Friday, March 31, 2006

April first

We created a few interesting books for April first over at Eisenbrauns. Hope you enjoy them:
First Compendious Near Eastern Grammar

First Compendious Near Eastern Grammar
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Edited by A.P. Ril
Winged Bull Press,2006
12000 in 12 volumes with CD-ROM and numerous charts,
Cloth,18 x 24
Your Price: $14,650.00

A Proto-Semitic Grammar and Textbook

A Proto-Semitic Grammar and Textbook
Supplements to First Compendious Near Eastern Grammar
by H.J. Shem
Edited by A.P. Ril
Winged Bull Press,2006
300 pages + CD-ROM,
List Price: $900.00
Your Price: $720.00

Monuments of Ancient Assyria

Monuments of Ancient Assyria
A complete collection
by Karen Oh
Winged Bull Press,Forthcoming, 2006
1500 pages + CD-ROM, numerous illustrations,
Your Price: $12,000.00

Mazdaism and the Art of Chariot Repair
Where'd I Put that Ankh?
by Suzuki Kawasaki
Scribes of Ecbatana,Forthcoming, Fall 500 B.C.E.
10 tablets,
Your Price: $20.06

Pharaoh Tachos and His Nefarious Barrio Brothers
All My Friends Have Low-Riders
Special introductory price is 25 gold sicles
Alternate History of the Persian Empire
by Michael Brown
Old Potato Peel Press,Forthcoming Fall 2006
1-50 pages,
Your Price: 25 gold sicles

To see the whole thing, follow this link:

Quote for the day

“Each new frontier of Christian mission requires fresh theological pursuit. We are not called to rest on our laurels, to speak of, discuss and implement the theologies of our forebears as if they are determinative for all contexts everywhere.” — Alan Mann in Atonement for a "Sinless" Society

Thursday, March 30, 2006

When to send your e-mail newsletter

I love these marketing e-mails I get. No, not the spam ones, but the ones that tell me how to have a more effective e-mail newsletter. The one I just received is a bit more realistic than most. They look at the most recent statistics, which say that Friday is the best day to send an e-newsletter, and 9:00 AM is the best time. They then say that they won't change, because everyone else will, thus glutting the inbox and making a new survey necessary.

They then give a piece of real advice (rare these days!):

"Here’s one more piece of advice on how to get your e-mail opened.

"Provide compelling content."

Now that is real advice!

Of course, at Eisenbrauns we have the unique advantage of having customers all around the globe, so whenever we choose to send it will be good for some and in the middle of the night for others...

Useless post

Just a note to mark the 201st post. You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I am a displaced Minnesotan, not that I don't like Indiana, I do. But, there are some things I miss. One of them is loons. Loons are a funny looking bird with a strange call. But, it evokes the backwoods in my mind—a campsite on a lake with canoes pulled up and a nice campfire with pancakes cooking over it and fog rising from the waters as the sun begins to rise. The lonely call of a loon from somewhere over the water in the fog, answered by another one.

Well, you don't see loons much except in the northwoods because they are solitary and shy birds. So, imagine my surprise when I was walking to work yesterday morning, looked out over the lake and saw a loon! Yes, it was a loon, funny looking thing, riding low in the water, then gone. A minute or two later, up it comes, quite a distance from where it went under. It was close enough that I could see the plumage clearly. It was migrating and had stopped at Winona Lake for the night. It made my day.

Why I am not an Arminian chapter 5

The authors seem to be at their best when they are doing historical theology. Right now I am reading the chapter on the Synod of Dort. They trace the history, beginning with Beza and progressing through the debate involving Arminius. They make it sound like Arminius disagreed with Beza even when he was studying with him. That is not how I have read it, the way I have heard it several times previously is that Arminius was one of Beza's star pupils and it was only after moving to Leiden that he changed his views. The reason he changed them was because he was enlisted to write a refutation of those who rejected the hyper-calvinism of Beza. In the process of researching, he himself came to disagree and developed an alternative—Arminianism.

Does anyone out there know which version is correct? I have read this version in several places, but have never gone back to the sources. If this version is true, then why did the authors use the version they did? Is it because it would give too much credence to the Arminian argument? If so, that is intellectual dishonesty. If, on the other hand, the version I have heard before is false, then the perveyors of it are being dishonest...

