Category Archives: Thoughts

Resolutions for Resolutions

spring painting

Now that Christmas is over, Spring is welcome anytime.

Never come to a meeting with a blank page. You may leave with a completely different page, but it’s always better to start with something. My dad’s nuggets of wisdom are both many and multi-functional. 2016 is approaching and a blank page in my house would quickly fill with the opinions of 7 others on how to spend our days. I can guarantee it would not include math facts, vegetables, or cleaning of any kind.

Traditionally the turn of the New Year is a time for refection and new resolve. And traditions are good things. We forgetful humans need habits and rhythms if we are to keep order. But making the resolutions is the easy part. Listing my intentions to swear off sugar, get up at 5am every morning, and exercise for 30 minutes a day, all from a cozy armchair on a quiet afternoon with a hot cocoa, colored pens, and graph paper is rather idyllic. Carrying out said intentions is another story.

I’m not trying to kill anyone’s optimism here. Go ahead and dream big, shoot for the stars, try to fly higher than an eagle, choose your own sentiment. Just don’t forget they’re called resolutions. They are going to require resolve, tenacity, grit. This year I resolve to use a healthy dose of sober-minded realism. While filling out my resolutions page, I will:

  1. Be particular.  Personality, season of life, unforeseen circumstances all play a role in what any one us can reasonably accomplish in a given period of time. There are many good things for many different people to do at many times. If I try to do them all, I’ll likely do none. I resolve to set goals in accordance with the unique arrangement of gifts and circumstances the Lord has put me in right now.
  2. Count the cost.  We all have budgets of some kind, resources that we must steward. Time is finite (well sort of, it is also infinitely divisible and endless in a sense, but that’s not for now). I may want to run a marathon this year (I don’t), but I would have to decide if the time and energy required fit into my budget. I resolve to keep a watchful eye on the account of my resources.
  3. Make the methods flex to the principles. Methods are not ends in themselves. It can be easy to fixate on efficiency or excellence to the point that it no longer serves the point of the system. Take laundry for example. What’s the principle? People need clean clothes in a predictable location. Methods may vary. I’ve chosen in my time account, that spending hours folding little sweatpants and t-shirts is not the best bang for my buck. My kids that don’t do their own laundry have bins and I just throw their play clothes in, unfolded (gasp!). I resolve to analyze principles first, and optimize methods accordingly.
  4. Enjoy the process. Everyone wants to have finished the race, but it does not automatically follow that we all want to run. Something I’ve been learning over the years of kid raising is to enjoy each stage. Really, it’s not a cliche. There is always something to be thankful for, something unique about each time that will not last forever. I resolve to keep my eyes fixed on heaven and open for blessings along the way.
  5. Press in to grace. One sure thing I can count on when making my resolutions is failure. Our flesh is right there with us whenever we want to do good, but thanks be to Jesus, he rescues these bodies of death (Rom 7).  I resolve to be prayerfully dependent, perpetually repentant, and increasingly motivated to lay down my life by the power of the Holy Spirit because of the blood-bought grace of Christ for me.

May all our resolutions serve the chief end of man- to glorify God and enjoy him forever (WSC Q1). Godspeed!

Worldview Through Literature’s My Favorite

maggie in a treeSchool is off to a good start in our house. Maybe for the first time ever, we’ve hit a sweet spot of rigor and fun. Since all great literature aims to “teach and to delight” studying worldview through literature together is my favorite.

A few years ago, I got to help start a co-op with this very emphasis. I wrote the following vision statement for my class. I hope however you school your kids, you’ll make time for rollicking good book discussion. It pairs well with candy and tickle parties.

Why study worldview?

In his book, The Universe Next Door, James W. Sire defines a worldview as:  “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation in which we live and move and have our being.”

The more consciously and consistently we understand our own presuppositions and those of our neighbors, the more precisely we will be able to bring the Scriptures to bear on each other’s hearts and bring good news to the lost.

Why study worldview through literature?

Most often a person’s worldview is not held out to us in the form of tidy propositions.  Instead we are often sifting through the stories of life to understand what a person functionally believes about reality.  Literature, like life, is expressed in many forms.  The trained eye will be able to see content through those forms in order to most accurately apply and communicate biblical reality.  A good story allows the student a vicarious experience before experiencing it in real life.  In other words, it’s good practice.

This practice also teaches the student of literary analysis, discernment.  When well trained to decipher meaning through form, one will not be readily fooled by beautiful sounding rhetoric.  The thoughtful critic will be able to articulate the truth value of a story that is written, told, or even lived well.

God has revealed himself to us through literature.  The bible makes use of many forms of artistic language and rhetoric. Words are part of his creation for us to use to take dominion, to enjoy, to know our maker and savior, and to give him praise.

*Some information is based on:
Tapestry of Grace. Poetics. Kingsport: Lampstand Press, 2013. Digital

Part 5, Some Principles

What are some Principles to keep in mind while we study the Bible:

1. The centrality of preaching. How will they hear if no one preaches? (Rom 10)  The Apostles did not go around establishing churches and then leave people only with a stack of letters to read as individuals, they established preachers and overseers to teach and protect sound doctrine that was often distorted.

After attending URC for a while, I noticed a change in my reading, I could hear Kevin ask, “Why is this here?” or “A basic hermeneutical principle Continue reading

Part 4, Principles: Keeping the End and the Means in their Proper Place

As we approach any undertaking we should always pause to consider what the principles or end we’re after verses the methods or means we’re using  to get us there.  When we get these mixed around we can become slaves to our methods and free to stop short of our goal.

Let’s say for example that you want to have a healthy heart.  One principle component of a healthy heart might be exercise.  You could choose from dozens of methods to achieve this principle, jogging, Continue reading

Part 3, Posture: We Need to Come Rightly

And now a bit about how to come rightly to the Scriptures:

We need to come not doubting but with belief and repentance.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8

What is the difference between a doubt and a question?

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Part 2, Posture: We Come Hungry.

After my testimony about God’s word in my life, I came up with 3 P’s.  Posture, Principles, and Practicalities.  Our posture meaning the way we come to the Bible.  We need to come hungry and rightly.  Today, I’ll post the hungry part:

Posture:

We come hungry. The Bible refers to itself as food many times: sweet dripping of the honeycomb (Ps 19),  we “feed” on Christ whom all the Scriptures bear witness to (John 5:57, Luke 24), we should desire to grow on spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) and then onto solid food (Heb 5, 1 Cor 3), so we’ll use that metaphor as well.

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Part 1, The Double-Edged Sword

I was honored to be asked to speak at a women’s Bible study tonight at my church.  In case you missed that I said, s-p-e-a-k.  I write.  I don’t speak, um, well.   One of my well-spoken  friends told me to use the nervous adrenaline to clear my head and push me through it.  I think adrenaline must have a reverse effect on me.  One time I had a  kid in the ER, and all that adrenaline did for me was make  me forget my own child’s middle name.  I never recalled it the whole time we were there.

But God was kind, to his name be the glory, to calm my nerves and help me faithfully give testimony to some riches of reading his word.  Since I Continue reading