Friday, July 30, 2010

The tree house, again

Renee posted a nice picture tour of the tree house here. I didn't take many shots of the inside, but she does a good job. If you want to see all the pictures, you will have to go to my Facebook page


Yes, I know, I'm a month late. But, to me, the first tomato is the sign of real summer. All week long we have been picking a tomato, as in one, each day. On Monday it was a Roma; can you imagine us splitting it 3 ways? But, we did, Joshua, Debbie, and I each received about one bite from it :) Each day since then we have had a tomato. Last night, we picked three!

I received some flak when I commented on my first tomato sandwich two years ago. But, this year, I can assure you, the sandwich was from home made wheat bread, home grown Romaine lettuce (the last of it), home grown tomatoes, home grown bunching onions, home made pickle relish, and home made sharp cheddar cheese. But, no mayonnaise.

That's right, I finally opened the last 1/2 pound of cheddar that I made back in March. It is now almost 5 months old. It isn't as sharp as I thought it would be, but it is still good. I didn't have any home made mayonnaise, and having just returned from a 36-plus mile bike ride, didn't want to wait to make it, so I just went without. Ah, the trial of it all :)

That river in Brazil again

Another interesting take on Amazon surfaced yesterday on Inside Higher Education. Here's a sampling:

...from the chief editor of a Midwestern university press who asked not to be identified. (This is understandable. Half the art of dealing with the 800-pound gorilla in the room may be keeping from drawing too much attention to yourself.)

"...Amazon is a predatory corporation — maybe not in a strictly legal sense of the word, but in practice, a shark. And swimming with sharks is dangerous."

He noted last week’s announcement of an arrangement between Amazon and the powerful literary agent Andrew Wylie, who has launched a new digital imprint for his clients. Their e-books will be available exclusively for Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle -- cutting publishers out entirely.

“As the recent agreement with Andrew Wylie demonstrates,” the editor told me, “Amazon is willing to go against its ‘partners’ — their term of art — whenever it chooses, and the fact that they're publishing Kindle editions directly from authors to readers underscores the contempt with which they hold publishers.”

<idle musing>
They are all about profits. Period. If it makes money, do it. Period. As I repeatedly tell people, if money is your god, you will do anything to serve that god.

Sure, a company needs to make money to survive; it's a necessary, but not sufficient in itself, condition; refer back to the Drucker quote from last Friday for what I mean.
</idle musing>

But, it was so much easier before...

For most of us, living the Christian life is a as difficult as finding Christ was. Often it's more difficult. Why? Now that we have Christ in us, shouldn't life go much easier? The truth is that we ourselves make it difficult. We complicate it by trying to do what seems perfectly natural once we become a Christian. We try to keep God's law. But trying through our own effort to keep God's law prevents us from experiencing Christ's abundant life, because contrary to most popular teaching, it is the opposite of what God designed us to do.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 141-142

<idle musing>
As usual, we get it backwards...Christ says, "you're dead" and we talk about how alive we are, "Christ makes your life fuller." Note the pronoun there—your. No, Christ replaces your life with his. I think its a pretty good trade; not fair, but good. I get rid of the life I had that was all bound up with sin and death in exchange for Christ's spotless, sinless one!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Get over it!

Until you are willing to take the things of your life, push them on beyond Satan, and lay them at the Father's feet, you won't get peace. I'm not saying you might not get some resolution. God may deliver you from a bad circumstance. But I notice that when I hear people say, “God delivered me from this,” or “God rescued so-and-so from that,” the next one on their mind is the devil. Everything had to do with the devil.

Phooey on the devil. God already dealt with him. GOD HAS ALREADY DEALT WITH HIM! And if the devil doesn't know it, you and I ought to know it. We watch God take the devil's tricks and lies and turn them around on him. They are the very horse manure out of which grows a beautiful plant. And we praise the Lord.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 137

<idle musing>
I read a book a few years ago about spiritual warfare where the author said, "I radically disbelieve in the devil!" He didn't mean he didn't believe in his existence, but he disbelieved that he had any power over God. To hear some people talk (as I said yesterday), you would think they were dualists, that is that God and satan are equals. What heresy for a Christian to think that! Satan is a created being; created by God. As Luther was wont to say, he's God's devil...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How's your vision?

I'm not saying there isn't a devil. I don't mean that sickness is not a result of the fall. Both are a reality. And it's not wrong if that's the level at which you see. But I believe God wants a group of people who can get beyond that. Yes, on one level we have to deal with the devil, but on another level we get beyond that.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 134

But we need to take the nasty, the ugly, the afflictions, the trials, and the tribulations, and identify them as part of Gods domain. They, too, are His arena of operation. We're not debating now who caused something. We're talking about who is going to use it.