<idle musing>
Why do we think that the ends justifies the means? Another checkmark for total depravity. But, as Christians we should trust God enough to tell the truth and let Him handle the results. Unless, of course we have a god that is too small...
</idle musing>

Quote for the day

“A soldier who, discounting the words of his captain, goes out to meet a well-armed foe with a toy pistol, ought to meet the fate that will surely be his. The Church today is quite impotent in the face of the overpowering forces of evil, because she refuses to take seriously the Word of her Heavenly Captain as regards the nature of the foe.” — F. J. Huegel

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quote for the day

"Jesus' commandment is harsh, inhumanly harsh for someone who resists it. Jesus' commandment is gentle and not difficult for someone who willingly accepts it." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another new book from Eisenbrauns

We just got done unloading the truck containing this new book:

The Edited Bible

The Edited Bible
The Curious History of the "Editor" in Biblical Criticism
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by John Van Seters
Eisenbrauns, 2006
xvi + 428 pages,English
ISBN: 1575061120
Your Price: $39.50

Trinity and subordination

There is an interesting post about the Trinity over at Ben Witherington's blog (thanks to The Community of Jesus for the link) discussing the role of the Son with respect to the Father. Thought provoking and disturbing. It is long (and it's not even Witherington writing it!) but worth the read. Short quote:

"Paradoxically, in this same thirty-year period in which the co-equality of the divine persons has been powerfully reaffirmed and the implications of this teaching for our human social life recognized, many conservative evangelicals have been moving in the opposite direction. They have argued that the Trinity is ordered hierarchically, with the Father ruling over the Son. The Father is eternally “head over” the Son just as men are permanently “head over” women. In this model of the Trinity, the doctrine of the Trinity, rather than being a charter for emancipation and human liberation, becomes a charter to oppose social change and female liberation."

And, on a related note, the top 10 reasons men shouldn't be ordained can be found here (thanks to Ben Myers for the link). These are my favorites:

"4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

"3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership."

<idle musing>
It is scary how often we let political and/or social presuppositions influence our theology. We stand in judgment on scripture instead of letting scripture stand in judgment of us—or to put it another way—we assume that culture is the Holy Spirit and can't be wrong. Dangerous presupposition that leads us to lose our saltiness. Perfect environment for a demogogue to arise and lead us.
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Technology and the Church

Fascinating post over at Vintage Faith about the use of technology at a church he was speaking at.

<idle musing>
Personally, I am a small group kind of guy. I would have found this environment very difficult to worship in. It raises the question of where does technology distract from rather than enhance our time of corporate worship.

Mind you, I am not against technology, I used to be in charge of IT at one company I worked for, but—and it is a big but—when does technology distract from the glory of God and enhance the glory of man? Corporate worship is supposed to draw our attention to the creator of the universe, the only one worthy of worship.

Just something to think about...
</idle musing>

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pigs Fly!

When I first started here in October, 2004 (oops, that should be 2003!), I was told that there were two things that would never happen.

One, Hendrickson's long awaited release of:
A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature
A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature

and second:
The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra
The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra

Well guess what?

Hendrickson released Jastrow in February, and we just sent the final revisions of Yon to the printer! Watch out for those pigs!

Atonement and evil

Scot McKnight has a good series on Atonement going on, today's post is about justification and atonement. The discussion following it is about imputation, impartation, Eastern Orthodox theosis and other similar items.

Scot's post ties in nicely with the latest Blogthings quiz making the rounds—How evil are you? And that, of course ties in with the book I am currently reading: Why I Am Not An Arminian and total depravity.

Of course, the million dollar question is to what extent the death of Jesus is efficacious in removing the sinful bent in a person's heart...

I come down strongly on the Keswick side here as popularized by such authors as Andrew Murray (a Reformed pastor), Watchman Nee (a Plymouth Brethren pastor), Hudson Taylor (of China Inland Mission fame) and, although he predates Keswick, Charles Finney (Arminian in theology). In a nutshell what they say is that by faith we can allow the Holy Spirit to keep us from sinning (see I John). Mind you, if is all God's grace, not anything of human ability.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why I am not an Arminian Chapter 2 "Augustine versus Pelagius"

As I said in the disclaimer here, I am not a Calvinist, but a classic Wesleyan/Arminian, therefore I read this chapter expecting to be accused of being a Pelagian. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did the authors not level the charge of Pelagian, they even said that semi-Pelagian is a misnomer. They called the classic Wesleyan/Arminian position "semi-Augustinian."

