faith, freedom, food

Tag: #christian

The Writing Bug

The Writing Bug

I have an unwavering, overwhelming, constant need to write. I’ve had it since before I can remember. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher entered a paper I wrote in a writing contest that I ended up winning. From that point forward, I was […]

Our Proposal Story (+How We Met Three Years Ago)

Our Proposal Story (+How We Met Three Years Ago)

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 […]

Interpreting the Bible: Have You Ever Wondered…

Interpreting the Bible: Have You Ever Wondered…

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.

Context and Background

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.

Ἵνα” Explained

“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.”

Conclusion

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.

A Letter to My Best Friend on Her 21st Birthday

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 […]

The Winter Blues

The Winter Blues

Does winter get anyone else down in the dumps?I’m not trying to blame my attitude on the cold, because I know that owning my attitude is always my responsibility. But man… I really, really hate the cold.  It is one sensation I can think of […]

One Major vs. Two: Is a Double Major the Way To Go?

One Major vs. Two: Is a Double Major the Way To Go?

Today’s post is all about double majoring.
Why did I decide to complete my undergrad as a double Major? What are the pros and cons of this? Who I recommend it to?
My application story:
I cannot recall ever being stressed about post-secondary, having doubts, or thinking twice. Looking back, I truly see this as a gift from God.
I declared in middle school that I was going to go to Wilfrid Laurier University for Christian Studies, for a couple main reasons: I was under (wrong) the impression that this was one of the only programs in Canada for Christian pastoralship, which I believed to be my calling since the age of nine, and my opa, one of biggest inspirations, was once the dean of the seminary at Laurier. I saw myself following in footsteps.
Throughout high school, while colleagues stressed about where they were applying, what schools might accept them, and how many different programs they should apply for, I… just wasn’t stressing. And in Grade 12, when it came time to apply, I applied solely to the Christian Studies I graduate program at Laurier.
I was accepted (the main requirement was a good English grade, which I had always had).
Coming to Laurier, still without question, boy was I ever made more aware than ever of just how much God has guided my path.
Not only have I grown closer to Him and learned about Him in ways only He could have foreseen;
I met the love of my life,
Some of my lifelong best friends,
and discovered naturally what gifts I really wanted to/felt called to utilize for ministry, and what my dream of “being a pastor” might look like.
In the process, I realized that majoring in solely Christian Studies meant I had to take a lot of electives, which, in first year, were very random according to my availability, from art history to Spanish (my only Cs in my university career– can you tell my interests?!). However, I took one English elective called Reading Fiction, and remembered words of many peers and role models in my life, from my opa, who said, “You would love to take literature courses,” my English teachers over the years, who encouraged me to pursue writing, and my own parents. These affirmations helped me to recognize a fire inside of me that I had always known, but never considered in terms of university, because what kind of job does one get with an English Literature degree?
All I knew was that I wanted more English classes. And so, I applied to double Major, and was accepted.
And the English classes I’ve taken have contributed to my degree, my maturation, and my learning in more ways than I can begin to express. I am a more well-rounded writer, more in tune with the importance of history, and in tune with my passion in analyzing classic writers.
Double Major If…
1. You realize most of your electives are in one field.
2. Your grades are suffering in your electives.
3. You cannot pick between two majors.
Don’t Double Major if…
1. You’re not incredibly confident in your choice of 1st major.
2. You find yourself wanting to explore a variety of other fields.
3. You don’t want to be on a strict schedule with course options.
My English Lit studies have complimented my Christian Studies in that the literature I’m reading for English classes has caused me to think critically about the application of ministry to different individuals in a Christian setting and in the world.

I Believe Research Episode 4: Do I Have to Fast Food?

I Believe Research Episode 4: Do I Have to Fast Food?

