Monday, April 30, 2007

barefoot run, 2nd time 2007

i forgot that the biggest pain in BRing is the calf not the blisters. so last week, i needed almost all week for my calves to recover. because of the forefoot strike, the calf receives a much greater workout than shod running. i just got back from a shorter run. i wanted to work on my method and minimize my recovery time. i was only out for 20 minutes. i also incorporated more grass time in the run. grass does not give the feedback you need for correct technique but it allows the other muscles to remember too. no blisters today. calves are feeling tight though.

demonic deliverance

an amazing story of God's victory at Guy Muse's blog... Guy writes
Normally I wouldn't share a family email like this on my blog, but this email deals with an issue encountered in evangelism and church planting that few are willing to openly talk about. While the Gospels are full of Jesus dealing with demonic confrontations, we today, would rather ignore the whole issue and hide our heads in the sand. If the following weren't from my own brother, I admit I would probably be a bit skeptical reading something like this. But it is from someone I know well. I invite you to read what follows and decide for yourself...

it's a power story

Sunday, April 29, 2007

book report: Sea of Thunder by Evan Thomas

i volunteered to return my kids' books to the library, without their company which meant i had time to browse through the "new arrivals" section. i just wanted to see if their was anything interesting out. as always there was. i haven't read much lately as my Bible reading plan. entire Bible every 3 months, leaves little time for other books. so why am i writing a book report. i found time. i didn't pick up the 600 page book on the crusades. i made a 360 page choice. Sea of Thunder by Evan Thomas appealed to me as the Pacific Theater in WW2 is not something i'm well read in. The sub-title that increased my interest is Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945. The best represented commander is the American "Bull" Halsey, followed by Matome Ugaki, then Takeo Kurita, then Ernest Evans (no relation to author). In fact Ernest Evans is so inadequately presented that i didn't make the connection with his reappearance at the end of the book as he sacrificed his ship to protect his fleet from Kurita and Ugaki. "Bull" Halsey is well represented because he came home a hero from his command at Guadalcanal and received great press despite his failure at the battle of Leyte Gulf. There are abundant sources on Halsey. He died near my home, a few miles offshore, at his summer home on Fishers Island, NY. Admiral Ugaki left an extensive diary during his command. He actually trained Kamikaze pilots after the Japanese navy was destroyed. After Emporer Hirohito surrendered, Ugaki participated in the last kamikaze attack. Hence, he was unable to edit, redact or censor his diary. Kurita, the humanitarian, survived the war by obeying a telegram in mid-battle that perhaps never existed in order to save his fleet from further destruction in the gulf. Evans, a Cherokee Indian and a graduate from the US Naval Academy, attacked Kurita's fleet in a thin skinned light destroyer. Kurita's battleship was the largest ever made. It alone weighed more than all of the fleet challenging it. Yet Evans had torpedos to launch but had to evade the massive shells from the battleship. Evans' ship was so thin that Japanese shells would puncture it through both sides, not having enough steel to trigger an explosion. on the other hand, Evans' shells would only bounce off Kurita's ship, but could do some damage top-side. Evans inspired the other USN commanders to attack and get so close that the Japanese could not even lower their guns enough to shoot at them. Eventually, the US defenders were at the Japanese's mercy until Kurita suddenly called off his fleet. For some reason, US sailors who were left in the water were not recovered for 3 days left to dessicate, sunburn, go mad, and feed sharks. Finally they were rescued and commended for their success despite overwhelming odds.
Unfortunately, Bull Halsey couldn't stand by waiting for threats and chased a Japanese diversionary force, and completely missed the battle.
Communication break-downs had tremendous influence on these battles as well as ego and courage and weather.
The book is a good read and reminds this believer of the verse in Proverbs. "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD." 21:31 (NIV)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lifestyle reviews: series for May

i write book reports, occasional cinema reviews, a bicycle review, and even a television show review. it occurred to me that i could write reviews of the various lifestyles i've chosen. i'm thinking i'll write about stuff such as father, husband, bicycle commuter, scientist, church elder, etc. most of those, as you might expect, will be pretty positive, but i have made choices i didn't like. i don't know if they'll get separate reviews or folded into the positive ones as points of contrast.