Without a context that can be taken several ways, but the context was that a semi-Augustinian sees that salvation is all by God's grace, from the first stirrings of the soul until the final glorification at death. Where they differ from Augustine's views is in their views on predestination. I can live with that definition. I find much about Augustine that I like. Total depravity is not a problem for me, I don't need to read much history to confirm it. The human soul is definitely bent on doing evil, to quote from another book I'm reading ( First, Break All the Rules), citing the parable of the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion convinces the frog to give him a ride across the pond by saying that it would not be in his best interest to sting the frog, since they both would die. He then proceeds to sting the frog anyway. The frog asks why he did it as they both begin to drown: "I know," relied the scorpion as he sank into the pond. "But I am a scorpion. I have to sting you. It's in my nature." It is the same with humans...

The next chapter is on predestination with a subtitle "Conditional or Unconditional." As I mentioned in a previous post, this book seems to be balanced and free from polemics. I doubt I will be convinced, since reading Calvin himself didn't convince me, but at least they aren't creating a straw man of the other viewpoint.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Christmas in March

Well, not quite Christmas :) I love my job, I get to see all these new books come past. Today we got the new Word Biblical Commentary on Isaiah (revised edition) and the latest `Atiqot and you saw that yesterday we got the newest edition of Rosenthal's Aramaic Grammar. The best part is that there are still some more boxes to receive this afternoon. Off to lunch!

Isaiah 34-66

Isaiah 34-66
2nd edition
Word Biblical Commentary - WBC 25
by John D. W. Watts
Thomas Nelson,2005
xvii + 503-958 pages,English
ISBN: 0785250115
List Price: $39.99
Your Price: $27.95

Atiqot 50 (2006)
Atiqot 50
Edited by Zvi Gal
Israel Antiquities Authority,2006
English and Hebrew
ISBN: 9654061856
Your Price: $36.00

Blogging tools, part 2

Andy, our webmaster, has been at it again. He has added another little tool for our blogging pleasure.

Now there are three ways you can link to a book:

  • 1. Full bibliographic information:

  • The Edited Bible

    The Edited Bible
    The Curious History of the "Editor" in Biblical Criticism
    EIS - Eisenbrauns
    by John Van Seters
    Eisenbrauns,Forthcoming March 30, 2006
    xvi + 428 pages,English
    ISBN: 1575061120
    Your Price: $39.50

  • 2. Just a simple text link:

  • The Edited Bible

  • 3. Just a small graphic:

  • The Edited Bible

    Enjoy the new toys! I know I will.

    New edition available

    We just received the latest edition of A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic yesterday:
    A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic

    A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic
    7th expanded edition, augmented with an index of biblical citations compiled by Daniel M. Gurtner
    Porta Linguarum Orientalium - PLO 5
    by Franz Rosenthal
    Harrassowitz Verlag,2006
    x + 107 pages,English
    ISBN: 3447052511
    Your Price: $38.00

    The main difference is the addition of the index of biblical citations.

    Just for kicks, I looked at my copy: 5th printing, 1983. It must have just been printed when I bought it, because I took Aramaic in the summer of 1983. That is a scary thought :)

    Quote for the day

    "In a word, much of the teaching, both of the pulpit and the Christian press really amounts to this: sanctification is by works and not by faith." C.G. Finney

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Quote for the day

    “It is heartbreaking to see the way professed Christians today are being swept into the swirling rapids of worldliness. Believers today do not distinguish themselves by ‘the victory which overcomes the world.’ Worldly pleasures, worldly fashions, worldly lusts and ambitions are only too apparent today in the life of the Church and the manner and outlook of Christians. Is there no way out of what the Germans call the ‘Weltgeist?’ We live in the world as a fish in water—must the water soak in, or is there hope that the Saviour’s high-priestly prayer: ‘they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me’—be answered? Must ‘the prince of this world,’ who according to Jesus our Lord is the devil, hold sway over Christians in spite of God, the Church, the Cross and the Empty Tomb?” — F.J. Huegel

    Why I am not a Calvinist finished

    The final chapter of Why I Am Not A Calvinist sums up their arguments. I found one section to be particularly good, beginning on page 218:

    “In a fascinating historical study, British theologian Colin Gunton identifies key points at which he believes some central Christian doctrines got off track. One particularly interesting development is that in Western theology since Augustine, ‘the theme of love becomes subordinate to that of will.’ Gunton sees this manifested in the way the doctrine of double predestination is understood in some traditions. Part of the fundamental problem, Gunton believes, is a deficient understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity above all shows that God necessarily exists in an eternal relationship of perfect love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit…

    “When love is subordinated to will, then the fatherhood of God, which is emphasized in the Trinity (Mk 1:11; Jn 1:18; 5:19-20; 17:20-26; 20:17; 1 Cor 15:20-28), takes a back seat to the image of God as King or Ruler. God’s essential relational nature as a being who exists in three persons becomes secondary to the notion that God is a sovereign monarch whose will cannot be thwarted.”

