Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Are There Two Types of Elders?

I'm reading through Witmer's "The Shepherd Leader."  This is an excellent and challenging book for any church elder.

In the third chapter Witmer recalls first how the church strayed from the leading of a plurality and parity of elders.  This shift began in the second century but was greatly accelerated by Cyprian in the third century.  Cyprian tied church leadership to the Levitical model, with elders becoming priests.  “Bishop” became a title that vested a single man with immense authority over the church and its leadership.

The biblical idea of elders and deacons began to be restored in the reformation, beginning with Wycliff, advancing greatly with Calvin and his student Knox, the latter two of which split the role of elder into a teaching pastor and a ruling elder.  The former was to teach the word, the latter was to “seek the fruit of the same in the people” (Knox.)  According to Witmer, these elders were to be men of good character, but they need not possess the gift of teaching.  Witmer's view here builds on a small point dropped into the previous chapter: “All elders, including teaching elders (pastors), are called to shepherd the flock, but not all elders have the gift of teaching, though they should be apt to teach” (p43.)  This is based primarily on two scriptures:
...he who leads, with diligence...” (Romans 12:8)
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17)
So how do these verses stand up to what is stated in 1 Tim 3:2 where Paul says that an overseer must be “able to teach.”  Didaktikos.  Also…
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,” (2 Timothy 2:24)
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11)
“The Lord’s servant must… holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9)

So is Paul declaring that there are two types of elders in 1 Tim 5:17?  Are ruling and teaching exclusive from each other?  A plain reading of that passage shows that the statements are inclusive:  those who rule and teach.  Paul is emphasizing the need to provide financial support for those elders that have devoted themselves to the ministry work: such men (and their families) should not be left to starve on the street.  He is not using this passage to differentiate roles, but to ensure that full-time elders are provided for by the church.

So why would anyone conclude otherwise?  Where does the contrast of “gift of teaching” against being “able to teach” originate?  I suspect that it comes down to either tradition or pragmatism.  At the time of Calvin and Knox the established church was very hierarchical, with great power and authority invested in a church’s pastor, the regional bishop etc.  Perhaps this was too much to undo at the time.  Also, from a practical perspective, any congregation would likely have men of stalwart faith and character that, nonetheless, lack the ability to teach.  Such men are natural leaders and have much to offer a church, and so it is natural to look for such a leadership role in Scripture… and we always find what we are looking for.

I  respectfully disagree with Witmer (and many other fine men) that there are two types of elder.  Such an approach perpetuates the very ecclesiastical hierarchy that the reformers were trying to do away with.  It also elevates unqualified men into a position of leadership, and that can be ruinous to a church.

“Gift of teaching” is not a formal biblical term, and can be misleading.  Rather, we should simply ask, “Is the man able to teach?  Does he have a firm grasp of biblical teaching, and can he effectively use that to encourage some and to refute others?”  If so, he has met one of the necessary qualifications for becoming an elder.  And elders are called to both teach and rule.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why Study How To Study?

Recently I found myself ready for a new book and thought I'd try a different approach to selecting it.  I am an elder at my church and, with that in mind, asked our Senior Pastor what he would recommend for me.  I was mildly disappointed when he recommended I read something on hermeneutics - how to interpret the Bible.  Not sure what I was hoping for, but this wasn't it.  Felt like I was asking for an exciting adventure, and got told to go sit in a boring lecture hall for 6 months.  Fighting for my freedom I explained that I had already read, "Knowing Scripture" by RC Sproul, and have been happily and properly studying the Bible for many years now.  Didn't work. 

He responded by saying that we can never stop learning in this area; that the interpretation of Scripture is so fundamental that, for the rest of our lives, we should be refreshing ourselves on the principles and practices of correct study.  So, with no small feeling of guilt, I humbly purchased: "Protestant Biblical Interpretation", by Bernard Ramm.  That sense of guilt propelled me deep into the first chapter as soon as it arrived... and no further.  For the next 6 months it sat on my shelf, crying out silently, "You need me!"  I got busy with other things.

A few weeks ago we were interviewing a man in our church who has been recommended as a future elder.  He had taken the theological exam and we were zeroing in on a couple of sections - particularly the one on hermeneutics.  This man actually has a deep passion for biblical interpretation, so the discussion was rich and though-provoking.  And, even though I was sitting in a classroom 30 minutes from my home, I could hear Bernard Ramm calling out to me from beneath a growing layer of dust.  What sealed the deal for me was when Jerry (aforementioned Senior Pastor) reiterated the vitality of sound hermeneutics.  He said something to the effect of, "Correctly understanding God's Word is the most important thing we can do.  It's the only thing that keeps our church from ultimate disaster." 

