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


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 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>

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grammatical thought

First, metadiscourse guides or directs the reader, which means that it is an indicator of the author’s intent. Second, it helps us to understand not only the text, but also the writer’s stance toward it. This also speaks to authorial intent. Although metacomments might indeed have a formulaic quality, they also represent the writer’s choice to mark the presence of some feature that might otherwise have been overlooked.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 105.

The source

“As with all the fruit of life in Christ, each describes us by virtue of our union with Him, and each makes demands of us in our walk with Him.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
That's a wonderful description of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the result of our union with Jesus, walking by the power of the Holy Spirit—and obeying as a result of that power within us. All God, all the time—and that is why it is possible. By the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.
</idle musing>

Stop and think about this

Scapegoating is all around us, but it can be hard to perceive. To understand how the scapegoat mechanism works, it may be helpful to think about the dynamics of the childhood playground. (This is a theme explored by Nobel laureate, William Golding, in his 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies.) Like most people, my first encounter with the dark world of scapegoating was on the playground in elementary school. I can see that now. But as I attempt to describe the scapegoat mechanism, bear in mind this phenomenon occurs unconsciously—for they know not what they do. “To have a scapegoat is not to know that one has one. As soon as the scapegoat is revealed and named as such, it loses its power.” Scapegoating is done instinctively but not innocently. It is sinful.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Scapegoating, the defense mechanism of choice for thousands of years...
</idle musing>

Skewed priorities

Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bear your cross

“The cross does not refer to some special burden we bear in life. It speaks to bringing all of life into submission and service to the Father’s will, as did Jesus. The cross shows the extent of that submission.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Amen! We need to remember that! The life under the cross is all-encompassing, all-consuming. It is designed to kill us so that we might truly be alive.

But too often we reduce "bearing the cross" to some special (usually minor!) incident in our lives...
</idle musing>

It's a gift

To follow Jesus requires the courage to leave the crowd and join his little flock, one not driven by the demonic spirit of fear. The little flock has heard its Shepherd say, “Do not be afraid.” Because the little flock is not driven by fear, it does not become an angry crowd or need to form an angry “us” movement in opposition to an imagined enemy “them.” The little flock receives the kingdom as a gift flowing from the sheer good pleasure of God. Once we realize God’s government is given as a gift, we never again need to fight, harm, or kill for any other government.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
But we don't really believe that, do we? If we did, we wouldn't act the way we do...
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you? Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heat? What heat?

Anyone who thought we came up here to relax, retire, and generally be lazy needs to spend a day or two taking care of 7 cabins and 2 motel rooms...

We only have one more weekend before the cabins close. And we had managed to get through the summer without any major problems. Sure, minor stuff like water closets almost falling off, and toilets backing up, know, minor stuff. Until Saturday night...

It started out innocent enough. I got a call from the guests in Aspen saying that the heater wasn't working right (it was about 11:30). That furnace is a bit flaky, so I thought nothing of it. I couldn't get the pilot to stay lit, so I gave them a pair of space heaters. It's a small cabin and that was more than adequate.

When I got back, Debbie said she thought maybe our furnace pilot had gone out. It had been very windy and that sometimes happens. About that same time, I realized that the oven wasn't preheating...and the burner on the stove was only about 1/3 lit...Uh-oh!

We run on propane, which means that the tank gets filled periodically. We have a remote sensor that is tied to the supplier's office. When the tank gets below a certain percentage they come and fill it. They call it "keep fill" or some such jargon. Works well–especially in the winter, when you don't want to tramp through drifts all the time to check the tank.

But now there wasn't any propane getting to the house–and at least one of the cabins. And the temperature is 32ºF and dropping. And we are full. And one of the cabins has a 5-month old baby in it. Don't panic. Check the tank to see if there is propane. Flashlight in hand, I trudged out to the tank. The gauge says 50%. Check the valves. They're open...Now you can panic! Not really.

I went back to the house and grabbed the business card for the supplier. There was a cell phone number for after-hours. It's now 11:56. Mark answered the phone on the second ring. I explained my situation. He asked if the valves on the individual cabins were open. Yep. I told him about the dying and disappearing flame on the stove and the pilots.

He told me he would get somebody out here...

Meanwhile, I was thinking what it could be. Perhaps some debris from the supply line had blocked the hose somewhere. That happens with older copper piping and propane. And some of our lines are old. Mentally, I mapped out the supply chain. Aspen is fed from Birch, which means that Birch also was without heat. But so were we.

It's now about 12:15, so I didn't want to wake people up to see the extent...but Cedar's water heater (the only one with a propane water heater) was in the shop. I could check that and see if they were without heat...yep. It's out, too.

That means I have 7 units without heat, plus us. Two of the units are on a separate tank, so they are unaffected.

12:30, still no answer from the propane company. I call again. Voice mail. I leave a message sounding a bit stressed, as you can imagine.

1:00, still no answer from the propane company. What to do...the temperature is still dropping. And there's a 5-month old baby out there with no heat.

It's almost 1:30. I'm going to have to wake up Max and get his input. The phone rings. It's the propane company. They had decided that the gauge must be defective and they had someone coming out to look at it. But he lived in Lutsen–a half-hour away.

