Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Come let us worship--ourselves

In our society today we seem to think we have the inalienable right to feel great about ourselves. The “self-esteem movement” has swept our school systems. “Grade inflation” is used to give almost all kids a high mark, no matter how poorly they've performed in the classroom. However, the thirst for a positive self-image isn't limited to education. We avoid honesty in our homes, friendships, and businesses because our first priority is to avoid hurting anyone's the least.

Even a casual reading of the Bible shows us that God doesn't let us off the hook so easily. He points out our sins at every turn—not because He's a sadist who enjoys blasting us, but because blunt honesty about sin is the only way to expose our need for His forgiveness and restoration.— Christianity Lite, page 20

<idle musing>
We are definitely a self-centered culture. How can God break in on our obsession with ourselves? It can only be by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Praise God for the "hound of heaven" as Augustine called the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit! Search us and and cleanse us!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where's the change?

If you think you've encountered Jesus Christ but there's no difference in your attitude or lifestyle, you need to reexamine your understanding of saving faith.— Christianity Lite, page 18

<idle musing>
No transformation = no salvation. How can you encounter the living God and not be changed?

Salvation is not just a forensic exchange—if it is that at all! No! It is an encounter with God that results in the living God taking up residence in you—"Christ in you" is how Paul describes it. That has to result in changes. But, always remember, those changes are wrought by the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and never as a result of self-effort. All by grace, always by grace. All freely available to all through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, sealed by the resurrection and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Now that's good news!
</idle musing>

Monday, July 29, 2013

I want the original

When advertisers promise their product has fewer calories, they mean they've tampered with the original. They want us to think it tastes the same and looks the same, but it's fundamentally changed. It's not like it used to be. Christianity Lite is fundamentally different from the original. It says God will please our sense, but we don't have to pay the price. It promises life without any hint of death.— Christianity Lite, pages 13-14

<idle musing>
Reminds me of Luke 5:39, "And none of you, after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, ‘The old is better.’”
</idle musing>

Friday, July 26, 2013


If you prefer the watered-down version of the faith, Christianity Lite, you can certainly have it, but it inevitably leads to disappointment, heartache, and emptiness because it can't provide the firm foundation of hope, forgiveness, and purpose. It's self-focused, not Christ-focused. It's shallow, not deep. It's weak, not dependent on the Spirit's power. Isaiah said it's like a bed too short to lie down on and blanket too narrow to keep us warm (Isa. 28:20). It just doesn't work!— Christianity Lite, pages 8-9

<idle musing>
Amen! I prefer my Christianity undiluted.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's not the same anymore

The Christian life, then, isn't just a different set of moral laws, rigid rules, or habits to follow. It's dying to ourselves and being raised back to life in Him! Now everything is different. Nothing is the same. Things that used to be so important begin to lose their grip on our hearts. We want to know, love, serve, and honor God out of a full heart of thankfulness. Our purpose has changed, our hearts are transformed, and our loyalties are forever altered.— Christianity Lite, page 6

<idle musing>
At least we hope that's the case! If it isn't, I wonder how much of a grip Christ has on your heart...
<idle musing>

Monday, July 22, 2013

The bottom line

Today many Christians are convinced that Jesus Christ came to earth to make them happy and successful. In the church world we seem to gravitate to books and messages that focus on success, fulfillment, and pleasure. When they experience any kind of disappointment, they believe God has let them down. Pain isn't part of the plan! They then assume God is mean because He let them be hurt. But Jesus didn't come to make us feel better about our selfishness and sins. He came to forgive our sins, transform us, and change our hearts so we find sin detestable instead of desirable. To make that happen, something deep inside us has to die.

Here's the truth: Jesus didn't come to hurt you. He came to kill you.— Christianity Lite, page 4

<idle musing>
Yep! And praise God for that! I don't want to live in the old self; it stinks. I'd rather live in the new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Wouldn't you?

By the way, this is the first of many excerpts from this book; I hope you enjoy them enough to read the whole book. : )
</idle musing>

Friday, July 19, 2013


We must not think of our salvation as less than a complete exchange, for there is nothing good in fallen Adam, he is totally and incurably corrupt in all his parts and passions, There is therefore no hope for him; death is the only “cure,” for it is by death only that Adam can be saved from his fallen self and become a new creation. That is is what Christ has done for Adam. He took his place, not only as his Substitute to take away his sins, but as his Representative to crucify his fallen nature, that in his sinless body he might slay and remove the old, and by his resurrection replace it with the new.—William Still, Towards Spiritual Maturity, cited in The Shack Revisited, page 256

<idle musing>
This is the final snippet from The Shack Revisited. I hope you enjoyed my selective excerpts; it was an excellent book which I can easily recommend. : ) </idle musing>

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's real

Our freedom is not an illusion. We are free to be exactly what we are. For the Father, Son, and the Spirit want the real us, not the Sunday church version, to experience their shared life and love.— The Shack Revisited, page 237

<idle musing>
Amen! That's freeing, isn't it? God already knows what we are, so why try to hide it behind that facade? And he loves us—not some whitewashed version of us that we project to the outside world.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don't listen!

There are two knowings within us. The one is the knowing of the Spirit, the other is the knowing formed in the crucible of our experience and the whisper of the father of lies. The witness of the Spirit gives us a divine basis within our own darkness, for repentance and new faith, which lead into liberation and life.— The Shack Revisited, pages 235-236

<idle musing>
We need to learn to ignore the lies and only listen to the Holy Spirit. Once we learn that, we can experience true freedom and the abundant life.
</idle musing>

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer? in Grand Marais

It's been a while since I gave a status update, so let's give it a shot...