I love something my pastor said once: “What the Christian needs is 50/20 vision.” He was referring to Genesis 50:20, where Joseph said of his brothers' actions against him: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” We need 50/20 vision. Most people just have the vision of, “It looks bad, it feels bad, so it is bad, and that's all it is.” Then that's all they get. They get angry. They get bitter, because all they see is the external circumstance, which looks bad. But 50/20 vision says, “God means it for good.”— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 135-136

<idle musing>
To hear some people talk, you would think God was at the mercy of the enemy. Guess what? He isn't! He already won, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and getting all depressed about the "bad stuff" in your life! God is at work, if you will just let him.
</idle musing>

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's all a matter of perspective

The point is that God is our life now. The secret of the Christian life is learning to live out of the life of Another. Because that's true, we have to look at the things that happen to us in the natural realm from a supernatural point of view. Or, we could say, to look at seen and temporal events from an unseen and eternal perspective. We see what God is about in a situation.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 132

<idle musing>
And that is by faith...
</idle musing>

Officially done

OK. I'm declaring the tree house officially done. Joshua (our visiting 5 year-old grandson) spent a good part of yesterday scrambling up and down the ladder, in and out of the tree house, using the rope and bucket to raise and lower stuff, so it is officially endorsed by the person we built it for. We even had lunch together in the tower!

Here are some pictures after I added the trim:

A nice view of the tree, slide, swing, and tree house; you can see the yellow rope for the bucket in the background, too:

Not sure if you can see it, but there is a cat sleeping on the floor of the tower. We call him "Baby;" he's a stray that we took in, but he is just a big baby.

Friday, July 23, 2010

All that's left is putting up the trim

I finished painting the tree house last night. The white trim took longer to paint than I thought it would—it always does. What do you think? Tonight I'll put trim around the doors to make them stand out and I'll stain the floors. You should be able to see that on Monday, if I remember...

Your life shows it

In the end, we always live out what we know. We can talk the talk and try to fool each other on Sundays, but when we get up Monday morning, we live out what we know. It's practically impossible to walk in what we don't know. Catch me off guard and you'll find out what I really know, versus what I just talk about. My life will show it.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 130

<idle musing>
That reminds me of that old kid's song, "If you're happy and you know it, then your life will surely show it." Or, "Your actions are speaking so loud that I can't hear what you are saying."
</idle musing>

Thought for today

Some of us here at Eisenbrauns are reading The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker, the management guru. Chapter 2 has a nice little thought:

None of our institutions exists by itself and is an end in itself. Every one is an organ of society and exists for the sake of society. Business is no exception. Free enterprise cannot be justified as being good for business; it can be justified only as being good for society.—page 16

<idle musing>
Unfortunately, it seems that profit-chasing has taken over in most people's minds :( I think the Bible has a bit to say about greed, though, doesn't it?
</idle musing>

Spiritual warfare, Zambian style

Matt Harmon, a New Testament professor here at Grace Seminary is teaching for a few weeks this summer in Zambia. Today, he posted about one of his recent classes:

Yesterday during my class on Jesus and the Gospels, the discussion turned to spiritual warfare. Anytime this subject comes up (no matter where I am teaching), I try to explain that there are two extremes within the evangelical church. One extreme says that any talk of demons or spiritual warfare is simply an outdated and ignorant way of thinking about things that have other, "natural" causes. According to this view, such talk was the only way that less enlightened people had of explaining things that were beyond their control such as sickness, calamity, drought, famine, etc. I would suggest that this is the default view of most evangelical Christians in the United States. The other extreme says that virtually everything that happens in a day is the direct result of activity in the spirit world. According to this view, one must be constantly alert to how the spirits/demons are at work to avoid offending them or being somehow hurt by them. This is the default view in much of Africa even among evangelical Christians.

<idle musing>
I might add that the second view was the view in the ancient world, which I sum up as, "Don't tick off the gods!" And, "make sure you have at least one of them on your side, running interference for you." That, by the way, was the job of your personal minor deity, the lamassu in the ANE, the penates and lares in Rome, the Greek word escapes me right now, was it the hermai? A little help, please! Anyway, our concept of the guardian angel comes from this same concern.

The idea is that you keep the minor deity happy with small sacrifices and they will shield you from any unwanted (negative) attention by the major deities. This idea still lives on in popular culture with the various statues, etc. that you see around. And, some of you are old enough to remember when it was not uncommon to throw salt over your shoulder to placate the deities... I could go on, but you get the idea.

Of course, as Matt opines later in the post, both extremes are incorrect and spiritually dangerous. Take the time to look at his post.
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I haven't said anything about the Tour de France because I stopped following it several years ago. Nevertheless, it is the end of an era. I think it is summed up best by Bill Strickland at Bicycling's blog:

So many times over so many years I had witnessed Armstrong bend the Tour de France to his will. Now for the first time I wondered if the race was, as it did with everyone else, bending him. The Tour de France ennobles men, turns them into heroes. Then eventually it turns its heroes into men, by humbling them.

Although I have never been a big Lance fan, it is still sad that he couldn't at least win a stage in his final tour.

