Category Archives: Bible Talk

Biblically minded (but not inspired!) ramblings meant to provoke discussion.

A Prayer For My Son

Thank You, Father, for my son.

Thank You for entrusting Your cherished child to my care.
Thank You for his providential personhood,
his distinction from me.
Let me never consider him the work of my hands,
but only ever the child of Your choosing.

I have been foolish:
impatient, selfish, weak-minded,
considered my calling a low one,
deemed myself worth more than the life You bestow.
I repent; I crave Your forgiveness.
Teach me joy in service,
grace in discipline,
wisdom in teaching.

Pour Your word into me,
that it might overflow into him.
I yearn to model You,
to provide a mirror that my son cannot deny,
to open the door to You.

Woo his heart, my Father,
as you’ve wooed mine.
Raise up, in my son, a warrior.

This prayer is modeled (kinda sorta) on the prayers found in The Valley of Vision, which I mention (primarily) in order to have the context to say: Go get this book. It’ll be worth your time and money.

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When Something is Really Real

A movie has to have a lot of merit before I’ll recommend it to a friend, and even more before I’ll recommend it to the general public. But this morning I found one that meets both standards.

It’s called Arranged, and it tells the story of an unlikely friendship – between Rochel, an Orthodox Jew, and Nasira, a Muslim, who both live in Brooklyn and teach in a public school. To everyone’s surprise, and several people’s indignation, the two girls find that they understand each other, and soon they realize that there is one weighty common ground between them – arranged marriages which haven’t yet come to fruition.

Zoe Lister Jones as Rochel, and Francis Benhamou as Nasira

This isn’t intended to be a movie review, but I have to tell you – go watch this film. It’s not a Christian movie (which I think is implied if you just read the previous paragraph) but it’s poignant and sweet and investing. I’d be hard-pressed to name a better-acted movie from recent years.

The movie’s tagline is “Friendship has no religion.” It makes a valid and much-needed point about loving others, even when you don’t agree with them. The two girls respect each other unconditionally, even in the face of ignorance and disdain, and their commitment is touching.

That said, it made me think about something.

In one scene, Nasira accompanies Rochel to a cemetery, where she prays for guidance and speaks to a passed relative, presumably a grandparent. As she sways on the spot and whispers, holding her scriptures, Nasira stands behind, respectful and quiet.

I wondered to myself, “What is Nasira thinking, right now?”

If she really believes that her beliefs are true, then she believes that Rochel’s are wrong. If they are friends, then Nasira cares about her. And if she cares about her, she cares about her eternal standing.

If that’s all true, then there’s a logical disparity; Nasira is respectfully sitting back, watching her friend engage in activities which she believes are wrong and which lead away from eternal peace.

Maybe she is open to the possibility that Rochel’s religious concepts are right, and her own are wrong. But if she’s not sure, then why is she submitting to an arranged marriage? Why is she wearing a hijab?

It doesn’t make sense.

A person who believes that salvation only comes one way cannot have peace about a loved one not believing in that way. They can love that person – and in fact, they must. But that is something different. When Rochel prayed over a grave, it wasn’t the right time for Nasira to pipe up and correct her. That wouldn’t have been loving.

But there should have been a time when the girls expressed how they really felt about each other’s religions. People of opposing beliefs can easily have respectful, meaningful, and loving conversations about those beliefs. I know. I’ve done it. In fact, to not bring up that conversation is the opposite of loving.

I am not saying that Nasira should be hounding Rochel until she gives in, or vice versa. Let’s say Rochel and Nasira had a heart-to-heart about what they believed, each hoping the other would convert, but not pressing, and both girls decided to stay committed to their religions. Okay. Maybe you have had a conversation like that. Okay. Cause here’s the thing; it’s their choice.

But it’s a choice that we can offer in a concrete way. Maybe they’ve been searching, in their hearts, for years, and when we say God’s name, it lights up for them. Maybe they haven’t been searching, or maybe they are intentionally not searching. Still, what does it hurt to mention it? It’s an awful disservice to the Lord who saved us to think that He’s not worth mention when we have nothing to lose (and we usually don’t).

One of my pastors likes to ask, “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” A person who really believes there is a chair in the room will not hesitate to sit on it. And if we see a person getting ready to sit down on a chair that doesn’t exist, shouldn’t we say something?

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God is infinitesimal.

It’s late at night and I should go to sleep, but I just read something in Jeremiah that jumped at me. So now you get to read about it, you lucky ducks!

Okay, being serious now.

Jeremiah 10:13
When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the winds from his storehouses.

When this passage talks about God pushing wind out of his storehouses, I picture him opening the double doors on some great hangar, walking in behind his stash of wind, and  using both hands to push all of it out. Now, of course, he’s God, so it’s not like he has to push hard. But, you know, for the sake of the picture, it’s definitely a shove. He stretches the sinews in his upper arms and maybe groans just a little, expressing his strength. It’s awesome, in the literal sense of creating awe.

