Monday, December 21, 2015

Who Made Lame Beggars Walk and Blind Men See

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit...

"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day [the one] who made lame beggars walk and blind men see."
~Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, from Charles Dickens' Christmas Classic "A Christmas Carol," discussing their crippled child, Tiny Tim, while Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present look on unseen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Farmer Oak Smiled

"When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun."

I love these opening lines to Thomas Hardy's classic novel of an independent and spirited woman courted by three suitors. I watched the film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd last night, my third time in as many months, and found more insight now that I've finished the book. Farmer Oak, as can be easily discerned from the lines above, is a delight, and Hardy's talent with the pen inspires in me such admiration, as well as sadness that he so early gave it up (with his last novel being released thirty years before he died). Just think what else there might have been!

Back to Farmer Oak:

"In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike – for which the mind is more responsible than flesh or sinew – a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them; and from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal, which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world's room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, quite distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation as a total more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not. He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine life, for his intellect and emotions were clearly separate: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the state wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short he was twenty-eight and a bachelor."

Isn't it beautiful? Happy and fortunate is he who can craft a novel.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bibliotherapy? Yes, Please.

Somewhere along the way, and I'm not entirely sure how it happened, I took a break from reading. Well, I never fully walked away from that most treasured pastime, but my reading went in the direction of reading non-fiction (which is apparently the trend these days). Instead of reading my beloved classics, I read theology and biographies and "histories of...". Movie adaptations of books, however, have a way of sending me running to the bookstore to experience again the delight of a story I've just seen told on the silver screen. Thank God for movie adaptations! Right now I'm reading Far From the Madding Crowd from Thomas Hardy and enjoying not only the story, but also Hardy's insight into human nature, and his magnificent crafting of sentences and paragraphs.

I read on this morning an article entitled Can Reading Make You Happier? In it, the author talks about receiving bibliotherapy, a kind of therapy where books are recommended based on what ails ya. This therapy sounds wonderful, and in a time when seemingly so few people are reading, it also sounds hard to come by. I love it when a friend recommends a good book to me, even more so when the books is apropos to something that I'm experiencing in my life at that time. (Any suggestions out there?)

Two of the bibliotherapists in the article have written a book, The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies: An A-Z of Literary Remedies. What's fun, is that in the book deal, as the book has been published in other countries and languages, up to 25% of the book is allowed to be adapted for local audiences (and to include local writers). So:

The new, adapted ailments are culturally revealing. In the Dutch edition, one of the adapted ailments is “having too high an opinion of your own child”; in the Indian edition, “public urination” and “cricket, obsession with” are included; the Italians introduced “impotence,” “fear of motorways,” and “desire to embalm”; and the German added “hating the world” and “hating parties.”
These ailments amuse me. Do the Dutch have too high an opinion of their children? Do Italian men struggle with impotence? Can a novel help? Anyway, it's all very interesting.

My bibliotherapy is working. Far From the Madding Crowd is a delightful and a welcome reprieve from the world. Both happily and sadly, I am almost finished. Next up, however, is a book that has long been on my reading list: Middlemarch. I daresay that the heft of that novel will ensure that I have its company at least two weeks before I must find something else to read.

I'm off to put myself into a "pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and... (to bring) the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm."

Monday, November 2, 2015

Moral Fervor

It's been ages since I've posted anything... I don't think I've ever let a whole month go by before without at least posting something.

Time to rectify that I guess. I was rather mindlessly surfing the internet (and by mindlessly surfing the internet I mean googling names of people from various business cards I've acquired through the years) and found this video from 2007 when I modeled some clothes for some gals who had started their own label. The brand was called Moral Fervor, and their goal was to make "sustainable fashion". Great clothes as I recall, which was a good thing, since that's how I got paid (which, by the way, isn't very sustainable).

I wish it were better quality, but hey, it's better than nuttin'.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

From Egypt into Canaan

"If you have faith in Christ you will not resent the fact that life is a pilgrimage, but will rather rejoice that it is so, because you will know that the pilgrimage is but a part of your exodus — an exodus from Egypt into Canaan, from bondage into freedom, and that an everlasting freedom. Your only regret will be that it takes such a long time, but even while you are here you will know a peace of mind and comfort that no one else can possibly feel."

~Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

For we do not have an enduring city here: instead we seek the one to come.

~Hebrews 13:14

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

~Philippians 3:20

Monday, September 21, 2015

Laid Aside Letters

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and others. 

