Friday, March 30, 2007

To what extent Genesis 3?

<idle musing>
Strange title for a post, isn't it? For those of you who aren't immediately familiar with the reference, Genesis 3 describes the temptation and fall of humanity in the garden of Eden.

We have some bird feeders. Actually we have 3 finch feeders, 2 suet feeders, a large bird feeder filled with mixed seeds, and a sunflower seed bird feeder, which now stands empty (see below). We also spread corn for the squirrels during the day, and corn still on the cob for the deer at night.

Last weekend I was watching the finch feeders. There is room for 18 finches on the 3 feeders, provided they each are content to only have one perch. Therein lies the rub! I have never seen more than 8-10 finches at the feeders at one time, so you would think all would be well. Nope! Once there are more than about 3 finches to a feeder, they start fighting and chasing each other away. It's not like there is a shortage of seed; we keep them full. It is more a case of "protecting the resources"—for themselves, of course. Sound familiar?

It's not limited to the finches either, the squirrels are subject to it also. The sunflower seed feeder was their favorite destination. Even though there was an abundance of corn on the ground, and lots of seed falls from the feeders, they wanted to get to the source. So, they would climb, jump, risk their necks, etc., to get onto the sunflower seed feeder, driving the birds away.

We finally gave up and put corn in it, moving it further away from the bird feeders. The squirrels still loved the illicit seed better than the freely offered corn, even the corn in the feeder. It gets even better. We store our birdseed and corn in steel trash cans (plastic can be eaten through by sharp-teethed little animals) inside our shed. The shed is somewhat animal proof, but not totally. Now, bear in mind that there is an abundance of seed and corn lying around on the ground and in the feeders. There is no way that any squirrel is going to go hungry. But, at any given time, when the temperature gets warm enough, as it did last weekend, the smell of the corn in the cans wafts out of the shed. Then the squirrels go crazy. They run along the top of the shed, smell around the door, try to get in from underneath. It is amusing.

Why? There is an over abundance of food available. We have shown over the course of the winter that we will keep the feeders full and the corn scattered on the ground. We even gave them a separate feeder full of corn!

Hence my question, "To what extent Genesis 3?"

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now... Romans 8:19-22 RSV

</idle musing>

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Dave Johnson, pastor of Church of the Open Door in the Minneapolis area, has a good post at Out of Ur

So here’s my question: “What’s up with that?” In all his years in church and in “the Word”, Ray never became a different kind of person. He never changed. He never became more loving, gentle, peaceful, or patient. Indeed, he only seemed to become more angry and rigid as time went on. He became harder to be around. What’s more, no one seemed to be bothered by that, as though something were out of the ordinary. No one wondered if maybe Ray had somehow missed the point.

In other words, not only did Ray never change but no one seemed to expect him to. Ray was just being Ray. He prayed the prayer, he believed the right stuff about Jesus, he was irritated with people who didn’t, and he went to heaven when he died. So again the question: “What’s up with that?”

<idle musing>
Indeed! What is up with that? I'm more bothered by the fact that no one seemed to think it unusual that he didn't change. Have we become so used to intellectual assent christianity that we don't think there is any other kind? Have we changed our theology to expect this, instead of letting our theology be driven by scripture and our lives challenged and transformed by the abiding presence of the risen Christ?

When I read the New Testament, I see lives being transformed. Further, I find that such transformation was to be the norm. Anything less was deemed abnormal and earned a stiff rebuke from the writers of the various epistles.

Mind you, the transformation was always the result of the working of God in the form of the Holy Spirit in a person's life. It wasn't the works of the individual—that also would earn a stiff rebuke, see Galatians 3!—but it was a transformation of the individual; a miracle happening before the eyes of all who knew the person.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that no one can ever become better, they just become worse and more rigid. There is only one way of deliverance, and that is death. Not physical death, although I suppose that works too in a warped sort of way, but death to self. Romans 6, buried in baptism; Galatians 2, I am dead; the list goes on. Apprehend it by faith, the only way...otherwise be prepared to take another lap around the wilderness.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Which agenda?

