Friday, October 31, 2014

In the end

“Abiding is more than drawing upon resources outside of ourselves. To abide is to commune with our personal, living Lord. Without ceasing, we seek His care and wisdom and strength in the trenches of life. We engage Him in sweet fellowship, expressing to Him our fears and failures and frustrations. We cry out to Him and hear the assurances of His presence and peace and provision, as He reminds us that He is the Vine in whom we have been grafted by grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
That's the final excerpt from the book. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has lots of good stuff, but it could use a serious dose of Holy Spirit presence. The approach is very much "Brains on a stick"—this is a serious problem with much of Reformed spirituality. Very organized and methodical. It sounds wonderful on paper, but we aren't logical beings! And that's the rub...

If you add "by the power of the Holy Spirit" or "by the power of the indwelling Jesus" to just about everything being said in the book, you would do well...

Not sure what book I'll start next. I guess we'll find out on Monday, won't we : )
</idle musing>

I'm right

If you tell those rushing to war that their hatred of enemies and their plan for the organized killing of enemies is evil, the crowd will hate you. War is sacred. It lies beyond critique. To critique it is blasphemy. The crowd hates blasphemy. The crowd wants to kill blasphemers. The crowd knows that the criticism of their violence is blasphemy because they know their cause is just. They believe it. And from their perspective their cause is just. They can prove it. Both sides can prove it. Always.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Yep. And God is on their side, too. Always.
</idle musing>

When things go well

Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed and saddened.—Thomas à Kempis

Thursday, October 30, 2014


“We need to learn to abide—to rest in, remain, and regard our Lord in all things, at all times. We want to sit at His feet to learn both what He says and the heart by which He says it. We want to grow in submission to Him, dependence upon Him, and delight in Him.”— Vine Ripened Life

When shock therapy is no longer shocking

The cross is shock therapy for a world addicted to solving its problems through violence. The cross shocks us into the devastating realization that our system of violence murdered God!— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Except we've become numb to the shock of it. We're addicted to violence and can't imagine a world without it...Lord, deliver us! Open our eyes that we may dream of a world of peace. Give us the faith to believe you really are victorious!
</idle musing>

Thought for today

If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it.—Thomas à Kempis

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

That's the opposite of what I want...

“What sort of teacher is grace? Grace does not lead us in some self-help course. On the contrary, grace leads us in Christ-dependence. It teaches us to abide in the Vine. Apart from Christ we can do nothing of our own accord. In Christ we can do all things according to His power that is at work within us.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Exactly the opposite of what we want, right? We want Christ to empower us so that we can take the credit for our great holiness!

This gospel stuff is so backwards!
</idle musing>

We still honor Cain

So when Jesus comes along and says to us, “Love your enemy,” we instinctively feel how radical it is. He’s not just giving individuals a personal ethic; he is striking at the very foundation of the world! The world was founded on hating enemies, and now Jesus says, “Don’t do it!” When Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek,” he wasn’t just trying to produce kinder, gentler people; he was trying to refound the world! Instead of retaliatory violence; the world is to be refounded on cosuffering love. Jesus understood that the world had built its societal structures upon shared hatred, scapegoating, and what René Girard calls “sacred violence.” In challenging “sacred violence” (which Israel cherished in their war stories), Jesus was challenging the world at its most basic level. We cherish, honor, and salute sacred violence. We have to! We have a dark instinct that we must honor Cain’s war against Abel—and our own wars upon our hated enemies—or our whole system will fall apart. But Jesus testified against it—that those deeds were evil.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Stop! Listen to what he is saying here! This is one of the places where "love not the world" is especially relevant and painful. This is where the fish learns what water is and that, low and behold, it really is wet!

Look at your values. Look at how you view your country. Look at how you view 9/11/2001. Is that the way Christ would have you view them?

If not, repent! And believe the gospel. Gospel—good news! God is calling us to something higher (and more painful!)...we mourn over Abel, but we build memorials to Cain!
</idle musing>

Look out!

Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.—Thomas à Kempis

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

But I want a monolithic answer!

No single linguistic theory is robust enough on its own to adequately account for every aspect of language. It is too diverse and complex to make this a realistic expectation. Each different linguistic framework was developed to tackle different problems, typically ones left unaddressed by other existing frameworks.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 204.

How we communicate

The key thing to remember is that each clause will contain a mix of established and newly asserted information. The goal of the communication is to convey the newly asserted information; it is the focus of the utterance. The presupposed information provides the framework for processing and understanding the focal information. As new information is asserted, the body of presupposed information will grow. Thus, differentiating what is presupposed from what is focal is entirely context-dependent. As the context changes, so will the determinations about the status of information.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 189.

Another season

Well, we're closed for the season. The last load of regular laundry is washed, dried, folded, and carefully stored until next spring. The electricity and gas are shut off to all the cabins. The water mains are flushed of water and bubbling with bright pink RV anti-freeze.

Speaking of RV anti-freeze, I learned that it stains sinks and tubs : ( And it doesn't come out very easily, even with cleanser. Call out the Zud! And exercise those arms!

Of course it doesn't help any that the tubs are over 50 years old, as are some of the sinks. All the enamel is pretty well worn off the porcelain—all that is left is the dull whiteness where once there was a nice shimmer. And that stuff is a sponge for stains!

This is the third season that I've been a part of shutting down. The first year, I didn't realize that the stuff stains. We have one cabin (Spruce) that has a slight depression in the tub just before the drain that collects water (it was made that way!). When cleaning it, you have to push the 1/4 inch or so of water forward into the drain. I didn't push the anti-freeze forward that year...the next spring, I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of that stain.

I finally thought I had it—but I'm partially red-green colorblind. Others still saw it. I finally had to ask Max to show me the outlines of it so that I could discern the different shades of white that were really pink! And this was our first year working with them. I can just imagine what they were thinking when they saw what I thought was a "clean" tub!

On a different note, we had a great season—made lots of new friends and renewed acquaintances with old ones. I can understand what Dave & Geneva meant when they talked about the bonds you make with guests.

Sure, you get some real downers—where do people get the idea that it is ok to leave a sink full of dirty dishes? Or, worse yet, to put dirty dishes in the cupboard! Or, why is it ok to leave bacon grease in the frying pan, or on the stove. Or use towels as toilet paper (we "retire" those towels!). Or to recarpet the cabin with Goldfish cracker crumbs. get the idea. Those people go on our "black list" and aren't allowed back.

Yes, every resort, motel, and cabin rental has a "black list." Some are more strict than others. But, think of What's Up Doc? The hotel manager enters what's left of the room and says, "I have a message from the staff, 'Good-bye.'" I can identify sometimes! : )

But those are the minority. Most guests are very good. In some cases, they are so clean that you almost feel like you don't have a job!

So now we head off to see Debbie's parents for a couple of weeks. When we get back, I'll launder all the blankets and mattress covers. We'll replace the ones that are worn and store the blankets for the winter. Come spring, I'll wash all the bedspreads and we'll remake the beds.

I have two bathroom floors that will need replacing—Birch and Sugar Maple. Sugar Maple's floor is being held up by a jack underneath on the joist, but the floor itself between the joists is starting to get soggy...but that can wait until spring.

Meanwhile, we'll enjoy another winter on the North Shore!

