Thursday, October 30, 2014

Abiding

“We need to learn to abide—to rest in, remain, and regard our Lord in all things, at all times. We want to sit at His feet to learn both what He says and the heart by which He says it. We want to grow in submission to Him, dependence upon Him, and delight in Him.”— Vine Ripened Life

When shock therapy is no longer shocking

The cross is shock therapy for a world addicted to solving its problems through violence. The cross shocks us into the devastating realization that our system of violence murdered God!— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Except we've become numb to the shock of it. We're addicted to violence and can't imagine a world without it...Lord, deliver us! Open our eyes that we may dream of a world of peace. Give us the faith to believe you really are victorious!
</idle musing>

Thought for today

If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it.—Thomas à Kempis

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

That's the opposite of what I want...

“What sort of teacher is grace? Grace does not lead us in some self-help course. On the contrary, grace leads us in Christ-dependence. It teaches us to abide in the Vine. Apart from Christ we can do nothing of our own accord. In Christ we can do all things according to His power that is at work within us.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Exactly the opposite of what we want, right? We want Christ to empower us so that we can take the credit for our great holiness!

This gospel stuff is so backwards!
</idle musing>

We still honor Cain

So when Jesus comes along and says to us, “Love your enemy,” we instinctively feel how radical it is. He’s not just giving individuals a personal ethic; he is striking at the very foundation of the world! The world was founded on hating enemies, and now Jesus says, “Don’t do it!” When Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek,” he wasn’t just trying to produce kinder, gentler people; he was trying to refound the world! Instead of retaliatory violence; the world is to be refounded on cosuffering love. Jesus understood that the world had built its societal structures upon shared hatred, scapegoating, and what René Girard calls “sacred violence.” In challenging “sacred violence” (which Israel cherished in their war stories), Jesus was challenging the world at its most basic level. We cherish, honor, and salute sacred violence. We have to! We have a dark instinct that we must honor Cain’s war against Abel—and our own wars upon our hated enemies—or our whole system will fall apart. But Jesus testified against it—that those deeds were evil.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Stop! Listen to what he is saying here! This is one of the places where "love not the world" is especially relevant and painful. This is where the fish learns what water is and that, low and behold, it really is wet!

Look at your values. Look at how you view your country. Look at how you view 9/11/2001. Is that the way Christ would have you view them?

If not, repent! And believe the gospel. Gospel—good news! God is calling us to something higher (and more painful!)...we mourn over Abel, but we build memorials to Cain!
</idle musing>

Look out!

Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.—Thomas à Kempis

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

But I want a monolithic answer!

No single linguistic theory is robust enough on its own to adequately account for every aspect of language. It is too diverse and complex to make this a realistic expectation. Each different linguistic framework was developed to tackle different problems, typically ones left unaddressed by other existing frameworks.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 204.

How we communicate

The key thing to remember is that each clause will contain a mix of established and newly asserted information. The goal of the communication is to convey the newly asserted information; it is the focus of the utterance. The presupposed information provides the framework for processing and understanding the focal information. As new information is asserted, the body of presupposed information will grow. Thus, differentiating what is presupposed from what is focal is entirely context-dependent. As the context changes, so will the determinations about the status of information.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 189.

Another season

Well, we're closed for the season. The last load of regular laundry is washed, dried, folded, and carefully stored until next spring. The electricity and gas are shut off to all the cabins. The water mains are flushed of water and bubbling with bright pink RV anti-freeze.

Speaking of RV anti-freeze, I learned that it stains sinks and tubs : ( And it doesn't come out very easily, even with cleanser. Call out the Zud! And exercise those arms!

Of course it doesn't help any that the tubs are over 50 years old, as are some of the sinks. All the enamel is pretty well worn off the porcelain—all that is left is the dull whiteness where once there was a nice shimmer. And that stuff is a sponge for stains!

This is the third season that I've been a part of shutting down. The first year, I didn't realize that the stuff stains. We have one cabin (Spruce) that has a slight depression in the tub just before the drain that collects water (it was made that way!). When cleaning it, you have to push the 1/4 inch or so of water forward into the drain. I didn't push the anti-freeze forward that year...the next spring, I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of that stain.

I finally thought I had it—but I'm partially red-green colorblind. Others still saw it. I finally had to ask Max to show me the outlines of it so that I could discern the different shades of white that were really pink! And this was our first year working with them. I can just imagine what they were thinking when they saw what I thought was a "clean" tub!

On a different note, we had a great season—made lots of new friends and renewed acquaintances with old ones. I can understand what Dave & Geneva meant when they talked about the bonds you make with guests.

