First day of the week

April 20, 2014

This morning in (adult) Sunday School, someone asked me to clarify the sequence of events from the evening of the Last Supper to the resurrection. I know that not everyone agrees with the traditional view that Jesus was betrayed on Thursday evening and rose early Sunday morning. But disputes over the timeline were not pertinent to the lesson (and I’m not the teacher, though as pastor’s wife I am frequently asked questions not covered in the quarterly), so I explained briefly that what I set forth was the traditional view.

I remember from Bible school that some people think Jesus died on a Wednesday, in order to have him in the tomb for “three days and three nights.” From what I have read, however, I am inclined toward the traditional view that he died on a Friday. (Not that I think it is an essential matter. Why he died is far more important.) What I did not realize until I did some web surfing today, however, is that not everyone agrees that he rose from the dead on Sunday.

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If St. Paul had used Powerpoint…

February 8, 2014

I’ve seen Scripture passages “translated” into a format familiar to users of modern technology, such as
God texts the Ten Commandments.” But this is the first time I’ve seen anyone tackle an entire book of the Bible.

I’m not sure whether this is poking fun more at people who inflict their tacky Powerpoint presentations on others, or at those who prefer Scripture packaged in convenient, sound-bite-sized portions. But this “Terrible Powerpoint” version of 1 Corinthians is humorous.

Books: The Story of the Christian Year

January 6, 2014

The Wee Kirk conference we attended in October had a book swap. I took a book which I had not found particularly interesting, and came home with The Story of the Christian Year by George Gibson. I enjoy reading history, particularly when it relates to something else I have a strong interest in (in this case, the Christian church), and the origins of the church year is a topic I had read very little about.

I grew up familiar with at least some seasons of the church year. Lighting Advent candles was the natural lead-in to Christmas, and our Advent calendars always started with the first Sunday of Advent, not with December 1 as I see so many of them today. Lent I considered something for grownups to be concerned with, not children, but I knew when it was and that it ended with Holy Week, which included Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then of course Easter.

When I began to attend a fundamentalist church as a teenager, I was surprised to find that people there not only did not celebrate these days and seasons, they did not even know what some of them were. Those who did know about them considered them unbiblical, remnants of the Roman Catholic church that mainline Protestant churches had retained because of their own low regard for Scriptural truth.

For the years that I considered myself a fundamentalist, I adopted that attitude myself. After all, the church I had grown up in had never preached the Gospel clearly. It wasn’t until I went to a fundamentalist church that I learned that I needed to admit that I was a sinner, that Jesus had died for my sins, and that I trusted him for salvation. The church I had grown up in was seen as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:5 KJV), focusing on the outward forms rather than the truth.

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Reading Augustine

January 2, 2014

Considering my post yesterday about reading the classics, it seemed quite serendipitous today to discover this invitation to read Augustine’s City of God, a little bit each day, over the course of this year. It’s one of those classics I’ve thought from time to time (as I happen upon mentions of it in something else I’m reading) that would be good to read, but that seemed too difficult to tackle on my own. But now I won’t be on my own. At the point when I joined the Facebook group, it was up to 841 members.

Collin Garbarino, who is organizing this, says that “City of God has everything—history, theology, philosophy, science.” That definitely sounds like my kind of book. And I don’t even have to track down the copy that I’m sure we have somewhere, since it is available online in various formats. Reading on a computer screen isn’t my favorite way to go, but it has the advantage of being something I can do from different computers, as long as I have the link (which is one reason I included it here).

Garbarino has designated January 6 as the starting day, but I plan to get started now – no doubt there will be days when I have trouble finding time to read even three or four short chapters.

Books: A Certain Justice

December 21, 2013

I don’t write blog posts about all the books I read, especially those that I read primarily for entertainment. Just as some books may be good reading but not provide much discussion in book clubs (see my previous post), they don’t provide for much to write about in a blog post.

Even with books that might give me a fair amount to say, if I’ve already read – and blogged about – other novels by the same author, I often find little to say that I didn’t say in a post about a previous book. I don’t generally have much to say about the plot – if you read a book you’ll find that out for yourself. And the kind of ideas discussed and the style of writing are often similar from one book to another. (That’s not a bad thing, I just am not inclined to write what feels repetitive unless the book is absolutely fantastic.)