The source

“Earlier in his letter to the Galatians, before taking up the fruit of the Spirit, Paul asks this rhetorical question: 'Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' (3:3). In Galatians 5:25 he says, 'If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.' Paul is leading us to understand that our Christian maturation and fruitfulness do not happen at any point by self-effort to turn over a new leaf. Rather, we are dependent on the operation of the Holy Spirit.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
If only we would remember that! It is the Holy Spirit, living within us, motivating us, directing us, gently prodding us—OK, sometimes not so gently!—that produces Christian character. The fruit of the Spirit is named that for a reason! It isn't the fruit of my spiritual maturity or my efforts at godly living!
</idle musing>

Those imaginary lines on the map

Look at the borders on a map. What are they? Nearly always they are the boundaries of ancient enmities where the blood of hated victims has been shed. Lines on a map, far from being benign, tell a bloody tale. At the dawn of human civilization, tribal identities were formed around a shared hostility toward an enemy “them.” Contrary to what Rousseau romantically imaged, anthropologists insist there was never a time when human communities lived peaceably and without war. The shared identity necessary for organizing the world was based around a common hatred—a common hatred hallowed in collective murder.

The relentless bloodletting of Homer’s Iliad depicts the foundational evil of the world that Jesus dared to testify against. Homer’s epic poem recounting the Trojan War became a sacred text within the pagan world consistent with the world’s bloody foundation. The blind bard saw more than most and knew what made the world go around—rage and murder. The Spartans needed to hate and scapegoat the Trojans so they could achieve a unity within their own society. They needed to project the anxiety that threatened to erupt into an every-man-for-himself violence onto a sacrificial “them”—an enemy whom they could hate in common and kill with impunity. They needed to kill, but they also needed to believe that killing was good. This is the basic (though hidden) political foundation of the world. It’s also evil. It’s an evil so well hidden that we hardly ever see it as evil. It’s an evil concealed behind flags, anthems, monuments, memorials, and the rhetoric of those who have won their wars. The hidden foundation of hatred and murder is why world history is little more than the record of who killed who [sic], where, when, and what for.

In a study of world history, you will meet far more warriors than poets; far more generals than artists. Jesus testified against this violent arrangement of the world. Jesus wanted to show us that the “heroic” murder of our enemy brothers is, in truth, evil. But we don’t see it as evil. We see it as simply the only way things can be.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Or, worse yet, as heroic and a virtue to be praised and emulated...and called "peace-keeping"!

Pax Americana, as long as you agree with us! Just like the Pax Romana...which managed to put Jesus on the cross for suggesting that violence isn't the answer (yes, I know; that is too simplistic!).
</idle musing>

It's the trials

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.—Thomas à Kempis

Monday, October 27, 2014

No artificial anything

“When it comes to the growth of the fruit of the Spirit, we might employ the term grace grown. The fruit produced by grace is natural to new life rather than artificial. Such fruit grows organically at the hand of our Father, by the working of His Spirit, through union with Jesus Christ. To grow organically means to grow necessarily. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, and all the rest willgrow as we abide in Christ, the product of God’s workmanship of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

Political Jesus?

Jesus could be a rabbi teaching nonviolence and enemy love or he could be the Messiah who would save Israel— but not both. The miracles Jesus was performing spoke for themselves. It was obvious that God was with Jesus. But if he were to fulfill his Messianic mission and liberate Israel, he would have to depart from what he was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. It was in this sense that Jesus’s brothers did not believe him. Which is basically the same sense in which we—the modern-day brothers of Jesus—do not believe in him. We believe in Jesus theologically, religiously, spiritually, sentimentally … but not politically. We believe Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, but we don’t really believe he was a competent political theologian. If we were tasked with framing a political theology drawn only from Jesus’s words, what would it look like? It would probably look like something we don’t much believe in. Why? Because when it comes to political models for running the world, we find it hard to believe in Jesus.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Ain't that the truth!
</idle musing>

Thought for a Monday

It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.—Thomas à Kempis

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thought for a sunny, but windy, Saturday in October

I heard a Voice which I could not disobey. I desired to please God alone; and I sought Him, not for what He might give me, but only for Himself. I had rather die than do anything against His will.—Jeanne Guyon

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why the imperfect?

Imperfect forms of λέγω characteristically are used either to introduce an initial speech that is more of a monologue than a dialogue or to record the responses of multiple groups to one thing.35 They can also be used in the expected imperfective sense of ongoing or repeated events.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 159.

More historical present

As with the other prominence markers, HPs tend to highlight some kind of discontinuity in the discourse. Usage of the HP at a boundary attracts extra attention to it, helping the reader process the transition to a new topic or pericope. Usage before a significant event or speech accomplishes the same processing task.

Usage that is unneeded for processing serves the pragmatic function of highlighting the speech or event that follows. It directs the reader to pay closer attention to something important. The HP achieves this effect by standing out in its context, on the basis of both temporal reference and aspect. If it did not stand out, it would not achieve these effects. One must differentiate the semantic meaning of the tense form from the effect of using it to describe past-time, perfective action. The HP should be regarded as a marked usage to accomplish a specific pragmatic effect, not a special submeaning of the tense.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 142.

That darned historical present...

[I]t is important to recognize that the use of the present form in a past-tense setting represents the choice to break with expected usage. The identification of a “historical present” is based on not following the expected rules. Randall Buth notes that H[istorical] P[resent] usage breaks the rules not only in regard to tense, but also in regard to aspect. In other words, not only is there a mismatch in the grammaticalized time with the discourse time, but also there is a mismatch in aspect. Most HP actions are perfective in nature, yet they are grammaticalized using an imperfective form. This should not be understood to change the meaning of the verb; rather, it is simply another way in which the HP usage stands out in its context.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 128–129.

Will it never end?

We're getting near the end of the season here, but that's not what the title of this post is about. It's about apples. Lots of apples. Bushels of apples. I told you that I picked four bushels of apples the other day. And I managed to process 18 pints that night. (We prefer pints because there are only two of us now.)

Well, I've been processing apples every night since then, with the exception of the night the propane died. I usually do 18 or 27 pints per night. I slice them in half and then in quarters, throw them in a kettle, boil them down, and then run them through the Victorio (ours is a model 200). (Marvelous invention, that. I bought it at a yard sale 30+ years ago for about $5.00. It's paid for itself a few times since then.)

Each kettle holds about 9 pints, as does each canner load. That explains why I do 18 or 27 pints a night. Logical, isn't it? : ) I've been both freezing and canning them. I finished off the four bushels from the first tree and picked the apples from the second tree the other day. I figured it had about a bushel left on it—other people had already picked a bit over a bushel from it.

I was wrong! It had almost two bushels left. I like canning and all that, but another two bushels?! I still have to get to the sauerkraut, too...

The apples on the first tree were small and not very suitable for fresh eating, so I sauced them all. The second tree, although smaller, gets a bit better sunlight and the apples are bigger. We sorted through the two bushels and saved about a half bushel for fresh eating. And I've been saucing the rest. As of right now, we have over 200 pints...and I still have apples...but I should finish them tonight.

Hard to believe, but I actually ran out of pints last night. I ended up filling six quarts to finish the batch. And I barely had enough lids...and what I thought was a bushel basket was really 1.5 bushels, so I underestimated how much time it would take, which means I was up later than I planned, which means that I'm low on energy, which means I'm writing this post to deceive myself into thinking I'm doing something productive when I should be out cleaning that motel room, getting the cabins ready for the last weekend of guests for the year, and then cleaning out the extension to the shop so I can tear it down (it really is an eyesore!).

