Friday, May 29, 2009

Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?

Back in January of this year, a debate was held between Dr. James White and Dr. Bart Ehrman. The title of the debate was "Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?" It was a formal debate to explore the question Dr. Ehrman puts forth in his book Misquoting Jesus, "is the text of the New Testament reliable?"

If you were to follow Dr. Ehrman on this, you'd come to the conclusion that no, the text of the NT is not reliable insomuch as we do not have the original manuscripts penned by the authors of the NT, but merely copies of copies (of copies) that contain numerous many scribal errors. Therefore (his reasoning goes), there is no possible way we can be certain what the originals truly said, and so there is no possible way we can be certain what God inspired the original writers, to write. This is of course an oversimplified summary of Dr. Ehrman's position, but it's essentially what he believes.

Contrary to this, if you were to follow Dr. White's reasoning you would be inclined to come to the logical conclusion that YES, we can view the text of the NT as reliable since there are thousands of ancient manuscripts availabe for study and regardless of the variants that Dr. Ehrman focuses on, the heart of the message contained within those manuscripts never changes - it has been the same message dating back to the very earliest manuscript nearly 1,900 years ago. Dr. Ehrman himself admits that the NT has much earlier attestation than any other book in antiquity. He is correct, even if he comes to an erroneous conclusion.

In our day where uncertainty is elevated as some sort of neo-humility, it's more important than ever to be able to give an informed, well-thought out reason for why you as a Christian believe what you believe to such questions as: Why do you believe the Bible? Where did the Bible come from? How can you be sure its reliable? Not only is this uncertainty commonplace among atheists and agnostics in our day, but its found inroads into evangelical churches as well, riding on the coat-tails of post-modern/emergent philosophy and "dialogue".

I ordered this debate on dvd recently, and just last night had the opportunity to set aside the time to watch it. It was quite literally captivating! I would strongly encourage you (you will be so blessed) to go buy this dvd today, and sit down with your family and watch it. Not only will you be informed and educated, but it just may inspire some really great discussions among you. You may want to order a copy for your church library as well.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Me: The Author

I got a not surprise in email yesterday. The company I use that allows me to self-publish my books (listed in the left sidebar there) informed that both of them were chosen for a listing on amazon.com. I thought that was pretty nifty. You can purchase a promo-package through this company and pay to have your book listed (and all kinds of other promotional stuff) but I've never really felt comfortable with that, so I never did it. Now, they've listed both books for me, at no charge.

The timing of this is sort of funny too. Just yesterday, someone in the chat channel at #pros asked for book recommendations for his church library. I jokingly said something along the lines of "I'd suggest mine, but no one buys it and I'd like to keep a clean record on that". He did ask for a link to it, but I never really gave it another thought. Then, last night as the kids were headed off to bed, Rachel came looking for the Maplewood Manor book. She wanted to read it in bed last night! I did read it to the kids when I first wrote it, but that was a long time ago and it's been put away ever since. So then, Samuel asks "mom, when are you going to finish the sequel to Maplewood Manor?" Sigh... they've been asking for over a year, and it's still not done. I'm such a procrastinator.

I still have the (sequel) story fresh in my head, I just became extremely discouraged when neither book ever sold. Okay I take that back, I bought a few copies to give away, and I know at least two other people who bought one of each. There's also a copy of the faerie book in a public library in the states, but beyond that they just sit there unsold and that sorta made me sad & caused me to be discouraged. I'm a horrible self-promoter and when you self-publish you HAVE to be good at promotion or your book will not sell.

Well, I've decided that it doesn't matter if no one ever buys either of these books, I'm going to go ahead and finish the sequel to Maplewood Manor. I know at least 4 kids that loved the first story so much (and I will admit, I had a lot of fun reading it to them, I did sound affects and everything for the lightning storm scene, they loved that) that they're just itching to know what happens in the next adventure. I'll need to check my files and see where I am in the sequel, see if my illustrator feels like contributing without being paid :-) and then get down to business.

It'll be fun revisiting the faerie family and writing in two new characters too! All the faeries are named with a combination of my kids first and middle names, so now that I have two grand faeries, I'll have to come up with names for the two new faeries in the story. I'm looking forward to this. Hopefully I'll have it done by Christmas, and give each of them a copy of their very own.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Death is Not Dying: A Message We Need to Hear

Over the past couple of weeks I've seen numerous links to this place. This is the site of Rachel Barkey, a young wife and mother who has terminal cancer. If you go there, you can read her story, see some pictures and watch a video. Some of the people I know who've linked to her site have said the video testimony has had a most profound impact on them.

The first time I saw the link and was told what it was about, I immediately thought to myself "I am NOT going there". I know that sounds like a silly thing to say or think, so I'd like to explain why I reacted that way.