    <idle musing>
    This reminds me very much of Brunner in A Christian Doctrine of God, where he develops a fascinating image of the eternal love that flows between the persons of the Godhead from eternity to eternity, a wonderful and awesome image. I think this captures the essence of who God is and why the doctrine of predestination as expounded by Calvinists is a faulty image of God.

    Over all, a very good book. I just started its companion, Why I Am Not An Arminian, and so far it is very good also. I was very glad to see that they refuse to take the extremes on the Arminian side as normal, just as they would wish for no one to take the extremes on the Calvinist side as definitive. I will post more as I read more.
    </idle musing>

    Friday, March 17, 2006


    <idle musing>
    We all do it to a greater or lesser extent. We choose a persona we want to project to a particular audience and that is who we become for them. We are very careful to always wear the correct one with the correct audience. The only problem comes when there is a mixed audience—then we have to choose which persona we want to portray. Tough decision, the mask won't fit both crowds, which one is more important to me?

    That is when more of who I really am shows through. The persona I choose under pressure or before a mixed audience reveals it. I can talk a pretty picture, dance a nice dance; but when I am forced to choose between two or more options, the one I choose shows people and myself what I am made of.

    This is hypocrisy! It is unworthy of the gospel and shows that my Christianity is only skin deep; that I value the judgment of humanity more than the judgment of God. Jesus has pretty harsh words for people like that in the gospels. But, I justify it, blow it off and say it is just hyperbole—a great word to use to be more self-righteous and self-satisfied.

    What caused this introspection, you ask? The "books I am reading" list, that's what. I rarely read popular Christian stuff, it isn't part of who I am. But, there is a Christian bookstore that is going out of business and listing everything at 50% off. I picked up a few—OK, more that a few—books. Some of them were pretty much popular. Last weeekend I started reading one of them, Living in His Presence: Experiencing 'God With Us'-the Immanuel Factor. Do I list this book? It isn't in the normal persona that I project? What will people think? Et cetera...

    Well, as you can clearly see, I listed it. I am 2/3 done with it and it isn't very good. He is sloppy in his exegesis and pretty basic in his insights. There are a few jewels, but it barely justifies the time spent. But, that is all an aside. The point is that I am a bookseller for an academic publisher; that is the persona I was trying to protect and portray here. Is it accurate? Usually! But, God calls us to an honesty and openness that is beyond usually. To do otherwise dishonors what He has done in my life, it allows me to protect the "old self" that is dead, to try to revive it and pretend that my life is my own. To deny that I was "bought with a price" by something much more valuable than what persona I project in what venue.

    I could say more, but it is time to go to work. Another persona or more of who I really am? Trusting in God, more of who I really do otherwise is to disobey, and as the quote for today says, "unbelief is ever the cause of disobedience."
    </idle musing>

    Quote for the day

    "Unbelief is ever the cause of disobedience." &mdash Andrew Murray

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Another blog

    The other day an e-mail showed up in my Inbox announcing a new blog. I have no idea how they got my name, but perhaps they subscribe to BookNews. Anyway, it is a blog on Hebrew etymologies for some English loan words—as if there were any English words that aren't loan words from somewhere :) Today their post is on pita, that delicious Greek pocket bread, delicious if you make it yourself, cardboard if you buy it in the store. Worth a read, a previous post covered asphalt; interesting tidbits of useless information :)

    Quote for the day

    "What should happen in genuine conversion? What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth?

    "There ought to be that real and genuine cry of pain. That is why I do not like the kind of evangelism that tries to invite people into the fellowship of God by signing a card.

    "There should be a birth from above and within. There should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God. Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be." — A.W. Tozer

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Demosthenes a prophet?

    Christopher Heard was at WECSOR and chairing a session, which he comments on here. One of the papers sounds intriguing to me—"Is Demosthenes Also among the Prophets? Ancient Greek Orators as a Potential New Analogy for the Israelite Prophets". As a Classicist, the title and description intrigue me. Take a look at this excerpt:

    "He argues that the Greek political orators of the fourth century BCE—Brad drew most of his examples from Demosthenes—function in ways analogous to the socio-rhetorical functions of the "classical" Israelite prophets. Brad emphasized three comparisons:

    1. The Israelite prophets and the Attic orators spoke in long public addresses characterizable as argumentative oratory.
    2. The Israelite prophets and the Attic orators used a large variety of genres and styles, with stylistic variation determined by the pragmatic needs of the immediate communicative context rather than by convention.
    3. The Israelite prophets and the Attic orators responded to specific social conditions and circumstances—without always rehearsing the context explicitly, verbally—and tried to move their audience to action."