OK. I'm done. Now I really do have to go out and do some real work!

and it comes before a fall...

“Pride promotes foolish independence. Humility draws deeply upon the grace of God in communion with Him. James says that God opposes the proud—pride pits us against God. But humility opens us to Him for spiritual health and vitality in function. As the plant draws life from the large and brilliant sun, so we find ourselves warmed by God’s presence.”— Vine Ripened Life


Because God loves us, we don’t have to be afraid. Because God loves us, we are free to love others—even our enemies. And after all, once you take fear off the table, how many enemies do you really have? We don’t need to blame. We don’t need to multiply enemies. We don’t need to react to our fear by blaming a scapegoat. Only the fearful who don’t know they are loved by God need to sacrifice scapegoats. God doesn’t want that. He never did. God wants mercy. He always did. We didn’t always know this, but now we do. Peace is no longer to be achieved by the illegitimate means of sacrificing a scapegoat. Peace is now given to us freely by the crucified and risen scapegoat. Fear has no place in the new world that Jesus inaugurates in his resurrection. We’re called to be peacemakers, and peacemakers cannot be fearmongers. The biggest difference between a peacemaker and a fearmonger is whether or not they really believe in the unconditional love of God.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Oh, that's good! Especially "The biggest difference between a peacemaker and a fearmonger is whether or not they really believe in the unconditional love of God."

Now to put that into practice—through the power of the Holy Spirit!
</idle musing>

Thought for a foggy Friday

If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The power of touch

Excellent post on the power of (nonsexual) touch over at Parse today.
Across television screens trudge health care workers in hazmat suits protecting themselves from Ebola. Holding patients, disposing of bodies. Carefully encased to prevent touch. It is, perhaps, one of the most tragic dimensions of this dreaded disease, that (because of the threat of infection) in the last days of life, a dying person cannot feel the gentle hand of a loved one, the warm touch of a caregiver...

Despite our need for human touch throughout life, our culture lacks practices that provide this kind of intimacy beyond sexual relationships...

Even as our culture increasingly embraces bodily indulgences of sex, food, and other appetites, we are actually turning away from one another socially. Our lack of physical contact is related to increasing isolation, anomie—the sense of normlessness—leading to depression and suicide, and a lack of social cohesion.

That's just a selection. Read the whole thing. And put it into practice! Reach out and touch someone—physically. It's good for both of you...


“Humility functions in the fear of the Lord. Such fear makes God large in our eyes. We are completely and continually dependent upon Him. We exist by Him and for Him. We live through Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.

The greater the presence of humility in our hearts, the greater we will see ourselves as debtors to grace and the more in awe of God we will be. James tells us that God 'gives more grace,' asserting that 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble' (4:6). Humility is a conduit of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

I dare you!

So what do we do with this? How do we go about renouncing the sinful system of projecting blame onto a scapegoat? We might start by turning off the radio when the manipulative talk-show host tries to agitate the listening crowd into the evil of scapegoating. We might refuse to follow religious leaders who gain a following by the rhetorical lynching of the usual scapegoats. We might decide to stop practicing in our adult lives the juvenile playground politics of scapegoating the easy targets. We might tattoo our mind with these three transformational truths: The majority is almost always wrong. The crowd is untruth. Scapegoating is demonic.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Finney for a Thursday

Is it possible that Satan has so got the advantage of God, that God's kingdom cannot be re-established in this world, and that the Almighty has no way but to back out, and to take His saints to heaven, before He can make them holy? Is God's kingdom to be only partially established, and is it to be always so, that the best saints shall one-half of their time be serving the devil? Must the people of God always go drooping and driveling along in religion, and live in sin, until they get to heaven? What is that stone cut out of a mountain without hands, that is to fill the earth, if it does not show that there is yet to be a universal triumph of the love of God in the world?—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Sure, many will finesse sin in Christians, trying to justify it. Finney will have none of that. Is God able to do it? Is God willing to do it?

Well? What is your answer?

If he is willing and able, then why doesn't it happen?

I suspect a lot of it is that we don't really believe he's able. We subconsciously believe that the body is evil. That the fall isn't really the problem, but the physical body is...

Jesus was fully human. Don't forget that. But we do in our day-to-day living. We're practicing atheists with a strong Docetic bent. We don't believe God can intervene, and if he does, we don't believe he can overcome our physical bodies.

I've written about this lots over the past 9 years (yes, 9 years ago on Tuesday was my first post!). The bottom line is, do you believe God is able? Is so, do you believe he wants to?

If you don't believe it is possible, why not? What is preventing it? Is it something in your life that you think you need to fix first?

Be honest!

If so, then you are seeking it by works and not by faith!

Ouch! Saved by faith, sanctified by works. The default position of the church today...

Think about it. What is keeping it from happening in your life? Forget that you don't see it in anybody else for a moment. Just concentrate on yourself.

And be honest. Brutally honest.

Yep. I don't really trust that God will do it right! I think I know better than God. I don't really want to surrender my will fully to him. He might make me do something I don't want to do! He might screw it up!

And then I think of Jesus on the cross. God's son willingly giving up his claims to deity's prerogatives in order to pay the debt...

How small of me. How stupid of me. How selfish of me...

But I still hang on...

What about you? Does that describe your life?
</idle musing>

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grammatical thought

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

The source

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

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

Stop and think about this

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

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

Skewed priorities

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bear your cross

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

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

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

It's a gift

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

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

Thought for the day

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heat? What heat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willpower or self-control?

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

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

Through the cross

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's the life, stupid

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Is it possible?

If it is not a practicable duty to be perfectly holy in this world, then it will follow that the devil has so completely accomplished his design in corrupting mankind, that Jesus Christ is at fault, and has no way to sanctify His people but by taking them out of the world.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
That's the default position of most Christians today, isn't it?

If it is true that we can't be holy, then we might as well hang it up. The devil won and God isn't who he says he is. He can't deliver on his promises so why pretend? At least be honest with yourself and stop trying to "convert" others to such a miserable life!
</idle musing>

If only!

“It is disturbing to hear the vitriolic invective leveled against governmental leaders in public discourse. Scathing verbal muggings and personal character assassinations are commonplace, accepted, and even expected. Issues on which people differ soon reach the level of personal assault.

This acrimony is not limited to the secular realm. Rancor finds itself on the lips of Christians who join in the rhetoric. Such mean-spiritedness infects the discourse of the church itself when its members engage in gossip and personal attack.

Life in the Vine promotes a different approach for us as children of God. In the passage we saw earlier, the apostle calls us “to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1–2). We are to be courteous, not contentious, and gentle, not abusive.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
If only that were true of us! We can't even say with I John 3:18 that we love in word (Τεκνία, μὴ ἀγαπῶμεν λόγῳ μηδὲ τῇ γλώσσῃ ἀλλὰ ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ/ Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth)! Lord, may we be known as people who love in word as well as in deed!
</idle musing>

Digging the graves

A secret (or not-so-secret) longing for the world’s violent destruction is grossly unbecoming to the followers of the Lamb. We are not hoping for Armageddon; we are helping build New Jerusalem. We will not complete it without the return of the King, but we will move in that direction all the same. We refuse to conspire with the beasts of empire who keep the world confined to the death culture of Babylon. There’s always another Armageddon looming on the horizon, threatening to perpetuate the bloody ways of Cain and throw more Abels in a mass grave. But we are not to cooperate with that vision. We are to resist it. We are to anticipate a future created by the Prince of Peace through the very lives we live. We are to work in concert with Jesus Christ as he labors to repair the world.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Would that we would listen—and respond! Unfortunately, it seems that far too often we are the ones urging and cheerleading the "bloody ways of Cain" and digging the graves for Abel...Lord, teach us the ways of peace!
</idle musing>

Thursday, October 16, 2014

But what can I make off of it?