Sure, you get some real downers—where do people get the idea that it is ok to leave a sink full of dirty dishes? Or, worse yet, to put dirty dishes in the cupboard! Or, why is it ok to leave bacon grease in the frying pan, or on the stove. Or use towels as toilet paper (we "retire" those towels!). Or to recarpet the cabin with Goldfish cracker crumbs. Or...you get the idea. Those people go on our "black list" and aren't allowed back.

Yes, every resort, motel, and cabin rental has a "black list." Some are more strict than others. But, think of What's Up Doc? The hotel manager enters what's left of the room and says, "I have a message from the staff, 'Good-bye.'" I can identify sometimes! : )

But those are the minority. Most guests are very good. In some cases, they are so clean that you almost feel like you don't have a job!

So now we head off to see Debbie's parents for a couple of weeks. When we get back, I'll launder all the blankets and mattress covers. We'll replace the ones that are worn and store the blankets for the winter. Come spring, I'll wash all the bedspreads and we'll remake the beds.

I have two bathroom floors that will need replacing—Birch and Sugar Maple. Sugar Maple's floor is being held up by a jack underneath on the joist, but the floor itself between the joists is starting to get soggy...but that can wait until spring.

Meanwhile, we'll enjoy another winter on the North Shore!

The source

“Earlier in his letter to the Galatians, before taking up the fruit of the Spirit, Paul asks this rhetorical question: 'Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' (3:3). In Galatians 5:25 he says, 'If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.' Paul is leading us to understand that our Christian maturation and fruitfulness do not happen at any point by self-effort to turn over a new leaf. Rather, we are dependent on the operation of the Holy Spirit.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
If only we would remember that! It is the Holy Spirit, living within us, motivating us, directing us, gently prodding us—OK, sometimes not so gently!—that produces Christian character. The fruit of the Spirit is named that for a reason! It isn't the fruit of my spiritual maturity or my efforts at godly living!
</idle musing>

Those imaginary lines on the map

Look at the borders on a map. What are they? Nearly always they are the boundaries of ancient enmities where the blood of hated victims has been shed. Lines on a map, far from being benign, tell a bloody tale. At the dawn of human civilization, tribal identities were formed around a shared hostility toward an enemy “them.” Contrary to what Rousseau romantically imaged, anthropologists insist there was never a time when human communities lived peaceably and without war. The shared identity necessary for organizing the world was based around a common hatred—a common hatred hallowed in collective murder.

The relentless bloodletting of Homer’s Iliad depicts the foundational evil of the world that Jesus dared to testify against. Homer’s epic poem recounting the Trojan War became a sacred text within the pagan world consistent with the world’s bloody foundation. The blind bard saw more than most and knew what made the world go around—rage and murder. The Spartans needed to hate and scapegoat the Trojans so they could achieve a unity within their own society. They needed to project the anxiety that threatened to erupt into an every-man-for-himself violence onto a sacrificial “them”—an enemy whom they could hate in common and kill with impunity. They needed to kill, but they also needed to believe that killing was good. This is the basic (though hidden) political foundation of the world. It’s also evil. It’s an evil so well hidden that we hardly ever see it as evil. It’s an evil concealed behind flags, anthems, monuments, memorials, and the rhetoric of those who have won their wars. The hidden foundation of hatred and murder is why world history is little more than the record of who killed who [sic], where, when, and what for.

In a study of world history, you will meet far more warriors than poets; far more generals than artists. Jesus testified against this violent arrangement of the world. Jesus wanted to show us that the “heroic” murder of our enemy brothers is, in truth, evil. But we don’t see it as evil. We see it as simply the only way things can be.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Or, worse yet, as heroic and a virtue to be praised and emulated...and called "peace-keeping"!

Pax Americana, as long as you agree with us! Just like the Pax Romana...which managed to put Jesus on the cross for suggesting that violence isn't the answer (yes, I know; that is too simplistic!).
</idle musing>

It's the trials

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.—Thomas à Kempis

Monday, October 27, 2014

No artificial anything

“When it comes to the growth of the fruit of the Spirit, we might employ the term grace grown. The fruit produced by grace is natural to new life rather than artificial. Such fruit grows organically at the hand of our Father, by the working of His Spirit, through union with Jesus Christ. To grow organically means to grow necessarily. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, and all the rest willgrow as we abide in Christ, the product of God’s workmanship of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

Political Jesus?

