Monday, March 31, 2014


Said a man to one of them, Do you feel that your property and your business are all God's, and do you hold and manage them for God? "O, no," said he, "I have not got so far as that yet." Not got so far as that! That man had been a professor of religion for years, and yet had not got so far as to consider his property, and business, and all that he had as belonging to God! No doubt he was serving his own gods. For I insist upon it, that this is the very beginning of religion. What is conversion, but turning from the service of the world to the service of God? And yet this man had not found out that he was God's servant. And he seemed to think he was getting a great way in religion, to feel that all he had was the Lord's.—Charles Finney

Why not?

The celestial diviners who employed the Ideal Calendar were perfectly aware of this fact and relied on it to generate calendrical anomalies that were considered ominous. Though it was modeled on an idealized concept of time division, this did not mean it could not be modified. When intercalation schemes, for example, are mentioned in celestial divination texts, they have little practical calendrical value and instead tend to reference the aversion of a bad portent by changing the month in which it took place. For example, the namburbî ritual involving intercalation described in The Diviner’s Manual 66–71 is specifically designed to avert evil rather than properly align the lunar and tropical calendars.—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, pages 30-31, footnote

<idle musing>
I love it! Don't want the bad omen to happen this month? Simple, just change the month! Good thing we can't do than anymore—I can just see some politicians manipulating the calendar to make the bad news old news : )
</idle musing>

Like butter melting in the sun

God loves us and wants to live with us, but that is not possible without continuous atonement. Otherwise, the purity of his perfection would melt us as the noonday sun melts butter. And note that it is he who determines the terms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for us to exist in his presence. — Called to be Holy, page 29

<idle musing>
I like that metaphor, very graphic. I also like the fact that he doesn't emphasize wrath, but love. I've been listening to some sermons online lately, and noticed two things: The preachers love to shout and pump up the listeners. And they emphasize the wrath of God in order to get response. I don't think either approaches are necessary.

If you want people to respond from the heart, don't you think that a response based on love is better than one of fear? And if God's basic nature is love (and I believe it is), then why not emphasize that? Sure, there is wrath, but that's only if you turn your back on the freely available offer (made to everyone equally, by the way) of atonement and reconciliation through Jesus the Messiah.
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thought for today

Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor. They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them. Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life. But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy— your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. (Isaiah 26:12-14, 16-19 NIV)

Friday, March 28, 2014

It served a purpose

The primary goal of the celestial sciences in ancient Iraq was to support the practice of celestial divination. As such, these sciences are very different from our modern sense of astronomy. At no point in the documented history of this undertaking in Mesopotamia do we see individuals who observe and devise mathematical models for understanding and predicting celestial phenomena for the simple sake of doing so. Mesopotamian astronomy, even when it reached a high level of mathematical sophistication in the late periods, was always the handmaiden of celestial divination (or later, astrology).—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, page 29

<idle musing>
Why else would you watch the stars? If you believe the gods write the future in the skies, then it makes sense to learn the language they speak. After all, the life you save might be your own!

<rabbit trail>
I am always amazed at the number of people who treat the Bible the same way. It's as if God has hidden a secret message in there that we have to decode—and only we have the key! Or, more often, this particular book or popular speaker has discovered the secret code and you only have to read their book or listen to their interpretation to get it...
</rabbit trail>
</idle musing>

That's an unexpected definition

What is holiness? It is grace, the grace of a Divine Being who offers himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in undeserved promises of blessing. It is grace, the grace of One who is sensitive to the suffering of human beings. It is grace, the grace of One who is determined to keep his promises to his people in spite of their fear and unbelief. — Called to be Holy, page 26

<idle musing>,
Not what you expected for a definition, is it? Me either. I expected something more about justice, righteousness, etc. You know, something more performance based...but that's not who God is, is it? God is about grace and love. I'm liking where this book is going...
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This could have been written today

Those who seek for happiness in religion, rather than for usefulness, are serving their own gods. Their religion is entirely selfish. They want to enjoy religion, and are all the while inquiring how they can get happy frames of mind, and how they can be pleasurably excited in religious exercises. And they will go only to such meetings, and sit only under such preaching, as will make them happy; never asking the question whether that is the way to do the most good or not.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Some things never change, do they? This could be written today about a good many churches and what they peddle...
</idle musing>

Modern constructs

The phrase celestial science is meant to be inclusive of all of these activities [astronomy, astrology, and omen-based divination]. My use of this last phrase is a practical concession to the lack of consistency in the application of the terminology in both ancient Near Eastern studies and science history in general, and an indication of the fact that these sharp delineations between activities are essentially modern constructs.—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, page 26

<idle musing>
Indeed. The ancient world didn't make a distinction between the secular and the sacred. If you read ancient documents realizing this, you will be confused by the continual references to checking the omens. Armies would camp across from each other and not engage in battle unless the omens were favorable—especially the Romans.

Can you imagine the U.S. Army—or any other "modern" army—not engaging in a battle because the liver of the animal sacrificed this morning didn't have good readings? I can just imagine it:

Good morning, Mr. President. I'm giving you the latest update on the D-Day invasion. We have delayed it for at least 3 days.
Yes, sir, I know that will put the landing boats at risk and cause the soldiers to have to run up the exposed beach longer because of the tide.
Yes, sir, I know that casualties will likely increase dramatically and that more boats will be sunk.
Yes, sir, I know it puts all of our plans for the last 4 years on hold.
Yes, sir, I understand that the public is getting impatient.
Yes, sir, I know we've had this conversation for the last 5 years and that it is now 1949, but the omens were bad again this morning!
Just an
</idle musing>

Upside down Christianity

The Church which has lost sight of the biblical doctrine of holiness tries to market the gospel as a solution for life’s difficulties, a source for personal fulfillment, a means of achieving one’s desires for significance and status and power. In other words, it is not a means of escaping the rule of desire, it is a means for fulfilling that rule. It suggests to people that they need not forsake their favorite sins, that indeed they cannot, but that they can find continuing forgiveness from a God who know nothing of justice but everything of a sentimental feeling misnamed “love.”— Called to be Holy, page 6 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching! The gospel is about restoration. About creation, including humanity, being restored to what it was intended to be when God created it. And that includes holiness—biblical holiness, not legalistic, external holiness, but heart holiness, Spirit-controlled living.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What are you talking about?

