Archive | August, 2010

Observations on the shift of language

16 Aug

Lately I have noticed more and more that there has been a distinct shift in our use of language. There are words or phrases that we just don’t hear anymore.

We used to talk about something being “true” or “false”. Now we talk about “my truth” and “your truth”.

We used to talk about being faithful or loyal. Now we talk about being “true to yourself”.

We used to talk about the world. Now we talk about “in my world…”

We used to talk about right and wrong. Now we talk about “what works for me”.

We used to teach children obedience. Now we call it “character education”, and it has more to do with allowing them to cultivate their passions and impulses than it does teaching them to operate well under authority, something they will do their entire lives, whether the authority of parents, teachers, employers, or government.

We are more concerned that they be “tomorrow’s leaders” than “a servant of the people”.

We used to help our neighbors. Now we want “self-help”.

We used esteem others above ourselves, which is evident even in our grammar by saying “So and so and I are going to the movies.” Now we strive for “self-esteem” and it is common to hear “Me and so and so want to do this.”

We used to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong”. Now we say, “I apologize, I made a mistake.” The word “wrong” carries a sense of not doing what was right. “Mistake” sounds more like accidentally overlooking an important piece of information.

You know what strikes me most about this shift in language? The slide from the old phrase and meaning to the new one often involves the insertion of one little word “me”. The shift is from others to ourselves, from the best interest of the neighbor to the whims of the individual. We think there is humility and kindness in “minding our own business”, accepting that you have “your truth” and I have “my truth”, encouraging people to “be true to yourself”, and in matters of morality and spirituality the best labels are to be called “non-judgmental” and “accepting”. But the irony is that those phrases and the meanings come not out of true humility and love but out of a particularly pernicious pride and a stalwart self-interest. The pride of “minding my own business” is not that I truly think it is in another’s best interest that I do so, but that I don’t want to be bothered by the inconveniences that come with “other people’s business”. The pride of letting you have “your truth” while I have “my truth” is that my truth is my pet and  I don’t take kindly to it being meddled in by other views that might convict me of its falsehood and cause me to relinquish what is so convenient to me. It provides me with an excuse to do as I please, according to my own self-determined standards. So if I have “my truth”, I’ll let you have yours, too, so that it will stay “yours” and not conflict with mine. I would rather isolate myself from you morally than gladly and willingly submit to a communion that might leave me in the humble position of being found wrong in my convictions and being accountable for my behavior to some other standard than the one I set. The arrogance of self-interest in desiring to be deemed “non-judgmental” and “accepting” is that I don’t want to put myself at risk of being vilified for calling you to account should you be in violation of some standard to which I hold as truth, nor do I take kindly to the possibility of you doing the same for me. I am less concerned about the condition of your life and soul being possibly at stake and more concerned about preserving my good name and favor and general comfort. I will gladly let you walk on in the error I perceive as long as I can preserve my sense of ease and security.

But if I truly love you, if I am truly humble, and if I do desire to extend the pinnacle of kindness to you, I will be “my brother’s keeper”, and be engaged in your life as much as possible and allow you in mine. I will seek for real truth, and when I find it humbly bow beneath it, and then turn and at the cost of our friendship and my very life, proclaim it to you so that you too might be rescued from ruin. And I will beg with fervor and passion, humbled under the purest authority of real truth and not my own ideals, that you abandon the your erroneous ways, and weep and plead and spend out all I have and am in hope of turning you aside from the path of certain destruction. That would be the truest expression of humility, and love and kindness.

John 15:13 qGreater love has no one than this, rthat someone lay down his life for his friends.

Matthew 12: 28 uAnd one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, v‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, wthe Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 xThe second is this: y‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment zgreater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that whe is one, and athere is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all bthe understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, cis much more than all dwhole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” eAnd after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

©2010 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.

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Poetry

9 Aug

As I was studying and meditating over the weekend, I delved into some old files and found these poems, two well-crafted by C.S. Lewis and one of my own ragged meter. They gave me some food for thought and repentance. Perhaps they will encourage you as well to some deeper reflection.

PRAYER

By C.S. Lewis

Master, they say that when I seem

To be in speech with you,

Since you make no replies, it’s all a dream

–One talker aping two.

They are half right, but not as they

Imagine; rather, I

Seek in myself the things I meant to say,

And lo! the wells are dry.

Then seeing me empty, you forsake

The Listener’s rôle, and through

My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake

The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply

Nor can; thus, while we seem

Two talking, thou art One forever, and I

No dreamer, but the dream.

FOOTNOTE TO ALL PRAYERS

By C.S. Lewis

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow

When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,

And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart

Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.

Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme

Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,

And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address

The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless

Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert

Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond the desert;

And all men are idolators, crying unheard

To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.

Take not, oh Lord, our literal sense. Lord in Thy great,

Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

Christ, my Beloved

I am Yours—You have made me so.

Once a slave, now Your Bride

Yet do I serve You more?

My God I love so poorly,

So I serve unfaithfully,

But clasp me to Yourself, if You dare

And cover my rags of foolishness.

