Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Freedom; it's not what you think

One can hardly imagine a greater contrast to what Luther meant by “the freedom of a Christian”: living in paradoxical bondage to selfless, loving service of your neighbors, tirelessly tending to their needs whatever they might be, as a result of gratitude for the unmerited gift of God’s saving grace. Freedom as understood by Luther, as well as by the other Protestant and Catholic reformers of the sixteenth century, was based on a radically different understanding of what human beings are, what the point of human life is, and how one ought to live. No wonder it seems so alien today to most Westerners.—Rebel in the Ranks, 262

<idle musing>
And that's also what Jesus, the apostles, and Paul all meant by the freedom of a Christian. It's the freedom to serve. The freedom of not fearing your neighbors or enemies, but instead loving them and serving them.

There's always been a shortage of that kind of freedom, but I suspect it's at an unusually low point right now in our society.

I saw a new word yesterday, "angertainment," the use of anger to entertain people. It seems a sad but apt descriptive word for our society.

Again, a good meditation for advent, leading up to the Deliverer's birth.

Just an
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Goods life?

To judge by most people’s actions today, they believe the goods life is the good life, and they devote themselves to this whether or not they also believe in God or engage in worship or prayer. In public culture and society as a whole, in both the United States and Europe, the consumption of goods and pursuit of enjoyment has essentially replaced religion. Whether you happen to be religious has no effect at all on the dominant culture. This would have horrified—if perhaps not surprised—Luther and Calvin and other sixteenth-century Protestant reformers.—Rebel in the Ranks, 255

<idle musing>
I like that, the "goods life." He is correct, we've exchanged a good life in Christ for a goods life of consumerism—and it doesn't fulfill. We need to consume more to attempt to fill that hole in our souls, which of course feeds the cycle of consume and throw away, leading to an ever warmer and more unstable climate.

Seems an appropriate meditation this advent season for why we need a savior.

Just an
</idle musing>

Monday, November 28, 2022

A different look at Adam Smith

I read an interesting review article over the weekend about Adam Smith on the New York Review of Books (via Libby from my local library). I haven't read any Adam Smith for almost 50 years (back in high school), but maybe I should take another look. Here's a brief little snippet that I found interesting:
Once we enter society and start trading with one another, Smith thought, material goods take on a social meaning. Now we are as concerned with how those goods make us appear to others as we are with the goods themselves. Once we enter an economy with others, which is the only economy there is, we cease to think and act in a strictly economic sense. When “everyone began to look at everyone else and to wish to be looked at himself,” wrote Rousseau, “public esteem acquired a price.” Smith’s theory is an attempt to make sense of that price.
Seems there's a lot more going on than I remembered (and than most people talk about when they discuss Adam Smith). The above quotation should make the Chicago school of economists recalculate. They assume a Robinson Crusoe (article's words) approach: No societal pressure, therefore a person will make a logical decision. When's the last time someone did that!!? Right, Robinson Crusoe, but even he was influenced by his cultural background (I know, he's a literary figure, but the point stands).

If you can access the article via Libby, I recommend it; otherwise, try interlibrary loan (an independent scholar's best friend!).

By the way, the book reviewed is Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy, by Samuel Fleischacker, University of Chicago Press, 216 pp., $105.00; $35.00 (paper). The paperback is actually affordable!

Sunday, November 27, 2022


Advent Sunday! Christmas has pretty much taken over the Advent season; it used to be a preparation time for the coming of the "Long-Expected Jesus." Now, it's rare to hear an advent song; you mostly hear Christmas carols. Don't get me wrong; I love Christmas carols! But I would love to hear more Advent songs. Here's one that is probably the best known: O Come, O Come, Immanuel (various spellings of Immanuel; I prefer Emanuel myself). I didn't know the back story on this until I read about it on The Anxious Bench the other day. Fascinating! Anyway, here's the hymn, and please, do yourself a favor and look through a hymnal at some of the other Advent hymns an reacquaint yourself with the build up to the arrival of Messiah!

1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
   and ransom captive Israel
   that mourns in lonely exile here
   until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
   who ordered all things mightily;
   to us the path of knowledge show
   and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
   who to your tribes on Sinai's height
   in ancient times did give the law
   in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
   unto your own and rescue them!
   From depths of hell your people save,
   and give them victory o'er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, O Key of David, come
   and open wide our heavenly home.
   Make safe for us the heavenward road
   and bar the way to death's abode. Refrain

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
   and bring us comfort from afar!
   Dispel the shadows of the night
   and turn our darkness into light. Refrain

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
   in one the hearts of all mankind.
   Bid all our sad divisions cease
   and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain

Saturday, November 26, 2022

I could use more of this attitude. Could you?