I was wandering the blogosphere yesterday, and chanced upon this gem from David Alan Black:

Evangelical culture warriors are in the news again in a big way. It reminds me of the so-called “space race.” All the money, all the effort to “reach for the moon.” In the church, we have a similar set of misplaced priorities, I think. We aim at the stars (societal change) while the greatest of all objectives is ignored – preaching the Gospel to every creature. Some of us are so obsessed with lesser goals that we fall short of the main accomplishment. Again, I point the finger at no one other than myself. If you are reading less and less about politics at DBO it’s not because I have become less concerned about statism in America. I haven't! I have simply chosen a higher goal – one that the apostle Paul said was in fact unattainable in its entirety – to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection through the fellowship of His sufferings (so I take the Greek). Paul did not lecture on homosexuality in Philippi or on abortion in Ephesus. But when his hearers became Christians they no longer practiced evil. It’s not our main business to denounce organized iniquity in the public square, although that has its place. The best way to expose the unfruitful works of darkness is by producing the kind of Christians who will have no fellowship with them – and who will love those who practice them still. Can I get a witness?

I had stopped reading his blog quite some time ago because of the heavy political agenda, now I probably will stop by again–too bad there isn’t an RSS feed…

Monday, March 26, 2007


I just got this in a marketing e-mail, and it makes me sick.

Consumers to spend $14 billion for Easter.
According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, 79.5% of shoppers are planning to celebrate Easter and are expected to spend an average of $135.07, up 11% from last year’s $121.72 per person. Total holiday spending is estimated to reach $14.37 billion.

Is this what Easter is all about? Babylon!

Free Books!

Yep, that's right. Eisenbrauns will be giving away new books for free.

What's the catch? Simple, subscribe to any one or more of the RSS feeds here; watch for the "free books" posting; follow the directions.

No forms to fill out, no purchase necessary, etc...

The plural of index

Being the former Latin teacher that I am, I have a hard time with Anglicized plurals of Latin words. For me the plural of index is indices, not indexes.

Well, however you want to spell it, Eisenbrauns now has the indices of all Eisenbrauns books published since 2001 on the web in PDF form. That's right, if you are wondering whether or not a certain topic is covered in a book, and how thoroughly, you can download the PDF of the index/indices of that book and search it.

By the way, what is the plural of syllabus?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I don't know how to title this...

My son, Ryan, sent me this link yesterday. It is about a researcher who is doing CT scans on people praying to see what happens inside their brains. [note to my cessationist friends: I love you, but you're wrong :)] Here is an interesting snippet:

In earlier studies, he looked at what happens in the brains of Buddhist monks meditating and Franciscan nuns praying. The results were quite different from what happens in the brains of people speaking in tongues, whose brains, he found, went quiet in the frontal lobe — the part of the brain right behind the forehead that's considered the brain's control center.

"When they are actually engaged in this whole very intense spiritual practice … their frontal lobes tend to go down in activity. … It is very consistent with the kind of experience they have, because they say that they're not in charge. [They say] it's the voice of God, it's the spirit of God that is moving through them," said Newberg.

What does it prove? Absolutely nothing, actually, which is what the researcher himself admits. But, it does point to someone other than the person doing the praying being in control... OK, put away the aliens are in control nonsense! and look at I Corinthians 14:

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. I Corinthians 14:14-15 RSV

Friday, March 23, 2007


Scot McKnight has a very good post on confession of sin.

[Tippens in Pilgrim Heart] begins with the obvious: for many of us (I’m in this group) confession is not a group or verbal activity with another Christian. It is solo-solo: only between the person and God. One reason is this: “the Christian community’s demand for respectability often increases the dishonesty” of not confessing.

<idle musing>
Bonhoeffer has a very good section in his Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible about confession. He firmly believed that every Christian should be actively doing it. But, in good Protestant fashion, he didn't believe it needed to be a priest, but could be any believer. In fact, he was against having only one person hear everyone's confessions because of the dangers inherent for the person hearing all the confessions.

Part of Wesley's class meetings was the confession of sins to one another. I think this is one of the reasons the Wesleyan revival lasted so long. I remember when I first started reading his journal that one of the recurring themes that stood out to me was the confession of sins and honesty before God and man. This from the person most associated with the holiness movement!

