Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quote for today

“What must be noticed in Philippians is that the believer receives an ability to discern what is good, what is righteous, and what is conducive of love; and with this ability, the believer is able to stand pure and blameless “in the day of Christ” (1:10). It is not that the believer will be declared blameless on that day; the believer already is blameless, already is righteous, already is possessed of EPIGNWSIS to discern what is best, because of the re-formation wrought upon the believer in this lifetime, and because of the righteousness received from God in this lifetime. Such a change is truly a re-formation of the person.”—Stephen Finlan in Partakers of the Divine Nature, page 74

Monday, September 29, 2008


It seems that every October, the dogs get more agressive. This year, they started a week earlier. Yesterday Debbie and I took a bike ride and were chased by several dogs. These same dogs had just ignored us when we went by earlier in the year.

Anybody got any ideas on why this happens every fall?

Maybe everybody should just get cats instead of dogs! Then I wouldn't need to carry dog spray...

Theosis/Deification Greek/Latin

Deification, then, is not a transcending of what it means to be human, but the fulfillment of what it is to be human. Although we need to realize how far we are from that fulfillment, that realization is greatly impeded by the conviction that to be human is to be fallen and frail (“all too human”)...Deification reveals the divine and lofty purpose for which humankind was created.—Andrew Louth in Partakers of the Divine Nature, page 39

Friday, September 26, 2008


A while back I finished Partakers of the Divine Nature, but never got around to putting any quotes from it on the blog. I hope to do that over the next week or so, and then give a brief summary at the end. Here is the first quote to start the series...

What is envisaged is a transformation, a transfiguration, of human beings. Those are big words, but what is certainly meant is a real change: a change that is the result of coming to share in the life of God. This change involves a kind of reconstitution of our humanity, a reshaping, a straightening out of all the distortions and corruptions that we have brought upon our humanity by misusing—and abusing—our human capacities, and by living out our lives in accordance with values and principles that fall a long way short of the values and principles inherent in creation as God intended it. This reconstitution of human nature is something impossible without the grace of God, without everything implied God the Word's living out what it is to be human, and thereby on the one hand showing us what it is to be truly human, and on the other experiencing and overcoming the accumulated power of evil that has manifested itself in human nature and human affairs—ultimately experiencing and overcoming the power of death itself. This reconstitution of our human nature is therefore something beyond our human powers—no self-help will be anywhere near adequate—but on the other hand iti is something that involves the most profound commitment of our human powers; it is not a change in which we will be passively put right—some sort of moral and spiritual surgery—it is a change that requires our utmost cooperation, that calls for truly ascetic struggle.—Andrew Louth in Partakers of the Divine Nature, page 37

New sale at Eisenbrauns

Can you say 50% off on Brill? How about 50% off on Greek or Hebrew texts? Maybe 40% off on The Context of Scripture strikes a chord with you? All those, and more here:

Update: Peter is correct, it is the RSV, not the NRSV in the Greek-English NA 27.

"The Context of Scripture"
Edited by William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger, Jr.
Context of Scripture - CS
Brill Academic Publishers, 2003. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9004131051
List Price: $311.00 Your Price: $186.60 (40%)

"A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law - 2 volume set"
Edited by Raymond Westbrook
Handbook of Oriental Studies, Part One: The Ancient Near East
and Middle East - HOSANE / HOSNME 72
Brill Academic Publishers, 2003. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9004129952
List Price: $472.00 Your Price: $236.00 (50%!)

by Stanley Hauerwas
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587430959
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00 (50%)

"1 and 2 Kings"
by Peter J. Leithart
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587431254
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00 (50%)

"Biblia Sacra Utriusque Testamenti: Editio Hebraica et Graeca"
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 1994. Cloth. Greek and Hebrew.
ISBN: 3438052504
List Price: $139.99 Your Price: $70.00 (50%)

"Greek New Testament, updated to include textual
variants from Papyri 98-116 (no dictionary)"
Edited by Barbara Aland and Kurt Aland
American Bible Society, 2002. Cloth. Greek.
ISBN: 3438051109
List Price: $43.99 Your Price: $22.00 (50%)

"Greek New Testament with Dictionary"
by Kurt Aland
United Bible Societies, 1993. Cloth. Greek.
ISBN: 3438051133
List Price: $46.95 Your Price: $23.48 (50%)

"Greek-English New Testament"
Note: this is the NA 27 Greek text with the RSV English NT
Edited by Eberhard Nestle, Barbara Aland, and Kurt Aland
German Bible Society, 2001. Cloth. English and Greek.
ISBN: 3438054086
List Price: $59.99 Your Price: $30.00 (50%)

"Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli,
Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature"
by Marcus Jastrow
Judaica Press, 1996. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1932443207
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $24.47 (30%)

"A Basic Grammar of Ugaritic Language
with Selected Texts and Glossary"
by Stanislav Segert
University of California Press, 1984. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0520039998
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $45.50 (35%)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

But I'm trying really hard!

