I Believe Bible Study Registration

Study Title: “I Believe” Bible Study in Partial Fulfillment for Christian Studies and Global Citizenship Undergraduate Degree

Principal Investigator: Cassandra Wolfe

I am a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Department of Christian Studies and Global Citizenship & English Literature. I am planning to conduct a Bible study, which I invite you to take part in. This form has important information about the reason for doing this study, what I will ask you to do if you decide to be in this study, and the way I would like to use information about you if you choose to be in the study.  

Why are you doing this Bible study?

You are being invited to participate in a Bible study about the results of abstaining from, “fasting,” a particular activity that has been prayed about for a period of time, and spending intentional time in prayer and with God instead. I, the creator and researcher, believe that more time with God and in prayer, and intentional sacrifice, results in a less selfish attitude, and a more others-oriented lifestyle.

What will you do if you choose to be in this Bible study?

You will be asked to follow along with the content posted on a private blog page for which you will be given the password for seven weeks, participating in the comments section as you are comfortable and feel called. New posts will occur every Wednesday evening at 8pm EST, beginning Wednesday, March 6th, and ending Wednesday, April 17th, and will include discussion questions and prompts for the week. Week 1’s content will include how to go about choosing an activity to fast, and we will share what we are fasting in the comments section by the following week. The discussion board will be available for comments throughout the week. Only those who have signed up for the study will be able to see your comments. You will be encouraged to share your experiences and participate in discussion about relevant Scripture, but never forced.

I may quote your remarks in presentations or articles resulting from this work.  A pseudonym will be used to protect your identity, unless you specifically request that you be identified by your true name. You are also welcome to use a pseudonym as your blog name for participation. It is up to you what you want to get out of this study and learn from it, and that does not need to involve others knowing your identity if you feel you would be more willing to participate anonymously.

You will be asked to refrain from overly personal or potentially triggering information using best judgement.

What are the possible risks or discomforts?

To the best of my knowledge, the things you will be doing have no more risk of harm than you would experience in everyday life.

However, depending on the nature of your fast, you may experience various emotions in participating in discussions. You ALWAYS have the right to refrain from participating in conversations, and requesting that a discussion be halted.

As with all research, there is a chance that confidentiality of the information we collect from you could be breached – we will take steps to minimize this risk, as discussed in more detail below in this form.

What are the possible benefits for you/others?

The possible/expected benefits to you from this study include…

-A deeper relationship with God

-A broader understanding of Scripture related to fasting and prayer

-A renewed prayer life

-Higher productivity

-Reduced selfishness and greater compassion

How will I protect the information I collect about you, and how will that information be shared?

Results of this study may be used in publications and presentations.  Your study data will be handled as confidentially as possible. If results of this study are published or presented, individual names and other personally identifiable information will not be used. Any information I have your permission to keep will be kept on my private Google Drive account, not accessible to others, and will be used only for the purposes of my final presentation and paper. While confidentiality between participants will be requested, it, of course, cannot be assured of.

Financial Information

Participation in this study will involve no cost to you.

What are your rights as a Bible study participant?

Participation in this study is voluntary.  You do not have to answer any question you do not want to answer.  If at any time and for any reason, you would prefer not to participate in this study, please feel free not to. If at any time you would like to stop participating, please tell me. We can take a break, stop and continue at a later date, or stop altogether. You may withdraw from this study at any time, and you will not be penalized in any way for deciding to stop participation.  

If you decide to withdraw from this study, I will ask you if I am still able to quote any of what I have learned from your time in the study.

Who can you contact if you have questions or concerns about this research study?

If you have questions, you are free to ask them now. If you have questions later, you may contact me at any time:

Cassie Wolfe

519-570-8939

wolf3740@mylaurier.ca

Consent

I have read this form and the Bible study has been explained to me. I have been given the opportunity to ask questions and my questions have been answered. If I have additional questions, I have been told whom to contact. I agree to participate in the Bible study described above.

By registering for the online Bible study, you are agreeing to the information presented above and agreeing that all of your questions have been answered. To register for the online Bible study, simply fill out the form found here. You will be notified of the password for all the content by Wednesday, March 6th, 2019.

Again, for all the information about the Bible Study, the vision for it, and the research that has gone into it, head here, and peruse all the posts!

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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 told my every English teacher that I should keep writing.

And this need to write hasn’t ceased… but my follow-through and actual time spent writing has.

I don’t blame anyone but myself, and relent my frustration toward one thing: technology.

So, I have some questions for you guys.

