Monday, December 29, 2014

The Battle of Scriptural Interpretation: Luther v. Erasmus

Here we are in the last post of the year 2014. It's been an interesting year all things considered, as this blog has become completely changed in its importance to my life. Due to time restraints, much over the last few months, my blog posts have been edited (ish) out of my college assignments. Unfortunately, today is no different.  I hope you enjoy a rather academic discussion of who has a better biblical argument: Luther or Erasmus on Free Will. One good way of reading this would be as a case study of what makes proper biblical interpretation.

Luther’s arguments were often in contrast with those of the established church. Such was the case with Luther’s arguments against the free will of man. The church beseeched Erasmus to write a response to Luther’s argument, which in turn elicited a further response from Luther. Upon analysis of their works, it becomes evident that Luther provides a better biblical argument (please note that this does not mean I agree with his arguments whole-heartedly. To demonstrate this, we will first evaluate the criteria by which we shall judge who has a better biblical argument, and then look at Erasmus and Luther’s arguments through that criteria.

Criteria - Proper Biblical Interpretation

From a definitional standpoint, a better biblical argument is one that is better supported by Scripture. But as these two giants (or maybe an elephant and a fly) both quote biblical passages in their arguments, there needs to be an analysis of what constitutes valid biblical support in the first place. Dr Jason Lee, Dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Cedarville University, says that in evaluating doctrinal debates, one should evaluate biblical support in accordance with whether or not the author was intending to express doctrine (twas a personal communication). In determining such intent, it is helpful that we follow the entirety of the author’s thought process, as well as how any other biblical authors respond to it. Naturally, there are no direct verses regarding free will in the Bible; otherwise, there would be no need for this discussion at all. Thus, we will see both sides arguing from inferences, but we should evaluate whether those inferences are built from interpretation of passages based on the intent of the biblical author.

Of course, according to Erasmus, the differences in opinion about unclear scriptural passages ought to be evaluated by the church alone, rendering our criteria irrelevant, as whatever the church says, must be deemed as correct. Nevertheless, as Luther points out, the Bible is written so as to be approachable to the common man, and thus, a specific authority in the church is not needed to evaluate which of these two men has a better biblical argument.

(This does not discount the importance of communal interpretation of the Scripture. There is one correct interpretation of the Bible, and collaborating with other members of the body of Christ is essential to a proper interpretation. However, church authorities are not needed to rule on differing interpretations directly, as the Bible is understandable by all of the church, not just a select few. For further development of this idea, see my later analysis on Deuteronomy 30.)

Erasmus' Misinterpretation of Scripture

Erasmus begins by quoting a passage from the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus. Unfortunately for Erasmus’ argument, at the time when he was writing, Ecclesiasticus was not even formally recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church.  In a world where even the established church who was supporting Erasmus in this argument doesn’t say that Ecclesiasticus is Scripture, it’s hard to consider it as biblical support. Thus, Erasmus’ argument from this passage is excluded from our analysis.

Even still, Erasmus quotes over 25 passages from the universally accepted biblical canon to support his logical arguments. Erasmus, for instance, argues that the commands in Scripture all imply the existence of free will. After all, one does not tell someone bound and unable to move, “Come.” Erasmus feels promises of rewards imply the same as one doesn’t reward someone for something he had no choice but to do. Still, it is difficult to argue that the authors of these verses were intending to promote the doctrine of free will. For instance, was Paul really making a statement about free will when he challenged Timothy to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ?”

The closest Erasmus comes to our intent-based criterion is Deuteronomy 30:11-19, in which he talks about total depravity. In this text, Moses seems to tell the Israelites that the law is very nigh unto them, “that thou mayest do it.”  Erasmus concludes that this means that men have the ability and will to obey the law. Yet almost everything in this passage gives us reason to think that Moses was writing about the approachability and understandability of the law, not about the ability of the Israelites to follow it.

Indeed, Paul uses this very passage to indicate that the message of the scripture (specifically the gospel) is clear and understandable. This is within a chapter declaring the futility of an attempt to obey the law.  This demonstrates at least that Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, thought that Moses was only intending to speak of the approachability of the law, rather than the Israelites’ ability to obey. As an inspired author, Paul must know what the passage means; thus, Erasmus’ contradictory interpretation must be wrong. As this is the closest Erasmus comes to proper interpretation of Scriptures, this leaves Erasmus with little more than human rationalization, rather than true biblical support.

