Friday, February 27, 2009

Link love

I thought I would link to some posts that have piqued my interest this week:

Scot McKnight has been running a series on IGens. Today's and yesterday's were especially good. From today's:

She thinks there is (and I use my own term here) a social anorexia. That is, "we're malnourished from eating a junk-food diet of instant messages, e-mail, and phone calls, rather than the healthy food of live, in-person interaction" (110). There is an instability in relationships -- beginning with divorce and casual romantic relationships and the biological clock ticking for young women and young men (1.2 men unmarried for every one woman). Lots of living alone and lots of moving from one location to another ... looking for jobs and the economic realities of how expensive it is to buy a home and dual income and then kids and fees for taking care of kids ... much of this driven by the desire to stand alone. Add to this higher expectations by the young adults ... and the desire to make it on our own.

<idle musing>
Reminds me of Aspects of the Atonement, where he talks about shame.
</idle musing>

Which leads right into this from Ekklesia,which is from here (I'm quoting from the second link):

Forgive me if I go off on this again, but I really do think this is central: Given the ways we are influenced by capitalism and the way we let it reign in so many areas of our lives, is this kind of koinania possible in our times? I get chastised whenever I try to show how capitalism shapes Christians into being pagans. Many of my evangelical friends, automatically assume I am espousing socialism as a social system that is better than capitalism. Sorry, I am not doing that. Instead I am showing how this system shapes us into a spiritual formation that disables us from being Christians. Chan’s illustration of life insurance illustrates my point. Many of us have sat down with an insurance broker and watched him/her outline on an excel sheet how much we will accumulate if we contribute so much. We then hear the words and if we “want to maintain our lifestyle” when we retire we will need some sort of outrageous number of dollars of life insurance. Then this person walks off in disgust if we dare question these “scientific expert” projections. But right there, as we listen, we are all being shaped by the powers to be independent, do not trust anyone else, and be responsible, and maintain a lifestyle you never needed in the first place. This in turns shuts us off from one another, and keeps us working harder and longer and keeping more of our money so we can pay these insurance premiums. We lose our capacity to be dependent upon one another and to give time and money to His Mission. This is one good example of how capitalism shapes and forms our lives into being pagans.

<idle musing>
I've said it many times on this blog, but it doesn't make it less true, most christians are practicing atheists.
</idle musing>
Which leads to this:

Are you furthering your education to get a degree? Burning midnight oil and studying to make an A? Planning lessons to make your point? Growing a church to build a better resume? Visiting folks to appease the pastor? Attending church to feel better about yourself throughout the week? Preparing sermons to fix some individual or group? Supporting missions, ministers, leaders and campaigns so goals are met and numbers increase?

If we answer yes to any of those questions, our actions are of no benefit whatsoever. Nada. None. Zip.

It’s only when we fall back completely and surrender every iota of our self-sufficiency to Christ, that the Spirit can fill us and use us for His glory. We can do nothing apart from Him and when we do something with anything other than Him in mind, we do nothing at all.

<idle musing>
</idle musing>
Which leads me to this:

It is very difficult to discuss "worship" in the context of the American church (and perhaps in other nations as well, I don't know) without the discussion centering on the church meeting. In fact, some readers probably bristle because I used the phrase "church meeting" instead of "worship service". However, we must realize that the inclination to associate the church meeting with worship did not arise from Scripture.

Go ahead and study... you should. Studying the association in Scripture between the church meeting and worship is one of the reasons that I became interested in ecclesiology. But, that study also encouraged my interest in worship - not singing and praying and preaching, but worship, from the perspective of Scripture. And, as I studied worship in Scripture, I found that worship has more to do with how I live my life than what I do on Sunday mornings - although that is certainly part of it - around 1% of it (1-2 hours out of my 168 hour week). So, why do we act as if that 1-2 hours is 90% of our worship (or even all of it)?