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

From Lines During a General Election

Their threats are terrible enough, but we could bear
All that; it is their promises that bring despair.

~From Lines During a General Election by C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sabbath's Day Rest

"And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life-- achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one's life as well, when one can feel that one's work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest."

~Oliver Sacks, Sabbath, August 14, 2015

The quotes this week and last both deal with death. I'm not sure why, exactly, except that I read them and they resonated with me, both for their literary qualities as well as for the sentiment.

Oliver Sacks, who made a name for himself studying the quirkier side of the brain and writing about it, died yesterday at the age of 82. I haven't read any of his books, but I found his articles for the New York Times to be thoughtful and insightful, and an interview with NPR earlier this year revealed a man who had seemingly spent his life exploring not only how the brain works, but how our thoughts and feelings tie us deeply to our own humanity. His reflections on life will be missed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Slow Quiet Attrition of Time

"When he had thought of death before, he had thought of it either as a literary event or as the slow, quiet attrition of time against imperfect flesh. He had not thought of it as the explosion of violence upon a battlefield, as the gush of blood from the ruptured throat. He wondered at the difference between the two kinds of dying, and what the difference meant; and he found growing in him some of the bitterness he had glimpsed once in the living heart of his friend David Masters."

~Stoner by John Williams, pg. 41. Originally published in 1965.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Look to Christ

It is ever the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan's work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. 
He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." 
All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." 
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee- it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument-it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. 
We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
"My hope is built on nothing less 
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness: 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
But wholly lean on Jesus' name." 
~Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

~Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost

Monday, June 22, 2015

Not A Theologian

"The statement: “I am a mere layman and not a theologian,” is evidence not of humility but of indolence."

~Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/3, p. 871

Monday, May 25, 2015

Don't Let It Be Forgot

Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
Now say it out with pride and joy!

Camelot! Camelot!

Yes, Camelot, my boy!
Where once it never rained till after sundown,
By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown...
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

~ Camelot (Reprise), lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner from the Broadway Musical, Camelot

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra

The legend of St George closely mirrors that of Perseus and Andromeda, with a dragon replacing Medusa and Princess Sabra filling in as the damsel-in-distress. I stumbled across the above picture last week and was immediately drawn to it. I was happy to discover that it is by my beloved Dante Gabriel Rossetti, although the backstory behind the painting makes me sad. Painted in 1857, Rossetti continued this series with another painting in 1862 with his wife, Lizzie Siddall, sitting for Princess Sabra only days before she overdosed on laudanum. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chills the Lap of May

And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on.
~Lord Byron, from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

But winter lingering chills the lap of May.
~Oliver Goldsmith, from The Traveller

Monday, April 27, 2015

Now I have Seen You

My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.

~Job 42:5-6

Monday, April 20, 2015

In "The Depths of Despair"

I think Gilbert Blythe may have been the first man I ever loved. I was young when I discovered Anne of Green Gables. The books came first-- I remember being about seven when my mother started reading it to my brother, sister, and me. I still remember the cover-- it was green, with an quirky red-headed girl in outmoded clothing and a straw hat. I was young to be reading that book, and I found it hard to stay focused as my mother's southern cadence caressed the words on her tongue and threatened to send me to dreamland. Years late, in fifth grade, my friends discovered Anne, and try as I might, I couldn't get into the books. Somewhere along the way, of course, I would have watched the miniseries, but I don't think I really fell for Anne until I discovered the books for myself in seventh grade (way later than all of my friends) and devoured them and anything else by L.M. Montgomery that I could get my hands on. I almost feel sure that the Anne series (eight books in total) taught me what a delight books are and birthed in me my life-long love of reading (and set in motion a voracious appetite for books that for years seemed to border on addiction and was quite insatiable).

The TV miniseries, which first aired in 1985, with a sequel airing in 1987, gave the world the faces of Anne and Gilbert. Anne (Ann with an E, mind you) was an instant bosom friend, a kindred spirit. I admired her spunk, her fierce spirit, her resolve. Anne was plain; I was plain. Anne's value lay not in her looks, but in her sharp mind, independent spirit, and all out quirkiness. She was an inspiration to me, and someone that I aspired to be like.

