Monday, September 22, 2014

Hallmark gets it wrong–what a surprise

“Don’t tell Hallmark, but the love that God has in mind for us as His children doesn’t mesh well with their greeting-card line. The love that God wants of us and wants us to cultivate as His children is not some sort of sentimental feeling. He wants us to love in deed—as He has modeled for us in the giving of His Son. God did not love us merely in word and thought, but in action and intention. God is telling us this love is part of our redemptive makeup. It is to be exercised in our lives, in the strength of the Spirit and the model of Christ.”— Vine Ripened Life

Where's the dividing line?

[I]t [the book of Proverbs] heightens the significance of the secular everyday life, not by emancipating it from the sacred but by blurring the boundary between sacred and secular, not by pushing the boundaries of the secular as far as possible but by seeing the secular in the light of the regular.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 210

<idle musing>
We live our lives in the exact opposite way, don't we? We try to put the sacred in a little box that we can trot out when we need help or are feeling guilty, get the idea. But that's not the scriptural view, is it? Even in a supposedly "secular" book like Proverbs, with its emphasis on discovering wisdom in the things around. Even there, the undercurrent is the presence of YHWH, giving meaning and purpose to everything.

By the way, that's the final post from this book. I had lost a portion of the quotation and finally found the rest of it over the weekend. Hope you enjoyed the excerpts and will consider reading the whole thing.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

It is well

You see why so many professors of religion are always in the dark. They are looking at their sins, confining their observations to themselves, and losing sight of the fact, that they have only to take right hold of Jesus Christ and throw themselves upon Him, and all is well.—Charles Finney

Everything is smaller

As our devices have gotten smaller, our vices remain just as vexing. We still buy more than we need and waste as much as we consume. We get things more quickly, but our tempers and patience have grown shorter. We’re likely to blow up over tiny inconveniences.—iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Basically, all technology can do is magnify who we are—both our good and our evil traits. Which is both a bummer and a blessing. Hopefully it will show us more quickly how totally we must rely on the Holy Spirit—if he can catch us between texting and Facebook updates!
</idle musing>

How it works

“A vine-ripened life looks to the development of the fruit of the Spirit, cultivated by the hand of our heavenly Father in our union with Jesus Christ. As we abide in Christ, remaining rooted and built up in Him, the fruit of new life will grow organically from the inside out. Our lives will take on the character of the One we have been grafted into by grace, taking on the family likeness of our God.”— Vine Ripened Life

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good start

“Sanctification, whereby Christ is formed in us, involves our participation and compliance. But its result as well as its pursuit are by grace, through faith. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. Perhaps this principle is the principal purpose of the Father’s pruning—teaching us to abide in Christ.”— Vine Ripened Life

Vain hope

Technology cannot free us from the grip of personal and collective sin.—iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, electronic edition

That's not salvation

Beloved, if God were merely to pardon you, and then leave you to get out of sin as you could by yourselves, of what use would your pardon be to you? None in the world. If a child runs away from his father's house, and wanders in a forest, and falls into a deep pit, and the father finds him and undertakes to save him; if he merely pardons him for running away, it will be of no use, unless he lifts him up from the pit and leads him out of the forest. So in the scheme of redemption, whatever helps and aids you need, are all guaranteed, if you believe. If God undertakes to save you, he pledges all the light and grace and help that are necessary to break the chains of Satan and the entanglements of sin, and leads you back to your Father's house.

<idle musing>
Anything less isn't really salvation, is it? Salvation means saved, but saved from what? For too many if just means saved from the consequences of sin, but God intends to save us from sin, not just sins, i.e., the concept of sin, not just individual sins. Now that is a promise worth getting excited about! No wonder they talk about a great salvation...
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Work a little harder, please

“Paul brackets the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with this emphasis and strategy: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Though we are called to purpose and to do, we are completely dependent on the Spirit to act and to achieve anything genuine and lasting.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Amen! It is entirely as we depend on the Holy Spirit that anything good can happen.
</idle musing>

The human touch

We can study the numbers, but we must remember that each number is actually a person, created by God, worthy of our attention. You are not a number or an outcome. You are not a gadget. You are far more than your social profile. While the algorithms offer pictures of our collective behavior, discipleship still comes down to a life on a life. We are children of God, called to love and serve God’s children. Let’s figure out how to live out our faith in tangible ways, each hyperaccelerated day.—iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, electronic edition

Finney for a Tuesday

Did you ever find it a painful thing to do what you love to do? No. It is a pleasure to do it. The religion of the gospel is no labor to them that exercise it. It is the feeling of the heart. What would you do in heaven, if religion is such a painful thing here?—Suppose you were taken to heaven and obliged to grind out just so much religion every week, and month and year, to eternity. What sort of a heaven would it be to you? Would it be heaven, or would it be hell?—If you were required to have ten thousand times as much as you have here, and your whole life were to be filled up with this, and nothing else to do or enjoy but an eternal round of such duties, would not hell itself be a respite to you?—Charles Finney

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thought for the day

The legalist expects to be justified by faith, but he has not learned that he must be sanctified by faith. I propose to examine this point another time, in full. Modern legalists do not expect to be justified by works; they know these are inadequate—they know that the way to be saved is by Christ. But they have no practical belief that justification by faith is only true, as sanctification by faith is true, and that men are justified by faith only, as they are first sanctified by faith. And therefore, while they expect to be justified by faith, they set themselves to perform works that are works of law.—Charles Finney

How do we do it?

