Tag: Scripture

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I’d always been a hound for learning, and this was no different. Something like “If I understand it, I can excel in it; and if I excel in it, then I will be worth something to someone.” The root of that thinking? Not pertinent. Significant, but not pertinent. Unlike me now, but very much like […]

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Chef’s Surprise: Taste & See


I’m going to cheat a little bit here and not write about food at all. Instead, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. In fact, I love it so much that it’s in my email signature.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!”
Psalms 34:8 CSB

Quote of the Day: On Listening


If you are willing to listen, you will learn;
If you give heed, you will be wise.
Sirach 6:33

In these times of noise and information coming at us, it is often hard to listen and hard to know what to listen to. But when the right message comes, we should heed and be wise. Which brings up my second Bible quote of the post:

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?


“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Word of the Year


I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.

Book Review: The Holy Angels


Our night nursery was lit by the dawn, and I saw a group of angels standing, as if chatting, around my young brother’s bed. I was aware of this, although I could not hear their voices… I then became aware that at the foot of my own bed stood a similar celestial creature… I was but a child when I saw my guardian angel. As time passed I still sporadically remembered and acknowledged his presence, but mostly, I ignored him. Paradoxically, it was evil and distress that brought me up short and cleared my vision…

One day, in looking through a collection of old icons, I came across one done in three panels representing the guardian angel; in the middle panel, he is defending his sleeping charge from bad dreams. Later, when plagued once more by one of my most fearsome of nightmares, upon waking I suddenly remembered the icon, and with overpowering clarity I recollected that as a child I had seen my guardian angel. (pp. 293-294)

This recollection forms the core of the epilogue of Mother Alexandra’s book The Holy Angels, recently re-released, after nearly 40 years being out of print, by Ancient Faith Publishing. As Mother Alexandra states, this recollection, while at the end of her work, is in its way also the beginning, for it was also her own personal beginning of understanding. The Holy Angels sets forth what our understandings of angelic beings are as revealed through scripture, and through the writings of the early Christians, with a short concluding discussion of how angels have been depicted in art throughout time. Though Mother Alexandra was an Orthodox scholar and nun, her work is aimed at the entirety of Christendom.

Wisdom and the Book of Job


What follows are some thoughts from a recently completed re-reading of the Book of Job.

To set the stage: Job tells the story of a righteous man who endures incredible suffering, all under the sovereign oversight of Almighty God. The narrative follows a series of long poetic dialogs between Job and the friends who have come to mourn with him and comfort him, all concerning the nature of man and his relationship to God. Job’s friends argue that Job must have sinned greatly to have merited such punishment from God. Job counters that he has lived a just life, and that the miseries visited upon him are unjust. Ultimately, Job is vindicated and restored by God, but in the telling, it is made clear to Job that he is not owed an answer or justification by God. Rather Job comes to recognize that the Lord’s power and authority are beyond human accountability.