the proper grounds for our petitions.