<idle musing>
Worship is what we do all the time as we walk in Christ! There is no "secular/sacred" divide in him.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's quote

"The truth is that among those who actually went through the experience of Auschwitz, the number of those whose religious life was deepened—in spite of, not because of, the experience—by far exceeds the number of those who gave up their belief. To paraphrase what La Rochefoucauld once remarked with regard to love, one might say that just as the small fire is extinguished by the storm while a large fire is enhanced by it—likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes, whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them."—Viktor Frankl (an Auschwitz survivor)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The branch on the vine

" For, alas! is it not often true that our work comes between us and Jesus? What folly! The very work that He has to do in me, and I for Him, I take up in such a way that it separates me from Christ. Many a laborer in the vineyard has complained that he has too much work, and not time for close communion with Jesus, and that his usual work weakens his inclination for prayer, and that his too much intercourse with men darkens the spiritual life. Sad thought, that the bearing of fruit should separate the branch from the vine! That must be because we have looked upon our work as something other than the branch bearing fruit. May God deliver us from every false thought about the Christian life."— Andrew Murray

<idle musing>
Get on the wheel, you hamster! Round and round it goes, but you get nowhere fast—except exhausted.

How many burned out christians do you know? They are trying to live the Christian life by themselves. It has never worked, and it certainly isn't going to start working now! Abide in Jesus. Let him be the vine; you be content to be the branch. You aren't responsible for growth, the vine is. Relax!
</idle musing>

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote for today

"If you want people to have faith and belief in God, you cannot rely on preaching along the lines of a particular church but must, in the first place, portray your God believably—and you must act credibly yourself."—Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

<idle musing>
Yep. You have to walk the walk in order for people to see that what you are saying is true.
<idle musing>

Friday, February 20, 2009

The gospel

Wonderful post on IVP's Behind the Books about why an author wrote his book. Here's an extract:

Jesus’ Gospel includes forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but—and this is crucial—it cannot be reduced to it. The gospel of the Kingdom has to do with becoming, through grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the cooperative friends of Jesus, who live constant lives of creative goodness for the sake of others through the power of the Holy Spirit. That story, unlike the story of going to heaven when you die, can produce a new life—which is of course an eternal kind of life.

<idle musing>
I like it when someone else says it :)

Note the repeating of the phrase "the empowerment of the Holy Spirit." That cannot be said enough; anything else is works.
</idle musing>

He continues:

Second, my decades long practice as a pastor tells me that we Christians tend to misunderstand the nature of community and its essential connection to both evangelism and serving others. Driving 20 to 30 minutes across town to go to church for an hour or so does not constitute community. Neither does adding a drive 20 to 30 minutes in the other direction mid-week to attend a home group.

<idle musing>
Yep. The believers of the early church were in each other's lives on a daily basis. Community, a misunderstood and misused term, but the heart of a church.

Do yourself a favor and read the rest of his post...
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interesting thought

In this month's Harper's there is an article about the Frankfurt Book Fair. In the midst of the article is this little paragraph on page 49:

It is tempting to think that the problem with publishing is just too many awful books, but then again 99 percent of anything is mediocre, and people don't tend to complain that there are too many mediocre widgets. Books are something we have higher expectations for.

<idle musing>
Interesting thought, isn't it? We accept mediocrity in all kinds of things, from software to food. But, when we read a book, we expect more than the run-of-the-mill banality we see in the rest of life. Maybe that is part of the staying power of books.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's quote

"Let me say, first of all, that this faith means utter impotence and helplessness before God.

"At the bottom of all faith there is a feeling of helplessness. If I have a bit of business to transact, perhaps to buy a house, the lawyer must do the work of getting the transfer of the property in my name and making all the arrangements. I cannot do that work, and in trusting that agent I confess I cannot do it. And so faith always means helplessness. In many cases it means: I can do it with a great deal of trouble, but another can do it better. But in most cases it is utter helplessness; another must do it for me. And that is the secret of the spiritual life. A man must learn to say: 'I give up everything; I have tried and longed and thought and prayed, but failure has come. God has blessed me and helped me, but still, in the long run, there has been so much of sin and sadness.' What a change comes when a man is thus broken down into utter helplessness and self-despair, and says: 'I can do nothing!'"—Andrew Murray in Absolute Surrender

<idle musing>
Not very palatable to our "can-do, self-help" theology, is it? But, it is true...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sports and Eisenbrauns?