Perhaps part of the problem is that we try to jump over confession of sin directly into holiness? Or, perhaps we really don't have a true conception of sin. We think that it is something we do, instead of something we are (apart from Christ). If someone doesn't see themself as a sinner, but just as a good person who occasionally sins, then they don't see a real need for repentance. Which, of course, results in half converted, anemic christians who substitute good works for true holiness of heart and life...

Am I off base here?
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tsumura's Creation and Destruction

I recently finished Tsumura’s Creation and Destruction. I don’t think I have seen that much Akkadian and Ugaritic, along with Sumerian, in a book in a good while! The book is basically an expansion of his 1989 book on Genesis 1 & 2, now including several Psalms and Habakkuk in his evaluation.

I found his arguments for Genesis convincing, but once he moved into the other realms, less so. His arguments are solid, almost watertight. But, I was reminded of a paper I did in Ugaritic for Dennis Pardee; I was looking for concrete borrowings in the mythological writings of Ugarit, the Hittites (including the Kumarbi cycle), and Akkadian. I was unable to find anything concrete that I could hang a strong argument on. But, as Dennis told me after reading the paper, there is no doubt something was going on. That’s how I felt after reading the book. Direct borrowing? Probably not. But there was “something going on” there. To Tsumura’s credit, he acknowledges that there are some borrowed motifs, but I wonder if maybe he hasn’t minimized them in his attempt to slay the Chaoskampf monster.

Even with that caveat, the book is worth the read, just be ready to wade through a good bit of Hebrew, Ugaritic, Akkadian, as well as a bit of Sumerian if you want to critique his arguments in detail.

Hmm, I donated this book as a prize for an undergraduate paper on Genesis! Maybe it is a bit too much for an undergrad? What do you think?

Creation and Destruction

Creation and Destruction
A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament

by David Toshio Tsumura
Eisenbrauns, 2005
xviii + 214 pages, English
ISBN: 1575061066
List Price: $35.00
Your Price: $31.50

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Talking head preaching

<idle musing>
I love that title! No, it’s not mine, although I wish it were. It actually comes from House Church Blog. He starts with a wonderful quote from A.W. Tozer and then proceeds to say:

There are no shortcuts to actually grasping hold of the things of God. We can hear the messages, and even be emotionally charged and thrilled by them, but transformation that leads to more deeply knowing God comes only by our own time spent in pursuit of him.

The problem with the talking-head preaching/teaching, even the really good stuff, is that we highlight it so much that we perpetuate the concept that hearing these messages are at the core of transformation. This is simply not true. Simply hearing others share their deep insights into God does not bring us to deeper places.

He goes on to argue that the place where actual transformation can happen is in small participatory church gatherings. He’s right, as far as he goes. But, there is more to it than that; we have to be willing to die to self.

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but this seems to be the single most neglected command in scripture. We don’t want to face the fact that Jesus called us to come and die. We want a comfortable Jesus who pampers us and says, “There, there, everything will be alright. I died so you don’t have to. I took care of sin so you can live in it.”

What a blasphemous attitude! Yet, if you scratch below the surface of much that passes for theology today, that is just exactly what you will find. Whether it is the “name it, claim it, stomp on it and frame it” gospel, or the “seeker-friendly” gospel, or the mega-church-build-a-mega-buck-building for mega-buck suburbanites gospel, they all boil down to a self-serving christianity which makes God a Santa Claus god.

As long as we wallow in sin and self, there is no hope for a transformation in our lives, let alone our culture. It is only as we take Jesus seriously and allow Him to transform us, believing, in faith, what scripture says we already are—saints—that we will begin to see the faint glimmering of awakening in our churches, be they house churches or mega-churches.

I love where Brueggemann in Theology of the Old Testament highlights the choice Israel had in the exile. They could look at the circumstances: captives in Babylon, temple in ruins, kingship destroyed, no hope for restoration. Pretty grim, don’t you agree? Or, they could believe the promises of restoration found in the prophets. Rationally, that is insane!

Not a whole lot has changed in 2500 years, has it? God still calls us to believe the unbelievable: that we are “seated in the heavenlies with Christ,” that we “are more than conquerors,” that “Christ is our life.” I could go on and on, but none of them make sense outside of a faith perspective. God calls us today, just as he did the Israelites. Whom are we going to listen to? Culture or God? Self or God?
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


<idle musing>
Today I received a catalog from one of Eisenbrauns competitors; I'm sure you would recognize them. Anyway, I looked in vain for something in the catalog that could pass for a Biblical Studies title. Finally, on page 28 of the catalog Biblical Studies began and continued for a phenomenal 4 pages! Then the movies started.

