Taking a Break

Hello friends! After much consideration, it has become clear to me that I need to take a break from writing blog articles in order to focus on the following things:

  1. Writing/editing my novels
  2. Adopting a regular exercise regimen to help with my fibromyalgia
  3. Increasing my knowledge through reading
  4. Assisting my husband as he goes through a job transition
  5. Spending more time with family and friends

By no means do I intend to step away forever, and I may very well post here occasionally. However, holding to my regular schedule of 1 or 2 articles a week, many of them exceeding 5,000 words and requiring significant research, is simply not possible if I am going to achieve the other things on that list. My fiction writing in particular is of such a character that it requires my full concentration for extended periods of time.

Just so you know, this is a partial breakdown of my activities and the amount of time they consume (or will consume) each week, including travel…

  • Church, group Bible studies, and personal Bible study: 6-8 hours per week
  • Exercise at the gym or at home: 6-8 hours per week
  • Food preparation: 6 hours per week
  • Appointments/errands: 3 hours per week
  • Essential naps: 3 hours per week
  • E-mail and phone correspondence: 2-3 hours per week
  • Time with nieces: 1-2 hours per week
  • Cleaning: 1 hour per week (I am using a cleaning service to help with this.)

You have probably caught that these things consume about 30 hours per week. On top of that, I do not typically write on evenings or on Saturdays, as I set those times aside to spend with my husband. That leaves me with 4-6 hours each weekday in which I can focus on reading, writing, other projects, and leisure activities. I have been devoting most of this time to writing for my blog. If I am ever going to finish my novel series, I have no choice but to take a break from that.

I am often frustrated by the fact that I do not “accomplish” more, but I must trust in the Lord that in addition to everything else that He provides, He will provide the time for me to do what is truly important. Thank you for your understanding, and I hope to get back to writing for the blog very soon.

~ Amy Mantravadi

The Heroes Among Us Who Brought Down Larry Nassar

Over the past year, I have become acquainted with many wonderful people on Twitter, along with a few not so wonderful people. Social media is certainly a mixed bag, but one meeting I look on quite positively is my encounter with Jacob Denhollander. Jacob is a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary training for the ministry. His love for God and His Word runs deep. He also happens to share many of my confessional beliefs. Time and again, he entertains us all with his humor, passionate love for hockey, devotion to the nation of his birth (Canada), and knowledge of Russian zombie surfer bands (a genre I previously did not know existed).

It was only after I had come to know Jacob in various Twitter interactions that I became aware of something that has dominated his life for the past two years. I knew that he was married, but it was only upon further acquaintance that I realized that his wife was the first person to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

Larry Nassar is a convicted sex criminal, having already pled guilty to charges of child pornography and sexually abusing dozens (if not hundreds) of women. He was a former physician specializing in sports medicine who worked with Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University. In his capacity as the doctor for USAG, he performed “treatments” at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, TX (an official USOC training camp) and traveled with Team USA to the Olympic Games. In his role as a medical authority, he was able to perform sex acts on unsuspecting girls and young women, all the while convincing them that these were legitimate medical procedures. It has now been legally established that they were actually heinous instances of sexual abuse. This week, he is expected to be sentenced for these crimes—that is, if the train of women making victim impact statements ever ends. This is a day of reckoning that was long in coming, and it finally arrived thanks to the bravery of Rachael Denhollander. Continue reading

Union with Christ: The Basis for Salvation

Today I will continue my discussion of various aspects of salvation by considering the topic of union with Christ. Depending on your confessional background, you may or may not have heard salvation described in this manner. Nevertheless, it is an important scriptural principle. Our union with Christ is the basis for every subsequent part of our salvation. Through this union, the believer enjoys a range of irrevocable benefits, many of which I will discuss in this article.