how will this fit into the theme of the Umblog, which is "My thoughts on the Church and the world and their interaction?" i'm part of the church, i'm part of the world, and they influence my choices.

i needed to blog this intro because i think it's a good idea for a series but by Monday i'll forget it.

life in China for those who want a 2nd child

from World Magazine

Soon after the mass abortions were completed, staff cleaned and straightened the hospital. If you go there now, Liang said, you will see healthy newborns.

Officials are trying to cover up for the gruesome accounts of meeting population quotas in other ways. In the week following Wei's abortion, they paid several friendly home visits to the couple and brought gifts. They have also tapped Liang's phone as Western media attention over the abortions spreads, and have asked Liang questions about conversations with strangers.

Abuses in the name of population control are becoming harder for the Chinese government to hide. Last year, authorities imprisoned a blind activist-lawyer named Chen Guancheng, who exposed forced sterilizations and abortions occurring in Linyi County, Shangdong province. His sham trial drew worldwide condemnation. Though generally immune to local criticism, Chinese officials watch international opinion more closely and already seem worried that Wei's case might be a similar public-relations disaster.

Several times during WORLD's phone call with Liang, the line inexplicably died. Even as the interview continued with the interruptions, officials were responding. As Wei was about to take the phone from her husband, two officers knocked on the couple's door—another "visit"—likely a calculated interruption. Chinese leaders may watch the couple closely, but now the world is watching China, too.

PCA assessment of federal vision, NPP, etc.

a couple quotes from this PCA report that looks unfavorably on the Federal Vision concept and NPP and NT Wright....

While the NPP, as represented by N. T. Wright, offers a thorough-going re-reading of the theology of the Apostle Paul, there are several areas of concern for officers who subscribe to the Westminster Standards. Wright’s re-reading of justification and union with Christ in “covenantal” (or ecclesiological) terms leads to different and incompatible understandings of those terms when compared with our Standards. What makes this terribly confusing is that Wright will affirm an individual aspect of justification; and yet, he quickly turns the focus back to the corporate: justification is “about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people.” Likewise, while there may be an individual aspect of union with Christ, Wright focuses attention on a corporate or ecclesiological reading of the teaching: it means “‘belonging to the people of God as redefined around the Messiah.’ It is, in other words, a specifically covenantal way of speaking.” This orientation around corporate categories places theological reflection on a different trajectory than that of the Standards.

Moreover, there is some question raised by Wright’s understanding of what Jesus came to do, especially his obedience in relation to the status of his people. In his view, Jesus does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience is imputed to his people by faith. Rather, Jesus is the representative Israelite, who experiences in his own person all that corporate Israel expected God to do for them. Jesus is vindicated by God in the resurrection, and hence, is righteous. And yet, this “righteousness” is not transferred to anyone else. In fact, Wright denies any understanding of “transfer” language in the NT, which also means a denial of imputed righteousness. This is a position that contradicts our Standards and strikes at the system of doctrine contained in them.

Likewise, the stance of Federal Vision proponents raises concerns for officers who subscribe to the Westminster Standards. While the Committee would agree that the Standards use “union with Christ” as an umbrella category for “Christ’s mediation,” the way Federal Vision proponents collapse the distinct benefits of this mediation (i.e. justification, adoption, sanctification) into “union with Christ” creates significant confusion. Similarly, Federal Vision’s appeal to “the biblical usage” of justification as a way to collapse forensic and transformative categories also confuses doctrines that our Standards rightly distinguish (i.e., justification and sanctification).

Nevertheless, the truly problematic claims of the Federal Vision proponents come when some suggest that “Christ’s active obedience” is not transferred to his people or that imputation is “redundant” because it is subsumed in “union with Christ.” Such claims contradict the position of the Westminster Standards and strike at the vitals of the system of doctrine contained there. Further, to strike language of “merit” from our theological vocabulary so that the claim is made that Christ’s merits are not imputed to his people contradicts the position of the Westminster Standards (WCF 17:2; LC 55; 174).