Obviously, Eisenbrauns is in the wrong business. Our most recent catalog, Scholar's Source 27.1, was 40 pages of titles, all ancient Near East or Biblical Studies. Not a single movie or popular paperback; not a single novel, historical or romantic. How in the world can we expect to sell anything? We must be crazy, expecting people to actually think when they read our books :)
</idle musing>

Prophets or profits

<idle musing>
When I was in high school, I made a poster and hung it in my bedroom that said “Men love Profits, not Prophets.” Over the years, I have found that to be true. You rarely find a prophetic person on the staff of a church; they’re too dangerous.

Well, it appears I am not the only one to notice this, because the Christianity Today blog, Out of Ur, has a very nice post asking Where have all the prophets gone? He has three points—he must have gone to seminary :) Here’s the second one:

Church structures are unsafe for prophets:
A prophet by definition is going to disturb the status quo, make people uncomfortable, and rock the boat. But when a pastor with a prophetic function is completely dependant upon the congregation for his/her livelihood it creates a conflict of interests

Why? Because the prophet may tell them that their method of obtaining profits is wrong! Nobody likes to be told they are wrong, it is part of that whole Genesis 3 thing. People especially don’t like to be told they are wrong by someone whom they are paying. After all, we are paying them; shouldn’t we be able to dictate what we are hearing? (I just had this flashback to the scene in the movie Pollyanna, where the woman sends Pollyanna with a message to the preacher about what to preach that coming Sunday).

Of course, this is nothing new; Timothy was warned about it way back in the New Testament.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 RSV

The other two points are also well worth considering:

1. Seminaries are not training prophets
I question whether a prophet can be trained, after all it appears to be a gift of the Holy Spirit, but nonetheless, seminary training should contain classes that show people how to question the status quo

3. Ministries evaluate size not depth
This is one of my big soap box items, but I’ll not expound on it this time!
</idle musing>

Monday, March 19, 2007


Friday and Saturday I was at the regional Evangelical Theological Society meeting here in Warsaw. We don’t do many regional conferences; we are too small a company with too narrow a focus to make them profitable. But, when they come to us, we like to make a statement :) Because we were the “locals,” the conference organizers gave us pride of place, right inside the front door. Here are a few pictures of our book exhibit for you to drool over. I took them Friday morning before the conference started.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sermon on the Mount

<idle musing>
Yesterday I posted a link to Ted Gossard’s series on Christians and War. But, that really is an offshoot of the Sermon on the Mount. Personally, I think the Sermon on the Mount is the heart of Christianity, the standard by which Christ expects us to live—not that we can by our own strength! There is only one way we can live it, and that is by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. But, that presence can and does enable us to live it, if we will allow the Holy Spirit to rule our lives.

On that note, there are a few really good resources on the sermon that I have found stimulating. There is, of course, Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship, a wonderful work that every Christian should read at least once. Another good book is by E. Stanley Jones The Christ of the Mount, which is out of print : ( This book grew out of his work in India with people of the Hindu persuasion. If you can get your hands on a copy, read it.

I naively thought I took the Sermon on the Mount seriously, that is, until I started reading John Wesley’s series of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount a few years ago. These are readily available online here in sermons 21-33. I was suddenly confronted with the stark reality of how much I rationalized my disobedience! Again, every Christian owes it to him/herself to read these, ponder them, and pray through them.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The citizenship of Christians

Ted Gossard over at The Community of Jesus has been running a series entitled “Christians and War.” Here is a quote from part 3

We in Jesus must be countercultural in many ways. We're not to live as this world does. This may seem problematical. Is war and killing intrinsically evil? After all, there were certainly physical battles sanctioned by God in the Old Testament. But we see that even David, the man after God's own heart, was not allowed to build the temple, since he had fought in so much warfare. War may not be intrinsically wrong in itself, though no war fought here and now is without wrong being done on both sides.

