Monday, April 30, 2012

Compost bin

We put all vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen in the northern bin. All weeding and trimming go in as well. I turn all 3 bins with a garden fork every month or two spring-fall. I use the south bin as needed; I have used it in the garden, but find it works best for filling holes in the yard—of which there are many, thanks to the moles. When the north bin gets full, I transfer the middle to the south, and the north to the middle. Then I put down a layer of about 3-6 inches of straw and start rebuilding the pile. Because of the gradual nature of the pile-building, it is what is called a cold pile. It doesn't get hot enough to kill weed seeds, so I don't add weeds that have gone to seed—which is also why I don't tend to use it on the garden as much...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


That's the best way to describe life at Eisenbrauns right now. We are transitioning to a new ERP system (that's the software that runs the business, just so you know) and it is sucking my time—not just my time, but just about everybody's.

We go live with it in July, provided we can keep the schedule. We're a bit behind right now, but it looks like we can catch-up in the next few weeks. But, that means more work :) Anyway, it is really a nice challenge and gives me a chance to clean up some of the data, too.

All that to say, I'm not going to be posting much the next few days. I ran out of electronic copy & paste stuff in my reading. Now I've got to type it out. I won't have time for that for a few days; we're heading up to see Debbie's parents this weekend, so I won't be entering it over the weekend...

Stay tuned for excerpts from New Testament Theology—I hope!—next week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How we live

“Not one day, not one temptation, not one responsibility may we take on without the Lord Jesus. Our truly good works are never our own. They are always the result of Jesus living in us. They are the 'fruit' of the spiritual nutrients coming from the divine life of Jesus. If we are truly loving to others, if we are patient and kind, if we give sacrificially, if we help the weak, if we encourage the disheartened, even if we give a cup of cold water—all is to be done from the life of Jesus in us. He is the eternal fountain of righteousness pouring forth from our lives.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life page 103

<idle musing>
That is soooo true! I can only survive each day by the power and strength of Jesus living inside via the Holy Spirit.
<idle musing>

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scan that grace card...

“'Christianity' that offers peace and pardon and a home in heaven with no change in one's way of living is a false Christianity. If there is no difference in the lifestyle, the ethics, and the morality of believers, and the lifestyle, ethics, and morality of unbelievers, there has been no salvation. Jesus does not save people to enable them to go on sinning... “Faith results in righteous living. In Biblical understanding, there is no separation between faith and obedience—those who believe act accordingly; those who do not believe also act accordingly. Faith results in doing what God says; unbelief results in ignoring what God says and doing what I want to do.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 101
<idle musing>
That's correct. Jesus said that by their fruit you would know them. No good fruit = no salvation. Now, remember it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not some manufactured "I'll try harder" stuff. It is only by the power of the indwelling Spirit that the good fruit can come forth!
</idle musing>

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Blogger interface

The new blogger interface is terrible! Bring back the old look!!!

Our Victory

“We have no power against the enemy apart from the power of Christ. Without our spiritual union with Jesus, we are 'toast.' This is the most fundamental dimension to spiritual victory. We cannot stand against the devil through determination, through learning the proper formula to repeat to him, by exercising greater effort, or even by quoting Scripture (though these things may have their place). We stand against the devil through Christ. Jesus is a living, real person, and we must know Him. We must walk with Him daily. Without Him, we cannot stand. With Him, we cannot be destroyed.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 93 <idle musing> Amen! </idle musing>

Friday, April 20, 2012

Run a bit faster, would you...

“Those who really wish to know God will not fit well into the pace and lifestyle of Western culture. Modern schedules and priorities are geared to the love of the world, not to acquaintance with God”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 58

<idle musing>
That doesn't mean you have to become a monk and live in a monastery, though. It simply means you need to evaluate your priorities and schedules. Chances are pretty good that God is being driven out—not just squeezed out.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Row cover

The next installment in my gardening musings:

Use ½ inch CPVC tubing, cut into 5' lengths, one every 3-4 feet. I have used garden staples, but I think using firring strips would be good on the north side—still using staples on the south. The row cover claims to protect down to 29ºF, but I used it this winter over kale and it did fine. In the hoop house, the extra protection has been good to well below zero on spinach and green onions. I read that the moisture freezes to the row cover and creates a nice barrier, reflecting the ground heat back on the plants.

