I'm adding it to my stack of books to read. Now that summer is almost here and the cabins are picking up, I probably won't get to it immediately, but it looks very interesting. Goldingay is a good scholar and he knows Isaiah well...
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
So you starve. Your teachers don’t know where to go for food, so you starve together. Your diet is rules and standards. No vitamins. No taste. No zest. Just bland, predictable religion.— He Still Moves Stones, 119
Too true! Wesley used to say something to the effect of "pity the religious man, for he has enough of God not to be able to enjoy sin, but not enough of God to enjoy God." It's the same with the legalist. They have enough of God to know that their current behavior is less than satisfactory, but not enough of God to realize that the answer isn't striving, but abiding...
Thursday, May 29, 2014
A legalist believes the supreme force behind salvation is you. If you look right, speak right, and belong to the right segment of the right group, you will be saved. The brunt of responsibility doesn’t lie within God; it lies within you.<idle musing>
The result? The outside sparkles. The talk is good and the step is true. But look closely. Listen carefully. Something is missing. What is it? Joy. What’s there? Fear. (That you won’t do enough.) Arrogance. That you have done enough.) Failure. (That you have made a mistake.)
Legalism is a dark world.— He Still Moves Stones, 118
Good, isn't it? I'll post a few more snippets from this chapter over the next few days. Lucado has a good way with words. I've read probably a dozen or so of his books over the years; they aren't terribly deep, but he tells a good story in a way that gets the point across.
Amen! That's an excellent observation. Yoder was writing over 20 years ago, but the church growth movement has been even more damaging since then, what with mega-pastors, not just mega-churches. Of course, with mega-pastors has come mega-egos and mega-failures if a mega-pastor falls into mega-sin.
Whatever happened to micro-churches with a mega-God? and micro-people with a mega-God? That seems to be more biblical, doesn't it?
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
That's the final excerpt from this book—a fitting end, don't you think?
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I'm convinced that the desire for surety in things leads inevitably to legalism. What do you think?
That's a problem for some people...they want everything laid out in black & white—no gray areas, thank you. But life doesn't work that way, and scripture certainly doesn't.
I'm convinced God did it that way to make us rely on the Holy Spirit. If everything were laid out nice and straightforward, why would we need God?
Monday, May 26, 2014
No wonder Pinnock wasn't liked very well by the Reformed crowd...but I firmly believe he is correct. It certainly lines up with the God portrayed in the scriptures.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:16-19, 22 NIV)
Sunday, May 25, 2014
While I didn't always agree with Decker, he was always worth reading. I hope they are able to keep his valuable resources available on the web.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Excellent analysis, but I was disappointed by the lack of mention of the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned in the first excerpt, that's the thing that always strikes me about so many Mennonite books. They get it right, but neglect the importance of the Holy Spirit in making it happen...
As C.S. Lewis famously said, the door of hell is looked from the inside. God has done everything necessary, and stands there, wooing us. Check that, chases us as a lover would be a better picture. But not everyone responds...
Thursday, May 22, 2014
As was pointed out in the comments, this is the Oxford Hebrew Bible Project, but now under the auspices of SBL. I have it on good authority that they are anticipating 1–2 volumes a year, with Proverbs by Michael Fox being the first one.
Good thoughts. Change has to start inside—we need to have our thinking transformed before we can change the circumstances. Praise God that the Holy Spirit is able to do that!
Along those lines, some good thoughts on LBJ's Great Society here. Hard to believe it's been 50 years! Yikes! That must mean I'm over 50...
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
However, I think we’re having the wrong discussion on this issue entirely. Instead of a constant cultural debate over the wording of the pledge, I think a better question is:<idle musing>
“Should a Christian recite the pledge of allegiance at all?“
Admittedly, I never once asked myself this question until the last year or two. Once I really started to consider the issue from all sides, I was actually really disappointed that it had taken me so long to actually see this issue for what it was. In the end, I have become convinced that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is something that a Jesus follower probably shouldn’t do.