Luther's Slightly Better Biblical Interpretation

Far too often, Luther also relies upon implications of passages, rather than authorial intent. Nevertheless, Luther does include some proper biblical support. In relation to Erasmus’ arguments from Deuteronomy 30 (as well as Erasmus’ conclusions from the rest of Old Testament commands), Luther argues that the law’s sole purpose was to show us our need for Christ. He specifically cites Romans 3:20, which states,
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” 

It is evident that Paul is making a doctrinal point about the nature of the law. If Luther really wanted to solidify this authorial intent, he should have cited the many other selections of Paul’s writings,  where this theme is developed. Even still, Luther’s counter-argument on the law’s purpose has better biblical support than Erasmus’ original argument did.

Luther’s arguments against free will are largely predicated on his belief in total depravity. Luther’s main proof for this is from Romans 1. Here we see Paul explain that the men of this world are ignorant of righteousness. According to Luther, one cannot act righteously if he does not even know what is righteous.

Ultimately, it is hard to give this verse much credence in its efforts to prove the depravity of man, as Paul never gives any clue that the sin he is discussing here is completely universal. Luther reads this into the text himself, by saying that the word “all” in the clause, “All ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,”  modifies the term men. A grammatical view of the text, on the other hand, would indicate that “all” modifies the words closest to it, namely, “ungodliness and unrighteousness.” Thus, we see no reason that Paul was intending this passage as a statement about the sinfulness of all men.

Even so, Luther’s argument from Romans 3:9 provides a stronger indication of the depravity of man. Here Paul declares that “all are under sin.” It is Luther’s contention that this excepts none, and is a great indication that ultimately that “all are under sin.” This takes the sin shown in Romans 1, and makes it universal.

Indeed, directly thereafter, Paul starts a long soliloquy that includes such statements as, “There is none righteous,”  “There is none that seeketh after God,”  “All the world may become guilty before God,”  and “For all have sinned.”  Thus, Paul intended the selfsame doctrine that Luther interprets from the verses. It is here that Luther argues that the depravity of man prevents him from choosing God (seeking after Him, perhaps?).Thus we see Luther’s use of implications to prove his argument. However, unlike Erasmus he does at least have a biblical foundation upon which to build his logical arguments.

Ultimately, both men present logical arguments, but only Luther has proper biblical foundation upon which to build his arguments as a whole. Erasmus’ implication-based style of argument simply ignores authorial intent. Thus, it is evident that Luther provides better biblical support for his argument than Erasmus did.

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's the Day After Christmas

It's the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. For everyone all through the house is sitting a bit sleepy as they discover that they ate too many double chocolate chip cookies the day before. Or maybe that's just my house. 

It was a wonderful Christmas for me, as family members crowded yonder small house to enjoy quality time with each other (and a light meal). Weirdly, I got 4 pieces of Doctor Who merchandise, which begs the question, am I really that obsessed? 

Now, of course, it's also Boxing Day, but I don't know much about the culture of Canada, UK, and Australia as it pertains to Boxing Day, so I'll stick to the more obvious holiday around this date - Christmas! 

I have decided that I am going to try to go as many Christmas posts as possible without going to one of the two classic Christmas passages. I'm not entirely sure why I'm doing this, but it's happening. 

So, John 1:1-14 tells us a few special reminders for the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, 
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. hat was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

So, yes, obviously tells us of the incarnation of Christ with the discussion of the word becoming flesh, but it further highlights that which I tried to demonstrate last year - Christ's life didn't begin with His birth. That was not a beginning, but rather, "In the beginning was the Word."

That means that saying that Christ's life is sacrificial is not out of place at all. Because He agreed to be made in the likeness of man, He agreed to be "made flesh," despite the fact that He made the world. As one of the thousand Christmas songs so eloquently puts it, "He laid down His golden crown."

Of course, discussion of Him laying down His crown would be useless without explaining why He would decide to come to Earth as a lowly carpenter's son. He came because Someone who had no sin was needed to die for atonement of the sins of the world, so that man who believed may "become the sons of God."

 Yet, despite the fact that the world was made by Him, the world received Him not. Throughout the entirety of His life, Jesus Christ, God Himself, was considered by many to be a raving lunatic. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

But praise the Lord, that He still considered both sacrifices worth the price for the sake that "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God."

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Battle for Supremacy: Church v. State

During the time of a unified Catholic church before the Reformation, there was a controversy that still holds some weight today. A controversy dealing with the scriptural understanding of who actually holds supreme authority on earth - church or state.

With such decisions coming from the government on freedom of religion, the question must again be asked - who has that control? Since the question is not new, let's spend some time examining the history of the viewpoints.

The argument between church and state authority stemmed first of all from an understanding that both the church and the state did have legitimate authority. To prove this, the two camps misused Luke 22:38, where Jesus proclaims that two swords is “enough.”