Jesus could be a rabbi teaching nonviolence and enemy love or he could be the Messiah who would save Israel— but not both. The miracles Jesus was performing spoke for themselves. It was obvious that God was with Jesus. But if he were to fulfill his Messianic mission and liberate Israel, he would have to depart from what he was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. It was in this sense that Jesus’s brothers did not believe him. Which is basically the same sense in which we—the modern-day brothers of Jesus—do not believe in him. We believe in Jesus theologically, religiously, spiritually, sentimentally … but not politically. We believe Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, but we don’t really believe he was a competent political theologian. If we were tasked with framing a political theology drawn only from Jesus’s words, what would it look like? It would probably look like something we don’t much believe in. Why? Because when it comes to political models for running the world, we find it hard to believe in Jesus.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Ain't that the truth!
</idle musing>

Thought for a Monday

It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.—Thomas à Kempis

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thought for a sunny, but windy, Saturday in October

I heard a Voice which I could not disobey. I desired to please God alone; and I sought Him, not for what He might give me, but only for Himself. I had rather die than do anything against His will.—Jeanne Guyon

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why the imperfect?

Imperfect forms of λέγω characteristically are used either to introduce an initial speech that is more of a monologue than a dialogue or to record the responses of multiple groups to one thing.35 They can also be used in the expected imperfective sense of ongoing or repeated events.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 159.

More historical present

As with the other prominence markers, HPs tend to highlight some kind of discontinuity in the discourse. Usage of the HP at a boundary attracts extra attention to it, helping the reader process the transition to a new topic or pericope. Usage before a significant event or speech accomplishes the same processing task.

Usage that is unneeded for processing serves the pragmatic function of highlighting the speech or event that follows. It directs the reader to pay closer attention to something important. The HP achieves this effect by standing out in its context, on the basis of both temporal reference and aspect. If it did not stand out, it would not achieve these effects. One must differentiate the semantic meaning of the tense form from the effect of using it to describe past-time, perfective action. The HP should be regarded as a marked usage to accomplish a specific pragmatic effect, not a special submeaning of the tense.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 142.

That darned historical present...

[I]t is important to recognize that the use of the present form in a past-tense setting represents the choice to break with expected usage. The identification of a “historical present” is based on not following the expected rules. Randall Buth notes that H[istorical] P[resent] usage breaks the rules not only in regard to tense, but also in regard to aspect. In other words, not only is there a mismatch in the grammaticalized time with the discourse time, but also there is a mismatch in aspect. Most HP actions are perfective in nature, yet they are grammaticalized using an imperfective form. This should not be understood to change the meaning of the verb; rather, it is simply another way in which the HP usage stands out in its context.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 128–129.

Will it never end?

We're getting near the end of the season here, but that's not what the title of this post is about. It's about apples. Lots of apples. Bushels of apples. I told you that I picked four bushels of apples the other day. And I managed to process 18 pints that night. (We prefer pints because there are only two of us now.)

Well, I've been processing apples every night since then, with the exception of the night the propane died. I usually do 18 or 27 pints per night. I slice them in half and then in quarters, throw them in a kettle, boil them down, and then run them through the Victorio (ours is a model 200). (Marvelous invention, that. I bought it at a yard sale 30+ years ago for about $5.00. It's paid for itself a few times since then.)

Each kettle holds about 9 pints, as does each canner load. That explains why I do 18 or 27 pints a night. Logical, isn't it? : ) I've been both freezing and canning them. I finished off the four bushels from the first tree and picked the apples from the second tree the other day. I figured it had about a bushel left on it—other people had already picked a bit over a bushel from it.

I was wrong! It had almost two bushels left. I like canning and all that, but another two bushels?! I still have to get to the sauerkraut, too...

The apples on the first tree were small and not very suitable for fresh eating, so I sauced them all. The second tree, although smaller, gets a bit better sunlight and the apples are bigger. We sorted through the two bushels and saved about a half bushel for fresh eating. And I've been saucing the rest. As of right now, we have over 200 pints...and I still have apples...but I should finish them tonight.

Hard to believe, but I actually ran out of pints last night. I ended up filling six quarts to finish the batch. And I barely had enough lids...and what I thought was a bushel basket was really 1.5 bushels, so I underestimated how much time it would take, which means I was up later than I planned, which means that I'm low on energy, which means I'm writing this post to deceive myself into thinking I'm doing something productive when I should be out cleaning that motel room, getting the cabins ready for the last weekend of guests for the year, and then cleaning out the extension to the shop so I can tear it down (it really is an eyesore!).

OK. I'm done. Now I really do have to go out and do some real work!

and it comes before a fall...

