Sunday, December 31, 2006
After dinner, we had a time of worship with Joel on the guitar and Ryan and Renee on the hand drums, some sharing of what God has done in our lives, and then communion. One of the joys of having adult children is being able to see and share in what God is doing in their lives. We rejoice in His goodness to us. The verse that I have always torn out of context (hey, eisegesis is good sometimes!) and asked God for in my children is III John 3 "No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth." (RSV) God has answered that prayer abundantly and we praise him for it.
Friday, December 29, 2006
The continuing saga of programmers who can't spell
Since he has declared himself an independent state, he can't use company funds, I guess. Anyway, I did my part, I gave him a 10 cent Euro piece. So now he only needs $98.77. I doubt that a one day seminar is going to teach him to spell and write, though...
That is the question some of us were discussing the other day. Why not Brunner, or Barth, or Moltmann, or…the list could go on ad infinitum. They are all good modern theologians, but why does Bonhoeffer seem to have something a bit different?
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but there is something about Bonhoeffer that is unique and grabs me in a way that the other ones don’t. He seems more alive, more in touch with everyday life; his faith made a difference in the way he lived. I think that is why I like him. There is a passion that shines through in his writings; a conviction that ignites the soul and makes it feel alive.
As you read Bonhoeffer, you can sense that he had an encounter with the living God that was still alive in him. You see the difference in his writings after 1932. As Bethge (one of his students and his biographer) said of him: Before 1932 he was a good theologian, but once he encountered God, he became a Christian theologian.
That’s my view anyway, anyone care to comment?
Thursday, December 28, 2006
New CAD volumes arrived
Chicago Assyrian Dictionary T
Chicago Assyrian Dictionary - CAD 18
Edited by Martha T. Roth
Oriental Institute-Chicago, 2006
510 pages, English
Your Price: $145.00
Chicago Assyrian Dictionary T. [Tet)
Chicago Assyrian Dictionary - CAD 19
Edited by Martha T. Roth
Oriental Institute-Chicago, Forthcoming December 22, 2006
170 pages, English
Your Price: $105.00
Update: It appears that I had the wrong prices! I have corrected them downwards!
Quote for today
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Quote for today
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Quote for today
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Quote for today
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Quote for the day
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ethics for today
Monday, December 18, 2006
Quote for the day
Bonhoeffer's 4 mandates
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Ouch! It hurt, but it had to be done.
Saturday I was frustrated. How can people be so dense? I try so hard, but it just doesn't seem to happen. I don't seem to get anywhere. I, I, I, I...
That should have been my first clue. As I am so fond of telling others, you can tell a lot about a person by the subject of the sentence. But, no, I went on bullheadedly and let my frustration rule me instead of the love of Christ.
So, if I am running the show, what do you think will come out? Yep, me, self-righteous, Pharisaical, proud, arrogant, the list goes on. Sure, it might contain truth, but is it the truth, spoken in love? That is the true test. It is only as I function in the love of Christ that anything will ever be accomplished.
A good Christian brother pointed out the problem to me, but I only saw half the problem. Even after I posted the Bonhoeffer quote, and mused on it, I didn't realize the extent of my sin. Only now, two days after, and who knows how many people hurt, did it become evident to me.
What am I talking about? I made some posts that I should not have—probably not the first time—but these were different; they weren't just frivolous. These were mean-spirited; they reflected the worst of me, my pride and desire to be right at all costs. Self-vindication is a cruel task master and loves to eat its victims up, all the while making them think they are justified in their actions. But, the light of God shines brighter and shone through, setting me free once again.
So, I did something I've never done before, I took down some posts. They were posted in arrogance and pride, and if anyone was hurt, I ask your forgiveness.
I am not given to this kind of public confession. But, the sin was public, therefore the confession should also be public.
Quote for today
Ouch! I don't know how many times I've heard something and instantly applied it to someone else's life. Yes, even—no, especially—when it was very relevant to my own life. Or, just as bad, I've explained my sin away, justifying it in my own eyes. Or, worse yet, set myself up as judge of someone else's situation...Lord! Deliver me from myself! Oh, wait he has! "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 RSV
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Bonhoeffer for a Saturday
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wish list is live at Eisenbrauns!
You can see mine here.
If you are feeling generous, the large BHS would be very nice. My eyes can't always tell the difference between a resh and a dahlet anymore in my small BHS, even with reading glasses :(
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Around the blogosphere
Yesterday, over at the The M Blog there is a very good post about Church Planting, Baptists & Charismatics together:
I have been told 80% of evangelicals in Ecuador are either charismatics or pentecostals. To ignore and disassociate ourselves from them is not only unbiblical, it is ministry suicide, and quite clearly sin if you ask me.
He goes on for quite a while, well worth the read.
Meantime, here in the States, Jim Martin has a good post on The Wonderful World of Self:
Years ago, I was the minister to a church that met on the campus of a Bible college. The school and the church were their own separate entities. Yet, there was some overlap. After all, I taught part-time at the college (a senior level ministry class each semester). One Sunday, a man employed by the school was in our assembly. He approached me afterward and said that he was scheduled to preach in chapel that week and would like to use much of what I had just said in that morning’s sermon. I said something like "sure" and went on. As I recall, I felt encouraged that he wanted to use much of that material for his own message.
That week, I was in chapel and heard his message. It was very familiar — very, very familiar. Maybe I just wanted him to acknowledge that he heard much of this last Sunday morning in our assembly. Yet, not one word.
This bothered me.
This bothered me — a lot.