Ran across this yesterday, an older (2011) apology for organic farming by Eliot Coleman. Well worth the read. I found this paragraph especially relevant:
By being self-resourced, biological agriculture offers no foothold for industry, resulting in no advertising, no research and development, no buzz, no audience, no business. If everyone can grow bounteous yields of vigorous plants that are free of pests by using homemade compost and age-old biological techniques, there is no market for fungicides or pesticides or anhydrous ammonia. If a concept cannot be commodified, that is to say if it isn’t dependent upon the purchase of industrial products, industry is antagonistic and the idea gets short shrift in our commercially dominated economy.
<idle musing>
When everything is reduced to "how much is it worth in cash?" you lose a the essentials! Some (most?) things that are worthwhile don't have a cash value that you can redeem at the local bank...
</idle musing>

There's more to it than we think

If you have never looked into the Bible with this view, you will be astonished to see how many more passages there are that speak of deliverance from the commission of sin, than there are that speak of deliverance from the punishment of sin. The passages that speak only of deliverance from punishment, are as nothing, in comparison of the others.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
But most people don't read—or read with blinders on that prevent them from seeing such a radical idea as salvation from sinning instead of just salvation from the judgment of sin. That's too much for God to do! After all, we're finite beings!

By that logic, there was no innocence and Christ didn't truly become human! Think of the ramifications of your presuppositions, people! Are you docetists? (Look it up! You might find out that you are and didn't even know it...)
</idle musing>

Grab the scalpel

“A gentle approach would not be condescending or accusatory. It would come seeing itself cut from the same cloth. Like a surgeon who takes care to set a broken limb, painful firmness may be needed, but the infliction of unnecessary pain would be avoided. So the skillful physician of the soul ministers by speaking the truth in love and attending in gentle perseverance.”— Vine Ripened Life

Made in the image of me

What I saw was that great and powerful nations shape God into their own image; great and powerful nations conscript God to do their bidding. Great and powerful nations use the idea and vocabulary of God to legitimize their own agenda. Great and powerful nations project God as a personification of their own national interests. And for the most part, they don’t know they are doing it.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Well, if you are great and powerful, you must be God, right? So therefore God looks like you...doesn't he?

And we certainly aren't exempt from doing this today. Look at the civil religion in the U.S. and then look for that god in the Bible. Bet you won't find it in YHWH! But I bet you will find it in Baal or Molek or Asherah...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enjoying the fall

Slow week at the cabins. We're winding down, just two weeks left. We only had one to clean yesterday and nobody coming in. So we went hiking! Today's a bit busier, with two coming in. This weekend will be hopping, as usual. So we're relaxing and enjoying it—well, maybe relaxing isn't the right word for it : )

We're in the midst of Indian Summer, and it has been beautiful. We've been hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail, especially along the Brule and Temperance Rivers. It's just beautiful with the leaves on the ground and some still on the trees.

With so many leaves off the trees and the undergrowth dead because of the frost, you can see a lot more. And the sound of the river! It's so much louder. We have to shout sometimes to hear each other.

It's also time to preserve the harvest. Yesterday I picked the apples off of one of the two Haralson trees. I got four bushels. Now all I have to do is sauce them! I started last night, but only got 18 pints done. It didn't even dent the pile of apples! I better get more done tonight...and the next night...and the next night...

I'm also making kraut. I harvested the late cabbages the other day. I grow Danish Ballhead as my late cabbage. It makes a great kraut. And the heads are huge! And dense. And tender. And juicy...Last year I had a head that must have weighed around 10-12 pounds. The heads this year a bit smaller, but still substantial. Last night I made four quarts—from one head! I make three quarts from 2 heads from "normal" sized heads, just to put it in perspective.

Good thing the cabins are slow, because I've still got about ten more heads to go...and the apples to sauce! And then another (smaller) apple tree to pick...and sauce. But we'll be thankful this winter!

OK, back to editing and then replacing that faucet in Pine, and clearing out the shop so I can tear down the extension. And then we'll take a nice walk in the afternoon before I start making kraut and applesauce again. Oh, I better remember to pull back the row cover on the overbearing strawberries, we probably have a few ripe ones to eat for a snack!

The unpicked player

“How many times have you confessed your sin of not being gentle with others to God? We confess our lack of love or lack of kindness, but rarely do we admit before God our deficiency in gentleness. It just doesn’t make the list. If it does, it’s like the boy left standing after all the others have been picked for one side or the other in a pickup basketball game. It’s recognized because it has to be, but it doesn’t really have anything to contribute.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Ouch! Guilty as charged : (
</idle musing>

Oohh! Book lust!

The Syntax of Volitives in Biblical Hebrew and Amarna Canaanite Prose

The Syntax of Volitives in Biblical Hebrew and Amarna Canaanite Prose
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic - LSAWS 9
by Hélène Dallaire
Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming, October 2014
xii + 250 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 9781575063072
Your Price: $49.50

Times like this when I miss working for Eisenbrauns—free books of exceptional quality : )

I might have to actually buy this one! I wonder how long it would take to get one through Interlibrary Loan...

Break the lockstep

…[W]hen we separate Jesus from his ideas for an alternative social structure, we inevitably succumb to the temptation to harness Jesus to our ideas— thus conferring upon our human political ideas an assumed divine endorsement. With little awareness of what we are doing, we find ourselves in collusion with the principalities and powers to keep the world in lockstep with the ancient choreography of violence, war, and death. We do this mostly unconsciously, but we do it. I’ve done it. And the result is that we reduce Jesus to being the Savior who guarantees our reservation in heaven while using him to endorse our own ideas about how to run the world. This feeds into a nationalized narrative of the gospel and leads to a state-owned Jesus. Thus, our understanding of Christ has mutated from Roman Jesus to Byzantine Jesus to German Jesus to American Jesus, etc. Conscripting Jesus to a nationalistic agenda creates agrotesque caricature of Christ that the church must reject—now more than ever! Understanding Jesus as the Prince of Peace who transcends idolatrous nationalism and overcomes the archaic ways of war is an imperative the church must at last begin to take seriously.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
This is the first excerpt from the book A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. I loved this book. I can't say enough good about it, but hopefully you'll see why in the upcoming weeks as I post excerpts from it.

And hopefully you'll examine your own presuppositions and unexamined assumptions. You might even change your mind! : )
</idle musing>

The details count

Christians may strongly wish or desire to be rid of all their sins, and may pray for it, even with agony. They may think they are willing to be perfect, but they deceive themselves. They may feel, in regard to their sins taken all together, or in the abstract, as if they are willing to renounce them all. But take them up in the detail, one by one, and there are many sins they are unwilling to give up. They wrestle against sin in general, but cling to it in the detail.—Charles Finney

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Order one!

I wonder how long this has been up? I just saw it last night for the first time.