However, this misinterpretation does not answer the question of which “sword” had the higher authority. Of course, both the church and the state wanted to exert that influence themselves and thus had “biblical support” for the supremacy of their authority.

The legal rulers used Romans 13 to illustrate that the members of the church were to be “subject” unto the authority of the government. Furthermore, Romans 13 clearly states that to resist this authority is to resist God Himself. Taken with Romans 13's labeling of government officials as "ministers of God…for good,” this passage, according to the rulers, provided ample support that the government was a high authority on earth, and indeed higher even than the church.

On the other hand, the church used support from the book of Matthew. In chapter 16, Jesus tells Peter that He will build his church “upon this rock.” This the church uses to indicate that Peter is a representative of the church itself. Thus, when within the same verse, Jesus promises to give Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” the church finds this to mean that the church has immense authority upon earth. Further support can be garnered for this from the fact that Jesus goes on to explain, that whatever Peter shall “bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,” and the same for that which he shall loose on earth – a sentiment that is repeated later on in Matthew 18. This according to the church, means that everyone (even government) is bound to follow the edicts of the church.

As we examine these arguments as we approach today's questions, I think we should clearly see the varying difficulties that both of these positions dictate. If we are honest in our interpretative framework, at best what both of these positions are able to prove is simply that both the church and the state should have legitimate authority.

Romans 13, as stellar as it is to show Christian's obligations to government, does not give the government control over spiritual concerns. It doesn't give the government control over the church itself, only over the members of the church in the sphere of politics.

The verses in Matthew honestly don't mention government subservience to church either, or any reason why governmental affairs should be handled by the church. At best, the church could only use this to claim authority over the life of the Christian. Even that interpretation takes a few giant logical leaps away from the text itself.

Thus, it is my contention that both the church and the state are wrong in this viewpoint. Ultimately, the church should have its authority over its own members and spiritual concerns, but the state should have its own authority over political and legal issues. An argument can be made that both should be concerned with moral concerns (but then the question becomes, how much authority over morality do you give to the slimy government?).

Of course, keeping the divide between the two authorities is much easier said than actually done. The fact is, that each of the two authorities have a desire to control the other from time to time, such as demonstrated by this very argument.

In actually solving this conflict then, it becomes necessary to write (and have an enforcement mechanism for) a separation between church and state. Ultimately, there is no perfect solution, but I believe that the United States system is probably a fair model to emulate in creating a new one.

In it, both the church and the state are ultimately protected from each other. In the “free exercise” clause, each individual is given the opportunity to choose for themselves which religion they want to enter or even to not be religious at all, whereas the “establishment” clause gives a practical application to the free exercise clause broadly speaking.

These work to protect the church from the state, as well as the harmful effects of the church controlling the state in that there is no way to use the coercive power of the government to violate the freedom of conscience. It's a win-win for all.

Oh, and since you're probably wondering why the church needs protected from the state, and the state needs protected from the church, let's just say, there's another politics post in two weeks, and it might just be related to this one... 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Desires, Blessings, and Punishments

As I listened to my Pastor preach last night over Numbers 11 (yes, our mid-week service is on Thursday), I was reminded of a consistent theme in the Bible.

In this chapter, the Israelites complain a great deal about many things. Eventually, the Israelites begin to feel dissatisfied with the manna that God has provided for the last two years in the wilderness. It has always supplied their needs, but now they simply want the taste of meat.

It is here that I remembered the consistent theme of the Bible, as the Lord responds to the complaints of the Israelites by bowing to their wishes. Indeed, the Israelites are punished by getting exactly what they wanted. But as Numbers 11:18-20 indicates, when they get it, they no longer want it.
"And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?"

The theme I keep teasing without actually mentioning is this - the Lord has this tendency to punish the people of the world (especially the Israelites) by giving them exactly what they desired.

We see that at play here, but we also see it when the Israelites reject the Lord's kingship over them. They desire to have a king as all the other nations, so the Lord gives them a king as corrupt as the kings of all the other nations.

Perhaps most strikingly, in Romans 1, we see this same principle as it applies to those who have rejected the evidence of the Lord's existence entirely. As verse 28 clearly indicates,
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."

The Lord punishes them by simply allowing them to continue along the paths they set for themselves, along the pathway of sin.

But if this is such a consistent thing to see within the Bible, there is one shocking statement that must be true. If man's desires can be a punishment, then man's desires are ultimately harmful to himself.

How is it that man cannot know what is actually good for him? How is it that we consistently have our hearts in the wrong place so that we desire the wrong things? How is it that our desires don't line up with what the Lord wishes in our life?