Do you feel guilty when you spend time consuming others’ creative content rather than creating yourself?

Do you push off “content creation” for relaxation? Or is content creation not on your radar?

Do you have goals and plans for your creative work? How do you prioritize those goals?

I have affirmation that part of my life’s work is meant to be in writing content that helps people. And while I don’t know exactly what that’s meant to look like, I simply keep trusting and walking in the plans God has for me.

Today was a day of errands all across the town.

I got my hair done for free by my beautiful friend Morgan to help her with her updo skills, went grocery shopping, and picked up my new glasses, all with the encouragements that make up #BellLetsTalk day ringing through my ears, while I thought, if these torturous illnesses exist and are people’s realities, we NEED to be talking about them.

And now I’m getting ready to do homework, but not without first sitting down to simply write.

And in the midst of confusion, of wondering more than ever “what the heck” I’m going to pursue in a career, and resting in Jesus, today of all days I know it’s ok to be confused, to be broken. It’s actually part of the calling.


“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
 Ps.147:3

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 professor asked us students to share our names, and a little bit about ourselves, I knew his name, “Johnny,” would stick in my mind.

Every Tuesday afternoon that first semester of my freshman year in university, I was encouraged and excited by what Johnny had to say on the topic of Christianity, much of which related to God’s almighty power and sufficient grace. In a place fraught with haughty opinions and lacking semblance of truth, Johnny only spoke when absolutely necessary, and without drawing attention to himself… except for, perhaps, my attention.

I also caught him nodding along with some of the points I would bring up, while I tried not to care. After all, I didn’t want to get caught up in a boy.

But God had other plans.

I always hoped Johnny might talk to me after class. Instead, when we had a field trip to Queen’s Park in Toronto, and I asked a classmate who would be driving there if we could carpool, I saw Johnny approach the same classmate to ask for a ride a few minutes after I did.

Hmmm…

And the car ride was the beginning I’ll never forget.

Johnny and I must have spent more time getting to know each other than I realized, because, when we got to Queen’s Park, a fellow classmate who had also been in the car asked me, “So, are you and Johnny a thing?”

At Queen’s Park, we watched a political debate, and then had the opportunity to ask the politicians questions about their faith. I remember Johnny asking questions that didn’t spark my curiousity about Johnny, but drew me to prayer and to seek God’s will. I wasn’t distracted by him, but pressed forward to focus on God’s heart for these politicians, and our classmates.

It is for that reason that, when Johnny asked me if he could take me for coffee after the field trip, I didn’t say, “I’m actually not dating right now,” I said, “Yes.”

I would later learn that Johnny had also recently wondered if he was called to be single all his life. He had also recently turned down a few other potential relationships. And he had also felt drawn to the way Jesus was working in me.

The coffee date led to more dates. The couple months before Johnny asked me to be his girlfriend were spent awing in Jesus Christ and not in each other. And that is why I love Johnny second. Jesus Himself has called us to, and built up, the foundation on which our relationship stands.

Flash forward three years. Johnny and I are both almost done university… but in different provinces.

When Johnny and I met, he already knew that the school we both attended in Waterloo, ON was not his forever school. Ten months into our relationship, he transferred to Providence University in Otterburne, MB, as it is a Christian university where he could play varsity soccer in the States.

So, much of our relationship has been long distance, though we see each other four months of the summer, over Christmas, and have surprise visited each other, too.

This December 14th, 2018, Johnny returned home from Winnipeg for Christmas, and we reunited emotionally and excitably as always. Johnny’s birthday was the following day, and his sister-in-law had texted me a few days before, having bought us tickets to the Toronto Symphony, and recommending a dinner spot as a birthday gift to Johnny for both of us.

That next day, I was so focused on making Johnny’s 23rd birthday special. After giving him his birthday gift, which included 23 photos of us with 23 things I love about him, Johnny suggested we dress up fancy for the symphony.

We drove to Toronto, talking endlessly, and were so pleasantly surprised by the beautiful atmosphere of the dinner spot that Johnny’s sister-in-law recommended, Bar Reyna. We enjoyed delicious food in one of my favourite settings of all times, and each other’s company, before deciding to walk half an hour to the symphony rather than drive over.

Being pretty clueless with directions, I didn’t realize we were passing Queen’s Park until we were standing right outside it. “Wow, is this Parliament?” I asked. There wasn’t a soul around, and it was dark outside, lit only by tinselly Christmas lights adorning the trees. “Yeah,” Johnny smiled. “I’m surprised you only just noticed.”