Gilbert, portrayed by actor Jonathan Crombie, wasn't exactly my type. It might have been that first impression, after all, when he teases my dear Anne-girl, provoking her by calling her 'Carrots,' so that she slams her slate over his head. His curly hair and freckles, coupled with that know-it-all smile, didn't engender him to me. I think his best trait, and the one that won me over, however, was his simple and life-long love of Anne. He had the good sense to love that irrepressible girl, and it's that-- that devotion that made me love him. Anne is truly a snot to him throughout much of the story, but Gilbert is always there, always loving her, always her friend. Their love story, and that culminating scene when Anne realizes that she loves him, is just as good as anything I have read in Jane Austen. Unlike Mr. Darcy, who seems to unwittingly fall for Eliza Bennett, Gilbert had the good sense to love poor orphan Anne from the first moment he laid eyes on her. And therein lies his virtue-- his wisdom in loving, and his faithfulness throughout.

Those books, and those characters on TV, definitively shaped who I am today. Anne showed me that it was okay to be a woman who loved knowledge. She showed me that I could be independent, and loved for who I am, and not what I look like. Her relationship with Gilbert showed me what it was like to be loved by a man-- to be utterly devoted to, because you are loved in your essence-- and what to long for and to seek out.

We lost Jonathan Crombie last week. Fans worldwide mourn his death as we reflect upon what his character meant to us. It's a strange thing, because it feels like we lost Gilbert himself. I'm thankful that in 2015, when it seems like the celebrities who grab the spotlight are more known for being infamous than for any actual skill or virtue, that a man who humbly graced the screen thirty years ago as one of literature's most beloved characters is remembered and mourned. Goodbye Gilbert Blythe, dear Jonathan Crombie. Thank you for your contribution to this world and what you impressed upon us. It's said that nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. You may have escaped the latter this year, but not the former. May God rest your soul. Jonathan Crombie October 12, 1966- April 15, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My New Neighbor

Looking at a cow one morning last month,
I wondered if the congregation of flies
on the eye of the cow
stared at the eye of the cow
with their compound eyes
and if I had ever seen this many eyes
in this small a space or had a thought
in which the word eye occurred so obsessively.
I wanted to touch the cow
and the cow seemed to ask to be touched,
but when I moved toward the fence,
the cow waddled away and the flies waddled with it.
The cow had a metal tag in its ear,
orange with the black numeral 42.
This will help them make hamburger of the cow,
which is the calling of cows in these parts,
help sellers and buyers and loaders of cows
note the selling and buying and loading of this cow.
I confessed to 42 that I eat cheeseburgers.
I had never addressed my food
before it had reached the plate and technically
not even then. What would I say to chicken teriyaki
by way of lessening the blow or making it feel welcome?
42 has large brown eyes and lives in a field
beside a small Pentecostal church.
I guess this makes 42 a God-fearing cow
and all cows have large brown eyes if 73 and 12
are a fair sampling. They pretty much do
what 42 does seven days a week, which is eat
and which suggests they are atheists after all.
Because of this philosophical bent,
I have taken to asking 42 if agnosticism
is the most reasonable position, my thought being
that the mind cannot dispense with the notion
of a first cause. When 42 blinks at my question,
the flies lift off and come back to what must be
their home planet. It is comforting to talk
to large animals, whether they listen or not.
I said, it is comforting to talk to large animals,
whether they listen or not.

~Bob Hicok, "My New Neighbor" from This Clumsy Living 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hilbert's Hotel and the Beginning of the Universe