“Pride promotes foolish independence. Humility draws deeply upon the grace of God in communion with Him. James says that God opposes the proud—pride pits us against God. But humility opens us to Him for spiritual health and vitality in function. As the plant draws life from the large and brilliant sun, so we find ourselves warmed by God’s presence.”— Vine Ripened Life

Fearmongering

Because God loves us, we don’t have to be afraid. Because God loves us, we are free to love others—even our enemies. And after all, once you take fear off the table, how many enemies do you really have? We don’t need to blame. We don’t need to multiply enemies. We don’t need to react to our fear by blaming a scapegoat. Only the fearful who don’t know they are loved by God need to sacrifice scapegoats. God doesn’t want that. He never did. God wants mercy. He always did. We didn’t always know this, but now we do. Peace is no longer to be achieved by the illegitimate means of sacrificing a scapegoat. Peace is now given to us freely by the crucified and risen scapegoat. Fear has no place in the new world that Jesus inaugurates in his resurrection. We’re called to be peacemakers, and peacemakers cannot be fearmongers. The biggest difference between a peacemaker and a fearmonger is whether or not they really believe in the unconditional love of God.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Oh, that's good! Especially "The biggest difference between a peacemaker and a fearmonger is whether or not they really believe in the unconditional love of God."

Now to put that into practice—through the power of the Holy Spirit!
</idle musing>

Thought for a foggy Friday

If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The power of touch

Excellent post on the power of (nonsexual) touch over at Parse today.
Across television screens trudge health care workers in hazmat suits protecting themselves from Ebola. Holding patients, disposing of bodies. Carefully encased to prevent touch. It is, perhaps, one of the most tragic dimensions of this dreaded disease, that (because of the threat of infection) in the last days of life, a dying person cannot feel the gentle hand of a loved one, the warm touch of a caregiver...

Despite our need for human touch throughout life, our culture lacks practices that provide this kind of intimacy beyond sexual relationships...

Even as our culture increasingly embraces bodily indulgences of sex, food, and other appetites, we are actually turning away from one another socially. Our lack of physical contact is related to increasing isolation, anomie—the sense of normlessness—leading to depression and suicide, and a lack of social cohesion.

That's just a selection. Read the whole thing. And put it into practice! Reach out and touch someone—physically. It's good for both of you...

Humility

“Humility functions in the fear of the Lord. Such fear makes God large in our eyes. We are completely and continually dependent upon Him. We exist by Him and for Him. We live through Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.

The greater the presence of humility in our hearts, the greater we will see ourselves as debtors to grace and the more in awe of God we will be. James tells us that God 'gives more grace,' asserting that 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble' (4:6). Humility is a conduit of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

I dare you!

So what do we do with this? How do we go about renouncing the sinful system of projecting blame onto a scapegoat? We might start by turning off the radio when the manipulative talk-show host tries to agitate the listening crowd into the evil of scapegoating. We might refuse to follow religious leaders who gain a following by the rhetorical lynching of the usual scapegoats. We might decide to stop practicing in our adult lives the juvenile playground politics of scapegoating the easy targets. We might tattoo our mind with these three transformational truths: The majority is almost always wrong. The crowd is untruth. Scapegoating is demonic.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Finney for a Thursday

Is it possible that Satan has so got the advantage of God, that God's kingdom cannot be re-established in this world, and that the Almighty has no way but to back out, and to take His saints to heaven, before He can make them holy? Is God's kingdom to be only partially established, and is it to be always so, that the best saints shall one-half of their time be serving the devil? Must the people of God always go drooping and driveling along in religion, and live in sin, until they get to heaven? What is that stone cut out of a mountain without hands, that is to fill the earth, if it does not show that there is yet to be a universal triumph of the love of God in the world?—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Sure, many will finesse sin in Christians, trying to justify it. Finney will have none of that. Is God able to do it? Is God willing to do it?

Well? What is your answer?

If he is willing and able, then why doesn't it happen?

I suspect a lot of it is that we don't really believe he's able. We subconsciously believe that the body is evil. That the fall isn't really the problem, but the physical body is...

Jesus was fully human. Don't forget that. But we do in our day-to-day living. We're practicing atheists with a strong Docetic bent. We don't believe God can intervene, and if he does, we don't believe he can overcome our physical bodies.

I've written about this lots over the past 9 years (yes, 9 years ago on Tuesday was my first post!). The bottom line is, do you believe God is able? Is so, do you believe he wants to?

If you don't believe it is possible, why not? What is preventing it? Is it something in your life that you think you need to fix first?

Be honest!

If so, then you are seeking it by works and not by faith!

Ouch! Saved by faith, sanctified by works. The default position of the church today...

Think about it. What is keeping it from happening in your life? Forget that you don't see it in anybody else for a moment. Just concentrate on yourself.

And be honest. Brutally honest.

Yep. I don't really trust that God will do it right! I think I know better than God. I don't really want to surrender my will fully to him. He might make me do something I don't want to do! He might screw it up!

And then I think of Jesus on the cross. God's son willingly giving up his claims to deity's prerogatives in order to pay the debt...

How small of me. How stupid of me. How selfish of me...

But I still hang on...

What about you? Does that describe your life?
</idle musing>