In April 1995 my first husband was informed that the chemotherapy was no longer working, and he had the choice to make to continue it in hopes that it would work eventually, or switch to a pain control treatment only. He had already been battling cancer himself for four years, and he was finally worn out. He opted for the pain control and was given a prognosis of 4-6 months. He passed away exactly 4 months later, to the day. I was 30, he was 32.

For those 4 years and 7 months that he battled his cancer, his imminent death and dying was a constant theme in our home and our life. We both struggled every day to make sense of it, live with the right view of it, do all the right things, say all the right things and hope for all the good things. It was an exhausting struggle, far more for him than for me. When the fight was finally over just a few days before he passed, he asked me to call our pastor (when it was time) and tell him the GOOD news. He was very precise in what he wanted me to say. He instructed me to tell him "I have great news, Ben's cancer is GONE!" He was quite serious about this and wanted everyone to know that he didn't actually lose his battle with cancer, but that he WON the battle and finally went Home to Jesus. He said "cancer can have my body, I'm going to see Jesus face to face, I WIN!". He had a tremendously encouraging attitude, at the end of his life.

When it was all over I came home and fell apart. It took a very long time to get myself back together, but I didn't come out of that the same person I was going into it. You never do. In my case, it was a very hard road back to a sense of "normal" life.

Over the years since then my reaction to death and dying has been somewhat strange. Some days I'm extremely sensitive to it and can't really handle the conversations (all the painful emotions tend to surface), while other days I sort of find myself slipping into auto-pilot mode and discussing the clinical or medical aspects of it the way I often had to during Ben's battle. When you're the primary caretaker of a terminally ill person, you find you must learn a whole new language that includes medical terminology and pharmacuetical understanding, that the average person doesn't know. I was actually quite comfortable learning this new language and having that understanding because it made me feel like I was at least contributing in his care on a deeper level. Contributing more than just paying the bills, keeping the household running and trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in a very abnormal home life. I learned through experience that this is quite normal for those who were in the same role I was.

During that time in my life, the subject of death and dying was an every day reality for me. When it was over, it was still an every day reality for me and still is to this very day. It's impossible not to think about it, when the one who passed away was your spouse and the father of your children. Death changes the course of life for those surviving, and conversations will inevitably come up where the loved one's name or their influence or an event they were part of will be mentioned. In a very literal way, the passing of that person is with you, for the rest of your life. While you do get beyond the initial mourning and sorrow that is part of grief, you never really "get over it".

So, when I read of the way Rachel Barkey's testimony impacted so many people, I understood. It made sense to me why so many Christian people are linking to it, talking about it, blogging about it, and incredibly grateful for the grace she was given to share her heart. I understood and it made sense because we greatly fear death and dying. We fear the pain that may be associated with it, we fear the sorrow and the grief we'll suffer as survivors, and we fear what life may hold for those we love, if we're the one diagnosed with the terminal illness. We all want to be able to "die well" but most people (if we're honest) simply do not want to die at all, and avoid all the physical, emotional and spiritual pain and suffering that death brings with it. For the survivors, it can be a most extremely difficult process to go through and for the one dying, the anxiety and sorrow they feel for the ones who will greive the most can be overwhelming. In both cases, God's grace, mercy, guidance and wisdom is what is required. Learning how to "let go and let God" may sound cheesy and cliche, but it is exactly what must be done to weather this kind of life storm. It is also one of the hardest things any one of us will ever do. So I understood why so many have said so many good things about this sister's testimony, because we desperately crave comforting insight from someone who is closer to death than we are. We want and we need to see strong examples of grace and assurance. Death is a subject that people in general do not like discuss and even among Christians it carries the same weight with it that we simply prefer to avoid discussion of it. Espcecially for those recently touched by death or imminent death however, we need voices among us that can and will speak with grace, truth, comfort and assurance and remind us of what we need to hear.

So why didn't I want to watch Rachel Barkey's video? It's quite simple really. I knew it would make me cry. I knew it would stir up feelings that I try very hard to push away. I knew it would cause me to think more closely about death and dying, when I honestly prefer not to think about it at all, unless I have to. I have had to think about it and deal with it much more often in my 44 years than I ever wanted to, and it can be overwhelmingly painful.

What I found rather remarkable, is that recently in a very short time span I have had to think about death again. A book I ordered came in the mail, and the name of the book is Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace. I ordered it because its one of those books I've wanted for a long time, and believe it will not only help me (grief doesn't have an expiry date, just in case you wondered) but will continue to be a help to me. Not long after the book arrived, my Uncle Merle passed away rather unexpectedly. During the same time frame, the local news media reporting on the Tori Stafford case announced they'd made arrests and that the suspects were charged with murder. They haven't located the 8 year old's body yet, but they have enough evidence to conclude she is no longer with us. Because my kids knew that little Tori was kidnapped, I also had to tell them this news as well. Add to this, multiple links coming through for Rachel Barkey's video. It almost seemed too much, and I just didn't want to cry again. I'd cried for Uncle Merle and my family, I'd cried for that precious little girl and her family, and I didn't want to watch a young mother talk about dying and cry all over again. Someone once told me that crying is good for you, it's God's way of washing pain out of your heart. Sometimes that makes sense. All the various circumstances surrounding death, dying, illness, violence and sin in the world can make for some rather unpleasant (but needed) conversations.

