Reading the Bible Literally

Some years ago I read something scoffing at Christians for taking the Bible literally. One example the author used was the Bible’s speaking of the sun rising and setting, because of course we know that the Earth revolves around the sun: the sun itself doesn’t rise and set. Yet meteorologists use the terms sunrise and sunset every day. We understand in the English language what those terms mean while not taking them literally.

Taking the Bible literally means we don’t interpret it as myth or stories, even though it contains a few stories in it. But we understand the Bible uses different expressions of literature which are not strictly literal without detracting from an overall literal approach to the Bible. What are some of these literary devices?

Idioms. Terms like sunrise and sunset, as mentioned, or phrases like “kick the bucket,”  a somewhat slangish euphemism for dying. Making a “bucket list” capitalizes on that idiom to mean having a list of things one wants to experience or accomplish before dying. On a side note, I was amused recently to see someone take that a step further in an article on “my bucket list for the summer,” apparently not knowing the significance of the bucket in that phrase.

A couple of Biblical idioms:

  • The land of Canaan “flowing with milk and honey.” We understand that to mean plenty, not literal rivers of milk and honey.
  • To be “stiff-necked” or to stiffen the neck indicate stubbornness, not a need to see a chiropractor.

Metaphors. A simile compares two things using the phrase “like” or “as”: “Her smile is as bright as a summer day.” A metaphor does the same thing but without “like” or “as.” In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, we have this famous metaphor: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

A few Biblical metaphors: ‘Behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves” (Song of Solomon 1:15b. “You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13a).

Anthropomorphism attributes human characteristics to something not human. “The flower lifted it face to the sun.” “The wind roared.”

Biblical examples: “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). The Bible says that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24) and as such does not have body parts as we know them. Yet to communicate with us in ways we can understand, the Bible speaks as if He does. “ And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:5). Psalm 17:6 says, “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.” Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” We understand that to mean that God’s care is just as real as if He were literally holding us in his arms.

Personification is closely related to anthropomorphism, meaning to treat something abstract or inanimate as if it was human. One of Emily Dickinson’s poems personifies death: “Because I could not stop for Death,/He kindly stopped for me;/The carriage held but just ourselves/And Immortality.”

Biblical example: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you” (Proverbs 1:20-23).

Hyperbole exaggerates something for effect. “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

Biblical examples: “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:24). “The cities are great and fortified up to heaven” (Deuteronomy 1:28b).

Poetry uses many of these devices, but poetry itself is often phrased in a non-literal way. To quote Emily Dickinson again:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

Biblical examples: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4). God didn’t actual send in giant birds, a la The Lord of the Rings, but His care of them was just as if He did. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9-10).

Parables are very short stories with a moral or religious meaning, like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” They differ from fables in that they have human characters and are plausible, whereas fables use animals, sometimes inanimate objects or nature, and are usually obviously fanciful.

In the Bible, Jesus’s teaching abounds with parables: the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the sower, the good Samaritan, etc. But there are parables in other parts of the Bible as well, especially among the prophets, like the one Nathan told that convicted David of his sin with Bathsheba.

Symbols involve an item being used to represent something else, like a newscaster referring to the White House and meaning the government: “The White House issued a statement today…”

Revelation is full of symbols. The dragon and the beast, for instance, are not animals but evil people whose characters are represented by those beings. There has been argument over the elements of communion, or the Lord’s supper, or the Lord’s table, for years, but it makes the most sense to believe that the elements of bread and wine are symbolic rather than actually containing the body and blood of Christ. One indication of this is the reaction of the disciples as they listened. They were not above questioning and even arguing with the Lord, but no one batted an eye at His statements at the last Supper, indicating that they didn’t think He was advocating cannibalism.

When we listen to the news, read nonfiction, or hear a speech, we can easily discern these literary devices, and we don’t dismiss everything else the speaker or writer says as symbolic or untrue because they use anthropomorphism or an idiom or a metaphor. We’re able to discern from the context whether certain phrases are literal or figurative, usually without even thinking about it, and we get the message the communicator is trying to convey.

