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Bible, Culture, Millennials, Theology, Uncategorized

Theology Matters: Doctrine and Theology

October 7, 2016

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“Studying theology is just too hard. I’m not a scholar so it’s not for me.”

“Why do I need to know doctrine? I know God loves me and that’s good enough!”

“Theology is boring; I would rather read something more interesting.”

“Doctrine causes division.”

 

Have you ever had these thoughts? I know I have.

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My current reading has lead me to realize the importance of understanding doctrine and studying theology. I’ve been reading some books that emphasize this point: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin and Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin.

Doctrine and theology are words that some in my generation (millennials) may find divisive, yet on the flip side, we see a resurgence in the desire for greater depth in faith from millennials. (Recent study that shows youth and young adults value substance over style.)

Theology is “the study of God.” Our theology is shaped by how we view God from what we’ve studied (or from our lack of study).

Doctrine, which originates from the Latin word for “teach” (docere), means “what is taught.” Doctrine also can be about what is taught on a specific topic—such as the doctrine of salvation, gifts, worship, etc.

Theology matters.

Theology matters because it is the study of God, and there is nothing more worthy of our thoughts than God.

There is nothing more worthy of our thoughts than God. Click To Tweet

But theology also matters because it shapes how we live. Whether it’s how we vote, if we get married, how we handle our finances, how we view our work—our understanding of who God is shapes every area, whether we realize it or not. The more accurately we know God through his Word, the more effectively we can live out lives of genuine worship of Him.

 

Applying our minds to study theology and doctrine is worth it.

I used to think that if studying the Bible felt forced, then I should stop and come back later when my heart was in it. I thought it seemed fake, like going through the motions or checking off a box by studying, when I didn’t “feel” like it. I’ve changed my mind.

Mark 12:30 speaks of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yet in our world where feelings often rule our hearts, it is easy to make excuses for applying our minds to thoughtful study. Instead, we want to sit through a worship service that makes us “feel” connected to God or listen a sermon that makes us “feel” good. While these are good things, we also must have the balance of knowing God with our minds. Emotions ebb and flow, and in the moments or seasons when I don’t “feel” God near me, my world can be stabilized by the truths of what I know of God’s character—regardless of how I feel.

 

Transformation moves from the mind to the heart.

As Jen Wilkin helpfully says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”

In her book Women of the Word, Wilkin writes of the scientific community’s study of the mind-before-heart connection. When asked how to get more pleasure out of life, Dr. Paul Bloom of Yale University answered, “Study.”
A practical example of his point came from my love of coffee. I don’t enjoy coffee more by gulping down gallons and gallons of it. The enjoyment of coffee can be greater felt when I learn about coffee—how to appreciate it, recognize its distinct flavors, the different roasts, etc. Jen Wilkin puts it this way in her book:

Bloom has found that pleasure results from gaining knowledge about the object of our pleasure, not, as we might assume, from merely experiencing it over and over. Specifically, our pleasure increases in something when we learn its history, origin, and deeper nature . . . Finding greater pleasure in God will not result from pursuing more experiences of him, but from knowing him better. (p. 31)

 

Growing in theological and doctrinal understanding is a lifelong process. Take it in steps that are do-able for you. The best way to grow in these areas is to get into the Bible. Beyond reading the Bible, I find it helpful to read others’ writings about their study of the Bible or various areas of doctrine.

 

I’ve written a number of posts about how I engage in the Bible, and there are a lot of great resources that I link to in these previous posts. Maybe you’ll find something there to help you get started.

-LM

Here are the results of my twitter poll on Theology and Doctrine:

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Millennials, Uncategorized, Work

What Millennials Really Want at Work: 3 Tips for Keeping and Engaging Millennials

August 18, 2016

You’ve got to love millennials, right? I love how this video represents some of the funny stereotypes that can be associated with this generation. It’s true, millennials are often considered self-absorbed, lazy, distracted, and entitled. But they are also capturing the attention of employers and researchers everywhere as they are on the way to becoming the majority of the work force.

According to a recent Gallup report, 71% of millennials are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. This lack of engagement by the millennial group (those born between 1980 and 1996) can lead to disloyalty to the organizations they serve. Why is this something we should care about? Because millenials make up about 38% of the workforce in America, and by 2025 that will jump to nearly 75% of the workforce. Employee turnover comes at a high price, so it could be worth your time to strategize ways to engage the millennial workforce, and harness their strengths.