<idle musing>
We got back from Minnesota early this morning. You can see pictures of a hike we took here.

While we were there, I was sitting on a deck and watching a grasshopper. I don't know why, but the grasshopper was trying to climb the wall of the house. He would carefully place each of his six legs and advance up the wall. Each step took about 15-20 seconds. But, every time he got about 2-3 inches up the wall, he would lose his grip and fall to the ground. He did this for quite some time; sometimes he managed to get 4 inches off the ground, but he always fell back down. Once he landed on his back and had a terrible time getting upright. I thought maybe he would give up and hop away, but no! He tried again.

I finally walked away, but he was still trying—he might still be for all I know.

I thought the grasshopper was the perfect parable of how we try to make ourselves holy. We try and try and fall and fail and try again—all in vain. Only Christ can live a holy life and he has promised to do it in us. All we have to do is surrender.
</idle musing>

Friday, September 12, 2008


I am leaving for vacation today and will have limited/no Internet access for about 12 days. I was hoping to have some book excerpts to automatically post while I was gone, but it didn't happen :(

Don't expect any action here until October 24. If I do get access, I will try to post.


No, really, genuine nuts. let me explain. We have a shag-bark hickory tree in our front yard. It must be about 50 feet tall and it is loaded with hickory nuts. My first thought was that it would be a pain to take care of all the nuts—remembering acorns from days past. But, I checked it out and they are actually edible!

They are quite small (sorry, no picture), but they look and taste like 1/4 sized walnuts. So, instead of dreading the falling nuts, I am harvesting them. I let them sit in our basement in a box for a few days, and the husk comes off nicely, leaving a hickory nut.

They will make a nice snack this winter...if I don't eat them all before that :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More on church

Another missionary on furlough and having a hard time with North American versions of church, but he sees glimpses of it:

Your church is most vibrant when it lives out Spirit-led community. Love, joy, peace, patience. Compassion. That kind of stuff freaks people out. Quite a lot of American churches seem to think the Holy Spirit comes when the music is just right. But I’ve noticed lately a lot of signs that your Spirit waits until the service is over and then starts working while people are drinking coffee in the lobby or chatting in the parking lot. Compassion, again. And breaking down the barriers and isolation.

<idle musing>
Grace Roots has a nice post on the "feelings" of the presence of God that ties in with what David is saying above. Do read that as well.
</idle musing>


I was looking through an older (1987) book that was damaged and noticed that there was a microfiche of the inscriptions at the back of the book. Does anybody have a microfiche reader anymore?

Just so you know, here is the book. It will show up in the used section later on today, if you are interested.

Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia B.C. (to 1115 B.C.)

Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia B.C. (to 1115 B.C.)
Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Assyrian Periods - RIMA 1
by A. K. Grayson
Toronto University Press, 1987
xxi + 355 pages, English
ISBN: 0802026052
List Price: $108.00
Your Price: $97.20

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Church as we know it

I have a great deal of sympathy for Guy Muse. He is back in the states and is being forced to sit through "church" in North America. He has posted twice on it. Here is an excerpt from his first post, where he discusses the sermon, offering, Sunday School, singing and praise, and prayer:

Prayer. Probably the most striking thing I have noticed after years of being away from legacy churches is the almost non-existent place of prayer in the gatherings of believers. Prayer is used more as a way to begin and close meetings, but I have seen little real praying when believers gather. Singing praise and worship songs is certainly a way of addressing our Lord, but there are so many other aspects of our communion with God that are going unaddressed in our gatherings: prayers of repentance/confession, prayers of united intercession and supplication, prayers for laborers (Lk. 10:2), prayers for wisdom/guidance/discernment, spiritual warfare, prayers for healing and for the sick, prayers for those who do not know the Lord, etc. Prayer takes time. I see little time in our gatherings being spent in prayer. Maybe the problem is we have to cram everything in between 11am-12noon. There simply isn't time for prayer when we gather if we are going to sing for 20-minutes and listen to a 30-minute message. But then, is it any wonder we have such little spiritual power in our midst? Maybe we should reschedule church on Sundays from, say, 5-8pm to give us adequate time to deal with truly being the Body of Christ and all that implies.

