Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The early Christians as radicals
Christians were forbidden to have abortions or to expose infants. Further, Christian women tended to marry later than pagan women and Christian men were expected to have sex with their wives, and only with their wives: “Christians discouraged marriage below a certain age and banned consummation of a marriage between a man and a child bride, such that the average age of marriage for Christian women became twenty, whereas for pagan women it was twelve. One must add that the rate of reproduction among pagans was very low: men favoured birth control (including anal and, less commonly, oral sex), indulged in homosexual sex, took concubines and patronized both male and female prostitutes, who in turn favoured various methods of birth control and abortion when necessary. All of these practices were forbidden to Christians, as most were to Jews. Roman men who converted to Christianity were obliged to have vaginal intercourse with their wives, and if pregnancy resulted, were obliged to have a child and raise it, regardless of sex.” The church provided protection for women whose husbands attempted to force them to violate these standards: “A Christian woman would have a community to support any resistance she offered to the directives of a pagan husband to do otherwise.”
Read the whole post for a good overview of what was "normal" in the ancient world...
Tomb? What tomb?
It's also interesting that Aaron died up on a mountain somewhere and there is no record of his tomb, either. Knowing humanity's natural penchant for worship, God was merciful to us by not allowing us to know where they are buried.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Signs of Spring
Passover and Moses
For those of you who might not know, the Haggadah is the traditional Passover celebration text—and Passover is coming soon, too. You can download Haggadot from the Internet pretty easily. There a even a few that have a Christian take on them. If you've never done a Seder, you should; it's rich in symbolism. But, I digress...
This concept of Moses being purposely shown to have feet of clay is fascinating.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
A worthy endeavor
HARVEST THRIFT & BOUTIQUE
Monday - Saturday
10:00am - 6:00 pm 4308 US Highway 9
Howell, NJ 07731
The Harvest Thrift & Boutique offers new, like new & pre-owned items at discounted prices. We are constantly getting in new merchandise and our shelves are always stocked with unique treasures that make perfect gifts for yourself or someone you know.
I like to see churches reaching out to the surrounding area. If you are in that area, give them a call and see how you can help.
Moses and idolatry
“Here is where the other elements of the image of Moses enter the picture. On the one hand, he is superb, but on the other hand, he is a human being of ordinary faults. If a person of superb qualities seems a natural candidate for idol worship, when his shortcomings are revealed, his candidacy for idol worship diminishes. The religious point of all the negative elements of the image of Moses, whether in the Bible or in midrash, is that, though Moses is an extraordinary human being, he should not be served as an idol, a false divinity. The mixed nature of the image of Moses, first in the Bible and then in midrashim, is justified.”—Asa Kasher, “Fighting Forms of Idolatry” in Jewish Bible Theology, pages 58-59
I found this a fascinating insight. Show the feet of clay that all the glory goes to God. True humility; true devotion; truly rare!
Monday, March 26, 2012
A very apt way to end the book, I would say...
Friday, March 23, 2012
If he promised it, then what?
“If God has promised He will do something in your life, let Him.
“A wise friend told me years ago, 'Make it hard on God. He likes it!' I've come to realize the harder it is, the more glory He gets! We are only responsible to do what He tells us specifically to do. The rest of the time we believe, pray, fight spiritual opposing forces, and thank God for His fulfillment.”— Thus Saith the Lord?, page 178
Amen! Good preaching! If God promised something, let him deliver on it. Don't go manipulating things yourself and then pretend it was God. Moses waited 40 years for the fulfillment—after he tried it his own way first.
Elijah poured water over the sacrifice just to make it harder. God responded by taking not just the sacrifice, but the rocks, too (I Kings 17)! If God is doing it, you can't make it too hard for him.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
To whom are you being directed?
This is so true! A real prophet doesn't care if you like what he says—he just cares that it is what God is saying. He desires God—and God alone. There is no "God and..." Tozer said anytime you add something after God you've entered into idolatry—and he's right.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Appearance versus reality—our society favors the former and we are seduced by it. My comment? When you feel inferior to some spiritual guru, duck and run!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Peace! Peace! But there is no peace...
