Monday, May 20, 2019

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 You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith which may be one of the most eye-opening books I have read this year.
Christian worship, we should recognize, is essentially a counterformation to these rival liturgies we are often immersed in, cultural practices that covertly capture our loves and longings, miscalibrating them, orienting us to rival versions of the good life. This is why worship is the heart of discipleship. We can't counter the power of cultural liturgies with didactic information poured into our intellects. We can't recalibrate the heart from the top down, through merely informational measures. The orientation of the heart happens from the bottom up, through the formation of our habits of desire. Learning to love (God) takes practice. (pg. 25)

Rebecca:

In None Greater, Matthew Barrett writes that God's aseity—that he "has of himself all that he has"—
is wrapped up in . . . his role as Israel's covenant Lord and Savior. When God enters into a covenant relationship with Abraham and later on with Israel, he does so as the God who is independent. His independence entails his possession of (rather than his dependence on) all things. As the God who is sovereign over all things, he can give to Abraham and Israel a great and prosperous land and make them a nation that will bless all nations. 
What's more, the gospel depends on God's aseity:
If God were not life in and of himself, if he were not independent of us, then he would not be . . . able to save us . . . .  If God were not a se, then he would be weak and pathetic, for he would be needy and dependent to. He would need saving, just as we do . . . . 
[I]t is precisely because God is free from creation that he is able to save lost sinners like you and me (Ephesians 1:7-8). If God were a needy God, he would need our help just as much as we need his. What good news it is, then, that the gospel depends on a God who does not depend on us.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Five Star Links


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

Persis:

Theology for Everyone has started a series, Seven Letters Seven Dangers. Each letter is written to the church on a particular area of concern. So far the posts have covered Pride, Fear of Man, and Zeal & Complacency. I appreciate these warnings because I am not immune and need to take heed lest I fall. (1 Cor. 10:11)

Rebecca:

One pastor gives one piece of advice to mothers of wayward adult children:
I believe that behind many of the lives I've seen transformed in my years of young-adult ministry are moms who refused to quit praying even when it felt hopeless . . .  —Austin Gohn
He uses Monica, Augustine's mother an example of a mother who prayed fervently for her son's salvation. If you want to know more of Monica's story, here's a biographical sketch by Simonetta Carr.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Five Star Links


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

Rebecca:

Some of the most beautiful (and saddest) lines in the Psalms are found Psalm 137: 
By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD's song
in a foreign land?
Here is a reflection from Stephen Nichols on Singing the Lord's Song in a Foreign Land:
When Israel first arrived in Babylon, the degree to the which the land was foreign was striking. We know from the book of Daniel, for instance, how idolatry ruled the land. How foreign was that place from Jerusalem and from the Temple and from the land of the Lord their God. The psalmist calls the Babylonians not only his captors, but also his tormentors. The foreign-ness of that place was palpable. It threw the Psalmist off balance. How could he sing?

Persis:

It’s easy to find articles indicting the church for its failure to welcome and help people with mental illness. A Google search of these keywords brings up dismal results. That’s probably because we are quicker to report bad news than good ones. There are, in fact, loving communities where people with mental illness find love and inclusion...
Realizing we are all in the same boat and in equal need of a Savior brings down barriers, eliminates stigma, fosters sincere compassion, and encourages open communication. In that sense, Covenant OPC is not unusual. There are many other churches where the gospel is preached every Sunday, constantly changing hearts of stone. They are still imperfect, but so are families, doctors, and hospitals. We all learn as we go, and it’s this willingness to admit we’re broken and to humbly learn to love our broken neighbors that makes a difference.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Quotes of Note


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

Persis:

This was a convicting quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the "Ministry of Listening" in his book, Life Together:
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God's love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brothers when we learn to listen to him...
Brotherly pastoral care is essentially distinguished from preaching by the fact that, added to the task of speaking the Word, there is the obligation of listening. There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here too our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God. 

Kim: 

I am really enjoying Ed Hirsch, Jr.'s Validity in Interpretation. It's not a Christian book, but it is about hermeneutics in general. It really gets to the heart of what meaning and interpretation are. And that can only be helpful when applied to Biblical texts.

Hirsch reminds us that interpretation is an art:
A translation or paraphrase tries to render the meaning in new terms; an explanation tries to point to the meaning in new terms. That is why interpretation, like translation, is an art, for the interpreter has to find means of conveying to the uninitiated, in terms familiar to them, those presuppositions and meanings which are equivalent to those in the original meaning. 
Even as I think about this in the context of teaching (which relies on paraphrase), I realize that finding ways which draw on the student's presuppositions and pre-understandings is something very challenging.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Five Star Links



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

Persis:

I loved this article by Karen Kessens and the parallel she drew between our favorite book genres and the people we normally gravitate to in the local church -  How Well Are You Reading Your Church?
Next time you walk into the human library that is your local church, take notice. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) of saints who have gone before us but all around us are living stories of what God has done and continues doing as he is building his church.

Don’t miss out on the vastness of his redeeming work by only reading in one or two genres, but look outside your normal spheres of interaction to broaden your engagement with the community of believers he has specially chosen to put you among that day.

Read broadly and don’t neglect the great shelf of witnesses placed on the pew next to you.
Kim:

I found very helpful this article  by Steve Matthewson, "How Can I Regain the Use of Hebrew and Greek?" . I completed my Greek studies this year and I begin Hebrew in September. I have to say that learning Koine Greek has been one of the most satisfying and helpful things I've done.

There are ways to study the biblical languages without going to seminary. Bill Mounce has resources to learn online. Think of it this way: if you have time to spend an hour or two a day on a hobby or activity, consider investing that time in learning Greek. It's worth the effort.

Rebecca:

No one wants to have to make end of life medical decisions for a loved one who is unable to direct their own medical care, but if (when) you find yourself in this difficult position, this piece by Kathryn Butler lays out a few bibilical principles to ground your decision making and suggests some questions to help you sort through the issues.