I, for one, am glad the Bible uses different literary genres of devices rather than just giving us lists of facts and truths and teachings. Many of us “get” truth in different ways – some prefer it plainspoken, some benefit from a story or illustration. Hearing the same truth in the law, in a parable, in poetry, in prophecy, in an epistle, reinforces that truth to us.

The Bible uses these devices, but the Bible is not wholly a story or parable or fable. There are some who interpret the first two chapters of Genesis or all of Genesis or even the greater part of the Old Testament as myth. But much of the OT is literal history.

The better way to read the Bible is in an ordinary way like you would any other nonfiction, taking it as meaning what the words would ordinarily mean unless the context indicates it is figurative speech. For instance, there is nothing in the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts of creation that indicate anything is meant other than normal 24 hour days. Sure, Peter says “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” but that doesn’t mean every time you see the word “day” in the Bible that it could possibly mean 1,000 years.The ordinary reading of this passage would indicate that creation took place in the span of a week. That’s certainly not beyond God’s power to do. Good people differ on this, and I don’t think anyone’s salvation hinges on whether they think the days in Gen. 1 and 2 are 24-hour days or eons. But I have read accounts where this is taken as mythic or symbolic that then skew other parts of the Bible to mean something quite different from what a more literal reading would indicate. Though good people can differ here and there on some of the fine points, overall a literal approach (except where obviously figurative) is the best.

And by saying that we read it in an ordinary way, I am not discounting that we need the Holy Spirit’s help to open our understanding. The Bible is a supernatural book and we need God’s help to understand it rightly. I just mean that we read it as literal unless it’s obviously figurative.

There is much more that could be said about this, but I am way past the time I allowed for this post, and it’s plenty long already.

A couple of other helpful articles are Taking the Bible Literally (though I’d disagree with him on a couple of points, like hell) and Do Faithful Christian Take the Bible Literally?

(Sharing with Inspire me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Soul Survival)

Advertisements

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

Here are more good reads discovered in the last week or so:

The Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill, HT to Challies. From a man who had transgender surgery on why it didn’t solve his problems and facing reality. He had other issues, but those weren’t even dealt with before his psychologist approved him for surgery.

A Three-step Strategy for Fighting Sin, HT to Challies. Probably one of the most helpful articles I have seen on the subject. On the same topic from the same blog: 20 Practical Ways to Kill Sin.

5 Ways to Pray for Persecuted Saints, HT to Challies.

You Were Created for More Than Motherhood.

The Neglected Stepchild of the Bible, Ecclesiastes. There are some weird approaches to this book, and this article helps rightly divide it.

Do Christians Have to Care About Everything? HT to Challies. “You’re not Christ. You’re part of His body. And there is a difference.”

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Fives

FFF delicate leavesIt’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I’m a little late today – it’s been one of those mornings with a number of interruptions. I often write the bulk of my FFF post on Thursday afternoons, but that didn’t happen this time. But – we’re here now, so here are some of the favorite parts of the week!

1. Leaves changing. I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks that they had only just started to change, and here in our neighborhood, that’s still true. But we were out in a different area of the city on Sunday and saw lots of fall color. Lovely!

2. Late bloomers. My hydrangea had gotten big and bushy but hadn’t bloomed all summer – until now! Maybe because of those big spots on the leaves – any idea what those are and what to do about them?

IMG_0412

Even my geranium looks like it might have another round of blooms.

IMG_0413

3. Magazines. Like many people, I’ve gotten away from magazines with all that’s available on the Internet. But there’s still something nice about curling up on the couch with the latest edition. I received gift subscriptions for these two for my birthday, and their first issues recently arrived.

IMG_0410

4. Meals I didn’t cook. My daughter-in-law made dinner here last Sunday, we ate takeout from MacAlister’s Deli and a barbecue place a couple of different evenings, and I met a friend for lunch at IHOP this week.