It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 6:10-12,
"That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he. Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?"

And with that simple thought I leave you with another simple question - how are your desires? If the Lord granted them, would that be a blessing or a punishment?

Monday, December 15, 2014

[Video] Calling: What it Is

I cannot guarantee the quality of this video. I know that I was surprised by the quality when I uploaded it for my class assignment,which is the only reason I'm trying to see the quality here. If it's at all decent, you can expect more videos in the future... 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Life is too Short

I've been soaring through Finals week over here, and I'm just about ready to go home. But I have also reached a conclusion that I am pretty much insane because this Finals week here has been one of the most fun weeks I've had in a while. Yes, I have immensely enjoyed Finals week. I'm confused too.

As I continued to work my way slowly through the book of Psalms, I came across a psalm written by Moses. Indeed, it is specifically Psalm 90.

Through much of Moses' life, you would have expected him to be very much familiar with the frailty of life. As miraculous as it was for him to be spared in the first place, can you imagine growing up knowing that several from your generation your kinsfolk were killed as babies? Can you imagine knowing that your people were slaves living a life of turmoil? Yes, Moses indeed understood the trauma of the world.

So it comes as no surprise when he makes reference to the brevity of life in Psalm 90:10-14,
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Moses knew one thing from all of his experiences with the trials in the midst of his life - life is too short not to spend it wisely serving the Lord, not to spend it rejoicing in God's mercy.

I believe the challenge speaks for itself.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Intent-based Framework to Fulfill Original Intention

The court has been endowed with the role of interpreting the Constitution to determine the constitutionality of congressional (or executive) action. As such, it is important for the nation to have an adequate debate about how this interpretation should take place. 

With this in mind, Edwin Meese, Attorney General under Ronald Reagan, expressed his opinion that the court should interpret the Constitution based off of the founder’s intent. His views generated a debate as opponents of his view expressed their own. Such an individual was Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr., who argued that the Constitution needs to be interpreted and adapted to the current trends of the day. 

Ultimately, there are grains of truth in Brennan’s arguments, but Meese’s interpretive criteria is preferable. We shall examine this by weighing Brennan and Meese’s arguments on the topics of the feasibility of the historical interpretative methodology, the purpose of the Constitution, and finally, the room for flexibility within the document.

Feasibility of Intent-Based Framework

Meese begins his analysis of the intent-based methodology by describing our ability to know the intent of the Constitutional authors. After all, the Convention is relatively recent (only 200 years), and as such, information is readily available not just on the document itself, but also on the ideas that inspired its creation. 

According to Meese, we have a number of works written by the founders, which reveal their thoughts and intentions about the Constitution and its principles. It is then clear to Meese that we can discover the meaning of the original text, and not have to rely upon our own understanding of the document.

Brennan on the other hand argues that it is arrogant to think that we could know exactly what the founders would think about contemporary issues. Indeed, the founders couldn’t have anticipated the questions of intellectual property in the world of the internet. Thus, it is simply infeasible to use an intent-based approach to Constitutional analysis.

Ultimately, the truth lies with Meese’s arguments. Since the Constitution is intended as a limit to the power of government to protect individual rights, our understanding of what the founders would do in certain political situations is not as important as our understanding of their view on individual rights. Indeed, there is plenty of opportunity for us to see where the founders sat on political autonomy.  

Purpose of the Constitution

That leads well into Meese’s next argument - the purpose of the Constitution is to provide a limit to the power of our federal government. It is not far for Meese to then say that if we start reading our own principles and perspectives into the Constitution rather than the intended principles, that we quickly eliminate any inherent limit or protection of individual rights within the document itself. 

To support this point, Meese cites as an example the Dred Scott decision, where Chief Justice Taney read African-Americans out of the Constitution entirely – a position which is not found within the founder’s original writings, or within the current political climate of the time. Meese argues that just like in this instance, our individual rights become threatened if the court can interpret the Constitution according to any other standard than the founder’s intent.

Brennan’s arguments all really lend support to Meese’s argument on this point. Brennan makes the case even that the Constitutional principles should change based off of the generation, but that the fundamental principles should not be changed. Unfortunately for Brennan, he does not clarify what he means as fundamental principles. 

Without such a standard, it seems only logical to assume that each individual justice would determine which principles were “fundamental.” It doesn’t take much to see that this could lead to reinterpretation of the Constitution at the will of the justices alone. But a fluid document can never serve as a limit to the federal government.  