Of course, such understanding is equally vital to every Christian.  You may not ever teach a class, but your own life depends on correct interpretation.  The Bible is essential to knowing who God is, who we are, what He expects of us, how He feels about us, and what He has done for us.  That puts a premium on getting it right.  Unfortunately, we are by nature far more prone to getting it wrong.  We love shortcuts and hearing God speak clearly in His own words requires we take the long route.  There are many reasons given for avoiding this type of learning, but as Sproul says, the primary one is that we are lazy.  I've been lazy for the last 6 months, and it's time to put my work boots on.

I'm thinking that what will follow is a few posts that highlight some of what I'm gleaning from the book.  Hopefully it inspires you to dig in and do the same.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Do We Have Genesis?

A few months back I decided to get on a read-your-Bible-in-a-year plan. Frankly, I feel a little sheepish about the fact that I haven't ever read the Bible cover-to-cover. I was able to digest Tom Clancy's latest 800+ page offering in about a week over Christmas, yet I've left pages of God-written content untouched. (BTW, I'd say that Clancy did a better job with this year's novel than the last.) I searched for, and found, a website that offered a chronological reading plan - this makes sense to me: let Biblically-recorded history unfold itself in its proper sequence. For example, after finishing Genesis 10 you jump over to Job before continuing through the rest of Genesis. When reading about the kings of Israel you read related chunks from Kings, Chronicles, Psalms and the prophets all at the same time. As I said, makes sense to me that way.

Progress has been slow so far, mostly because I find it impossible to speed read anything in the Bible. This isn't fiction, this isn't even a mere history book, it is a God-given account of Himself and His dealings with mankind. That warrants serious attention and thought. It is also, quite simply, fascinating reading. The anti-diluvian (pre-flood) world is a very foreign place to me; I find myself immersed in a context that bears little resemblance to what I know. I wound up with a lot of notes, exclamation points, and unfinished thoughts.

Rather than paste all of that in this space, I want to reflect for a moment on why we have Genesis in the first place. Some folks I've talked to in the past believe that Genesis is a collection of Jewish myths and folklore: something along the lines of Greek mythology or King Arthur. This is a polite way of saying, "Nice stores, but I really don't see what they have to do with me." This argument has some merit, but I seriously wonder if these folks have read the entire thing. We aren't talking about a loosely connected collection of fables (no offense, Aesop), but a single story arc with a common theme centered around a single character. That character isn't Adam, Noah, or even Abraham, but God Himself. God shows up on the first page as he methodically and incomprehensibly creates the universe out of nothing. However, this God does not disappear behind the proverbial curtain - He continues His engagement with His creation on a most personal level. This God enters into the lives of men and forms relationship with them.

Others have proposed that Genesis (and other books in Scripture) cannot be trusted as it has passed through the hands of so many editors. To that I would say that they did a pretty poor job of editing. Seriously, why would Jews who hold Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in such high esteem leave in so many denigrating accounts of them? How about we skip the parts where Abraham continually fails to understand what God is promising to Him? Or Isaac's poor choice in wives? Or Jacob's deception? Or Joseph's trickery? These people could easily qualify for day-time talk shows, and the dirty laundry is left out to dry by the editors.

This ties us back to the queston of why we have Genesis and why it contains so many messy details. I submit that this is because we are meant to understand both God and man better. God is presented as all powerful, in control, and yet personally interested and graciously involved in the lives of men. Man, on the other hand, is shown to be rebellious, self-interested and foolish. This extreme contrast highlights the goodness of God: He not only tolerates man's continued existence, but seeks out a specific people and shows them unfathomable blessings. That the recipients are so utterly unworthy of such favor is precisely the point. None of these people are chosen on the basis of their own qualities, it would seem quite the opposite: they are brought into covenant relationship with God in spite of their wretched "qualities."

