“My mom made me do Zumba with her the other night because she was feeling fat and didn’t want to work out alone.” I was startled by how casually my 10-year-old hip hop student told me about her Zumba night with her mother. “You eat […]
If you know me in real life, you know that I absolutely adore nut butters.
And if you’ve been in my kitchen in real life, you know that on a whole new level. I almost always have more than one type of nut or seed butter open and ready to spoon from or top with, from flavoured peanut butters to cashew, almond, and sunflower seed butter.
I also always buy nuts-only butters– ie., the only ingredient you’ll find in these jars is the nut itself. I make this decision both according to my taste buds, which are partial to the unsweetened, raw nuttiness of the one-ingredient varieties, and health reasons, as the other ingredients added to many popular nut butters not only deter their flavour in my opinion, but are usually pure junk.
So, the other day, when I realized that the almond butter I bought from my usual brand was a variety I don’t usually buy that contained palm oil and organic cane sugar in addition to almonds, I was annoyed at myself for having a bit of a freakout. I felt stupid for having made such a “careless mistake.”
Luckily, my thoughts rambled, I caught it before I’ve opened the jar. I’ll have to dig up the receipt and exchange it.
It didn’t take too long for me to stop dead in my thoughts, and question them.
Did I hate the taste of sugary almond butter? Absolutely not. It was a close second taste-wise to unsweetened almond butter. So, would a version of Cassie that had not been tainted by an eating disorder be thinking about taking a bus ride back to the grocery store to exchange sweetened almond butter with palm oil for unsweetened… or would that version of Cassie not have even noticed?
It is these kind of thoughts that I am grateful for in their opportunity to take captive and bring to Christ. If I HATED sugary almond butter, that may have been a reason to return it. But I think I can safely say that no seasoned nut-butter-lover would turn down a jar of ANY variety. So, what did I proceed to do? Grab the nearest nut-butter-dipping vehicle– on this particular day, a gala apple–, dunk a slice of it into the sugary almond butter, sprinkle-sprinkle some cinnamon and sea salt, and call it a snack well done.
I haven’t wanted to face it, let alone write about it.
The very topic has caused me to close my laptop and attempt to anything and everything but write. I haven’t wanted to acknowledge its presence, but it has hit me: writer’s block.
I would like to say, “It’s okay. You can take some time off writing. You did, after all, just finish a four-year degree for which you practically never STOPPED writing.” But the perfectionist in me cannot say that.
Writing is my joy, my calling, and my freedom. Of these things I am sure. I could spend forever spinning stories, rewording prose to make it more beautiful and flowery and audience-appropriate. And what I write usually comes very naturally to me.
But it is as if graduating university has put an abrupt halt to all of that, causing me to question the merit of writing when it isn’t for the sake of literary analysis or discovering truth in a work.
Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ AMOS 7:14-15
This verse in the Book of Amos reminds me that I am not a professional writer, nor will I ever be. God has not asked me to be perfect, but to serve HIM in the way I write as I have been called. I want this blog to be FULL of His provisions; to be marvellous to His ears, and to be nothing but a glorification of His great name.
So, what HAS been inspired in the midst of this “writer’s block” (still perhaps refusing to call it that) is a devotional for the confused and undecided.
Lord, I don’t know what the future of my life holds. But You do, Jesus. Even now, quiet the voice that tries to tell me You don’t. I know and believe that You do. You have gone before me, Lord, and I pray that my steps are in alignment with what You have purposed me for, for the glory of Your Holy Name.
Jesus, when I feel scared of the unknown, remind me that I am fully known and fully loved by the only Eternal King of the universe. Jesus, when I feel like a failure for not knowing what is next, remind me that You have already overcome, defeated the grave, and therefore call me chosen and set apart; not a failure, but called to be a servant.
God, in my stirring, be my everything. In my weakness, remind me who the Healer is. When I forget Your perfection, put on my heart all that You have already done.
I have a feeling Cassie, Compiled. will be hearing a lot more from me in the coming months!
- What topic would you love for me to cover?
I had just told myself university would not be the time for a boy. But God knew differently. I noticed Johnny Fulford the moment I sat down in my Tuesday afternoon “Public Faith and Theology” class. He was smilely, shy-looking, and downright handsome. When the […]
This semester, I have been fortunate enough to take Biblical Greek with one of the greatest professors I have ever had.
The following is part of my final assignment for this class, and I wanted to share it here, because I am truly blown away by the knowledge I’ve gained from this class. Can I write or speak the Greek language with ease? Not a chance. Do I have a much better understanding of how a knowledge of how the Greek language works is crucial for proper interpretation of the Bible? Absolutely.
And here is just one example.