It is important to understand the concept of union with Christ before proceeding on to the aspects of our salvation traditionally known as justification (the legal declaration of righteousness before God), sanctification (the putting to death of the deeds of the flesh in this life), and glorification (the completion of our renewal at the consummation of the ages). Why? Because it is through being united to Christ that we receive these other things. The New Testament tells us that the person who is “in Christ” is the one who has salvation. Let’s examine what that means.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) In so doing, he made two bold statements: 1) A person can actually be “in Christ”—that is, truly united to God the Son. 2) With this union comes a change so momentous that the individual is actually said to be a “new creature”. I know this language is commonplace for those who have been Christians for many years, but we must take a moment every so often to stand in awe of these truths: not only that God became man, but that we may be united with Him. Continue reading

Simmering Thoughts Podcast on Joy

I enjoyed recording an episode of the Simmering Thoughts podcast yesterday with my friend, Ryan Akers. He and Chris Dean normally host, but due to illness in Chris’ family, they were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel. We continued their series on the fruits of the Spirit by discussing joy from a biblical perspective. You can listen to the episode here.

My Experience of Black America

Photo taken by yours truly in a crush of people on the east Capitol steps, July 2007

Over the past week, I sat down at my computer to write about black America, by which I mean Americans of African descent and their culture. I had hesitated to do so for a long time, for I was certain that no matter what I wrote, it would cause offense. However, I have come to feel that this fear is actually detrimental to the cause of racial reconciliation, and that only in sharing our stories can we ever hope to understand one another. I therefore sat down to write, and what came out of me was not a few brief thoughts, but a continuous stream of contemplation. I present this very long article to the public in the hope that it might be somewhat helpful. I particularly hope it can benefit the Church.

Perhaps it seems silly to speak of myself experiencing black America, as I am white and have not spent a substantial portion of my life in the company of a large number of African Americans. However, the fact is that practically everyone has experienced something of black America. What they’ve experienced might represent a tiny fragment of the whole, but it helps to define how they view black Americans and think about issues of race and/or ethnicity. Looking back on my life now, I realize how those experiences have helped to shape my ideas. Not only that, but they have taught me some things about the Church. Continue reading

Predestination: The Promise of Salvation

Predestination is the promise of the end at the beginning. When we preach this doctrine, we proclaim that God is not only eternally Savior, but He eternally had a people to save. We proclaim that He is not bound by linear time, and His foreknowledge is so perfect that for Him to know something will occur means that it will occur. We proclaim that God has loved His people from eternity past, and He will work His will in them so that they will most certainly persevere. Yes, predestination is the promise of the end at the beginning, and in that we can have confidence.

The doctrine of predestination could not exist if God was bound by linear time: that is, if His existence progressed eternally in a series of seconds, minutes, and hours. Human beings exist within linear time. We are presently something we were not in the past and will not be in the future. We cannot look ahead, nor can we turn back. We respond to events as they hit us one by one, and thus we are subject to change.

God is eternal. This means He is not bound by linear time like we are. As the Psalmist wrote, “Before the mountains were born / Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, / Even from everlasting to everlasting, / You are God.” (Psalm 90:2) The Lord is clearly aware of and works within linear time—after all, He created it. When He became incarnate as a man, Jesus Christ was most certainly bound by linear time. He was like us in every way…except without sin. However, the eternal Godhead is fully eternal. Scripture continually points to God’s ability to declare the future things as proof that He is truly God. This is meant to reveal to us that God is not bound by linear time, and He is therefore in a different category than us. The Creator is distinct from His creatures. Continue reading

Our Savior: The Author of Salvation

When we speak of salvation, we often begin by talking about ourselves, and that is our first mistake. It would be better for us to start by considering the One from whom salvation flows: our forever Savior, God Almighty. When we build our understanding of salvation upon our own identity, we can have no assurance, but when we build it upon the character of God, we have every assurance.

The first thing we must say about God is that He is what He is. The One who revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) does not experience any change in character. All that He is, He was eternally, and all He is now, He will forever be. Our experience of His character may change, but the character itself doesn’t. God cannot become something He previously was not, so as to be created. He cannot improve on what He is now, so as to become better. He is the perfect Creator then, now, and forevermore.