It’s just an image, of course. I know that in order for God to access his wind stash, he doesn’t have to open up his wind hangar. He doesn’t have to get a good angle on it by stepping behind it. He doesn’t have to push and he doesn’t have to groan and he doesn’t have to flick his arm in command and he doesn’t even have to speak. All he has to do is will it to be so, and the winds pour over the mountains.

And that makes him incomprehensibly big. Seriously. Can you really, genuinely imagine that? When he had to get into his wind hangar in my mind, he was huge. He was like this massive, titanic, colossal thing, and he took up the whole countryside and nothing had ever compared to his strength.

That kind of strength blows me away, but it doesn’t boggle my mind. Our god is infinitely bigger than that. So much bigger, we can’t even understand it. There is no picture for us to process that would make it clear. Imagine two of those titanic beasts.

Now three.
Now seven.
It’s getting hard to grasp, right? But God is infinitely bigger than that.

So we’ve established that God is huge. Just totally massive. Big enough to make your brain hurt, if you wrestle with it for too long.

Well, that makes me think of God as this huge Thing that’s too far away and too cosmic and too knowledgable for us to have any sort of relationship with. Maybe the same way an ant in an ant farm would conceptualize his owner, if he had the brainpower to do it.

God’s power isn’t limited to or defined by bigness. He has power over the wind that rushes through the trees, but doesn’t mean that his fingers are too big to fit into a human heart.

God is big, but He is also infinitesimal. God holds together the ridiculously tiny electrons and protons and neutrons that make up our atoms that make up our cells that make up our organs that make up our bodies. God is just as strong and just as effective in the world that’s so small we can’t see it as he is in the world that is so big we can’t see it. And he fits everywhere in between, too.

He is just the right size to hold a universe, just the right size to control the ocean, just the right size to break and heal a human heart, just the right size to make plankton, just the right size to hold a cell together.

He’s not just big. He’s perfect.

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Merry …

Incarnation Celebration!

Elyse Fitzpatrick (@elysefitz) tweeted this a few weeks ago:

“In light of the fact that we so consistently forget the point, I’m going to call Christmas the Incarnation Celebration this year. Join me?”

I’m joining in.

Also, on an Incarnation Celebration note: read Isaiah. Isaiah, I think, captures the meaning of Christmas a lot more fully than the “Christmas Story” in the gospels. Not that I’m opposed to that Christmas Story. But I think the story starts earlier, and lasts longer, than the parts the gospels relate.

Specifically, 54:8:

In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.

Also, I hope you had a good one.

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What I Mean By Being ‘Green’

I am not an environmental activist.

I’m letting you know this because in the last six months or so, I’ve had a lot of people assuming that I am. There are reasons for this. For example, my husband and I have recently switched to cloth diapers and wipes for our eighteen-month-old. I am finishing off my last bottle of shampoo and will be switching to baking soda when it’s gone. We avoid unhealthy food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG). We bought reusable shopping bags and a to-go cup to get coffee in at Dutch Bros.

We’ve been making these changes for various reasons. Cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposables, and food additives have been linked to all sorts of health problems. The one result which has put the single biggest smile on my face is not one I expected: we’re producing about half as much garbage as we were six months ago, and I’d say about eighty percent of that output is biodegradable material like food scraps and paper. We also waste about half as much food as we used to.

I love that.

But the reason I love it is not because I worry about the landfills dotting the globe, or about the ozone, or global warming, or any of that stuff. I’m not happy about those things, but I don’t worry about them much. God’s got it under control, and if the earth is going to have a catastrophic breakdown, I trust Him with it. By that, I do not mean “Trash the earth – who cares, since it’s just going to burn?” Instead I mean that, if it’s true that we’re headed for a massive ecological disaster, while that certainly is going to be a rough time in history, if not the very end of history, it’s still part of God’s plan.

I certainly don’t advocate destroying the planet, whether intentionally or by sheer neglect. But saving it isn’t a high priority of mine, either. I don’t feel called to that (but kudos to you if you are – there’s certainly nothing wrong with that).

So, then, we come to a question. If I’m not mainly concerned with saving the planet, why do I bother with all these environmentally-minded lifestyle changes?

There’s a little experiment that I really wish I could do. I wish I could take a cross-section of twenty people in my city, strip them of all their cultural bias for or against environmental activism, and show them their own personal pile of trash. Maybe a years’ worth.  The pile of yuck that they and only they are responsible for. I wouldn’t include their family’s output. I wouldn’t include the output of social functions they went to. Only each person’s individual trash.

My hypothesis is that each and every one of them, when separated from their cultural biases – from their stubbornness – would be disgusted by their wastefulness.

Not by their negative impact on the planet, but by their own selfish, greedy wastefulness.

Part of me wishes I could see my pile. Part of me is glad that I can’t. One thing’s for sure; I want to make it smaller.

By these lifestyle changes, I’m not advocating – or opposing – environmentalism. I am opposing consumerism. Here’s an example: next time you buy yourself lunch from a fast food chain, look at the packaging before you throw it away. Imagine that multiplied by however many millions of fast food meals are consumed in America each day (64 million at McDonald’s alone). Don’t worry – not right now – about all the plastic winding up in landfills. Right now, I have a different question.