Read the whole post to get context, but I believe he's correct. I haven't recited the Pledge since I became a Christian (back in 1972, for those of you wondering). I couldn't see pledging my allegiance to anyone or thing other than God.
At the time, I was a long-hair, so many assumed I was doing it as a sign of rebellion—which in a sense I was, just not the rebellion they thought. It led to many interesting conversations.
I also didn't stand for the national anthem for the same reasons...
This sometimes led to unfortunate confrontations. I remember one in particular, at the 1973 Boy Scout Jamboree in Idaho. I was on staff as a clerk at one of the Trading Posts, which left me plenty of free time for patch trading and other things. I was off-duty and sitting talking with other workers on the grass when the national anthem began. Everyone else stood up, turned around and saluted the flag as it was being raised. I remained seated. Remember, I'm a long-hair, in a Boy Scout uniform, with a staff neckerchief and an Eagle Scout badge sewn on my shirt. Sitting during the national anthem. Talk about a mess of contradictions in some people's minds...
Anyway, after the anthem, we all resumed our conversation—for about 15 seconds. Suddenly, a man in a Scoutmaster's uniform comes up to me, points his finger in my face and begins to berate me about disrespect and how it was shameful that I was allowed to wear a scout uniform. He threatened to report me to my boss and get me in some serious trouble. Without waiting to listen to any reply, he turned and stalked off.
I figured the best defense was a good offense, so I went to my boss, along with a couple of the people who had witnessed the whole thing, and told him the whole story–including why I chose not to stand. My boss promised to bear all that in mind if/when the Scoutmaster came and talked to him.
I never heard another thing about it, so I'm not sure if the Scoutmaster ever did go to my boss or if he just figured I'd be scared into submission...anyway, do read the post I've linked to and seriously consider where your allegiances lie.
Good thoughts. In the Evangelical subculture, there is a tendency to minimize the corporate nature of sin. Yet, that is where it hides the most easily—and where it has the most subtle influence. To paraphrase Jesus, "we need to attack the one without neglecting the other..."
Indeed. Terminology can get in the way; far too often the terminology just puts it in a convenient intellectual mailbox. Tucked away where we can periodically examine it, but otherwise conveniently ignore it.
An encounter with God through the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, has a way of trashing our mailboxes. Even so, come Lord Jesus! Tear down our mailboxes and let us encounter you!
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Anyway, the other section that I'm even worse at maintaining is the blog list. I hadn't changed it in probably 3 years. Over the course of that time, my interests have changed, blogs have died, others have started, etc. OK, the real reason I haven't updated it is because I didn't want to admit that some of the first blogs that I started interacting with almost nine(!) years ago are dead. There's a psychological thing about cleaning up the list and I wasn't willing to face it.
What finally made me do it was an e-mail sitting in the Inbox for the last two months. It was from a dear friend asking for a link. It sat there until Debbie asked me if I was ever going to delete it. Well, I can't just delete it without taking care of it, can I?
Long way around to say, I've updated the links on the side of my blog. They reflect what I'm actually reading as of May, 2014.
And that friend? Well, it is Emanuel Hausman from Carta; he asked me if I would be willing to link to them. I told him that I'd be delighted to link to their web site. It took two months, but the link is there now. They produce great stuff and I was proud to distribute them while I worked at Eisenbrauns (Eisenbrauns serves as their North American distributor, so I've also linked to the Eisenbrauns web site for those of you in North America).
Really, I didn't do this on purpose! The two books are just lining up that way. But I love it! Must mean it's important : )
Amen! Good preaching! Salvation is not an intellectual event, it is a life-changing encounter with the living God. With all the emphasis on orthodoxy these days—and we need good doctrine, so don't misread this—we need a reemphasis on orthopraxy—right living. Don't stop reading at Romans 5! Read through 6, 7, and then 8. Death to self via union with Christ in his death and alive in Christ through his resurrection with the result that we live a victorious life via the Spirit, who lives in us.