556 S. M.
The spirit of prayer

THE praying spirit breathe!
   The watching power impart;
   From all entanglements beneath,
   Call off my peaceful heart;
   My feeble mind sustain,
   By worldly thoughts oppress’d;
   Appear, and bid me turn again
   To my eternal rest.

2 Swift to my rescue come;
   Thine own this moment seize;
   Gather my wand’ring spirit home,
   And keep in perfect peace:
   Suffer’d no more to rove
   O’er all the earth abroad,
   Arrest the pris’ner of thy love,
   And shut me up in God.
                                      —Charles Wesley

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Clement of Alexandria and hymns

It's funny the things you see when you page through a book as opposed to just doing a search on the internet. I was leafing through The Book of Hymns, The 1966 edition of the Methodist hymnal, and ran across two hymns by Clement of Alexandria. They must be some of the oldest hymns around outside the Bible; he lived from ca. AD 160–220, so he was born roughly 130 years after Christ's ministry, death, and resurrection (and ascension!); to put that in modern comparisons, compared to the Revolutionary war, he would have been born around 1900, or compared to the Civil War/War between the States, he would have been born in 1990.

Anyway, this particular hymn, number 86 in The Book of Hymns, appears in over 200 hymnals according to The lyrics below were taken from there; the Methodist hymnal uses an older translation and is missing verse 2 (Why? It's a great verse!). Enjoy!

1 Shepherd of tender youth,
   guiding in love and truth
   through devious ways,
   Christ, our triumphant King,
   we come your name to sing
   and here our children bring
   to join your praise.

2 You are our holy Lord,
   Christ, the incarnate Word,
   healer of strife.
   You did yourself abase
   that from sin's deep disgrace
   you might now save our race,
   and give us life.

3 You are the great High Priest,
   you have prepared the feast
   of holy love;
   and in our mortal pain
   none calls on you in vain;
   our plea do not disdain;
   help from above.

4 O ever be our guide,
   our shepherd and our pride,
   our staff and song.
   Jesus, O Christ of God,
   by your enduring Word
   lead us where you have trod;
   make our faith strong.

5 So now and till we die
   sound we your praises high
   and joyful sing:
   infants and all the throng
   who to your Church belong,
   unite to swell the song
   to Christ, our King!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Now Thank We All Our God (duplicate!)

A bit too unbelieving, with a God who is "out there" as opposed to living within via the Holy Spirit, but still good sentiments for a Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day:

1. Now thank we all our God,
   with heart and hands and voices,
   who wondrous things has done,
   in whom this world rejoices;
   who from our mothers' arms
   has blessed us on our way
   with countless gifts of love,
   and still is ours today.

2. O may this bounteous God
   through all our life be near us,
   with ever joyful hearts
   and blessed peace to cheer us;
   and keep us still in grace,
   and guide us when perplexed;
   and free us from all ills,
   in this world and the next.

3. All praise and thanks to God
   the Father now be given;
   the Son, and him who reigns
   with them in highest heaven;
   the one eternal God,
   whom earth and heaven adore;
   for thus it was, is now,
   and shall be evermore.

United Methodist Hymnal (1989) # 102, via

I just realized that I had posted this earlier. Sorry about that! Still good sentiments, and I could always say with Peter that it is not tiresome to me and good for you to be reminded of these things!.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Musings on Hebrews 3–4

484 C.M.

The believer’s rest.

LORD, I believe a rest remains
   To all thy people known;
   A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
   And thou art loved alone.

2 A rest where all our soul’s desire
   Is fix’d on things above;
   Where fear, and sin, and grief expire,
   Cast out by perfect love.

3 O that I now the rest might know,
   Believe, and enter in;
   Now, Saviour, now the power bestow,
   And let me cease from sin.

4 Remove this hardness from my heart;
   This unbelief remove;
   To me the rest of faith impart,—-
   The Sabbath of thy love.

Tozer for a Tuesday

I've decided to bring back Tozer for a Tuesday; it's been a few years, but I think I need to read him again. Here's today's snippet, from Living as a Christian.
If he or she is honest, the average Christian will sing, “See how I grovel here below, fond of these earthly toys,” rather than sing, “The waves of glory roll, my shouts I can’t control.” How can we become the ones who sing in honesty “My shouts I can’t control”?