Keep all broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage plants covered, if at all possible. Otherwise, you will have cabbage butterflies laying eggs and caterpillars will eat your dinner :( Be sure to look under the row cover about once a week for weeds. They can get away from you if they are out-of-sight, out-of-mind...

Devotions or devotion?

“'Devotional time,' that is, time spent in prayer and Bible study, is easily misunderstood. Every Christian must learn this: God's primary concern is not with our devotional time, but with our devotion. Devotion is the bedrock of devotions. God draws near to those who are devoted to Him, but those who are not fully devoted may read the Bible and pray till they are blue in the face, and it impresses God not in the least.

“We will consider some practical pointers in a moment, but make no mistake. No technique, no Bible reading program, no devotional guide will ever substitute for a heart fully devoted to God. Some people (some very religious people) must understand, in other words, that they can never have a meaningful devotional time until they repent of the clutter of worldliness in their hearts, until they return to complete devotion to God.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, pages 53-54

<idle musing>
What more is there to say? That sums it up pretty well.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living and active

“Jesus living in the believer, then, does not obliterate the believer. He does not make us inactive or reduce us to nothing. Rather, He engages us. He lives in and through all we are and do. He does not replace who we are, but by Him in us, we become who we were intended to be. He enters into our speech, our actions, our thoughts, our attitudes, our plans, our friendships, and our habits. His living presence in us deepens our thoughts, sweetens our words, guides our actions, and enriches our interactions with other people.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 50

<idle musing>
Excellent summary of what "Christ in you, the hope of glory" is all about!
</idle musing>


Picking up on my garden musings, here's my experience with strawberries.

I have Jewel June-bearing. Every fall cover them with wheat straw to protect from severe cold (oat straw causes nematodes). In the spring, remove most of it. If you keep the beds weeded, they will produce for a long time. Take the runners and transplant them to a new bed. The first spring, don't let them flower; they need to put all their energy into producing more runners. I started with 25 plants; by the second year, they had filled the bed. Last year, I got about 50 pounds of strawberries from a 16' bed. The hardest thing is that the runners want to take over. You have to stay on top of them and redirect them back into the bed.

I made 50 pints of freezer jam last year&mash;which lasted us until this last Saturday. I don't know what we are going to do for the next 1.5-2 months! I guess I'll have to survive on rhubarb sauce instead of strawberry jam :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some days

Some days I despise computers—well, maybe not the computers, but the way it is too easy to screw up with them. I've been working on our product file for about 2 weeks now cleaning it up and getting rid of bad data. We have about 31,000 records, which is a fair amount of work. Well, about 1/2 hour ago, I noticed that the titles and short titles (for internal use) aren't lining up. It's like a row was partially deleted at some point and everything shifted one row up in the title field...

The worst of it is that it is a network file, so I can't use Time Machine™ to go back to an earlier iteration...Arghhhh! Two weeks worth of work...

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.—James 1:2-4

You can't do it!

“How easily religious people slip into the trap of trying to live the Christian life in their own strength! This can happen even after we have begun in Christ. Like the Ephesians, we can leave our 'first love' even while we continue to be zealous about doing right. After all, we want to be productive. We want to please our Lord. We want to be strong, holy people. But without realizing it, we can begin to neglect fellowship with Jesus. Then we begin to substitute fleshly efforts for true spiritual vitality. We have learned how to talk and act, and soon we are 'doing the motions' regularly but neglecting true spirituality. We may hide our lack of heartfelt love behind religious masks. We give the appearance that things are going well, but we are caught in the trap of self-righteousness.”—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 42

<idle musing>
Yep. Too easy to slip into self-righteousness...
</idle musing>

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another book

Time for something a bit less academic. I'll be blogging through The Victorious Life for the next week or two. Join me on the journey; it should be fun!