A man is always most easily excited on that subject that lies nearest his heart.—Bring that up, and he is interested. When you can talk early and late about the news and other worldly topics, and when you cannot possibly be interested in the subject of religion, you know that your heart is not in it, and if you pretend to be a servant of God, you are a hypocrite.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Listen to someone for about 5 minutes and you can know what is important to them. Also, listen for what the subject of most sentences is. If it is "I," then you can rest assured that death to self won't be high on their priorities...
</idle musing>


These trends in Assyriology and biblical studies are connected by numerous conceptual and methodological threads. Given my purposes here, it is worthwhile to note that both science historians and biblical theologians have had dramatic and detrimental impacts on how we appreciate ancient Near Eastern understandings of the relationship between the natural world and literature. Science historians imagined science to be completely separate from and above historical and cultural considerations, while theologians rendered the Israelite God completely separate from and above nature and history. Assyriologists were blinded to the scientific discourse within Mesopotamian literature, while biblical scholars were oblivious to the naturalistic aspects of Israelite religion and its ancient Near Eastern character. Both fields were thus unable to appreciate how these ancient cultures’ systematic perceptions of the natural world were culturally situated.—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, page 17

Cheap grace revisited

Am I suggesting that we are saved from the guilt of sin by grace and from the power of sin by effort? Not at all! The problem with “cheap grace” is that it does not go far enough. It fails to understand that the goal of God’s grace is noting less than Christlikeness. We want to believe God to escape the consequences of our sin, but we do not want to believe Christ to deliver us from sinning. We want to enjoy the pleasure of sin while escaping its bitter consequences.— Called to be Holy, page 5

<idle musing>
The whole gospel—again! We need to believe God for complete deliverance. Scripture points us in that direction, if we are willing to read it without putting on our atonement only glasses.
</idle musing>

Thought for today

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. (Isaiah 10:1-4 NIV)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brutal, but true

The astral interpretations of the pan-Babylonianists became another lovely theory that was brutally murdered by facts.—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, pages 5-6

<idle musing>
Ouch! I know a few other theories that could use the same treatment...
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

Those who are thus aiming to elevate their own families into a different sphere, by laying up wealth for them, show that they have some other object to live for than bringing this world under the authority of Jesus Christ. They have other gods to serve. They may pretend to fear the Lord, but they serve their own gods.—Charles Finney

Yes, Virginia, there is a metanarrative

[T]he Christian gospel is not primarily about having one’s sins forgiven and spending a blissful eternity with God after somehow getting through this life with one’s faith reasonably intact. This view, which I do not hesitate to call heretical, is the result of a misreading of the New Testament. If a person constantly reads the New Testament in the light of the Old, which the Church Fathers clearly intended by their joining of the two in one canon, then it becomes unmistakably clear what the purpose of the Gospel is. It is the same purpose that God has had from Genesis 4 onwards: the transformation of human behavior in this world with the consequent possibility of living with God through all eternity.— Called to be Holy, page 3

<idle musing>
Today we begin excerpting from a new—really an old!—book. I had John Oswalt as a professor in seminary, way back when. He would start classes with prayer, but it wasn't just a rote, do-it-because-we-have-to kind of prayer. He would pause before praying, and you could feel the presence of God fill the room. Then he would pray. I can sense that same spirit of waiting on God in this book.

I think this is one of the best expositions on Christian holiness that I've read. I encourage you to think about what you read in the excerpts from this book over the course of the next few weeks. Prayerfully consider what he says—maybe even pick up a copy of the book (I got mine via inter-library loan) and read the whole thing...

In the overworked (at least on this blog) words of Augustine: Tolle! Lege!
</idle musing>

Believe it?

In this book, I may have presented a compelling case for you to think differently about your identity. But believing it is different than trusting it.

Believing it might lead you to quote this book, tell others about it, feel better about your life, or even go back to church.

But that doesn’t mean you trust.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 8

<idle musing>
An appropriate way to end the book, isn't it? And what about you? Do you really believe that God loves you unconditionally?

Don't confuse the indicative with the imperative! God said it. Repeatedly. Throughout the Old and New Testaments. He loves you—"while we were yet sinners" as the KJV puts it. No striving for acceptance. Christ did it.

Of course, that doesn't mean you sit back and take a vacation, talking about how you are a king or queen, or whatever other self-indulgent, self-centered lie you want to believe. But, it does mean you aren't striving for acceptance anymore. You are already accepted in the beloved. Live from it—not in order to obtain it.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 24, 2014

But it just doesn't make sense

God will complete that work in me.

There is something so scandalous, so flat-out impossible about that truth that it almost becomes comforting. This is not a truth about God that I would have made up if I’d been in charge of writing the Bible. I would have made the plan something like this:God does something amazing for me, so in return He requires me to do something amazing for Him.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 8

<idle musing>
It doesn't make sense, does it? It's scandalous! That's what Paul says, anyway, so I guess we're in good company...
</idle musing>

Usurping the usurpers

But even though Jesus did exactly what God had told him to do, neither Israel nor the Gentiles around Israel accepted him as Messiah. (This theme consistently reveals that we are all usurpers and incurable usurpers.) Though Jesus was a man known to do good everywhere he went, and though he healed and rescued people from all sorts of problems, and though he brought people to the table who were forgiven and saved and healed and made new again and turned from usurpers to lovers, the descendants—both Roman and Jewish—decided they’d be better off putting him to death. They feared he’d deconstruct their usurpations, so they killed him in the most despicable of manners by crucifying him naked on a cross outside Jerusalem on Golgotha. The usurpers were in control and the descendants had descended to their lowest.