The Christians Peter writes about saw the invisible, believed in it and rejoiced with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I do not know how to tell you how to get it; I only know how they got it. They got it by believing in what they could not see, and that is the only way that you and I will ever have joy unspeakable and a shout that we cannot control.—A. W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 17

Monday, November 21, 2022

The church's one foundation

1 The Church's one foundation
   Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
   She is His new creation
   By water and the Word:
   From heaven He came and sought her
   To be His holy bride;
   With His own blood He bought her,
   And for her life He died.

2 Elect from every nation,
   Yet one o'er all the earth,
   Her charter of salvation
   One Lord, one faith, one birth.
   One Holy Name she blesses,
   Partakes one Holy Food,
   And to one hope she presses
   With every grace endured.

3 Though with a scornful wonder
   Men see her sore opprest,
   By schisms rent asunder,
   By heresies distrest,
   Yet saints their watch are keeping,
   Their cry goes up, "How long?"
   And soon the night of weeping
   Shall be the morn of song.

4 'Mid toil, and tribulation,
   And tumult of her war,
   She waits the consummation
   Of peace for evermore;
   Till with the vision glorious
   Her longing eyes are blest,
   And the great Church victorious
   Shall be the Church at rest.

5 Yet she on earth hath union
   With God, the Three in One,
   And mystic sweet communion
   With those whose rest is won:
   O happy ones and holy!
   Lord, give us grace that we,
   Like them, the meek and lowly,
   On high may dwell with Thee.

Methodist Hymn and Tune Book (1917)

Amen! Good preaching!

I don't know if you follow Roger Olson's blog or not. If you don't you definitely need to take a look at today's post, on economic theory and Christian ethics. Here's a short snippet, but you definitely need to read the whole thing (and the preceding post as well for context and indentifying the theorists):
Nozick’s theory of justice as entitlement has no way of guarding against price gouging even in a catastrophe. Nor has it any way to ameliorate the growing gap between rich and poor in a capitalist society. In fact, I will go so far as to say his theory of justice is unjust and evil. Nozick may not have been a Social Darwinist, but this I will say about it: If I were a Social Darwinist I would find Nozick’s theory of justice as entitlement an ally and I would use it to promote my Social Darwinist beliefs. As a Christian ethicist, I unequivocally condemn Nozick’s theory of justice as entitlement even if Nozick himself inconsistently with his own theory offered qualifications that make it appear as if his theory has “place” for compassion. In his theory, charity is left to individuals and organizations and government has no obligation to help the poor, the indigent, the vulnerable, the weak, or the helpless.
<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Good preaching!
</idle musing>

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Now thank we all our God

1 Now thank we all our God
   with heart and hands and voices,
   who wondrous things has done,
   in whom his world rejoices;
   who from our mothers' arms
   has blessed us on our way
   with countless gifts of love
   and still is ours today.

2 Oh, may this bounteous God
   through all our life be near us,
   with ever-joyful hearts
   and blessed peace to cheer us
   and keep us in his grace
   and guide us when perplexed
   and free us from all ills
   in this world and the next.

3 All praise and thanks to God
   the Father now be given,
   the Son, and him who reigns,
   with them in highest heaven,
   the one eternal God,
   whom earth and heav'n adore;
   for thus it was, is now,
   and shall be evermore.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Fairest Lord Jesus

1 Fairest Lord Jesus,
   ruler of all nature,
   O thou of God and man the Son,
   Thee will I cherish,
   Thee will I honor,
   thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.

2 Fair are the meadows,
   fairer still the woodlands,
   robed in the blooming garb of spring:
   Jesus is fairer,
   Jesus is purer
   who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3 Fair is the sunshine,
   fairer still the moonlight,
   and all the twinkling starry host:
   Jesus shines brighter,
   Jesus shines purer
   than all the angels heaven can boast.

4 Beautiful Savior!
   Lord of all the nations!
   Son of God and Son of Man!
   Glory and honor,
   praise, adoration,
   now and forevermore be thine.

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989 (taken from

When I was in first grade, we lived in Columbia, MO while my dad was finishing up his doctoral work. We went to a large Methodist church, well it was large by 1960s standards anyway! (As an aside, the pastor there later went on to become a bishop.) One of the highlights for me was that I was able to sing in the primary youth choir, made up of first, second, and third graders. This was one of the songs that we would sing and it became one of my favorite hymns. I've also heard it called Beautiful Savior instead of Fairest Lord Jesus, like the first line of the fourth stanza.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A hymn for Wednesday

864 C. M.
I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likness.

JESUS, the all—restoring Word,
   My fallen spirit’s hope,
   After thy lovely likeness, Lord,
   Ah! when shall I wake up?

