Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 85

Thanking God for...
  • the fact that we don't have a huge house
  • the fact that Steve is not an investment banker
  • Elijah's improved eating this week
  • heavy blankets on cold nights
  • our iPod
  • long walks on breezy, sunny mornings
  • the ability to bake
  • Steve's late nights at work being a rare exception, not the rule
  • Elijah's giggles
  • our new computer monitor, which doesn't have to be hit frequently, propped up with random office objects, or continuously pushed with one hand to show the picture :)
  • vegetable beef soup
  • Steve's homemade cheese herb bread
  • the Word becoming flesh
  • the grace and mercy that the cross purchased

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Looking for an Escape Route

Over the weekend I discovered a wonderful gem of a blog. Just what I needed, right? But Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience writes with stunning beauty and profound insights. Her post today, "Living in a Pressure Cooker," provides a new perspective on escapism that I desperately need to hear and take to heart. Click over to read and be challenged, and take a look around while you're there. I could easily get lost in the archives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Economy, Fear, Anger and Jesus

I don't really understand the world of finance. So I don't have a clear or solid grasp of what exactly is going on with this whole economic meltdown we're currently experiencing (and that drives me crazy). Over the last few weeks (months, really), I've been reading lots of news articles and blog posts, trying to make sense of it all.

The more I learn, the more I find two emotions rising up in me. The first is fear: What if we ARE headed into another Great Depression, the likes of which none of us has ever seen? What if this IS the decline of the United States as we know it? Should we be stockpiling? What? How much? Is all the money we've saved, both short term and for retirement, going to vaporize? What if...?

The other is anger: How dare those greedy Wall Street brokers act so foolishly and irresponsibly! Why should wealthy executives get to line their pockets when the market is good, but not have to pay the price when everything goes south? It's so unfair that the profits are privatized and the risk is socialized! This is outrageous!

As Steve and I discussed the situation recently, he wisely said: "I can understand why people who think this life is all there is would be devastated by what's going on." If your treasure is 100% on earth...if you are living for pleasure and comfort here and now...if the prize you're eyeing is a secure, relaxing could you feel anything BUT fear and anger to see your dreams possibly going up in smoke?

But Jesus responds to my fear:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 5:19-21).

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ...And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 5:25, 27, 31-34).

And Jesus responds to my anger: There, but for the grace of God, go I. Do I not struggle with the same greed, the same selfish ambition? Would I not sin just as flagrantly if His hand did not hold me back? Am I really any more righteous than "those ungodly people" on Wall Street? Where would I be today if not for His mercy?

It's good and right to pray for the economy and the wellbeing of our country, but ultimately I must remember that my hope is not in the stock market or in a stable economy. Devastation may be natural and understandable for others--but I must replace the fear and anger with trust in a sovereign God who promises to provide for His children, and humility in acknowledging my own weakness and sin. As I observe current events, I must wait anxiously--not nervous for the unknowns of what's ahead next year or the year after here on earth, but excited for the joyful, certain return of the Lord, who will set all things right and make all things new.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I mentioned in this week's Thankful Thursday that I'm thankful for my Lightscoop. It was a birthday gift from my parents, but I didn't really use it much over the summer. I got it out the other night to take some updated photos of Elijah and remembered why it's such a great gadget. Rather than spending big bucks on an external flash for my camera, I can pop on this little $25 mirror and adjust a few settings, then bounce my camera's built-in flash off the ceiling or wall to avoid those awful direct-flash shots. One of these days if I get really motivated I'll take the same picture with the Lightscoop and with direct flash so you can see the dramatic difference. For now, if you're curious, you can check out the website :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 84

Thanking God this week for...
  • a new (to me) CD with songs that speak to my heart
  • the drop in temperature during the day, making walks much more appealing
  • the drop in temperature at night, allowing us to sleep with the window open and lots of covers
  • the little ways my husband spoils me
  • the big ways he is selfless and a servant-leader
  • my Lightscoop
  • bran muffins
  • His mercy
  • the emotion and honesty of the Psalms

Monday, September 08, 2008

Song Tag

Nobody tagged me, but that won't stop me from playing :) I've seen this floating around and thought it looked like a fun, quick meme for a Monday morning.

Rules of the game:
- Choose a singer/band/group
- Answer using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group

Nichole Nordeman

1. Are you male or female?
"I Am"

2. Describe yourself.
"Small Enough"

3. How do people feel when they’re around you?
"Lookin' At You (Lookin' At Me)"

4. How would you describe your previous relationships?
"Fool for You"

5. Describe your current relationship.
"We Build"

6. Something you want to say to your significant other?
"Never Loved You More"

7. How do you feel about love?

8. What’s your life like?
"Lay It Down"

9. What would you ask for if you had only one wish?
"Help Me Believe"

10. Say something wise.
"Gotta Serve Somebody"

Friday, September 05, 2008

Word Study: Radiant

I promised earlier this week I'd give an example of a word study, so here we are. Say you were studying Psalm 34, and verse 5 really stuck out to you - "Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."