So, what are some of your thoughts? How can we be the church, be God's people; instead of going to church and doing church?

In a second post, he shares an approach that he has used in North American churches—and it worked!

I asked the congregation to rearrange the plastic chairs into a circle. Then with a few words of encouragement to literally "stimulate one another to love and good deeds" and "each one has..." for the edification of the saints, we began...

At first there was little understanding of what was expected, and the "how to" do what the Scriptures exhort us in these two passages. With a little prompting and some awkward silences, people slowly began to open up. We sang several songs of their choice, a couple of testimonies were shared of how God had been working in their lives. A sister shared a passage of Scripture that had spoken to her during the week. Someone asked for prayer. We gathered around that person laying hands on them and prayed. One brother confessed he had long harbored in his spirit something against another brother who was present. The two asked forgiveness of each other, hugged, cried, and prayed for one another.

By then we had gone well over the "30 minutes" allotted sermon time, but nobody was eager to break up and go home. After TWO HOURS of open sharing and Spirit-led interaction, I turned the "service" back over to the pastor of the church. He stood, thanked me (didn't he mean the Holy Spirit?) for leading them in a most "interesting" evening...

<idle musing>
Ah yes! Real church! Once you have experienced it, it is very difficult to sit in a "normal" church service...

Do read both the posts in full; they are good food for thought—dare I say it?—maybe even implementation?
</idle musing>

By the way, Alan Knox linked to the second post on Monday. I'm just a bit behind...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Quote for the day

"As a pastor your job is not to prepare a sermon, but to prepare a people."—Francis Frangipane

Performance or response?

The other day Debbie pulled a book off the bookshelf and just “happened” to open it to this page:

What we call failure, God doesn't necessarily call failure. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is that we come to the end of ourselves. The end of self is the beginning of God! Sometimes it takes us years to admit we can't do omething, but when we admit our helplessness, God immediately takes us to the other side.

In the power of our flesh, we cannot please God (see Romans 8:8). Only through the power of the Spirit can we truly overcome. “for if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

Pride says, “If I just try a little harder,” but humility says, “I can only do it through the power of the Spirit.” Sometimes it takes us years to recognize that the New Covenant has nothing to do with performance, but rather with responding to God. This is where most people have a problem. Our flesh wants to perform. Many Christians are still tied to performance. They are trying to get God to accept them for their good works. But the New Covenant isn't works; rather it is faith in his finished work. “It is finished” (John 19:30). We want part of the credit. It frustrates our flesh to have to depend totally on God. He requires no performance, only obedience and response.—Steve Sampson in Confronting Jezebel, page 151.

<idle musing>
Only too true. We want to say we did it our way, on our own strength. But we can't! Only the indwelling Holy Spirit can live the life that God demands.
</idle musing>

Monday, September 08, 2008

Azusa Street, what have we lost?

There was a short 3 section biography of William Seymour, of the Azusa Street Revival, back in the middle of August. Here is a brief snippet from part 3:

Seymour was known for his less-than-glamorous style. Blind in one eye, sparsely educated, he was not a particularly charismatic preacher. He rarely took an offering and simply placed a collection box by the door, choosing to leave it up to the people to settle with God as they felt fit. As for putting on a good show, he spent much of his time during the numerous daily services with his head in a packing crate – his makeshift pulpit. He even played down what were to some the most exciting elements of the meetings, telling people "don't go out of here talking about tongues, talk about Jesus."

<idle musing>
Would that the current Pentecostal/Charismatic movement retained the same values
</idle musing>
But he continues:

Today we are missing one central element which was at the core of William Seymour's work: mission. The distinctive of the Azusa Street revival was not so much the chaos caused by the Holy Spirit in the meetings, but the great force with which people were sent out. Much of the spread of the Pentecostal church was due simply to the fact that believers left their homes, put aside their careers and headed off to where they were needed, whether that was the other side of the world, the state or the street. Sacrifice and obedience were high on the list of desirables, and coupled with a desire to take the gospel out to those without prior knowledge, the army of inspired Spiritual footmen was a formidable force.