You really should read it all. One commenter on the blog said it is the "Somebody didn’t push my ‘I’m important!’ button." Well put. Definitely worth the read.
And Ted Gossard has an excellent post as well on Living out life
This is why, though rules have their place, they really do not have a kind of prior place in the living out of this life. For example, as one in Jesus, I don't refuse to steal, simply because it's a rule from God I must keep, and because it's part of a choice, among the many choices I must make along the way. No. But I refuse to steal, or fight any temptation I may have to do so, because I have this life in Jesus. And having this life, I want to live it out. And I have the dynamic in God to do so.
I was brought up with a form of legalism that made how one dresses (especially women), or what one does (and doesn't do) to be of prior importance in living out Christianity, in being a Christian. Fortunately there were those who knew better. But by and large Christianity was seen more for what we do and don't do, rather than who we are and "the life" that we have in Jesus. When I finally became a Christian, the new life in Jesus was at the forefront of my experience. I overflowed with this new love and grace I had found. But I gradually receded back into a kind of orientation, that, while not surrendering "the life" aspect entirely, nevertheless relegated it to a status that put the onus on me. As if living out this life, and remaining in it, depends on me
He continues on, worth the read.
More from Bonhoeffer
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
All I can say is that I wouldn't want to be married to a woman like that. It sure would be boring.
Best books of 2006
Barth for today
Quote for the day
Monday, December 11, 2006
Eisenbrauns 2 week sale
Call it an early Christmas present for Assyriologists!
Reflecting on The Great Giveaway
We form our churches on the model of big business, with our pastors expected to be CEOs, without even thinking about how that changes the focus of the church (as an aside, I know of one church that justifies the multi-million dollar per year salary of their head pastor on the basis of the pay for the CEO of a similar size business!). We give away counseling to psychotherapists, even Christian ones, who are trained to focus on the self as the source of solutions instead of taking the necessary time to see if the problems are sin issues, economic issues, etc., in stark contrast to Christ’s command to die to self. Seems that listening to the voice of someone/thing other than God is what got us into this whole mess in the first place (Genesis 3). The list goes on.
I basically agree with his analysis of the situation, but his solution is equally problematic. He wants to return to liturgy, catechesis, etc. He freely admits that his answers are not necessarily the best, but they are the ones he is using in the church he pastors. He also has some other suggestions, some good, some not as good. I think in some cases he goes too far; in others, not far enough.
<soap box alert>
For example, he wants to change the sermon to make it more relevant and less spoon feeding of propositional truths to hearers. I agree, we should change it, but the best change is to abolish it! We need to have teaching as interaction, not teaching as lecture!
Think about the last conversation you had. Do you remember more clearly what you said, or what the other person said? Exactly! The Socratic Method needs to be brought back into the church (DIALOGOS, in its best Greek meaning).
</soap box alert>
There are a few nitpicky things that bothered me about this otherwise very worthwhile read:
1. Use footnotes, not endnotes! The notes are essential to forwarding the argument of the book in many places. Don’t relegate them to the back of the book.
2. Edit out the department of redundancy department phrases. The book could have benefited dramatically from a heavier editing. The book could easily have lost 50 pages if the editor had made him clarify his thoughts. Of course, that same editor would probably have made him incorporate some of the notes into the text, so the end result would be a book of the same length. : )
But, the book is definitely worth the read. I have already offered it to 2 people, and no, Eisenbrauns doesn’t sell it!
I was catching up on a blog whose RSS feed doesn't work, and ran across this:
Alternatives to monologue preaching
Both the New Testament and church planting movements offer very effective alternatives to the monologue. As mentors of emerging leaders of new congregations, we should be able to train others in these alternatives.
Dialogue. (Acts 17:2; 20:7; 17:11; 24:25) The apostles preferred to “dialogue” with both seekers and believers, both individuals and groups. Dialogue, conversations with a purpose, allow a teacher to answer folk’s questions, allay their fears, inform their ignorance, appeal to their conscience, and help them choose what they will do. Believers are to teach and instruct “one another” (Col. 3:16; Rom 15:14). Dialogue is easier to do in small groups than in big congregations. Since most folks already know how to dialogue with their friends and relatives, doing so is a superior way to share about Jesus and the way of life that He calls everyone to follow.
You should read the rest.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This does raise a very interesting question, though. What is the biblical basis for fund raising letters for oneself/one's own ministry?
I know that Paul writes about money a good deal, and we would do well to take it to heart. But, does Paul ever ask for money for his own stuff? I don't recall it. He asks on behalf of the church in Jerusalem, which is loaded with theological significance to him, since it is the first fruits of the inflow of the gentiles described in the prophets. But, does he ever ask for it on his own behalf?
Maybe I am wrong (wouldn't be the first time), but I tend to think the model shown by George Mueller and Hudson Taylor is more scriptural. They made their requests known to God, and he supplied their needs.
In fact, if you read Hudson Taylor's biography, you will see that he was more concerned that God would send the right people than he was with money. At one point he had more money than missionaries to use it, which caused him to opine that he always figured that when God sent the person, the money would follow and that money was of secondary importance.
Perhaps our current obsession with fund raising letters is a result of how we view the church. Is the church the organic body of Christ, or is it just another organization to be run on American business principles? How we answer that question is foundational to how we act. Are "decisions for Christ" what the church is all about? Is spoon feeding hearers propositional truth what the church is all about? If so, then business principles might apply. If, however, the church is about relationships between people and between people and God, then we need to seriously reexamine how we "do church." To run a church (or ministry) on business principles, complete with surveys and 5 year plans and mass mailings and logo-ed charge cards(!!! don't get me started on that one) is to do violence to the concept of the kingdom of God present in an assembled body of believers.