I just received an e-mail linking to this article. The lead-in line of the e-mail said:

No matter what your core business, sports can be infused into your marketing plan effectively. Here's how you can ensure that same passion and enthusiasm of sports fans can be transferred to your business.

OK, your task is to figure out how in the world that would work for Eisenbrauns. Name one sports celebrity that would have a clue what we do...

Time's up! Yep, me too. A big zero!

<idle musing>
Second task: does that say more about our culture or about Eisenbrauns? :)
</idle musing>

The Rise of Evangelicalism

This one has been sitting on my bookshelf for about 4 years now, but I finally read it. Way back in early 2004 my IVPress rep came through and The Rise of Evangelicalism caught my eye in their catalog. I asked for a review copy, and its a good thing he never checked to make sure I put up a review!

In the book, Noll reviews the various factors that led to the rise of evangelicalism in the 1700's. He doesn't limit himself to the physical factors, although there are many, but he also includes the spiritual factors. The thing that caught my attention was the condition and position of the laity in the church. There was a dissatisfaction with established religion (sound familiar) and a growing group of lay people who would meet in informal settings to read and study both devotional books and the Bible, and pray together. Noll sees these as the seedbeds that triggered the evangelical revival in conjunction with the newly established "quick" communication between continents. The reports of revival in New England would be broadcast across the British isles via pamphlets, which would trigger revivals in the British isles, which would then be written up and sent to the various other British terrritories, including New England. These pamphlets would engender more revivals, etc.

So, what can we learn from this (very simplistic) summary? It seems that revival engenders revival; that communication of what God is doing in your life, when shared, causes others to want more of God. This, in turn, causes them to share, and the cycle goes on. Now, this raises the question of how that can happen in a normal church setting where a group of semi-professional singers "leads" the singing until such a time as a paid professional speaker gives an inspiring message and then dismisses everyone. Maybe before or after the "service"—if you can get anyone to stick around...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are you a mystic?

“Perhaps the gut issue is not how much theology we have studied or how much Scripture we have memorized. All that really matter is this: Have you experienced the furious longing of God or not?

“This very question provoked the brilliant Karl Rahner to prophesy: 'In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all'

“In times of persecution, theoretical Christianity will collapes”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 125-126

<idle musing>
That is the final excerpt from The Furious Longing of God. I hope you were challenged, even offended, by what he has said. Anything, as long as it made you re-examine where you are and where you are headed in your Christian life. May you experience Christ in you, the hope of glory!

The book will be released sometime in March of this year; visit you local bookstore and ask for it. It is published by David C. Cook; the ISBN is 978-1-4347-6750-9.
</idle musing>

Winners in Eisenbrauns Valentine's day contest

I see that some of the winners have already posted on their blogs...

We have chosen our winners for this year's ancient Near Eastern Valentine contest. The winners were in Hittite, Egyptian, and Ugaritic:
Or tinyurl:

Congratulations to all who won, and thanks to all who entered.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Selling God short

“How is it then that we've come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don't go to x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? to make nicer men and women with better morals?

“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, in the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it really means to be a Christian.”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 120-121

<idle musing>
What more can one say?
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Are we listening?

“Because we approach the gospel with preconceived notions of what it should say rather than what it does say, the Word no longer falls like rain on the parched ground of our souls. It no longer sweeps like a wild storm into the corners of our comfortable piety. It no longer vibrates like sharp lightning in the dark recesses of our nonhistoric orthodoxy. The gospel becomes, in the words of Gertrude Stein:

...a pattering of pious platitudes spoken by a Jewish carpenter in the distant past.