Here are a few suggestions for engaging this powerful group of contributors:

1. Be a mentor. While it can seem that many millenials are entitled or overly-confident, we still value mentorship. Millennials want guidance from their counterparts who are older, and more experienced in the workforce. We are a very relational group, and often enjoy hearing feedback from an authentic relationship. Take time to provide helpful coaching conversations, and millennials will become more engaged in their work.

2. Communicate the company’s vision, and how millenials play a part. Millennials may seem short-sighted at times, but we do think about long-term plans. Millennials have a desire to make a positive impact on the organization they serve. We have grown up in a world where we see everyone’s successes and goals on social media, and can be tempted to lose patience with what we think should have been accomplished in our lives by now. This results in only half of millennials expecting to be with their current company one year from now. To help shift this staggering statistic, managers should show that they care about a millennial’s long-term plans. By communicating long-term vision which incorporates millennial’s role, this group will be more likely to get on board and stick around to join in making that vision a reality.

3. Recognize the myth that millennials are different from the preceding generations. Millennials want purpose, feedback and work/life balance just like those in the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. Yes, millennials are more likely to voluntarily leave their jobs than their older counterparts, but the same was true two decades ago for employees under the age of 35. I would argue that millennials are not particularly unique when compared to other generations. Millennials are just young. As was every generation at some point. Treat millennials how any employee would want to be treated, and this will help foster long-term commitment.

When given guidance and purpose, millennials can be a powerful asset to any company. As companies look to the future, those that incorporate millennials well will be on the right track for success.

-LM

Related Articles:

Gallup- Many Millennials are Job Hoppers- But Not All

Harvard Business Review- What Do Millennials Really Want At Work? The Same Things The Rest of us Do

Bible, Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel, Uncategorized, Work

“Busy” is not synonymous with “Successful” – Managing life well

June 24, 2016

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Have you noticed that when people are asked “How are you?” their response, more and more, is “Busy!”? I’ll admit, this is often my go-to response. It is the natural reply that rolls off of my tongue during friendly small-talk conversation. When I began to realize that this had become my typical reply, and dug a little deeper to try to understand why, I discovered that one of the reasons I want to say “Busy!” is because I want to make it sound like I am doing a lot of important things. It is an easy way of giving a #humblebrag. So I’ve decided that I want something better to say.

This is not to say that “busy” isn’t a truthful response, but I don’t want it to be my standard. Honestly, I don’t always even feel busy. I do have a full schedule, but it mostly involves things that I am passionate about and that fuel and energize me. Besides investing in my marriage, relationships, and spiritual journey, I get to work full time for Museum of the Bible, wear my “Hobby Lobby/Green family member” hat at times, live on the road 60% of the time, and try to keep up with my inbox, blog, and social media activities. And for some crazy reason, I just enrolled in two graduate level seminary courses!

Maybe my go-to response will be #blessed or “better than I deserve!”—but those seem trite and too #Christiancheesy. While I continue figure out what to say when asked “How are you?”, here are a few ways that I keep my schedule under control to avoid mental and spiritual burnout.

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1. Knowing myself and my limits.

A few weeks ago, I forgot this one. I had some work events that were higher stress than normal, and I didn’t give myself room to decompress afterward. I went from hosting a three-day retreat for women that are speakers and leaders, right into a three-week travel schedule to seven different cities/events, and ending back in OKC just in time for a full weekend of college graduation festivities for my brother-in-law. When I landed in OKC to change clothes and go right into graduation party mode, I was not in a good place—and Michael and I were having conflict. It wasn’t pretty. And it affected half of the celebration weekend. (Sorry to those of you that were around me!)

I needed to let myself have time to recover and rest. I need to make sure I have space in my schedule to allow for recovery when I see that things might be hectic for an extended time. We were not created to work for rest, but to work from rest. And if there are seasons when it isn’t possible to create that space due to situations that don’t allow a Sabbath kind of rest, I need to be sure I lean on God to give me the strength to make it through that time with grace. This leads to my second point.

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2. Not sacrificing my time with God.

I need to keep my spiritual walk a priority. When the schedule begins to fill up, and knocks other things off my schedule, I have to fight to keep this a priority. I need time with my Bible and time in prayer. It should be unthinkable that I can’t find time in my schedule for the Creator of all things.

God sustains me during the busy seasons better than any other gimmick or tip I could write about. I experience a significant difference when I am spending quality time with God than when I am setting aside that relationship as a lesser priority. God, and the truths from the Bible, is my greatest strength and sustainer. Yet for some reason, I still allow myself to forget and sacrifice that time for lesser things.