    Intriguing, I hope a version of it is available on-line soon.

    Quote for the day

    “My brother, only the heart is hard that does not know that it is hard. Only he is hardened who does not know that he is hardened. When we are concerned for our coldness, it is because of the yearning God has put there. God has not rejected us.” Bernard of Clairvaux

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Blogging tools at Eisenbrauns

    Our webmaster, Andy, came up to me this morning and asked how he could make the blogging tools on Eisenbrauns' website easier. So, we fiddled around for about 45 minutes and came up with two separate listings. One is the full listing, complete with graphic and the other is perfect for the sidebar.

    We had the full listing before, but to make it work right you had to delete a whole bunch of stuff. Not anymore, just cut and paste. Sweet! The "What I'm Reading" code is perfect for the sidebar of the Blogger template. Just copy and paste and it looks perfect. Saves me having to remember to include the <a> and </a>. He even included the code to have it open a new tab or window, so the person clicking it doesn't lose their place on your blog. Thanks Andy!

    If you have an idea on how we can do something to make linking to Eisenbrauns easier, let me know. We can't do an affiliates thing yet, but I'm sure there are other things we haven't thought of.

    Quote for the day

    “God is not asking you to come to Christ just to attain peace of mind or to make you a better businessman or woman. You were created to worship. God wants you to know His redemption so you will desire to worship and praise Him.” A.W. Tozer

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    What I am reading now: Why I am not a Calvinist

    I started a new book, which is actually a pair of books. I am reading Why I am not a Calvinist first, then I will read its companion Why I am not an Arminian next.

    First, a couple of disclaimers:
    1. I am a hard-core classical Wesley-Arminian. What that means is I do not believe in free will, but in free grace. This book does an excellent job on pages 69-72 of explaining the difference.

    2. I went to graduate school with one of the authors, Joe Dongell. Joe was one of those students you both loved and hated to have in class. You loved it because if the prof asked a tough grammatical question, he knew the answer. You hated it because it made everbody else look bad. Joe is careful, thorough and fair. So, whatever he says, you can be sure is backed up with far more research than necessary!

    I am on page 160 or so of 218 pages. So far my only complaint is the chapter on "Calvinsim and Divine Sovereignty." They list three options:
    1. Divine fore-ordination of all things
    2. Molinism or middle knowledge
    3. Open view of God

    Why don't they list simple foreknowledge? To me that seems to be the one that passes the Ockam's razor test. I have a very hard time with the "Open view."

    I did find it amusing that they quote J.I. Packer as calling Wesley a confused Calvinist. That is humorous :)

    OK, off to work...

    Gendered Language of Warfare

    I finished The Gendered Language of Warfare in the Israelite-Assyrian Encounter on Friday (my books read on the side is hopelessly out of date...). It suffered from what I call "dissertationitis"—the same point is made about 10 times just to make sure everyone knows that the author knows their stuff. But, it was worth reading despite that. Her basic thesis is that by comparing the Neo-Assyrian warfare texts with the prophetic texts relating to warfare, we can see how they both used gendered terms to discredit the other side. In the Neo-Assyrian texts, the enemy is shown to be "feminine" and the king is portrayed as a "man's man." On the other hand, in the Hebrew texts, the enemy is also feminized, but it is YHWH who is shown to be the true man and Jerusalem is the bride/daughter of YHWH who spurns or whores with (depending on the time period) the enemy.

    She has a tantalizing final chapter that examines the iconography of the Neo-Assyrians. I wish she had developed that further...maybe in an article or another book?

    Quote for the day

    "Some people claim to be normal Christians when actually they mean they are nominal Christians" A.W. Tozer (italics his)

    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    A Theology of pews

    Vintage Faith has a good post on the theology of pews! After tracing the history of the pew, he makes some observations. Here is a good excerpt:

    "The theology in this is fascinating - as how we sit when we meet reflects what we place as important in worship. The original vintage church met in homes, it was communal, looking at each other in small rooms, discussing and teaching Scripture, praying for one another and eating a meal together. You could walk around, have dialog etc. Then the church moved into buildings where the Table (the Lord's Supper) was the focal point and we stood, moved around the room, interacted etc. Then we moved into buildings where the pews caused people to sit in stationary positions, not looking at each other, but looking at the pulpit and all facing the same direction. This drastically changes the culture and climate of how we view when the church gathers to worship. It becomes more of a sit and watch and listen meeting, than an interactive community type of a meeting."