This is the nature of God's graciousness. He loves the unlovable. He justifies the ungodly. He reaches down into the masses of God-defying humans, and lifts out ones that He has unilaterally selected to receive His highest blessing. He does not paint over their filth and criminal activity, rather He transfers the deserved judgment to His own Son, Jesus - the God-man that willingly paid the death penalty on their behalf. And, yes, strange though it seems to our one-way linearity, this atonement works backwards in time as well as forwards. As the Christ Himself said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day - he saw it and was glad." Abraham was an idol-worshipping pagan that was born and raised closer to Tehran than Jerusalem. He and his descendants entered into a permanent covenant with God purely at God's own discretion: the covenant was not one bit dependent on Abraham - he could not make it, and he could not break it. When the promise was made by God Abraham simply took God at His word and was granted right-standing before God.

In Genesis we see God bestow mercy, blessing - even love - on corrupt humanity. This is a good thing for us to contemplate.

Christ Jesus, You came into the world to save sinners, and I as guilty as the rest. There is now no condemnation for me - I am now found in You, my immoral and decayed heart completely regenerated, and filled with gratitude and worship for You.

For more on the arrangement between God and Abraham (and us), read Romans 4.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where is C.S. Lewis?

I came across an article that takes a concise, fascinating look at the theology of C.S. Lewis. I appreciated the brief biography at the beginning: it is easy to see how the mish-mash of his pre-Christian philosophies certainly left their mark on his Christian thinking. The article ends with the author making a compelling comparison between Lewis and the Church at Corinth. http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2000i/townsend2000e.htm

The article is obviously aimed at the old question of whether Lewis was an evangelical Christian, but this inevitably draws us into the greater question of what constitutes an evangelical in the first place. For that I recommend a life-long study of and obedience to the Scriptures, and perhaps listening to Don Carson’s lectures on the subject at http://pjtibayan.wordpress.com/2006/10/17/d-a-carson-audio-sermonslectures/.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are You Trusting God?

I recently heard a friend use the phrase, "I am trusting God for a matter." The matter involved expense, and I was immediately interested to find out what "trusting God" meant in this context. I was raised in an abberant movement which considered faith as being something God could not resist. If I prayed for something and believed strongly enough that God would provide it, God would have little choice but to do so.

Too many times we hear folks presuming upon God’s provision, as though they somehow had Him over a barrel. While we have boldness to approach God’s throne in times of need, our confidence is not in getting the thing we want as much as it is in getting the audience itself. This is supreme privilege, and the extent of it is the ability to make known our needs, to cast upon Him our cares. How God responds is for God to decide, and He keeps His own counsel. However, we can rejoice that He hears our prayers and always has our long term good in mind as He lovingly unfolds things around us.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are you a son of God?

(Romans 8:12-39)

Who are God’s Children?

It is often said that all of us are God’s children. President Obama recently said as much at a prayer breakfast, and many people say the same: all humanity are children of God. Is this true? Well, in a sense yes: in the sense that God created us in His likeness. Paul says this in Acts 17:28-29 when talking to the Greeks on Mars Hill – he was trying to explain that the true God could not possibly be like their gold, silver and stone idols, if we are in any way like Him. However, the Bible is clear that the only people that can call God Father are those that believe in His Son, Jesus. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12)

The fact is that there is only one natural-born son of God: Jesus. God was His Father in every sense of the Word: remember that God, not Joseph, was Jesus’ biological Father. "The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)
We on the other hand are natural-born enemies of God (5:10; Col 1:21). To become children of God, to be able to call Him “Father”, we must be adopted: "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”" (Romans 8:15)

Adoption in the time of Paul’s writing looked a little different than it does today. It was finalized with a very formal ceremony which included 7 witnesses. The adopted child lost all rights – and all debts – associated with his old family, and inherited all the rights of a legitimate son of the adopting father. He was every bit as much a child of this father as were his new siblings. In fact, if he became the oldest son in the new family then he gained the superior privileges that went along with that. If, when the father died, anyone questioned the adopted son’s share in the inheritance, one of the witnesses would be called in to verify that the adoption was valid. In our case, that witness is the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God," (Romans 8:16)

So God is my Father…
So now I am a son of God. His loving choice of me was settled before time began - "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will," (Ephesians 1:5), and has big implications for me here and now.
We are accustomed to calling God “Father” – perhaps too accustomed. I know that I address God as “heavenly Father” quite often in my prayers, but I don’t often stop and think about what that means. Paul didn’t take it for granted: of his 13 letters, 13 of them begin by referring to God as Father. Jesus Himself taught us to address God as “our Father.” God is not just my sovereign Lord, but my Father. Think about that for a moment. You and I have the God of the entire universe for a Father! I’ve tried to think about what this means for me, especially in the context of Romans 8. What does it mean for me to have God as my Father?