To this point, the friends of Martin Luther said he spent three hours in prayer every day. I don’t know what Luther’s schedule was like, but I have to assume it was pretty busy, with the-whole-starting-of-the-Protestant-Reformation-thing he did. He made time to pray, and it served him well.

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3. Creating a system that works for managing everything.

Whether its starting the day with reviewing my to-do list, or spending the first 15 minute at the office to say hello to co-workers, has led me to figure out my routines and processes and to use them. Since people have different personality types and temperaments, creating a system for managing things will be different for each person. This is something I learned when I got married, but saw even more clearly as I started working alongside my hubby. I saw that what worked for me as a system of keeping up with friends, work, spiritual life, etc. did not work for Michael. We have very different personality types and skill sets, so our life management strategies differ.

Here is one small practical example: Michael is an external processor, and he also tends to process his thoughts quickly. So for emails, he reads a complex email and can respond fairly quickly with a thoughtful reply. For me, I am an internal processor, and I need time to gather my thoughts. So I have a system that works for me where I read an email, and if I need to process it, I mark it a certain way and come back to it a little later to reply.

Another example is how we prioritize our Bible reading. I’ve found that the best way to keep consistent in reading my Bible is to do it at night. This has become a part of my routine, and I read my Bible and journal my prayers at night before I go to bed. This is not a system that works for Michael, and it won’t be the system that works for a lot of people as I discovered in an informal Twitter poll I took last week. I asked, “When do you read your Bible?” Out of 270 respondents, the results showed that 54% said “Random times,” 28% said “Morning,” 15% said “Night,” and 3% said “Weekends.”

We are all different, and it’s a wonderful thing. Find what works for you, and put your process to work.

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4. Lastly, I give myself grace!

I won’t always balance the schedule and life perfectly, and in those times I am thankful for a God full of grace.

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For a helpful book that provides perspective on how to manage the culture of busyness with a biblical worldview, I recommend Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.

›LM

Bible, Church, Family, Theology, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible: Part 3, Additional Reading

May 23, 2016

When I was a freshman in high school, I vividly remember reading my first book on spiritual growth. I had grown up in the church, and been exposed to Bible teachings and Bible study for as long as I can remember. I was periodically reading the Bible on my own, trying to understand how it could help my high school struggles. But when I discovered books that could help my spiritual growth by expanding on spiritual disciplines and theology, I was hooked.

I’ll be honest. The motivation for reading that first book was out of a desire to impress an older guy at my school who had recommended it. Despite the selfish motivation, it had an impact on me. The book was Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Cymbala is a pastor in Brooklyn, NY, and I actually got to enjoy lunch with his daughter Susan just last month! Meeting her and touring the Brooklyn Tabernacle (which the book is about) brought me back to those high school days when my passion for reading was set on fire.

When I read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I was stepping out of my small context in Oklahoma City, and I was brought into the stories of how people’s lives were changed through the prayers of people in the church of Brooklyn, NY. I read stories of people with deep faith, despite difficult circumstances. It inspired me to want to strengthen my faith as well.

As I began reading Christian books, I loved them so much that I actually haven’t read anything but non-fiction since I graduated high school! It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I read an article by Dr. Russell Moore encouraging the reading of some fiction, and also my husband buying me the Harry Potter books for my birthday that brought me to read my first fiction book in ten years. I must say, I am loving the Harry Potter books—I have been such a fan of the movies, I figured I may as well give the books a try. Plus, I just went to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”™ in California, so the timing was perfect.

Getting back to the point though . . . . In reading various books, I have found that authors who have studied the Bible can provide me with deeper insight of my favorite book. Through good books, I benefit from others’ study of theology and the Bible. It also allows me to see how they understand and apply it in their thinking and lives. Hearing this additional perspective provides more opportunity to relate to the text of scripture.

Through the years, I have read a number of books by a variety of authors. Some have been good, and others were . . . well, let’s just say I wish I could get the time back that I spent on them. The experiences with those books can be helpful, too, though. As I read, I want to consider all of the author’s claims, and compare to what I know of the Bible to ensure that I am not absorbing bad theology. If I am unsure about something I’ve read, I usually discuss it with someone who I know can help me think through it. For me, I usually work through these questions with my husband and get his feedback. I am grateful to have a husband who is theologically trained and knowledgeable about the Bible. Discussing my questions with him is helpful, and I enjoy learning from my husband’s feedback.