But Jesus brings in, understand it all or not (and we don't) a new way to be Israel. That will not render to Caesar what does not belong to him. Since their identity is those whose Lord is Jesus. Not any Caesar. Because of that, I take it, they will not go into battles for nations. Because as the one holy nation, scattered throughout the world, their ethic is redemptive, in Christ. They are part of the mission to bring God's salvation and reconciliation, through the good news of his kingdom, in Christ, to all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Unappreciated workers

Update: This is indeed an urban legend. Thanks to Neal for the legwork.

Bev, one of our editors, just forwarded this to all Eisenbrauns employees:

I know that proofreading is one of the most thankless tasks in the world, but that's a bit ridiculous! I can assure you we would notice the lack of movement here at Eisenbrauns!

Good reflections on church

I have been blessed of late reading the site The Assembling of the Church. Alan raises many good issues about what it means to be church. He is a prolific blogger; I usually only have time to catch up on the weekends. Last week he was talking about leadership—very good stuff. Here is a snippet from Imitate God, a post on 3 John:

In 3 John 1:12 and following, John encourages his readers to follow Demetrius instead. How do the readers know that they should follow Demetrius? Because Demetrius "has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself". John adds his own recommendation as well.

Notice what John is saying here. There is one man who loves to be first - he loves being a leader. But, John says that his conduct is contrary to the ways of God. So, John does not want his readers to follow him. Instead, he points them to a man who is obediently following God. Everyone who knows him recognizes this. This is the "good" that John expects his readers to follow.

Do you want to know who [sic] to follow as a disciple? Then ask yourself these questions: Who has a good testimony? Who's [sic] conduct matches their theology? Who lives what they teach and speak? Follow those people.

But, think about these questions: Who loves to be first, noticed, recognized, important? Who is more concerned with their position than with their conduct? Who is more concerned with whether or not other people are obeying him than whether or not he is obeying God? Do not follow those people.

<idle musing>
One of these days I need to update my blogroll and add him to it; it is hopelessly out of date. Meantime, do yourself a favor and check out his postings.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Prayer

<idle musing>
Out of Ur has an interview with Brian McLaren. In it he mentions a wonderful prayer, which I had never seen before. It is entitled Prayer for your enemies. It starts like this:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

As one of my theology professors used to say, “You owe it to yourself to read this.”
</idle musing>

Friday, March 09, 2007

Good Theologians

There is a very timely post over at The Heresy about the poor theology we have in comtemporary church life.

Some people look down upon theologians as overly intellectual and unspiritual. After working with many I consider good friends I can see where people get that impression. Theologians trust their thinking more than their feeling and often distrust people who speak in terms of feelings, impressions or divine revelation. The disdain between the “thinkers” and the “feelers” is often mutual. The consequences of this disdain are dire. The charismatic movement has lost its theological and biblical moorings. The prosperity gospel seems to have infected most of the movement. Christian television is a theological wasteland. Among many conservative evangelicals we find an unnatural obsession with political power and a narrow set of social issues.

The people that could bring correction are too isolated from the local church. When they do speak they are one voice among many. If they aren’t a successful pastor or an author with market power their influence is limited. Many of our grounded theologians watch and perhaps shake their head but are not in a place where they feel they can make much of a difference.

<idle musing>
I couldn't say it better myself. Many are feeling that the link between theology and church life has been severed.

I know that my boss, Jim Eisenbraun, feels that way. The nice thing is that he is in a position to make a contribution, being a publisher. Consequently, Eisenbrauns is going to be publishing a journal entitled The Journal of Theological Interpretation whose goal is to try to reunite the two. Sound interesting? Then check out the sample issue.

I hope that doesn't sound like a shameless marketing blurb, because it isn't; it is a genuine concern which we are trying to address. It isn't easy trying to launch a new journal, especially with libraries cutting back on acquisitions. This journal grew out of dialog with theologians, not accountants :)
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 08, 2007


OK. I wasn't going to post this because it smacks too much of self-promotion, but I have had some people ask why I didn't. So, here it is:
Jim & Brandon chose to interview me as the Biblioblogger for March

So, if you are bored, or just want to find out a bit more about who I am, go visit the link. By the way, my daughter took the picture :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

New catalog

We just received our new Scholar's Source and it will be sent out in the mail over the next week or so. Can't wait? You can download it here


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

2008 already?