5. A Timothy funny. Recently as he was coming up to our front door, he said, “I big now. I have hairy legs.” 🙂

Happy Friday!

Even more stray thoughts…

I don’t usually post “rambling” posts too closely together, but I forgot some things last time. 🙂

  • On the health front: Since going off one of the medications I was put on post-afib surgery, I have not had any more major episodes lasting hours. They said it would be rough going off of it, but instead it’s been the best I’ve felt since the surgery. (Thank you, Lord!) I’ve had some little flutters lasting just a few seconds at a time – they seem to come in clusters for a bit during they day, but then nothing the rest of the day. But that’s MUCH better than 2-6 hours!

 

  • Since I was doing so well, I was hesitant to start the new medication. I read the information that comes with a prescription – something I don’t usually do because they tend to make me not want to take the medicine – and, yep, this made me not want to take it. I know they have to include everything that could possibly happen, and most of the time when I go ahead and take it, I don’t experience any of the dire potential side effects. But this, first of all, said it is usually given in the hospital under a doctor’s supervision. Yikes! Nothing was said to me about that, and I am assuming since they sent me home with it, it’s a low enough dose to be ok. But that definitely is scary. There were a few other things that make me reluctant to take it, but that was the main one. I can’t decide whether to call the doctor’s office and ask if I can avoid taking it, since I am doing so well – or whether I should just not take it and then talk about it at my next appointment. Probably the first course is the better one, but I don’t want to get into a position of him saying yes, I should take it, and then me deciding I don’t want to after all, and then having to explain that. 🙂

 

  • Things I’ve seen that make me wonder:

  • Why do they charge delivery charges if that doesn’t go to the driver? Well, this doesn’t say it doesn’t go to the driver, but that’s what I assumed. Maybe it’s like waitresses: they get paid a little but less than they would normally and the rest is made up in tips. But by the time you had a delivery charge and a tip, that’s a significant amount – and one of the reasons we don’t often have food delivered.
  • I was rummaging around for some dental floss in the back of the bathroom drawer (trying to get better about flossing) and found one that had come from the dentist’s office a while back. It had an expiration date from a year ago. Dental floss has an expiration date? I don’t know why it would. It would make sense if it had a flavoring on it – I’ve seen some with a minty taste. But this didn’t have that. I don’t think it would shred or fray in just a year’s time. My husband thinks it’s a scam to make people buy more floss. 🙂
  • A note on prescription information insert from the drugstore: “For faster refills, call 24 hours in advance.” That does not seem faster to me. 🙂

 

  • I don’t think I have shared the most recent birthday cards I have made yet. Jason had a “milestone” birthday this year, and in looking for ideas for his card, I came across several listing things that had happened during his birth year. I ended up doing this one on the computer – I told him that even though it wasn’t hand-made, it was Mom-made. 🙂

Jeremy likes foxes, and I was aiming for a design that didn’t look childish.

Jesse is an avid video gamer, so this seemed appropriate for him.

  • I mentioned last time being frustrated with complicated issues being reduced to zinging tweets and snarky memes in public forums. I’ve been thinking that we ought to bring back forensic debating in schools. Not the farces that we call presidential debates during election season. When I was in college, one of the regular commencement week activities was the championship debate, a culmination of different groups who had been debating a particular topic all through the school year, and the top two teams debated the final round before the entire school body. At the time, I am sorry to say, I found it quite boring. But now I wish more people were educated in this kind of logical thinking, giving out and responding to facts rather than conjecture, name-calling, and shouting each other down. I hope school debates are still conducted like this. I know some schools still have them, but I think more should and they should receive more emphasis.