What the usurpers and descendants didn’t know was that Jesus was actually entering into their usurpations and the death they deserved for their sins. He was dying their death, he was shouldering their sins and the punishment due their sins, and he was absorbing the just wrath of God against all sin. What they didn’t know was that God could reverse their usurpations and reverse their death and start all over again. What they didn’t know was that his way of dying as a servant was to become the only true way of living and making peace in this world. What they didn’t know was that the cross was the crown and that the power comes only when it is surrendered. They didn’t know this. No one did. Not even Jesus’ closest followers. What the usurpers didn’t know was that they had met their match in King Jesus, who was about to usher in an alternative kingdom.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 151

<idle musing>
Sometimes—maybe most of the time!—it's what you don't know that counts. Deep magic from before the foundation of the world, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis.

My question is, have we learned? We still define power by conquest. We still define success by popularity. We still trample on the "other." It's easy to get discouraged sometimes, but then I remember that God is at work—especially in me!

How easy it is for me to point the finger at others in areas where I don't have the same problems...but watch out if it's an area where I have a blind spot!

We all need Jesus...and we all need revival...especially me!
</idle musing>

A Cure for legalism

It is further manifest that you are deceiving yourselves, because all true religion consists in obedience. And, therefore, however much you may approve of Christianity, you have no religion unless you obey it. In saying that all religion consists in obedience, I do not mean outward obedience. But faith itself, true faith, works by love, and produces corresponding action. There is no real obedience but the obedience of the heart: love is the fulfilling of the law; and religion consists in the obedience of the heart, with a corresponding course of life.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
Indeed. If we are obeying from the heart, it isn't legalism. Legalism is an attempt to force conformity of external behavior in hopes of creating a corresponding internal change. It never works. Ever. No, not even then! Never.
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cheap grace

It [cheap grace] functions as a pass allowing the Christian to live in the same manner as before. Life under cheap grace, in fact, does not differ from life under sin; there is no following after Christ because cheap grace justifies the sin without transforming the sinner.—Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, 104


The gusts were up to 48 MPH last night—glad we took our walk earlier! It was a beautiful day, though. The snow was coming down in big flakes, 28°F, calm, just gorgeous!

Of course, the wind made some changes. The backyard now has drifts up to six feet again and the path to the compost bin is filled in...

Word order matters

As I was spinning away on the trainer the other day, I got to musing about word order in English. Specifically, this phrase in Hark! The herald angels sing (I know, a Christmas carol on one of the first days of spring! But it snowed about 6 inches yesterday, so why not!)
Pleased as man with men to dwell...
Obviously a poetic turn of phrase, but I suspect most people read (and sing) it as if it were saying
Pleased with men as man to dwell...
Catch the difference? Subtle, but significant, isn't it? In the first version, it doesn't matter what humanity has done, the initiative is all from God. In the second version, God is pleased with humanity, so he decides to dwell among us.

That little change in word order has a profound affect on how we see God. If we see God as coming because he is pleased with us, then we end up with a performance-based "gospel."

But if we see the initiative as from God to begin with, irrespective of what humanity does, we end up with a Gospel that is grace-based from beginning to end. All God, all the time!

By the way, there are two more verses that rarely, if ever, get sung. Personally, these have become my favorite verses after discovering them a few years ago on

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.


Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.


Isn't that great? It doesn't leave us at atonement only—it takes us to restoration. It doesn't leave us with a "sin management" gospel, but broadcasts the full deliverance from sin that is possible in Christ. That's something to sing about!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Too true...

We, along with the disciples, might see that Jesus is in our lives, but we don’t really know what that means. We see the fact without seeing the significance of the fact.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 8

There's more to the gospel...

[O]ur gospeling tends to reduce and aim at one and only one target: the sinner’s heart. Evangelism’s focus is on the individual person, and it is on getting that person to admit that he or she is a sinner and then to receive Jesus Christ as savior and solution to the sin problem. In the words of Dallas Willard, our gospel is about sin management. But the apostolic gospel can’t be reduced to a gospel of sin management because it was a gospel of Jesus-declaration (that included the defeat of sin and death).— The King Jesus Gospel, page 144

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching!
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What are we?

We are not “human doings,” but “human beings.”— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 7

<idle musing>
Short, to the point, and correct. We are before we do—and we are "holy in Christ" and "accepted in the beloved." That's good news!
</idle musing>

Would Nero take issue with me?

I agree with how Michael Bird puts this: “Nero did not throw Christians to the lions because they confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord of my heart.’ It was rather because they confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord of all,’ meaning that Jesus was Lord even over the realm Caesar claimed as his domain of absolute authority.”— The King Jesus Gospel, page 144

<idle musing>
I just ran across a nice little snippet from Finney that highlights the same thing:

You hear a man say sometimes, I am so much engaged all day in the world, or in worldly business, that I have not time to serve God. He thinks he serves God a little while in the morning, and then attends to his worldly business. That man, you may rely upon it, left his religion where he said his prayers. He is not serving God. It is a mere burlesque for him to pretend to serve God. He is willing, perhaps, to give God the time before breakfast, before he gets ready to go to his own business, but as soon as that is over, away he goes to his own work. He fears the Lord, perhaps, enough to go through with his prayers night and morning, but he serves his own gods.—That man's religion is the laughing-stock of hell! He prays very devoutly, and then, instead of engaging in his business for God, he is serving himself. No doubt the idols are well satisfied with the arrangement, but God is wholly displeased.
Again, we serve an all-consuming God who loves us and is jealous of and for us...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wisdom from James (the book, not me!)