Let me share with you my five favorite books for spiritual growth:

  1. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges

This is one of my all-time favorites. Jerry Bridges takes a look at the sovereignty of God, and his faithfulness, even when life seems unjust. I read this book during a difficult time in my family, and it was an incredibly helpful reminder that despite the broken promises or broken trust that I have experienced with people, I can trust God because he is perfect in keeping his promises.

  1. Humility by C.J. Mahaney

I love this book because I constantly need to push back against my pull toward pride. I was reading an article the other day that put it like this: “When you stand in the water at the beach you feel the persistent pull of the current. Regardless of how long you stand in that water the current will, with varying intensity, pull you. To deny or minimize it will result in potential bodily harm. Such is the case with pride” (Erik Raymond). Thus, I love this book Humility, and it helps me keep my pride in check.

  1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I read this book recently and found it a bit more practical than some of the others. Packer shares deep theological knowledge, but also conveys the realities of trying to live out the Christian faith in the day-to-day world. Knowing God is a classic. It was voted in Christianity Today as one of the top fifty books that have shaped evangelical Christians.

  1. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

In this book, Piper looks at fifty reasons found in the New Testament for why Jesus came to die. This is a look at the meaning behind the cross of Christ. It was a humbling book, as well as a reminder of many truths that often get overlooked. Each chapter is one page, so it is easy to read a chapter a day or use as a devotional.

  1. Radical by David Platt

This book helped shape and challenge me when it comes to my struggle with materialism. Radical is more than a book on materialism, though. The book is about following Christ, no matter what. There is a lot of discussion about material things that sidetrack us from being “all in” for God, but the book as a whole points to the life transformation that happens in every area of life because of the gospel.

These are just some of my favorites from what I have read, but there are so many more that I am sure I haven’t gotten to yet! For a few more suggestions, check out my friend Matt Brown’s list for what he thinks are the 5 best books on spiritual growth.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear what your favorite spiritual growth books have been!

-LM

Bible, Museum of the Bible, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible: Part 2, Devotionals

March 8, 2016

Photography: Esther MartinezHave you ever tried to understand something and just couldn’t get it, but then had someone else explains it from a different angle and it finally helped you make sense of a situation? I had this happen the other day.

A few weeks ago, Michael and I were grabbing dinner with our friends Luke and Diandra. After an incredible tasty dinner at my favorite NY restaurant, Jacob’s Pickles, we walked back to our apartment for some hot tea and began discussing our careers. My friend Luke began sharing about how he is courageously launching into a new career in venture capitalism. I do not know a lot about VC, and I am not savvy enough to understand the words he used to describe his field. A few weeks later I was with Diandra again and she began explaining VC in her own words. It finally clicked. I had just needed to hear a different perspective to make it connect. That is the way I often view devotionals.

In my first part to this series on how I engage with the Bible, I wrote about daily Bible reading. In this post I want to look at devotional books.

Devotional books provide an opportunity to see the truths of the Bible through someone else’s perspective. Seeing how the Bible has impacted another person often gives me new insights. Some devotionals have stories or anecdotes that encourage me to reflect on the Bible applied in various life situations. Others have a bit more depth and unpack a passage to create better understanding of its teaching or meaning. Among the hundreds of devotionals out there, I think that most fall into these three categories:

  • Personal stories that incorporate a biblical passage or theme
  • Thoughts about the Bible and its interpretation
  • Explanation or commentary of a passage from scripture

Reading a devotional can speak to the heart. I often have personal experiences or hear friends talk about a devotional that spoke right to the heart on a particular issue that was so relevant to what was happening in life. Since some devotionals have a reading for each of day of the year, it is easy to read through with a friend and discuss the material.

When I approach a devotional, I am adding this to my daily Bible reading. I do my daily Bible reading with a plan from YouVersion at night. If I use a devotional, it is usually in the morning to start my day with a reflection on scripture.  Devotionals are usually short, which makes them ideal for a little taste of encouragement or truth for the day. Because they are short, I often walk away wishing that I had more.

If you are not in the habit of spending time reading the Bible, then starting with a devotional book could be an easy starting point for getting bits of scripture in front of you every day. I encourage you to grow from that into more time actually spent reading the Bible, though, because nothing quite has the same impact as actually getting into the Bible directly! A critical question that has helped me achieve balance in my devotional reading is this: “How much time am I spending reading other people’s thoughts about the Bible, rather than actually getting into the Bible for myself?”

So, if you find yourself looking for a devotional, let me share my favorites! I have used all of these at one point or another. I am always open to suggestions though! Do you have a favorite?

Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon: Web, book or app.

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers: Web, book or app.

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young: Book or app.