2:00. He arrives. We go out to the tank. He hits it with a rubber mallet. Sounds empty. But the gauge still says 50%. He taps the gauge lightly with the mallet. Nothing moves. Still says 50%. He checks the valves. Everything is open. He loosens the bleed screw a bit. There should be the hiss of escaping propane and that nasty smell. Nothing! Just then I notice something I hadn't seen before. Off to the side, not obvious in the thick darkness, is an old-fashioned pressure gauge. It reads 0 pounds of pressure. The tank is empty! At 2:00 in the morning.

Steve (the propane man) says he will go get the tank and we'll fill the tank. Then we'll have to knock on every door and re-light the pilots. He suggests that while he gets the truck I make a list of what needs to be re-lit. We don't want to leave stove pilots unlit...

By now it is 2:30. He arrives with the truck at 3:00. But, how do we get at the tank without him having to back up and have those noisy beepers wake everybody up? Where he would normally park is taken by guests' vehicles. We figure out a spot. Very close to a cabin bedroom : ( But it will only require a very little bit of backing up after the tank is filled. Best option in a bad set of available options...

Steve starts filling the tank. Or tries to. The gauge (the actual pressure one) doesn't seem to be moving. And the fittings are icing up. Not normal. He trudges over to the truck, checks the meter. One gallon. Thats' all the tank would take. One gallon. And it's 3:15 in the morning. And the temperature is still dropping. And there's a 5-month old baby out there...

Off comes the propane supply hose. He looks at the fill valve. It looks fine. Nothing blocking it. He goes back to the truck again and comes back with a long chisel-looking thing. He places it on top of the fill valve, pushes it down, and it releases. He reconnects the supply hose, presses the remote to start the truck's supply. The pressure gauge on the tank starts to move. The icing around the supply valves begins to dissipate. Whew!

But now we have another problem. The supply truck is almost empty. After all, it's Saturday night and they had been using it all day to fill up tanks...But he managed to get 325 gallons in. That will last us quite a while, so we will get through the weekend easily.

Steve disconnects the supply hose, we struggle back through to the truck. In order to rewind the supply hose, he needs to haul the hose down the lane a bit. Without getting it caught on all the various junk that is on the path to the tank. And as quietly as possible. Then he needs to back up without hitting the cabin porch behind him or taking out the kiln on the other side. All without being in reverse with those horrendously loud beeps going on any longer than necessary...

Success! I only counted 40 beeps. But at 3:45 in the morning, that seemed like a million. And loud!.

Now the fun part. I have to wake up every guest (at almost 4:00 AM!) and tell them they don't have any heat and that I need to relight their furnace...The first one I did was the one with the baby. Praise God! They had brought along a space heater and were using it. I relit their furnace and stove pilots without the baby waking up. What an answer to prayer!

Next cabin. They had noticed that the furnace was out at about 11:30, but thought it was too late to call me! He had tried relighting the pilot himself, without success. So when I said I needed to relight it, he laughed. Until I did. : )

And so it went. One cabin requires you to climb underneath–but it also has a gas stove with pilots. So I still needed to wake them up. Another one was stubborn and wouldn't light right away. I finally got it lit (or so I thought). Last cabin. It was being stubborn, too. It's at the end of the line, so there was a lot of air in the line. When it finally lit, I absent-mindedly said, "The most beautiful sight in the world!" The guest laughed. Laughed. At 4:15 in the morning!

Did I mention that this whole time Debbie has been praying? I attribute the good response of the guests to her intercession. And people were thinking we came up here to relax and get away from the pressures of life!

Footnote: The cabin that I thought I got lit? Well, it didn't light! They called me at 8:30 to let me know. Poor guests! At least this is the cabin with a wood stove. They had lit the stove and it was starting to warm the place. I tried again from the top side to light the furnace. No dice. I clambered under the cabin. This cabin is not a pleasant one underneath...and the furnace is a tough one to access the pilot light. It took me about 10 minutes to get it lit. The pilot would spit and sputter. Finally it lit. I turned the valve to allow the furnace to come on. Success!

I climbed out and apologized to them for the trouble. There response was priceless, "That's ok, you probably had a worse night that we did." Understatement of the year!

The amazing thing? The people who were closest to the loud beeps were the ones I had given the space heaters to. When they checked out, he told me that they slept wonderfully well. The space heaters had kept them "snug as a bug in a rug" and they hadn't heard a thing! How's that for answered prayers?

Willpower or self-control?

“Willpower is a secular version of self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit for management of self in the strength of Christ. Willpower is seated in the natural man, while self-control is rooted in the Vine and is a product of abiding in it. It enables the believer to wage war against the deeds of the flesh.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
I like that; "rooted in the Vine and is a product of abiding in it." Of course, that means if we stop abiding, the self-control stops flowing. Only as we abide can the life-giving flow of the Holy Spirit sap keep us in self-control.

Through the cross

What we may venerate as freedom-loving revolutionaries, the cross exposes as a demonic mob quite capable of killing the innocent. We should never forget that Jesus was executed in the name of “freedom and justice”—whether it was the Roman version or the Jewish version. But the cross shames the ancient deception that freedom and justice can be attained by killing. The crowd believes this pernicious lie, but Christ never does. The Passover crowd shouted, “Hosanna!” (“ Save now!”) until it realized that Jesus wouldn’t save them by killing their enemies; then it shouted, “Crucify him!” Jesus refused to be a messiah after the model of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Judah Maccabeus, William Wallace, or George Washington—and the crowd despises him for it. The crowd loves their violent heroes. The crowd is predisposed to believe in the idea that “freedom and justice” can be achieved by violence.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's the life, stupid

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