“...We have all experienced the sadness of a Christian life that is secure, well regulated but basically impoverished. We long, at least occasionally, for a generosity that would life us about ourselves.”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 113, 115

<idle musing>
Give me the wild ride of life with Jesus over the security of an impoverished churchian life any day. As I used to tell my son, “The Christian life is like a backwards roller coaster; you don't know where you are going; it goes up, down, and all around, but you know you won't fall out. So, enjoy the ride!”
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Join me!

“It is jarring indeed to learn that what he went through in His passion and death is meant for us too; that the invitation He extends is 'Don't weep for me! Join me!' the life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we should be lauded. On the contrary, He revealed a picture meant to include you and me.”— The Furious Longing of God, page 112

<idle musing>
So much for the health and wealth heresy...united with him in his death is the way Paul puts it on more than one occasion.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The test of love

“Is there a Zacchaeus in your life? Somebody that everybody's given up on? Judged incapable of any further good? Grand aunt, distant cousin, spouse, former spouse, inlaw, member of your church, neighbor on your street, colleague at work? Someone of whom you've said 'I've been wasting my time trying to make you understand anything. You are incorrigible. Thank God, I'm quits and free of you.. Don't you ever dare to darken my door again'? You probably wouldn't say that because that's cruel. I don't like to say cruel things either. They make me feel guilty and I don't want to feel guilty. So, I play it smooth; I call it cool cordiality and polite indifference. Good morning, you dork. In the churches across our land, we allow this garbage to masquerade as the love of Jesus.

“Jesus said you are to love one another as I have loved you, a love that will possibly lead to the bloody, anguished gift of yourself; a love that forgives seventy times seven, that keeps no score of wrongdoing. Jesus said this, this love, is the one criterion, the sole norm, the standard of discipleship in the New Israel of God. He said you're going to be identified as His disciples, not because of our church-going, bible-toting, or song-singing. No, you'll be identified as His by one sign only: the deep and delicate respect for one another, the cordial love impregnated with reverence for the sacred dimension of the human personality because of the mysterious substitution of Christ for the Christian.”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 81-82

<idle musing>
</idle musing>

February sale at Eisenbrauns

Mea culpa! I forgot to post the February sale at Eisenbrauns. Good thing this isn't the official Eisenbrauns blog or I'd be in trouble :)

Here's the blurb:

We're making room in the warehouse. Help us out by purchasing some of the following titles at savings up to 90% off. Because this is a clearance sale, quantities are limited; when they are gone, they are gone. There will be no backorders at sale prices, so hurry.

And here's the link

And here's the list:

"Romans: A Commentary"
by Robert Jewett
Edited by Eldon J. Epp
Fortress Press, 2006. Cloth with dustjacket. English.
ISBN: 0800660846
List Price: $90.00 Your Price: $63.00

"Psalms: Volume 2: Psalms 42-89"
by John Goldingay
Edited by Tremper Longman III
Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms
Baker Academic, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780801027048
List Price: $44.99 Your Price: $19.50

by Stanley Hauerwas
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587430959
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $12.00

"1 and 2 Kings"
by Peter J. Leithart
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587431254
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $13.37

by Jaroslav Pelikan
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth with dustjacket. English.
ISBN: 1587430940
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $13.26

"Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian
Worldview of the First Gospel"
by Stephen Westerholm
Baker Academic, 2006. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0801027381
List Price: $16.99 Your Price: $8.30

"The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition"
by Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert Tigchelaar
Brill Academic Publishers, 2000. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9789004115477
List Price: $139.00 Your Price: $69.50

"Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient
Art from the British Museum"
Edited by Edna R. Russmann
University of California Press, 2001. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0520230868
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $28.50

"Ancient Records of Egypt, Volume 2: The Eighteenth Dynasty"
Edited by James Henry Breasted
University of Illinois Press, 2001. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0252069749
List Price: $19.95 Your Price: $16.13

"The Early History of Ancient Near East 9000-2000 B.C."
by Hans J. Nissen
Translated by Elizabeth Lutzeier
University of Chicago Press, 1988. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0226586588
List Price: $29.00 Your Price: $14.67

"Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?"
by William G. Dever
Eerdmans, 2003. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0802809758
List Price: $25.00 Your Price: $12.50

"1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary"
by Anthony C. Thiselton
Eerdmans, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0802840361
List Price: $30.00 Your Price: $13.36

"Taposiris Magna, 1998-2004:: Alexandriai Magyar Asatasok"
by Gyozo Voros
Egypt Excavation Society of Hungary, 2004.
Cloth. English and Hungarian.
ISBN: 963214886X
List Price: $99.00 Your Price: $60.41

"Anton Kiraz's Archive on the Dead Sea Scrolls"
Edited by George Anton Kiraz
Gorgias Press, 2002. Paper. English.
ISBN: 1931956383
List Price: $75.00 Your Price: $36.43

"The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of the Original Good News"
by James M. Robinson
HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0060762179
List Price: $21.95 Your Price: $12.48

"The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation"
by Michael O. Wise, Martin G. Abegg, and Edward M. Cook
HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. Paper. English.
ISBN: 006076662X
List Price: $24.95 Your Price: $13.98

"Novum Testamentum Graece: Wide Margin Edition"
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 2007.
Cloth. German, English, and Greek.
ISBN: 9781598562002
List Price: $59.95 Your Price: $32.67

"Craft Specialization and Social Evolution:
In Memory of V. Gordon Childe"
Edited by Bernard Wailes
University Museum Monograph - UMM 93
University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology -
University of Pennsylvania, 1996. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 092417143X
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $41.46

"Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek"
by Matthew S. DeMoss
IVP Pocket Reference
InterVarsity Press - IVP, 2001. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0830814647
List Price: $8.00 Your Price: $4.30

by Alan C. Mitchell
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780814658154
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $20.72

"What Have They Done to the Bible?:
A History of Modern Biblical Interpretation"
by John Sandys-Wunsch
Michael Glazier, 2005. Paper. English.
ISBN: 814650287
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $23.47

"Philippians and Philemon"
by Bonnie B. Thurston and Ryan Judith
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0814658202
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $21.75

"In Search of Wisdom: Essays in Memory of John G. Gammie"
Edited by Leo G. Perdue, William J. Wiseman, and Bernard Brandon Scott
Westminster / John Knox Press, 1993. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0664252958
List Price: $29.95 Your Price: $2.71

"Archaeology and the Religion of Israel"
by William Foxwell Albright
Old Testament Library - OTL
Westminster / John Knox Press, 2006. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0664227422
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $22.47

"Jeremiah 30-52 and Lamentations"
by John M. Bracke
Westminster Bible Companion - WESBC
Westminster / John Knox Press, 2000. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0664255833
List Price: $19.95 Your Price: $12.40

"Acts and Ethics"
Edited by Thomas E. Phillips
New Testament Monographs - NTM 9
Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 190504822X
List Price: $85.00 Your Price: $52.50

"Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies: Identity and The Book"
Edited by David M. Gunn and Timothy K. Beal
Routledge, 1996. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0415126657
List Price: $43.95 Your Price: $24.35

"eBible Platinum Edition on CD-ROM (Windows)"
Thomas Nelson, 2004. CD-ROM. English.
ISBN: 0785250247
List Price: $399.99 Your Price: $136.49

"1 Kings"
by Simon J. De Vries
Word Biblical Commentary - WBC 12
Thomas Nelson, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0785250913
List Price: $49.99 Your Price: $21.50

by Gerald F. Hawthorne
Edited by Ralph Martin
Word Biblical Commentary - WBC 43
Thomas Nelson, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0785250085
List Price: $49.99 Your Price: $21.50

"Visual Education Biblical Greek Academic Study Card Set"
Visual Education, 1998. Greek.
ISBN: 1556370075
List Price: $14.95 Your Price: $10.45

"Survey of the New Testament Laminated Sheet:
Zondervan Get an A! Study Guides"
by Robert H. Gundry
Zondervan Publishing Company, 2007. Paper. English.
ISBN: 0310273145
List Price: $6.99 Your Price: $4.19

Eisenbrauns on Twitter

Hey, check it out! We're on Twitter.