That's something to get excited about!
Monday, May 19, 2014
I didn't plan it that way, really, I didn't! But this excerpt sure dovetails nicely with the Pinnock excerpt earlier today. Think God's trying to say something here?!
I am afraid that it is becoming increasingly harder to find the gospel in America. It is either wrapped so tightly in the flag as to be virtually invisible or relegated to a footnote to messages about “success in living,” being nice and including everyone.<idle musing>
Again, this is not a new situation; other countries have experienced it to their shame. A German theologian said that when he goes to church he listens for the gospel but comes away thinking the gospel was what should have been said (or sung) but wasn’t. The German Christians of the 1930s certainly didn’t think they were accommodating the gospel to a culture alien to it; they thought they were discovering new dimensions of the gospel that would bring revival to their churches.
Yep. Anytime you idolize something—in this case either the country or self—you end up in a mess...
Saturday, May 17, 2014
One of the areas that seems to require the most attention in plumbing and plumbing related problems. Between faucet, toilet, and bathtub/shower leakage, the floors take a beating. That's why we replace two bathroom floors this year. Usually, it's been a matter of slow leakage over the years; you just don't notice it until suddenly, the floor is soft or—worse yet—starts sinking. That happened last fall in one of the motel rooms. One day I went in to clean the bathroom, and there was a 1 inch drop in the bathroom floor by the toilet. I climbed underneath only to discover that the original plumber had cut the floor joist to install the toilet!
I've discovered since then that this was a fairly common event around here. "Good enough for a seasonal place" seems to have been the motto. Anyway, when that happens, you are supposed to install a header/daughter board to tie the whole thing together. They didn't. And it held for 58 years. Until one day, it settled. I got out my hydraulic jack and pumped up the floor to level again.
Obviously, that was just a temporary fix...although I'm sure that if you look under some places around here...anyway, I digress. I ordered a post and installed it. It wasn't practical to install a header and it would just rot out eventually anyway. Maybe the post will rust, but it will probably outlast the rest of the building!
But, that's not the subject of today's musing. This one is a fast leak and a pool of water. We had rented out this particular cabin for most of the summer, so we hadn't been in it much. This spring, after we turned on the water, I went back through the next day to take off the water heater bypasses and bleed the air before turning on the hot water. I didn't expect any new problems; we had already discovered enough—or so I thought. Until I walked into the bathroom! Swimming pool! Or it would have been if there weren't a way for the water to drain under the cabin. And coming from the water closet. I turned off the water at the shutoff, only to discover that the shutoff leaked. Great...run back to the house and shut off the water to the cabins (beats the claustrophobic route). It was obvious that the water hadn't leaked from the valve, though. I checked the water closet, to see if it was tight. It wasn't. In fact, the thing was so loose I think it must have been leaking a good part of last summer...
No biggie. Just buy replacement washers and reset it. So I did. I also replaced the shutoff valve at the same time. I turned the water back on and figured I check it again later. I came back in an hour to two and had a new swimming pool...OK, now what? I checked the seal where the ballcock joins—see the graphic (which I stole from here). No leak there. No leaks on the screws that hold the tank to the toilet.
Must be the flush valve gasket. No problem; I'll just get a new one. I bought what looked like a replacement, but when I got home, I realized it was the wrong gasket. It was close enough that it looked like it would fit, and almost did, just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit too big. I'm nothing if not stubborn, but even I couldn't make it work. Bummer. Back to the hardware store. Turns out I have to buy the whole flush valve assembly just to get the gasket!
I replaced the whole thing, tightened it down to what I thought was tight. By now, I've wised up a bit, so I just put about 2 cups of water in the tank and wait. No need to wait! The water came pouring out as if there weren't a gasket there at all!
I took it apart and cleaned the tank area where it connected. It was pretty messy, but should have sealed. I tried again. Slower, but same result. OK, I need some serious wrenching action on that connecting nut! Only I don't have a 3 inch wrench. And neither did Max. I walked down to the hardware store again to find a large ChannelLocks™ that I had seen the plumber use when he replaced a valve earlier this week (that's another story...). They didn't have any!
