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Tuesday
Apr182017

Thirty years gone by, just like that

Thirty years ago today, I awoke to face the excitement of my wedding day. And it was exciting. And it was a beautiful, sunny day in April. We had wedding photos at the Royal Botanical Gardens, among red and yellow tulips and white birch trees. I was a young woman, with no idea of how marriage actually worked. It is a steep learning curve for every couple. I have found that the only thing more difficult than marriage is parenting. But there are moments -- many moments -- of blessing.  

Instead of waking up to the excitement of a wedding today, I woke up with plans to study all day and work on my term paper. I never imagined I would be here, a seminary student. I actually thought I would have grandchildren at this point, but that has not happened yet. And I'm actually kind of glad about that. Grandchildren will be welcomed, loved, and cherished when they come, but right now, I'm enjoying this season of student-hood. I love school. I love being able to talk about my school in a way that means a lot to me. And I'm learning so much about who God is. I am thankful for my husband's support of what I am doing.

Tonight, we will enjoy a dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, an old school house re-done. Then, hopefully, we will enjoy watching the Montreal Canadiens win again over the New York Rangers. We are not complicated people, and celebrating in this way is just perfect. My husband has the day off, so he is on puppy duty today so that I can work in peace.

Thirty years is a long time to be married. I always figure that I must have acquired some kind of profound knowledge at this point, but honestly, it has gone by so fast, there are times when I don't know exactly what I have learned. There are times when I think that all of the marriage books, conferences, and advice that floats around the internet is not always good for marriage. My husband and I joke with people that we don't attend marriage conferences (we have never attended one) because we don't want to be told what marriage problems we have or be given new ones. My husband is a wise man, and there are times when he has pointed out to me that the solution to conflict and dissent is simply loving each other as we want to be loved and being less selfish. Sometimes, all the talking in the world won't make that happen. It's a matter of our will and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Often, the times when my attitude is the worst is when I am most removed from God's Word.

There are couples in my church who are celebrating 60+ years of marriage. Will there be 30 more years for my husband and me? I don't know. But I am thankful for the past 30, and it is hard to believe I have been married to someone for that long when inside myself, I still feel like a foolish 15 year old girl. Maybe that's a good feeling to have.

Sunday
Apr162017

Behold Our God 

Who has held the oceans in his hands?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at his voice,
All creation rises to rejoice.

Chorus:

Behold our God,
Seated on His throne,
Come let us adore Him. 
Behold our King,
Nothing can compare,
Come let us adore Him.

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of his words?
Who can teach the one who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon his hands,
Bearing all the weight of sinful man? 
God, eternal, humbled to the grave,
Jesus, Saviour, risen now to reign!

Tag:

Men: You will reign forever!
Women: Let your glory fill the earth! 

Wednesday
Apr122017

Easter with Eschatology

It's crunch time at school. It's unfortunate that the end of the semester is running into Easter, because I'm sure most students at my school are feeling the pressure, and sometimes, that distracts us from what's happening around us.

In my systematic theology class this week, I've been immersed in eschatology. It is intereting to be looking at the culmination of God's plan and the end of the age while being in the middle of Easter. And yet, it is rather fitting in some ways. The death and resurrection of Christ is what allows the end to be what it is promised for those who believe. Revelation 21:1-4 says:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth pased awy, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell anong them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself with be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

We can't have what is depicted here apart from what happens on Good Friday. So, while it seems out of sync to be studying eschatology during Easter, it is a reminder of what it ultimately bought: our entrance into a new heaven and a new earth.

Today, at Out of the Ordinary, Becky is writing about the death of Jesus. It was just what I needed this morning. It reminds me of what was done for me so that I may partake of the new heaven and the new earth.

Monday
Apr102017

From can't read to don't read, and its affect on worship songs

Update, Tuesday, April 11: Oh the shame. How could I have possibly missed my misuse of the word "affect" in the title of this post? "Affect" is a verb. I should have used "effect." Oh well, maybe my error was only noticed by a few. Mea culpa.

I don't like the song "Good, good Father." It's one of those songs which is so vague, it could be sung about a human father. I was wondering yesterday as we sang, what kind of spiritual truths the song actually teaches. He's a good father. Okay, fine. What does that mean? The song doesn't really delve into specifics. In fact, it doesn't use the word "God" at all.