“Solid Joys,” John Piper: Web or app.

Ligonier Ministries, Daily Resources: Web or app.

Proverbs 31 Ministries, Devotions: Web or app.

The Duck Commander Devotional, Al Robertson: Books.

Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Jim & Cathy Burns: Book.

For the Love of God, D.A. Carson: Volume 1: Book / Volume 2: Book.

Fun Fact provided by Museum of the Bible: Did you know that what we now call devotionals is similar to “The Book of Hours” in the Middle Ages…Watch to learn more!

Bible, Family, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible – Part One: Daily Reading

February 15, 2016

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Growing up being homeschooled, my Dad taught my math lesson every morning before he left for work. And every morning as I walked into my Dad’s study, half-asleep, to start my math lesson, he was already there reading his Bible. Seeing my Dad prioritize this book, even amidst his busy schedule – president of a large privately-owned company and a homeschooling father of four (at the time) – made a lasting impression on me.

The Bible is important to me, but it’s not just me. Did you know that three of every five people that read this post will wish they read the Bible more? Based on a 2015 Barna Group study, 88% of American households own at least one Bible, and 60% of Americans want to read the Bible more. Even though most of us own a Bible, it can be hard to spend time reading it and to actually engage with it.

Biblical Illiteracy: My friend Jeremiah Johnston just posted an article on Fox News using the same Barna survey exploring a crucial question:
Why are so many Christians biblically illiterate?”

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, every year. It is the most read, most published, and ironically, the most shoplifted book. It is a book that has changed the world in more ways than we realize. The Bible is worth reading!

I say all of this because it is helpful for me to remember every day the significance of the Bible. It is challenging to stay disciplined and to remember to spend time – especially during busy days – reading and engaging with this book. We live in a time where busyness can be seen as synonymous with importance. This simply isn’t true. Most successful people take the time to grow, to learn, and to read. The Bible, in my opinion, is the best book to spend time reading.

Easier said than done though, right?

I thought I might share with you six ways I interact and engage with the Bible. I will do so over a series of six posts, starting first with daily Bible reading.

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Daily Bible Reading

I am one of the 60% of Americans who want to read the Bible more. Daily Bible reading is the foundational way that I get into this book. Taking time to read a few chapters of the Bible each day is a habit that I started in high school following my Dad’s example. I often do my reading through reading plans. I love the wide array of reading plans that are readily available. There are chronological plans, canonical plans, topical plans, plans focusing on specific books of the Bible, and more. I typically choose from one of the plans that can be found through the YouVersion app because they are free and easily accessible.

Daily Bible reading is different than digging in and studying a passage, or meditating on a passage. Reading the Bible every day is a great way to start spending time with this book and getting to know it. The one year reading plans I have used can be found through YouVersion:

BibleandPhoneReading the Bible can be daunting, but I encourage you to jump in with an easy reading plan, or just pick a book of the Bible and start reading through it chapter by chapter every day. I hope this gives you a few options to check out if you are looking for a one year plan. Otherwise, there are so many other ways to go about daily Bible reading. I encourage you to start today – even if it’s only for a few minutes a day!

 

How do you approach daily Bible reading? I would love to hear from you!

I’ll be back later with Part Two on using devotionals.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

-LM

Bible, Family, Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel, Uncategorized

“Welcome to New York… It’s been waiting for you”

December 22, 2015

I love hearing Taylor Swift welcome me home to NYC every time I land. Maybe someday I’ll even get to meet her. After all, we do live in the same city now – as well as 8.5 million other people (but at least there’s a chance?)

Now that I have lived in Manhattan for a month, here are the top 5 things I have learned about life here:

  1. Sirens are constantly going off.
    • It is surprising how quickly you begin to tune them out.
  2. New Yorkers are actually very nice.
    • In the first few days living in our apartment, we met so many people in our building that were excited for us and sincerely welcoming. It really made a difference and put us at ease.
    • Although New Yorkers can be nice, don’t mess with them if it is rush hour, or in a crowded touristy area.
  3. People sleep on the subway more often than I would expect.
    • In almost every other subway ride, I see a person sleeping. One guy even fell asleep mid-text message. He kept almost dropping his phone as his hand’s grip slowly loosened when he drifted to deeper and deeper sleep. (I was tempted to take his phone and carry on the conversation with whoever he was texting.)
  4. Living near an express subway stop is fantastic.
    • The subway stops every five to ten streets or so, but on the express train it will skip a few stops and only stop every twenty streets or so. Hopping on the express subway and avoiding the local stops = joy. It saves precious time.
  5. Chick-fil-A is a hit.
    • In September we began praying about whether or not to make this move. I felt like we were supposed to move, but I really just wanted a sign to solidify the decision. Not too long after that, we read Chick-fil-A was opening its first store in Manhattan. If that’s not a sign, I do not know what is.
    • As long as I am in a city with a Chick-fil-A, I can survive. We went to their store during our first week here, and it was PACKED. I think they are going to do alright in this city.