2 Thou, O my God, thou only art
   The Life, the Truth, the Way;
   Quicken my soul, instruct my heart,
   My sinking footsteps stay.

3 Of all thou hast in earth below,
   In heaven above, to give,
   Give me thy only love to know,——
   In thee to walk and live.

4 Fill me with all the life of love;
   In mystic union join
   Me to thyself, and let me prove
   The fellowship divine.

5 Open the intercourse between.
   My 1onging soul and thee,
   Never to be broke off again
   To all eternity. (Charles Wesley)

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Citing a YouTube video

This was a first for me. I needed to know how to cite a YouTube video!

According to Chicago Manual of Style, it gets cited as follows:

Hays, Richard B. “Did All the Gospel Writers Believe Jesus Was Divine?” Streamed live on Dec 4, 2014. YouTube video, 52:41.
To get the short YouTube url, you need to click on the Share button and then copy that.

Simple, isn't it? But note that this is in their FAQ, not in the actual CMS17 itself.

Use this url to access the CMS site for questions: I use it all the time to find the paragraph numbers and then consult the physical book. You need a subscription to access the online version of the manual.

See all the copyediting stuff here.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Vain attempt

“People who present themselves as the embodiment of order become the embodiment of nothingness and ‘emptiness.’” John Goldingay, The Message of Isaiah 40–55: A Literary-Theological Commentary (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 57

Sunday, November 13, 2022

A hymn for the second Sunday in November

Yes, I'm on a hymn kick right now. Here's one that came to mind as I was brewing a pot of tea this morning:
1 God of grace and God of glory,
   on the people pour thy power;
   crown thine ancient church's story,
   bring her bud to glorious flower.
   Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
   for the facing of this hour,
   for the facing of this hour.

2 Lo! the hosts of evil round us
   scorn thy Christ, assail his ways!
   Fears and doubts too long have bound us;
   free our hearts to work and praise.
   Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
   for the living of these days,
   for the living of these days.

3 Cure thy children's warring madness,
   bend our pride to thy control;
   shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
   rich in things and poor in soul.
   Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
   lest we miss thy kingdom's goal,
   lest we miss thy kingdom's goal.

4 Save us from weak resignation
   to the evils we deplore;
   let the search for thy salvation
   be our glory evermore.
   Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
   serving thee whom we adore,
   serving thee whom we adore.

The United Methodist Hymnal #577

You can find more info, including author and alternate wording at

This hymn seems appropriate for the strife-ridden culture consuming the US right now. May all who name the name of Christ, whether right or left, allow God to "cure [his] children's warring madness, bend our pride to thy control; shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul" and "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom's goal."

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Tempest in a teapot

Aparently there has been a big dust up on Twitter about translators not being named on the cover of a book. Jim West has a post on it and I posted a comment. Because Jim moderates his comments (wise choice), it may or may not be posted, so I provide it here:
As Jim Eisenbraun pointed out to you on Twitter, it is normal for publisher not to display the translator on the cover. And, I'd like to point out that K.C. is an editor at W&S, so he might have had some input on that.

The cover is for selling the book. The title page is where the important stuff is. Worldcat, the librarians tool, usually only displays the translator in the (now hidden) details screen.

The only exception is where the translator is in some way a "big name" and having his/her name on the cover will help sell the book. Because that's what covers are for—to catch people's eyes so that they will buy the book. Period. Actually, exclamation point. Covers are a selling point—which is why the old-style stamped cloth cover is not around much anymore. It's usually on over-priced books that only need to sell 100 copies to libraries to make money. Popular-priced books need a cover to attract the nonlibrarians. If having the translator on the cover helps sell the book, then it will probably appear there. If not, too bad, so sad.

Sorry if I sound cynical, but with the proliferation of illegal sharing sites and people just not buying books, selling the few that a publisher does is what the cover is all about. (And note, too, that libraries are cutting way back on buying books.)

Sorry if you don't like my comment, but it's the truth. Not dissing translators in any way, shape, or form. They do difficult and necessary work, but if the book doesn't sell, their work will be in vain. And publisher will go away, which some of you may think is a good thing, but when I look at some self-pub stuff, with egregious factual, grammatical, and other obvious errors, I suspect the wild, wild west of self-pubs might not be the utopia that some seem to think it is.

