Monday, October 15, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Rebecca:

John Calvin was sure the book of Hebrews belonged in the Bible even though he was also sure it wasn’t written by Paul, but by some other unknown author. In this quote from the introduction to his Commentary on Hebrews, he explains why it merited a place in the canon of scripture.
I, indeed, without hesitation, class it among apostolical writings; nor do I doubt but that it has been through the craft of Satan that any have been led to dispute its authority. There is, indeed, no book in the Holy Scriptures which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which he offered by his death, so abundantly treats of the use of ceremonies as well as of their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law. Let us not therefore suffer the Church of God nor ourselves to be deprived of so great a benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it.
[Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews]

Kim:

One of the books for my Synoptic Gospels class is F.F. Bruce's Hard Sayings of Jesus. The assignment was to look for some area of disagreement we had with Bruce's analysis. Thankfully, it was a group project. It's kind of daunting to be told to critique someone of Bruce's stature. Here is a conclusion Bruce made regarding the parable of the camel going through the eye of the needle (Mark 10:25):
No doubt Jesus was using the language of hyperbole, as when he spoke of the man with a whole plank sticking out of his eye offering to remove the splinter or speck of sawdust from his neighbour's eye (Matt 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42). But the language of hyperbole was intended to drive the lesson home: it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God --  humanly impossible, Jesus concedes; for God, with whom nothing is impossible, can even save a rich man. But if so, then the rich man's heart must be changed by having his attachment to material riches replaced by attachment to the true riches, 'treasure in heaven.'

Friday, October 12, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim:

Find some "Encouragement for Bible Reading From Puritan Women." These women always inspire me. They were often said to have been known for "their piety." Is that something I will be remembered for?

Rebecca:

Here's the story of Anne of Bohemia, who is said to have carried copies of the New Testament in Latin, Czech, and German, when, as a 15 year old, she travelled from Bohemia to England to marry Richard II, King of England. John Wyclif would use this piece of information in defense of his work to produce a Bible in English, an act that was "considered heretical by church officials, who feared that untrained minds would misunderstand its teachings and cause further problems in the church." If church officials considered him a heretic, he argued, wouldn't they have to call the Queen a heretic, too, since she probably "had the Gospel in three languages: Bohemian, German, and Latin”?

In this way, and maybe more, young Anne played a small part in what would eventually become the Protestant Reformation.

Deb:

One of the remarkable (and little-known) facts about the early Christian movement was its popularity among women. The ministry of women was critical to its success and expansion in the earliest centuries. Dr. Michael Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, recently spoke about this very topic to the women who attended The Gospel Coalition's Women conference. His session explores the impact of women during this time period (particularly the second century) and helps to draw out lessons to be learned for the modern day. Listen to the session here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

One of the books I'm reading in my Synoptic Gospels class is F.F. Bruce's Hard Sayings of Jesus. I read something interesting in his discussion of the saying in Matthew 5:29, about plucking out your right eye if it offends you:
Shortly after the publication of William Tyndale's English New Testament, the attempt to restrict its circulation was defended on the ground that the simple reader might mistakenly take such language literally and 'pluck out his eyes, and so the whole realm will be full of blind men, to the great decay of the nation and the manifest loss of the King's grace; and thus by reading of the Holy Scriptures will the whole realm come into confusion.' So a preaching friar is said to have declared in a Cambridge sermon; but he met his match in Hugh Latimer who, in a sermon preached the following Sunday, said that simple people were well able to distinguish between literal and figurative terms. 'For example,' Latimer went on, 'if we paint  fox preaching in a friar's hood, nobody imagines that a fox is meant, but that craft and hypocrisy are described, which so often are found disguised in that garb.'
Even back then, the presence of figurative language was easily understandable by the general reading audience.


Persis:

This is from a prayer for a time of bereavement by John MacDuff.
Let us hear Jesus' voice of encouragement and love, sounding amid the stillness of the death-chamber, and from the depths of the sepulcher, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave!"

O Helper of the helpless, Comforter of all who are cast down, better and dearer than the dearest and best of earthly relatives--give us that grace which You have promised specially in seasons of weakness. May we realize the truth of Your own precious promise, "As your day--so shall your strength be."

May this thought reconcile us to bear all and suffer all--that we shall soon be done with this present evil world--and be with our God, and that forever and ever! Hide us meanwhile, in the clefts of the Smitten Rock, until this and all other of earth's calamities are over and past. May we trust Your heart--where we cannot trace Your hand! We wait patiently for the great day of disclosures, when all shall be revealed; and all be found redounding to the praise and the glory of Your great name!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Persis:

Do you wish to get well?
He didn’t come for those who think they see. He didn’t come for those who think they walk. He didn’t come for the rich or the powerful or the entitled. He didn’t come for the ones on the top.
He came for the hungry, the oppressed, the afflicted, the widow, the orphan. Those that don’t have the strength to get to the water.
He came for those who have had their choice and their voice taken away.

Kim:

Mommy Drinking is No Joke

I had honestly never heard of the phrase "mommy juice" in reference to mothers drinking alcohol. Perhaps it is because I've only attended churches where most people did not drink. Whatever your position on the freedom to drink, the idea that mothers must rely on a drink to get by is something to be concerned about. Any joke about drinking to excess whether mom or dad or anyone else is in poor taste.