I immediately started reminiscing on that field trip three years ago. “I knew I was drawn to you, not because of who you were, but because of who Jesus was in you,” I said. “I knew I believed in Him the same way you did. I just had never before had the vocabulary for it.”

Johnny and I were both tearing up. I was silently praising and thanking God.

And it wasn’t until he stopped me, right out front of Queen’s Park, that I had a single CLUE that he was about to ask me a very important question. “I have a confession,” he said.

My heart went into my throat in excitement, emotion, and joy.

“Sarah didn’t plan this day, I did. All to bring you here, where we first met. To have the hopes of having the best birthday gift in the world.”

The rest of what he said was a blur. I was in the midst of the greatest surprise of my life.

When he got down on one knee and said, “Cassandra Andrea Wolfe, will you be my wife?” I nodded vehemently before pulling him up and kissing him.

Finally, Johnny pointed to the bushes far off, where my sister, Krystal, was taking photos. Johnny had paid for her trip down to capture the moment.

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 with you than I ever had shared, and feel so quickly like you had been one of my closest friends for a long time already.

Embarking, then, on university together, every step of the way, I cannot imagine a university experience without you. From crying what feels like all my biggest cries with you, feeling 100% completely unjudged and 100% fully loved… from laughing some of my most obnoxious laughs with you, spending endless late nights half writing papers half fully engaged in long, sometimes deep, sometimes very not deep, conversations… living together the past two and half years, teaching each other, learning from each other, growing together. Maddie, I have learned so much from you.

I have learned that truly listening is one of the greatest gifts you could offer anyone. I always know I am so heard when I talk to you.

I have learned that long tangents about leggings, ketchup, grapefruits, socks, and other “little things” are possible, and that I love listening to yours.

I have learned that a life centred on Jesus that starts with prayer and submission to Him shows in that person’s selflessness and love. He is in you, Madds.

I have learned a lot about laundry, hair care, and the importance of removing my make-up.

I have learned and established some of my greatest morals and values alongside you and with your help.

I have learned the importance of laughter and taking breaks from being in the school zone.

I’ve learned and witnessed the beauty of trusting God with some of the things we feel we don’t want to trust Him with– knowing that His plans are always better.

Maddie, thank-you for being one of the greatest blessings of my 21 years. I know you are my lifelong sister, and I cannot wait to see what Jesus has in store and calls you to this year. I love you so very much.

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?

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.

And so excited about today’s topic: aren’t you supposed to fast food?

It is true that the Bible does not speak of fasting beyond fasting food.

And I think it is very important to acknowledge this.

Fasting literally translates to “abstinence from food.” So, perhaps a word other than “fast” should be used for the abstinence of something other than food in order to spend that time with God.

The important distinction here is that food is a necessity for life. Social media, television, a favourite sport, or anything else you might be convicted to fast certainly are not necessities.

Still, I think the key is that a fast is meant to remind one of their need for time with God, in prayer, worship, and in the Word.

And perhaps you’ll find fasting food is something important for you to do when you pray– but God meets us where we’re at.

I come from a past in which restriction of food itself was my idol. So, I would not restrict food. And I would urge you that if any slight part of you is thinking, “ooh, maybe I’ll lose some weight” at the idea of fasting food, that is probably not the thing you should fast.

Fasting [food] is not worthwhile if it costs you your health, and is in fact discouraged It is not necessarily what item you give up, but more about what that item means to you and how it reminds you to stay focused on the Lord (Mahoney 2017).

To clarify: the definition of fasting is the abstinence of food.

For our purposes, and in our culture, the goal is to give up something that is in idol in our lives, and spend the time we would be giving that idol in prayer.

What is an idol?

Exodus 32:1-5 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” 

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 

So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.

In the Old Testament, the idols of the Israelites were often of images or physical objects, such as the golden calf above.

The people knew they were meant to worship something… but they didn’t know what.
I can relate to this very personally.
I used to worship diets. I devoted all my time to planning the “perfect” day of eating, and gave that all my attention. It was like my heart and soul knew they were meant to pour their energy into something… but oh, how meaningless and temporary these “food rules” were, like the golden calf.
But God, perfectly loving Creator, immortal, who promises to “never leave nor forsake you… who has set you free”? Worth worshipping and knowing.
Do you believe? Feel your heart stirring? Curious?
Or already following Jesus, but would love the accountability to give up an idol in your life?
Message or contact me for all the details on the Study starting in March: worldwide, and absolutely free.