Proverbs: An Eclectic Edition with Introduction and Textual Commentary
Michael V. Fox

ISBN 1628370203
Status Forthcoming
Price: $69.95
Binding Hardback
Publication Date November, 2014
Pages 200 (It's a lot more than that! More like 400...)

Here's a screen shot of the description. They don't have a cover design on the page yet...

How about that price? And hardcover, no less. That's just a bit more than 1/2 the price of the BHQ Proverbs fascicle (which is paper)...

But which self?

“What does faithfulness look like in our lives? It starts with being faithful to ourselves. At first blush that sounds like something out of pop psychology: “Be true to yourself.” But God’s call to us is to be true to who we are in Christ, true to our redeemed selves. We are to take on the characteristics of the Vine in which we find our life and new identity.”— Vine Ripened Life

Of course it's impractical

The words of Jesus stand up on the page of the Bible we are reading. They stare at us in their rugged vision. The end of the Sermon makes it clear that Jesus expects his followers to take up his words and live them out regardless of the cost. I know of no alternative. Take them or leave them, is what I say to myself.

I’ve been asked time and time again these two questions: Do you think the entire country should demilitarize? (What the country does is the country’s business. As a citizen I advocate following Jesus.) What about a person who invades your home? (I’d use force to the point of not murdering him.) These two questions get wrapped up in this question: Isn’t this incredibly naïve or maddeningly impractical? No and Yes. No, this is not naïve. This is kingdom behavior in the here and now. Yes, this is impractical because Jesus doesn’t spell things out. Perhaps that is Jesus’ point.— Sermon on the Mount, page 133

<idle musing>
Maddening isn't it? Jesus drops these kingdom-based ideals in the midst of a fallen world. And he expects us to actually do them? How impossible could that be?

But that's exactly the point!

If it were possible without the power of the Holy Spirit, it wouldn't be a kingdom ideal. Does that mean we aren't called to obey them?

Of course not! We are called to obey—and we are empowered to obey by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The real question is "Are we willing to obey!"

That's as far as I am in the book right now, so no more excerpts for a bit. Once the cabins close (2 weeks) and we get back from vacation (another 2 weeks), I'll start excerpting from it again...

By the way, thanks to Zondervan for sending me a hard copy of the book to continue reading in!
</idle musing>

Daily dose of Finney

The command in the text, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," is given under the gospel. Christ here commands the very same thing that the law requires. Some suppose that much less is required of us under the gospel, than was required under the law. It is true that the gospel does not require perfection, as the condition of salvation. But no part of the obligation of the law is discharged. The gospel holds those who are under it to the same holiness as those under the law.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Mind you, he believed it was only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. And he certainly wasn't a legalist. He felt that the Holy Spirit would so fill us with love for God that the natural outflow would be love. Love as the fulfilling of the law...we could use more of that, couldn't we.
</idle musing>

Thoughts for the day after Columbus Day

We have a myth of founding here in the U.S. We see ourselves as "the city set on a hill." We see the nations streaming into us like the prophets foretold of Jerusalem. We are the ones who bring light to the nations. We can do little or no wrong. We are the liberators, not conquerors. We are ones everyone wants to emulate.

But what if that is backwards? What if we are really Babylon? What if the "freedom" we promise is just a bondage?

I read recently that around the world, ISIS and such are not regarded as the primary threats to peace. The U.S. is...

Those are the thoughts that occurred to me today as I was reading in Habbakkuk 2:

Moreover, wealth is treacherous;
the arrogant do not endure.
They open their throats wide as Sheol;
like Death they never have enough.
They gather all nations for themselves,
and collect all peoples as their own.

  Shall not everyone taunt such people and, with mocking riddles, say about them,

“Alas for you who heap up what is not your own!”
How long will you load yourselves with goods taken in pledge?
Will not your own creditors suddenly rise,
and those who make you tremble wake up?
Then you will be booty for them.
Because you have plundered many nations,
all that survive of the peoples shall plunder you—
because of human bloodshed, and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who live in them.
   “Alas for you who get evil gain for your houses,
setting your nest on high
to be safe from the reach of harm!”
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
The very stones will cry out from the wall,
and the plaster will respond from the woodwork.
   “Alas for you who build a town by bloodshed,
and found a city on iniquity!”
Is it not from the LORD of hosts
that peoples labor only to feed the flames,
and nations weary themselves for nothing?
But the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.

     “Alas for you who make your neighbors drink,
pouring out your wrath until they are drunk,
in order to gaze on their nakedness!”
You will be sated with contempt instead of glory.
Drink, you yourself, and stagger!
The cup in the LORD’S right hand
will come around to you,
and shame will come upon your glory!
For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you;
the destruction of the animals will terrify you—
because of human bloodshed and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who live in them. (Hab 2:5-17 TNIV)

Monday, October 13, 2014


The focus in the modern church on the imperative nature of the great commission becomes a moot point when people have really experienced the love of Christ. The early disciples of the church said, “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4: 20).

Nobody has to scold or shame us into caring about the lost, the least and the last of the world. We cannot do otherwise. We love because He loves us with such intensity that we can’t keep it to ourselves. We don’t want to keep it to ourselves!—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation electronic edition

At least he's honest

The ketiv and the qere are “equal” insofar as 19:7c is incomprehensible by either variant.—M. Fox, Proverbs HBCE, forthcoming

I dunno; it struck me as funny : )

Hand me those tights and a cape please

“Paul is not bidding us to put on tights and a cape and embark on a quest of good works. He is describing ordinary life lived for Jesus Christ, life expressive of the Vine into which we have been grafted by God’s grace. As such, our lives are fragrant to God, ourselves, and others with the aroma of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

Primacy matters

What the Bible’s Story does is this: it takes us from Moses to Christ and says, “Now, follow Jesus.” It doesn’t place Christ as an equal alongside Moses or Elijah, which was Peter’s temptation in Matthew 17. No, it says, “Listen to him!” Jesus is the one to whom we listen, and that means the lex talons at work in the Torah and which prompted Israel’s wars has been set into a new cruciform reality. The wars of Israel say nothing to the follower of Jesus about how to deal with enemies. Again, “Listen to him” are the words of the Father to Peter and to us.— Sermon on the Mount, page 133

There you sit

You see, from this subject, the true position of a vast many church members. They are all the while struggling under the law. They approve of the law, both in its precept and its penalty, they feel condemned, and desire relief. But still they are unhappy. They have no spirit of prayer, no communion with God, no evidence of adoption. They only refer to the 7th of Romans as their evidence. Such a one will say, "There is my experience exactly." Let me tell you, that if this is your experience, you are yet in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. You feel that you are in the bonds of guilt, and you are overcome by iniquity, and surely you know that it is bitter as gall. Now, don't cheat your soul by supposing that with such an experience as this, you can go and sit down by the side of the apostle Paul. You are yet carnal, sold under sin, and unless you embrace the gospel, you will be damned.—Charles Finney

Thoughts on a Sunday evening

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.— The Love of God

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't climb the ladder too fast

In the book The Fifth Discipline, Senge talks about the "ladder of inference." We all do it; we hear one thing from or about someone and we begin to infer who they are. We hear a second thing, and we revise our opinion, we hear a third thing and it either confirms our opinion or we revise it a bit. By the time the fourth thing hits, we've climbed up the ladder of inference and are on the tenth or twelfth step and have decided who they are and what they will think and how they will respond to everything that happens. In other words, we have dehumanized them.