I tremble in my frail humanity,

A ragged Bride for my King,

But clothe me in Your love, my LORD

And I will be made whole.

Written sometime the Fall of 2002. ~ Updated thoughts, Fall of 2013: The theological foundation from which I wrote this poem was much shakier and questionable than the one I stand on now, 11 years hence. I was also, at the time, greatly influenced by Theresa of Avila and other Christian mystics and their writings. While I still hold a deep appreciation for many of those works and writers, and I am not going so far as to call them unregenerate or unbelievers, after much time and study over the last 11 years, I part ways with many of them on many points of theology, particularly in the area of using “romance” and “marriage” and “lover” pictures to describe the individual believer’s relationship to Christ. As far as I have been able to dig around and study, there is no Biblical precedent for this. While the Bible (both in the Old and New Testaments) certainly does use the pictures and terms of marriage to describe God’s relationship to His people and vice versa, it is ALWAYS in the context of His people collectively, not individually. To take this allegory of marriage and use it otherwise is to teeter dangerously on the precipice of heresy and idolatry. It is most Biblically accurate to use the concept of parenthood and friendship to describe the individual believer’s relationship to the Lord and vice versa. This is how Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father”, and He told the disciples, “I have called you friends”. The bulk of scriptural imagery of our individual relation to God is that of children to a Father, and friends to a Friend and vice versa. There are of course other descriptions such as “Savior, Redeemer, High Priest, King”, etc. for both individual and corporate relationships to the Godhead. The text of the Bible also contains references of the collective people of God imaged as His children, and He their Father. But nowhere in Scripture are we taught to make use of the picture of marriage to understand or depict our personal, individual relationship to God (or any persons of the Trinity).

©2010 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.

Thank You

8 Aug

A number of you, our friends and family, have been asking how we have been lately, especially me. So, I thought it might be time to give you a little bit of an update.

In April of this year, we bought our first home. We officially moved in that last week of April and have been attempting to settle in ever since. Whew! Owning a home has turned out to be A LOT more work than we anticipated. BUT, the upside is that so far it is rather enjoyable work, if sometimes tedious. We were grateful to have a place that was “move-in” ready, but are realizing it will take a WHILE before we have things (yard, landscaping, paint, belongings, remodeling) where we’d like them. Everyone tells us a house is an ongoing project. All our neighbors seem to think it requires 7 days a week (and they’ve told us as much) to get things in order and keep them that way. Which perhaps is true but really seems to me to be more of a sad commentary on the spiritual state of our culture and it’s idolatry of “things” than anything. So, in an effort to keep our house from becoming an idol and to obey the rules for living given by our Creator who knows what we need, we try to take at least one day, Saturday or Sunday, off to “keep the Sabbath” and rest. The walls won’t come tumbling down around us (though the grass may grow up to our ears!) by taking one day for rest – physical, mental and spiritual.

In June, I had surgery for an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, which left me needing much help during 2 weeks of recovery, and very easily tired from the physical effects of a life-threatening situation. The Lord provided so much, to allow for insurance coverage of the treatments I needed, friends who kept James while we were in the hospital several times, church family to pray for and support us, as well as the wonderful help of my mother, who came during the only two weeks she had free this summer, to stay with us after my surgery. We would have been “up the creek without a paddle”, as they say, without her help during that time. She and James had a chance to really bond well, and Michael and I had a chance to get some much needed rest, work and paperwork done, too. Some of you have asked how I have been handling all this emotionally, and I have to say that the Lord is so good. I know people react to things differently at different times, and if this had happened at an ealier time, it would have probably devistated me. But I am so thankful to realize that I can trust in the Lord’s goodness in all things and Sovereignty over all things, and leave it all in His hands and move forward joyfully to what He has in store for the future.

Michael has been steadily working his way through Toyota certifications, and hopefully will be moved to a new position as a line-tech mechanic this fall. He is also beginning his seminary studies again. We are thankful for the Lord’s provisions both in schedule and finances to allow these two good changes.

James is growing like a weed. Everyday seems to bring more growth and new changes. He is so much fun, and we love to watch him grow and develop his own little personality. He has begun to run and climb everything, and so we are discovering new levels of “child-proofing” our home! He loves his stuffed animals, books, trucks and trains, and lawnmowers. He “helps” us in the yard a great deal. Bath time and “snuggle time” before bed are his and our favorite times of the day.

I am anticipating starting a music studio from home this fall, mostly to teach Kindermusik classes. But I have been toying with the idea of offering some group lessons in piano and violin for younger students. Older students seem to do well with the one-on-one approach to musical instruction, but I have noticed the typical 5-12 year old finds the social aspect of group music much more enjoyable and motivating than one-on-one teaching. So, we are busy trying to get a few rooms in our house and other things in order to make this all happen in a month or so.

That’s all the news we have for now. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Know that we think of you all often and remember you fondly in our prayers for you. May the Lord keep you and draw you to Himself above all things.

Peace to you!

©2010 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.