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 2:1&endash;9; 3:13&endash;18; 4:1&endash;4 NIV)

<idle musing>
I had never put these three sections of James together in my mind before today. What if we take the person with the fancy clothes and put a title like PhD, DMin, MD, or such after the name? Would that change the way you viewed them?

And what if we put high school dropout, or redneck, or fundamentalist, or Tea Partier, or some other epithet after the poor person's name?

I submit it would. I also submit to you that James is calling it sin. I need to repent! What about you?

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7-10 NIV)
</idle musing>

Imago Dei

But we have a nasty habit of screwing it all up. We take something that is part of our imago Dei —the call to work—and make it a source of identity. Or an idol. Or an escape. Or an excuse. Or a source of self-worth. Or the engine of our consumerism.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 7

Maybe it was an interrobang

The messianic, lordly, and kingly confession of Jesus is not incidental to the Bible. It is the point of the Bible, and the gospel is the good news that Jesus is that Messiah, that Lord, and that King. We are his subjects. The question over and over in the Bible is: “Who is the rightful Lord of this cosmic temple?” The answer shifts in the pages of Israel’s Story until it comes to Jesus, and we get not a full stop but an exclamation point: Jesus is the Messiah and Lord!

Yes, the problem is our sin; yes, we need to be forgiven of sinfulness and our sins. But that sin and that forgiveness are connected to our lordly assignments and to our priestly responsibilities and to our flailing and failing attempts to usurp God’s tasks to make them ours. The only one worthy to sit on that throne is King Jesus.— The King Jesus Gospel, pages 141-142

<idle musing>
It definitely is an exclamation point, but I also think an interrobang accurately expresses the surprise that most felt at what God has done. My own response when I encountered the unconditional love, forgiveness, and new life in Christ was definitely an interrobang—"He loves me?" and, "He loves me!" in a cosmic mash-up whose repercussions are still being felt in my life 42 years later. Praise to Him!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eschatological bicycling

First a bit of background...since moving to Grand Marais, I don't need to ride my bike to work anymore—I work out of my house. So, I put the road bike on a trainer (a magnetic one that I've had for over 12 years) and ride it 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes.

Last week, while riding, I got to thinking about riding styles. I generally spend most of my time "on the hoods." That's a fancy way of saying that my hands rest on the top of the brake levers. The brake levers on newer bikes are covered with a softer rubber piece that is called a hood. I also try to spend about 30% of the time "in the drops," a fancy way of saying on the lower section of the handlebars. The drops are a good place to ride if you are fighting a headwind, but it also takes a bit of getting used to, so I practice in the winter. It really does take a bit of getting used to...generally after about 1-2 minutes, I want to change positions, but I stay there anyway.

But, getting back to riding on the hoods. I was musing on what an philologist 2,000 to 3,000 years from now would think if they ran across that phrase. What definition for "hood" would they use? There's the hood of a car, but there is also the slang term 'hood for neighborhood. What if that was the only context they had for the word?

Imagine reading about someone riding their bike "on the hoods." I've been editing a book about Persian power and it's deconstruction in the Psalms, so that turn of mind entered into my thoughts. Someone can't literally ride "on the hoods" if the hoods are neighborhoods, so obviously something else is going on. Could it be they meant "in the hoods"? or maybe "through the hoods"? I can see a whole new school of thought growing out of this debate. : )

But what if we take "on the hoods" as a symbolic phrase? It must mean that they see themselves as somehow superior to, or conquering the neighborhoods—rising above their circumstances. Maybe they are making a theological statement of what will happen in the future! Maybe...well, you get the idea.

Maybe it helps if you have read The Motel of the Mysteries! Maybe you just had to be there. Maybe I'm just nuts!

Garden? Yes, garden

Sunday morning it was -24°F here. They're predicting 6-12 inches of snow today (update: it looks like most of the snow will go south of us; we're down to 1-2 inches). The garden is under between 3 and 5 feet of snow right now (Hey, it's down from 4–6 last week!).

So what do you do? Simple! You plant seeds! So, over the weekend, I started some seeds—5 flats worth. Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, onions, watermelon, squash all nicely sitting around and getting ready to germinate.

Right now, they're in the study and office where it is warmer. Once they germinate, I'll move them downstairs under lights to grow until transplanting them into bigger pots and, eventually!, moving them outside to their permanent home.

This year I'm planning on using the greenhouse that Dave had built to grow some tomatoes. Last year I didn't get it repaired in time. I'll be using self-watering containers made out of 5 gallon food service buckets. You need to use food grade plastic buckets or all kinds of stuff will leach into your soil. Why grow your own if it's loaded with as many chemicals as the commercial stuff?

Meanwhile, in the basement, I've been experimenting with various stuff all winter. I've tried spinach, Romaine lettuce, mizuna, and radishes. Our basement has been running about 50-60°F this winter, what with the cold outside. The first planting in December didn't do too well except for the mizuna. In fact, the second planting in late December passed them by! Before we left for Wisconsin in mid-February, we had consumed all the radishes and spinach (only one cutting is worth keeping when you grow them in rain gutter). The lettuce was about half gone and we harvested the rest to take with us. Well, not quite all of it; I left about a quarter of it to die—or so I thought...

When we got back, 2.5 weeks later, I found out that the Romaine I didn't cut had survived without light or water! I turned the lights back on, watered them well, and they are growing! Amazing.