On other bicycling notes, I really enjoy riding to work each day. This morning, a fawn was standing in the middle of the road a little over 1/4 mile from home. It stood there, looking at me until I was about 25 feet away from it. Then, it turned and ran along the road for about 100 yards before veering into a lawn and disappearing into the woods. Priceless! Then, the lake was like glass this morning, and the bike path was so green...a wonderful ride.

Yesterday, though, I took the long route home. Consider this a public service announcement: If you are riding around Warsaw, Indiana, beware of 400 East; not only is it torn up and gravel between 600 and 700 South, which I had forgotten, but they are redoing the railroad crossing. They had just redone it in 2006; before that it was so bad I would get off and walk across it. I thought it was quite nice, at least for bicycles. I suspect it was still a bit too steep coming up for cars. So, it's closed while they redo it again. And, while I'm thinking of it, they just sealed 900 South, so don't expect a nice ride on it for a few weeks. Ah, the joys of rural riding :)

We're already there!

I always liked the word awareness more than the word growth. Because what really happens in each of us? Our awareness simply expands. We become more aware of Who already was. “Oh, I see more and more of Him.” We're not seeing more and more about Him. We're seeing more and more of Him. He is the peace. He is the joy. He is the life. He is the love.

Until we see that, we are always saying to God, “Give me something. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme.” But when that insight comes (and I'm not saying it has to be sudden, although it was with me), we say, “Oh, I see. I already have life. I already have Him.”

When God gives your spirit a revelation, often your soul responds with, “That can't be. That can't be.” But your spirit is saying, “It is. It is.” Revelation doesn't take place in your brain. God reveals Himself in our spirit. He says, “Yes, the absolutes are true. When you begin to live in My reality, you'll begin to say, 'I am.' Until you live in My reality, you'll say, 'I am becoming' or I want to be' or 'I hope I am.'”— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 127

<idle musing>
Yes! As it says in 2 Peter 2:3 "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence." (RSV)
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Emotions or knowing?

...each of us as a believer has a spirit knowing that our sins are forgiven. It's not an emotional knowing. It's not simply a fact knowing that's tied to a past event, whereby we remember the day we trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior. Spirit knowing transcends that. We have an inner knowing that our sins are forgiven. We know that. The Holy Spirit has revealed it to us. In the same way, God wants us to know that we have been crucified with Christ, and that it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us. That is the work of the Holy Spirit: to make a knower out of us, rather than a feeler or a thinker or a hoper.

Knowing is not feeling. It is not thinking. To someone who hasn't yet experienced the difference, knowing seems based on feelings and thoughts. But it isn't. In knowing, you and what you know are one. You become mixed, or united, with the thing that you know.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 125-126

<idle musing>
One time, several years ago now, we were trying to explain the "Christ in you" life to someone. They blurted out, "But it's so touchy-feely!" Nope! We tried to explain what we meant, but they didn't understand it. Hopefully they do now.
</idle musing>

Right, or rights?

I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds and e-mail lists. One of the e-mail lists is for a country store in Ohio called Lehmans. You might have heard of them. Anyway, yesterday they had a blog post worth reading. Here is a good snippet:

The distinction between arguing over right and arguing over your rights may be small. But, it must be understood. Sticking to what is right is important; it may even be important enough to sacrifice your life for. But merely wanting to be right, or insisting on winning for the sake of winning, is just plain wrong.

<idle musing>:
A vital distinction that sadly tends to get lost in the heat of the moment...
</idle musing>:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New weekly sale

Eisenbrauns has a great new 10 day sale going on right now. Here's the BookNews announcement:

BookNews from Eisenbrauns

For the next 10 days, you have the opportunity to save from
40-50% off on selected Hendrickson titles. Don't miss this
opportunity to get Sasson's Civilizations of the Ancient
Near East at 50% off (plus shipping).

As always, all sales on this web sale are final; no returns
will be permitted. Offer is good only on orders placed at through July 29, 2010.

To go directly to the weekly sale, click on this link:
"The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon with an
appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic: Coded with the numbering
system from "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible""
by Francis Brown, et al.
Hendrickson Publishers, 1995. Cloth. English and Hebrew.
ISBN: 9781565632066
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $17.48

"The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha:
Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments"
Edited by James H. Charlesworth
Hendrickson Publishers, 2010. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781598564891
List Price: $69.95 Your Price: $34.98

"The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, Revised and Expanded Edition:
A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers"
by Michael J. Gorman
Hendrickson Publishers, 2009. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781598563115
List Price: $19.95 Your Price: $9.98

"A Basic Introduction to Biblical Hebrew: with CD"
by Jo Ann Hackett
Hendrickson Publishers, 2010. Cloth. English and Hebrew.
ISBN: 9781598560282
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $23.97

"Christianity in the Greco-Roman World:: A Narrative Introduction"
by Moyer Hubbard
Hendrickson Publishers, 2010. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781565636637
List Price: $24.95 Your Price: $13.72

"Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint: Expanded Edition with
Word Definitions from Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint"
by Bernard Taylor, et al.
Hendrickson Publishers, 2009. Cloth. English and Greek.
ISBN: 9781565635166
List Price: $44.95 Your Price: $24.72

"The Jewish Targums and John's Logos Theology"
by John Ronning
Hendrickson Publishers, 2010. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781598563061
List Price: $29.95 Your Price: $16.47

"Vines Intertwined: A History of Jews and Christians from
the Babylonian Exile to the Advent of Islam"
by Leo Dupree Sandgren
Hendrickson Publishers, 2010. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781598560831
List Price: $34.95 Your Price: $19.22

"Civilizations of the Ancient Near East"
Edited by Jack M. Sasson
Hendrickson Publishers, 2000. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9781565636071
List Price: $179.95 Your Price: $89.98

"Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible:
A Guide to the Background Literature"
by Kenton L. Sparks
Hendrickson Publishers, 2005. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9781565634077
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $21.97

More activity, that's what we need

The only answers we get to flesh questions—those that focus on externals—are flesh answers. Those answers all have to do with more activity, more dedication, and more commitment. That's a flesh answer to a flesh question. It may even work for a little while. But it doesn't bring life.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 123

<idle musing>
The stock answer to everything, "I will try harder" Only problem is, it doesn't work. Up and down, up and down, down, down, down... rededicate yourself! Up...and down... You know the cycle. But, it doesn't have to be that way; let Christ live His life through you, as you.
</idle musing>


Debbie left on Sunday to take Madelynn back; the house seems empty without them. I talked to her last night after she got to Ryan's (our son) in Minneapolis. Today she leaves for Grand Marais and delivers Madelynn to her parents, who are pining away, missing her :)

But, I have plenty to do. I need to get the tree house painted before Debbie brings Joshua back. I finished the body of it last night. I still have to paint the trim and railings; they will be a gloss white. What do you think of it so far?

In other news, I canned 8.5 quarts of bread and butter pickles and 2 quarts of beet pickles over the weekend. The green beans are about done with their first crop, except for the pole beans that are about to get started. So, I froze what we had picked.

The Japanese beetles have been a problem this year. The trap isn't drawing them as well as it did last year. I even put an extra pheromone patch on it. I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but they have made lace work of my rhubarb.

I mentioned a while ago that my brick cheese didn't seem to have turned out. I made two pounds and ate one two weeks later. The other one has been aging until yesterday. I opened it up and took a taste. It no longer looks or tastes like Brie! In fact, it tastes (and smells) like a mild Limburger. Good thing Debbie's gone :) Brick cheese is just a non-aged Limburger, so no surprise. I had some on a baked potato; it was good—I do like Limburger, by the way. But, don't go sending me any for Christmas; I don't like it that well!

I still have a 1/2 pound of cheddar that is aging. I made it on March 10, so it is now over 4 months old. I think I will open it up this week. I'll let you know how it tastes—unless it kills me! :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mental assent

For years I traveled around the country teaching people about our union with Christ. I would draw a few simple diagrams on the board, trying to be cognitive and give them something to hang onto, so with the brain they could see how things work. But after a while I discovered this: brain understanding is not spiritual understanding.

That's difficult for people to grasp, because Western civilization processes things mentally. We try to grasp it with the head and get the head to tell it to the heart, instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit to tell it to the heart. If it's in the heart, we will know it. If it's in the head, we will just know about it. It's easy to get a handle on all of these union phrases and Christ-in-you clauses and get an ouline all down pat and go around talking about it. But knowing about is not the same as knowing.

Everything we truly know of God comes by revelation of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to us the reality of the mysteries of God...

Unfortunately, there's no relationship between the amount of information we accumulate and the ability to live a spiritual life. But there is a a direct correlation between the amount of information we gain and our level of frustration. It's frustrating to know about something and not be able to know it or live it. It's frustrating to know something is there and not be able to lay hold of it. It always seems elusive, like the carrot dangling in front of you that you keep chasing but can never grab...

But trying to live the Christian live through our own effort is like trying to put a cube into a spherical hole. It doesn't ft. The only One who can live the Christian life is Christ. Only His life fits the hole. But we still try to force it to work ourselves, and that becomes very, very frustrating.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 121-122

<idle musing>
I have seen this over and over; people continuously confuse information transfer with spiritual maturity. The two are not the same, in fact, they are frequently at opposite ends. Think of some of the people who know the scriptures the best. Are they proud and arrogant? Or, are they humble and teachable?
</idle musing>

Friday, July 16, 2010

Look at the numbers

I've commented on Amazon before on this blog. As a bookseller, they are my competitor, but as a publisher, they are my customer. But, The Nation has an interesting article critiquing them:

Amazon has not grown to where it is today by being touchy-feely. Sure, it adopted the informal trappings that characterized many of the new technology start-ups of the 1990s. But if Bezos's first desk at the company was an old door on trestles, the business conducted from behind it has been as ruthless as anything he encountered in his previous gig as a Wall Street broker. Soon after Amazon's launch in 1995, Bezos told his employees that he wanted a place that was both "intense and friendly" but that "if you ever had to give up 'friendly' in order to have 'intense,' we would do that."