    <idle musing>
    I never liked pews, nor do I like rows of chairs, which is the new pew. Sure, chairs are easier to move around and re-arrange. But, does anybody ever do that? The average church just sets them up in a row like pews! So, instead of fostering community (the intent of moving from pews to chairs) it just reinforces personal space. How ironic. Personally, I like the floor, always have.
    </idle musing>

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Friday family funny

    This is a picture of my crazy Canadian son-in-law, Joel. In the foreground is our grandson, Joshua, who just turned one on Wednesday.

    For those of you in Kentucky, what he is on is a toboggan, what he has on his head is a toque—pronounced tuk, long u (I have seen it spelled other ways). I know you think toboggans go on the head, but as you can see, that would be ridiculous :)

    Whatever Happened to Worship Chapter 2

    "There is all around us, however, a very evident and continuing substitute for worship. I speak of the compelling temptation among Christian believers to be constantly engaged, during every waking hour, in religious activity.

    "We cannot deny that it is definitely a churchly idea of service. Many of our sermons and much of our contemporary ecclesiastical teaching lean toward the idea that it is surely God's plan for us to be busy, busy—because it is the best cause in the world in which we are involved.

    "But if there is any honesty left in us, it persuades us in our quieter moments that true spiritual worship is at a discouragingly low ebb among professing Christians.

    "Do we dare ask how we have reached this state? If you are willing to ask it, I am willing to try to answer it.

    "Actually, I will answer it by asking another obvious question. How can our approach to worship be any more vital than it is when so many who lead us, both in the pulpit and in the pew, give little indication that the fellowship of God is delightful beyond telling?"

    <idle musing>
    </idle musing>

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Quote for the day

    "Philology is that venerable art which requires of those who honor her one thing above all: to turn aside, to take one's time, to become still and slow.... Precisely for this reason, she is more necessary today than ever, precisely on this account, she attracts and enchants us most powerfully, in an age of "work," which is to say, haste, the unseemly and sweating hurry that wants to be "done" with everything right away, even with every old and new book. She herself will not so easily be done with anything, she instructs reading well, that means, slowly, deeply, carefully, regardfully, looking forward and backward, with second thoughts, with doors left open, reading with delicate fingers and eyes..." F. Nietzsche, Morgenröte

    Compliments of John Cook, acquisitions editor, Eisenbrauns.

    Whatever Happened to Worship

    I just began Tozer's Whatever Happened to Worship. It is a selection of his sermons from when he was in Toronto. He was intending to write a book on worship, so was preaching sermons along those lines to get ready. Before he could write the book, he died. So, they have collected a selection of 10 of these sermons and put them in book form. This is from page 14, the title of the sermon is "Worship in the Christian Church:"

    "...nowadays there is a deadly, automatic quality about getting saved. It bothers me greatly.

    "I say an 'automatic' quality: 'Put a nickel's worth of faith in the slot, pull down the lever and take out the little card of salvation. Tuck it in your wallet and off you go."

    "After that the man or woman can say, 'Yes, I'm saved.'

    "How does he or she know?

    "'I put the nickel in. I accepted Jesus and I signed the card.'

    "Very good, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with signing a card. It can be a very helpful thing so we can know who made an inquiry.

    "But really, my brother or sister, we are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him. We do not come to God that we might be automatic Christians, cookie-cutter Christians, Christians stamped out with a die.

    "God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him, in the beauty of holiness."

    <idle musing>
    I love Tozer, he is my favorite 20th century "popular" Christian author. He never leaves you in doubt where you stand. If you have never read any Tozer, I would recommend you start with The Pursuit of God, especially the first and last chapters. You would never know he wrote over 40 years ago, it sounds just as applicable today.
    </idle musing>

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    A new book from Eisenbrauns

    Long delayed, because the author was struck by a car while crossing the street before finishing the revisions, this book finally has been published.

    Two Strange Beasts

    Two Strange Beasts
    Leviathan and Behemoth in Second Temple and Early Rabbinic Judaism
    Harvard Semitic Monographs - HSM 63
    by K. William Whitney Jr.
    Harvard Semitic Museum / Eisenbrauns, 2006
    Pp. xvi + 216, English
    Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
    ISBN: 1575069148
    List Price: 34.95
    Your Price: $32.50

    Final note from The Training of the Twelve

    Bruce’s exposition on the coming of the Holy Spirit is good. Bear in mind that this was written in 1871, before Azusa Street and the modern Pentecostal movement.