As Bonhoeffer put it so well in Discipleship: "When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die." If that's not what you are willing to do, then maybe "believer" isn't the right word...
I'm preaching to myself here, by the way. If we aren't willing to die to our own desires and wishes, then we can't follow Jesus—those are his words, not mine! And the fruit of following our own desires and wishes—or grudgingly following him—is not pleasant at all. It may seem pleasant and soft for a season, but the frost will come, as will the snow and ice. In some cases (most?), that season is pretty short—about an hour, in my experience. As the KJV puts it, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor 4:17) But we easily get distracted by the fluff and nonsense around us unless we live dead to self and alive in Christ Jesus.
Praise God for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit!
Monday, March 19, 2012
I think this is a major problem in the church today. We settle for "good rebellion" instead of obedience...
This time of year is hard on a gardener; I want to plant, but I know it won't last. Over the weekend, I cleaned up some of the beds, weeding them and cultivating them. Last year, I put out broccoli about this time only to have the temperature crash into the low 20ºs F the next week. I've got broccoli seedlings in the basement that I'm tempted to put out—sure way to make the temperature crash! Oh well, I think I'll do it anyway.
The broccoli raab, spinach, and sprouting broccoli that I planted last November in the hoop house are starting to go crazy. I'm needing to pick the first two just about daily to keep up with it. The Romaine lettuce is just about ready to start picking, too.
Oh, and the rhubarb is starting to come up. No asparagus yet :( I was weeding it this weekend, but didn't see any shoots coming up...
Friday, March 16, 2012
Then why do we fall for them?
Compromise, pure and simple. The stuff we can touch and feel wins out over the stuff that is just as real—and really matters.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
The net effect
“What effect did this word have on this young man? Did it strengthen him for hardship or battles? Did it draw his heart toward God? I questioned him, 'How did you feel while this was being spoken over you? Did this make you feel good?'
He said, 'Yes.”
I asked, 'Did the word make you want to embrace the prophet delivering the word?'
Again he said, 'Yes.'
Time passed and I questioned him further, 'Do you believe this was a word from God?'
'No,' he answered.
People go to this speaker's meetings hoping to receive a word from God. But really, they want insight into their future. So is this minister a prophet or a Christian fortuneteller?”— Thus Saith the Lord?, page 61
I've often wondered about that. Have we reduced God to a "magic 8 ball?" I fear that too often we have tried...and we have reduced the role of prophet to one of a popularity contest, with so-called prophets vying with one another to outdo each other in tickling people's ears. I feel like Micaiah sometimes (see I Kings 22).
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
What? You mean they don't just ride into town like the Lone Ranger, clean everything up, and then ride off into the sunset? You mean they actually are supposed to get to know people and get dirty? Sounds too messy!—which means it probably is the correct way...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Bringing the hidden to light
I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings—Jeremiah 23:21-22”— Thus Saith the Lord? page 49
Not the typical kind of personal prophecy one hears, is it? That the scriptural content of prophecy and the content of "personal prophecy" are usually so far apart should be a cause for concern, don't you think?
Monday, March 12, 2012
Yep. I have a Kindle™ and a Nook™ on my desk. And, I use them—regularly. Last week, I had a Kindle Fire™, too. And, we have an iPod™ and access to an iPad™, as well.
What in world am I doing with all those e-readers? Testing, of course. I know far more about the displaying of Hebrew on e-readers than I want to. And, I can tell you how PDFs look on them, too.
Wanna know more? I thought so. Let's start with PDFs, that old standby format that we all use and have a love/hate relationship with.
A PDF displays on all of them. But, it does best on a Nook™. It reflows, you can change the font size, non-pointed Hebrew shows up perfectly, all the funky transliterations, such as š show up correctly, too. But, pointed Hebrew doesn't do as well. Sometimes it shows up perfectly; other times, you get a character or two on a line, then some blank lines and a few more characters. Strange...