So what? Well, each day we are going to offer a book for sale at about as low a price as we can. In some cases it might even be our cost, or below. Each day, right around noon, Eastern time, we will announce it on Twitter. If it sells out, we will send a second "tweet" letting people know.

Don't do Twitter? You could subscribe to our RSS feed, which will be the same information. Or, you could visit the home page every day. Personally, I think Twitter is the easiest because you can put it in your RSS feeder.

So, what is it today?

The Akkadian Language in its Semitic Context

The Akkadian Language in its Semitic Context
Studies in the Akkadian of the Third and Second Millennium BC
Publications de l'Institut historique-archeologique neerlandais de Stamboul - PIHANS 106
Edited by Guy Deutscher and M.J.C. Kowenberg
Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten/Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), 2006
xii + 298 pages, English and German
ISBN: 9062583172
List Price: $39.00
Your Price: $25.74 (34%)

Just so you know, that's cheap...I'm barely covering our cost.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Union with God

“Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized through personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any ida that does not coincide with mine.

“The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read and who[sic] you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy.”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 70-71

<idle musing>
Wow! See what I mean by Brennan blowing you away at times. This is Christianity in a nutshell. As Debbie (my wife) likes to say, “Self out; Christ in.” And this is what it looks like, “the furious longing of God.”
</idle musing>

Friday, February 06, 2009

Don't read this

Unless you want to be shaken up, that is.

The ordinary pablum of popular religion caters to the idealistic, perfectionistic, and neurotic self who fixates on graceless getting worthy for union, while allowing the prostitutes and tax gougers to dance in to the kingdom. Our strategies of self-deception persuade us that abiding restful union with Jesus is too costly, leaving no room for money, ambition, success, fame, sex, power, control, and pride of place or the fatal trap of self-rejection, thus prohibiting mediocre, disaffected dingbats and dirtballs, like myself, from intimacy with Jesus.

Until we learn to live peacefully with what Andre Louf calls “our amazing degree of weakness,” until we learn to live gracefully with what Alan Jones calls “ our own extreme psychic frailty,” until we let the Christ who consorted with hookers and crooks to be our truth, the false, fraudulent self motivated by cowardice and fear will continue to distance us from abiding restful union...

There are no palliatives for raw faith. In living out our union with Jesus one day at a time, the most decisive issue is believing. In contrast to the domesticated, feel-good Jesus of TV evangelism, who is committed to our financial prosperity, the Christ of John's gospel who has made His home in us invites us to walk with Him daily in humble service even unto death. We may have acquired graduate degrees; we may have mstered biblical principles, we may hold roles of secular and spiritual leadership; and we may have authored books on Christian maturity, and our wits may have been sharpened on the carborundum wheel of the world. So much the better if they have elicited raw faith, so much the worse for those on the inside track who dismiss union, fusion, and symbiosis as merely sophisticated metaphors not to be taken literally.

Believing is living as though John 15:4 [Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.] is true.— The Furious Longing of God, pages 68-70

<idle musing>
Don't say I didn't warn you! Rest/remain/stay/abide (μενω) is the “secret” to the Christian life, and Christ is able to make it happen.
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 05, 2009

But, hey, I'm getting there, right?

The entire process (of self-development) can be very exciting and entertaining. But the problem is there's no end to it. The fantasy is that if one heads in the right direction and just works hard enough and gets actualized, one will be there. None of us is quite certain exactly where there is, but it obviously has something to do with resting.

“In retrospect, my ponderous ponderings on the purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages of my spiritual life, my assiduous search for shortcuts to holiness, my preoccupation with my spiritual pulse and my fasts, mortifications and penances have wrought pseudobliss and the egregious delusion that I was securely ensconced in the seventh mansion of spiritual perfection.

“What would I actually do if I had it to do all over again? Heeding John's counsel, I would simply do the next thing in love.”— The Furious Longing of God, page 62

</idle musing>
Do yourself a favor; listen to his advice! Brennan is in his 70's; if he can't get there by his own works after all these years and spiritual disciplines, who do you think you are that you can?