How can we expect to bring about the kingdom of God by fleshly effort and methods? Well, the subject of that sentence says it all, doesn't it? Anytime the subject of the sentence is anything other than the triune God, results are, at best, poor substitutes for the presence of the living God in the church as a body of believers (2 or more!).
Now there is a radical thought—two or more. That means that when I am with my wife, or my kids, or co-workers, or friends, we are "doing church." Kinda blows the mind, doesn't it? Drop the dichotomy of secular-sacred and walk in the presence of God all the time! Wow! Sounds so—well, scriptural!
OK, enough rambling for one day...
Friday, December 08, 2006
Inside Eisenbrauns, update
Poor, misguided young lad! He doesn't know how much he needs our assistance. Those of us who are part of the coalition to re-annex the Independent Office of Travis Spangle are committed to doing so peacefully, if possible.
As a show of good will on our part, we translated our Petition into Wingding, the official language of said office. Since there is no Google Language tool or Babelfish for Wingding, We enlisted the skills of our resident linguist, John Cook. John put forth significant effort, the results of which are below.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
In the interest of assisting him, some of us began editing his e-mails and returning them to him, in the hopes that he would take to heart our assistance. Sorry to say, he did not appreciate our attempts. In fact, he issued a statement of secession! He posted it on his office door, complete with bad grammar and spelling mistakes. It has remained there for over a month.
Today, in an attempt to help him see the error of his ways, a petition was posted on his office door, encouraging him to return to the Eisenbiz.
I will keep you updated as the situation escalates :)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Used books on sale all December
For the entire month of December, Eisenbrauns is offering 15% off the price on all used books. Be sure to take advantage of this chance to save even more on the already low cost of our used books. Complete details can be found here
Well, maybe I can, because it opened a door in my soul that stuck with me throughout Tuesday. I found myself acting in a way and saying things that were arrogant, inconsiderate, uncaring, and unloving. It wasn't until last night that I realized how I had been acting all day. I had to spend a bit of time with God, allowing him to once again crucify what I had thought was dead—and it was/is dead according to scripture. I just chose to live outside of what Christ has already done, and once you do that...well it ain't pretty.
Quote for the day
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
OK, I fell for it
|What Kind of Reader Are You? |
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.
|Literate Good Citizen|
|What Kind of Reader Are You?|
Create Your Own Quiz
Hmm, the colors didn't seem to come through. Just so you know: The very top one is at about 85-90%. Of the five below it, the top two are at about 75%, the third one at 50%, and the other two have nothing.
No surprise, is there?
HT: Rick Mansfield
Quote for the day
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—
who can understand it?
I the Lord test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.
Jeremiah 17:5-10 RSV
“In demanding the deed, scripture actually does not point people to their own capacities but to Jesus Christ himself. ‘Without me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). This sentence must be understood in the strictest sense. There really is no doing without Jesus Christ. All the multiple activities that otherwise have the appearance of doing, all the countless tasks, are considered in Jesus’ judgment as if nothing had been done.”—Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pages 326-327
Monday, December 04, 2006
Ethics for a Monday
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Ethics for December 3
Wow, talk about an impossible task! But, that seems to be what a lot of christians do. They want to make sure that God is pleased, so every possible scenario is examined under a microscope…Bonhoeffer is calling us to freedom. The freedom of surrendering all decisions to the grace of God. Listening to the Spirit and walking in true freedom. I’ll take that any day over hyper-analyzing every decision.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
It is thought that if we pray the right way, or have the right anointed leader, or have attained enough spiritual authority revival will come.
Spiritual authority is a concept that shifts from group to group. Some believe that there is a hierarchical governing authority to everything flowing down from apostles to prophets to pastors to elders to men to women and finally children. Others also believe that through a spiritual process individuals or groups gain more authority to break down oppressive spiritual strongholds. For revival to come they must go through a continual process of empowerment and refinement. Leaders must strive to achieve a level of prophetic clarity so they can hear God accurately and speak powerful words. When they reach a certain level they will be able to pull down the spiritual strongholds that hold a particular geographic area captive. The strategy employed to do this is called spiritual mapping. When this is successful the spiritual bonds that keep people from Christ are broken, the Holy Spirit floods out and people flood back in to the church.
How this looks in the real world is sometimes far from the ideal. In all my years of observing such groups the spiritual breakthrough has never arrived. Some maintain that it is still coming...
I think the overwhelming message of the Spirit these days is "clean up your act and get your show on the road". It is a terrible mistake to hide behind safe walls in sheltered enclaves waiting for something to happen. I think the impetus behind an obsessive focus on intercession and spiritual warfare could be a terrible deception designed to keep spiritually empowered Christians away from the rest of the world.
I believe the most powerful vehicle for building the kingdom of God that we can employ is the local church. As a simple church advocate I'd say the local church can be something very small and relatively unstructured and still be a church. I've lost a lot of faith in independent ministries and para-church organizations. It feels odd for me to say this because the best influences in the first 10 years of my Christian life were para-church ministries. I really think all these smart gifted people that are frustrated with the inaction of the church need to find their way back. Things like evangelism, teaching and discipleship work best in a community of believers that are actually committed to each other.
Some might think I would oppose a revival if one actually occurred. I'm not against it because a true revival will be the work of God. I believe it has become an idol in some elements of the Christian church. Our focus on what we want God to do (through us usually) has distracted us from stepping out in faith and doing what we know we are supposed to do. I don't believe God would bring a flood of people in to a church that is already full of people indistinguishable from the world.