As a child of the Most High God I have a Father that provides for my physical needs, who gives

me my “daily bread.” The following verse leaves little doubt as to this: "Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Matthew 6:25-26)

This does not mean that the children of God do not sometimes suffer poverty and hunger, rather it means that we need not worry about such things. We will have precisely what we need, although sometimes what we need is hardship; there are plenty of examples of this both in Scripture and Christian history.

In addition to this, we have complete spiritual provision. We have the spiritual armor that we need to fight sin, we have the Holy Spirit Himself within us to sanctify us, we have the gifts and abilities to accomplish all that God puts in front of us, in fact, “we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.” God is the kind of Father who provides for our most important needs – the needs of our soul: "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”" (Luke 11:11-13)

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;" (Romans 8:28-29)

What good is God working towards in my life? Prosperity? Success? Personal achievement? Popularity? These verses show the big picture is none of these things. When God is at work in my life it is always with a view to me becoming more like Jesus. If you’re a little disappointed about this it is only because you don’t know what’s good for you. All these earthly goals fall way short of being “summorphos” (morphed) into Christ-likeness. You and I have a LONG way to go in this morphing, and it is the best and highest thing we can hope for. It certainly is God’s highest goal for us. So when does this happen – when am I to become Christ-like? Well, it happens in the past, present and future – just like our salvation.

  • When we were saved-justified, we became righteous in the eyes of God. We also became new creations, infused with spiritual life, rightful children and heirs of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, ambassadors of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.
  • Now, as members of God's family, we are being saved-sanctified. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2) "But we... are being transformed into [Christ's]image from glory to glory." (2 Corinthians 3:18) Something about us is changing as we are "being renewed... according to the image of the One who created us" (Colossians 3:10)
  • Finally, we will be saved-glorified, and "we know that when He appears, we will be like Him." (1 John 3:2) In the day of the full revelation of Christ to the world, we will be made fully like him. Fully conformed to his likeness. "Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Corinthians 15:49) Romans 8:23 says that we wait "eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." To the Philippians Paul wrote that Christ "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory" (Philippians 3:21) and that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) When Christ returns for His children, His children will be transformed fully into His likeness. The process will be incredibly complete and we will be perfect!


How can God prove to us the “deep love with which He loves us”? Well, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Don’t doubt for a moment that your Father loves you. "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God." (1 Jn 3:1) This is not the emotionless outworking of a logical plan by a God that doesn’t really want to get involved personally. This is love. Read this excerpt from Psalm 103, and see how God feels about His children:

  • "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness… He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." (Psalm 103:8-14)

People who say that the God of the Old Testament is an angry God aren’t reading much of the Old Testament. When God formally introduced Himself to Moses, he said of Himself, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”" (Exodus 34:6-7) Let’s not run to the opposite extreme and look upon God’s love as weakness – Moses certainly didn’t: "Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.” His love is fierce, selective, uncompromising, and permanent. However, He is a loving God – love may the most significant attribute of God’s perfect character. These are not the words of an impersonal, uninvolved God, "My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled." (Hosea 11:8) Paul described Him as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort," (2 Corinthians 1:3)

When God sets His love on a person it is always undeserved, and it is always forever. Nothing can overturn the outworking of His love toward us – the chain of events described in v30 will be unbroken: "These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Nothing can interfere with this because “God is for us” (v31), He has already paid an unthinkable price for us (v32), and He has seen to the hard part already – our justification (v33). Furthermore, Christ not only died for us, but He intercedes for us to this today (v34 – see more on that here). Yes, “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As the song goes, “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure…”

Sons of the Devil

Before we finish, we must also consider a natural consequence of God’s elective love: not all believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and therefore not all are His children. But whose children are they then? Look at the Pharisees: they claimed that God was their Father, yet they lied about Christ and even sought to murder Him. Jesus said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” (John 8:44) There are only two options here: if not a child of God you are a child of Satan: "The children of God and the children of the devil are obvious." (1 Jn 3:10)

So what kind of father is the Devil? Does he love his own? Does he care for them as a compassionate, understanding father? Look back to his first interaction with man, in Eden. His true character was revealed here: he lied to Adam and Eve, he twisted God’s words, and he brought about mankind’s corruption and death. He lies to this day, telling us that God doesn’t really mind sin – that He understands after all, or perhaps that God doesn’t exist – “Go ahead and do what you want, nothing bad will happen!”