There has been much written about worship songs. Tim Challies had an interesting article recently about the impact of digital technology on the use of the hymnal. People are divided over the matter. He doesn't think we should go back to hymnals. I don't know as if it's a matter of "shouldn't" or "can't" go back. What would happen if we did go back to them other than just a barrage of complaints? His observations are worth considering.

The reality is that worship music is influenced by the nature of popular music, so that when we get tired of singing a song, we need to find another. And if we must keep producing new songs every few months, is it any wonder they may not have a lot of depth?

At one time, literacy was not universal. The ability to learn about God had to be found through the preached word and through hymns. For someone who could not read a word, he could hear a word and learn a spiritual truth. These days, it isn't really a matter of can't read, but don't read. There is a reason why literacy programs are pushed forward. If a child can sit in front of a device which reads to him, is there any incentive to be a good reader? I love audio books, and it is often a much different experience to listen than to read, but I only listen to them when I can't hold a book; like while driving, riding the stationery bike, or knitting.

What happens when people don't read a lot and are faced week by week with worship songs that tell them little about God? Or only emphasize the subjective, personal aspect of our faith? We won't learn objective truths about God; we will learn about our experience of God or how we feel about God. 

I would like to suggest something which is probably shocking: I think that potential worship song leaders should expose themselevs to a lot of good literature; especially poetry. Seeing how great writers used words helps us write good material.

And what about learning to read music and understand theory? These days, if you can strum a few chords, read a chord chart, and find a YouTube video, you can proclaim yourself a song leader. A pastor goes to seminary to get biblical training. If we are going to add someone to the leadership of our church who focuses on the music, why not expect him to have training in that area? It is false to say that all someone needs is sincerity. To believe it is one or the other is a false dichotomy.

When my daughter was about seven or eight years old, she loved the song "Wonderful Grace of Jesus." In those days, people knew the parts, and it was a really enjoyable song to sing. My daughter actually said one Sunday that she hoped we would sing it. If worship songs are less about what God has done and more about how we feel about it, what are today's seven and eight year olds learning? It's worth thinking about.

Saturday
Apr082017

Getting over eschatophobia

For the last two weeks of my Systematic Theology class, we're looking at eschatology. I am waiting to have all of my questions answered, and my position solidified. That is definitely tongue-in-cheek. During a discussion in a class on Augustine last semester, Dr. Haykin said it took him seven years to arrive at a certain view on eschatology. In the past few years, I've given it precious little thought.

One thing we looked at first was the reality of extremes. There is "eschatomania," where eschatological views are the sum of one's theology; everything revolves around it. Then there are those who hold to "eschatophobia:" they're afraid of even talking about it, because of the difficulty surrounding the doctrine. I can understand that apprehension. I appreciated the comment from my textbook:

In some cases eschatophobia is a reaction against those who have a definite interpretation of all prophetic material in the Bible, and identify every significant event in history with some biblical prediction. Not wanting to be equated with this rather sensationallist approach to eschatology, some preachers and teachers avoid discussion of the subject altogether.

I understand that sentiment of looking at the end times and the tendency to assign an eschatological significance to every news story that comes along. My concern with this came to a head a number of years ago when some of the young people in my church, having been exposed to dispensational teaching all of their lives, came to the conclusion that Tony Blair, who was then Prime Minister, was the antichrist. 

I think I have had a case of eschataphobia these past few years.

Many years ago, in my first year at the University of Waterloo, I attended a Bible study. I had been a Christian for less than a year. I remember I was shocked that the leader of the study didn't appear to share the views that I had been taught. Note the significant phrase, "that I had been taught." I had not come to these views on my own. I was a very young believer, so it was not surprising. It's all part of the process of growing in our faith. About fifteen years ago, while homeschooling, I was shocked to hear that some Christians don't believe there will be a rapture. My church places a huge importance on that teaching, and I was not sure what to think. So, I really didn't think much at all.

And now in these last two weeks (which is surely not enough time) I must look at it. And I've decided that it's not all that scary after all. I am not sure where I will land. I think I need to give it a lot more consideration than a few days. The lesson in all of this is that we must sort through these matters on our own. And we have to be intellectually honest enough to admit when opposing views challenge us. I feel quite comfortable following the example of Dr. Haykin, and giving myself a little time.