What about the Kindle™ with PDFs? Not so good. It just allows a page view. You can re-size it, but, it doesn't re-flow. You have to use the buttons to move the screen. Talk about a pain!
But, you didn't buy an e-reader to read PDFs, did you? I didn't think so. So, how does our Hebrew fare on the Nook™? It doesn't. Period. It doesn't show up; it doesn't even leave funky squares to let you know it's missing. Frustrating!
The Kindle™ fares a bit better. The Hebrew font displays fine; the character size is correct and readable. One problem, though. It's backwards. Yep. It goes left-to-right! So, I thought maybe that was a function of the stripped down operating system in the Kindle™, so I borrowed a Kindle Fire™, which is Android™ powered, thinking it would do better...Nope. Still backwards...
So, what's a scholar to do? Well, enter the iOS devices. We dumped one of our books onto an iPad™. Sure enough. It was all there—and right-to-left even!
So, how is it that some books with Hebrew are showing up in Kindles™ and Nooks™? Well, it's easy—sorta. You take the file and turn all the Hebrew into a graphic. But, there are several problems with that: 1. It doesn't scale well when you change the font. 2. It isn't searchable! 3. It takes extra labor and therefore costs more.
So, don't be looking for a huge flood of academic books into the e-book market anytime soon...
By the way, most of the cost of a book is in the editorial and prepress (typesetting) process. The physical books are a small part of it—at least if you still edit your books, which Eisenbrauns does. Not sure about some other publishers.
I was reading a book this weekend and came across a sentence that used "then" where they clearly meant "than." Ouch! This was an academic book, too...
Who's the role model?
Too true. Where's that scripture that talks about the prophet that people desire is the one who prophesies wealth, peace, and prosperity? —he's called a false one, by the way.
Some new books...
Jewish Bible Theology
Perspectives and Case Studies
Eisenbrauns - EIS
Edited by Isaac Kalimi
xii + 276 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $49.50
Your Price: $44.55
For the hardcore academic, the latest in the Babel und Bibel series. The articles in this one will make you think. Lots of language stuff—yummy!
Babel und Bibel 6
Babel und Bibel -- B&B 6
Edited by Leonid Kogan
iii + 620 pages, English, German, and French
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $69.50
Your Price: $62.55
This one came while I was gone, but is a most welcome addition to the new Hebrew Bible Quinta series:
Biblia Hebraica Quinta - BHQ 7
Edited by Natalio Fernandez Marcos
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 2012
xxxii + 204 pages, Hebrew
List Price: $109.95
Your Price: $82.46
Friday, March 09, 2012
Thus Saith the Lord?
Anyway, here's the first of several...
These prophets will call for change; their primary mission will be turning the hearts of God's people back to their Father. Their messages will be accompanied by strong conviction. Often the words might not seem "nice." Their preaching will hit the hardened areas of our hearts as a hammer smashing upon a rock. They will command, rebuke, correct, and exhort with all authority, yet it will all flow from a heart filled with love for God and His people...These prophets will not seek the accolades or rewards of man. They will only desire to handle faithfully the truth that sets men free. They will not be bought for they already know their rewarder. Power, popularity, or money will not influence their words.”— Thus Saith the Lord?, page 34
The church can definitely use people like that—and I'm not excluding myself, either! We need people whose hearts are attuned to God and won't deviate to the left or right for anyone else. Of course they won't be popular. No prophet ever is!
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Bringing people to church
“Those who abandon the stranger concept, who indulge in worldly pleasures under the guise of relating better to society, inadvertently destroy their message of transformation. They may bring people to church. They may even convince them to take the name Christian. But they have not brought them to Christ.”—Love and Nonresistance page 134
Yep. Without transformation—and that means from the inside out—they are not brought to Christ. They can attend as many church functions as they wish, but they are still not "in Christ."