    “Such being the power promised, it was evidently indispensable for success. Vain were official titles—apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, rulers; vain clerical robes, without this garment of divine power to clothe the souls of the eleven. Vain then, and equally vain now. The world is to be evangelized, not by men invested with ecclesiastical dignities and with parti-colored garments, but by men who have experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and who are visibly endued with the divine power of wisdom, and love and zeal.

    “As the promised power was indispensable, so it was in its nature a thing simply to be waited for. The disciples were directed to tarry till it came. They were neither to attempt to do without it, nor were they to try to get it up. And they were wise enough to follow their instructions. They fully understood that the power was needful, and that it could not be got up, but must come down. All are not equally wise. Many virtually assume that the power Christ spake of can dispensed with, and that in fact it is not a reality, but a chimera. Others, more devout, believe in the power, but not in man’s impotence to invest himself with it. They try to get the power up by working themselves and others into a frenzy of excitement. Failure sooner or later convinces both parties of their mistake, showing the one that to produce spiritual results something more than eloquence, intellect, money, and organization are required; and showing the other that true spiritual power cannot be produced, like electric sparks, by the friction of excitement, but must come sovereignly and graciously down from on high.”

    <idle musing>
    Well, I finished the book 27 years after starting it. Of course, I had to start over again when I started reading it. On the whole, the book was good, but not great—certainly not as great as I had been led to believe. There were some gems in it, as you can see from the last month or so. I would say the last 120 pages were the best. This quote certainly is right on. We so often try to do it ourselves, either by ignoring the Holy Spirit or by trying to induce him ourselves. God will have neither extreme, since they both are not God, but man.
    </idle musing>

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Yet again from The Training of the Twelve

    This is from page 528-529, Jesus' discourse with Peter at the end of gospel according to John.

    "The responsibility of even the highest in the Church is restricted within comparatively narrow limits. The main business, even of the chief under-shepherds, is not to make others follow Christ, but to follow Him themselves. It is well that our Lord made this plain by the words addressed to the representative man among the apostles; for Christians of the active, energetic, and earnest natures are very apt to have very exaggerated ideas of their responsibilities, and to take on themselves the care of the whole world, and impose on themselves the duty of remedying every evil that is done under the sun. They would be defenders-general of the faith wherever assailed, redressers-general of all wrongs, curates-general of all souls. There is something noble as well as quixotic in this temper; and it were not the best sign of a man’s moral earnestness if he had not at some time of his life known somewhat of this fussy, over-zealous spirit. Still it should be understood that the Head of the Church imposes on no man such unlimited responsibility, and that, when self-imposed it does not conduce to a man’s real usefulness. No one man can do all other men’s work, and no one man is responsible for all other men’s errors and failures; and each man contributes most effectually and surely to the good of the whole by conducting his own life on godly principles. The world is full of evils—skepticism, superstition, ignorance, immorality, on every side—a sight saddening in the extreme. “What then, am I to do?” This one thing above all: Follow thou Christ. Be thou a believer, let who will be infidels. Let thy religion be reasonable, let who will pin their faith to a fallible human authority, and place their religion in fantastic ritualisms and gross idolatries. Be thou holy, an example of sobriety, justice, and godliness, though all the world should become a sweltering chaos of impurity, fraud, and impiety. Say with Joshua of old, “If it seem good unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

    "The repeated injunction, “Follow thou me,” whilst restricting individual responsibility, prescribes undivided attention to personal duty. Christ demands of His disciples that they follow Him with integrity of heart, without distraction, without murmuring, envy, or calculations of consequences.”

    <idle musing>
    How like us to want to take more responsibility than God is calling us to. Ever since Genesis 3, we want to play God. And just as then, we can't! We are called only to follow Christ and let him be God. I've found that he does a much better job of it than I do. Maybe because I am not God and he is?
    </idle musing>

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Yet more from The Training of the Twelve

    Another gem from The Training of the Twelve , he is discoursing on Jesus' upcoming death by crucifixion and he says:

    “The prince of this world has found none of his spirit in Him, and for that very reason is going to crucify Him. But by that proceeding Satan will not nullify, but rather seal His victory. Outward defeat by worldly power will be but the index and measure of His spiritual conquest. The world itself knows well that putting Him to death is the second best way of overcoming Him. His enemies would have been much better pleased if they had succeeded in intimidating or bribing Him into compromise. The ungodly powers of the world always prefer corruption to persecution as a means of getting rid of truth and righteousness; only after failing in attempts to debauch conscience and make men venal, do the have recourse to violence.”

