Confidence (NPM #15)

Confidence
Inspired by Hebrews 10:19–39

Sanctified from insincere
Hearts and base conscience,
With a Priest who casts out fear,
We have confidence—
Confidence because of blood
Cleansing us from stain.

Don’t shrink back into the mud:
Knowledge held in vain—
Knowledge of His sacrifice,
Yet you count it vile;
Deeming it will not suffice,
You live as Gentile.

No, instead, trust Him who saith,
“It is finished”—Christ.
Cast yourself headlong in faith
On the Sacrificed;
Confidence will be sustained
By His promise true.

Draw near boldly; He ordained
Grace to come to you.
His own Spirit, full of grace,
Lives in you to show
That, “The just shall live by faith”
As in grace you grow.

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Epistemology: Locke & Edwards

Midterms are this week, starting in the morning, and while working on the study guide tonight I couldn’t help being struck with renewed enthusiasm for the CWIC program at BCS. Take a look at one of the prompts I get to answer (and these pictures for fun)…

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Be able to explain how Edwards’ explanation of the “new sense” for God given by the Holy Spirit both reflects and diverges from Locke’s epistemology.

  • (Reflects:) In Lockean epistemology, all knowledge is a posteriori – ideas spring  either from “sensation or reflection.”
  • In Locke’s framework, then, we might say that “seeing [or hearing, or touching, etc.] is believing.” Edwards’ explanation of conversion reflects this framework because in Edwards’ model, the sinner is given a “new sense” of the heart in order to gain a “true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the Word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them, thence arising” (A Jonathan Edwards Reader, 111).
  • (Diverges:) “Edwards stands Locke on his head, for he uses Locke’s empiricist principle–that everyone must see with his own eyes–to establish, against Locke, that the intellectual certitude of the believer’s spiritual perception is greater than the certitude gained by mere human reasoning about God” (McClymond, Encounters With God, 17).

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

[Why I tend to think Edwards was on to something:] “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

I’ve decided enthusiasm is good brain-fuel. Midterms, here I come.

Experiencing Snowfalls

A walk was a perfect way to enjoy the incredible snowfall this afternoon. It was fairly warm out as the conglomerations of flakes falling as chunks of wet whiteness clung to our hats (or hair), scarves and coats. Everywhere we turned, the earth-insulating blanket was deepening. When I looked straight up into the grey sky, the approaching flakes were dark and reminded me of falling debris. I wondered if dust and ash in a nuclear fallout would look similar.

I love snowfalls. I remember another January snowfall from four years ago – one that I experienced after an evening TBI class at Bethlehem. In my journal that night I wrote that the “attitude of believing humility toward God’s word” evident in my teacher had been “swelling in my own heart as the night waned.” I had been sweetly convicted that the Holy Spirit Himself was teaching me through the Bible. Outside after the study, a “wondrous flurry of snowflakes swirled about me as I walked toward the truck. I thrilled with happiness and looked up at the whitened night sky in joyous gratitude to God. I lowered my gaze to the snowy parking lot and smiled wide at the snowflakes that were sparkling under the bright streetlights.” And, “I began to compose a poem…”

As surely as the snowflakes touch upon my face,
As surely as they sparkle on the ground,
As surely as I taste their icy breath within my mouth,
As surely as they circle all around…

You are real and You are God;
You are here and You are good.
Your Presence is as doubtless as the snow…

The snow that blows, the snow that stings,
The snow that with a coldness sings
Of Your wonder and your closeness —
Of Your closeness to my soul.

I remember driving home practically singing this poem to God. His Spirit had undeniably moved, and experiencing Him had made all the difference in experiencing a snowfall.

Labeled: “The Wind and I” (Part Two)

I have two wonderful grandmothers. One lives in northern Minnesota on a beautiful little lake on a bay covered with lily pads. The other, my namesake, passed away over a year and a half ago. She, Grandma Faye, was the sort of woman who could do anything she set her mind to. When I was young, I slept under the quilt she made for me, a quilt covered with brightly-colored stars. She baked and knitted, sewed and beaded, went camping and downhill skied. She told us stories of her nursing days as a young woman and of learning to dance on her dad’s wood floor as an even younger woman. And whatever projects she had underway when we were around, she shared them with us. We got to be part of her world, and a colorful world it was.

Only a handful of years before she died, Grandma Faye decided she wanted to try her hand at poetry. I remember listening to her read her first short poems to us. Anyone could tell she was proud of her work and excited to share it. One poem was about a dog; another, about going for a walk. The poems were story-like, with familiar content told in her own sing-song way. And, though she never explained exactly why, she always signed her poems, “The Wind and I.” I liked that my 80-year-old grandmother had a slightly mysterious side to her.

As a Christian, Grandma Faye pursued God with her characteristic vigor. But God was not just another one of her “projects.” She loved studying the Bible and memorizing verses, especially God’s promises (I remember printing off Bible verses in large print for her when she began to lose her eyesight later in life), but Grandma Faye was only able to walk by faith in God because she had been born of the Spirit of God. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma and can also be translated “wind.” I like to think that her signature, “The Wind and I,” was her self-conscious witness to the work of God in her life. In John 3:8, Jesus says…

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Just before Grandma Faye died in February of 2011, I wrote her a poem for her 87th birthday and called it “At Grandma’s House.” It was an attempt to capture my childhood perspective of this wonderful woman.

Even though I can’t bake dinner rolls with Grandma Faye anymore, she still lives, and she lives as much more than a shadow in my memory. Heaven is not just a “nice idea” to help people cope with losing their loved ones. Hell is just as real, and eternal life with God is secure only for those who have been “born of the Spirit” and walk by faith in the sure promises of God.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling … so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

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Grandma Faye with me and Jessimine

“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4-9).

And that is the story behind the label for my poetry posts here.

Making it my aim to please Him, just like Grandma Faye did,

Christina Faye