Friday, May 28, 2010


We've had a lot of milestones lately in our family.  Here are some highlights:

Emma graduated from preschool!  After 3 great years in our church's preschool, she's heading to Kindergarten.  We're proud of her for working hard and being a good friend.  She did one last round of kindergarten testing yesterday and had a great attitude.

Eliana and Emma performed a play with the neighborhood kids and raised $54 for Compassion International's Disaster Relief Fund by selling lemonade to the audience.  There were 53 of us there to enjoy early memorial day picnic.  It was a great opportunity for neighbors to meet each other.  The kids worked long and hard on the play (8 months, actually!) with almost no adult involvment and did a great job.  Eliana's other milestones this week were her solo in the church musical and reaching her reading goal for the school year.  She read 2 million words for the Accelerated Reader program, which included a total of 122 books (most of them chapter books).  Wow!

I finished my spring coursework!  Now that school is wrapping up for all three of us gals in the family, we're thinking a lot about how to spend our summer together.  I'll be taking one Hebrew Exegesis class (focusing on the Jacob narratives in Genesis), and working on some other school-related projects, but I'm hoping it's a lighter load than last summer.  Eliana is taking swimming lessons for the first time, and attending a historical summer day camp for a week, and we're all looking forward to trips to the library (if it's open!), swimming, playing games, and having indoor picnics (too hot here to have them outside!).  We're headed to Oregon and Washington for a few weeks from late July to early August to see family and friends.  All in all I'm excited to have more time to spend with my precious kids.  They are growing up so quickly!  Are they cute or what?!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

living in the 'last days'

How will we know when we're living in the end times?  There have been 'wars and rumors of wars' for a long time now.  Will something on tomorrow's evening news tip the scales and usher in the apocalypse?

Greg Beale would say 'no!'  From his perspective, Christians misread the Bible when they think that predictions about the 'last days' are exclusively future.  He goes to great lengths to show that the 'end times' started a long, long time ago.  It was a mere 40 days after Jesus' ascension that Peter announced to those witnessing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that they were seeing the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy about the "last days" (Acts 2:17).  Paul announced to the Corinthian church that they were those "upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor 10:11).  The New Testament writers clearly saw themselves as already living in the last days. From their perspective the coming of Christ was the great hinge of history that ushered in the kingdom of God.  Beale points to 2 Corinthians 1:20 as one example of this line of thinking: "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ" (NIV).  Theologians have a fancy term for this - inaugurated eschatology.  That simply means that because of Jesus the last days (eschaton in Greek) have already begun, but they are not yet complete.  If we look around we can see evidence of all sorts of things that were expected at the end of time: wars, persecution, deception, people turning from the faith.  There will be more to come, but it won't be substantially different from what we are already seeing.

So what difference does this make?  If we understand ourselves to be living in the end-time kingdom of God our behavior takes on new significance.  How we choose to live will determine how quickly His reign will extend to all nations!  If these are the last days, then we need to be careful not to be deceived by doctrines that are attractive but dangerously false.  The 'lawless one' predicted by Daniel was already at work in Paul's day (see 2 Thess 2:7), and we can be sure that those who want to undermine God's authority are operating in our own day as well.

This is just a taste of what I've learned in Dr. Beale's New Testament Theology course this semester (available for distance study through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Semlink program).  It's been a tremendously helpful class for me, providing a thoroughly biblical framework by which to understand the whole Bible.  I highly recommend it!  If you'd like to dive further into this subject without taking the course, I'd recommend the following two books: The Temple and the Church's Mission (Greg Beale, which I reviewed here) and The End of the Age Has Come (Marvin Pate).  Both are very readable and together provide a great overview of biblical theology.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

intelligence is not a virtue

Neither is beauty, or vocal talent, or physical coordination.
It's a hand you are dealt, not an accomplishment.

What you do with it, of course, has ethical consequences. 

Faithfulness, perseverence, service to others ... these are the fruit of godliness.
Patience, kindness, self-control ... these are evidence of a Spirit-controlled life.

All that came to mind on Monday when Emma blew us out of the water with her IQ test results.  (She was tested to determine Kindergarten readiness).  We are sobered by our responsibility as parents to cultivate humility and a heart for others, and to harness her God-given intellectual gifts in service of His kingdom.

Shortly after Danny suggested that I "take a class or two" in seminary 4 years ago, we sang a hymn in church that gripped me and has not let go since.

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart - it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treaure store.
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for thee.

Maybe you've never considered yourself very smart.  Be encouraged!  Smart people are in no better position to love God or please Him.  Whatever gift He has given you (make no mistake, He has gifted you in some unique way!) is meant for others (Ephesians 4:11-13; Romans 12:3-8).  So find out what it is and lay it at His feet.  He has big plans for His kingdom that require your participation!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

a seminary mom's mom

I wish that all of you could know my amazing mom.  For the past 33 years (almost) she's been my cheerleader, encourager, listener, and (for a long time now) my best friend.  For 9 years she's invested in my children as only a grandma can.  No subject is too trivial, no issue too deep for us to talk about.  Her availability has been such a blessing, helping me to weather the storms and celebrate the victories of motherhood, school, and life in general.  Her prayers have upheld us.  Her gifts have cheered us.  And her love has carried us through.

Mom has a remarkable ability to make something out of nothing.  Her resourcefulness, creativity, and thriftiness have made lean years into happy ones.  And that resourcefulness has undergone severe testing; since her car accident 6 years ago even energy and mobility are in short supply.  But in the midst of more pain than most of us will feel in a lifetime she has persevered and continued to care for those around her.  Her brilliant creativity is trapped inside a body that won't cooperate with her ambition, yet she makes use of the brief moments of respite from pain that she has.  And through it all (because of it all!) her faith is vibrant.  She prays, she dreams, and she continues to remind me that no matter how broken our bodies or discouraging our circumstances we can worship the God who made us, loves us, and is working out his purpose in our lives.  Her willingness to share the journey with me -- no matter how hard -- is such a gift.  What more could a daughter want?

I love you, Mom. You're a blessing from God!