Category Archives: Thoughts

Not Enough

crocodileI have a nasty habit, from time to time, of practicing a little routine laziness. It’s not really a conscious plan, but it is a purposeful one. I reserve a little effort, so that when I look around at all the unfinished business of our life and home, I can say to myself, “Well, if you would just work harder, all this would be taken care of.” It’s a cheap attempt to manufacture hope. It doesn’t work.

Eventually, the guilt bubble swells to bursting and for many days I work with frenetic energy trying to get it all done. But invariably, even after a stretch of “doing my best,” laundry piles decorate my bedroom, a room needs painted, a friend is waiting for a return text, a kid is behind in math, a Bible study chapter remains unread, at least one child’s fingernails are disgusting, and someone is always wrong on the internet.

As you can guess, the result of this wild seesaw ride is not a serene heart with a finished to do list. It is either a mom turned drill-sergeant or a wife in a puddle of tears. On one puddle occasion, I spilled over onto Chris, “I am really trying- hard! It’s just not enough!” I think I even added something like, “I’m running up a sand slide over a pit of hungry alligators. And it doesn’t matter how bad I want to live, I’m losing ground!”

His reply that night was a paradigm shifter (he ignored the alligators),”Do you think the widow’s last coin was really going to buy anything? God doesn’t ask you to fill every need, he asks you to give all you have.”

Of course! The widow didn’t give all she had left because she thought it was going to relieve the synagogue of all its financial burdens, she gave because of who she valued and trusted. She valued the Lord over her own life, and she trusted that however he would use her last coin was better than buying her last meal.

Now, I have never literally had to give all I had. But I can still learn from someone who has. In those moments, when it feels like I’ve given everything I had to live on, then I have one last choice to make. Either, I can despair and die in the knowledge that everything I have and am is just a drop in the bucket, or, by faith, I can hold still while the Holy Spirit kills my self-sufficiency and reminds me that I already have Christ.

In his hand, our last coin is beyond comparing to the wealth of Solomon. In asking it of us, he is making room in our hearts to understand what it means to have Him. He has no need of our money or our great efforts, but is graciously pleased to use them, and what’s more, show us that he is all that we need.

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: Continue reading

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.

Continue reading