I come from a revivalist background. I firmly believe in revival. But, Leighton's comments are right on. Some of us have idolized revival and made it the answer instead of Jesus. Jesus is always the source of any revival that there might be. The surest way to experience revival is to surrender our will to his and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.
Obedience, not manifestations or experiences, is the evidence of revival. As long as there is no difference between those in the church and those outside the church, don't look for a revival in the land. The revival must begin in the church. I read once that the best way to pray for revival was to get down on your knees on the floor, draw a circle around yourself and start praying for revival within the circle! And that revival will be a fresh realization of who Jesus is and what he demands from us–not a feel-good experience that allows us to continue to wallow in our sins.
Bonhoeffer's Ethics returns
“This rules out two disastrous misunderstandings, that of cultural Protestantism and that of monasticism. People do not fulfill the responsibility laid on them by faithfully performing their earthly vocational obligations as citizens, workers, and parents, but by hearing the call of Jesus Christ that, although it leads them also into earthly obligations, is never synonymous with these, but instead always transcends them as a reality standing before and behind them. Vocation in the New Testament sense is never a sanctioning of the worldly orders as such. Its Yes always includes at the same time the sharpest No, the sharpest protest against the world…Vocation is the place at which one responds to the call of Christ and thus lives responsibly. The task given to me by my vocation is thus limited; but my responsibility to the call of Jesus Christ knows no bounds.”—Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pages 290-291
Friday, December 01, 2006
Biblical Studies Carnival
With the expansion of blogdom, I find these helpful in keeping track of what is happening and where. Thanks, Jim, for an entertaining update.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
How do you follow up AAR/SBL?
So, what to do? One obvious answer is to put used books on sale. Nobody was selling used books at AAR/SBL, so that market is open. So, watch for that to happen on Monday. Meantime, what to do for a 10 day sale? It's too late to give me feedback for this sale, but I still have 2 more before the end of the year.
What would you like Eisenbrauns to put on sale (and why)?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Quote for the day
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Appearance versus reality?
Yesterday, as I was walking home, I saw a nicely lit Christmas tree. It was a tall pine in the park I walk through. The tree is between the sidewalk that goes through the park and the road. As I got closer, something seemed wrong. The front of the tree was fully covered with lights, but the back of the tree had none. Obviously, the people in charge of decorations were concerned with putting on a show for people who would be driving to the nearby shops.
Sort of like the post I did on veneer a while back, only here there is no load bearing. The tree looks good, but only from a distance. How typical of our shallow existence in this post-modern world. We look good, but only from a distance. Our christianity can look good to an outsider, but don't get too close, only one side is decorated; we never really died to self. We don't really believe in the radical power of the Holy Spirit to truly transform/make new/regenerate. After all, we have to live the christian life, and we know we can't do it! How easily we forget that the truly Christian life is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit through people who have died to self and its desires.
This seems especially pertinent after coming back from the annual exhibit of pride called AAR/SBL. Don't get me wrong, I love AAR/SBL, but the amount of pride exhibited there is enough to fill a building 10 times the convention center (and I'm not exempt!). The alternative is moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit; trusting him to direct our thoughts and actions...of course, that isn't academic, since you can't measure and analyze it. But, it is more real than most things we can measure and analyze.
Just an idle musing on the last Tuesday before December...
Quote for the day
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Quote for the day
A quaint old divine of the seventeenth century says:
“There is nothing so contrary to God as sin, and God will not suffer sin always to rule his masterpiece, man. When we consider the infiniteness of God’s power for destroying that which is contrary to Him, who can believe that the devil must always stand and prevail? I believe it is inconsistent and disagreeable with true faith for people to be Christians, and yet to believe that Christ, the eternal Son of God, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, will suffer sin and the devil to have dominion over them.
“But you will say no man by all the power he hath can redeem himself, and no man can live without sin. We will say, Amen, to it. But if men tell us, that when God’s power comes to help us and to redeem us out of sin, that it cannot be effected, then this doctrine we cannot away with; nor I hope you neither.
“Would you approve of it, if I should tell you that God puts forth His power to do such a thing, but the devil hinders Him? That it is impossible for God to do it because the devil does not like it? That it is impossible that any one should be free from sin because the devil hath got such a power in them that God cannot cast him out? This is lamentable doctrine, yet hath not this been preached? It doth in plain
terms say, though God doth interpose His power, it is impossible, because the devil hath so rooted sin in the nature of man. Is not man God’s creature, and cannot He new make him, and cast sin out of him? If you say sin is deeply rooted in man, I say so, too, yet not so deeply rooted but Christ Jesus hath entered so deeply into the root of the nature of man that He hath received power to destroy the devil and his works, and to recover and redeem man into righteousness and holiness. Or else it is false that ‘He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.’ We must throw away the Bible, if we say that it is impossible for God to deliver man out
“We know,” he continues, “when our friends are in captivity, as in Turkey, or elsewhere, we pay our money for their redemption; but we will not pay our money if they be kept in their fetters still. Would not any one think himself cheated to pay so much money for their redemption, and the bargain be made so that he shall be said to be redeemed, and be called a redeemed captive, but he must wear his fetters still? How long? As long as he hath a day to live.
