christmas giving

We've had our fill of separations - or, so we thought. All those agonising good-byes to parents during our boarding school years. UGH. Goodness me - Barby has not lived within two long-haul flights of her parents since she was in her mid-teens (and that was when she was at boarding school!). But as we enter our mid50s, it is yet more separation that God requires of us - and that is why the season of giving is so special this year.

This Christmas we have the joy of having a few days with our children and grandchildren back in New Zealand. A gift. With our daughter and her husband having won a 'mystery weekend' away together, we even had the fun of looking after these two munchkins for a couple of days:

But not only have we received this Christmas, we have the joy of giving as well. I couldn't get home fast enough in order to open the boxes containing our Christmas presents to our children this year (oops, so much for surprises!):

The South Asia Bible Commentary contains a commentary on every book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, with each commentary written by a South Asian scholar. In addition to this explanation of the text of Scripture, there are 100 articles relating to the context of South Asia. It is beautifully presented and expertly edited. I know of nothing more strategic in the mission of God in the world today than the production of these one volume commentaries. The Africa Bible Commentary emerged eight years ago (it is now translated into six languages of Africa) and the Arabic, Latin American and Slavic commentaries are all within 2-3 years of publication.

Barby and I were at the launch of the SABC in New Delhi in October, with the Vice-President of India being the honoured guest. Given that both their sets of grandparents gave more than 65 years (between them) to strengthening the church in South Asia, we hope it can be a gift that our children will cherish for forever. In so may ways, this is where their Christian heritage lies.

I was a bit surprised to see the name of 'DA Carson' on the cover of a study Bible (as General Editor). When I sat in his classroom all those years ago, we were left in no doubt that such Bibles were rather dubious publications. Having the notes of contemporary authors sharing the same page as the word of God might encourage people to equate, subconsciously, those 'notes' with that 'word', in terms of authority. While the argument still has merit, Carson has stepped back from it a bit.

So what is it that sets apart the 2880 page Zondervan NIV Study Bible [NB: this link includes a helpful little video of Carson explaining the features of this Bible] from all the others and so worthy of investment and use? In the Editor's Preface, Carson gives his reasons and it is the fifth and final one that caught my eye:
This study Bible emphasizes biblical theology ... (and so) we have tried to highlight the way various themes develop within the Bible across time. In this way we hope to encourage readers of the Bible to spot these themes for themselves as they read their Bibles, becoming adept at tracing them throughout the Scriptures.
So while the Bible is diverse, with dozens of authors spread over hundreds of years, it is still one single rescue story of God at work in the world. There is a unity as well, with trajectories to follow that all reach their destination in Jesus.

And not only is South Asia a part of the Christian heritage of our children, so also is DA Carson - given his influence on me as a student and he and Joy's ongoing prayerful interest in us as a family. I'll never ever forget gate-crashing a conference at which he was speaking in New Zealand some years ago - and taking my daughter with me. We joined the groupies in the foyer afterwards. When we had our opportunity to catch up with him (after a number of years), he addressed my daughter by name. WOW. The measure of the man. I ain't gonna forget that in this lifetime.

From 'ugh' to 'wow', via a couple of books. Such is the trajectory of life - and through it all, God proves his love and faithfulness.

nice chatting



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