Tell me I'm wrong…

Just an
</idle musing>

Friday, November 11, 2022

Hymn for a Friday

I woke up with this hymn on my mind:
1 All glory, laud, and honor
  to you, Redeemer, King,
  to whom the lips of children
  made sweet hosannas ring.
  You are the King of Israel
  and David's royal Son,
  now in the Lord's name coming,
  the King and Blessed One.

2 The company of angels
  is praising you on high;
  and we with all creation
  in chorus make reply.
  The people of the Hebrews
  with palms before you went;
  our praise and prayer and anthems
  before you we present.

3 To you before your passion
  they sang their hymns of praise;
  to you, now high exalted,
  our melody we raise.
  As you received their praises,
  accept the prayers we bring,
  for you delight in goodness,
  O good and gracious King!

This is an old hymn, written around 800 (in Latin, of course). You can read about the author and the translator at I might note that I remember it in the Methodist hymnal version, which is a bit different (you can use to compare and see).

Another year

I put the garden to bed for the winter the other day. After a cool fall, the last few weeks were unseasonally warm. We had a hard frost in September, two weeks earlier than normal and a month earlier than last year. Then, it stayed cold for a while before warming up.

They say that Halloween was the warmest in 22 years! And my Brussels sprouts loved it, as did my kale. I had forgotten to pull out the growing tip on the Brussels sprouts at the end of August. You do that to stop the plant from putting all its energy into growing taller; it redirects that energy into fattening up the existing sprouts. I didn't do it until the frost, so three-to-four weeks late. I figured I wouldn't get very many this year. But, the warmer weather in late October and early November sure helped! I ended up with over double what I thought I was going to get! (You can leave them on the stock until late December–early January, but I usually harvest them in early November in case of snow—the garden gate won't open once it snows.)

The only thing in the garden now is some late-planted kale that I'll keep harvesting for my soup each day until snow blocks the garden gate. It might survive the winter and be around for early spring; that's happened before. But, I don't count on it and start some in the basement in March to transplant in April. Meanwhile, I've frozen enough to keep me supplied until May.

In general, it was a good garden year. I froze sufficient broccoli, beans, tomatoes, summer squash, and bok choi for the winter. We ate more than our fill of peas fresh off the vine; the raspberries gave us enough to eat, but not enough to freeze. I have onions and garlic enough for most, if not the whole winter. We ended up with around twenty delicata, so we'll be eating that until the end of December. I have rhubarb in the freezer, too, for some nice tart rhubarb sauce on a cold winter morning.

So, the garden to bed, last night I started looking through the latest Johnny's catalog, making a list of stuff I need to try or reorder. Next, I'll go through Fedco's catalog and compare. I like to order my seeds before January—for two reasons: (1) to avoid stock-outs in the spring (this year my green beans were back-ordered until just before planting date; I was concerned), and (2) so I can start stuff in the basement in March.

I also like to order from other seed companies, like Baker Creek, and a few others I can't recall right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A hymn for a Thursday in November

I'm having a lot of fun randomly reading through this 1870 Methodist hymnal. Here's one that jumped out at me today, under the heading of "His Priesthood and Intercession":
158 C. M.
King of kings and Lord of lords.

THE head that once was crown’d with thorns,
   Is crown’d with glory now;
   A royal diadem adorns
   The mighty Victor’s brow.

2 The highest place that heaven affords,
   Is to our Jesus given;
   The King of kings, and Lord of lords,
   He reigns o’er earth and ‘heaven—-

3 The joy of all who dwell above,
   The joy of all below,
   To whom he manifests his love,
   And grants his Name to know.

4 To them the cross, with all its shame,
   With all its grace, is given;
   Their name—an everlasting name,
   Their joy—the joy of heaven.

5 They suffer with their Lord below,-——
   They reign with him above;
   Their everlasting joy to know
   The myst’ry of his love.

Monday, November 07, 2022

The more things change

The more they stay the same. Take, for example, these verses from Revelation 16:
and they cursed the name of the God who had power over these plagues. But they didn’t change their hearts and lives and give him glory.… and they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores; but they didn’t turn away from what they had done.… They cursed God… (Rev 16:9b, 11, 21b, CEB)
Nope, nothing has changed. Blame God, but don't change your life. How's that working for you? Yeah, that's what I thought. It never has worked.

Consider repenting—changing your heart and mind, as the Common English Bible translates it.