Welcome to the blog, and welcome to the fourth instalment of my research for the Bible Study I am launching in March 2019! I am so excited to be sharing the official graphic for the study, credited to my wonderful and compassion friend, Sam Stuckless. […]

Money, Money, Money: How I Went From Being a Self-Serving “Hyper-Saver” to Finding Balance with my Finances

Money. It’s one of those things I was always taught not to talk about. I learned in childhood not to disclose how much of it I had, not to talk about my savings– and to save as much as possible. Proverbs 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles […]

I Believe Research Episode 3: Commentaries on the Importance of Fasting

I Believe Research Episode 3: Commentaries on the Importance of Fasting

Happy Monday friends!

Today, I am so excited to share some of the prayer and research I’ve been up to in preparing for the interactive Bible Study I’m releasing in March 2019.
The research Im releasing will be extensive in its range of sources, all focused on the topic of fasting: what it is, how it has been shown to be beneficial or otherwise, what the Bible says, what to do during fasting, potential contentions/other interpretations, etc.
Today, I am focusing on a biblical verse from the book of 1 Corinthians that I think very important to include in this research.

1 Corinthians 5:7

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians is one of the documented letters of the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth of his time.
Here, Paul is referring specifically to married couples, as he explains in the verses preceding this verse.
Commentators and scholars vastly agree that Paul is explaining the importance of sexual activity within marriage, and the blessing that it is to each person in the marriage. The only time that sex should be disregarded, Paul says, is if the couple is in agreement that they should be taking some time to seek God in individual prayer, thus “fasting sex” to pray– but always to come together again.
The Expositer’s Greek Testament explains that the deprivation of sex within marriage is in fact unjust, with the exception of mutually agreed upon prayer, likely discerned by the Holy Spirit together as a couple.
What does this mean for the purposes of our Bible Study?
A few things, I think.
Fasting is intentional and purposeful. In the case of sex, Scripture states that it should not be fasted, unless the purpose of the fast is for prayer that is discernibly needed.
For our purposes, we don’t want to just fast anything. What I’m getting at is that the fasted substance of one person may be absolutely right for them in their context, but horribly wrong for another person.
For example: I have a history of restrictive eating, obsessing with food counts, and idolizing the “perfect” diet. So, if I fasted unhealthy food, that would be incredibly self serving and actually dangerous for me.
However, there may be someone else who is in prayer about what they may be called to fast, and is convicted that junk food and eating consume their thoughts, and that abstaining from junk food/those thoughts to pray instead is exactly what they are called to do.
What we fast isn’t necessarily inherently “bad.” Sex is a beautiful, necessary-for-life and vital for healthy marriage, good thing. The emphasis in Scripture is that it should only be fasted for the purpose of prayer in a season of need for that!
Television isn’t evil, and neither is social media (I’m still debating both of these😉). Neither is online shopping, or drinking a glass of wine, or thinking about your next workout. But if you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart in matters of your life that consume a lot of your thoughts, He may reveal that fasting something for a period is going to be an important thing for you.
Prayer is the purpose. Scripture is very clear in 1 Corinthians that prayer is the very purpose of any time of abstinence from sex. So, if we fast something for “self-improvement,” and not to be closer to Jesus, we need to check our heart. Ie., if you’re thinking about fasting a certain food, but your heart is screaming, “ooh, maybe I’ll lose weight/get a better body,” you probably should reconsider the substance you’re fasting.
Prayer should substitute the fasted activity or substance. Since I’ve been praying about this study, God gave me a picture of a young man who often finds himself playing video games in his downtime choosing to spend time with God instead, and being amazed at how quickly the time passes as he spent it getting to know his Lord.
Are you interested in joining the Bible study? You will be able to follow along online, or, if you’re in KW area, attend our weekly meetings, too! Im so excited to get started in March 2019. As always, please reach out to me with any questions, and share with your friends!

Fall Favourites 2018

Fall Favourites 2018

It is mid-November. I am mid-way through the first semester of my last year of my undergrad. Can anyone in the same place– or who’s been there– vouch for the insanity? Yeah. Breaks in order to carry out passions are necessary, I have found.  That is why […]