Adaptability/Flexibility within Document

We now reach the main point of Brennan’s counter-argument, namely, the ability of the country to adapt to changing circumstances. It is Brennan’s primary contention that limiting ourselves purely within the context of the original intent of the founders will result in anachronistic decision-making. After all, the values of 1789 are quite different than they are today. 

According to Brennan, this means that an intent-based methodology would eschew social progress because we would be inevitably biased against the claims of constitutional rights. Related, Brennan believes that the court should not be deferential to the other bodies of the legislature. 

Brennan believes that the Constitution includes a discussion of substantive value choices. Thus, he believes that the court has a duty to ensure that the rights of the people are protected from the majoritarian process.

Meese believes that the Constitution’s universal language when discussing human rights is enough to limit the power of congress. Meanwhile the power given to congress allows the flexibility to regulate new industries to protect the rights of the individual. Indeed, the Constitution was written so broadly and universally that it would never become outdated by social (or technological progress). 

Ultimately, then Brennan is correct in saying that the court should not simply defer to the legislative bodies when it comes to substantive value choices and should be able to strike down laws contrary to the Constitutional views of human rights. Nonetheless, the court should still base its decisions on such issues off of Meese’s intent-based methodology.  

Intent-based Framework to Fulfill Original Intention

When it comes down to it, the Constitution is about limiting the power of the federal government. To provide a meaningful limit, we must use the founder’s original intent as an interpretative framework. Any other framework opens the door for constant fluidity within the document, which kills its ability to limit the power of government. Thus, Meese’s intent-based framework is the only one that fulfills the original goal and intent of the Constitution – to limit government.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Helplessness: Internal Causes can Still be Taken to God

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one will find himself within his life in a position of sheer helplessness. No one can really doubt intellectually whether they will be in that spot. Of course practically, we tend to doubt that fact all the time as we try our hardest to ensure that we do everything ourselves. We know we could just rely upon God, but we don't tend to do so.

But today we will discuss not the fact that we should do this, but that we still can when the state of sheer helplessness we find ourselves in is purely our own fault. That is the situation that the Psalmist David finds himself in in Psalm 69. 

Little is known about the sin David refers to in this chapter, but I'm sure speculation abounds. I personally don't much enjoy speculation on things peripheral to the text such as this, so I will refrain from saying that the most logical assumption is that David is admitting his own helplessness due to a general sinful nature, rather than one particular sin. 

The point is, David was in a kind of helpless situation due to both external and internal circumstances, yet his response could have been and indeed was to bring it to God. For instance, in verses 5-16, we read, 
"O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies."

Accepting that he was filthy, he seemed to be first concerned with ensuring only he was affected by it. "Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake." He didn't want to see others suffer because of his sin.

However, the main thrust of what I see here is that he asked the Lord to look down upon him according to the Lord's lovingkindness and mercy. He asked the Lord to help him with the external and internal causes of his helplessness. And you know what? I find it encouraging to know that our internal causes of helplessness and our sin do not have to keep us from relying upon God as long as we confess it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Expectations and Commitment

While I am trying to find out stuff about what I should write about at this rather late hour, I wonder what would actually happen if I just didn't post anything today. OH! I can talk about that!

Yes, I just found myself a topic - the temptation to not follow through on your commitments because things just don't go quite the way you were expecting.

I made a commitment a little over a year ago to update this blog every Monday. But I never expected that the Monday after Thanksgiving 2014, I would decide to sleep in much later than I ever have within the space of the last year.

Seeing as how I just want to move on with my day (my last day of Thanksgiving break), I don't want to "waste any time" writing a blog post that no one is going to read anyway.

Hey, the struggle is real. It's also not just something that plagues "Ryan the Blogger." It also plagues "Ryan the Classmate" if there is an assignment that a friend of mine asks for a bit of help with. It also plagues "Ryan the Christian" in that if I commit a certain time to the Lord and things don't go as expected leading up to that time, I may have difficulty staying tried and true on that task I committed myself to.

For instance, I have rather recently committed Wednesday evenings after my shift in the cafeteria to in-depth Bible study. At times when my shift is more stressful than usual, or that my shift goes longer than usual, I usually don't follow through on that commitment.

Honesty is a great thing, isn't it? The point is, there is a temptation in my life to change my commitments based off a difference in what I expect and what actually happens. And I imagine I am not alone when it comes to this temptation.

So, to comfort myself and anyone else who happens to struggle with the same temptations, no matter how unexpected events were to us, they transpired exactly as God knew they would. Indeed, they transpired exactly as He directed them to happen.

But that doesn't mean He's going to make it easy for us to follow through on our commitments, and keep us from being tempted at all. But hey, we do have these wonderful words about temptation in I Corinthians 10:13, 
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."