“This is for bodies, but now I am speaking of souls. Christ must be made to me redemption, and rescue me from captivity. Am I a prisoner any where? Yes, verily, verily, he that committeth sin, saith Christ, he is a servant of sin, he is a slave of sin. If thou hast sinned, thou art a slave, a captive that must be redeemed out of captivity. Who will pay a price for me? I am poor; I have nothing; I cannot redeem myself; who will pay a price for me? There is One come who hath paid a price for me. That is well; that is good news, then I hope I shall come out of my captivity. What is His name, is He called a Redeemer? So, then, I do expect the benefit of my redemption, and that I shall go out of my captivity. No, say they, you must abide in sin as long as you live. What! must we never be delivered? Must this crooked heart and perverse will always remain? Must I be a believer, and yet have no faith that reacheth to sanctification and holy living? Is there no mastery to be had, no getting victory over sin? Must it prevail over me as long as I live? What sort of a Redeemer, then, is this, or what benefit have I in this life, of my redemption?”—Hannah Whitall Smith in The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life
Saturday, November 25, 2006
If the church is to be merely a dispenser of spiritual goods and advice, a place people pass through to get their religion fix, then we should follow the example of brand-driven corporate giants. But, if we hope to form meaningful communities of Christ-followers we shouldn’t neglect the power of being local. Rather than reading the latest branding book, why not gather mature leaders and listen for the Holy Spirit? How is he advising us to be the community of Christ in this unique place at this unique time?
Now isn't that a novel idea, listening to the Holy Spirit! Dangerous, too. You never know what God might tell you to do. It probably won't be from the corporate play book, but it will definitely be for the building up of the saints. And, last time I checked anyway, the goal of the church was not numbers and glitz, but transformed lives that give glory to God in their daily living.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Quote for the day
This has been a beef of mine for decades now. People confuse natural giftedness, which is definitely a gift from God at birth, with supernatural giftedness, which is a gift from God after rebirth. Everyone, whether Christian or not, is gifted by God at birth with certain talents. Those can be tested for, analyzed, categorized, developed, studied, whatever, to our heart's content. But, they are distinct and different from supernatural giftedness. Supernatural gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ for the edification of the church after regeneration.
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Ephesians 4:7-17, RSV
Watchman Nee used to say that we should take people with no natural abilities and put them in positions of authority, that way they would know that they had to depend on God! I think that is going too far, but the point is valid. In my last job, I had no formal training for the position I held. Therefore, I knew I was totally dependent on God to survive. In this job, given the 13 years of college, seminary, graduate school, etc., I am able to depend on my natural skills. All too often the results are pride, unless I remember that even this is a gift of God.
HT: Jim West
Speaking of Bonhoeffer, with AAR/SBL and all, I haven't had a chance to read in Ethics for over a week. But, while there, I did get a copy of a delightful little book by Hendrickson Reflections on the Bible: Human Word and Word of God, a 2004 book which I somehow missed.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 When his breath departs he returns to his earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners,
he upholds the widow and the fatherless;
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign for ever,
thy God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 146, RSV
What is human?
1. To be human is to be contingent. This has to be said first because while ontologically it is rather obvious, existentially it is deeply problematical. One way or another, we all know that we are not necessary, that we are here without a by-your-leave, that we have been “thrown” into existence. Whether by a vicious fastball, a deceptive slider, or a graceful curve depends on your faith – or, better, your trust. But human beings do not live this knowledge of contingency. Gifts of God to the world, we live like we are God’s gift to the world. We act like we are self-caused, self-made, independent, indispensable, as though our non-existence were inconceivable. We act, in other words, like God. And in acting like God we act against God. We sin.
2. To be human is to be self-contradictory. Sin is a surd, or, as Barth said, an impossible possibility. That is why we cannot fit sin into any system: it is inherently inexplicable, irrational – it doesn’t compute. To be human is also to be self-contradictory in the sense that in acting against God, we act against ourselves: we are self-destructive – we are always pushing our delete key. Indeed, left to ourselves we would destroy ourselves, irretrievably, which is not only murder but intended mass murder, for in destroying ourselves we would destroy the world. Homicide is always misdirected suicide. War always begins with a Blitzkrieg on the self. Augustine’s amor sui is in fact self-hatred.
9. To be human is to be Christ-like. Indeed we are not truly human, only Christ is truly human, the iconic human, the imago Dei: and God himself “is Christ-like, and in him there is no un-Christ-likeness at all” (John V. Taylor). Here is the truth in the Eastern concept of deification, better, perhaps, called Christification. We are human only as we are conformed to the imago Christi, only as we are in Christ, dead and risen in him. Thus anthropology is a corollary of Christology – and staurology: Ecce homo! Thus baptism is the sacrament of humanity, because it is the sacrament of our death and resurrection en Christo (Romans 6:1-11) – and this is no metaphor! Through baptism, we become human beings – proleptically.
You should definitely read the whole post.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
AAR/SBL last day
I, on the other hand, was running around like a maniac trying to get last minute deals from the other publishers that I could pass on to you. I did manage to get a few, and you will see some sales related to them in the coming months.
Once the exhibit hall closes our fun begins. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment:
Tearing down the V&R and Carta booths
Tearing down our booth, and boxing the books that didn't sell.
This is what the book exhibit looks like after about 2 hours
John decided to take a nap; you know those first year guys. He has threatened to start a blog just to tell the other side of the story :)
I don't have a picture of this, Dave took it with his camera, but I had put 3 yogurts in my backpack for the airport. Once we got to the airport, I opened up that section of my pack only to find that they had been crushed and burst open. Yuck! My keys were covered with yogurt, the whole inner part of that section of the pack was a mess. It took about 20 napkins to clean it up enough to be good enough to get home. Worst of it was, I didn't have any yogurt to eat.