Hmmm...not what you want showing up in a press release, is it? But, how about this:

Another London publisher, head of a well-known transatlantic university press, complained about the way Amazon undermined his company's efforts to sell its titles direct. "They told us, in no uncertain terms, that if we tried to match the reduced price at which they were selling our titles they would take the lower price as the basis for calculating their discount, allowing them to price-cut still further."


Please read the whole thing; it will open your eyes to things as publishers see them...

Life in the Spirit

Living the life as God's asset has an ease to it. But it's an inner ease. The rest for the soul is not lying in a hammock 24 hours a day. The rest for our soul lies in the reality of the spirit. We operate out of the reality of spirit joined to Spirit, where the two join to accomplish the purposes of the One. We operate from this inner Person, who is able to do through us, as us, what pleases Him. Previously, we could only try to do what we thought would please Him and offer that to Him. One was laborious, frustrating work. The other is easy.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 114

<idle musing>
Rest != laziness (for those who don't write SQL queries, the != means "does not equal"). But, it does equal rest from our own works, that Christ might work through us. I really like his continuing emphasis on "in us, as us." I think that phrase captures the essence of what he is saying better than any other phrase I have heard used over the years.
</idle musing>

For Renee

This is for the poor pining mother who left her daughter behind in the care of two grandparents :) These were taken Wednesday evening, right after she ate. I wish I had the camera with me last night; I put her in the swing and she started squealing with delight...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More tree house pictures

Here's a few more pictures of the building process.

The side walls go up:

The side balcony (we call it the princess porch):

The lookout tower, with an oversized resident :)

A side view with the railings attached:

An inside view of the platform for the lookout tower:

Sorry, Renee, I took pictures of Madelynn last night and then forgot to bring the camera! You'll have to settle for a tree house instead.

We are not a liability

As long as you live under the false idea that you are a liability to God, then no matter how things are going you will feel inadequate. You will feel that you come up short and are not all that God wants you to be. You will constantly be focused on trying to get your act together. Until you see that you are already all God wants you to be—that you are an asset to God, not a liability—then you are never established in the fact that living waters are flowing out through you. But when you finally make peace with who you are, you can begin to experience the realm of life that God has destined you for.

When we died on the cross, we permanently died to being a liability to God. From His point of view, we can no longer be a liability. Even if we're messing up we're not a liability, because He's going to use it somehow in our life or in somebody else's life, or both. Until we came to Christ we were nothing but a liability. And the better we were on the outside, the more of a liability we were, because we esteemed our own righteousness.

Foundation truth is to know you died with Christ and that you are no longer a liability. Having been raised with Christ, you can no longer be anything to God but an asset. He has accepted you. He is pleased with you. He uses you, live through you, speaks through you, loves through you.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 111-112

<idle musing>
No wonder grace is so scary! It sounds too audacious to believe, but it's true.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Garden pictures

I got new batteries, so I took a couple of pictures this morning.

The herb garden is in the foreground, followed by the watermelon patch, strawberries, raspberries, then the main garden.

Here's another view of the main garden:

Last week

OK, I've been wanting to post this since last week and can't wait any longer, even though it isn't painted yet...

As usual, I jump in medias res...Last week Joel, Renee, and their kids came to see us. Part of the visit was having Joel and I build a new tree house. Truth be told, Joel did most all of it, I just tagged along and was the gopher. Anyway, I was supposed to wait until it was painted to post the pictures, but I couldn't wait. I managed to get the shingles on last night, does that count?

Before we started, the old tree house:

The materials:

The new framework:

The satisfied customers:

I'll post more of the pictures on my Facebook profile, and don't be surprised to see a few of them show up here over the next few days, as well. Joel did a great job and we're thankful to him. Makes me wish I were a kid again :)

The true self, as God sees it

Our true self is who we are at the spirit level. At the deepest level of your personhood you are not a sinner. You are a saint. You are God's holy, righteous, blameless child. You have His nature. In your deepest personhood, your desire are not in conflict with God's will. Your deepest being always wants to do your Father's will, just as Jesus wanted to do His Father's will (Romans 7:22, John 4:34).

This is your eternal, changeless identity. This is who you are. That you experience thoughts and feelings and even behavior to the contrary does not change that fact. Only by accepting this by faith can we begin to experience its reality.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 108

<idle musing>
The last line is the key to it all, "Only by accepting this by faith can we begin to experience its reality." Without that, it will always remain pie-in-the-sky and your faith will be like an old iron bed: strong on both ends, but weak in the middle. You will have a past assurance and a future hope, but today will be a mess and a defeat. That's how they describe it in the book, and they are so right.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The word became flesh

Lawson Stone just got back from a trip to Israel with some of his students at Asbury Seminary. He posted some musings on the biblical text that are very good.