Book Review

3 Aug

9781581348330.jpg image by writer4him 

Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper

This book is a good resource for anyone who wonders why traditions are important and/or desires to be purposeful about building meaningful, godly ones within his or her family.

We have a natural aversion to meaninglessness and chaos. Whether we like it or not, we develop routines, habits, ways of doing things that help make life more manageable, predictable, orderly, understandable, and perhaps more enjoyable. We systematize and traditionalize things to make the transfer of information more efficient and effective. Whether we are intentional about it, or haphazard, routines, habits and traditions become an essential part of our lives.

As Noël Piper puts it, “Traditions are a lot like heirlooms. Both probably have come to us through our families. Some you love; you can’t imagine life without them. Some you’re stuck with; you don’t know what to do with them. Both heirlooms and good traditions strengthen our sense of history and belonging. As Christians, our history is God’s story of drawing us into his family.”

She goes on to make a case for the importance of good traditions within a family. God, when He instituted the laws that were to govern the nation of Israel, intentionally set up days of celebration, remembrance and reflection. These were to be days to recall who they were and what God had done for them. They were days to teach their children the importance of the history of their nation and the character of the LORD their God. God also set up rituals and traditions for how things were to be carried out on these days, and for every other aspect of life and government. These traditions gave them a sense of collective identity, of “belonging”, a way to recall that they were part of something bigger than themselves, a meaningful and easily comprehended way of passing on information to the next generation, and often provided answers to the human question of “Why?” Not only that, but the anticipation of special occasions offered an opportunity to enjoy and rejoice together in the LORD, to truly drink deeply of the wonderful human capacity to delight in the bountiful creation and good Creator, refreshing and restoring the body, mind and soul.

In our self-absorbed, individualistic, warp-speed, high-stress, information-overload, over-socialized age, with shattered people and relationships on all fronts, and unanswered questions of “Why?” leaving open the interpretation of ethics, morality and truth to whatever the most convenient cultural or personal meaning is at the moment, the importance and necessity of good, godly traditions cannot be overestimated.  Without them, we are like ships adrift with no anchor, sails, rudder or oars.

In this book, Mrs. Piper provides suggestions for developing meaningful traditions for everything from daily family routines to special holidays/events, and weekly church worship times. She illustrates with practical examples from their own Piper family traditions and even recipes from her own kitchen! My favorite parts of the book are the “Especially” chapters, and the several pages of resource helps at the end. Whether you question (as I do) if it is even right to celebrate Christmas and Easter and birthdays because of the decidedly pagan cultural heritage and rituals they possess, or simply just want some ideas for a more organized and enjoyable family life, or anything in between, you are sure to find some helpful thoughts and wonderful suggestions in this book. It is an easy read, and a very engaging one at that!

©2010 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.

Some of my favorite music

3 Aug

Flame – a grammy award winning hip-hop artist, Flame delivers catchy beats and cleaver lyrics that are Gospel-centered and chock-full of solid theology. Hip-hop/Rap may not be your cup of tea (it’s not mine either!), but even so, this artist’s albums are worth your money and your time, for the depth of the issues he addresses and the profoundness of the theology he preaches. I find his music (yes, it IS music – for all you skeptics out there!) most energizing for house cleaning – and the Christocentric messages he pounds out ensure that my mind can’t help but be directed to reflect on the glory of God.

     

 LaCrae and Chrys Jones are two other Christian hip-hop artists worth your buck and time. Different styles, different depth of lyrics, but they pack some serious rhymes combined with some good beats and melodies as well as solid theological topics to consider in light of everyday issues.

J.S. Bach – violin partitas and cello suites. (Yes, I realize, coming right after the above musical suggestions, this is kind of like musical whiplash. But. I have a sneaking suspicion Bach would have rather enjoyed some Flame or LaCrae, were he still alive to hear them. He had a thing for complex rhythms and interesting beats. And he had a great reverence for the glory of God. Soli Deo Gloria, he wrote on most of his compositions. Not at all unlike these rappers!)These are my absolute favorites when it comes to easy listening music for relaxing, thinking, reading, writing, background noise, WHATEVER. There are numerous artists who have made outstanding recordings of these works. Take your pick.

Shane & Shane – I prefer their earlier albums, like Psalms and Carry Me Away and the like. With each album, their sound changes a bit, so the earlier, the more “acoustic”, mellow, predominantly guitar-ish it is. I like this a lot better—the lyrics are very thoughtful and worshipful, and the music lends itself to meditation and reflection. With the newer albums, they add some heavier electric instrumentation and a less reflective tempo. Quite frankly, though they are still excellent musicians, their newest album has begun to sound a lot like “everyone else” in the Christian pop music world. I find this disappointing, as one of the biggest draws for me was the fact that they were a different “flavor”. I appreciate these guys a great deal, still, though. Their lyrics almost always are either direct scripture quotations or are predominantly Biblical in theme. They are worship leaders in a local church, and consider that their most important task. While they travel a great deal (and their families are often with them), they make sure that they are home for the weekend and at other times when needed, so as not to neglect their calling to serve the local church. Integrity is a good word to describe both the men and their music.

©2010 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.