Next year in San Diego...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
BookNews and CAD update
Another item that I got too late to put in BookNews is the ship date for CAD T and Tet. There were some problems with finding the correct paper and it delayed it about a month. The actual ship date is December 18; just in time for Christmas :) One of those "what do I get the guy who has everything" kind of presents.
AAR/SBL day 3, continued
Today was the Brill paperback sale; here is a picture of the balcony by the entrance. The people are jammed together, waiting to be let in. We all thought it meant that we were going to be inundated like the first day. Nope, they all ran over to Brill's booth.
We had our youngest scholar visit the booth today:
I wonder if she sounds like a native speaker :)
We have the most delightful interchanges at the booth sometimes. Mel Peters was hassling John van Seters about his book and how it was too expensive, so John pulls out his credit card and buys it for him. Then, he even signs it.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Beginning of day 3
I like to do a workout in the morning, especially when I am on the road. So, as usual, I got up at 6:00 and went to the hotel's exercise room. I got there before anyone else, and got on the recumbent bicycle. I was pedaling for about 2-3 minutes when the next person arrived. The first thing he did was turn on the television.
What is it about our society that we can't handle silence? I was reminded of the Rocky & Bullwinkle Movie with the mesmerizing effect of "Really Bad TV." What is even worse, is that the "news" was mainly about celebrity stuff and recycled every 15 minutes. So, I listened to the same stuff twice! I agree with C.S. Lewis: "The newspaper makes you dumb"—although he would have to update it to say the TV makes you dumb.
AAR/SBL day 2
As predicted, we ran out of mugs around noon yesterday. You can still order them, but no more are here. Well, there are some, but they are in pieces, see what I mean:
That was Merna's idea; looks pretty neat, doesn't it?
Yesterday was not as busy as the day before, but it came in spurts between sessions. I was in the booth almost the whole day and had a good time meeting a lot of people. Lots of interesting questions come our way, ranging from modern Ethiopia (about which we have nothing) to Zoroaster, from Ge'ez to how children were raised in the ANE. Sometimes we can help, sometimes we can't. Usually we can at least direct them to the right booth.
Another interesting observation. Yesterday I was talking to two world-class scholars, one recently retired, the other one about to. The one was full of himself, talking about what he was doing, what he had done, etc. The other one wanted to know what was going on in the life of others. He was asking questions and genuinely listening. One was somewhat jaded and bitter. There was no light in his eyes. The other, while serious, had a smile in his eyes. He was looking forward to life with anticipation, waiting with expectancy for what God would do next.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
AAR/SBL, day one
Sales were good, we sold out of the Na'aman Festschrift; Key to A Grammar of Akkadian is gone; only one of the Mazar Festschrift is left; 2 Fassberg, Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting remain, and we sold out of quite a few other titles, as well.
I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the booth today, although I managed to get a few pictures of some customers for the people in the office. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some good pictures.
People really like the booth design, we've had quite a few comments on it. The mugs are a hit. We have had some people buy them outright and others increase their order to get a free one. I don't think we brought enough; at the rate they are going we will be out by noon tomorrow—so if you are waiting to buy in order to get the mug, you had better hurry.
One of the reasons people come to AAR/SBL is to see other people that they only get to see once a year, in some cases once every few years. For me, it has been a chance to get reacquainted with people after a 15 year hiatus. Some of the renewals have been refreshing, others not so much so.
It is strange how people react to the situations that God brings into their lives. Some become bitter and hard; others become more humble and enjoyable to talk to. Some keep their sense of adventure; others are old before their time. Sometimes I find myself wanting to say, "What happened? Where is the person you used to be? Where is your sense of God's presence? Don't you know that God hasn't abandoned you?" Maybe I should. Maybe that is why God has brought us back into each other's lives. Maybe they don't realize what and whom they have become.
Sure, scholarly life can be brutal, but so can working in a warehouse—especially when you spent 13 years in college so you could get a teaching position, only to get a warehouse job. Most of it is what you do with life. do you respond by relying on God? Or, do you respond by getting angry and bitter at God?
Enough for now; I need to go help Dave tally the orders...
Friday, November 17, 2006
Setup part 2
This a corner view. Don't panic, Andy, the back drapes for the one section are coming tomorrow morning. The background will be all black. Notice the cuneiform mug on the corner, in the display box? We tried putting some broken mug pieces in to make it look like a dig, but it didn't work.
What do you think of the embroidered table drape? Pretty classy, isn't it?
Don't ever think that working conferences is all glamor and fun. This is Gina, vacuuming up the booth after we are done making a mess in set up.
This is what the Carta booth looks like from the corner. The stack on the floor to the left is The Quest and the stack to the right is Sacred Bridge.
Last night Joe Cathey and I had a wonderful dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Very good food, good company and conversation, although I thought my cab driver on the way over there was trying to kill me–red lights didn't mean stop to him!
Tonight I have a meeting with the Association of Theological Bookstores and then tomorrow the fun starts. If you are here, be sure to drop by booth 922 and say hi! Oh, and don't forget to register for the $50.00 gift certificates, too.
I know some of you are itching for pictures, so here you go...
It went together so much easier back home :(
Robert from Harrassowitz and Tina from V&R setting up their booths
More to come...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
We had to wait for the baggage for quite a while; they couldn't unload because of the lightning. The poor people whose flights had been canceled were in worse shape than us. Their luggage was on the plane and couldn't be off loaded.
Anyway, we caught the Metro to downtown. Word of warning: If John Cook (Eisenbrauns acquisitions editor) ever offers you directions, don't take them. We walked several blocks the wrong way before he realized it. His defense, "I've been to Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia. How much different can this be?" When pressed, he admitted to getting lost in all of them!