Too late to go to the other hardware store outside of town, so I waited a day...
Next day, I got the 18" ChannelLocks™, cranked on that monster and cranked on it some more, just enough not to break anything! And turned the water back on just enough to get a few cups in there. Turned the water off and left for a few hours. When I came back, there wasn't a pool. The floor was damp, but that was only from being a swimming pool for a few days...success!
Now, about that valve the plumber replaced...maybe tomorrow.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Your Lord intends for your soul to really die to the ways of the self nature!&mash;Jeanne Guyon
I like that! It's a picture of what God did and is doing in Christ. A picture of what the church as a body should be doing. What I should be doing—in Christ.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
But, occasionally, the debris is too big to fit through the supply lines...
When that happens, the fun—and mess—begins. This year, I had two faucets that gave me only a trickle. One was the hot water in a shower; I thought about letting it go and making everybody take a cold shower! NOT! The other was the cold water at a kitchen sink. Hey, let them use the hot water for everything! OK, not practical either.
So, you start by turning off the water or you get a huge mess—don't ask! Then, you take apart the faucet and look for debris in the valve. If there isn't any, you put a towel and bucket over the valve hole—it's just a wide open line for the water to rush (we hope!) through. Then you turn the water back on. The theory is that that without the valve, the water pressure will push all the debris out of the line. If that works, you have a clean line—and a big mess of junk to clean up. Hence, the towel and bucket to control the flood.
If that doesn't work, you start taking apart pipes until you find the problem...you always hope that the flexible supply line is the problem because a) it's the closest and b) it's easy to replace if you can't clear it.
First I attempted to clear the kitchen faucet. Unfortunately, there wasn't a water shutoff valve under the kitchen sink. In fact, I had two options: I could climb underneath the cabin next door—Spruce, the claustrophobic one!, or I could turn off the main water to the cabins at the house. I chose the house—wouldn't you? But that meant I couldn't monitor the water flow; I had to guess how long to keep it on.
Being the type who doesn't enjoy cleaning up large masses of water, I chose to start with a 5 second burst. Nothing! The towel was barely wet. Back to the house. A 10 second burst. Not much better. OK, let's get daring...45 seconds. Still not much of a flow of water. The dish tub under the sink had about an inch and the sink about 1/2 inch. Sigh...
Let's take apart the supply line...There it was, a large piece of rusty metal, can I get it out? Grab the needle-nosed pliers, shake that line to get the piece as close to the large hole as possible. Grunt, squirm, wiggle my nose, generally make it think I know what I'm doing...there. Got it! Now, put everything back together again, making sure the connections are tight. Turn the faucet off! Now turn the water back on...test the faucet. Good water flow. Any leaks? Nope. Good. Now clean up the mess and on to the next one...
The hot water was in a shower—that means the water will probably hit the far wall, but at least it won't spew on the walls of the bathroom like a tub would. Remember, its coming from the faucet, not the spout. I turned the water off—why don't any of these problem faucets have accessible shut off valves? I had two choices: Climb through a narrow crawlspace access into an alcove like crawlspace that allowed me to access the shutoff valve through some mud, or turn it off at the house. Yep, the house won again.
I took the faucet apart—the knob was corroded and stuck to the valve. A good bit of hammering and pulling with a large 18" ChannelLocks™ helped to eventually get it off. The valve itself was all brass, at least these older fittings aren't junk that corrodes and breaks the first time you apply a little pressure. But they sure are tight! It finally came out—and so did some very dirty water. That faucet was jammed with junk! I made the mistake of turning it so that the stuff would fall down before I put a towel under it...yuk! It took about 5 minutes of cleaning and blowing and cleaning before it was finally clean. Now, just put it back together and tighten everything up...not too tight or I'll break something and have a bigger mess. Clean up the shower floor—and my boots!—before I track it all over the cabin. Turn the water back on. Success!