We haven't gotten enough produce from the rain gutter garden to keep us from buying produce, but it has been a treat to get fresh stuff to supplement. You can't beat the taste of a fresh radish in the middle of January—and I mean fresh as in pulled 2 minutes ago :)

But what of my hoop house? It didn't survive. In fact, it came down the first week in November. I didn't reinforce it enough, thinking that being in the backyard, surrounded by wood fence would control the wind. NOT! The wind took out a good percentage of it, so I finished taking it down. Just as well, Debbie was getting tired of looking out the kitchen window and only seeing the top of a hoop house! We harvested a good bit of lettuce and other greens before its demise, though. In fact, we took about a week's worth of greens with us to Wisconsin back in November.

Next year I will try low tunnels—3 foot high hoops with row cover and plastic. I've got to figure out a way to keep the snow from drifting over them though. Right now there is between 3 and 5 feet of snow where they would be. Of course, this winter has been unusual, but with the wacky climate change, who knows...this may be the new norm.

Where it all began

He checked you out when you were still a blob of doubling-every-few-hours cells, and He loved you. And later, before you could even form a coherent thought—before you’d done anything more praiseworthy than spit up and sleep—God still loved you. Just as He loves you today.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
It certainly isn't performance based, is it? : )
</idle musing>

Image and likeness

Not only is Jesus Messiah, but Jesus over and over in the New Testament is the one true Eikon of God. What the apostles were telling us is that assignment God gave to Adam, the assignment transferred to Abraham, Israel, and Moses, and then to David has now been transferred to and perfectly fulfilled by Jesus.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 139

Monday, March 17, 2014

But it feels good

Here is the source of a grand delusion among men in regard to religion. They see it to be true, and they really rejoice in contemplating it: they do not enter into its relations to themselves, and so they love to hear such preaching, and say they are fed by it. But MARK:—They go away and do not practice! See that man. He is sick, and his feelings are tender. In view of Christ as a kind and tender Savior, his heart melts, and he feels strong emotions of approbation towards Jesus Christ. Why? For the very same reasons that he would feel strong emotions towards the hero of a romance. But he does not obey Christ. He never practices one thing out of obedience to Christ, but just views Him abstractedly, and is delighted with His glorious and lovely character, while he himself remains in the gall of bitterness. Thus it is apparent that your faith must be an efficient faith, such as regulates your practice and produces good works, or it is not the faith of the gospel, it is no real faith at all.—Charles Finney

Remember Eustace?

What Eustace gets right is that he needs to be transformed. The truest thing about him is that he is a boy trapped inside a dragon, and so his scales must be removed. What Eustace gets wrong, however, is the method. He sinks his own claws into his own scales, hoping to remove them and reveal the boy beneath. It’s self-surgery, and it fails.

Just as it does when we try it.

Transformation doesn’t begin with cleaning up and getting our acts together. It begins with meeting Jesus. When we do that, we are identified with Jesus and given new identities—identities based on His righteousness and standing with God.

And that is how we become who we are. Not by our own effort or achievement, but by virtue of our being hidden in Christ. When Christ is our life, then we—just like Christ—are God’s beloved.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Good preaching! Self improvement can never remake us—and that's what we need—only God in Christ through the Holy Spirit can do that. We need to become who we are as we release ourselves to him.
</idle musing>

Usurpers all

The so-called fall of Genesis 3 is not just an act of sinning against God’s command, a moral lapse, but a betrayal of our fundamental kingly and priestly roles. Instead of mediating God to the serpent, instead of taking our assignment of ruling God’s good garden on God’s behalf, Adam and Eve tried to elevate themselves to God’s role. The issue is not just that we were sinners; we were usurpers in the garden.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 138

<idle musing>
I like that idea. Usurpers. We decided to become God—and it has haunted us ever since...
</ idle musing>

Thought for today

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:5, 6, 15, 16 NIV)

<idle musing>
Our narcissistic, materialistic world could use a dose of this...
</idle musing>

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why bother?

Aspect by itself is of little interpretive help: the author’s subjective choice of action as a whole or in process or stative gives us very little to work with unless we process it in light of broader contextual features. Even brief suggestions about levels of prominence associated with the aspects provide little help for translators and exegetes needing to probe the meaning further.

So paying attention to how aspect interacts with features of a verb’s lexical meaning or with various adjuncts used with the verb (subject and object phrases, adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc.) is essential to finding the larger significance of aspect in a specific context. It is only natural that in seeking to understand one element of a text’s meaning we would pay attention to related features and see them in their larger connections with each other. This has always been an important part of good contextual exegesis.—Buist Fanning, "Greek Presents, Imperfects, and Aorists in the Synoptic Gospels: Their Contribution to Narrative Structuring" in Discourse Studies & Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in Honor of Stephen H. Levinsohn; ed. Steven E. Runge; Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2011.


“We are loved because...” That sentence is the biggest single failing of our perception of identity. The reason that’s wrong is because we try to earn love. We try to base our identity on what we do, what we have, what we desire. We try to deserve love from others and God. But we never can.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
He put his finger on the main problem we have—performance-based acceptance. God isn't like that—he loves us. He took the initiative; he is the one who pulls us out of the pit—even when we didn't even realize we were in the pit! How awesome is that?!
</idle musing>

Exalted King

There is a huge difference between the gospeling of Acts and our Plan of Salvation approach today, and alongside that difference, the gospel of Acts has almost no similarity to our Method of Persuasion. The difference can be narrowed to this single point: the gospeling of Acts, because it declares the saving significance of Jesus, Messiah and Lord, summons listeners to confess Jesus as Messiah and Lord, while our gospeling seeks to persuade sinners to admit their sin and find Jesus as the Savior.

We are not creating a false alternative here. The latter can be done within the former, but much of the soterian approach to evangelism today fastens on Jesus as (personal) Savior and dodges Jesus as Messiah and Lord. If there is any pervasive heresy today, it’s right here. Anyone who can preach the gospel and not make Jesus’ exalted lordship the focal point simply isn’t preaching the apostolic gospel.— The King Jesus Gospel, pages 133-134

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! A.W. Tozer used to bemoan the "Jesus as savior" approach to salvation. For him, either Jesus was preached as Lord or he couldn't be preached at all—no lordship, no salvation. It's that simple. I agree.