You might notice a couple of different possibilities for word study just in that one verse, but the word "radiant" is an obvious choice. By using E-Sword or, we find out that the Hebrew word is "nahar" (Strong's #5102). We also find out that it appears only five other times in the Old Testament:
  • Isaiah 2:2 - "all the nations shall flow to it"
  • Isaiah 60:5 - "Then you shall see and be radiant"
  • Jeremiah 31:12 - "they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD"
  • Jeremiah 51:44 - "The nations shall no longer flow to him"
  • Micah 4:1 - "peoples shall flow to it"
As you look at each of those verses and their surrounding context, you start to see two distinct meanings:
  1. some sort of motion toward ("flow" to or "stream" to)
  2. a joyous look

Clearly, the second definition seems to fit in Psalm 34:5. But we haven't merely defined a word. If you look at all of Isaiah 60, Israel is "radiant" because her people who were far off have returned. Verse 5 goes on to say "your heart shall thrill and exult..." So we've gained a picture of a mother who is reunited with children who were lost or far away--imagine the look on her face.

And in Jeremiah 31, it's the people whom God has redeemed that are "radiant"--they "come and sing aloud" about God's goodness to them. So I think a reasonable application would be that when we look away from ourselves and look to God for our salvation, we will be radiant: overjoyed at what He has accomplished on the cross; thrilled at His goodness to us and full of songs of praise to Him.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 83

Thanking God this week for...
  • a three-day weekend
  • dinner with friends last Thursday
  • getting to spend time with them again on Friday
  • Monday's Qdoba date with my hubby
  • creative outlets
  • messages from old friends
  • a full refrigerator
  • hot showers
  • clean clothes
  • Steve's amazing carpentry skills
  • the ways Elijah makes me laugh
  • the ability to breastfeed
  • the abundance of books in our house
  • mercy--not giving me what I deserve
  • grace--giving me what I don't deserve
  • the hope of eternity

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Word Study

In the comments on my post about "the ungodly" in Jude, I received a request for tips about how to do a word study. I'm no expert, but I'm happy to share with you the process I learned in the Inductive Bible Study class I took in college. I'm a word nerd, so word studies are one of my favorite parts of the ten-step study process we learned!

It seems like every time I hear a speaker talk about the background of a word, it really sharpens the meaning of the verse and makes it come alive to me. We can miss so much by not knowing the nuances of the original language. So while a word study can't compare to being fluent in Hebrew or Greek, it can be a really powerful tool for deepening your understanding of Scripture.

The first step is to identify the English word to be studied. In the passage you are studying (perhaps a whole book of the Bible; maybe a single chapter or an even shorter section), look for words that are repeated often, or that are unfamiliar/uncertain to you. Take note of ones that seem to be really important to the point of the sentence/paragraph/chapter. If you're studying a long passage, you may come up with quite a list; you can study as many or as few as you have time for. [A note on this: if you use a Bible translation that's a dynamic equivalent (like the NIV) rather than literal (like the ESV or NASB) you may find that the word you're intrigued by isn't actually present at all in the original language--so you'll have to toss it from your list of words.]

Next, figure out the Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT) word behind the English. I'll assume that if you're reading my blog, you're somewhat computer-savvy and have no desire to do it the old-fashioned way (using a King James Bible, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, and Englishman's Greek Concordance)! A lot of people like to use, which is a very helpful site; I prefer a free download program called E-Sword--simply because that's what I started with so it's what I'm used to. Both are fairly user-friendly, I think, so I won't give step-by-step instructions. You can probably figure it out by clicking around and using help menus.

Once you figure out what the word is in the original language, find out where else it appears in the Bible. Depending on the word, you might have a couple of references or a couple hundred. This is the most time-consuming part: look them up. In each passage where the verse is used, look at the context. Note what English word is used to translate it (it won't always be the same). If it's a noun, ask questions like, "What adjectives are used to describe it?" If it's a verb, you might consider, "Who does it? What is its effect?" Figure out the meaning of the word based only on that particular passage.

Eventually you'll come up with a "range of meanings"--a handful of slightly (or very) different definitions for the Greek/Hebrew word. Then go back to your original passage. The word most likely doesn't mean ALL the range of meanings at once; which one fits best?

After you've done the legwork yourself, check your results against a lexicon or a wordbook (like Thayer's, which is built into E-Sword). If you're pressed for time, you could just consult the lexicon from the start. But the information will mean more to you and stick with you longer and if you spend the time digging for it yourself. You'll also have the benefit of knowing where else in the Bible that word is used and what that might mean--like my study of "ungodly" that started in Jude and took me to Romans. In effect, you haven't just studied one passage; you've touched on several others.

And there you have it! I hope that's helpful and clear. Later this week I'll try to put up an example so you can see all the steps in action. Meanwhile, if you have a different method or additional tips (or questions), post them in the comments!