The Bible is the precipitate, the distillate, the sediment, the fallout, the log of this passionate, personal, political and social investment by God of himself in his creation. More than merely signs, language, literature, more than even messages sent by authors to readers, more even than revelations of unchanging, abstract doctrinal truths (it is all of those to be sure!), the Bible is the meshing point, the integrative intersection at which all of God's actions to take back his world flow together and find expression. The word became flesh; but it then became…text…texts. So yes, it's divine revelation. But it's also intransigently human authors talking to readers, some known to them, but like most authors, most readers unknown and far in the future. It's definitely literature, but not all of it. Some of it is deadly dull, boring lists and reports—about as literary as a Form 1040…about as spiritually compelling as a survey platt [sic] or an autopsy report. And surely it's language, that most characteristically human capability so laced with intimations of the divine. But all this coheres, co-inheres, as a living, vital organism of truth in which events, persons, places literary forms, linguistic features, ancient politics and eternal realities all dance around each other, within each other, and invite us, as the voice said to Augustine, Tolle lege! "Take, read!"

<idle musing>
I couldn't have put it better myself. Definitely read the whole post; it is well worth your time. His summary of current biblical scholarship is sadly accurate. But, as he found out, it doesn't have to sap the life out of you; God is bigger than we ever imagined!
</idle musing>

Garden ketchup

I haven't said anything for a while about the garden, so I thought I would. It is doing great! I tried to take a few pictures this morning before work, but the batteries were dead in the camera. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, we have been picking and freezing green beans for a couple of weeks now. I planted 5 different kinds this year, trying to decide which we like better fresh and which we like better frozen. Right now, four of them are bearing. The fifth was a mistake; I thought I was planting a bush bean, but it turned out to be a pole bean. It should start bearing later this week. Currently, our favorite is Greencrop.

Over the weekend, I canned 7.5 quarts of bread and butter pickles. Based on the number of blossoms, I would say that we are looking at a goodly number of quarts. You can never have too many pickles!

The last of the peas are done now. Next year I am going to use a trellis; they will last longer that way. I had read in a book once many a year ago that they support themselves, which is true to an extent. But, the bottom part of the stems tend to sag into the dirt and rot, causing premature death. I'll plant again in August for a fall crop; row cover will keep them from freezing in October. We'll see how long we can milk the harvest.

The spinach is done; the early plantings did well, but the later ones were spotty in their germination. The broccoli is heading out; I planted it from seed, so it is later than most. I plan on making a fall planting, too.

I planted brussel sprouts from seed about a week ago; some of them are up. They are an experiment; I've never grown them before. Maybe I should have gone with plants the first time, but we'll see.

The watermelon are getting bigger. We planted two varieties this year; one is round, the other is oblong. I think we might be able to harvest a round one in about 2 weeks, but we'll see.

The raspberries are giving us about a handful of fruit a day. They are everbearing, so this is the early crop from last year's canes. The later crop is on this year's canes and is usually more prolific. I don't expect much from them, seeing as we just transplanted them this spring.

The strawberries are sending out runners everywhere. I need to direct them a bit better or we'll have strawberries on the walkway and lawn. Don't want that.

The tomatoes are setting some nice fruit. So far it is green, but soon...just not soon enough for me :)

I guess that's about it for now...of course, weeding is still going on. The grass still wants to repossess its old territory. Other weeds are minimal.

How is your garden doing?


Any activity that's giving you your identity is an idol and is only contributing to the false self. Our false self thinks it needs external things or activities to give it life. It wants the stroking, the external affirmation, the place of authority, or the public place to make pronouncements. We are dangerous living out of our flesh, because we're using others to validate us. But when we no longer need those externals—when who we are in Christ and who He is in us has become foundation truth in our life—then we can handle the externals, because we don't need them for our identity.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 107

<idle musing>
This sounds a lot like some of the stuff in Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Of course, there is a major difference in that Stone would say we aren't imitating Christ, we are being indwelt with Christ—a difference that should not be minimized.
</idle musing>

Monday, July 12, 2010

Your true identity

When we fail to live out of our true identity (our true self), we are living out of our flesh (our false self). We are then living with ourselves as our reference point. We are choosing not to acknowledge who we really are and who Christ is in us. We are choosing not to act like who we really are. That's a dangerous place to live. It's not real life, it's a fake. There's only one source you can truly live from, and that's God, your spiritual marriage partner, whom you are in union with. He's the only One that gives you your true identity.

Our true identity is not in the externals. Our false self's identity is in the externals, but our true identity is not.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 106

<idle musing>
Again, the importance of your reference point. Is it you? Or, is it God? If it is you, then failure is guaranteed. If it is God, then you will succeed.
</idle musing>

Friday, July 09, 2010

What are you preoccupied with?