The hotel is nice. Continental breakfast included, free Internet, free wi-fi in the lobby. Dave is checking out the fitness room right now. We are staying at the Hampton Inn, about 3 blocks from the Convention Center.
It is clearing up now, but it is too late to get to the Sackler before they close. Bummer. Oh well, maybe later this week (unrealistic optimism is kicking in here!).
I will begin posting pictures tomorrow from set up, etc. Stay tuned :)
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Quote for the day
I had just read this a few years ago, and the next day we went to hear a nationally known speaker at a church in the Minneapolis area. We walked into the building, and the entrance area reminded me of a 5 star hotel lobby. Chandeliers, thick carpeting, information desk of oak, you get the idea. In the sanctuary there was a huge big screen TV up front with smaller ones mounted on pillars through out the room.
It was obvious that the church had money...but there was no revival that night, either.
Proverbs 20:22 revisited
weyo$a` lak – the vowels on the verb are schwa, holem, patach. Clearly not a vav consecutive, but a hiphil jussive form. Normal translation would be, "and let Him deliver/save/rescue you." So, the whole verse would run "Do not say, 'I will repay the evil.' Wait for the LORD and let him deliver/rescue/save you."
Hmmm. That's not how all the English translations I checked render it. Universally they render it as a future, "and He will save/rescue/deliver you." So, being the inquisitive sort, I pulled my Vulgata off the shelf and found that Jerome rendered it with a future. The Septuaginta, which has screwed up verse order here, renders it with a hINA clause. So, as usual, our translations show that they are more indebted to Jerome and the Vulgata tradition than they are to the original Hebrew and subsequent Greek.
Just an idle musing on a Wednesday morning, the day before leaving for AAR/SBL...
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
New web design at Eisenbrauns?
Our webmaster, Andy, is playing with a new web design for the Eisenbrauns homepage. It seems to work nicely on all the different configurations we've played with, but...
Follow this link, which will take you to the new design. There is a series of drop-downs across the top. Do they work in your browser? How do you like the design?
All feedback is welcome, especially if you break it :)
More from Bonhoeffer
Obedience without freedom is slavery, freedom without obedience is arbitrariness. Obedience binds freedom, freedom ennobles obedience. Obedience binds the creature to the Creator, freedom places the creature, made in God's image, face-to-face with the Creator. Obedience makes clear to human beings that they have to be told what is good and what the Lord requires of them... —Ethics, page 287.
Monday, November 13, 2006
New Interpreter's Dictionary
I was disappointed by a few things:
*The bibliographies are all in English. Was this intentional? If so, what a disappointment.
*The bibliographies are not sorted, or at least I couldn't figure it out. It certainly isn't alphabetically by author or title. Maybe by importance? I looked at the Baal article, and the first book was an Eisenbrauns book The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East, so it must be by importance, right :)
*The bottom margin is terribly close to the bottom of the book. I checked two from different boxes, just in case it was a printer mistake. Nope, both of them only have about 1/8 inch of white space at the bottom of the page.
This series is designed to replace the old Interpreter's Dictionary, and they are hoping to displace the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Well, based on this first volume, I wouldn't start trading in my Anchor Dictionary just yet.
Those of you who contributed, what are your thoughts on this?
Update: Abingdon told me that they intend to increase the bottom margin on the next volumes.
Quote for the day
I spent mine assisting Debbie’s parents move to Indiana. The weekend before (November 3-6), we went to Oconomowoc, WI to help them pack. I stayed through Monday, packing boxes. When I came back, Debbie stayed there to help them with last minute stuff and cleaning. Before I left, I told her that, if necessary, I could return on Saturday, November 11 to bring anything that they didn’t want the movers to take.
Sure enough, about Wednesday, Debbie said that I should think about coming back. There were some personal files that they didn’t want the movers to take. I asked how many, and she said about 6 boxes. No problem, I’ll just bring the car. She said, “No, you had better borrow the work van.” I agreed, but thought it was overkill for 6 boxes. So, Saturday morning saw me on the road to Wisconsin, a 5 hour trip. I got there around noon and, sure enough, those 6 boxes had managed to have babies throughout the week. As many times as I’ve moved in my life, you would think I would remember that the last minute stuff turns out to be about 20 times more than you expect. Good thing I took the van. By the time all was loaded, it was 2/3 full!
So, 4 hours later, we’re on the road again. Another 6 hours and we are back in Winona Lake/Warsaw. We unload the van and return home. Debbie’s parents stayed behind for a bit, looking around. When we got home, there was a message from them. The garage door wouldn’t shut! Yikes, what a greeting on their first day. Well, by the time we got the message and I returned, it was taken care of. Their new neighbors had returned home, and seeing their plight had attempted to assist them. No success, so they called the landlord. Mind you, it is 11:00 PM by now. The landlord was in the shower, just returned from a 25 hour trip to Colorado. Once he was out of the shower, he drove over and got out of the car wearing slippers and carrying a hair dryer. They wondered about the hair dryer, but he said it was to check for power at the outlet. No power. So, he climbs down, walks over to the wall and pushes the button on the GFCI outlet there. Presto! Power is restored, the garage door closes, and everything is fine.
The moving van arrives today to unload…pray for good weather, they loaded on Friday in a snowstorm!
Friday, November 10, 2006
Quote for the day
Thursday, November 09, 2006
And then there were two...
