What is the difference between a gift and a present?
This is the question that I have been asking myself for the past several years, every time my birthday or the holidays roll around. It is the question that exasperates my loved ones as they try to give me gifts.
Here is my own personal definition: presents are something that I have specifically requested. I would like this shirt at Macy’s. I would like that item on Amazon. When the designated gift-giving day rolls around, I get to enjoy the present that I chose.
May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.
—1 Thessalonians 5:23, The Message
I have a confession to make: I get itchy when I hear the word "holiness."
I seem to feel fine when I hear about the holiness of God, the Holy Spirit, that our God is a holy God, but when it comes to ascribing holiness to people, then I get itchy.
Sabbath School Commentary for discussion on Sabbath, August 8, 2015
Esther is a book that captures the imagination.
I say this without hard data, without the studies that link Esther and theological imagination, but I can speak to my own experience as a young girl. I was fascinated with the idea of Esther—a young woman who won a beauty pageant of sorts, but who was really an undercover secret agent on a mission from God.
It all started with a simple Google search.
It was late on a Saturday night when I had typed “master’s degrees in theology” in the search bar, pressed enter, and watched the results appear. I recognized several schools—Yale Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Fuller Seminary—among other lesser known institutions, but there was one name that stood out: Wheaton College Graduate School. One click led to another, and before I could stop myself, I was reading the admission requirements and requesting a campus visit.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In the first two chapters of Half the Sky, Kristof and Wudunn introduced a world that is vastly different than the one I inhabit: I have a college degree and am studying for a master’s degree, while the women I met in these pages, are fortunate if they have a few years of education. I worry about finding a job after graduation and repaying my student loans, but I never worry that I will be trafficked to a foreign city under the guise of getting work, as they do.