Knowing our true identity provides a second vital benefit: it enables us to live with a Christ-consciousness instead of a sin-consciousness. God doesn't want us living with a sin-consciousness. On occasion someone will ask me if I still sin. I answer, “I don't know. I'm not paying any attention.” I mostly say that to get their attention. But, truthfully, the only way you can answer a spiritual inventory question is to be watching yourself. You have to be preoccupied with you instead of God. You have to be preoccupied with below the line instead of above the line...

God did not intend for humanity to live with a sin-consciousness, but with a God-consciousness. He doesn't intend for us to live with a self-consciousness, but with a Christ-in-us consciousness. Does that mean we ignore when the Holy Spirit want to point out sin to us? Of course not. But it means we let Him do the pointing, rather than constantly looking for or assuming the presence of sin.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 105

<idle musing>
I would say this is the hardest thing for people to accept about living a grace-filled versus law-filled life. It requires a dramatic rethinking of your theology, moving from human-centered to God-centered, from "looking over your shoulder" or "waiting for the other shoe to drop" mentality to a Christ-in-you mentality.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Unbelief in an unusual form

It's an affront to God to keep talking about how unworthy we are. It's a statement of unbelief. “I really don't believe what God says about me; I believe what I think about me.” We're never going to get anywhere that way. It isn't being humble. It's a false humility. It's the teaching of tradition and the flesh, because it appears humble.

What's truly humble is agreeing with what God says about you. Nothing more. Nothing less. We are the righteousness of God. We don't look it all the time. We don't feel it all the time. We don't think it all the time. But we are.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page104

<idle musing>
As it says in 2 Corinthians, "we walk by faith not by sight." And, as we walk by faith, it becomes a reality. Funny how that works, isn't it?
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Mental assent

Of course, we can give mental assent: “Yes, I'm a new creature, but...” Where you are really living comes after the but. “I'm a new creature, but...” But what? “But I sure do fail a lot.” Then that's the way you see yourself. You don't see yourself as a new creature. You see yourself as failing a lot. Instead you could say, “I sure do fail a lot, but I'm a new creature.” Then that's where you're living. You're always living after the but.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 100

<idle musing>
He's going to talk a lot about the "Holy But", as he calls it. What we place after the but in a sentence is what we really think, believe, and act on. Take note of where the but comes in your speech, and you'll agree with him. I have found it to be quite revealing in my own life after I read this; you might, too.
<idle musing>

Friday, July 02, 2010

How-to books and the Christian life

Somewhere along the way we got saved and our sins were forgiven. And we wanted to live this thing called the Christian life, but we didn't know how to live out of our new spirit. So we fell back upon our only other resource: the false self. It knew how to get along in the world. We just made a few adjustments to fit the Christian scene. We were sitting ducks for the how-to books, which told us how to manipulate the false self to make it more effective in getting along.

Although having the Holy Spirit in our spirit, we didn't know about the Holy Spirit living the life of Christ through us. So our mode of operation was the same as for the unbeliever: self-reliance. That's what the false self is: our attempt to independently operate our own lives. As Christians, the false self even tries to do it for the glory of God.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 100-101

<idle musing>
This statement: We were sitting ducks for the how-to books, which told us how to manipulate the false self to make it more effective in getting along sums up too much of the current religion that passes for Christianity in the U.S. today. We claim to believe in the power of God via the Holy Spirit, the inability of a person to reform themselves, but we sell how-to books that say the opposite. What's wrong with that scenario? (rhetorical question)
</idle musing>

Long weekend

Yes, a long weekend here in the United States. We call it "The Fourth of July" and, unfortunately, all too often glorify a country above God. Some good thoughts on that were posted today on Out of Ur. Here are a few snippets, but please read the whole thing for yourself:

Tony Campolo puts it this way: “America may be the best Babylon the world has, but it is still Babylon nonetheless.”

We are exiles living in Babylon, folks. Our corner may be called “America,” or “Canada,” or “France,” but it’s still all a part of the same thing: a world system that transcends borders, is dominated by materialistic consumerism and exploitation, and is fundamentally opposed to the Kingdom of God. And while love and affection for the people living in that system is entirely necessary, and while we should certainly pray for the peace and well-being of the place where God has set us, we need to avoid the mistake we see over and over in Scripture: becoming so enamored with our temporary dwelling—whether that’s called Egypt, Babylon, or even America—that we lose sight of what Hebrews calls “a better place.”
But most important, be careful what you pledge allegiance to this Fourth of July. Caesar is owed your obedience, your prayers for his health and well-being, and, as Jesus and the IRS both agree, your money...[ellipsis his] but your allegiance belongs to Someone Else.

<idle musing>
I would argue that what he calls patriotism is actually nationalism, which is a blinder form of idolatry than patriotism, but that is just a minor side issue. Otherwise, he is on the money. So, "Amen! Good preaching!" And may his tribe increase across the land so that people see true Christianity instead of a culturally diluted narcissistic nationalism dressed in christian clothing.
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July sale at Eisenbrauns

From the latest BookNews:

BookNews from Eisenbrauns

For the month of July, Eisenbrauns is featuring selected
Harrassowitz titles at 20% off retail. Choose from ICAANE
proceedings, dictionaries, monographs, or serials; there's
probably something you need in this list. If not, I'm sure
there is something you want.