I have observed the lowering of the standards of holiness from the pulpit to the pew. It appears we are seeking to develop happy churches, but not holy churches. One pastor stated that he wanted his people to leave the Sunday morning worship feeling, “affirmed, approved, and applauded.” Whatever happened to leaving feeling confronted, convicted, confessed, and cleansed? Charles Spurgeon put it in perspective years ago when he said, “Of all the griefs the church ever feels, the keenest is when those who once stood in her midst dishonor the name of Christ by unholy living.”
I have observed more and more churches having fewer and fewer revivals. Of course the rural church will always hold a revival, whether they actually have one or not, the third week of August. Vance Havner once said, “Preachers speak of ‘holding revivals.’ Somebody ought to turn one loose!” Real revival which takes prayer and preparation and sees scores ushered into the kingdom and church members rekindling the fire within is quickly giving way to one day events. We have stopped singing “Take Time To Be Holy,” because we don’t have the time.
That is just 2 of 12 observations after 31 years of preaching "Revivals" over at Observations of a Tennessee Baptist evangelist.
HT: Jim West
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The garage of the warehouse is in the background.
Junia, the apostle
I would encourage everyone to take a look at the series, which is a nice complement to the one that Scot McKnight is doing on women in the church, which is also worth following.
As for the Bible, well, it is living large again because America is in the midst of a religious revival. What some call the Third and others the Fourth Great Awakening is born of the resurgence of conservative Christianity. Among evangelicals, fundamentalists, neo-evangelicals, and Pentecostals, the centrality of Scripture to Christian life is taken as a given. It is estimated that these groups make up roughly 25 percent of the electorate. They also appear to have been the vanguard of the so-called "values voters" in the 2004 campaign.
Personally, as much as I would love to think we are in the midst of an awakening, I doubt it. The hallmarks of an awakening/revival are an increased sense of awe and an intense desire to be holy, as He is holy.
All I see is an increased sense of greed! Give me all I can get; if god can give me more, then I want him, too. The latest Barna surveys show that there is no difference between christians and nonchristians in ethical actions. The only difference is in rhetoric. Well, Paul dealt with that already in I Corinthians 4:19, "I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power."
People love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." But, most forget that this is a conditional sentence. God lays out four conditions:
* Humble themselves — Fail, as evidenced by the intense hubris of nationalism amongst evangelicals
* Pray — barely passing.
* Seek my face — barely passing, at best
* Turn from their wicked ways — Fail.
Looks pretty bleak, doesn't it? But that is a good thing. Maybe now we will begin to realize that it is God, and not man, that causes genuine revival. Programs don't work; intense religious activity doesn't work; only God can make it happen. We can set up the conditions, as is evidenced by the conditional statement above, but only God can do it...
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
If you are going to be at either of the conferences, the cash and carry prices are generally cheaper. Of course, you get to carry them home with you.
We are doing a daily drawing for two $50.00 gift certificates each day at AAR/SBL. Then, on Tuesday, we will draw for two $100.00 gift certificates. Register by dropping a business card in the bowl.
I know some of you have been holding off on getting the Cuneiform mug. Well, we are giving it away free with a $75.00 purchase. Otherwise, $7.50–a steal at twice the price :)
This year Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Harrassowitz, and Carta will be sharing their booths with us. We will also be handling the EVA/TVZ order forms and sales, even though their booth is a half aisle away.
As always, I will be in and out of the booth all day, meeting with vendors and distribution partners. If you want to meet with me, drop me a line and we can set up an appointment.
Veneer is a handy thing. You overlay a thin layer of an expensive wood over cheap wood and it looks good. Nobody suspects that the underlying wood is just particle board. No one that is, until you try to put a load on the shelf and it breaks.
It can be the same with people.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with someone I hadn’t seen for a while. Others had told me how much this person had changed and how much they had grown in Christ. I was excited to see it; I always like to see what God does in a person.
At first it seemed that it was true. The person acted the part of a Christian; the vocabulary was Evangelical, God was part of the discussion. But, then came a time of pressure. Pop! The shelf cracked and the particle board of old, unredeemed self shown through.
Does it have to be that way? Do we have to go through life play-acting? Recent events raise this question even more starkly. Is Christianity just a sop thrown to give us hope after death, while we struggle and fail here on earth? Is there no victory over sin? Does the enemy of our souls have the upper hand?
Scripture says, “No!” Emphatically. Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, was able to say, “I have overcome the world!” Note the tense, not I will, not I am, but I have (perfect, active, indicative in the Greek). Paul was able to say, in Romans 8, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (present active indicative in the Greek). John, in I John says, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
So, why the disconnect? Why don’t people seem to be experiencing this in their daily lives?
Well, there can be any number of reasons, but I submit that the main one is that most christians have never really died to self. Evangelical christianity is big on justification, but short on sanctification. We want big numbers, and frankly, death isn’t a good calling card if you are looking for a large following: “Hi, Jesus loves you and wants to put you to death!” But, that is exactly what Jesus calls us to, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16.24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 14.27 (RSV)
Paul develops the theme even more in Romans 6. According to Paul, we died with Christ in baptism and now we are alive in Christ. But, it is in Christ, not in self. As long as we function in self, we function in sin. As long as we seek what we want, when we want it, we are dead to Christ and alive to the world. As long as we live in Christ, we are dead to self and the world. It’s too simple—maybe that’s the problem. We want to make it harder; we want to do it.
The reformation happened almost 500 hundred years ago. Its basic truth was sola gratia, all God and not man. Why is it that we are now trying to do it ourselves? Sola Gratia means just that, by grace alone, or does Galatians 3 not ring true anymore?
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? —if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?