We need the full gospel—from Genesis 3, where God takes the initiative and seeks mankind as they try to hide, all the way through the descent of the bride clothed in white at the end of Revelation. God taking the initiative, humanity responding. Always God, always love, always reaching out to us...
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hit the flashing animal

Remember those early Internet adds with the flashing animal running across the banner? You were supposed to hit it and then you won some kind of prize. I never did it, so I don't know what you would win, but for the last week or so, I had a sense of déjà vu on my Macbook Pro Finder window.

When I'm copy editing, I usually have a few windows open on my desktops (I run 4 desktops). For example, on the first desktop, I'll have Chrome open with a tab for Google, a tab for WorldCat, and a miscellaneous tab or two (usually Google Books, or some such); on the second desktop, I'll have Word open with the chapter I'm working on, the abbreviations file, and the bibliography chapter; I usually also have a Finder window open in case I need to access another file. On the third desktop, I keep my style sheet, any notes from the publisher on that book, iTunes, and Accordance with the Hebrew, Greek, and whatever English text the author is using. On the fourth desktop is my e-mail and RSS feeder. So much for background...

A few weeks back, I installed Google Drive and then we left for Wisconsin—and no Internet for a week. Everything was working fine—until the day we got Internet back. That day, for the first time ever, I got a blue screen on the Macbook! I rebooted and everything seemed fine. I save continually, so I didn't loose any work. For some reason, I didn't have the Finder window open on desktop 2 and the Word windows took up the whole screen, so I couldn't see the desktop.

Over the next few days, I noticed that the laptop didn't always wake up after going to sleep and I started to wonder if I didn't have a hardware issue. I did a bit of googling (on the iPad—praise God for a second computer!) and found this on how to reset the System Management Controller (SMC). Apple says that it controls

Responding to presses of the power button
Responding to the display lid opening and closing on portable Macs
Battery management
among other things. So I did the reset. Everything worked fine—until we got home. I plugged in the Time Machine backup (I didn't take it with me, depending on Dropbox for backup of the book I'm editing). Next morning, the computer wouldn't wake up. I did a hard reset and powered back up. I got the Apple logo with the spinning whatever, then gray screen. Yikes. I tried again. Same thing. Now I'm getting worried. I tried resetting the SMC again. Nothing. I tried booting into Safe Mode (hold down the right shift key while powering up) and got in. Whew!

I started editing, and noticed that the Finder window on my second desktop would keep showing itself over the bibliography window and then disappear. Hmmm...had I been hacked? I turned off wireless just in case. Still doing it...strange. I kept editing until lunch. I made lunch and came back to a nonresponsive computer : (

This time it didn't come back with any of the above techniques. Now I'm worried. I have a book that is due by Friday and I'm 2.5 hours from the nearest Apple store. I really think it is the logic board, based on my Google results. But I ran across a post that suggested I reset the NVRAM. How in the world do I do that? Oh, here it is. Apparently resetting the NVRAM will clear any kernel panics and reset a few other things. One thing that I had noticed was that I wasn't getting the normal Mac startup chime, but I chalked that up to the possibility of a bad logic board.

I reset the NVRAM, praying the whole time! Everything came back—including the startup chime! But what could have caused the kernel panic? Maybe my Time Machine backup drive is bad? I disconnected it and turned it off. I went back to editing...and noticed that the Finder window was doing its funky thing again. I moved to desktop 4 to check e-mail and noticed that all the folders on the desktop were flashing. Weird! Could this all be related?

Quick Google check on flashing Finder and Desktop icons. Hmmm...turns out Google Drive and Mavericks don't play well together! So far nobody else has mentioned that it also affects coming out of sleep mode, but I figured its worth a try. I quit Google Drive (I use Dropbox anyway) and uninstalled it. Flashing is gone!

Great! But what about sleep mode? I didn't plug my Time Machine back in, just in case it might be the culprit. I let the machine go to sleep multiple times and it came back every time.

OK, let's try plugging Time Machine back in...just in case, I closed all my windows : )

I made supper and came back. It started right back up. Great! Now, let's try it with a few windows open. It came back!

OK, now let's open all the normal windows back up and see what happens...No problems. Great, I'm going to bed!

This morning, the computer woke up with no problem! So, it wasn't a hardware issue after all. Now to finish that book before tomorrow!

Update 3/18/14: It isn't Google Drive. It just happened to me again. Not sure what it is...but I'm experimenting.

Be yourself

We simply cannot become who we should be. It’s impossible. The only thing we can become is who we are.

It’s the high and beautiful gospel indicatives that sustain the gospel imperatives. In Christ, we can become who we are.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
In other words, be yourself. But, we need to qualify that with be your real self—the one you are in Christ. Don't be the moody, cantankerous, selfish, difficult person you used to be; be the new person you are in Christ.
</idle musing>

More than a transaction

Peter’s gospeling also puts the life of a live body on the bones of 1 Corinthians 15, and that means his gospel involved telling the full Story of Jesus Christ, including his life, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, his second coming, and the wrapping up of history so that God would be all in all. The reason we have to say this is because too often we have…
reduced the life of Jesus to Good Friday, and therefore
reduced the gospel to the crucifixion, and then soterians have
reduced Jesus to transaction of a Savior
The King Jesus Gospel, page 119

<idle musing>
I would add:
reduced the Christian life to a struggle to survive until death.
and then we wonder why there is not transformation...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The order of things matters

The truths of the gospel support and sustain the commands of the gospel. If we do not first understand the truth about who we are—the truest thing about us—we will be crushed by the weight of the commands.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
I know people like that, don't you? Sometimes I'm that person...I get focused on the do and forget about the be.
</idle musing>