Wasn't that fun!? It wasn't even too bad. I just had to replace two other supply lines because the compression washers were disintegrated, and one shutoff valve. Oh, and that toilet water closet...that's a story by itself for another time...
I'm finally getting around to reading some older stuff...this book was originally published in 1987 (and is still in print!). I've been meaning to read it for ages, but finally ordered it via ILL and read it over the winter.
It's a great little book, and I'll be posting excerpts until I run out of them : ) My problem with the book is the same problem I have with so many books in the Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition: where's the power of the Holy Spirit? It's as if there are only two active members of the Trinity, with the Holy Spirit taking a sabbatical...what do you think?
The goal is world transformation…Spiritual ecstasy is not meant to be an end in itself—the goal is transformation. The purpose of the outpouring of the Spirit is to bring the kingdom near and change real-life situations.— Flame of Love, pages 142-143
Pinnock is an equal opportunity offender here! He clobbers the "go because Jesus commanded" as they do it on their own effort crowd. And in the next page he clobbers the "get filled with the Holy Spirit and everything is cool" crowd. Both have their place, but both need to be submitted to the overarching purposes of God. But we prefer extremes, don't we?
About 38 years ago, I heard Stuart Briscoe give a talk at a conference. His theme was "Trust and Obey" (yes, as in the hymn). He said our problem is we choose one or the other, so over here you've got a group of people with heavy burdens on their backs, hauling them around and saying, "Obey! Obey! Obey!" And over there you've got a group of people flapping their wings and jumping around saying, "Trust! Trust! Trust!" OK, it was better in person with him acting it out, but you get the idea...we have to hold the two in hand at the same time. You obey because you trust, but your trust must entail obedience. And it is all by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Last spring was relatively uneventful, for which I am very thankful; we had enough new things without any added drama. This spring wasn't as uneventful...
To begin with, one of the cabins had the lines freeze before we could bleed the lines. This cabin has an exposed northwest corner and we had a week of very cold weather just before closing. From what I could see last fall, it looked like none of the pipes had burst, but I turned off the water valve to that cabin just in case—if there was a break, once things thawed, all the antifreeze in the system would have flowed out into that cabin. Pink stuff. All over. Not a pleasant thought!
Well, we turned the water on and began to bleed each cabin. I warned Max that this cabin might be a problem. So, I climbed under the cabin and slowly turned the valve. And breathed a sigh of relief; no water spraying around where I thought there would be a break. The relief turned to panic, though. Suddenly I saw water dripping down from all over the place!
I turned the water off quickly and we looked inside the cabin. Pink stuff. All over. Not a pleasant sight! And the smell of that stuff is like a cheap kid's perfume. Ugh! It didn't take long to discover the problem. Under the sink, right above the cold water shutoff valve. Broken pipe. Pink stuff. All over. Get out the rags. Clean up the mess.
The good news was that it was a clean break on a plastic pipe. A new ferrule (compression fitting) and within five minutes we were good to go. But that cabin still smells like cheap perfume...
I've got more stories of other interesting things, but they will keep. Stay tuned! And keep praising God—Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. (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.) James 1:2–3
After all, if living in paradise were easy, everybody would be doing it and it would cease to be paradise (or something like that...)
Pretty scary thought, isn't it? Can you imagine letting the Holy Spirit run free in our lives? Why, we wouldn't be in control! There's a post at Missio Alliance today about that very thing...
Why do we do that? Why do we take an offer from God and make it a demand? Wesley used to say that every command of God is really a hidden promise—if God commands something, then that means he is obligated to make the power to fulfill it available to us!
Quite the freeing thought, isn't it? The first time I read it, I had to go back and read it again to make sure I understood what he was saying. It takes our concept of God and turns it on its head. God isn't a demanding ogre, but a loving Father, always reaching out to us, always making the offer to come home. But we think home is a trap, a jail. We'd rather sit out in the cold rain and bewail our rough circumstances than come in and sit by the warm fire. After all, if we do that, we might have to actually talk to God! Imagine that!