Finally, the Bible says, 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin' (Romans 14:23). This simply means we are to live out of our trust in, and dependence on, God rather than in denial of, or indifference to, God. We are to make our decisions out of faith in God, not out of doubt or unbelief—John Coblentz in The Victorious Life, page 6

<idle musing>
Indeed! One of the names for Christians is "believers!" We need to act according to that...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The next installment on my gardening musings, concerning garlic:

Plant, root down, in late September/early October, allowing 2-6 inches between bulbs. Water, then mulch thickly with straw. In the late spring/early summer, they will develop a thick stalk that becomes a “flower;” cut it off. You want all the energy to go into producing bulbs. They say the stalk is edible if you cut and sauté it; I found it tasteless... They are ready to harvest when the leaves turn brown (July/August). Pull them, cut the tops, and allow to dry in the shade for about a week-10 days (I use the shelf by the window in the garage). Choose the largest head(s) for seed. Garlic gets better each year as it adapts to its locale. We slice up the bulbs and dry them. When we want garlic, we grind it in an electric coffee grinder that we only use for spices. Otherwise, store it in a cool, dry place—the basement works well for us.

This year's winter was so warm that they popped their heads through the straw in February. I wonder if that means bigger bulbs? Or, just earlier ones?

The epilogue

“Job ends up a wiser man, for he sees better the nature of God’s work in the world and recognizes the limitations of his former viewpoint. The manifestation of his peace with God, of his renewed spiritual vigor, is that he reconstitutes his life. He is a vessel into which blessings can be poured; he who wished to have died at birth now fathers new sons and daughters. That, in addition to its answering the demands of simple justice, is the significance of the epilogue (which many critics have belittled as crass).”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 227

<idle musing>
I like that. I've always felt that the epilogue got short shrift; this reading confirms my thoughts—so it must be right! :)
</idle musing>

This is serious

It seems that God is being bandied about as a cheerleader in favor of one side or the other in just about every debate. But, the Psalms have different view of God:

“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
You hate my instruction
and cast my words behind you.
When you see thieves, you join with them;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
You sit and testify against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.
When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactly like you.
But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.

   “Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue:
Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me,
and to the blameless I will show my salvation.”—Psalm 50: 16-23

<idle musing>
"you thought I was exactly like you" seems to be the biggest problem in cultural religion. Throw out any concept of God that isn't exactly like us—if it isn't exactly like us, it can't possibly be true! Right? Wrong!!
</idle musing>

A belated eulogy for Steve Jobs

I read this the other day and forgot to post it. This is a eulogy(? more like a dyslogy!) for all who trust in their own wealth instead of God—not just Steve Jobs.

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a sufficient ransom—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that someone should live on forever
and not see decay.
For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

   Human beings, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.d
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions. — Psalm 49: 7-14 (TNIV)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Today's gardening moment...

I cover with my two rhubarb beds a few inches of leaf mold in the fall. I cut the foliage after a killing frost and compost it. If you want more tender rhubarb, don't let it go to seed, which can be a daily challenge in the spring; the seed stems seem to appear from no where. Just cut them off as low as possible, otherwise they will put out side shoots that will flower.

On Saturday, there weren't any seed heads on the rhubarb. On Sunday, there were about 10! Last night, I found another 2! It is a daily task this time of the year. On Saturday, I didn't break one off low enough; sure enough, last night it had sent up shoots that were forming seed pods.


“From the epilogue, it is clear that God’s vindication of Job’s honesty, proven in his passionate recriminations against God and against his friends’ simplistic theories, is more important for Job than knowing the reason for his suffering. The epilogue shows Job satisfied by the divine assurance that his friends’ arguments were specious, as he had always asserted (13:7–10, 19:22–29, 42:7–9). Beyond that, God does not go in revealing to Job the cause of his suffering.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 227

<idle musing>
I like that! He doesn't care why it happened, he's just happy to know that it's not a "you deserved it" response on God's part. I've been there; I didn't care as much about what was happening as I did in knowing that I didn't do anything to deserve it.
</idle musing>

Monday, April 09, 2012

What to do with more data

"If God is a combination of divergent attributes and is a cause of misfortune, why does Job not reject him? What had Job known of God in his former happy state? He had known him as one who confers order and good. Basking in his light, Job’s life had been suffused with blessings (29:2–5). No later evidence to the contrary could wipe out Job’s knowledge of God’s benignity gained from personal experience. Job calls that former knowledge of God a “hearing,” while his latter knowledge, earned through suffering, is a “seeing” (42:5); that is, the latter knowledge gained about God is to the former as seeing is to hearing—far more comprehensive and adequate. Formerly, Job had only a limited notion of God’s nature—as a benign, constructive factor in his life, “good” in terms of human morality. At that time, any evidence that ran against this conception of God was peripheral: it lay outside Job’s focus. He assumed that it too could somehow be contained in his view of the divine moral order, but nothing pressed him to look the uncongenial facts in the face.