Let’s look at the New Living Translation of John 15:11-17:
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
The Book of John is found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, and is the fourth canonical Gospel in the New Testament. John 15 is one of the chapters that is commonly called the “farewell discourse” of Jesus (Carson 1980), as it features Jesus speaking in first person to his disciples the night before he is crucified. Prior to verses 11-17, Jesus had been discussing a parable in which he stated that he is “the true grapevine, and [his] Father the gardener” (John 15:1 NLT).
Beginning in verse 11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that…” and goes on to explain his purposes for the discourse in the first place.
“The single most common category of the subjunctive in the NT is after Ἵνα, comprising about one third of all subjunctive instances” (Wallace 1996). Phrases in the subjunctive mood express a “hope or desire,” while also recognizing that that desire becoming the outcome is not sure, but probable (Wallace 1996). There are several uses of the subjunctive, but John 15:11-17 is written in what is called the final subjunctive, “to indicate the purpose of an action” (Black 1998). Ἵνα itself, though, regardless of mood, is a conjunction translating most basically to “that” when introducing indirect discourse.
To recognize the subjunctive mood, we might look for “lengthened connecting vowels; no augment in the aorist” (Mounce 2009), as well as the word Ἵνα. So, when we read John 15:11 and see Ἵνα, we can assume we are reading a subjunctive message: an uncertain hope.
John 15:11 is translated as, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (NLT). While these verses were spoken to His disciples, many scholars agree that it was also a message for the coming church (Carson 1980). Let us imagine we are reading this verse as one who is mourning the death of a closed loved one in today’s world, and is not experiencing any sort of joy in that moment. If that reader read Ἵνα as a conjunction indicating a certain outcome, they would likely feel confused and doubtful, as “complete joy” is not their current experience. However, if the same reader understood that Ἵνα in this phrase is relaying Jesús’ hope for him/her, and His purpose for His discourse, a purpose that may or may not be reality, they are more likely to understand Jesus as one who loves and wants the best for His people, rather than one who makes false claims.
Jesus continues in the proceeding verses that we love each other as He has loved us… and that we “did not choose [Him], but [He] chose [us] and appointed [us] so that [we] might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever [we] ask in [His] name the Father will give [us]” (John 15:16 NLT). Now, let us imagine that we are the disciples listening to Jesus as He is speaking these words. If I were one of His disciples, and understood Jesus to mean that I absolutely must bear fruit, or as I understand it, be Christ-like in my love, and do so in a way that lasts, I can only imagine the immense pressure I would feel. This sort of command would give way to a works-centred Gospel, or one that suggested I must bear fruit in order to reap the “rewards” of the Father. Even the word “and,” placed where underlined in: “we might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever we ask in His name the Father will give us” is so crucial for the translation of this sentence. Without that “and” separating two ideas, two “Ἵνα” phrases, it would seem as if one action was necessary in order for the other: “we might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last– so that whatever we ask in His name the Father will give us.” However, what we have in reality is two separate “Ἵνα” phrases, in the subjunctive mood, and therefore phrases that are desires of the speaker, Jesus Christ, to His disciples and, likely, a exhortation to all Christ-followers, that He appointed us because He hopes that we will go and bear fruit that will last. As a reader personally, knowing this phrase in subjunctive in nature alleviates any pressure to “do good,” and rather pushes me on in wanting to follow Jesus, rooted in Him.
Finally, the latter half of verse 16 could be very easily mistranslated: “and so that whatever we ask in His name the Father will give us.” Now, imagine you are a newcomer to Scripture, reading the Book of John for the first time, and come across this phrase. You were told that Scripture is “Capital ‘T’ Truth,” and so you are very excited when you come across this verse! You close your eyes, and pray, “God, I ask you for a million dollars, in Your name.” You open your eyes, and… no money. You are bitter, and refuse to acknowledge the Bible as Truth.
Now, when we read this same verse in the subjunctive mood, we know that Jesus is speaking with a hopeful desire for His disciples and followers, also understanding that this is not a sure equation of “ask and receive.” This phrase, also separated by the and conjunction, so not directly linked to “bearing fruit.”
We might also add that the “asking in the Father’s name” is an action that follows abiding in Him and bearing fruit. We might assume, then, that the things we would ask the Father for when abiding in Him would be more in line with His will for us, and thus more likely things that He “would give us.”
It seems so bizarre that understanding such a small word, Ἵνα, is so vital for translating Biblical texts. But, upon close analysis of John 15:11-17, it is very clear that an awareness of the mood Ἵνα is used in, its meaning, and what it might be mistaken for meaning is so important for correctly interpreting the English translation of Biblical texts that use it.
Dear Maddie, You’ve heard it before. But when I met you, literally from the moment I saw you, I remember thinking, consciously, “I want to be that girl’s friend.” Little did I know, less than a week later, I would share more of my soul […]