This is a good example of the dangers...

This is one of our our greatest failings in the modern internet age, that we rightly believe that our own lives are complex things that defy easy comprehension, but fail to extend that same grace to others. When it comes to their lives, especially those with whom we disagree, we suddenly possess the ability to derive a doctorate thesis’ worth of conclusions about their story and motivations, from only the smallest fragments of data.
Read the whole thing. It's good illustration of the ladder of inference and how we misuse it...may we all not fall prey to the temptation to objectify others! May we not jump up the ladder of inference!

HT: Michael Bird

No superstars here

Jesus didn’t come to make us religious superstars. Far from it—He came to deliver us from empty religion, even orthodox, time-honored religion. Jesus came to bring us into intimacy with God through Himself. In His earthly days, as in our day, those most offended by Him were the religionists who built their reputation by keeping their golden idols polished to a brighter shine than anybody else’s in town.

The idols are their own particular rules of the road that must be observed as they speed down the highway they call “Christian living.” Their display case is filled with the specific idols that most easily fit their own personality and temperament, and they judge everybody else by whether or not they live up to their own personal standards. People are incidental. What matters instead to the legalist is people’s behavior.—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation, electronic edition

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thought for a Saturday evening

The sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.—Blaise Pacal, Pensées

Double trouble

I long lived with the philosophy of an old man who once told me about the pills the doctor had prescribed that he take once a day: “If one will do me good, two will do me twice as much good.” In his own convoluted logic, that kind of thinking seemed to make sense. I have used that type of ridiculous reasoning about my own lifestyle many times in life. In reality, taking more than the Great Physician has prescribed isn’t better— it’s toxic and will eventually create problems which ultimately destroy our spiritual health.—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation, electronic edition

It isn't really closed

Both creative expansions and recombination of phrases can be found throughout wisdom literature and can be the work of a scribe, a translator, or a copyist in subsequent transmission.—M. Fox in Proverbs, HBCE (forthcoming), sub 16:17

Friday, October 10, 2014

Finney on a Friday

How often do ungodly sinners delight in eloquent preaching or powerful reasoning, by some able minister! It is to them an intellectual feast. And sometimes they are so pleased with it, as really to think they love the word of God. This is consistent with entire depravity of heart and enmity against the true character of God. Nay, it sets their depravity in a stronger light, because they know and approve the right, and yet do the wrong.—Charles Finney

Ad fontes

No, we gain goodness by emptying ourselves of any goodness that we think dwells within us and finding our goodness in God alone. That is no small task. As C. H. Spurgeon said in his inimitable way in a sermon on the Beatitudes: “Our imaginary goodness is harder to conquer than our actual sin.” Christ is our goodness.— Vine Ripened Life

Wrong question again

The dominating idea here is that following Jesus matters above everything else. My own posture is one of pacifism, and here is the logic that I find compelling:
I cannot kill a non-Christian, for whom Christ has died and to whom I am called to preach the gospel, for the state; that would be rendering to Caesar what is God’s and deconstruct the kingdom mission.
I cannot kill a fellow Christian for the state; that would be rendering to Caesar what is God’s. My first allegiance is to the King and to his kingdom people.
I am called to cooperate with the state to the degree it is consistent with the kingdom; I cannot in good conscience cooperate with the state when it is inconsistent with the kingdom; that would be to render to Caesar what is God’s.
I cannot ask in the first instance if this is practicable. I am to ask in the first instance what it means to follow Jesus.
Sermon on the Mount, page 132

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching! Those are my sentiments as well. The question isn't is it easy. The question is are you willing...and usually, if we're honest with ourselves, we aren't. All the excuses on why it's not practical flow from that...
</idle musing>

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Who's in whom?

If the fundamental message of Scripture were to be reduced to two simple words, they would be “in Christ,” a phrase used 77 times in the New Testament.

Contemporary teaching on Christianity often focuses on Christ being in our lives, but the emphasis of the New Testament is that we have entered into His life. “In Him we live and move and exist,” wrote Luke (s ee Acts 17: 28). By the cross, God has put to death the old life we had (s ee Galatians 2: 20; Romans 6: 1-7; Colossians 3: 3) and has now given us the very life of Jesus Christ to be our own.—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation, electronic edition

Assessing the damage

Well, if you were holding your breath for an update on the frost in the garden, you'd be dead : )

<insert excuse here>
What can I say? We had cabins to clean. And I had to track down the source of a propane smell in one of the cabins (I think I found it...). And I had to replace the bolts holding a water closet onto the toilet. That makes three this year, if you're counting. You know how I love plumbing—not! And then other things happen, like doing the cabin laundry, taking a walk (the sunset was beautiful last night), making cheeseless pizza (I use the Adele Davis Whole Wheat Crust recipe, have for over 35 years) with home grown veggies on top of home canned tomato sauce (only two jars left)...
</end excuses>

Well the damage was minimal. I had managed to get the plants covered in time. Just a few tomato leaves were touched—basically the ones that weren't fully covered and the ones that were touching the covering cloth. And some of the squash bit the dust.

I was surprised that the runner beans came through unscathed. I couldn't cover them because they are too high and along the fence. But, whether it is because they are frost hardy or because of their location, it looks like I'll get a few more pickings off them.

On other garden related notes, I started building the beds on the side garden. I had just put logs along the beds there. Can you say slug haven? I turned the logs over and commenced stamping them out (literally). I'm not sure yet if I'll build two beds or three there. Currently it is two full length beds and a six foot one.

On each side of the six foot bed I tried straw bale gardening this year. I read a lot about it in the last year and thought it might be a way to avoid the bad soil here. Talk about work! And the results (for me, at least) were disappointing. I won't do that again. But maybe I'll put in a full 16 foot bed there instead.

On a side note, a while back, when I was doing the landscaping in the backyard, I ran across lots of slugs. I saw two in the midst of guaranteeing the future of their species and taught them how to practice coitus interruptus. Squish! Very interruptus! Birth control for slugs...I sound almost sadistic, don't I?

Grit those teeth

“The gospel is the generator to patience. Without its redemptive influence, our efforts at patience can amount to little more than gritting our teeth. We grin and bear it. Without the gospel, our effort will take on more of a negative feel than positive. That’s what makes patience more than a social grace. It is a trait cultivated more by sanctification than socialization. It flows from a Christ-centered hope. It follows a Christ-centered model.”— Vine Ripened Life

Pacifism is not passivity

Pacifism isn’t quietism or withdrawal or inactivity, and it isn’t simple submission. Pacifism’s root is connected to the peacemaking beatitude, rooted in love and expressed when the follower of Jesus actively seeks peace. Pacifism isn’t a lack of interest or noninvolvement, but the hard work of seeking peace. Pacifism is nonviolent resistance, not nonresistance. What Jesus teaches his followers to do illustrates the sort of pacifism he advocates: turn the other cheek, surrender even more clothing, go the extra mile, lend and do not charge interest or require a payment back. Hardly the stuff of the inactive. These acts subvert the Roman system.— Sermon on the Mount, pages 131-132

<idle musing>
Hmmm...I agree wholeheartedly with this but wonder, did Jesus teach pacifism or nonresistance? I ask this on the basis of this book that I read in 2012 and excerpted from at that time.
</idle musing>

Thought for today

Let my whole being bless the Lord!
Let everything inside me bless his holy name!
Let my whole being bless the Lord
and never forget all his good deeds:
how God forgives all your sins,
heals all your sickness,
saves your life from the pit,
crowns you with faithful love and compassion,
and satisfies you with plenty of good things
so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness;
does justice for all who are oppressed.
God made his ways known to Moses;
made his deeds known to the Israelites.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
very patient, and full of faithful love. (‭Psalms‬ ‭103‬:‭1-8‬ CEB)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


It finally came last night/this morning. I looked out around 10 PM and the thermometer said 38ºF and it was cloudy. I figured I didn't need to cover. Wrong! I looked out again after midnight—way after midnight!—and it was clear. It was beautiful, with the full moon shining on everything. But it was also cold—31ºF cold!