 

  • I have also been alarmed to see more and more anti-capitalist rhetoric in recent months. Some equate capitalism with greed and oppression when it should be equated with opportunity (the little guy who pursues a big idea, the family restaurant that grows into a national chain). I lived through the Cold War and helped pray people out of Soviet prisons: believe me, you really don’t want communism. Talk about oppression. There is no perfect economic system: every one has its flaws. And because we’re sinners, there are people who are going to exploit the flaws in any system for personal advantage, so there needs to be safeguards in place. This is an area requiring study and thought, not just sound bytes.

 

  • Our family is currently going through some major changes. My husband was asked to take on a different position at his company. He’s had to turn down a few of those requests before because they involved travel, and he felt he couldn’t be away more than a couple of days at a time due to his mom being in our home. She tends to get a little more disoriented when he’s away for very long. But that’s also out of consideration for me, so I don’t have the bulk of her care, and I appreciate that. This position will not require that kind of travel, so that helps. It’s an area he has been partially involved in for years, so I hope being in it full time is enjoyable for him. Right now they are still in a transition phase.

 

  • Another big change is that we have decided to leave the church we have attended for seven years and look for a new church home. There really isn’t any one major issue, but my husband has been unhappy there for some time. We talked it out and decided it was time to move on. We didn’t visit around various churches when we first came here because we knew the pastor at this church (who has since passed away) and knew from the start that’s where we would attend. So we’re going through that visiting-around process now, which is always…interesting. This is the first time we have ever left a church for reasons other than moving away, so it feels a little awkward in many respects. I always feel a little homeless without a church family, but I do have a sense of excitement to see what the Lord has in store for us.

And that wraps it up for today!

Save

Thoughts on the MacArthur ESV Study Bible

MacArthur ESVI mentioned in my last Nightstand post that I had finished reading the ESV version of the MacArthur Study Bible but wasn’t planning to review it. How do you review a Bible, after all? But one friend said she’d like to hear my thoughts about it. So here goes.

I’d like to discuss it in two parts: the ESV version and then MacArthur’s notes.

The subject of Bible versions can be touchy and whole books have been written on them – I can’t possibly go into everything concerning them here. The best book I know of on the subject is From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man: A Layman’s Guide to How We Got Our Bible. A former pastor, someone whose exposition I trust more than anyone else I’ve heard or read, is one of the contributors, I knew one of the others in college, and I have heard a couple of others speak. That doesn’t mean these men are infallible, of course, but I have heard and read enough of them to generally trust them, and I have read enough elsewhere that supports what they say. Probably the biggest issue for those who are “King James Only” is the manuscripts that the different version or translated from. I think this book handles that ably, and I have read and heard enough to feel assured about reading version like the NASB (New American Standard Bible) and ESV (English Standard Version), as well, as, of course, the KJV and NKJV. (If you differ with me on this, that’s your prerogative, but I really don’t want to get into any arguments about it here. I have known some KJO people to think less of other Christians who use different versions, or even to break fellowship with people who don’t use the KJV. I think that is definitely going way too far.)

If you’ve read much about Bible translations, you’ve probably come across different theories or processes. No translation of anything from one language to another is going to be word for word exactly, literally, like the original. There are differences in syntax: for instance, Spanish puts the adjective after the noun while English usually puts it before: Casa Blanca for White House. One language may not have the exact word equivalent for every word in another language, and so on. If you’ve ever looked at a Greek interlinear New Testament, which has the Greek words and then the corresponding English above or below them, you’ll get some idea of the difficulty. (Take a look at Luke 2, for example.) Translators fall into two camps: those who try to translate word for word, staying as close as possible to the original while making ti understandable in another language, and those who translate thought for thought. The thought-for-thought translations are usually the most readable, but the least accurate.

Forgive the excess background material, but I felt I needed to go into that to explain that I think the ESV is probably my favorite translation. The KJV will always hold a special place in my heart, and I tend to think in King James, after having used it and read it for over 40 years now. But the ESV seems to me to best combine accuracy and readability.