Today it can be hard to find much talk of 'going' – harder, at least, than it is to hear exhortations for people to gravitate to us. It seems like the preferred flavour is of staying, of pursuing spiritual answers to physical problems. That being said, members of the conference were invited to take part in a mass distribution of food and hygiene products to the city's homeless – a glorious and bold act that the church has the potential to do so well. Yet any tour of the retail zone that tried to hook in as many willing consumers as possible, and it was immediately clear that poverty and justice are poorly represented among Pentecostal publishers.

<idle musing>
Too bad. The church—not just the pentecostal/charismatic wing of it—seems more intent on getting people to “come to church” than on being church.

Lord, fill us with a fresh vision of what you want your church to look like! May we respond in obedience to that vision as you fill us with your presence and power to make it happen!
</idle musing>

Friday, September 05, 2008


Another great post over at Grace Roots:

Unfortunately a very deficient "gospel" has been spread, and keeps on being spread, in which grace and salvation are depicted merely as a matter of our sins being forgiven. It's great that our sins have been forgiven, but if you are forgiven and yet remain in the same condition, what good is that? What's missing from the gospel message that's commonly taught is the issue of LIFE! We've not only been forgiven of all sin, but our sin has been taken away and we died to our old life in Adam, and we were raised up and made alive together with Christ Himself! Not only have we been forgiven, but our condition has changed! In Adam we were dead to God, but in Christ we are now fully alive to God.

<idle musing>
Yes! What good is forgiveness if you still have to live in sin? We sell the grace of God short when we preach a decapitated gospel that doesn't include deliverance from sin.

There is a marvelous little book that came out of the 19th century entitled The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life. No, not a self-help book, and not a Your Best Life Now kind of happy life. What she talks about is the freedom we have from sin in Christ. The first chapter is worth your time, if you can't read the whole thing. It is freely available on the Internet, search for the title and author—Hannah Whitehall Smith.

Maybe I'll post some excerpts from the book, but I don't have an electronic version available to me at the moment...
</idle musing>

Hebrew stuff on sale

Yep. It's Hebrew's turn to be featured on our back-to-school sale. I think it's a pretty good sale—the large BHS for almost the same price as the small one. Now you don't have to break the bank to save the eyes :)

I wish I could offer a better deal on HALOT, but I don't control the retail price on it. Of course, with the dollar climbing maybe the price will drop??? OK, I know I'm dreaming now! Anyway, here are the details:

"The Verbless Clause in Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Approaches"
Edited by Cynthia L. Miller
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic - LSAWS 1
Eisenbrauns, 1999. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1575060361
List Price: $49.50 Your Price: $29.70

"Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting:
Typological and Historical Perspectives"
Edited by Steven E. Fassberg and Avi Hurvitz
Eisenbrauns, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1575061163
List Price: $49.50 Your Price: $34.65

"Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000-586 BCE"
by W. Randall Garr
Eisenbrauns, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1575060914
List Price: $47.50 Your Price: $28.50

"Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon Old Testament: Study Edition, 2 Volume Set"
Edited by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner
Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament - HALOT
Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9004124454
List Price: $249.00 Your Price: $161.85

"A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament"
by William L. Holladay
Eerdmans, 1971. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0802834132
List Price: $38.00 Your Price: $22.80

"The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon with an appendix
containing the Biblical Aramaic: Coded with the numbering system
from "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible""
by Francis Brown, et al.
Hendrickson Publishers, 1995. Cloth. English and Hebrew.
ISBN: 1565632060
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $20.97

"Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Small format"
Edited by K. Elliger and W. Rudolph
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 1987. Cloth. Hebrew.
ISBN: 3438052199
List Price: $69.95 Your Price: $41.97

"Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Large Format"
Edited by K. Elliger and W. Rudolph
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 1987. Cloth. Hebrew.
ISBN: 3438052180
List Price: $79.99 Your Price: $43.99

"Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar: Edited and enlarged
by E. Kautzsch; Second edition"
Edited by E. Kautzsch
by William Gesenius
Clarendon Press, 1910. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0198154062
List Price: $62.95 Your Price: $51.96

"Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics"
Edited by Robert D. Bergen
SIL International, 1994. Paper. English.
ISBN: 1556710070
List Price: $42.00 Your Price: $33.60

You can see all the graphics by going here

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Now that's refreshing

As the marketing guy at Eisenbrauns, I receive a good bit of stuff—that's a nice way of saying junk!—but once in a while there is a refreshing breeze that comes in. I was just reading the latest edition of Christian Retailing and came across a review of a book called Surrender. I have no idea who the author is, apparently she is well known, but here is the part that was a breath of fresh air:

Lamb contrasted her book with the bestsellers Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, saying that her book is "almost a reverse."