Friday, November 04, 2022

Friday's hymn

As I mentioned the other day, I've been randomly reading in an 1870 Methodist hymnal lately. You can see why most of them haven't survived in today's hymnals, but there are some real gems of theology in most of them. Today's is one of them.
483 C. M.

The good pleasure of his will.

I KNOW that my Redeemer lives,
And ever prays for me:
A token of his love he gives,—
A pledge of liberty.

2 I find him lifting up my head;
He brings salvation near;
His presence makes me free indeed,
And he Will soon appear.

3 He wills that I should holy be!
What can withstand his will?
The counsel of his grace in me
He surely shall fulfil.

4 Jesus, I hang upon thy word;
I steadfastly believe
Thou wilt return, and claim me, Lord,
And to thyself receive.

5 When God is mine, and I am his,
Of paradise possess'd
I taste unutterabie bliss,
And everlasting rest.

By the way, in case you don't know what the notations are next to the hymn number: In the old hymn books they don't have music, just lyrics. Nowadays a hymn usually has become attached to a particular tune, but back then, they would just use one that had the same meter. And the tunes also had names (even in today's hymnals, you can usually see the tune name and composer listed). So, to use today's as an example: It is C.M., which means common meter, so the music leader would say, let's sing hymn number 483 to (some tune with a common meter, like "O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing"). Another common one is L.M., which means long meter, or S.M., which means short meter. You can find a short explanation on this Wiki page, explaing what the poetic feet are, if you're into that. The hymnbook I'm reading has about thirty "peculiar meters." I'm not sure where they list what those are, but an experienced music leader in those days would know them.

Lord, haste the day!

Reading in Revelation this morning and this verse jumped out at me:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea—I heard everything everywhere say,

“Blessing, honor, glory, and power
belong to the one seated on the throne
and to the Lamb
forever and always.” Rev 5:13 (CEB)

Note that it says "everything, everywhere" is praising God. Lord, haste the day!

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Necessary but not sufficient

There's a saying that I learned while I was a manager, "Necessary, but not sufficient." It means that without that quality/substance/whatever, the business won't function. But, that by itself is not sufficient. You need that plus something else.

Scot McKnight posted a devotional excerpt on John 2 from his next book. He ends with this paragraph:

Why did Jesus refuse to commit himself to these people? Because he perceived like no other what was in humans (2:25). His signs divide the audiences (9:16; 11:45-48; 12:37). Some surrender to him because of signs (2:11; 3:2; 6:2; 20:30-31); others accept the reality of the miracle but do not see through it to the identity of Jesus; yet others repudiate him completely. To see his miracles as signs one must perceive the identity of Jesus beyond the material miracle itself. One could say then that sign-faith is a first but not final step in the journey of true faith (Thompson, John, 67–68). True faith abides over time in trusting Jesus who abides over time in nurturing the believer.
In other words, necessary, but not sufficient. I fear that's where a lot of "signs and wonders" Christians are at. They see the signs and wonders, and they believe them, but don't press on further to the point of abiding in Christ. They sit by the door, admiring, but don't go "further up and further in" to quote from The Last Battle.

It would make an intersting DMin project for someone to follow up on those who were converted via a signs and wonders presentation and see what percentage stuck with the faith. And then compare it with a control group who were converted via a mass presentation like a Billy Graham crusade.

The Billy Graham people used to say that less than 5 percent of the "decisions" made at a crusade stuck. Do you think the number would be higher in a signs and wonders presentation?

I honestly don't know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Both or neither

Written well over a century ago, but still true (sadly, and not just England!). From Wilde's A Woman of No Importance:
if a man and woman have sinned, let them both go forth into the desert to love or loathe each other there. Let them both be branded. Set a mark, if you wish, on each, but don’t punish the one and let the other go free. Don’t have one law for men and another for women. You are unjust to women in England. And till you count what is a shame in a woman to be an infamy in a man, you will always be unjust, and Right, that pillar of fire, and Wrong, that pillar of cloud, will be made dim to your eyes, or be not seen at all, or if seen, not regarded.

Hymn for a Tuesday

484 C. M.
The believer's rest.

LORD, I believe a rest remains
To all thy people known;
A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
And thou art loved alone:

2 A rest where all our soul’s desire
Is fix’d on things above;
Where fear, and sin, and grief expire,
Cast out by perfect love.

3 O that I now the rest might know,
Believe, and enter in:
Now, Saviour, now the power bestow,
And let me cease from sin.

4 Remove this hardness from my heart;
This unbelief remove:
To me the rest of faith impart,—
The Sabbath of thy love.
(Charles Wesley, 1840)