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On a more personal note, here is one thing I have learned about myself so far:

I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships and community more. For the first time in my life, I am living in a place where I can count on my two hands the number of people that know my name. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, and never living further than a 45-minute radius from where I was born, I have always been surrounded by family and long-standing friendships. New York is such a different experience since I don’t have quick, easy availability to those friends and family members.

A few highlights of our time in the city so far are definitely our Museum of the Bible (MOTB) events. During our first few weeks, MOTB hosted two events. This provided a great opportunity to introduce the vision of the museum with some wonderful people. Michael and I were also excited about the timing of the events, because it meant we got to meet people, hoping that we could make a few new friends!

As always, the museum events were fabulous. Our events planning team members always do an amazing job at making each event special. Here are a few photos of the evening:

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We also loved going to our new friend Scott Harrison’s event – a charity ball for Charity: Water at the Met. It was spectacular.

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One month in, and, New York, you do not disappoint.

It’s a new soundtrack, I can dance to this beat forevermore. The lights are so bright, but they never blind me. (“Welcome to New York” – Taylor Swift, 1989)

-LM

 

Bible, Museum of the Bible, Teaching, The Green Collection, Uncategorized, Work

More Than a Museum: Research

October 6, 2015

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“What is the best use of our growing collection?” – This was a question for the Green Collection leadership five years ago when we were just a few months into collecting artifacts. More specifically, we were asking, “If we were to begin programs around it, what would be among those with the most significance?”

In my previous post “More than a Museum,” I gave a high-level view of the Museum of the Bible and our four main initiatives. Here, I want to share a more in-depth look at one of those: our research initiatives.

Perhaps these seem like simple questions we were asking with a significant collection already in place when it was just a few thousand items, long before the current count of 40,000 plus items related to the biblical text and its transmission. During this early stage in forming the Green Collection, we realized that our answers could possibly impact lives in the future. When there were only four of us—another curator, two scholars, and me—a dream began to form:

“We could have an important role in helping to train the next generation of biblical text scholars.”

Although we didn’t know this collection’s future, and certainly didn’t fully anticipate the explosive years ahead developing into plans for the Washington, DC, site for the museum, we had glimpses of major things ahead. Throughout those early months, we had the conviction that scholarly research would be an important part of our programs, and the fulcrum of all that was ahead.

This is when conversations about a program called the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI) began. Dr. Jerry Pattengale developed and eventually executed this new research program. Its central idea remains in place: assigning various collection pieces to scholars (all with terminal degrees) and their students for high-level research. A team of over twenty senior and distinguished scholars came to this initiative, and provided assistance in their areas of expertise. These scholars also were the core lecturers among more than 100 videotaped presentations in various cities, with some at the Vatican, Israeli museums, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and in Cuba.

Establishing GSI has been an amazing and fast-paced journey, with the program starting only five years ago with just an idea and a few scholars. Today GSI is a robust network of over 60 scholars and dozens of projects. We have also successfully completed four summer institute conferences, and are looking to expand the program next summer. Publications are in process, students are being mentored, and GSI scholarship opportunities are being highlighted on many participating university campuses. We’ve also made some major discoveries, including the earliest Jewish proto-prayer book and some of the earliest astronomical sketches and texts, and a few of the earliest attestations to biblical passages and classical texts. The GSI program provides a substantial foundation for many of the things we do at Museum of the Bible. For this reason, we will have a research hub in the new DC facility called the Green Scholars Institute.

Of the many projects we have going on in GSI, my favorite is the work on the Codex Climaci Rescriptus (CCR). This is not only a fascinating piece, but I got to be involved (in a small way!) with part of the project early on. CCR is a palimpsest, and I got to take part in imaging the manuscript with multispectral imaging (MSI) a few years ago before the research got underway. In studying this manuscript, one of the incredible discoveries so far has been the identification of some early astronomical drawings. With greater access to the underlying layers of text through MSI, scholars found 1,500-year-old drawings of constellations on this manuscript. Ongoing research is being done on the CCR text at Tyndale House, Cambridge.