No, but it might as well be...

There is a very good post over at Out of Ur about the whole "whom should a christian endorse" thing.

1. Can he/she give us a government that will recoup our reputation in the world as a generous and compassionate nation? And could he/she take more seriously the fact that a large part of this world now finds our country distasteful? And this goes for Christians in other lands also. (I’m embarrassed every time I go abroad.)

He has nine other ones, give them a read.

You did what?

Our house is relatively small, with an upstairs that is accessed via a ladder that pulls out from the wall. That is where my study is; that is also where our exercise area is. We have a NordicTrac ski machine (now 12 years old) and my old bicycle on a magnetic trainer by Cycleops.

Last night I was riding the trainer, and was about 12 minutes into the ride, when all of a sudden the pedaling got very easy. I thought maybe I had burned out the trainer, but no. I had managed to get a flat tire. Can you believe it? On a trainer! Debbie told me it was carpet tacks :)

That put a quick end to the bicycle workout, but I just went over to the ski machine and finished up my workout on it. But, now I have to fix the flat tire :(

Monday, March 05, 2007

Neo-Assyrian sales

Sales? Yes, plural.

Eisenbrauns is running a monthly sale on books in the State Archives of Assyria series. Charles over at Awilum mentioned it last week.

Now, double your pleasure, double your Akkadian, we are running a 10 day sale on books in the State Archives of Assyria Studies series, also at 20% off.

Just think, you can get books from both series for 20% off in the same order. Enjoy your Akkadian!

Tomb of Jesus?

Update: Seems I got the date wrong! I thought it was going to air on March 5, but it was the 4th. Oh well, instead of pizza, I made Swedish Rye bread and we went over to Debbie's parents and had a good time discussing Galatians 2:20

 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (RSV)

and what it means experientially in our lives.

I have been avoiding talking about this so far, but over the weekend two archaeologists have chimed in. Since some of you will probably watch or have watched the Discovery Channel spectacle, you should read these two articles:

Joe Zias' comments. Joe is a archaeologist who works for the Israel Antiquities Authority. His comments are well informed and authoritative.

Jodi Magness who is an archaeologist (and an Eisenbrauns author!) who has excavated extensively in Israel.

There are also numerous good posts around the blogosphere. Basically, choose any of the biblioblogs on my blogroll...

Me, I'm going to make pizza tonight and enjoy some Augustine in Latin. You can waste your time watching the thing, if you want :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Speaking the love

<idle musing>
The other day I was discussing with someone else the ego stroking that sometimes (often?) goes on in the world. As we closed, this verse came to mind, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15, RSV).

I don’t know about you, but I know lots of people, including myself, who can do this, just not both at the same time. Either we speak the truth, out of frustration, or anger, or self-righteousness—not out of love—or, we speak in love, but veil the truth. Well, we think it is love, anyway. Maybe the problem is that we have defined love, and then gone to the Godhead and made our image of love shape our perception of who God is. Maybe we should go to the scripture and see what the text says love is and who God is, then take that definition and understanding to our life.

Hmm...that sounds dangerous. I might have to let God change the way I interact with people. I might have to get off the throne, stop acting sicut deus as Bonhoeffer puts it, and let God run my life. Now that is a scary thought, not be in control?
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 01, 2007


As I mentioned, I’m a bit behind in my blog reading, but Alan Knox over at The Assembling of the Church has a good post on entertainment. Well, actually it is a quote from another post with his reaction to it. I heartily endorse his plea: give up entertainment and love Jesus instead.

About 6-7 years ago Debbie and I went to our daughter’s church. The pastor spoke about discipleship and one of the things he said has stuck with me. He said, “As a culture, we are addicted to entertainment.” I don’t remember anything else he said, but it opened my eyes to the severity of it. I have since mentioned the idea to others, and invariably they agree. The sad part is that most of them don’t think it is a bad thing.

The usual response is, “Well, God wants us to be happy, doesn’t he?” Hmm, that sure smells like it is straight out of the pit! God wants us to filled with him; full of love for him; dead to the world and alive in him. Entertainment is all about me: making me happy; making me feel good; making me laugh, usually at the expense of someone else or via deceit of some kind.

And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.—Luke 9:23-26 RSV (see also Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34)