I put on my jacket and began to cover the squash and tomatoes. Everything else is either cold-hardy enough or done for the year (and you can't cover runner beans very easily!). There was a thick coating of frost on the lids of the cold frames that I had just put out yesterday. I slipped a bit from the frost on the deck, too.

Was I too late? We'll see in a bit when it warms up enough to uncover everything...

But it sure was beautiful with the moon on the lake and the fall colors showing up in interesting shades in the moonlight!

Thought for a Wednesday

The holiness that God demands of us is a holiness relating to his own. Now, the holiness of God is in himself, of himself, and for himself; it is therefore necessary that the holiness of these souls be in God, of God, and for God. If must be in God, existing only in him, otherwise it would be proprietary, and would rob him of something; and of God, seeing that all holiness that is not received from God cannot be called such; and for God, as it must refer to him as to its end and centre, and must serve his glory. The soul then arrived into God, has no longer anything in itself, foritself, nor of itself; but by its loss into God, everything is received in him alone; and that which it possesses is not for itself, any more than it comes from itself. But, as everything has come from God, so has everything flowed there again.&mash;Jeanne Guyon

Patience, my friend

“Like regulated blood pressure is an indicator of good health, patience with strangers, our spouse, and our children is a telltale sign of how well the other fruit of the Spirit are developing in our lives. If our patience is lacking, we can be sure the other fruit are underdeveloped.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
A woman once asked Watchman Nee to pray for patience for her. He refused, saying rather that he would pray that she would have Jesus in her. He told her that patience is simply more of Jesus...more of Jesus, more patience. Less patience, the less we are allowing Jesus (through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit) to control us.
</idle musing>

When does it start?

The question that confronts any serious reading of the Sermon on the Mount is this: Would Jesus have seen a difference between a kingdom ethic for his followers in their so-called private life but a different ethic in public? I doubt it. Why? Because Jesus’ Messianic Ethic, an ethic for his community of followers, is an Ethic from Above and Beyond. The question every reader of the Sermon must ask is this: Does that world begin now, or does it begin now in private but not in public, or does it begin now for his followers in both private and to the degree possible in the public realm as well? Sermon on the Mount, page 129

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Looks interesting

Reading the Way to Heaven

Reading the Way to Heaven
A Wesleyan Theological Hermeneutic of Scripture
Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplements - JTISup 8
by Steven Joe Koskie Jr.
Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming, December 2014
Ca. pp. xii + 220, English
Paper, 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 9781575067063
Your Price: $35.95

I want it!

It's still growing

Wow! Today is October 7 and still no frost! That's unusual, as this chart shows (source).

The weird thing is that they aren't predicting frost for the next week or so. But, things are winding down anyway. I picked the last of the beans from the side garden yesterday. It was enough for both Debbie and me—which means most people would consider it 4-6 servings : ) We like fresh green beans! I pulled the plants.

The runner beans are still going strong. I picked them yesterday and got enough for about 1/2 gallon freezer bag. They don't mind the cold as much as regular green beans do. But there are only about 3-4 blossoms on them. I figure I'll get one more picking out of them. My main concern is the ones that I left for seed; they aren't maturing as quickly as I had hoped. I need them for seed next year! I have a few seeds left, but I might need to buy some—horrors! : )

I also harvested the last of the potatoes yesterday. They didn't do as well as I had hoped, but I was basically growing them on gravel with a bit of soil mixed in. Next year I'll plant them in the new beds. But we still got enough to eat for a few months—probably through January. Last year we got into March, I think.

With the colder weather, the slugs have slowed down. But they still are attacking my tomatoes. Yesterday I found one eating a patty pan squash! I've never seen that before. He won't do that again! Squish!

Today I'm planning on setting out my cold frames, getting ready for spring. I'm not overwintering anything this year. I didn't plan ahead enough to get stuff going in time—and I'm not sure where to do it. Last year showed me where the drifts land—the whole backyard! And over 6 feet deep in spots. That puts a bit of a stop to accessibility, doesn't it? I'm going to check out the drifts and sun on the side garden. I'm still thinking maybe a hoop house over definitely would need to be anchored solidly; the wind howls through there as it swoops down from the ridge to the lake. But if the sun hits it enough in December/January and the drifts go elsewhere, then maybe...

Get out of the way!

“Impatience is full of self. Patience is low on self. Impatience is fueled by pride. Patience is driven by the application of love.

Patience seems to be the cocktail to all the other fruit of the Spirit, with love as the base and the other fruit lending the various flavors of grace.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Impatient? Who's impatient? Not I! Just hurry up, would ya! I'm in a hurry to do what I want and you're in my way! So move over or I'll run you down! But, impatient? No way! I just don't like incompetence! (And I define incompetence as anything that doesn't make things go the way I want them to!
</idle musing>

Dichotomy? What dichotomy?

One of the main thrusts of the ethic of Jesus is the radicalization of an ethic so that we live consistently, from the so-called “private” to the “public” spheres. There is for Jesus no distinction between a secular life and spiritual life: we are always to follow him. His ethic is an Ethic from Beyond. But others, in words not so wrongheaded as Luther’s, have continued Luther’s personal vs. public or spiritual vs. secular distinction when it comes to ethics.— Sermon on the Mount, pages 128-129

<idle musing>
Tozer famously took on the secular/sacred divide in Pursuit of God. Fifty years later the divide is still standing in people's minds...

It doesn't exist! "All truth is God's truth." And all creation is God's creation. There is no "ordinary time." It's all God's time—every last second of it. Let him into all of life—especially the "secular" parts!
</idle musing>


Self-condemnation is a sacrament to the Christian legalist. It’s one way he seeks to atone for his sins. His rationale may be conscious or unconscious, but it suggests that if he is sorry enough, if he feels bad enough, if he executes enough emotional self-flagellation and offers up the sacrifice of genuine self-contempt, then God will forgive him.—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation (electronic edition)

Monday, October 06, 2014

A midnight thought

"We don’t have to walk through life as if we were in a minefield where we may step into temptation and have our faith blown apart. Christians who know their identity in Christ aren’t paranoid about sins and temptation. Our responsibility is to simply rest in Christ. How? Christ has called us to simply rest in Him, allowing Him to love us, to live His life through us, and to deal with sins and temptations as they approach us during the short time of our earthly life. He accomplishes His work in us, through the power of His indwelling Spirit who inspires us to respond to His love."—Steve McVey, A Divine Invitation, electronic edition


I'm rereading Steve Runge's Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament—again. Good stuff. I like this:
Although there are several contrastive or adversative particles, ἀλλά adds the unique constraint of correcting some aspect of what precedes. In terms of distinguishing ἀλλά from εἰ μή, the key is the relation of what follows the particle to what precedes. In the case of εἰ μή, the excepted element that replaces what precedes was a potential member of the negated set. In the case of ἀλλά, the correcting member was not a member of the original set; it is a new element. (page 93)
<idle musing>
That's all. Just wanted to share it : )
</idle musing>

I'm not the only one

Ran across this in my RSS reader this AM. I would have expected this from say, Michael Gorman, but coming from someone in the heart of Indiana... I'm not as sure as he is about how innocent it is, though. What? you ask. The problems of civil religion, that's what.