How it's framed

The apostles were not like our modern soterians because they did not empty the gospel of its Story, nor did they reduce the gospel to the Plan of Salvation. In fact, the apostles were the original, robust evangelicals. It all has to do with how the gospel is framed. Peter and Paul framed their gospeling through the grid of Israel’s story coming to its destination in the Story of Jesus. Neither did they frame their gospel from the perspective of an atonement theory—whether the ransom theory or the penal substitution theory. Salvation and atonement flow out of the gospel, and Paul can call his gospel the “message of salvation” ([Acts] 13:26), but neither atonement nor salvation was how the apostles framed the gospel.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 117

<idle musing>
It's interesting that what most people consider the "center of the gospel"—atonement theory—doesn't even get mentioned in the early church. They were too busy concentrating on who Jesus is and was. It's telling that the most common manuscripts of the New Testament from the early period are the gospels. We tend to think of Paul first, then Jesus. Who got it right??
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Christ is your life

However, Paul proclaimed something much different from that in Colossians 3. He stated that Christ is your life. He is. Fact. Done deal.

He did not say that Christ is your life if you accomplish this, give away that, and forgive those. No. None of that. Paul stated, qualification free, that Christ is your life.

This kind of statement in Scripture is called an indicative—something that has already been indicated or declared about you as a fact, a truth.

Indicatives aren’t the only kind of statement in Scripture, however. There are also imperatives. An imperative is something we are supposed to do, phrased as a command or a direction. It might sound dry to talk about types of speech, but it is hugely important for this reason: when we confuse indicatives with imperatives, we sabotage our ability to live in our new identities.

Colossians 3 is full of indicatives. You have been raised with Christ. You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ. Christ is your life. All of these things are declared about you as facts that are already true.

The minute we hear these as instructions for us to accomplish—as imperatives—we hear a lie. Some of us have the feeling that all we hear in church or around Christians are imperatives. Commands that threaten our freedom. And some of us church types actually love imperatives, but for selfish reasons. See, if we keep all the commands and rules, we can chart our progress toward holiness and present ourselves as righteous people.

But both of those approaches are wrong!

Here’s why. Every imperative in Scripture is based on an indicative. In other words, we’re never asked to do something until we’re told something true about who we are.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
Grammar matters! He's totally correct here. So often we confuse a statement for a command and consequently short-circuit God's plans for us.
</idle musing>

The twelve

So, when Jesus chooses twelve (Mark 6:7–13) and when he promises the twelve will sit on the twelve thrones (Matt. 19:28), Jesus evokes both Israel’s prophetic expectation and the fullness of God’s covenant people. But what might be missed is this, and I think missing this is a colossal failure: Jesus does not include himself in the twelve. He’s not one of them. He’s above them. He is the Lord or King (or Messiah!) over the twelve, not just one of the twelve.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 107

<idle musing>
I had never noticed that before...
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy. Prov. 31:8-9 TNIV

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ain't it the truth

Great paragraph in a good review of a book:
As I approached the end of the volume [Saebø's Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of its Interpretation, Volume III/1: The Nineteenth Century — a Century of Modernism and Historicism], Katharine Dell helpfully articulated what was beginning to take shape in my own head: “sometimes when we think we have a new idea we need to heed Qoheleth’s warning that ‘of making many books there is no end’ (12:12) and that there may be little that is ‘new under the sun’ (1:9) after all.” As an author who has also worked in publishing, I understand the immense effort and expense that goes into making books at all points of the process. We ought to have a significant and useful contribution to show for our investment when ideas see print, yet so many books cover the same territory using the same well-trodden paths. Knowing the story can spare us running in circles and spending our energy in vain.
<idle musing>
Far too many books I've read fall into the latter category...but then you hit a gem that makes it all worthwhile!
</idle musing>

Living a lie

You belong to Christ. You are hidden with Christ. You are God’s beloved. That is the truest thing about you, and therefore you must become that preexisting truth if you are to avoid becoming a lie. These things are true about you—now become what is already true.

Drive this truth, this identity, so deep into your psyche, your personhood, your sense of self-worth, that this truth becomes your fountainhead, the source of your life.

Become who you are.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching! We only need to become what we already are! I know it sounds almost too good to believe, but it is true. We are the righteousness of Christ; we are loved; we are accepted in the beloved. Believe it!

We become what we believe we are. We become what we focus on. If we focus on ourselves and our failings, we fail more. We begin to believe the lies that we can't do anything different—that we have to fail. But, if we realize that in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are more than that, we can become what we already are! Believe it!
</idle musing>

The Gospel according to Mark

Mark’s focus on the death and burial and resurrection is very gospel-like according to Paul’s and the apostles’ definition. A Greek reader feels this focus on the last week more than an English reader. The Greek reader encounters in Mark’s gospel the Greek word euthys, usually translated “immediately,” thirty-four times in the first nine chapters...It is obvious to a careful reader of the second evangelist that Mark couldn’t wait to get Jesus to the cross! Once Mark gets Jesus to the passion, the word euthys all but disappears.— The King Jesus Gospel, pages 83-84

<idle musing>
Indeed. You are almost breathless getting there, but once to the passion week, Mark slows down to include all the details. Another advantage to knowing Greek : )
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

"You know, people say that today. "Oh, I am just a saved sinner."

That is like saying you are a married bachelor. That is like saying you are an honest thief, or a pure harlot.

You can´t be a saved sinner. You are either saved or you are a sinner.

He came.

"Thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall save his people from their sins."—Leonard Ravenhill

Friday, March 07, 2014

Backwards, as usual...

As soon as we remove doing from the equation of life’s identity, we freak out. That message runs counter to everything we hear and everything we’ve been taught. As soon as we understand that it’s not what we do that primarily matters in our relationship with God, but who we already are in Christ, we can hardly believe it.