So, even though I didn't want to cry again, I did listen to the audio portion of Rachel Barkey's message just today. If you're one of the very few that has not heard it yet, may I encourage you to set aside the hour it will take to let this sister bless your heart? It may very well make you cry, but she has something very important to say that the body of believers really needs to hear, and be reminded of once again. In addition, I would also strongly suggest you take a look at Rachel's reading list found at deathisnotdying.com. I have some of the books on that list, I've read some of them, and I am going to make it my personal goal to read the rest she has listed here.

She was a genuine inspiration to me today. May God richly bless her and her family with peace, and comfort.


Monday Miscellaneous

(This is in place of Good News Monday, which I missed last week)

I think it might be a good bet to assume that once you've started a post and then deleted it several times, you've come to a funny place in writing/blogging. I can't tell you all how many times I've done exactly that over the last six months or so. In some ways it's rather frustrating, and in other ways its exactly what I need to do to help me in my curtailing of the snark factor. I'm trying really hard to reign that in and it's most decidedly not an easy thing to do for someone like me, especially when there have been tons of things going on in life and in the world that I could write about in full-on Snark Mode. I've never seen "snark" in the beatitudes, so I'm going to assume it's a safe bet that it shouldn't be named among us either. Amen?

So, I've really been pouring myself into designing, instead of writing. It's not that I don't have a million things to say, because I certainly do. It's that I know much of what I have to say is either merely speculation about certain things, or not really all that important to anyone. I guess after almost 5 years of blogging (next month) I've finally come to a place where I'm re-evaluating the usefulness of it. No, I'm not closing the blog or anything like that, I'm just taking some time to do other things instead of being (or feeling, anyway) strapped down to blogging every day.

We're into our last 2 weeks of school for the year (how does the school year fly by so fast every year?), I've got my garden in (would it be silly to ask you to pray for my tomatoes?), and I've got a monumental yard sale to prepare for next month. I'm going through EVERY room and clearing things out. All the clothes are going to Goodwill, and I already have LOTS of bags. We have a Goodwill bag in nearly every room of the house, and several more in the spare room. We have so much STUFF, it's insane. Stuff we never use, stuff in the way, stuff that takes up room and collects more stuff. We don't need all this stuff! I'm hauling it all to the garage and throwing a giant tarp over it (note to self: go buy a giant tarp) so the birds in the garage don't mess on it, and when it's ALL finally out of the house and in the garage, I'll set the date for the yard sale. If you're local, do come on by. I'll have coffee on and probably some cookies or muffins too. No, I will not have any LPs, with funky covers.

So all that to say, yes I'm still here, no I'm not riding off into the Bloggy Sunset, and yes I do still appreciate comments even though commenting is down these days for whatever reason. Oh, and if you would like to see my newest design line, go here. It's been a lot of fun creating these great little gifts.

And now... it's off to begin school. Two HUGE weeks of work for these kids, before the big end of the year party. They've all made incredible advances this year, and I'm very proud of all of them. They have no idea we're taking them to the movies (at a real theater, first time in YEARS) for the end of the year party. Shh... don't let the secret out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tip O The Day: Yard Sales

I like yard sales. I like to go hunting for bargains and treasures and finding incredible deals on amazing stuff. I know lots of people that likewise, really enjoy yard sales. If you're going to put on a yard sale, here's a surefire way to lose me as a potential customer:

1. When you put out your sale items, place a display table at the very front of the yard.

2. On that table, place a stack of old LPs.

3. On the very top of the stack, place an LP with a cover that has a dwarf being crucified, and at the base of the cross, numerous completely naked women.

I don't care if you're giving away free gold bars right next to the albums - I will walk away to my car emptyhanded every single time.

Color me disgusted.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Incredible Canadian Migratory Bird

I haven't posted many pictures in the last few months only because I haven't really been taking many. There's always a sort of down-time for that in southern Ontario, and late winter to early spring is that down time (at least for me). However, May is migration month, when all the regulars return. Baltimore Orioles, Hummingbirds, Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and more. We get them all in our neck of the woods, and just the other day while I was in the kitchen making dinner, I turned when something very colorful caught my eye, out the kitchen window. This was the scene on the porch railing:

SHOWOFF!

I'm tellin' ya, spring migration should be a real treat this year!


Tori Stafford: Breaking News Update

Two arrests in Tori Stafford case — live streaming and video throughout the day

According to local media reports, police are looking for a body in the Guelph area. My heart goes out to this family. Please remember them all in diligent prayer today. Only God can bring true comfort in this kind of pain.