He lists seven problems, which you definitely need to read. I'll just highlight one:

6. The flag becomes a symbol like the cross.
I imagine that there may be as many American flags on the platforms of American churches as there are crosses. Indeed, there are probably a good many American churches that would be angry at the idea of having a cross because of some association of it with Catholic perversity.
<idle musing>
He's right. There are more flags than crosses. I was at an event several years ago in a megachurch's building. They had no crosses in the building. But they had a huge—and I mean huge U.S. flag flying in the front. There was no way you could have told it was a church building; in fact, it looked more like a government building.

I asked about the absence of the cross. They said that they wanted to make the building available to all and that a cross would be a hindrance to that. Exactly! Isn't that what skandalon means?!

When I questioned the flag versus the cross, I was viewed as a heretic...I guess I am—if your religion is nationalism.

So, Ken, welcome to the club of heretics... : )
</idle musing>

Malware to the soul

“My word-processing program’s thesaurus offerings serve as an exegetical expositor of the perils of impatience and, conversely, the importance of patience. My cursor hovers over impatient and the following are suggested as synonyms: annoyed, edgy, irritated, intolerant, exasperated, aggravated, irked, and piqued. These alternatives do a good job displaying the danger of impatience. It is malware to the soul.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
"Malware to the soul" I like that; it's a very good description of what impatience is. I find that when I get impatient I tend to dehumanize the person I'm impatient with. Once they are dehumanized, you don't even realize when you say mean things to them or act in unloving and hurtful things. Definitely "malware to the soul..."
</idle musing>

It's even worse than I thought

"If anyone slaps you . . .”: For a person to be slapped on the right cheek apparently assumes being hit by a person facing them with a backhanded slap (or a left-handed person striking a person with an open hand). The backhanded slap is a gross insult to the dignity of a person.— Sermon on the Mount, page 127

Why is it missing?

Holiness, that is. Finney seems to know the answer:
How many are seeking sanctification by their own resolutions and works, their fastings and prayers, their endeavors and activity, instead of taking right hold of Christ, by faith, for sanctification, as they do for justification. It is all work, work, WORK, when it should be by faith in "Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and SANCTIFICATION, and redemption." When they go and take right hold of the strength of God, they will be sanctified. Faith will bring Christ right into the soul, and fill it with the same spirit that breathes through Himself. These dead works are nothing. It is faith that must sanctify, it is faith that purifies the heart; that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, takes hold of Christ and brings Him into the soul, to dwell there the hope of glory; that the life which we live here should be by the faith of the Son of God. It is from not knowing, or not regarding this, that there is so little holiness in the church.
<idle musing>
Not a whole lot has changed in 150 years, has it?
</idle musing>

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Thought for today

I will dwell on your mighty acts, my Lord.
Lord, I will help others remember nothing but your righteous deeds.
You’ve taught me since my youth, God,
and I’m still proclaiming your wondrous deeds!
So, even in my old age with gray hair,
don’t abandon me, God!
Not until I tell generations about your mighty arm,
tell all who are yet to come about your strength,
and about your ultimate righteousness, God,
because you’ve done awesome things!
Who can compare to you, God? (‭Psalms‬ ‭71‬:‭16-19‬ CEB)

Saturday, October 04, 2014

More gardening

On Tuesday, I wrote that the beans in the new beds weren't giving us much because it turned cold. Scratch that. I just froze a gallon bag worth on Thursday. If it warms up a bit this weekend, I'll get another gallon worth, but I doubt it will warm up enough. After all, it is October and we still haven't had a frost!

In other gardening news, the slugs love my tomatoes, kohlrabi, and kale—so much so that my kale (two varieties) never got bigger than about 10 inches. They especially like the purple kohlrabi; I only got one to eat. The rest are little stubs. They look like miniature dead trees with short little branches. Disappointing, to say the least. The Vienna Kohlrabi has done better. I'm not sure if it is the location or the variety, but the wood chuck likes them better and the slugs like them less. I'd rather feed the wood chuck : )

I didn't get around to making cages for my tomatoes until they were too large to cage, so they are all lying on the ground. Slug bait. Big time slug bait. You'd think I would have learned from last year...Last year I harvested about 1/3 and the slugs got 2/3. This year's a little better; I'm running about 50% in the backyard and 100% in the side garden.

The side garden is basically gravel with a bit of soil to deceive you into thinking you can actually grow something. I'm working on the soil, but at least the slugs don't like it! I planted Glacier tomatoes there. They supposedly set fruit as low as 39ºF; we've been eating from them since the beginning of August. They're small tomatoes, about the size of cherry tomatoes but with more flesh. I'll grow them again next year with real soil.

I mentioned the lettuce the other day. We planted both Romaine (Winter Density) and Buttercrunch. The Buttercrunch did really well until it got warmer. I could never grow it in Indiana—too hot; it would bolt before getting big enough to eat. Definitely growing that again next year!

We're still eating Romaine. It's getting older and tough, about like the stuff you buy in the store : ) But when it was young...that's one of the reasons to have a garden. Tender, fresh, juicy lettuce. Next year I'll do more succession planting. Winter Density is good because it doesn't bolt too fast and can also withstand cold. The biggest problem is that the slugs like it almost as much as we do...

Speaking of slugs (although I'd rather not!), I declared war on them about 2 weeks ago. I killed several dozen that were hiding in an area along the back fence. I put landscape cloth down and a layer of flat rocks over the top. Previously it had been a lot of shade-loving weeds. We had put some begonias in a box back there and that's where the rabbit hutch is, as well. It looks much better now. If I remember, I'll take a picture of it and post it.

I also put out beer in some 6 ounce yogurt containers—about 2/3 full. The first night I got about 18 slugs. They love the yeasty smell of beer and fall in and drown. Personally, I don't like beer, so I can't understand it, but I'm sure some of you are saying, "What a way to go!" Next year I'll buy a six pack of beer and keep the cups fresh—part of a three-pronged offensive against the slugs.

I also read that you can shoot them with an ammonia mixture. I'll try that, too (second prong). If the mixture isn't too strong, it won't hurt the plants. In fact, because it is nitrogen based, it actually helps the plants. Think of all the ammonia that they dump on the fields every year... The other trick (third prong) I'll use is putting boards down in the rows between the beds. When the slugs take refuge under them, you turn them over and scrape the slugs into a pail of soapy water. Personally, I prefer stepping on them! Squish! Sadistic, I know, but they're eating my produce! I don't mind them in the compost bin—actually, I like them there as they help in the decomposition of stuff. But stay out of my food!

Well that's enough for today. I'll try to write more next week...I haven't mentioned our cabbage, peas, radishes, onions, Brussels sprouts, or garlic yet. Speaking of garlic, it's time to plant it...