Now on to MacArthur’s notes. I think this is the first time I have ever read through a study Bible, and I found the bulk of the notes very helpful. At the beginning are sections called Introduction to the Bible (kind of an overview), How We Got the Bible, How to Study the Bible, a preface to the ESV explaining the philosophy and style that went into this transition, an explanation of the features, especially the cross references and footnotes. Before each of the Testaments are introductions, chronologies, overviews, etc., and even the intertestamental period gets a few pages. Each book is introduced with a few pages discussing authorship, date, background and setting, historical and theological themes, interpretive challenges, and an outline. I found this especially very helpful to read before beginning a particular book. Throughout the book are applicable maps, charts, and diagrams and footnotes on most of the verses. At the end are appendices on The Character of Genuine Saving Faith, an Overview of Theology, a plan to read through the Bible in a year, an index to key Bible doctrines, Monies, Weights, and Measures, and a concordance.

The book is too bulky to carry to church, almost a little hard to handle while sitting on the couch, where I usually do my Bible reading. The print in the notes especially is very small, but if it was any larger, more pages and therefore more bulk would be required. So the size of both the print and the book itself are probably the best compromise.

I did not know much about MacArthur before reading this. I had found him to be a little terse in what things of his I had read, and that seems to come through here, but then again, that’s the nature of the verse-by-verse notes. Sometimes something I had a question about wasn’t addressed, or at least not to the extent I’d like, but I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a commentary, and the notes needed to be limited to a degree.

At first it was a little distracting to read a verse and then read the corresponding notes, but after a while it didn’t seem to be. It did help to reread or at least skim through the chapter again after reading it verse then note then verse, to put it all together.

I have multitudes of places marked, much more than I can share here, but here are a couple:

It helped to realize that Chronicles was not just a repeat of Kings, but was written when the Jews were returning to Israel after 70 years of exile to a land far different from their “glory years” of David and Solomon.

The chronicler’s selective genealogy and history of Israel…was intended to remind the Jews of God’s promises and intentions about: 1) the land; 2) the nation; 3) the Davidic king; 4) the Levitical priests; 5) the temple; and 6) true worship, none of which had been abrogated because of the Babylonian captivity. All of this was to remind them of their spiritual heritage during the difficult times they faced, and to encourage them to be faithful to God (p. 557).

Of Exodus 20:5-6, which speaks of God “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,” MacArthur says:

Moses had made it clear that children were not punished for the sins of their parents (Deut. 24:16; see Ezek. 18:19-32), but children would feel the impact of breaches of God’s law by their parents’ generation as a natural consequence of its disobedience, its hatred of God. Children reared in such an environment would imbibe and then practice similar idolatry, thus themselves expressing hateful disobedience. The difference in consequence served as both a warning and a motivation. The effect of a disobedient generation was to plant wickedness so deeply that it took several generations to reverse (p. 123).

Re the imprecatory prayers in the psalms: “As God’s mediatorial representative on earth, David prayed for judgement on his enemies, since these enemies were not only hurting him, but were primarily hurting God’s people. Ultimately, they challenged the King of kings, the God of Israel” (p. 734).

There were a few places I disagree with him, some minor, such as whether David was wrong to mourn Absalom in the way he did (MacArthur thought it was “melancholy,” “weak, ” and “unwarranted zeal for such a worthless son”; I thought it was perfectly natural to deeply grieve not only his loss of life but his state at the end of it). Some differences were major, particularity a Calvinistic bent which I had not known he possessed.