Analytical philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig explains logically why the universe had to begin to exist:
Ghazali argued that if the universe never began to exist, then there have been an infinite number of past events prior to today. But, he argued, an infinite number of things cannot exist. This claim needs to be carefully nuanced. Ghazali recognized that a potentially infinite number of things could exist, but he denied that an actually infinite number of things could exist. Let me explain the difference. 
When we say that something is potentially infinite, infinity serves merely as an ideal limit that is never reached. For example, you could divide any finite distance in half, and then into fourths, and then into eighths, and then into sixteenths, and so on to infinity. The number of divisions is potentially infinite, in the sense that you could go on dividing endlessly. But you’d never arrive at an “infinitieth” division. You’d never have an actually infinite number of parts or divisions. 
Now Ghazali had no problem with the existence of merely potential infinites, for these are just ideal limits. But when we come to an actual infinite, we’re dealing with a collection that is not growing toward infinity as a limit but is already complete: The number of members already in the collection is greater than any finite number. Ghazali argued that if an actually infinite number of things could exist, then various absurdities would result. If we’re to avoid these absurdities, then we must deny that an actually infinite number of things exist. That means that the number of past events cannot be actually infinite. Therefore, the universe cannot be beginningless; rather the universe began to exist. 
He continues with an interesting thought experiment from German mathematician David Hilbert: 
Hilbert first invites us to imagine an ordinary hotel with a finite number of rooms. Suppose, furthermore, that all the rooms are full. If a new guest shows up at the desk asking for a room, the manager says, “Sorry, all the rooms are full,” and that’s the end of the story. 
But now, says Hilbert, let’s imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, and let’s suppose once again that all the rooms are full. This fact must be clearly appreciated. There isn’t a single vacancy throughout the entire infinite hotel; every room already has somebody in it. Now suppose a new guest shows up at the front desk, asking for a room. “No problem,” says the manager. He moves the person who was staying in room #1 into room #2, the person who was staying in room #2 into room #3, the person who was staying in room #3 into room #4, and so on to infinity. As a result of these room changes, room #1 now becomes vacant, and the new guest gratefully checks in. But before he arrived, all the rooms were already full! 
It gets worse! Let’s now suppose, Hilbert says, that an infinity of new guests shows up at the front desk, asking for rooms. “No problem, no problem!” says the manager. He moves the person who was staying in room #1 into room #2, the person who was staying in room #2 into room #4, the person who was staying in room #3 into room #6, each time moving the person into the room number twice his own. Since any number multiplied by two is an even number, all the guests wind up in even-numbered rooms. As a result, all the odd-numbered rooms become vacant, and the infinity of new guests is easily accommodated. In fact, the manager could do this an infinite number of times and always accommodate infinitely more guests. And yet, before they arrived, all the rooms were already full! 
As a student once remarked to me, Hilbert’s Hotel, if it could exist, would have to have a sign posted outside: “No Vacancy (Guests Welcome).” 
But Hilbert’s Hotel is even stranger than the great German mathematician made it out to be. For just ask yourself the question: What would happen if some of the guests start to check out? Suppose all the guests in the odd-numbered rooms check out. In this case an infinite number of people has left the hotel— indeed, as many as remained behind. And yet, there are no fewer people in the hotel. The number is just infinite! Now suppose the manager doesn’t like having a half-empty hotel (it looks bad for business). No matter! By moving the guests as before, only this time in reverse order, he converts his half-empty hotel into one that is bursting at the seams! 
Now you might think that by these maneuvers the manager could always keep his strange hotel fully occupied. But you’d be wrong. For suppose the guests in rooms # 4, 5, 6, … check out. At a single stroke the hotel would be virtually emptied, the guest register reduced to just three names, and the infinite converted to finitude. And yet it would be true that the same number of guests checked out this time as when all the guests in the odd-numbered rooms checked out! Can such a hotel exist in reality? 
Hilbert’s Hotel is absurd. Since nothing hangs on the illustration’s involving a hotel, the argument can be generalized to show that the existence of an actually infinite number of things is absurd.
And a TedEd talk explaining the paradox:

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Personal Reflections on Isaiah 40 and Psalm 145:

One of the things that struck me as I meditated on the Scripture this week was God’s tenderness towards his people. In Isaiah 40, he uses the pronoun ‘my,' calling the people his own, and he says to speak comfort to them. This tenderness of the almighty God toward his finite creation surprises me and is even more shocking when one considers that they have sinned greatly against him. The other thing that really stood out to me was God’s power and might. The promises for Israel are delivered because God has decreed it. He is so great that he simply opens his mouth and speaks and things happen. Psalm 145:3 reminds us, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” I am challenged to remember God’s tenderness for me, his child, and his goodness and mercy to all people. I am also challenged to remember and reflect on how mighty God is. These truths help me to remember that I am cared for and loved by the God of the universe, and to be bolder in sharing the Gospel with friends since I know that He is mighty to save.

Isaiah’s admonition to go to a high mountain and to say, “Behold your God!” also encourages me to share my faith. We should never be ashamed of our God, who is mighty, and above all faithful, whose very word brings things to come to pass. I am encouraged to behold him-- to gaze upon his mercy, his riches, his might. And, I am encouraged to tell others to behold him. He is, as Isaiah says, without parallel. Who indeed has given him counsel or taught him understanding? There is nothing that we can bring to him. Similarly, Psalm 145 teaches that the saints shall make known God’s deeds and the splendor of his kingdom. I feel a sense of conviction when I reflect and realize that praise for God is often far from my lips and heart. I am sad to say that I often take God for granted, and that moreover, I am hesitant to speak of his riches to others. These passages call me to gaze upon the splendor of God and to boldly speak of his beauty and magnificence to those around me. As I write this, I realize that I need to study God’s attributes displayed in His word so that I may see them more clearly in my day-to-day.