When something sounds too good to be true, many of us tune it out. We assume it must be false. Life doesn’t work like that, does it? It can’t be that easy, can it?

God is relentless, however, and He continues to call out to us. He continues to speak over our lives, just as He did for His Son, Jesus, at the Jordan River, telling us in no uncertain terms that we are His beloved children who bring Him pleasure simply by existing.

Before God tells us what to do, in other words, God tells us who we are.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 6

<idle musing>
As usual, we get it all backwards. Who we are has to precede what we do. If we try to do it the other way around, we will be like the hamster on the wheel—round and round we go, but we don't get anywhere.
</idle musing>

The Gospels

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of a basic fact. The early Christians weren’t describing the first four books as a kind of literature, as if “gospel” was a genre of literature and already had a number in the Dewey Decimal System of ancient libraries. No, we need to say this loud and clear: they didn’t call the first four books of the New Testament the “Gospels.” Instead, they called each one of them the “Gospel.” They were saying there was one Gospel, but it was written down in four version, the (one) Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 81

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Looking all around

We look around to find our identity. We want people to mirror back who we are, but this ends in distress. Or we try to look within to find an identity. We follow our desires, our hearts, our wants, and our attractions to know who we are, but we end up depressed.

When we look to God for our identity, however, we can find rest.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 4

<idle musing>
Probably why we are encouraged to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2)...
</idle musing>

Too true

“Gospels of Sin Management” presume a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming humankind...[and] they foster “vampire Christians,” who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.—Dallas Willard, as quoted in The King Jesus Gospel, page 76 (ellipsis and brackets are in the quotation)

<idle musing>
I've known people like that...Wesley used to say to pity them, they had too much of God to enjoy sin, but not enough of God to enjoy God!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A true definition

Define yourself radically as beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.—Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child as quoted in The Truest Thing about You

Things change

The Reformation did not deny the gospel story and it did not deny the creeds. Instead, it put everything into a new order and into a new place. Time and developments have somehow eroded the much more balanced combination of gospel culture and salvation culture in the Reformation to where today a salvation culture has eclipsed the gospel culture.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 72

<idle musing>
Things change—and not always for the better! We need to get back to a gospel-oriented foundation!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

King of kings and Lord of lords

Cutting the plan from the story leads to a salvation culture that is entirely shaped by “who is saved and who is not saved.” That culture is important, and I believe in salvation in Christ. But, that culture is designed by God to be a subculture and not the dominant culture. The dominant culture is the gospel culture. And a gospel culture is one shaped by the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus Christ, a story that moves from creation to consummation, a story that tells the whole Story of Jesus and not just a Good Friday story, and story that tells not just of personal salvation but of God being “all in All.” It tells the story that Jesus, not any human ruler, is the Lord over all. Mash; The King Jesus Gospel, page 62

<idle musing>
I like the fact that Scot doesn't throw out the necessity of salvation as a part of the kingdom story. He is simply trying to realign our priorities into a biblical order. Salvation is an important part of what God is doing, but it is only part of what he is doing, not the sum total of it.
</idle musing>

The imago dei

What does this all mean? It means you have worth because you are made in the image of God. You matter to God. No matter your past, no matter your proclivities, your habits, your flaws, your temptations, your orientation. You have worth! You are not what you do. Your self-worth does not depend on what you have. You are not a prisoner of what you desire. No—what the Scriptures make clear is this: humans, created by God, are a finite, visible picture of the infinite, invisible God.

So this is the Genesis key: we don’t find our identity.

That runs counter to the stream of our culture, but it is an undeniable biblical truth. We don’t find our identity.

Rather, we receive our identity. We are given it by God. Everything true about our identity is true because it was created and gifted to us by God.

That is why our self-worth derives from the act of our creation. We are rooted in the imago Dei. You are. I am. The weird smelly guy who sleeps in the armchair at your favorite Starbucks is. Every single person who has ever lived reflects and represents the everlasting God who created the universe and everything in it. That’s the imago Dei.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 3

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching! Reminds me of Weight of Glory, a collection of essays by C.S. Lewis:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization&mdsash;these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
Pretty heavy stuff, isn't it?
</idle musing>

Monday, March 03, 2014


Every human endeavor to protect the vulnerable, disenfranchised, and oppressed—including the American civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, the movement to end abortion, and efforts toward clean water—has its roots in a belief that a human person is fundamentally valuable and consequently has certain rights that are wrong to deny. Similarly, every human movement toward repression and totalitarianism—from communism to Sharia law to fascism—grows in the soil of ignorance or intentional dehumanization that suggests certain humans matter more and are more valuable than other humans.

God works differently.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 3

<idle musing>
I don't know if his claim is true or not, but it does make sense. I know that when I dehumanize someone by labeling them, it is easier to snub them or be disrespectful of them...
</idle musing>

Limited (to) atonement

[T]he gospel for the apostle Paul is the salvation-unleashing Story of Jesus, Messiah-Lord-Son, that brings to completion the Story of Israel as found in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. To “gospel” is to declare this story, and it is a story that saves people from their sins. That story is the only framing story if we want to be apostolic in how we present the gospel. We can frame the “gospel” with other stories or categories, but there is one holy and apostolic framing story for the gospel.

This story begins at creation and finally only completes itself in the consummation when God is all in all. This is Paul’s gospel, and while it includes and encompasses the Plan of Salvation and leaves open how one might construct a Method of Persuasion, the gospel of Paul cannot be limited to or equated with the Plan of Salvation.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 61

<idle musing>
A truncated gospel, the "atonement only" or "soterian" gospel just doesn't do justice to the love of God—and it doesn't transform people. We need a fully-formed gospel—the apostolic gospel, as Scot calls it—in order to see people transformed. Anything less is a mockery of what Christ did.
</idle musing>