The Key to Understanding Scripture
ARTICLE ON BIBLE STUDY
Let’s be honest. Some of the stories found in the Bible are just plain hard to understand. The following questions inevitably come up:
- Why did the priests have to sacrifice animals?
- Why did God condone so much war and destruction?
- Why were some of the “heroes of the faith” polygamists?
For a long time, I wrestled with these kinds of questions too.
Yes, the Bible was written in a different time and place, historically and geographically, but God’s laws don’t change. The writer of Hebrews is clear:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8
There’s a key to understanding Scripture.
When it comes to reading the biblical text, it’s important to distinguish the descriptive and prescriptive nature of certain genres in the Bible.
When we’re reading the law in the Old Testament, or a letter in the New Testament, or Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, these are prescriptive words. These are commands for how we are to live our daily lives.
When we’re reading a narrative in the Bible (and there are many narratives in the Old Testament), we’re mostly reading descriptive words. These are stories that reveal God’s nature through actual historical accounts. And it’s to God’s credit that He has allowed these stories to be described as they actually occurred.
The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the lives of people in biblical times. Because God is Truth.
So when we read about the polygamy that was a part of some people’s lives in the Old Testament, the Bible is describing these accounts with historical accuracy. But that does not mean that the Bible prescribes this behavior. On the contrary, God is quite clear in His commands. God honors and upholds monogamy in marriage.
The key to understanding Scripture is to first identify the genre a certain book of the Bible is written in. Does the genre include descriptive words? Or prescriptive words? Or a combination of both?
What parts of Scripture do you find difficult to understand?
What’s your favorite part of the Bible to read?
ARTICLE ON WRITING
The Two Chairs Every Writer Must Have
If you hang around writers long enough, you’ll hear the old adage about logging time in the chair. The writer’s chair. And it’s true. Nothing will ever get written — beyond the scraps we scribble on tousled napkins and crumpled gum wrappers — unless we put our bum in the chair and set about the hard work of writing.
Every writer needs this chair.
I prefer one with four legs and zero wheels. My writing chair is not your typical swivel desk-chair that can roll out from beneath you. Mine is more like the kind of chair you’d find at the end of a formal dining table. Solid. Stately. And a little padded. Except mine is in front of my computer.
It works for me.
And if you’re writer, you’ll find the one that works for you.
But there’s a second chair that’s just as essential to the health of the writing life.
As much as we need to hammer out words on the anvil of our hearts while sitting in our writing chair, we also need a second chair — a designated place where we go to fill our hearts and minds, and most importantly, our souls.
We need a place where we can read beauty and truth and goodness from the writers who have gone before us. We need a place where we can ponder and reflect and consider the words that well up from within us. Above all, we need a place where our souls can drink from the Living Water, the holy words of Scripture that right our thinking and set our hearts on course for eternity.
Call it a reading chair or a thinking chair or a soul-breathing chair. The name doesn’t matter, only what happens in this “other chair.”
The writing chair is where words are birthed.
But this other chair?
This is where words conceive and gestate.
It’s true that ideas and words can formulate in any place at any time. While scrubbing a cast iron skillet. While driving to the grocery store. While talking with a friend over coffee.
But words never arise from nothing. They come from somewhere, deep within the concealed crevices of a writer’s heart. In the midst of the unspoken, ideas swell and stir long before letters emerge and fasten themselves into words.
If we want to shape our ideas with words that have a lasting impact on others, then we want to begin with sound material. Which takes us back to the “other chair.” This is where we plant the seeds of good words, earthy words, hearty words into the soil of our souls.
This other chair is where the intentional writer spends more hours, days, and years than she could possibly hope to quantify.
This other chair might have begun in her bed at night with a flashlight under the covers. It might have blossomed in the bean bag “chair” in the corner of the school library. Perhaps it flourished in the “chair” of a picnic blanket under a willow tree as she flirted for the first time with poetry.
Yes, this other chair will take on many shapes and sizes in a writer’s burgeoning life. But when it’s time for the simple lover of words to grow serious about writing her own, she will make a special place — a sacred space — in a quiet corner of her unspoken world.
For every writer becomes a one-of-a-kind culmination of every word she’s ever devoured.
I’ve yet to meet a dedicated writer who doesn’t have this “other chair” somewhere in their private lives.
What Great Dads Do
ARTICLE ON PARENTHOOD
The first thing Jeff did after becoming a father forever changed the way I viewed him.
We had just spent several hours in the labor and delivery room together, mostly by ourselves. Every so often, a nurse or midwife would come in to quietly check on me. She’d watch the way we worked through contractions. Then she’d slip out again.
We barely noticed their coming and going. We were too focused on the job in front of us. Through the peaks of each contraction, Jeff applied counter-pressure to my lower spine. And when I mentioned something about my butt being on fire, he reminded me of the time we took a cool walk over a glacier in Alaska.
Jeff watched and listened and matched my mood.
As I progressed through the stages of labor, I talked less and focused more. So he talked less and focused more too.
When the big moment came, Jeff caught his baby girl and laid the ten-pound babe on my bare belly. Then, as if on cue, our darling little daughter proceeded to poop all over me.
One nurse carried her to a bassinet made of Plexiglas while another nurse tried to wipe up the mess our baby left behind.
Now, it’s important to note that a baby’s first bowel movement isn’t made of regular stuff. It’s actually meconium, which is a sticky tar-like substance, and it’s difficult to scrub off. But it was time to deliver the placenta, so that took precedent.
Within the hour, all the post-labor niceties were tidied up, and Jeff and I were finally left alone with our neatly bundled lump of love. We watched her breathe as if nothing in the world could be more fascinating.
Then Jeff turned to me and asked if I needed anything.
Yes, actually, a shower sounded heavenly. I felt like I was covered in sweat and blood and poop. But as soon as I tried to stand up, I lost consciousness. Jeff had to catch a girl for the second time that day and lay me back in bed.
I had lost so much blood during the birth that I couldn’t even stand on my own two feet. A shower would be impossible. But Jeff remained undeterred. He rifled through our bag and retrieved a couple of washcloths and a bar of soap. Then he filled a small plastic tub with warm water.
Slowly and gently, he washed my face. Then my arms and abdomen. Then my legs and feet.
After becoming a father, the first thing Jeff did was care for me. He washed me clean when I couldn’t wash myself.
Jeff’s love for me reminds me of Christ’s love for His Bride.
Ephesians 5:25 says,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word . . .
Lots of good dads love their kids. But the great dads love their kids’ mamas too.
That’s what great dads do.
Jeff loves participating in all the hands-on work of caring for our children. He has never shied away from diapers or midnight feedings, even when he was the one who had to go to work in the morning.
Whenever we reminisce about the time our sweet little Brynn entered the world with Poop and Circumstance, I remember the hands that washed me clean. And I fall in love all over again.
I could easily list a thousand things about Jeff that I’m thankful for. But today, and every day, I continue to be grateful for the gift my husband is to me. God gave me a godly husband who’s an incredible father to our kids. And I’m forever thankful.