Therefore, when we say that God is Savior, we do not assign to Him a new identity that He did not previously possess. He was a Savior even before there was something to save, and because He has always been a Savior, He always will be. He is a Savior precisely because it is in His nature to save. When Jesus Christ said He came to earth “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), He was describing the eternal character of God as manifested in that portion of redemptive history. Continue reading

Some Articles You Might Have Missed in 2017

Photo by Wikipedia user Ondrejk

As we are about to enter 2018, I am giving in to societal pressure and releasing a yearly review article. My readership has grown over the course of this year, and I suspect that some people may like to see what they missed earlier in 2017. Therefore, here is a kind of greatest hits list…though I’m sure your own opinions on the matter will be mixed.

Boaz is a Hero for our Time 12/20

Unchanging Love, Unchanging God 12/13

Sexual Abuse isn’t just Hollywood’s Problem 11/13

Do Baptists have a Right to Celebrate the Reformation? 10/30

Out of Egypt: My Four Years Working for a Foreign Government 10/11

Why Did God Make Me a Woman? 9/25

The Nashville Statement, Procreation, and the Purpose of Marriage 8/31

An Examination of Tim Keller’s Views on the Trinity 7/26

Is Wonder Woman a Good Example of Biblical Womanhood? 7/6

On Sin 6/15

Treating People as more than just Bodies 5/24

What are You Building with that Social Media Account? 5/9

For You and for Your Children: The Curse and the Promise 4/11

How Christ Redeemed Our Suffering 3/21

The Perils of Pastoral Power 3/8

“I Do Not Allow a Woman to Teach” 2/21

B.B. Warfield in Dayton 2/16

Which Gender is God? 2/11

Being Female in the Era of Trump 1/23

The Reformer Who Wrote Erotic Poetry 1/17

Joseph’s Search: A Christmas Parable

On the night that Jesus was born, shepherds came to the manger to worship Him. They found the experience so spiritually beneficial that they said to Joseph, “All of Bethlehem should be joining us! Go out and find more worshipers!”

“Will we have enough room?” Mary asked. “Bethlehem is not a large town, but even so, I’m not sure we can fit them all.”

“We’ve already seen miracles tonight,” Joseph said. “The Lord will provide for the worshipers.”

So Joseph went out into the streets of Bethlehem to invite the residents to come worship their king. When he got to the first door, he knocked and a young man answered. Continue reading

Boaz is a Hero for our Time

“Ruth and Boaz” by Barent Fabritius, circa 1660

The torrent of sexual misconduct allegations that have overwhelmed us these past few weeks were a long time coming. This type of sin has existed in every culture and at every point in history. The gender revolution of the past few decades allowed us to believe that we as a society had put such things behind us: that women would be treated as equals, child abuse was no longer acceptable, and people would show each other a certain amount of respect. After all, we thought, we’re not barbarians.

I am sorry to inform you that we are, in fact, barbarians. There is no getting around the fact that powerful men still abuse less powerful women. In fact, it would be far more accurate to say that powerful people abuse less powerful people, because we see males abused by males, males abused by females, and females abused by females. While the greater number of complaints fit the standard powerful male/less powerful female model, I do not wish to minimize anyone’s suffering by pretending that it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps you are beginning to feel that when the man who’s been reading you the news for years, the beloved college football coach, the kindly priest, the president of the United States, and the actor waxing eloquently about social justice all have dirty hands, there is no one left for you to trust. Perhaps you are tempted to think that sexual harassment and abuse are simply par for the course, and those with power will always abuse it. You do not reach this conclusion because you believe it is morally right, but as a way of protecting yourself from further disappointment.

There is some truth in the phrase, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” which was first coined by John Dalberg-Acton but had been expressed in slightly different ways much earlier. Power does not actually make us sinful, but it allows sin to become much more damaging…and excusable. Therefore, we might begin to assume that there is a kind of inevitability to this all: men with power will always take advantage of that power. They cannot do otherwise. They’re only human. Continue reading