Here are some of the many, public health many things I want to do in my life!
–Skydive – what an amazing experience!
-Learn how to ballroom dance
-Publish a photograph
-Write my story
–Graduate from high school– done! :)
-Graduate from college
-Get a tattoo
-Be a mommy
-Visit every continent (but I’ll be pleased if I visit six of the seven)
-Publish a book
-Make a cookbook
-Do crazy things for God
-Visit (that means spend time in) every state
- Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia
-Make snow ice cream
-Ride in a hot air balloon
-Drive cross country
-Learn how to decorate baked goods
-Visit Disney World
-Visit a concentration camp
-Ride with a dogsled team for the first leg of the Iditarod Race (I have wanted to do this since 2nd grade)
-Run some sort of race (I’ll be happy with a 5K)
–Buy a full-frame professional camera– My grandparents gave me a Canon 5D!
-Build a life-sized snowman
2013 is a year that I will always remember as one of the most significant, link
life-changing, and best years of my life.
This year came out of a series of really tough years. It came out of a 12-year struggle with an eating disorder. It came out of years filled with depression and anxiety. And I really wasn’t expecting anything different from the year ahead. Things in my life had started to improve- I had finished my first semester of college, which had been challenging in many ways but had been wonderful in so many others. I truly loved where I was going to school and I had also become a part of an amazing church family that gave me the support, community, and friendship that I had desperately needed. I had started tentatively re-establishing my relationship with God and experienced Him moving in my life in significant ways. But despite all these things, I wasn’t expecting 2013 to be much different from the years that had preceded it. And praise God that I was wrong!
On New Year’s Eve, my family and I went to a party at a friend’s house to celebrate. I wasn’t feeling that well because my stomach was hurting from the constant anxiety I held in my body and I was gripped with a pervasive feeling of low self worth that prevented me from fully participating in the fun. But in the end I had a good time and we brought in the New Year. When we got home that night, I got in my room, closed the door, and started getting ready for bed. That night, the first moments of the New Year, I stood in front of this full-length mirror, naked. And I saw my body. I saw all the flaws I’ve focused on for the past decade. But the voice, the eating disorder voice, was quiet. I had a peaceful moment as I looked at my body and even though I didn’t see it as perfect, I was able to accept that it was my body and in that moment, it was ok. Even though I didn’t see my body as this thing of perfection or beauty, the imperfections that it held had no hold on who I was as a person. Because my stomach was too flabby didn’t mean, as it usually did, that I was a worthless failure. In that moment, at two in the morning, I saw myself as someone who had worth in Christ. I though to myself “I want to remember this moment, the fact that I started the New Year not hating my body or myself. I don’t know what this year will bring, but I want to remember this.” And that was the start. It was during that first week of the New Year that God spoke to me and gave me a promise. He promised me that this would be the year of my recovery.
God had never promised me anything like that before- He has always promised that He was walking with me through my struggles and would never leave me. And He had been faithful and true to that promise.
But this promise was very different. It was a promise of healing, of freedom, of restoration and redemption. It was a promise of a life very different from the life I had lived before.
Even though I didn’t know how I could possibly recover from the eating disorder that had been with me for so long, even though I didn’t know how God would be able to do a work of deep healing in me that years of therapy hadn’t been able to do, even though I didn’t know how He could restore my broken life, I trusted Him and I trusted His promise.
When I returned back to school, my friend who disciples me told me that the Lord had told her as well that this would be the year of my recovery and that it would not be a temporary relief or freedom but that after this year, I would be rid of my eating disorder forever.
And in a way that I can’t explain, I experienced tremendous freedom right away. God lifted my burden from me and I found myself living in freedom and joy in a way that I hadn’t before.
That’s not to say that it was always an easy journey. It has definitely been a process and at times it has been really hard. For as many encouraging things that have happened, there have been a lot of discouraging setbacks. But there was also a tremendous amount of hope in those setbacks because I knew that by the end of the year, I would be living in freedom.
Whenever I was panicked by food or hated my body, I heard the Lord saying that I was a new creation- the old has passed away and the new has come.
This fall, after an amazing and unprecedented six months free from depression, I experienced a depressive episode. And He told me that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery.
And I got tremendous hope and joy through a study of the book of Revelation, which paints a beautiful picture of the holy city coming down from heaven, and all pain and sorrow being wiped away. And He who is seated on the throne says, “I am making everything new! Write these words down for they are trustworthy and true.” The Lord showed me that this is His promise for the future- His restoration of all the world. But He also showed me that this is His promise for me now. That He was making me new and bringing newness into my life. And so I got this promise as a tattoo- to forever remind myself of the Lord’s faithfulness for me during this specific year, to remind myself of my forever-identity as a new creation in Him, and to remember His promise for all the world- a complete resurrection, a redemption life.
This New Year’s Eve is not only the start of a new year, but also the start of a new life for me. I have been made new by the blood of the Lamb. The Lord has breathed new life into my dry bones. I am out of the valley. And what a glorious journey it will be.
This semester I am taking a class called The Gospel of Matthew in which we do exegesis of Matthew for a whole semester—aka my favorite thing ever. We are trying to understand Matthew’s Gospel in the context in which it was written and are comparing it to the other Gospels, approved
especially the other Synoptic Gospels (side note: synoptic is derived from the Greek words “together” and “view.” The first 3 Gospels are called synoptic because they are very similar). Reading and studying the Bible in an academic context is always very different than when you’re reading it for your own personal growth or study, as I continue to learn. So this post is about some of the things I’m learning about in class!