As always, all sales on this web sale are final; no returns will be
permitted. Offer good only on orders placed at
through July 31, 2010.

To easily access all the sale items, please visit:
"Sonne der Gerechtigkeit: Studien zur Solarisierung der Jahwe-
Religion im Lichte von Psalm 72"
by Martin Arneth
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur Altorientalische
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Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 9783447042635
List Price: $74.00 Your Price: $59.20

"Tell Halaf:: Vorbericht uber die erste und
zweite syrisch-deutsche Grabungskampagne"
Edited by Abd el-Masih Hanna Baghdo, et al.
Forschungen der Max Freiherr von Oppenheim Stiftung - FMFOS 3/1
Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009. Cloth. German.
ISBN: 9783447060684
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"Historiographie - Ethnographie - Utopie: Gesammelte Schriften:
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by Reinhold Bichler
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ISBN: 9783447056168
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"A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian"
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"Fundstellen: Gesammelte Schriften zur Archäologie und Geschichte
Altvorderasiens. ad honorem Hartmut Kühne"
Edited by Dominik Bonatz, Rainer M. Czichon,
and Florian Janoscha Kreppner
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"Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften, Band 1"
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"Mittelassyrische Rechtsurkunden und Verwaltungstexte VIII"
by Helmut Freydank and Barbara Feller
Wissenschaftliche Veroffentlichungen der
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"Kleines Lexikon des Christlichen Orients"
Edited by Hubert Kaufhold
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ISBN: 9783447053822
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"Proceedings of the 4th International Congress of the Archaeology of
the Ancient Near East, vol.1: 29 March - 3 April 2004, Freie Universitat
Berlin: The Reconstruction of Environment: Natural Resources and
Human Interrelations through Time; Art History: Visual Communication"
Edited by Hartmut Kuhne, Rainer M. Czichon, and Florian Janoscha Kreppner
International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008. Cloth. English and French.
ISBN: 9783447057035
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"Proceedings of the 4th International Congress of the Archaeology of
the Ancient Near East: 29 March - 3 April 2004, Freie Universitat
Berlin: Social and Cultural Transformation: The Archaeology of
Transitional Periods and Dark Ages Excavation Reports"
Edited by Hartmut Kuhne, Rainer M. Czichon, and Florian Janoscha Kreppner
International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008. Cloth. English and French.
ISBN: 9783447057578
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"A Coptic Grammar: With Chrestomathy and Glossary-Sahidic Dialect"
by Bentley Layton
Porta Linguarum Orientalium - PLO 20
Harrassowitz Verlag, 2004. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9783447042406
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"Graber des 3. Jahrtausends v. Chr. im syrischen Euphrattal:
3. Ausgrabungen in Samseddin und Djerniye"
by Jan-Waalke Meyer
Schriften zur Vorderasiatischen Archaeologie 3
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"An Introduction to Comparative Grammar of
Semitic Languages: Phonology and Morphology"
by Sabatino Moscati
Porta Linguarum Orientalium - PLO 6
Harrassowitz Verlag, 1980. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9783447006897
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"Modern Hebrew for Biblical Scholars: An Annotated Chrestomathy
with an Outline Grammar and a Glossary"
by T. Muraoka
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"Volker und Sprachen Altanatoliens: Aus dem Polnischen
übersetzt von Cyril Brosch"
by Maciej Popko
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"Schrift und Sprache der 4. Dynastie"
by Simon D. Schweitzer
MENES - Studien zur Kultur und Sprache der agyptischen
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"Kleines Worterbuch des Ugaritischen"
by Josef Tropper
Elementa Linguarum Orientis - ELO 4
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"Origin and Transformation of the Ancient
Israelite Festival Calendar"
by Jan A. Wagenaar
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur Altorientalische
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Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9783447052498
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Thought for today

I received the monthly update from CCEL today and it included a snippet from Thomas a Kempis. Here's a relevant portion:

JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him...

Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit and gain prove that they love themselves rather than Christ?

<idle musing>
Take that, "name it and claim it, stomp on it and frame it"!
</idle musing>

Who is in control here, anyway?

The two-nature belief results in misery. It puts us right back in Romans 7: “The good I want to do, I don't do, and the evil I don't want to do, I do. Oh, miserable person that I am, who shall deliver me?” That's where most of us have found ourselves, trying to beat down one of these masters and help the other one to ascend. Who was in control of that? We were. We were trying to do that. As I said before, this leads to nothing but endless self-effort and failure. And then the answer finally comes: Christ is my life!— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 96

<idle musing>
As always, the fruit of self-effort is failure—or self-righteousness. The latter, if we manage to delude ourselves that we have managed to attain the standard; the former if we are honest with ourselves.
</idle musing>