Finally, these passages call me to think on the idols that men fashion, and the idols that I have fashioned in my own heart. I overlay them with gold and seek to find my comfort in these false things rather than reveling in the one true God. Isaiah seems to ask the questions with frustration: Do you not know?!? Have you not heard?!? We see God revealed in creation and his affirmation of his character-- his goodness and provision-- has been passed down through the generations. I do know and I have heard; God is on his throne. Hallelujah! I pray that I will wait on him and trust in him alone for my joy and my salvation. I pray that the false idols in my heart would be revealed and destroyed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Personal reflections on Isaiah 40 and Psalm 145:

This week I meditated upon Isaiah 40 and Psalm 145. One of the aspects of God displayed in these passages is His goodness. Psalm 145 says that the Lord is gracious and merciful, and that he is good to all. In Isaiah 40, He is compared to a shepherd. It pictures Him gathering the lambs in his arms and carrying them in his bosom. This passage made me immediately think of Jesus as the good shepherd, and it also brought a feeling of tenderness to my breast as I reflected on how gentle and loving God is, not only to his people, but to everyone on the earth.

The verses also call to mind the passages that we reflected on last week. Isaiah says that the heavens are stretched out like a curtain, spread like a tent. God brings out the stars, calling each by name. These verses reminded me of Psalm 19. Everything in God’s creation points to His glory. Psalm 145 says that all of God’s works give thanks to Him, and all speak of the glory of His kingdom and of His power. Psalm 145:20 reminded me of the man who delights in the law of the Lord-- it is he who will be preserved, in contrast to the wicked man who will not stand in the day judgment and will be destroyed.

These verses proclaim how great God is. I am struck by the passion of the Psalmist who is praising God with his heart. He tells Him that he will praise his name forever and ever, and that every day he will bless God. Similarly, Isaiah reminds us that God sits in the heavens and that this earth and everything on it is of no account to him, so great is He. Nothing on earth compares to Him, and He alone is the source of our strength and our support.

As I look at my own life, I realize that I need to look on His creation and see Him in it. How amazing it is to think that not one star is missing from the sky solely because He holds it there. And yet, in my own day to day, I forget that God is in control, that he upholds everything and that he is might and powerful. I am inspired and challenged by the Psalmist to look upon the works of God and to praise Him daily for it. I realize that my heart needs to change, and that I need to be thankful to God for all that he does and has done for me.

These verses also challenge me to rest in His goodness. This image of his tenderness towards his people haunts me. I forget that he cares for me, that he carries me. What a beautiful picture is painted when Isaiah writes that those who wait on the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles. I am challenged to reflect on God’s goodness and to trust that he is the good and loving Lord who is the father of creation and is my salvation.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I Choose It To Mean

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean-- neither more nor less.'

~Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Personal Reflections on Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and 1 Timothy 3:1 - 4:8:

This week I reflected on the psalmist's desire that his meditations and words be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. He prays that willful sins will not rule over him. I look into my own heart and see the same struggle. I do often sin willfully and my prayer echoes his. I pray that these sins would not rule over me, and that I would find power in Christ and the Spirit to find victory in my struggle with sin. And, like the psalmist, I also pray for forgiveness for hidden sins and pray that God would reveal them to me.

I have also enjoyed thinking about God's beauty and glory being revealed in nature. Too often I take the heavens and the earth for granted. I forget to see the beauty of a flower or a bird in winged flight, but this Psalm reminds me to stop and take the simple things in, to see God's creation around me and to reflect upon it. I do not think the purpose of Psalm 19 is solely to focus on this aspect, as the psalmist quickly transitions from his meditations on the glory of God revealed in creation to the perfect aspect of God’s law. I think, just as nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun, nothing is also hidden from God’s law.

In keeping with the theme of nature, I looked at the tree in Psalm 1, and looked at the comparison of the blessed man to a tree planted by a stream of water.  Because the tree is planted with its roots going deep into the earth, it has everything it needs, and it functions as it should. It does everything a tree is created to do: it grows strong, yields fruit, and it prospers. The man who delights in the law of God-- this law that is perfect, sure, right, pure, and true-- also puts down roots so he, too, will prosper.