Rebecca: 

The Bible study I hold at my home is now moving from the Epistle of Jude to the Epistle of Hebrews. (We are going to have to pick up our game a bit. We spent 9 sessions on the 25 verses of Jude. It was great going over each verse with a fine-toothed comb, but at that pace, we will be working on Hebrews for several years.) Searching for resources on Hebrews, I was reminded this series of Bible studies on the book of Hebrews led by Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary. To start at the beginning, you will need to scroll down to Season 1, Week 1.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Essential Truth

The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works (Ps 145:9)

One of the most humbling moments I've ever had came during a time as a new Christian when I worked in a word processing pool. My boss told me at my 6 month review that there were comments from others in the pool that I complained too much. I was mortified. Over the years, I have had a struggle to stop complaining.

Concentrating on God's goodness has been one of the most helpful things to my tendency to complain. I keep learning that in every difficult situation, God is always good. I was reminded of this last Sunday when I was talking to a friend at church. She has been dealing with a very serious health situation. I had not seen her for a while, and when I commented that she looked good and seemed to be in very good spirits, she said, "Well, look around; I could have it much worse." In the face of her own illness, she recognized that there are others in our congregation (and there are; many) who are dealing with much worse. She sees God's goodness. She counts God as good for providing improvement, for providing medical care. She was looking outside of her circumstance and toward God.

In the past, while complaining, I have had people suggest that I look for God's goodness. I have not always responded to that counsel in a good way. When we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we want validation, and sometimes, we secretly enjoy feeling that we deserve to complain. There is definitely a time for allowing someone to express her frustration, but ultimately, we cannot stay there.

Complaining infects our thinking, taking our attention away from God to ourselves. We stop seeing God as good, but it is crucial to avoid that. God's goodness is why he shows mercy time after time whenever we sin. It is why he sustains us, why he sustains the world, why he delays the coming of Christ that others may come to know him. God's goodness is in the big things and the small things. If we have trouble seeing God as good, there are two things we can do: 1) read the Word of God daily, and 2) look around us. There are little signs of God's goodness everywhere.

Last week, I was struggling with a cold, and I complained. I grumbled about the timing. A stuffy head, runny nose and fatigue were not helpful for my crowded to-do list. One day, late in the afternoon, I sat outside and watched as a hummingbird hovered at my feeder. A harried squirrel realized there was a human and a Beagle on my deck and ran furiously at the sound of barking. I noticed that my maple tree is showing its colours among the top leaves. I caught the scent of someone burning leaves, and I heard the sounds of the kids two doors down from me playing outside. I had my cup of Yorkshire tea, comfortable on my Muskoka (or as the folks south of me say, Adirondack) chair, outside of a comfortable home, with a book on my lap for a class at seminary where I'm privileged to go; little things given by the hand of a good God.

The essential truth of God's goodness can shape our thinking in both the little things and the big things. It can bring us out of a funk or give us a strategy for avoiding grumbling and complaining. It may not solve our situation, but within it, we can see God's goodness. In these days when it seems like all around us see nothing but doom and gloom, we need to understand that God is good.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

This is a quote from Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis who recently lost his wife to dementia.
Learn to lament with people...  Listen to the stories of the suffering and identify with them. Say unprofound but appropriate things like "I am so sorry" and "That is terrible." It is not wise to try to cheer before it's time... I am still but a babe in this loving skill, suffering well with others. Will you join me in the school of lament? Will you learn to sit on the mourner's bench before God and with those whom you love? (pgs. 168 & 170)

Rebecca:

Four principles from New Testament passages on how to love God through our work from Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton:
1) Work to please God: The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30). In the parable of the talents Matthew presents Jesus commending initiative, diligence, and even savvy attempts to earn interest on one’s money (Matt. 25:20-23, 27). He likewise discourages a slothful, fearful failure to be fruitful (25:26-30). 
2) Do all for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). 1 Corinthians 10:31 communicates Paul’s view that all things should be done for God’s glory. God created the world to fill it with his glory, and those who would make God’s character known should join him by pursuing his renown whether eating, drinking, or doing anything else. 
3) Do all in Christ’s name (Col. 3:17). The name of Jesus is about the character and mission of Jesus. To work in the name of the Lord Jesus, then, is to work in a way that reflects his character and joins his mission. To put his character on display is to be transformed into the image of the invisible God (2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 1:15). This means for Paul to speak of working in Christ’s name is another way for him him to urge working for God’s glory. 
4) Work from your soul for the Lord (Col. 2:23). In addition to working for God’s glory, Paul instructs the Colossians to work from the soul for the Lord. This appears to mean that they should put all they are into their work rather than merely doing things to preserve appearances before men. Christians should employ their creative capacities and soul-deep energies as they seek to serve God in their work. With God’s glory as our aim, nothing less will suffice.

Kim:

Another quote from D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies:
Unless we recognize the "distance" that separates us from the text being studied, we will overlook differences of outlook, vocabulary, interest; and quite unwittingly we will read our mental baggage into the text without pausing to ask if that is appropriate. We are truly prepared to understand a text only after we have understood some of the differences between what the text is talking about and what we gravitate to on the same subject.
Deb:

From Elizabeth Garn, speaker at the recent PCA Women's One Conference in Annapolis, Md:
In Genesis 1 the Lord says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (v. 26). God suddenly stops the unfolding creation account, invites us in, and tells us what he’s about to do: create mankind. Not only that, he tells us why. He’s going to place his image on the earth, and he’s going to do it in the form of men and women (Gen. 1:27). Our purpose as children of God, as women, is to bear his image.

Images are reflections, and that’s what we were crafted to be—reflections of God here on earth. We were created to be signposts pointing others to him, mirrors displaying his character to the world. When people see us, they see aspects of God. How amazing! Your purpose, then, isn’t something you earn or work for; it’s something you already are.