Just let it all go and rest/abide/stay/remain (μενω) in who God is and what Christ has done on the cross.
<idle musing>

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Union with Christ

“Words such as union, fusion, and symbiosis hint at the ineffable oneness with Jesus that the apostle Paul experienced: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me' (Gal 2:20). No human word is even remotely adequate to convey the mysterious and furious longing of Jesus for you and me to live in his smile and hang on his words. But union come close, very close; it is a word pregnant with a reality that surpasses understanding, the only reality worth yearning for with love and patience, the only reality before which we should stay very quiet.”— The Furious Longing of God, page 61

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Love of God

“I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me. May the be so perfected in unity that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me. (John 1:22-23 NJB)

“While praying over those remarkable words, I came to the inescapable conclusion that the degree of Abba's love for me is in direct proportion to his love for Jesus. For example, I can love the mailman with twenty percent and my best friend with ninety percent. But with God, there is no division, no more and no less. God loves me as much as He love Jesus. Wow!”— The Furious Longing of God, pages 57-58

<idle musing>
Wow! is right. That is an amazing and breathtaking thought.
</idle musing>


It warmed up briefly Sunday afternoon, so I did what any self-respecting Minnesotan would do: I made snowpeople (note the inclusive language :) ) Actually, since snowpeople are genderless, does it matter what we call them? I guess not. But, in this case it does, because These are special snowpeople. Debbie was talking to Renee on the phone, so I made snowpeople: Joel, Renee, Joshua and Rachel. I tried to make a bigger belly on Renee to represent Grapenut, but didn't succeed.

Since I was on a roll, I decided to make another snowperson, waiting for the mail:

And, of course we need someone out by the road alongside the driveway:

By that time it was getting colder and the snow wasn't packing as well, so I couldn't make anymore. Maybe this weekend?

Take back the wonder

Always insightful, Kevin Edgecomb has a thoughtful post on the dangers that attend knowing too much:

I curse my studies. Sometimes, anyway. What good is it to be following a Bible reading plan for the faithful when half of what is going on during my reading is (Lord, have mercy!) a critique of the translation, a mental retroversion to the Hebrew and/or Greek involved, mental notes on historical illumination and literary parallels, and all manner of distractions. The wonder is often gone. I hate that.

<idle musing>
Would that I couldn't identify! There are times when knowing too much blocks the wonder of God communicating with me. It is times like that that "I have to force myself to step back and turn off that running commentary, that mental footnoting, imposing silence. The silence is necessary" as Kevin says.

I echo Kevin: "It’s time to take back the wonder. Give the glory to God!"
</idle musing>

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Furious Longing of God

I just received an advance copy of The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning. As usual with his books, some things he said make me mad, others make me laugh at myself for the same incorrect thinking, other things leave me speechless. Tag along with me for the next week or so as I pull out some extracts.

For twenty-one years, I tried desperately to become Mother Theresa. I lived around the world in griming poverty and depersonalizing squalor. I lived voluntarily for six months in the garbage dump in Juarez, Mexico, garbage as high as your ceilings. It was a place filled with everyone from four- and five-year-old children to senior citizens in their eighties, all crawling over broken whiskey bottles and dead animals, just to find something to eat or possibly sell to hawkers on the side of the road. I've lived voluntarily as a prisoner in the prison in Pueblo, Switzerland; the warden there believed priests shouldn't be chaplains but actual prisoners. Only the warden knew my identity. I've lived on the streets of New York City with eleven-, twelve-, and thirteen-year-old prostitutes, both boys and girls, and ministered to them through Covenant House. I just knew if I could become a replica of Mother Theresa, then God would love me.

Pretty impressive, right? Yeah, right.— The Furious Longing of God, page 29

<idle musing>
Wow. If ever anybody looked right on the outside...but he still felt unloved. Why? He talks about that as the book progresses. Stay tuned :)
</idle musing>