Friday, August 31, 2012

And the answer is...

The whole question is, will you please God, or please yourself? Will you give your heart to Him, or give it to your own selfish enjoyment? So long as you give your heart to selfish pleasure and withhold it from God, it will be perfectly natural for you to sin. This is precisely the reason why it is so natural for sinners to sin. It is because the will, the heart, is set upon it, and all they have to do is to carry out this ruling propensity and purpose.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
The whole reason we don't really believe it is possible to live without sin—we don't want to. Sad, isn't it?
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A different point of view

"Sacrificial victims who were selected not from captive groups or slaves but from within the community, were often regarded as inhabiting roles of honor; this is a crucial concept we must embrace in order to move forward with examining human sacrifice. Too often we correlate marriage with happiness and celebration and sacrifice with sorrow and loss, when in actuality sacrifice was a time of celebration as well in the cultures that practiced it."—Sharon Moses in Sacred Killing, page 71

<idle musing>
Certainly a different point of view from our narcissistic society, isn't it? Probably closer to the biblical one, too...
</idle musing>

Monday, August 27, 2012


I haven't been real good about updating this blog since we moved. There are multiple reasons for that: We are living in a small cabin with one bedroom; the computer has to sit in a corner of the living room that isn't terribly convenient, otherwise I can't get the wireless to work. So, when it does work, I generally try to do as much Eisenbrauns work as I can. That doesn't leave much time for blogging. Second, I've been busy with the cabins and with building a garden at Joel and Renee's. Third, the spare time I have is used for hiking and biking.

Speaking of gardens, we are in the process of putting up two hoop houses. I'm terrible about pictures—as you well know!—but I'll try to get some. We filled in the boxes with a pickup load of aged horse manure. I planted some green beans, peas, and carrots right away. The weather was warm enough that they sprouted almost immediately. Hopefully we'll get some beans before the weather turns cold. We should; I've got row cover and the hoop houses to keep them warm.

And, speaking of hiking and biking, we've done a good bit of that the last few days. On Friday, after taking care of the cabins, we went hiking in the afternoon at Temperance River State Park and then continued on for a mile or two on the Superior Hiking Trail. One of my bucket goals has been to hike the entire trail (not all at once!). We got a bit closer to that on Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, again, after taking care of the cabins, we went hiking. This time we went to Magney State Park and hiked to the kettle. From there we took the Superior Hiking Trail west. At the beginning of the trail was a bear trap; Debbie wasn't too sure she wanted to hike the trail with a bear trap there. I told her it wasn't baited; if a trap is baited, it smells very strongly of licorice. This one didn't have even a hint of it. Nevertheless, she was a bit skittish. We walked for a good bit, then turned around and went to the Kadunce River, which is a spur train on the Lake Superior Hiking Trail. Noticing a pattern? Because we couldn't start until late afternoon, it was getting dark, so we didn't go very far. It will be a regular on our list, though.

On Sunday, we didn't do any hiking, although I rode my bike to Lutsen and back—about 40 miles. Day of rest and all, you know :)

Today, Monday, I got done cleaning the cabins and Debbie asked me if I wanted to ride the Gitchee-Gami bike trail. It will be a bike trail eventually connecting Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Right now, there is a section about 1/2 hour from us that we have always wanted to do when we would visit Joel and Renee. I said, sure. So, I loaded both bikes into the Prius and off we went.

It was a blast! We only rode about 20 miles, round trip; that's all that is done in this area right now. Ironically, we rode right through the Temperance River State Park that we had been hiking in on Friday. We stopped on the bridge—you can never see a waterfall too often or too long!—before continuing on. We both decided this would be on our list of regular occurrences, as well.

So, that's why I haven't been posting as much as usual. Oh, and the fact that the books I've been reading aren't electronic so I can't cut and paste...besides the fact that the ones I've read lately haven't lent themselves to excerpts very well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Truly great

"Enduring great companies don't exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders. Indeed, in a truly great company, profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body: They are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life."— Good to Great, page 194

<idle musing>
Indeed! In the Theory of Constraints, a continuous improvement philosophy laid out in The Goal, there are necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. Necessary conditions are not the end in themselves, but contribute to the goal; without them, you can't get done what you want, but they are simply supporting the actual goal. That is exactly what he is saying here. Unfortunately, for most companies, it seems that making the almighty dollar is their goal and not just a necessary condition.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thought for today

“...what is being a Christian? Giving your heart to God. And what is giving your heart to God? Devoting your voluntary powers to Him; ceasing to live for yourself and living for God".—Charles Finney

<idle musing>:
Nice little nutshell description of Christianity, isn't it? Everything else is extras—not infrequently distracting extras, at that!
</idle musing>:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holy or holey?

“The hole in our holiness is that we don't really care much about it. Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel-driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches. It's not that we don't talk about sin or encourage decent behavior. Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you. That's moralism, and its not helpful. Any gospel that says only why you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.”—Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness, pages 11-12

<idle musing>
Just saw this book in an e-mail and managed to read a few preview pages. This little snippet jumped out at me, though. Sadly, he's right; most of what passes for "holiness preaching" is little more than moralistic self-improvement. I have become firmly convinced that the practical theology of most american christians is just Pelagianism.