It's been a cold spring/summer here so far, averaging about 10°-15°F below normal. That, in turn, affected the number of people vacationing in May/June. That actually was a blessing, because we weren't really ready when we opened in May. It took us about 2 weeks more to get things where they needed to be—just in time for Memorial Day!

It's been fun watching the weather here. The lake and the ridge behind us have a strong effect on it. There has been a lot of fog—or low-lying clouds if you look up the ridge : ) Not infrequently, there will be fog rolling in from the lake, obscuring anything beyond the harbor and then, if you turn around and look up the ridge, the fog will be rolling down the hill. A neat effect that is difficult to describe.

Needless to say, we've been busy. The cabins have kept us hopping and then I've been trying to get a garden going. Dave and Geneva had a garden, but I've expanded it a good bit (no surprise there, eh?). I'm experimenting with different vegetables, especially short-season tomatoes. We'll see how it goes. So far, we've been eating radishes, broccoli raab, Romaine lettuce, mizuna, arugula, and spinach from the garden. I planted some short-season flint corn (for cornmeal); it wasn't knee high by the Fourth of July, but it has really taken off in the last week.

As far as other things go, one of the proofreading jobs that I had was pulled in-house to save money. But, God has given me other jobs—almost too many sometimes! I'm finishing up a job for Baker right now, doing the on-line flashcards for the Cook and Holmstedt Hebrew Grammar. That's been fun and frustrating at the same time. The web site they are using doesn't know what to do with close parentheses when you mix Hebrew and English... I've also proofed a couple of books for Augsburg/Fortress.

God has pulled me—kicking and screaming—into doing some copyediting. I've always sworn I wouldn't do any—after working with some of the best in the industry at Eisenbrauns, I've been intimidated to try. But God made it abundantly obvious that I was supposed to do it. So, I'm copyediting three dissertations right now; they are all defending in August! That's quite a tight schedule, to put it mildly!

My spare time (right!) has been filled with reading copyediting books...which explains the dearth of posts here. Enough for now...

There's hope

We bring into Jesus' relationship with us a most bizarre and alien way of thinking and seeing, which, of course, makes perfect sense to us, and to which we cling with a vengeance. And as we cannot hear our own accents, neither can we see our own blindness. It is impossible for us to push aside the weeds of our fallen minds and believe anything other than what we perceive through our blindness, but Jesus has penetrated our darkness and brought the Spirit of truth with him.

The Holy Spirit is not a spectator watching from the outside, giving abstract and external instructions that she hopes we will apply to our lives. She meets us in our gardens, in our garbage cans, in our shacks, bearing witness to the “unbelievable” world of Jesus and his Father—and our world, too...But we are a hardheaded lot, strong-willed and obstinate. Like first graders who think they are college professors, we know it all and cannot be told a thing, even as we leave a trail of wreckage behind us.— The Shack Revisited, pages 233-234

<idle musing>
Praise God that the Holy Spirit isn't on the outside! But we are a hardheaded group of people. I like his comparison of first graders and college professors; it sums up the situation nicely.
</idle musing>

Friday, July 12, 2013

Eyes to see

Inside our darkness is the one, special, and unique Spirit of the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit. And she [he follows the Hebrew in giving the Spirit a feminine pronoun] is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of adoption, and the Spirit of grace, and the Spirit of life in Christ, working with and within us that we may become what we are in Jesus. But like a briar patch, our inner world is a tangled mess of guilt and shame and anxiety, of self-centeredness, hiding, and fear, all of which coalesce to give us a profoundly wrong way of seeing.— The Shack Revisited, page 231

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thought for the day

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31, 32 NIV)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Faith has no power without truth. Without reality, without Jesus, faith is simply a form of magic where we try to weave our spell over someone, wrest the cosmos to our will apart from Jesus.— The Shack Revisited, page 223

Monday, July 08, 2013

What, then, is salvation? involves giving ourselves—our minds, hearts, and wills—to participate in what Jesus is doing. Our agenda, our independence, our confused self-will must die, so that the life and concerns, the burdens and joys, the music and other-centered love of the blessed Trinity can come to undiluted and unique expression in us.— The Shack Revisited, page 222

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! That is good news! And so much better than the "say a prayer, go to heaven someday" kind of salvation that is so common.

Salvation, having cost God so much, should involve the whole life of a person—now and in the future.
</idle musing>

Friday, July 05, 2013

Unwitting cooperation

As a shrewd political move, Caiaphas and the priests sacrificed Jesus to save their place. But it was an unwitting move of dramatic irony, which became the occasion of infinite grace. For in sacrificing Jesus, Caiaphas became the only high priest in Israel's long history to actually do his job: he offered up the one, true Sacrifice—though he never knew it, and did it for the wrong reason.— The Shack Revisited, page 201

<idle musing>
Interesting thought, isn't it? I hadn't realized this until he mentioned it. I wonder how many times we unwittingly assist the Lord in doing his will? Food for thought...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Now THAT is good news!

It deserves repeating again: the gospel is not the news that we can accept an absent Jesus into our lives. The gospel is the news that the Father's Son has received us into his. In Jesus the alien world of our darkness and pain, of our obstinate pride and anger, was drawn within the life of the blessed Trinity, and the trinitarian life of God set up shop inside our hell forever. Our adoption is not a mere theological doctrine. Adoption is the way things really are, now and forever.— The Shack Revisited, pages 194-195

<idle musing>
Amen! May this truth be real in your life today!
</idle musing>

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ain't it the truth

What kind of reconciliation would it be that declared humanity legally clean, yet left us lost in the darkened cosmos of the fallen mind and its appalling pain?— The Shack Revisited, pages 186-187

<idle musing>
And yet, that is exactly the "gospel" that most believe and is most widely preached : (
</idle musing>