We truly are foolish, aren't we?
By the way, that's the final snippet from this book. Not sure what I'll be extracting from next, but we'll find out tomorrow, won't we? : )
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Anyway, this years cabin prep was easier and harder than last year's. Last year we started in March and worked on seven cabins (out of nine), painting and repairing. This year, we started in April and only worked on three cabins. But the work we did on those three was more significant, by far.
We replaced two bathroom floors and one living room floor. The one in Pine was being held up by a jack that I put under there 3 weeks before the end of the season last year! The toilet was about to go through the floor...So this spring, as soon as the snow was low enough to enable us to get under the cabin, we tore it all out. I had a local guy helping me and he took a few pictures, but they got lost or I'd post them. Suffice it to say that it wasn't pretty! The floor joist had been cut to make room for the toilet and the header that was supposed to reinforce it had rotted out. All that was holding the toilet before I had put the jack under it was a pipe hanger wire that was about to let loose.
Can you imagine the scenario: Where's mom? Oh no! She went to the bathroom and now she's nowhere to be seen! Gives new meaning to the earth opening up and swallowing somebody, doesn't it? Sinkholes in Minnesota!
Well, that won't happen now : ) The floor is all repaired with new vinyl and fresh paint and caulk. Better than new, probably!
The living room floor was in Silver Maple (actually a motel room). There isn't sufficient air flow under the motel, so the northeast corner was too moist and the floor was starting to rot out. We tore out a four foot by four foot section and replaced the joists and plywood. Pretty easy, actually. We were planning on putting new carpet and tile in there anyway, so it just added a bit more to it.
The one that surprised me was Spruce. From the top, it looked like a minor bubble in the floor where some tile was coming loose. Right! We tore off the tile in that section only to discover that we needed to redo the whole floor. The room is an L-shape, so that complicated things significantly. Add to that that the crawlspace will make even a person without claustrophobia claustrophobic! and you have a real good time...that one took the better part of two weeks to finish, but it's done now and looks great.
Next time I'll tell you about the interesting experiences of turning on the water this year...
Ain't that the truth! And to the degree that you don't expect God to move, to that degree you have become a practicing atheist, which I believe is the default religion of most christians in the western world...
Monday, May 12, 2014
The first year at a place is always an experiment, and last year was no exception. The previous people had 3 large raised (and I do mean raised—3 feet deep) strawberry beds in the backyard—12 feet by 4 feet. It took up the better part of the yard. I tore those apart last year, using the soil, which was excellent, in the beds. I used the old logs that the beds were made of as sides for the new beds.
That wasn't the brightest thing I've ever done. The logs were starting to decompose—some more than others—and attracted slugs. I've never had a slug problem before, but last year I did. They are destructive little creatures! They eat just enough of something to destroy it and then move on. I resolved to eliminate their habitat!
So, this weekend I began building beds from 2x8 untreated boards. It was a beautiful weekend to work outside and I got most of them built. I even managed to plant 34 feet of straw potatoes. I had them "chitting" for a few weeks; they were getting nice and sprouted, so I cut them into chunks on Wednesday. They need to heal a few days after that, so Saturday was perfect for them.
I cleaned up the beds, forked them over, and raked them out. Then I laid the potatoes out and put about 6–12 inches of straw over the top. Because these beds are exposed to a lot of wind coming off the ridge, I covered them with row cover to hold the straw in place. Once the potatoes start pushing up through the straw, they will hold it in place and I'll remove the row cover. The row cover also keeps them warmer, speeding their growth a bit.
I didn't have time to plant anything else, but I did transplant the broccoli raab. It should have been transplanted 2 weeks ago, but the beds weren't ready. It has started to bolt, so I may not get much production out of them. That's alright, though, I've started a second planting...
So that is how my garden goes...hopefully I'll be able to plant this week, although the forecast isn't encouraging. Neither is the weather right now; it's 40°F, rainy and very windy. Not the kind of weather that invites you to play outside!