Calvinism is another issue too large for one blog post. I agree with parts of it but seriously disagree with other parts. But for just one example, one of the ares where I most disagree with it is with the “I” in the TULIP” acronym: Irresistible Grace, the idea that if God calls you to salvation, you can’t say no. One passage that particularly counteracts that idea, in my opinion, is where Jesus laments, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34). That sounds pretty much like they resisted His overtures and attempts to gather them to Himself. Here’s what MacArthur says of the Matthew passage:

God is utterly sovereign and therefore fully capable of bringing to pass whatever he desires (cf. Isa.46:10)–including the salvation of whomever he chooses (Eph. 1:4-5). Yet, he sometimes expresses a wish for that which he does not sovereignly bring to pass (cf. Gen. 6:6; Deut. 5:29; Ps. 81:13; Isa. 48:18). Such expressions in no way suggest a limitation on the sovereignty of God or imply any actual change in him (Num. 23:19). But these statements do reveal essential aspects of the divine character: he is full of compassion, sincerely good to all,  desirous of good, not evil–and therefore not delighting in the destruction of the wicked… (p. 1403).

This passage makes sense to me if Christ is lamenting that people turned away from His attempts to draw them, because He knows what it will ultimately mean for them (if you turn away from Him, there is nowhere else to go. If you won’t accept his grace, there’s nothing left but wrath). But it doesn’t make sense if He is saying, “I didn’t elect you, and you don’t have any chance, but I feel bad about that.”

The Bible itself is inspired by God: no man’s notes and commentaries are. But someone else’s intense study of the Word of God can be greatly beneficial to us in our own study, and, though I disagreed with MacArthur in a few places here and there, I was greatly helped by the majority of his notes.

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)

 

Save

Balance

(Photo courtesy of https://morguefile.com/)

22 years ago a virus attacked my spine, and my body, in an auto-immune response, attacked the myelin sheath around the nerves as well as the virus. This is called transverse myelitis, which I wrote about more extensively here. The main symptom, from a whole laundry list of them, was that I couldn’t walk on my own. With physical therapy and a lot of prayer, I progressed from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane to wobbly and then more firmly walking on my own.

Among the symptoms still remaining are lack of full feeling in my left hand and lower legs, weird nerve signals, and balance problems that are worse when I am standing still. One of the early exercises my physical therapist had me do was to stand on a pillow, close my eyes, and lean as far as I could in different directions. We did this in front of my bed so that I’d have a safe place if I fell backwards, and she promised to catch me if I fell forward. But she was a tiny little thing and I was afraid of crushing her! Thankfully that never happened.

Though the balance issues are much better than they were 20-22 years ago, they are still a problem. I’m not sure what makes them worse some days than others. But the one thing that helps most is touching something stationary, if I am standing, or firm if I am walking. Just touching something firm keeps me steady. Sometimes that means taking someone’s arm, or leaning against a wall or chair. When I was in choir, it used to be that the back of my calves touching the chair behind me was sufficient, but I had to quit when that no longer was enough to keep me steady. Even while standing and singing in the congregation, I’m usually touching or leaning against the pew in front of me. If my eyes are closed in the shower, I often have to touch the wall or the caddy holding the soap and shampoo. Stairs are almost an impossibility if they don’t have a handrail. Uneven or rocky ground requires an assistant.