How much money do you think was spent on that packaging?

Fast food has a purpose, to be sure. When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to cook myself a meal, I’ll hit a fast food joint, and I’m not ashamed of it. But what if everyone in America limited those trips, to only the days when they really had need of that convenience? Imagine how much money we’d save on packaging alone. How many impoverished kids do you think we could feed with that money?

I am not, therefore, an environmental activist. I don’t do what I do in order to save the planet. I do what I do because I want to be a good steward of the resources I’ve been entrusted with. 

Among the resources God has entrusted to me: money, time, space, skills, grocery stores, electricity, the internet, friends, the Bible, the Holy Spirit. (There are many more.) I combine these resources to achieve various desirable results: a picnic, clean laundry, spiritual maturity. (There are many more.)

In this process, there are two things I aim to not do:
a) reach non-desirable end results (eg: making drugs instead of making dinner), and
b) waste resources (eg: spending money on paper towels, when I could just use a washrag to clean up that mess or to hold my sandwich).

Because when I waste resources, I minimize desirable end results. That is, all the money I’m saving on diapers can go to buying Action Packs to send to Pakistan or Iran. And that’s a good use of resources.

Appendix A:
I’ve decided, after some thought and  lot of prayer, that I’m going to start a new series called Living Chartreuse. I thought about calling it “Living Green,” but as we’ve discussed, I’m not ‘green’ in the traditional sense. So chartreuse it is. I’m going to discuss ways that you and I can be good stewards of our resources. By nature, the series will focus pretty heavily on being a Christian wife and mother – you’ll probably see a lot of Proverbs 31 coming up. Hope you enjoy!

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My Habitual Levity (And Its Demise)

I read this tweet, from John Piper, a few weeks ago. And it stung.

Have you ever read a convicting Bible verse or been chided by a mentor, and it hit so hard and true that it hurt, so you just put it out of your mind? I did that with this tweet. I honestly thought, when I first read it, “Boy, B, you needed to hear that. You should put that on a Post-It and stick it to your mirror.”

And then I moved right down my news feed and forgot about it. Well, I tried to forget about it, anyway. God had other plans. (How often does that happen, right?)

Last night my husband and I were talking about Facebook. He has an account, but he’s not an avid user and most often when he logs on he’s so disgusted by what he sees that he logs off just as quickly. Me, on the other hand – I can lose hours on Face.

Now here’s my defense. I’ve clung to this line of reasoning since the beginning of MySpace.

Facebook is designed to do nothing more or less than what you’d do on a coffee date with a friend in real life. You’d share what’s happened in your day, you’d show off pictures if you had them, you’d laugh together over jokes you’d heard. When you interact with a local friend via Facebook, perhaps someone who you really do have coffee dates with, it’s really no different than talking on the phone, texting, or e-mailing. And when you interact with a friend who lives far away, it’s like having them for pen pals, minus the postage, which is convenient. Of course, when you don’t interact with friends on Facebook, but only ogle their pictures and absorb their day-to-day life because you feel like you need to know, well, that’s unhealthy. But I don’t do that.

Right?

So here’s  the deal, though. This is what I realized last night. If it’s no different than the phone or e-mails or writing letters: then why do I need it?

Here’s my biggest issue, personally, with Facebook: it sucks my day away. When someone posts something funny, I can’t help but follow the link, and the link is usually to a website which contains a lot more funny. Then I’m in the vortex and I usually don’t resurface for hours. Or perhaps someone uploaded a picture, but once I’ve seen that picture, I have to see the rest of them, too, even if I’ve looked at them all a hundred times already. And once I’ve checked my notifications, answered any messages and read my news feed, boredom usually compels me to sift through old posts and old conversations.

And if I don’t need Facebook in order to communicate with friends – which we’ve already established, I don’t – why do I expose myself to the temptation to waste all my time? With that time, I could clean the bathroom or read my Bible or sing a song to my son. In fact, I could probably do all three.

Facebook is my habitual levity. It’s my lack of seriousness, my disregard for what really matters in life.

(The biggest issue being that I ignore my Bible and prayer in favor of sifting through pictures I’ve seen already and jokes that I’ll forget by tomorrow morning.)

So, I’ve decided it’s time.

My household is more important.
My family is more important.
My God is more important.

Facebook is getting the axe.

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Job Chapter 38: the Visual Edition

Creation sings the glory of God, and that in itself is a glorious thing.

Just imagine – God is so magnificent, so utterly incomprehensibly wonderful,

that He, who can not be arrogant (it’s not in His nature),

was right and just in creating an entire universe to sing His own praise.

Just think about that for a moment!

It gets better.

That alone wasn’t enough for our God. Our God is bigger than that.

 Why? Because creation can’t not sing the glory of God; it’s simply made to.

We, on the other hand, can glorify God in a much greater way:

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