Yes. That's the proper perspective for the penal aspect of atonement! It's more than a forensic judgment; it has to result in a changed life—a new life!
Friday, May 09, 2014
Amen! Preach on!
I once read where E. Stanley Jones said that the flesh loved to put on its religious robe and sneak back up on the throne. Ain't it the truth! But, it's a liar and it's dead; it has no real power over us except the power we give it by believing it is still alive. We need to believe that we are a new creation in Christ—then we'll start living that way.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
God was not disinclined to be favorable until his wrath was appeased. He is not humanity’s enemy; it was love that moved him to send his Son in the first place. Love provided the incarnation and the atonement, not wrath. Our Lord’s self-sacrifice bespeaks a gracious God, not an angry God.
Yes indeed, God forgives n a way that takes sin seriously, but he is always ready to forgive and does not have to be persuaded on that score. Remember the elementary truth that the cross reconciles the world to God, not God to the world (2 Cor 5:19). God is the reconciler, not the one requiring reconciliation. God is the subject, not the object, of reconciliation. Love for sinners, not anger, brought Jesus into the world. — Flame of Love, page 107
Amen and amen! God is the initiator—and praise God for that!
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
That is indeed a problem with Penal Substitution—especially as popularly expounded on. Christus Victor seems to avoid those pitfalls—even though no single view of the atonement can do it justice!
That's a freeing thought, isn't it? But we still prefer checklists...why won't we learn? Oh yeah, pride.
Monday, May 05, 2014
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Has my theology changed? Have I suddenly become "seeker-friendly" or "soft on sin?" Has my view of God changed?
Well, I hope my view of God has changed in the sense of growing! But I'm still against a "seeker-friendly" gospel. And I'm still convinced that God wants holiness—witness one of the books I'm extracting from right now, Called to be Holy.
So what's caused the change in emphasis? As I pondered it prayerfully, I realized it is (to use a good German phrase) my Sitz im Leben—my cultural surroundings. While we lived in Indiana, we were surrounded by a cultural christianity that was comfortable flying a flag instead of a cross on their church buildings. Patriotism and Christianity were in bed together; "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" was the slogan and God was on our side because we are the good-guys—no matter what we did!
That's not true here. Grand Marais is a different world. Christianity is marginalized; the arts and touristy stuff rule—along with a good dash of New Age and American Self-Help Religion. There are five churches (all small) in town: Congregational (UCC), Lutheran (this is Minnesota, after all!), Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Evangelical Free. Most of our interaction with Christians here is from the latter two. And the prevailing theology among them is that penal substitution is the be-all and end-all of atonement.
Please don't misunderstand what I am about to say! They are wonderful people and truly love Jesus and we love them dearly. They want to see God glorified and see people come to know him. But, because of the heavy emphasis on penal substitution—and not in a carefully defined way, but in a "mad God" way—they are struggling to get through life. Their hope is to hang on until they die—to survive until glory brings them home. To keep God from zapping them all the time, looking over their shoulder to make sure the whip isn't about to fall. OK, I'm exaggerating (what, me? exaggerate?!) But, seriously, if that isn't a formula for defeat, I've never seen one! So, that's why my emphasis has changed. I'm talking more against an "atonement-only" gospel, or as Scot McKnight calls it, "soterian Gospel," and less against other things. Those are still important to me, but not as relevant right now. Just an
Saturday, May 03, 2014
You see why it is that anxious sinners do not find peace. They are looking at their own guilt and danger. They are regarding God as an avenger, and shrinking from His terrors. This will render it impossible they should ever come at peace. While looking at the wrath of God, making them wither and tremble, they cannot love Him, they hide from Him. Anxious sinners, let me tell you a secret. If you keep looking at that feature of God's character, it will drive you to despair, and that is inconsistent with true submission.—Charles Finney<idle musing>
Oooh, that's good. And that's the focus of too much "evangelism" today. Personally, I think it is the direct result of an emphasis on penal substitution and a misunderstanding of law as retributive in nature—thanks to Augustine and an overly heavy reliance on Roman law in the western church.