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
It certainly is. But, we don't need to settle for less; Christ is the one who transforms us. We don't do it ourselves; we allow the Holy Spirit to do it in us. Why settle for empty formalities when you can have the real thing?
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
To what extent Christian?
All we have to do is look around us...there is no difference; the church has compromised to the point that it looks to politics to solve soul problems. How sad...the power of the Holy Spirit is replaced with the power of the ballot box and lobbyist. Prayer meetings are dying because people don't expect answers to prayer. "Pray about it" is used as a joke instead of a true admonition.
Monday, March 05, 2012
The way of victory
Amen! Good preaching! Would that we would all follow his injunction.
Friday, March 02, 2012
John Bunyan, a feminist?
I will now speak on the behalf of women, to take away their reproach. For as death and the curse came into the world by a woman, Gen. 3, so also did life and health: God sent forth his Son, made of a woman. Gal. 4:4. Yea, to show how much they that came after did abhor the act of the mother, this sex in the Old Testament coveted children, if happily this or that woman might be the mother of the Saviour of the world. I will say again, that when the Saviour was come, women rejoiced in him, before either man or angel. Luke 1:42-46. I read not that ever any man did give unto Christ so much as one groat; but the women followed him, and ministered to him of their substance. Luke 8:2,3. ‘Twas a woman that washed his feet with tears, Luke 7:37-50, and a woman that anointed his body at the burial. John 11:2; 12:3. They were women who wept when he was going to the cross, Luke 23:27, and women that followed him from the cross, Matt. 27:55,56; Luke 23:55, and sat over against his sepulchre when he was buried. Matt. 27:61. They were women that were first with him at his resurrection-morn, Luke 24:1, and women that brought tidings first to his disciples that he was risen from the dead. Luke 24:22,23. Women therefore are highly favored, and show by these things that they are sharers with us in the grace of life.
Interesting way to start Women's History Month isn't it?
By the way, the text is also available online in numerous places, but I got this from CCEL for copying and pasting.
Cross-bearing in the US
“There are lands where the blood of cross-bearing flows freely. Should that arm of hatred and persecution ever extend to our land, it would likely find the church at large woefully un-Christlike in its response. Now is the time to hold up the cross in its entirely. Whether the world holds us in shame or superficial honor, whether it inflicts suffering or is tolerant, whether it takes our possessions or tempts us with affluence and pleasure, the church must be moved by none of these things. She must embrace the cross of her Lord with joy and with the willingness to withstand either hatred or flirtation, to suffer trial or temptation. This is her delight, her calling, and her ethical standard.”—Love and Nonresistance, page 80
Amen! Deuteronomy warns the Israelites against forgetting YHWH when they prosper. Would that we hearkened here in the U.S.!
Thursday, March 01, 2012
“To suffer willingly, to receive insult without retaliation, to lose possessions without resistance—this was not heroic action by traditional Jewish standards. To the Jews the resister was the hero, the one who never gave up; who even under Roman rule was indomitable. The Romans held a similar value. Though separated from the Jews by race, culture, and social standards, with the Jew they believed in honor by the exercise of physical strength and force. Taking up the cross, meaning being willing to suffer wrong, was therefore a shame in the eyes of both the Jews and the Romans. To both cultures the Christians became the offscouring of humanity, the contemptible sect; in Jesus' predictive words, the 'hated for my name's sake.'”—Love and Nonresistance, pages 78-79
Wow. There's a lot of good stuff there to digest... I especially like this: "...with the Jew they believed in honor by the exercise of physical strength and force." Not much has changed in 2000 years, except now we can substitute "American culture" for "the Romans."
Eisenbrauns March sale
Selected NINO titles up to 40% off
A blustery start to the month of March inspired the thought of sailing. That in turn caused a look to the Netherlands, with their long history of seafaring. Accordingly, we are offering selected titles from Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten/Netherlands Institute for the Near East at savings up to 40% off.
And thereafter follows a list of about 20 great ANE titles...go get 'em and save! No wonder they go by NINO :)