Feeling unbalanced is disorienting, even scary sometimes, occasionally paralyzing. Balance is an essential part of walking. It’s hard to move forward if you’re constantly fearing a fall, but even aside from fear, without stability your mind and body can’t process moving forward.

~~~

It’s easy to feel disoriented, unstable, and even fearful in this world today. So many problems, so many issues, so many arguments without simple resolutions. The hymn echoes what Paul said, “fightings and fears within, without.”

Where can we find balance, safety, and stability? Where is something firm to lean on to hold us steady and help us move forward?

 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. Psalm 119:116-117.

For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.  Psalm 56:13, ESV.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped…Until I went into the sanctuary of God

Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:2, 17a, 23-26.

“Believe God’s love and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your rock is Christ, and it is not the rock that ebbs and flows but the sea.” ~  Samuel Rutherford

(Sharing with Inspire Me Mondays, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Soul Survival, Tell His Story, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

Save

Save

Laudable Linkage

img_0021

I have kind of a longish list today, but found all of these noteworthy or thought-provoking in some way. Hope you find something you like!

Where Is God in a Mass Shooting? HT to True Woman.

Letter to a Church Member (Or a Letter to Myself). “Your church is here, not to give you a good self-image, but to give you a true self-image.”

Exegesis Without Embarrassment, HT to Challies. The first of a series dealing with why God would command the destruction of the Canaanites.

Ten Things You Should Know About Temptation, HT to Challies.

God Is With You in Your Panic Attack.

Let’s Get Real About Women’s Discipleship, HT toChallies. “If Instagram is any clue, most Christian women think discipleship is limited to hosting thoughtfully curated Bible studies in tasteful homes where shrieking children and dirty dishes don’t exist. This glossy ideal sits like a yoke on many women’s shoulders rather than spurring them onward in Christ’s Great Commission.”

The Holiness of Small Things.

Worship Isn’t About Feelings, HT to Challies. “Sometimes I serve my neighbor out of obedience to Christ, and love for Christ follows. Sometimes I am filled with love for Christ, such that I look for an opportunity serve my neighbor.

When You Don’t Need God’s Guidance, HT to True Woman. “We don’t need to seek guidance where guidance has already been revealed in Scripture. How easy it is to convince ourselves we’re “confused” about what we should do when we’re reluctant to do what we know is right. It helps us feel better to label questions of morality “complicated” when they require us to pick up a cross or suffer rejection. The serpent’s ancient whisper—Did God really say?—trips off the tongue when God’s commands are costly.”

Heroes, Hagiography, and Villainy. I’ve been thinking for some time now about writing a post concerning flawed heroes. This says some of the things I have been thinking.

Four Reasons to Read Slowly. “The Information Age isn’t slowing us down, but subtly and constantly pressuring us to speed up. As we browse, surf, and scroll, we’re training ourselves to quickly see new facts and then look for the next figures, rather than feel the weight of what we read.”

Advice for Reading the Bible when a learning disability makes it hard.

Benny Hinn Is My Uncle, But Prosperity Preaching Isn’t For Me.

Theological imagination.

I Stopped Praising My Kids for a Week: This Is What I Learned, HT to Story Warren.

Some years ago I was wandering around the local library’s video collection looking for something to watch and saw the 10th anniversary production of Les Miserables. I decided to get it and see what all the fuss was about – and that started a love affair with the musical and then the book. Since the particular singers there were the first I heard, and though I have seen some wonderful clips of a variety of singers singing some of the songs, this cast will always embody the characters for me. Recently I stumbled across this video of Philip Quast, who played Inspector Javert, telling how he approached one of the solos. I had no idea such thought and intention was involved behind every word. In the song he’s discussing, Javert has just had an encounter with ValJean, the man he has been trailing all his adult life. ValJean has just carried a wounded Marius through the sewer system when he runs into Javert and begs Javert to let him see Marius to safety. Previously ValJean had held Javert’s life in his hands, and let him go. Javert can’t compute this: he upholds righteousness and The Law, and in his mind, once you’ve fallen, there is no mercy or grace. “Once a con, always a con” is his mindset. So how can it be that this man no longer acts like a con and even shows mercy and compassion?  I’ll post the video of this song from the musical after this interview:

A couple of other things I love about this: Javert’s previous solo was about the comfort he found in the stars as “sentinels” of God’s order in the world. But here, “the stars are black and cold.” Also, there is so much parallelism between this song and Valjeans’s soliloquy when when the bishop shows him an undeserved kindness: the same tune there and here, similar phrasing about “allowing this man” to have an influence, an offer of freedom, “I am reaching, but I fall…,” escaping the world of Jean ValJean, but in two different ways. Although ValJean had to wrestle with it, he accepted the bishop’s grace. Javert either thought he didn’t need it, since he was always in the right in his own eyes, or he couldn’t accept it from this man. When his entire worldview was turned on its ear, instead of adjusting, he could only escape. Grace accepted saves and changes a person. Grace rejected leaves one out in the cold darkness.

 

Save