We need to start with the presupposition, taken from the biblical text, that God is love. From there we create our theology. Far too often we come to the text with presuppositions that aren't taken from the biblical text and formulate our theology accordingly. No wonder we end up with bad theology and a mad god! As one of my seminary professors was fond of saying, "we reason from the given to the divine." In other words, we start with observations of what we feel, think, and see and import them into our vision of God. Rather, we should start with the biblical text and let itdictate our presuppositions about God. What we find is a loving Father who takes the initiative in chasing his wayward creation—Augustine's hound of heaven as it were (see, I'm not against Augustine!).
Now I need to go do some drywall—and maybe lay some vinyl flooring in another bathroom. We open on Friday and although we don't have any reservations, it would be nice to be ready. After all, it might warm up enough for people to want to come north : )
Friday, May 02, 2014
And it is because of that very reason that we can overcome today. Only through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! Seems pretty powerful to me.
I believe they call that trump verse hermeneutics. Fancy words for taking a concordance and finding a proof-text to say the opposite of what you don't want to see but is staring you squarely in the face. Also known as avoiding conviction or justifying your sin...
OK, I'm being cynical in that last statement, but you understand what I mean. The entire book of 1 John is saying you don't have to sin. In fact, if you are born of God, you can't sin. But that's too scary to face. It means I have to give up my favorite hobby—playing god! We can't let that happen, so we take one verse out of context and use that to countermand the clear trajectory of the rest of the book.
Lord deliver us from ourselves!
Thursday, May 01, 2014
In 2007, the McCain-Kennedy proposed legislation for comprehensive immigration reform was submitted to a CBS national survey. Over 70% of the respondents supported the proposed legislation. However, the legislation failed because the calls to legislators were 50-1 against. The average American never calls their legislator unless it affects them directly; the suffering of immigrants just doesn't affect the majority of Americans directly enough to move them to call. The only reason why we have come this far towards reforming our broken immigration system is that the only group in our society who is mandated to care passionately about the wellbeing of people who are not us has stepped up to the plate. The national Evangelical Immigration Table has powerfully demonstrated the love of Jesus to the nation. When immigrant and non-immigrant Christians come together to respond to the suffering of immigrant families, we have an Ephesians 2:14-18 experience. The wall of hostility that we see in the secular world is torn down. There is an exchange of hope and passion—non-immigrants awaken to the need and immigrants feel hope because they learn that they are not alone. The result is John 17:21—the world knows that Jesus has come because of the unity of his followers.<idle musing>
Did you get that? 70% in favor, but 50:1 phone calls against! A small, but very motivated, minority prolonged injustice. God cares deeply about the sojourner among us, we should too.
Pray for the Evangelical Immigration Table and see how you can help. It's dear to the heart of God—after all, we are sojourners here, too. Our true citizenship is in heaven.
Or, as Paul says, "to keep in step with the Spirit."
What more can we expect? It is the logical conclusion of self-effort. And it is the sad state of most Christians that I talk to. Struggle, fail, rededicate, try harder, fail, struggle, fail, rededicate, ad infinitum. Or, give up and say "Christians are perfect, just forgiven"—a heresy if ever there was one! As if God hates sin in unbelievers but ignores it in believers—which is a misnomer. What are they believing, anyway? If Jesus came to save us from sin—not just sins, but the concept of sin, i.e., sinning—and they don't really believe it, then what are they saved from? Hell?
That's a pretty pathetic gospel. And a pretty small god. As if sin is bigger than God! Ah well, time to go back to repairing floors in the cabins—and praying for God's deliverance from unbelief for myself and others.
By the way, it's National Day of Prayer. May we truly pray and not just have rah-rah rallies that pump us up and reassure us we are right and everybody else is wrong, so let's bomb them all to pieces...