Friday, July 31, 2015

North Shore musings

This weekend is Fisherman's Picnic, the busiest weekend of the summer. And for us, it began earlier this week, which explains the sporadic nature of the posting lately. Anybody who thinks that cabin caretaking is a relaxing job hasn't done it! But, no complaints; we love it!

We have 7 cabins and 2 motel units that we care for. Each one takes about an hour to an hour and a half to clean. Plus the time to do the laundry, which varies. Last Sunday, we had 6 to clean, which is fairly normal for a Sunday. But Monday, we did 7, which on top of the 6 the day before was pretty tiring. Add to that the temperature. Normally, living 2 blocks from Lake Superior, we don't get much above 75ºF, in fact we usually don't even get that high (that's why I grow tomatoes in a hoop house). Well, Monday was 85ºF—in the shade! And being this close to a large body of water, the humidity tends to be high. The air was so thick you felt like you were eating it. Needless to say, it was draining.

But, this is the North Shore, so the next day, the wind switched and came off the lake and it was cloudy. We didn't get above 65ºF the whole day. And it was windy, so it felt colder. I actually closed up the hoop house to keep the tomatoes and peppers warm!

But enough of that! We love it here. And the variableness of the weather is part of it. As is the scenery. This is the height of the summer, and the scenery is beautiful. The crispness of the air makes everything jump out. The clouds, the lake, the trees, the ridge, all of them forming a continually changing backdrop to life.

Our garden is doing great. We've been eating broccoli for over a month now, the green beans just came in on Tuesday, right after that hot Monday; they must have grown 3 days worth overnight! The first two plantings of peas are done and the third one is starting; the snow peas are just starting, too. And the scarlet runner beans are in full bloom, much to the hummingbird's delight.

A friend gave me some walking onions, also known as top-setting or Egyptian onions. I planted them late last fall and here's what they look like:

Pretty funky looking, aren't they? They're pretty hot, so you don't want to eat them raw, but the greens are great raw. Oh, and we've been eating leeks, too. And the summer squash is about ready, and the raspberries are just starting, right on schedule.

The only downside is we could seriously use some rain. I have 400 gallons of water in rain barrels, but it's down to about 75–100 gallons. Enough for about a week, at the most.

Well, which will it be?

Samuel’s displeasure (1 Sam. 8:6) is met by a revelation from God that provides one of the secrets to understanding kingdom. In YHWH’s revelation to Samuel, YHWH explains what is really going on in the minds and hearts of those who want a king like the other nations. We learn from YHWH that Israel doesn’t want to rule for God in this world but wants to be like the world and rule like God.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 30

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Like? Or Under?

Adam and Eve decide they want to rule “like God” instead of ruling “under God,” which means Adam and Eve are usurpers. The sin they commit is the sin of wanting more than responsibility of governing on God’s behalf; the sin they commit is made clear in the words of the scumbag serpent in Genesis 3: “For God know that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened [in a Pleasantville sort of way], and [here it comes with full force] you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5, emphasis added). The story of sin in the Bible is the story of God’s elect people wanting to be God-like instead of god-ly, of ruling instead of sub-ruling and being ruled.— Kingdom Conspiracy, pages 28–29 (all emphasis original)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's all about?

The gospel is a story about Jesus, and because it is about Jesus, it is about us. To make the story first about us, or first about me and my salvation, is to reduce the story and to rob Jesus of the glory of being the central actor.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 25

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The World

This selection of texts from the Fourth Gospel represents the New Testament posture toward the “world” as the unredeemed realm of human affairs, a realm into which Jesus is sent and out of which he saves his own. The point I am making, then, is that Jesus didn’t come to make the “world” a better place or to “influence” or “transform” the world. He came to redeem people out of the world. Trying to make the world a better place is a species of worldliness, and “worldliness,” to quote Hauerwas and Willimon, “is a hard habit to break.”— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 17

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A summary

The fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list to check off. The Spirit produces the fruit in us. Christianity is not a set of rules, nor is the Bible a manual for good living. Christianity is about a relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, page 31

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dead people don't sin!

We are no longer under the authority of sin. Paul develops this point in greatest detail in Romans 6. If we have died with Christ, we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:7). What Paul means by “sin” in Romans 6 is sin as a power, or ruler. The point he is making is that, by dying with Christ, believers have been released from sin’s power; we now live under Christ’s authority. Yet Paul appeals to the Romans not to put themselves under sin again (6:12–13). While sin is no longer our master (6:14), the pull to go on “obeying” sin is real and powerful. But Paul wants us to realize that we don’t have to give in.

The famous Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrated this struggle well. In 1865 the work of Abraham Lincoln and others to abolish slavery in the United States finally came to fruition. All slaves were declared free. Lloyd-Jones says to imagine you had grown up a slave in Alabama. One minute, you’re a slave. The next, you are free—legally, officially, and forever free. While you may now have your freedom, your internal grasp of that freedom may take some time to catch up to the reality. Imagine that one day you ran into your former slave-owner on the street, and he calls out to you, “Come here, boy!” At that moment, will you feel like a slave? I think you probably would. Your whole life, you’ve responded to him as your master. You’re conditioned to obey that voice. Every muscle and fiber in your body is inclined to obey.