"It's not what God can do for me, it's what happens when I surrender to Him," she said.

<idle musing>
Amen! God-centered theology instead of man-centered, how refreshing.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Good works

A nice little summary of good works in the life of a Christian at Grace Roots

Good works are a fruit of our life in Christ. They are most certainly not the root by which our righteousness is established or maintained! Christ is the Vine. We are the branches of the vine. The LIFE is in the Vine, and the fruit grows not as the branches struggle and strive to produce fruit for the Vine, but as the LIFE of the vine flows into the branches as the branches abide - rest - in the Vine. The branches have no life in and of themselves to produce anything anyway! "Abide in Me," Jesus says, "and you will bear fruit."

<idle musing>
Yep! All Christ, all the time! And only Christ all the time!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

September sale

I don't think we can top last month's sale, but at least those of you with Assyriological and Sumerian interests can save a bunch of cash. Here's the BookNews lead in:

Eisenbrauns continues the tradition of back-to-school sales in the month of September by featuring Akkadian and Sumerian reference works. Enjoy savings from 10-30% off on those essential tools for serious scholarly work that you expect to find at Eisenbrauns.

You can see all 39 titles here

After that is the nice list of AHw, CAD, GAG, etc. If you don't understand those abbreviations, you won't want anything that's on sale :)

Mouse, the final chapter

I know you are on the edge of your seats on this one! After all, it has been since Friday...

Yep, we got the mouse, resquiescat in pace. But, since this is a family friendly™ blog, I can't post the pictures. Besides, I don't want PETA down my throat. Actually, Cindy disposed of it before I could take any, but I'm sure it was starting to decompose after 3 days. We turn the air conditioning to energy save mode and it got hot over the weekend, so you probably wouldn't want to see the pictures, even if I had them.


I spent some of this weekend catching up on blog reading. I hope to point to some good posts that are a bit older this week. The first one is from Out of Ur, about ministry results:

Consider a chapter titled “Bigger is Better” from a popular ministry book. The authors write, “A church should always be bigger than it was. It should be constantly growing.” Talk about pressure. The problem is this standard doesn’t hold water when applied to Jesus himself. John 6 describes the scene where “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” After teaching some weird stuff about drinking his blood and eating his flesh, the crowds who were drawn by Jesus’ miracles decided they had had enough. Did Jesus’ shrinking ministry mean he was an ineffective leader? Why do we hold ourselves to a standard that Jesus’ doesn’t apply to himself?
Or consider one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament. In Numbers 20, Moses performs a miracle by drawing water from a rock to nourish the Israelites. By any human measure Moses’ ministry was a success. It was God-empowered (he performed a miracle), and it was relevant (the people were thirsty). If Moses lived today, we’d all be reading his ministry book titled, “How to Draw Water from Rocks: Effective Strategies to Refresh Arid Churches.” There was just one problem—Moses’ effective ministry was rejected by God. Moses had disobeyed the Lord’s command by striking the rock rather than speaking to it. For this sin he was forbidden from entering the Promised Land. It turns out God performed a miracle in spite of Moses, not because of him.
Might God be doing the same thing today? Is God allowing some powerful, effective, and relevant ministries to grow in spite of leaders rather than because of them? If Scripture shows that faithful and godly leaders can have shrinking ministries (Jesus in John 6), and sinful leaders can have successful ministries (Moses in Numbers 20), then why do we persist in measuring our success simply on the measurable outcomes of our work?

<idle musing>
He is pointing out a very valuable lesson: God gives the increase. We can go through all the motions, but God gives the increase; we can follow all the “tried and true” techniques, but God gives the increase.

We need to realize that we are totally dependent on God for the results. That can be scary, but freeing, too. Bonhoeffer, in his Ethics talked about releasing the results of our actions into the hands of God, because we don't know whether the results will be good or bad. I have found that to be a freeing insight; I don't have to strive or struggle to make things right. I just obey God and let him work the results.
</idle musing>