CCREdited

The Bible touches millions of people in different ways, and the vast majority of people are not Bible scholars. Against this backdrop, someone might ask, “Why does research matter?” or “Why should Museum of the Bible make scholarship one of its top priorities?” If you don’t consider yourself a scholar, or haven’t spent much or any of your life and money working toward a master’s degree or PhD, you may question why research is such an important part of Museum of the Bible. In an effort to connect the thoughts of the scholars to the public, I conducted an office survey.

I daily rub shoulders with a host of scholars from a wide variety of fields among the staff at our home base in OKC, which has grown to nearly seventy. In addition, we regularly host research teams and visiting scholars. With such access to these brilliant minds, I figured I would informally inquire about their views on biblical research and scholarship. With the help of  our Director of the Green Collection, Dr. David Trobisch, and his efficient summary of the points I found in my survey, here are the common responses.

Three things: Scholars are blind, scholars learn through comparison, and scholars create consensus by communicating with each other.

 

  1. Scholars are blind. We cannot experience past events directly, we have to do so indirectly. Even when we examine evidence, we cannot always see the significance. For example, we don’t understand ancient calendars and ancient currency the way we understand our own. We are like blind men and women stumbling through a forest.
  2. Scholars learn by comparing the unknown with the known. Because we cannot find answers to our questions by looking directly at our object of interest, we compare the new evidence with evidence that we have already placed in a context. We understand by relating the unknown to the known. The better we paint the overall picture, the easier it is for us to understand a new piece of evidence.
  3. Scholars create consensus by communicating with each other. We strive for objectivity by verifying and accepting the experiences of our colleagues as if they are our own. If an experience is not shared, it is irrelevant to the scholarly discourse. This is why publishing is such an essential part of scholarship and science. The German language does not differentiate between scholarship and science: both are called Wissenschaft. The word references a methodological approach to observations and theory: ein Vorgang, der Wissen schafft.

Perhaps there’s nothing earth-shattering here, but this little exercise proved affirming. For these reasons, and more, I am excited about the Green Scholars Initiative. It is important, the program has grown quickly, and it is continuing to develop and grow with Dr. Michael Holmes‘ current leadership.

To keep up with the Green Scholars Initiative, check into our Museum of the Bible newsroom for updated press releases like this exciting announcement: Green Scholars Initiative Honors Young Biblical Scholars. You can also find free lectures on our Museum of the Bible You Tube Channel.

-LM

Brunch, Church, Friends, Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Brunch: Jacob’s Pickles NYC

September 24, 2015

“Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you…” –Taylor Swift

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning in the upper west side of Manhattan. I was in the city to visit a few friends. We had just gotten out of a Sunday morning service and needed a place to brunch. That is when we discovered Jacob’s Pickles.

Walking in, I immediately fell in love with the adorable atmosphere. It is a mix of modern warehouse and urban farmhouse décor. (Does that even make sense?…oh well.)

JP OUtdoor pic

JP tables

Brick Wall JP

JP Bar

It was quiet that first day we visited, which is rare. This place has become even more popular since I first discovered it. Every time that I have gone back during normal meal hours, it is pretty busy. If you’re worried about getting in without a wait, you might want to make a reservation.

coffee cup at JP

We ordered our coffees and started sipping. It was so nice to be able to catch up with my squad. These women became some of my closest friends at college. We were in the same sorority, and have a lot of shared memories. These are the women that were my roomies, that tried to teach me how to dance (sorry C and J, I’m still working on it), and were there to listen to me when I was going through a hard season. Now that we have gone our separate ways, it is a treasure when we get together. (To get to know this group of my friends, you can check out one of my first blog posts, which I wrote about them the week we graduated.)

It makes me smile just thinking of that sweet time.

 

I ordered the French toast the first time. And, yes, I have ordered that exact same dish every time I have gone back. I’ve even gone twice in one week, and ordered the French toast both times. I know there are so many places in NYC that are amazing that I should try, but goodness, it’s hard to pass up Jacob’s Pickles. Yum.

Their French toast is unique. Jacob’s Pickles has amazing biscuits, and they use their biscuits for the toast. I guess the “toast” in French toast should actually be “biscuit,” but whatever. The flaky biscuits are savory and crumbly. With some of Jacob’s Pickles sweet, dark syrup on top, it is truly a delight to eat.

 

One thing about their French toast I love, is the amount of strawberries they put on top. Often when I order something with berries on top, I get two strawberries, or five blueberries total. Not this place. They are not skimpy with the fresh strawberries they pile on their heavenly French toast style biscuits.