Let me start off by saying this:
I believe that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16). I think scripture is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to learn about the character of God and so I love studying the Bible. However, the center of my faith rests on the person of Jesus Christ, which means that I have the freedom to ask hard questions about the validity of the Bible. In all my research I feel confident that the Bible is trustworthy and if we really believe that we can trust God’s word, we shouldn’t shy away from asking and addressing these hard questions out of fear for what we may find out. This post is not a defense of the Bible, rather it is looking at different theories of the origins of the Gospel accounts.
Something we’ve been talking about in class is a hypothesis called the two-source hypothesis, Markan priority, and Q. Here’s the hypothesis: Mark was the first Gospel written, hence the phrase Markan priority. The writers of Matthew and Luke used Mark to write their Gospels, which is why they share so much of the same material. However, there is a substantial amount of material that both Matthew and Luke have but that Mark doesn’t have. This has led some scholars to believe that Matthew and Luke must have both been looking at another source to get the additional material. This source is called Q, which is from the German word Quelle, which means, “source.” So the two-source hypothesis states that Luke and Matthew used both Mark and Q to write their Gospels.
Evidence for the two-source theory:
There’s linguistic evidence for the two-source theory. Mark’s Greek is not very polished and so where Matthew and Luke share content with Mark, you can see that they have taken his original language and smoothed out the Greek, but they have done so in different ways, which accounts for some of their linguistic differences.
Additionally, many scholars date Luke and Matthew as having been written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Therefore, Luke and Matthew were most likely not first-hand accounts, as is commonly held by most Christians, and so it would make sense that they would use other sources to write their Gospels.
Evidence for Q:
There are many instances where Matthew and Luke have almost identical accounts of an event that is not described in Mark. For example, in Mark 1:12-13, Mark writes this about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness:
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
(Side note—I think Mark is hilarious. This is all he had to say about the matter?)
Matthew and Luke both go into very similar accounts of the temptation (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13), including almost identical dialogue between Satan and Jesus. Since Matthew and Luke consistently share this material, scholars believe that they must have been looking at another source, named Q.
When you’re reading the Gospels through the two-source hypothesis, you’re not reading the Gospels so much as an account of what Jesus said and did, but rather how the Gospel writers interpreted and edited the two sources they were using—this is called redaction criticism—redaction means editing and so when doing redaction criticism we are trying to get into the mind of the redactor. So this opens up a way to read the Gospels in which we’re trying to figure out why the author wrote what he did and why he changed the original language from Mark/Q to fit his own purposes.
Issues with the Two-Source Hypothesis:
One thing that has become abundantly clear is that scholars seem to take as fact that Q is the second source for Matthew and Luke. However, let’s be clear that Q does not actually exist. I’ve been reading lots of theology books for my various theology classes, and some of them straight out cite Q. You cannot cite something that does not exist! Q has never been found—not even fragments. It is a document that has been created by Bible scholars by gathering shared material from Matthew and Luke, but it’s not real so we shouldn’t let ourselves be deluded into thinking that it actually exists.
Also, many scholars believe that Matthew and Luke were written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., which means that the two Gospels could, in fact, be first hand accounts. The reason for thinking this is that in Matthew and Luke, Jesus makes prophetic statements that seem to predict the destruction of the temple and yet neither the authors of Matthew or Luke say something like, “here Jesus was predicting the destruction of the temple.” There’s an even stronger case to be made for Luke being dated even earlier—the author of Luke is also the author of Acts, and the Gospel of Luke was written before Acts (see Acts 1:1-2). There’s good evidence that Acts was written in the early 60s A.D. because the author does not mention the deaths of James, Peter, or Paul, which happened in the mid 60s, and the author also does not mention the destruction of the temple, which seems like it would be important when constructing an account of the early Christian church. Therefore, these earlier dates of the Gospels would allow for them to be first-hand accounts, or the eyewitness accounts of people who had actually been with and seen Jesus. Luke, most likely a traveling companion of Paul, says in the very beginning of his gospel:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. –Luke 1:1-4
Luke was not an eyewitness to Jesus’s life, death, or resurrection. However, he has compiled first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses in order to write his gospel.
Matthew, on the other hand, is traditionally thought to be an eyewitness. Whether or not the author of Matthew is actually Matthew, the tax collector who was one of the 12 disciples, we can’t know (since the author does not name himself in the Gospel), but especially with the earlier dating, it is not unlikely that he was with Jesus and heard these teachings first hand.
When reading the Gospels as first-hand accounts or narratives of events that actually happened, how can we account for theological and linguistic differences between Matthew, Mark, and Luke? Well first of all, if three people are at the same event, it is not surprising that they would walk away with different ideas of what happened, different interpretations. Each of the Gospel writers is also writing to a different audience with a different perspective—for example, Matthew is writing to Christian Jews, and so he emphasizes the halakhah (Jewish law) more than Mark or Luke.
So now you know a little bit more about how the Synoptic Gospels are often read in an academic setting! I encourage you to explore many different view points and ask critical questions of them all before you draw your own conclusions :)