As I reflect on my growth as a Christian and my ministry, I see that I need to keep growing in knowledge and love of God’s word. I need to put down roots in Scripture, to test it and see that it is God-breathed. Like the psalmist, I pray that God would change my heart. I pray that I would love him more, that I would see his glory as it is revealed both in Scripture and in nature. I also pray that I would be transformed through the ministry of his word. I continue and will continue to struggle against willful sins in my life, and hidden sins as well, but God’s law revives the soul and makes wise the simple. I pray that I would also be so transformed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Personal Reflections on Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and 1 Timothy 3:1 - 4:8:

The passages that I reflected on this week have caused me to realize that I do not hold God’s word in high enough esteem. Or that I do not esteem it as much as I profess and that it is not as dear to me as I would like to believe. I could have never written the words of Psalm 1 and Psalm 19, for when have I ever seen the law of the Lord as perfect, reviving my soul? Or desired his precepts and decrees more than the sweet things in life? I am struck by the Psalmists’ delight in God’s Word and his earnest desire to meditate on it day and night.

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul picks up where the Psalmists have left off by reminding Timothy that he must continue in what he has learned from childhood, that he must hold fast to the Holy Scriptures which give wisdom and lead to faith in Christ. Significantly, he points out that God’s word prepares the man of God for every good work. Paul then charges Timothy to preach the word, and tells him to be ready in and out of season. He reminds him, as well, that turning aside from scripture leads to turning away from the truth. This turning away reminds me of the blowing away of the chaff in Psalm 1. Such men will not stand in the judgment.

  These verses are a sharp but loving reproof and reminder to me that if I desire to experience greater joy in my Lord, that I must be more committed to reading his word faithfully and meditating on the great truths contained within. Furthermore, in order to be faithful to the spirit of Paul’s command to Timothy (that he be prepared both in and out of season), I must also hold fast to what I have been taught and what I have firmly believed. For me to do the work of an evangelist, I need to drink deep of scripture.

   Our 2 Timothy reading begins and ends with the warning that in these last days there will be times of difficulties. Paul tells Timothy of evil men who live for themselves and pervert the word of God. This challenges me to love God’s word and to make a greater commitment to reading my Bible so that I may be prepared in my own times of difficulties. It also reminds me that I can hope to reprove, rebuke, and exhort those people who have distorted God’s word only if I have seen the beauty in God’s law for myself, and have meditated upon so that its deep truths take hold in my heart.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Infallibility of the Church

Rome believes that the church is infallible as well as Scripture. The infallibility of the church extends not only to the question of canon formation but also to the question of biblical interpretation. To summarize, we can say that according to Rome we have an infallible Bible whose extent is decreed infallibly by the church and whose content is interpreted infallibly by the church. However, the individual Christian is still left in his own fallibility as he seeks to understand the infallible Bible as interpreted by the infallible church. No one is extending infallibility to the individual believer.

~The Establishment of Scripture by R.C. Sproul in Sola Scriptura, 1995

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mighty to Save

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

~Zephaniah 3:17


[B.B.] Warfield summarized:
From all points of approach alike we appear to be conducted to the conclusion that θεόπνευστος is primarily expressive of the origination of Scripture, not of its nature and much less of its effects. What is theopneustos is "God-breathed," produced by the creative breath of the Almighty. And Scripture is called theopneustos in order to designate it as "God-breathed," the product of Divine spiration, the creation of that Spirit who is in all spheres of the Divine activity the executive of the Godhead. The traditional translation of the word by the Latin inspiratus a Deo is no doubt also discredited, if we are to take it at the foot of the letter. It does not express a breathing into the Scriptures of God.... What it affirms is that the Scriptures owe their origin to an activity of God the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense His creation. It is on this foundation of Divine origin that all the high attributes of Scripture are built. [The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 1948, p 296]
   It's  hard to overemphasize the importance of understanding this: What Scripture is here teaching about itself, the term Paul uses, its consistency with the rest of biblical revelation, and comprehension of Warfield's explanation (above) may well be the most important exercise in developing a strong foundation in biblical sufficiency that gives rise to sound theology and apologetics. Warfield rightly concluded that the term translated "God-breathed" is speaking of the origin of Scriptures; they are not, first and foremost, in a primary sense, human in their origination, and we will see this truth repeated in different ways in other passages... 

~James R. White, Scripture Alone (2004)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Letter Writing

"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company."

~Lord Byron

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So That I Believe

"The Word comes first, and with the Word the Spirit breathes upon my heart so that I believe."

~Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From the Depths of my Heart

"Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart."

~Martin Luther