 

Their orange juice is fresh-squeezed and tasty. It is good if you are looking to load up on vitamin C and are willing to dish out a few bucks for it. Jacob’s coffee is not the world’s best cup of coffee, but it is a solid cup of coffee.

 

I guess this shop still holds the title to “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”.

If you are looking for the world’s best coffee and can’t find Buddy’s shop, you may consider checking out some of these recommendations of the best coffee in NYC. (I digress… But I personally love Stumptown!)

 

If you’re in Manhattan, I am telling you to check out Jacob’s Pickles. I hear their pickles are actually good, too. If you try them, let me know what you think.

 

Where should I go next time I am in NYC? As loyal as my little heart is to Jacob’s Pickles, I do like trying new places. Let me know what you suggest in the city that never sleeps.

 

-LM

Me then at JP

Brunch, Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Lake Tahoe

September 18, 2015

Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? I just went for the first time, and LOVED it!

Michael and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary at the beginning of August. To celebrate, we decided to take a trip over the long Labor Day weekend, and we chose Lake Tahoe as our destination.

Our schedule included some sleeping in, taking naps, sitting on the beach, getting in the water via paddle boarding and kayaking, going up the mountain for the scenery and hiking, and checking out some of the cute local restaurants and coffee spots. It was ideal.

Taking the time to reflect on the many transitions this year has held for us so far was just what we needed.

With that being said, let me show you the memories we made while in Lake Tahoe.

Day 1:

The first was only a half day, but we made the most of it by checking out the beach, catching a nice dinner, and enjoying the fire pit.

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Day 2:

We wanted to check out South Lake Tahoe, so we got up early and went down to Emerald Bay to see the sunrise. It. Was. Amazing.

Then we went over to the Heavenly Gondola and went up to the highest peak in the area. The altitude was killer for this Oklahoma girl. I was already out of breath just from walking, so we kept our “hike” pretty mild.

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Taking a break from hiking, we also enjoyed playing corn hole. (Michael won.)

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We also had the chance to witness a proposal at the top of the mountain! (She said yes!)

We finished off the day with a nice lunch by the beach, some reading at a coffee shop, an early dinner, and then we were asleep before 9:00pm!

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Day 3:

A number of people recommended a restaurant called The Log Cabin, so we got up and enjoyed a delicious breakfast before heading to a river for some fly fishing. This breakfast was good! And their coffee was the best I had while in Tahoe.

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The rest of the day was spent at the hotel. We had fun paddle boarding and kayaking before dinner.

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LaKayak

It ended with s’mores and sweatpants by the fire. A perfect way to end the day!

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Day 4:

By day four we had explored as much as we wanted to, and were ready to just sit at the hotel all day! We got breakfast at the resort, did more reading on the beach, kayaking again, and just hanging out until going back down to South Lake for dinner at the restaurant with my FAVORITE view: Edgewood.

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I should take some time here to tell you my most embarrassing moment of the trip. It of course happened at Edgewood, which was the nicest restaurant we ate at.

Michael and I were seated in a one-sided semi-circle booth, so we could cuddle up next to each other and not be accused of being a “same-side-sitting” couple.  It was just the only way.

During the appetizer, I accidentally pulled on the table cloth, and ALMOST spilled both of my drinks. (This place was the kind of place that gave you your iced tea AND a water.) Thankfully, it was a close call, but I didn’t actually spill.

Five minutes later though, somehow I managed to do the exact same thing, but this time I wasn’t as lucky. Two full glasses of water and tea actually flew all over the table, seat, and me. Oops.

I guess I did it so gracefully that our waiter didn’t even notice. Unfortunately, the tables around defiantly heard the crash, and were giving side glances to check out the disaster while I cleaned up.

Because half of the booth was wet, I had to scoot way over to Michael’s side. (Maybe I actually spilled the drinks on purpose for the excuse to be closer to my hubby.) Thankfully the rest of the meal was less eventful, and we enjoyed watching the sunset together cuddle up rather close in that half wet, half dry booth.

Watching the sun set over that lake was one of my favorite memories. It was beautiful.

Lake Tahoe, I like you. I hope I will be seeing you again some day.

What are some of your favorite vacations spots? Any suggestions I should add to me dream list of places to visit? I would love to hear from you!

-LM

P.S. If you are ready to start planning your own vacation, consider planning ahead for Washington D.C. in 2017. You can have your chance to win a free trip to our Museum of the Bible grand opening by entering in our sweepstakes! Good luck!