In light of my previous post about book club books, however, I decided I did want to write something about P. D. James’ A Certain Justice. (Note: this is unrelated to the R-rated movie of the same title coming out in 2014.) I had nothing much to say about the last P. D. James book I read, Shroud for a Nightingale, which one reader review of the book I just read calls “brilliant” and James’ “most intricately plotted or fast-paced novel.” But A Certain Justice is thought-provoking in ways that Shroud for a Nightingale was not.

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Books: Confident Faith

November 23, 2013

After reading five books in Tyndale’s Summer Reading program, I was entitled to receive one book free from the same reading list. I had some trouble coming up with five books I was interested in reading, though I did end up finding all five worth reading. I had borrowed them from the library, however, and had no interest in acquiring my own copy.

I finally settled on Mark Mittelberg’s Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Beliefs. The reviews I read at were very positive, and Lee Strobel (whose books The Case for Faith and The Case for Christ I had previously read and found helpful) calls it an “invaluable guide” which he wishes he had had when he was looking for the truth about the Christian faith.

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Books: What Language Shall I Borrow?

November 11, 2013

As chair of the worship committee at church, I look for resources to enhance our public worship. Most of our time as a committee seems to be spent on planning the logistics of the worship service ( e.g. who is the accompanist each week, who is doing special music), but I try to occasionally bring up topics about the meaning and purpose of worship.

What Language Shall I Borrow?, by Ronald Byars, intrigued me because it addresses the issue of whether to use traditional or more contemporary language in the worship service. I have attended churches that used traditional language and others that use contemporary language, and I see certain benefits in both.

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Books: Holy Is the Day

September 13, 2013

Holy Is the Day is a new book by Carolyn Weber, whose book Surprised by Oxford I enjoyed so much when I read it back in April. In the earlier book she told the story of how she came to faith in Jesus Christ while a student at Oxford University. This book is less easy to summarize, but full of wisdom, humor, and spiritual encouragement, as well as wonderfully poetic use of language.

The book was just released this week, but I read an Advanced Reading Copy in electronic format. This is the first time I had ever read an ARC, and I learned from the experience how much I usually depend on knowing what a book is about before I read it. (I also decided on don’t like reading books in electronic format. Perhaps if I had a portable reader I’d mind it less.)

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but of course that’s because we usually do. Even trying to discount the impact of the cover design, I often choose whether or not to read a book based on what I read about the book on the cover (or the inside flap). These tell me something of what the book is about, and/or other people’s reactions to the book.

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Books: Congo Dawn

August 19, 2013

If I had to describe Congo Dawn in one word it would be this: gripping.

I cared about the characters, their situations were completely believable, and as the conflict moved toward a climax my heart was beating faster out of concern about how things would turn out. Considering both the setting (war-torn Congo) and the theme of God bringing good out of suffering, I could hardly feel confident that the author would arrange for all the good guys to make it through alive.

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Books: Borders of the Heart

August 9, 2013

I picked this book to read because it is part of Tyndale’s Summer Reading Program. The previous three books I read were from the non-fiction list, and I had liked all of them, even though none were books I would probably have read otherwise. So I decided to try some books from the fiction list.

I selected Borders of the Heart in large part because it is by Chris Fabry. I had not read any of his novels previously (but planned to read one sooner or later), but I had read three of his humor/inspirational books. I bought Spiritually Correct Bedtime Stories to go with the very humorous Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner and Legally Correct Bedtime Stories by David Fisher.

I don’t think it was quite as funny as the books by Garner or Fisher, but I enjoyed it enough to also buy Away With the Manger and The 77 Habits of Highly Ineffective Christians. I have to admit I didn’t enjoy them as much, but I was interested in seeing what Fabry did with fiction.

I was particularly interested in seeing a novel tackle the issue of illegal immigration, especially from a Christian perspective. As it turns out, however, the main characters are not actually dealing with a case of illegal immigration but with a drug cartel. (That is also an important issue, and one that has significant ramifications for how the whole border issue is handled.)

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