But the reality is that you are free. You are not a slave. Your former master has no authority over you at all. He cannot tell you what to do, and you have no obligation to obey him. Our struggle with sin is just like this. Sin once ruled over us, and our bodies were conditioned to obey its demands. It’s the way we lived our entire lives until we were set free by Christ. Now that we know spiritual freedom, our comprehension of it can take a while to catch up. Occasionally, sin calls out, “Come here, boy!” and our initial impulse is to obey. But in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin. We do not need to obey its call. And yet we will feel its pull and even struggle with our first reaction to give in to its demands. Even though we are free, we can choose to do what it says, even though sin has no right to tell us what to do.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, pages 28–29 (emphasis original)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dos and Don'ts

Notice that Paul does not say, “Don’t do these things.” Instead, he appeals to a deeper way of thinking. He appeals to a spiritual reality. If we belong to Christ Jesus, we have crucified the flesh. Now, remember that the vice list is introduced as the acts of the flesh. Flesh is the power that produces such practices.

But in [Galatians] 5:24 Paul says that the flesh has been crucified. It has been put to death with Christ. Because we belong to Christ Jesus, we are united with Him in His death. Spiritually, we have been put to death. We are no longer subject to the power of the flesh. This is so much more than a simple command to avoid certain behaviors. A radical change has taken place and we no longer belong to the realm of the flesh, enslaved by its passions and desires. We now belong to the realm of the Spirit.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, page 18 (emphasis original)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's far deeper than that!

The Spirit isn’t interested in just changing certain behaviors—adding some and removing others; He is interested in changing who we are as people. Changed people do changed things. But the internal change has to come first. God doesn’t want us to be robots who always do the right thing but whose character is, well, robotic. God is after our hearts.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, pages 15–16 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

About that list of yours...

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list. These verses do have implications for how we live (and we’ll get to that), but Paul does not say, “live like this, like this, and like that” before he lists the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit grows from the Spirit. It’s not the result of our hard work or discipline, and it’s not a list to check off when we feel we’ve “got it down.” It’s not even a list to put on our wall to remind ourselves of things we need to work on. It’s not a list of imperatives—commands for us to follow. It’s a list of indicatives—it’s just the way things are.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, pages 10–11

Monday, July 13, 2015

Whose fruit?

No, not who is a fruit! Whose fruit as in who produces it? Sometimes (most times?), I think we act like we are supposed to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Right! Like we can do that...anyway, today we start excerpting from a new book, actually more of a pamphlet. I heard about it from Ted Gossard's blog some time ago. Follow along as we see the insights that Con Campbell has on the fruit of the Spirit...

While there’s nothing wrong with virtue, it is not the same thing as fruit of the Spirit. Anyone can have virtue or many virtuous qualities. They are usually self-cultivated. A “virtuous person” is someone who has disciplined herself to be patient or brave or generous. On the other hand, “fruit of the Spirit” implies something quite different. Most obvious perhaps is that it’s the Spirit’s fruit, not ours. No amount of determination or discipline ripens the fruit of the Spirit.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, page 7

Friday, July 10, 2015

The purpose of scripture

[W]e must never forget that the purpose of the words is to draw us to the Word and thus into the embrace of the triune God. As people who grow to cherish and delight in the sacred writings, we must never forget their fundamental purpose: that we might know the true God and respond to him in repentance and faith, being drawn into communion with him. Strangely—but not surprisingly to any of us who end up professionally handling the Scriptures on a daily basis—there is always the temptation to make the Scriptures an end in and of themselves.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 117

<idle musing>
I would love to have this inscribed on every Bible. And have every pastor remind their flock of this every time they preach. It can't be said enough; the Bible is not the source of life, Jesus is! But, as humans, we love to have something we can hang onto, that we can point to. Basically, an idol.
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 09, 2015


James reminds us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jas 1:27). What I always find so startling about this statement is that the text puts caring for those in need with the call to be “unstained from the world.” For in truth, we in the church sometimes seek to be “unstained” by distancing ourselves from those most troubled in society, those in most need.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 84

<idle musing>
Yep. As usual, we get it backwards...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Object of study? Or object of worship?

One of the great dangers in theology is making our faith something we discuss rather than something that moves us. We lapse into this problem when we treat God as a mere object of our study rather than as the Lord we worship.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 65

<idle musing>
A timely warning. This is probably the biggest temptation for me. I love theology and biblical studies so much that there are times when it can become a god to me if I'm not careful, displacing the one true God.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Guess what? I'm not God!

Pride and arrogance, which often accompany theological discussion, are not simply the temptation of the domineering pastor or condescending professor; they are a temptation for all of us. When we speak of God, a strange enticement can occur. In subtle ways we begin to confuse ourselves with God. We think our words, our understanding, our convictions perfectly reflect God’s truth. In fact, we are not God, we have blind spots, we do not ever fully see how all things work together.—A Little Book for New Theologians, pages 46–47

It's a parsnip?!

I overlooked harvesting three parsnips last fall. They overwintered and began to grow...and grow...and grow. I was going to pull them and compost them, but Debbie said to let them grow; she thought they looked kind of neat. So I did.

They are now over 6 feet tall and look more like small trees than parsnips. Here's a picture of them. They are growing right next to a rain barrel.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Worship and theology

We rightly respond to God’s revelation when our words about God, whether many or few, are placed into the matrix of worship. When we see the relationship between theology and worship we are moved beyond intellectual curiosity to an engaged encounter with the living God.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 37

Saturday, July 04, 2015

We sure act like it!

We are not God. This may seem ridiculously obvious, but much of our practice ignores this simple truth. Not only can we not control the events around us, but our understanding is inescapably incomplete.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 30

Friday, July 03, 2015

Expanding the horizons

Growing in our knowledge of God changes our view of everything else. It is not that we lose sight of all except God, but rather that we view everything in light of God and through the story of his creation and redemption. True worship of God frees and enables us to love his creation rightly and to grieve when we see it abused.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 26

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The cry of the heart

Let me seek you in longing,
and long for you in seeking.
Let me find you in love,
and love you in finding—Anselm, Proslogion cited in A Little Book for New Theologians, page 19