“In this metaphor [of bearing fruit] Jesus indicates that abiding is accomplished in large part through utter dependence on Him. The grace of sanctification flows from experiential union with Christ. We must abide in Christ so that the fruit of character change in our lives is not the product of self-will or best effort. Such efforts at love or joy or patience will be meager and short lived.” — Vine Ripened Life

A Vine Ripened Life

Those of you who follow my blog even somewhat will know that one of my passions is theosis/abiding in Christ/holiness. I really can't separate them because they are all different aspects of the same thing. Some call it the exchanged life, others entire sanctification. The title doesn't matter. What does matter is that it is Christ in you through the Holy Spirit doing the things you can't and allowing you to live a holy life. So when I saw the chance to review A Vine Ripened Life, I jumped at the chance.

I come from a Wesleyan/Holiness/Charismatic (pre-name it & claim it) background, so I thought it would be interesting to see how someone from a Reformed background would approach the subject...I found that on the whole, I agreed with what he was saying. His Reformed background came through in a few places (e.g., limited atonement was mentioned en passent, an angry god was in the background, etc.), but not in a way that would keep a non-Reformed Christian from getting a lot out of the book.

I found much to like in the book, and over the next few weeks you'll see excerpts posted here. But I also saw the "brains-on-a-stick" mentality that James K.A. Smith has talked about. What that means is that there is a lot of cerebral stuff, but the Holy Spirit making it happen is not mentioned very much. Consequently, it lacked "punch" for lack of a better word.

You know what I'm talking about, don't you? You pick up a book and you can feel the Holy Spirit. Some call it a special anointing. Fine, that works.

This book didn't have it. Don't get me wrong, it's full of great stuff and you can benefit greatly from reading it—as long as you add the Holy Spirit as a very real presence to everything he says. You'll see what I mean as you read the excerpts I post (I hope!).

<rant>If you remember, I've mentioned this problem before with some great Mennonite stuff. The Holy Spirit isn't an active force in the believer's life. This isn't limited to Mennonite or Reformed stuff, it is a major problem for most of Western/Modern/Postmodern Christianity. We really don't believe in the supernatural. Oh sure, we believe in it abstractly, but we don't really think God can work in a real way in our daily lives. If we did, we'd live differently! </rant>

So, would I recommend this book to a friend? Sure, but I would suggest they read Watchman Nee's Normal Christian Life or Sit, Walk, Stand, or Hannah Whitall Smith's The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life (don't let the title fool you, it's good stuff!), or Andrew Murray's The Holiest of All first. After they have a foundation built with one of those books, what is being said in A Vine Ripened Life will be able to become real and not just cerebral.

Just an
</idle musing>

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's not really that simple

It is important to remember that for purposes of assessing the translator’s techniques and ideas, it is not what the Hebrew text means but what the translator thinks it means that counts. For that matter, this is true of the text critic too: what the text means cannot be distinguished from what he or she thinks it means. For practical purposes, there is no escape from gauging the translator’s interpretation by one’s own—often uncertain, sometimes shifting—understanding.— The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition, Introduction

<idle musing>
I'm frequently reminded that it's the perspective that counts, not what is really (if there is such a thing!) there. We all come with preconceptions that color how we see things. The LXX, Syriac, and Jerome (Vulgate) were no different, so it shouldn't be a surprise when what we see in the text is different from what they saw...
</idle musing>

There's just too much out there!

Humanity gave names to all the animals in the garden of Eden, but we can no longer name everything in sight. The diversity of our world, the proximity of what’s possible has overwhelmed us. Becoming like God has fried our brains.—iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Maybe because we're not supposed to be God!? But don't tell us that, we're doing fine, thank you. As we lose our sanity trying to keep track of everything.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Of kudurrus and massebot

Sometimes the weirdest thoughts come my way...

We use some very large rocks in places to mark where people can and can't park. We're talking 20–30 pound rocks. We don't want them to be moving around : )

Well, twice this summer, guests have moved them. Once, it was raining and they wanted to park closer to their front door. So they moved a rock about 3 feet to get through. And another time someone wanted to park another car behind them, so they moved 3 rocks about 15 feet to make the parking space bigger.

OK, what's so strange about that? Well nothing, except the first thing I thought of was kudurru stones...OK, not a perfect match in that I haven't inscribed the rocks—yet : )

Maybe a better match would be from Proverbs 22:28 or 23:10, after all, the rocks are bit bigger than the kudurru stones were...

There are a few rock gardens behind the bed & breakfast. Being rock gardens, the borders are of rock (duh!) and I have to mow around them. Well, this summer Max and Sherri have been rearranging the border rocks and standing some on end. The first time I came across that, I couldn't help but think of the massebot in the Hebrew Bible (there's a good book about the ones in Jordan here: Megalithic Jordan). Sure, they're shorter, but...well the mind does strange things when you've studied ancient stuff too long!

Just an
</idle musing>