“But misfortune moved the periphery into the center, and the perplexity that ensued is a testimony to Job’s piety, for he was not transformed by senseless misfortune into a scoffer—a denier of God—but, instead, he was thrown into confusion. His experience of God in good times had left on him an indelible conviction of God’s goodness that clashed with the new, equally strong evidence of God’s enmity. Though one contradicted the other, Job experienced both as the work of God, and did not forget the first (as did his wife) when the second overtook him.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 226

<idle musing>
Interesting idea. So often when we encounter something that doesn't line up with our ideas, we either throw it out—or throw out the old ideas. Job takes them both into account—an excellent role model in that respect.
</idle musing>

New sale

Another new sale; this one is a 10-day sale:

Sixty-seven years ago today, April 9, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed. In his brief 39 years of life he produced some very important writings. These, along with his letters, have been collected, translated, and edited for English speakers into 16 volumes.
Eisenbrauns is offering the published volumes at discounts up to 40% off in commemoration of his short, but influential life.

See the whole list here:

Straw Potatoes

This begins a series of random thoughts about gardening. Over the weekend, I tried to collect my thoughts on some gardening experiments over the last 4 years or so. Today's is about straw potatoes...

Lay down a bed of shredded leaves (2-3 inches) and place the seed potatoes on top of the leaves. Put 3-6 inches of straw on top of the potatoes cover with row cover—you don't need to put hoops on it; the potatoes will lift it easily. I remove the row cover after the maple is done sending out helicopters. Check the straw throughout the summer; if potatoes are showing, either fluff the straw or add more. Pull any weeds that show through the straw.

Last year, I started my potatoes in the basement. I cut them into chunks, put them in egg cartons—one per slot—and let them begin to grow for about 3-4 weeks. Then I transplanted them into the garden, put the straw over the top, as well as row cover. That seemed to work well. The previous year, I had tried starting some early in the cold frame; it didn't seem to make a difference. They all got the same size at the same time.

They say that if you pinch the flowers off the potato, you will get a bigger harvest. I experimented last year: I pinched all the flowers in one bed and none in the other. I didn't notice a difference between the beds...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Mindless, but not purposeless

“Senseless calamity loses some of its demoralizing effect when morale does not depend entirely on the comprehensibility of the phenomena but, rather, on the conviction that they are pervaded by the presence of God. As nature shows, this does not necessarily mean that they are sensible and intelligible.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 225

<idle musing>
I like that way of looking at it. The tornadoes in Texas last week were not intelligible or sensible, but that doesn't mean they should demoralize us. The things Joel and Renee have experienced seem senseless and unintelligible—but so does the cross, if you look at it from the wrong side of the resurrection!
</idle musing>


Already! Last Sunday, we had a friend over; as we were wandering around the yard, talking about the various trees, I commented that a guy at work already had asparagus. We didn't have any as of Saturday afternoon, so I assumed we still didn't. We wandered over to the garden, and sticking a good 4-5 inches in the air were a few shoots of asparagus! Needless to say, they were promptly eaten!

All week now, we've been able to get about 6-10 spears per day. Nice for chomping on—there's not much better than fresh asparagus, eaten right in the garden. Why destroy it by cooking it when you can eat it raw!?

On a totally unrelated note, I'm convinced that if J.R.R. Tolkien had known about Redbud trees, he would have populated Lothlórien with them instead of mallorn trees...

New Eisenbrauns sale

We just posted our April sale—quite a good one, I think. Here's the short version (get the long version here):

April Sale: 30/30/300! Yep, get 30% off now on over 90 titles, earn 30% credit good for 300 days.

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but at Eisenbrauns, the April sale brings 30% savings on more than 90 Eisenbrauns titles and 30% credit toward future purchases in the next 300 days (February 28, 2013). Save now and save later.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

An even exchange?