Being a child of Satan does not mean you are a member of some devil-worshipping cult. It simply means you are in the majority. It is said in Revelation that he “deceives the whole world.” His children are immersed in a world of his distortions, no more aware of them than a fish is of being wet. He is the kind of father that, when asked for a fish, would gleefully give his child a snake, and when asked for an egg would happily provide a scorpion. His gifts to his children are sinful pride, deceit, lying, self-absorption, self-worship, and self-gratification. The fruit of his “gifts” are depravity, dishonor, degradation, and eternal damnation. This father is our enemy, and he overpowers man all too easily. “Armed with cruel hate – on earth is not his equal.”

Sons of God

"By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:10)
Let me put it plainly: if you are not a child of God you are a child of the devil. You need adoption! Christ has overcome Satan, offers pardon for your sins against God, eternal protection for your soul, and adoption into the family of a truly loving Father. Are you a son of God?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

40 Years Old

Today I celebrate the completion of my fortieth year outside the womb. With tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, everyone wants to know how it feels to suddenly become old. I’ve been thinking about that this morning, and a few things come to mind.

I am 40 years old. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was a teenager, but now I am 40. In a world of averages, it might be said that I’ve reached the half way point. 40 years is a long time for me – it is the span of my days on this earth so far. I’ve split that time between two different continents, have seen many things – good and bad, have formed my own family, and have experienced the grace of God beyond measure. However, when I consider God; ageless, timeless, pre-existant, infinite and immortal, I quickly see that I am a vapor, a mere breath upon the wind. Like a flower of the field – here today, but gone without a trace tomorrow. In the scope of human history, I am unknown, and my faint trace on this world will be quickly forgotten. In God alone, the Creator of all that exists, do I find eternity. I am swallowed up in His glory, with the chief aim being not my own legacy, but His. In this there is fulfillment, in knowing Him can I boast. I am a friend of God Most High, my name is written in His Book of Life. He remembers me – He even hears my voice when I pray to Him. All of this privilege and honor is mine only because of the eternal plan of God, and the merits of Christ Jesus. I earned nothing but a quick and painful exit from His world, yet He has shown great patience and mercy toward me, pardoning me for all my offenses – yes, even taking upon Himself the penalty for them all. Furthermore, He has exalted me, granting me a place in His royal family, as a son, fully reconciled to God. So the next 40 years will speed by and will barely register a tick against the clock of created time, yet I will then enter into an existence that far exceeds this one, where time without end will be spent in the presence of the One whose days cannot be measured, and Who’s astonishing power sustains all things – even time itself.

It could also be said that I’ve reached the halfway point of my adult usefulness, if that normally runs from 20 to 60 years of age. Yet, I do not look back and see 20 years of usefulness. I have lacked focus and godly ambition. My divided heart has entertained so many lesser notions, dreams, and pleasures that it has had too little room left for its Lord. Thankfully, in the last few years there has been a growing sense of wonder and admiration for Christ, and an increasing hunger and thirst for Him. Like David in Psalm 63, I begin to own Him as my God – God not merely of the universe but of Alan Richardson. More and more He owns my allegiance, my love, my strength. I pray daily for an ever- deepening desire, a stronger fervor for Christ. Daily I lay before Him all that I have and say, “I would hold on to nothing that would keep me from You. Nothing is too precious. All in this life that is truly good was given by You, and You may take it away as needed… only let me be wholly Yours.” As the lands of my heart are gradually surrendered to His absolute and loving reign, I know that He shall make me fit for His purposes. If I am indeed half-way done, then I pray that the second half is filled with such usefulness, that “zeal for His house would consume me,” uniting my heart, granting it single-mindedness, and accomplishing His will through me. I dearly want to invest wisely the Master’s talents so that at the end of life’s second half I would hear Him say to me, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were trusted with little, now I will trust you with more. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

As I consider the 40 years God has given to me so far, my heart swells with joyful gratitude. I am nothing special, like a generic clay vessel, but He has filled me with the treasures of divine love, eternal life, and super-abounding grace. Time and again I’ve shown myself unworthy of His affection, and yet His love simply refuses to be removed from me. Truly He is more faithful than I am faithless. I cannot number the blessings I have received from His hand, and I know He is not done with me yet.

So, at the ripe old age of 40, I join with Mary and say, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy. " (Luke 1:46-49)