We really think we can do it, don't we?!
</idle musing>

Monday, August 20, 2012

Interesting comparison

God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words. (1 Corinthians 1:17 The Message)

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17, 18 TNIV)

<idle musing>
</idle musing>

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the beach

That's the title of a 1960s dystopian novel about the end of the world because of nuclear holocaust—also made into a movie. But, that's not what I'm talking about here. On Saturday night, Joel, Renee, the kids, Nancy (Joel's mother, who is visiting for a week), Debbie, and I went to the beach by Durfree Creek (about 5 miles from Grand Marais). We planned on having a fire, popping some popcorn, and then heading home once it got dark.

When we got there, Joel was talking to some one and they mentioned that Saturday night was a predicted meteor shower, the Perseids. Joel and family decided it would be fun to spend the night under the (falling) stars. So, Joel and Nancy went back to town to get sleeping bags, etc. Debbie and I decided we would only stick around until about 3:00 AM.

Once it got dark, the kids wanted to go to bed—after all, what can be more fun than sleeping under the stars? Debbie and I volunteered to wake everyone up once the show started.

There were some nice meteors here and there, about one every 5-15 minutes. That went on for a while with some very spectacular ones, but not the heavy shower that was predicted. Around midnight, I went back to town to get sleeping bags for Debbie and me. The beach was getting cold!

I think both Debbie and I dozed here and there—at least she nudged me for snoring too loudly and I heard her snoring, too :) When 3:30 AM rolled around, we decided it was time to call it a night and go home. As we were walking to the car, a bright meteor flashed across the sky as if to say good-bye to us. We drove home and crashed.

Sunday afternoon, I read that the shower started in earnest right after we called it a night...of course!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Everything else is first

The farmer pleads, "I can't be religious; I can't serve God--I must sow my wheat." Well, sow your wheat but do it for the Lord. O but you have so much to do! Then do it all for the Lord. Another can't be religious for he must get his lesson. Well, get your lesson, but get it for the Lord, and this will be religious. The man who should neglect to sow his wheat or neglect to get his lessons because he wants to be religious, is crazy. He perverts the plainest things in the worst way. If you are to be religious, you must be industrious. The farmer must sow his wheat, and the student must get his lesson. An idle man can no more be religious than the devil can be. This notion that men can't be religious, because they have some business to do, is the merest nonsense. It utterly overlooks the great truth that God never forbids our doing the appropriate business of life, but only requires that we shall do all for Himself.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Why does everything seem so much more important than the things of God? Actually, everything is to be a "thing of God" if our focus is on God. It's too easy...we are the ones who make it difficult.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Rules and regulations

I went to the friends of the library sale here in Grand Marais last Friday. I like going to look; I rarely buy much anymore—especially now, with very limited space! But, I did find a book on business that I have been meaning to read for a few years now: Good to Great.

The book is over ten years old and some of the companies highlighted are in serious trouble, but the concepts he talks about are timeless. In fact, the reason those companies are in trouble is because the strayed from the things that made them great.

Anyway, thought I would share this little tidbit with you:

“Most companies build their bureaucratic rules to manage the small percentage of wrong people on the bus, which in turn drives away the right people on the bus, which then increases the percentage of wrong people on the bus, which increases the need for more bureaucracy to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which then further drives the right people away, and so forth.”—Good to Great, page 121
<idle musing>
Yep. I've seen it many times over the years and in several companies. It's endemic to our fear of letting misfits go; we try to manage them or at least minimize their negative impact. The result is we lose or at least dishearten the rest of our people.

I've done it myself. I feel sorry for a person or think I can transform them, so I don't let them go. The end result is almost always misery for them, me, and their co-workers. There's a HarperCollins book (now available from Zondervan, too) about that very thing. It's called Necessary Endings. I think I might have excerpted from it in the past. If not, I will be in the future :)
</idle musing>

Friday, August 03, 2012

Psalms and tense

Above (4.2.1. ), I argued that temporal succession is semantically effected by boundedness but is the pragmatically default interpretation of narrative discourse. What I propose here is that the association of this pragmatic-based temporally successive meaning with the narrative wayyiqtol allows the poets of Psalms to draw on the form to overtly mark temporal succession within a context dominated by static (temporally speaking), parallelistic poetry. The contrast between Hebrew narrative and poetry can be well appreciated in light of Jackobson’s famous definition of poetic function as transforming sequence into equivalency (1960: 358): “equivalence is promoted to the constitutive device of the sequence.” In other words, the relationship between predicates in successive lines (i.e., parallel stichs) in poetry is one of equivalency—that is, they refer to the self-same event—in contrast to prose narrative, in which successive predicates refer to successive events. Thus, to force a sequential reading of events in poetry, the wayyiqtol form is employed with its implicature meaning of succession from the prose narrative.—John Cook in Time and the Biblical Hebrew Verb(forthcoming from Eisenbrauns)