    <idle musing>
    Interesting and very true observation. Compromise is what the world desires, singleness of intention is what God wants. True then, true now.
    </idle musing>

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    First Break All the Rules Chapter 2

    Continuing from chapter one, where the 12 questions are laid out and the first 6 are declared to be basic, chapter two says:

    "To warrant positive answers to these questions from his employees, a manager must be able to do four activities extremely well: select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, develop the person. These four activities are the manager's most important responsibilities. You might have all the vision, charisma, and intelligence in the world, but if you cannot perform these four activities well, you will never excel as a manager." p. 59 (italics theirs)

    And they continue on page 67 (emphasis theirs):
    "People don't change that much.
    Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out.
    Try to draw out what was left in.
    That is hard enough.

    "If you apply their insight to the core activities of the catalyst role, this is waht you see:

    *When selecting someone, they select for talent...not simply experience, intelligence, or determination.
    *When setting expectations, the define the right outcomes...not the right steps.
    *When motivating someone, they focus on strengths...not on weaknesses.
    *When developing someone, they help him find the right fit...not simply the next rung on the ladder."

    <idle musing>
    Of course, the problem is in applying it :) We are doing a chapter a week, so I will be posting on this book about once a week. We'll see how I do at applying this stuff. It is equally valid in more than just work, seems like the advice about trying to change someone applies in marriage and friendships, too...
    </idle musing>

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Why I don't follow professional cycling anymore

    The Boulder Report has an article about the decision to uphold the ban against Tyler Hamilton for doping.

    Tyler was generally considered the "good guy" in cycling, until the Olympics 2 years ago and then the Tour of Spain when he got busted for "doping." His version wasn't drugs, it was using blood transfusions to boost his body's ability to carry more oxygen in the bloodstream—by as much as 20%!. Until 2.5 years ago this was undetectable, but not anymore and Tyler was one of the big fish they caught.

    I had pretty much given up following professional cycling by then, anyway, but this was the final nail in the coffin. Until cycling cleans up it's act, I won't follow it. I haven't followed the Tour de France for 3 years now, and I used to be avid.

    I will continue to ride because I love cycling. But, I won't follow who is doing what. Of course, there is also the obscene amounts of money that the big names make...

    More from The Training of the Twelve

    I’m still slogging my way through The Training of the Twelve. There are some good insights, but they are far between. Normally when I read a book, I mark interesting sections with a part of a yellow sticky note to read to Debbie later. On some books that results in something looking like a fruit tree bearing much (yellow) fruit. Well, this book has managed to garner 5 in over 400 pages. Not a good harvest.

    But last night I ran across this on page 423:

    “To be hated and evil entreated is one of the penalties of moral greatness and spiritual power; or, to put it differently, one of the privileges Christ confers on His ‘friends.’

    “Hatred is very hard to bear, and the desire to escape it is one main cause of unfaithfulness and unfruitfulness. Good men shape their conduct so as to keep out of trouble, and through excess cowardly prudence degenerate into spiritual nonentities.”

    <idle musing>
    “degenerate into spiritual nonentities!” Wow, that hit me hard when I read it last night. Is that what happens to “good men?” The context of the statement is in a discussion of the upper room discourse in John. Jesus is talking about what will happen to the disciples once he is gone—they will suffer persecution. Either they endure it by the indwelling power of the Paracletos, or they will succumb and become “spiritual nonentities.”

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a spiritual nonentity. That sounds too boring and dull—quite apart from the eternal consequences. May we all become spiritual entities worthy of the name of Jesus!
    </idle musing>

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006


    A Place for the God-Hungry has the first 10 items, out of a projected 41, that married people ought to know. Good thoughts, worth reading. He starts out strong:

    1. Married people are called to move away from self-centeredness and toward self-lessness. The "self" has a way of getting in the way of a good marriage.

    and ends just as strongly:

    9. Married people need to come to grips with the reality of the sin they are inflicting on one another. Consider these: harshness, rudeness, impatience, self-centeredness, pride, willfully inflicting pain, etc.

    10. How utterly foolish for husbands or wives to run down their mates just to get a cheap laugh from co-workers. What about the second most important commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself"? Is this the way mature men and women treat one another?

    And everything in between is worth reading, too.

    <idle musing>
    With regards to 1: selfishness/the self, the old man tends to get in the way of more than just a good marriage!
    </idle musing>