“Satan’s wager and God’s assent to it dramatize a terrible quandary of faith: a pious man whose life has always been placid can never know whether his faith in God is more than an interested bargain—a convenience that has worked to his benefit—unless it is tested by events that defy the postulate of a divine moral order. Only when unreasonable misfortune erupts into a man’s life can he come to know the basis of his relation to God, thus allaying doubts (personified here by Satan) that both he and others must harbor about his faith. To conquer these doubts by demonstrating that disinterested devotion to God can indeed exist is necessary for man’s spiritual well-being; God’s acquiescence in Satan’s wager expresses this necessity. The terrible paradox is that no righteous man can measure his love of God unless he suffers a fate befitting the wicked.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 224

<idle musing>
Interesting, isn't it? Kinda reminds me of the mystics "dark night of the soul" where God withholds the sense of his presence so that your faith may increase. After all, Second Corinthians says we walk by faith and not by sight...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


This is what happens to books when they get wet :(

Not just the bottom spine got wet:

Tomorrow's DOTD?! Can you guess what series the blue one is in?

Look to Job

“Job is a book not so much about God’s justice as about the transformation of a man whose piety and view of the world were formed in a setting of wealth and happiness and into whose life burst calamities that put an end to both. How can piety nurtured in prosperity prove to be truly deep-rooted and disinterested and not merely a spiritual adjunct of good fortune (“God has been good to me so I am faithful to Him”)? Can a man pious in prosperity remain pious when he is cut down by anarchical events that belie his orderly view of the world? The book of Job tells how one man suddenly awakened to the anarchy rampant in the world, yet his attachment to God outlived the ruin of his tidy system.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 223

<idle musing>
I'm in the midst of reading Job right now. A relevant post to these thoughts was posted by Renee very early this AM...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Toil away

“ contrast to the view presented at the outset that physical toil was a punishment meted out to Adam after he sinned, we now see that labor was always part of the divine plan for him and part of his vocation in this world. The consequence of the sin was that labor became an arduous task and burden, not its mere existence. Human labor is a form of imitatio dei, in that the activities of the Creator are presented in the creation and Eden stories in a somewhat anthropomorphic fashion. Thus, human beings are following in His path both when they work for six days and when they rest on the seventh. What we have found in these two paradigmatic stories expresses a fundamental biblical outlook that labor is part of the human life as originally intended by the Creator.”—Jewish Bible Theology, pages 107-108

<idle musing>
I like that interpretation; it makes work an aspect of the imago dei—or as he says, imitatio dei. Either way, it makes work a part of living a holy life. No room for a dichotomy when you view work that way.
</idle musing>

Monday, April 02, 2012

Another look at Cain and Abel

“In the Cain and Abel story, Abel has a claim on Cain: Do not kill me! Why? It is because God takes personal interest in every human person who has been created in the divine image. In fact, that is very likely what it means to say that all humankind is made to “resemble [bi-demut] God” (Gen 5:1), namely, God and humans are interested in each other insofar as they share some commonality, a commonality not found in God’s relations with the rest of creation. 'And the Lord God said that humans are like one of us [kʾehad mimmennu], experiencing good and bad' (Gen 3:22). As such, an assault on any other human being is taken to be an assault on God himself; in fact, one’s ultimate reason for assaulting another human being might be because this is the closest one can come to assaulting God [emphasis mine]. Let it be remembered that Cain was still very angry with God for having rejected his sacrifice (Gen 4:4–7) just before we read that 'when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and he killed him”'(Gen 4:8). Killing his brother Abel, whom God had favored, might well have been his attempt to take revenge on God for God’s rejection of him.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 93

<idle musing>
Interesting insight, isn't it? I think he's right! We don't dare strike back at God directly, so we find someone "safer" but still in the image of God...
</idle musing>

April First

Eisenbrauns has posted the annual April First specials. My personal favorite:

Elsie Dinsmore Learns Ugaritic

Elsie Dinsmore Learns Ugaritic
Elsie Dinsmore Adventures
Co-published with The Institute for Ugaritic and 19th Century American Historic Fictional Text Research in Peabody, MA
by Martha Finley
Winged Bull Press, Forthcoming Fall 2012
190 pages + plates, English