Committee Members:

TE Paul Fowler, Chairman

TE Grover Gunn, Secretary

TE Ligon Duncan

TE Sean Lucas

RE Robert Mattes

RE William Mueller

RE John White.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

LDS boys are back!

a new set of LDS elders have decided to visit us and share another Testament of Jesus Christ with me. too bad i didn't have any yard projects to do. the last pair helped me a bit. i figure these guys get tired of doors slamming on them, and they admit they do tire of that, so i always invite them in.
tonight neither admitted a burning in their bosom, instead they have peace and confidence. i guess this is the allowable party line. i guess the burning bosoms are no longer the exclusive witness of the veracity of the BOM. so i asked them what is the message of the BoM?
repent and believe on Jesus.
that's good, but that's what the Bible already says, why would God give us another book?
they had another appointment. they always do to me when the conversation turns a little conflicted.
so i have a follow-up appointment with these guys Monday night. please pray for us. i no longer try to hit a home run with these guys, but trying to get a bunt or something past their defenses so that 1st base is occupied, that's my goal. perhaps some other believers have been getting past their defenses too and maybe the Holy Spirit is really tugging at their souls. please Lord, save them from their righteousness of works and polytheism.

the gory details of Turkish Muslim persecution of Christians

UPDATE: here. not at gory as originally reported still as offensive though

some of these details are horrifying. use discretion if you are squeamish. this is in the land that denies its own genocide against the Armenians...

A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

Details of the torture-- deleted due to update

Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.

He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.

Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)


Please please please pass this on to as many praying Christians as you can, in as many countries as you can. Please always keep the heading as “From the Protestant Church of Smyrna” with this contact information: //

Monday, April 23, 2007

first barefoot run on 2007

unlike last year, when it was 52 F out, i waited until we had an April heat wave for 2007. i'm 9 days later than last year. last year was also a running dud for me. i really hope i make the time this year. i had many lunch time meetings then and now, so i need to find another time to run, like this afternoon. i have three new blisters. it's like breaking in new shoes. i need to get my stride right, the forefoot strike and in a few weeks i'll be ready to get some miles in. just 2 and a half or three quarters today without fatigue. i think my recumbent biking has kept my running muscles in shape.

Gutenberg offers 'In your home' support

a video about the perils of technology and the opportunity for the help desk in all transitions.
pretty funny.
HT: Jesus Creed

book report: The Last Days by Joel Rosenberg

The Last Days by Joel Rosenberg is a sequel to The Last Jihad, see my book report. Overall, i rate it a good thriller. He did bog down pretty bad towards the end. Basically he tried to write out an Israeli/Palestinian peace accord. that's a nice idea, but not something this reader wanted to interrupt in a thriller. i really appreciated the complexity of the White House trying to coordinate press releases with dead lines and orchestrating leaks to the press. the smoky back room stuff was very eye opening to me. the story had plenty of twists and turns and rabbit trails to keep the pages turning.

Friday, April 20, 2007

fun with contonyms

Contonyms are special cases of homographs (two words with the same spelling). Some examples:
  • anabasis - military advance, military retreat
  • apology - admission of fault in what you think, say, or do; formal defense of what you think, say, or do
  • aught - all, nothing
  • bolt - secure, run away

plenty more. (HT: Challies)

human sacrifice in the OT: Jephthah and Saul

last quarter's reading of the Bible was in Reese's Chronological format. this quarter i'm reading the OT in the Jewish order. in that order Ruth comes near the end and one goes directly from Judges to 1 Samuel. in reading 12 to 15 chapters a day, two guys appeared back to back in my reading who's contrast helped me understand their actions.
Jephthah (Judges 11) was rejected by his brothers for his mother was a prostitute, yet this rejected one was called on to deliver his hometown. He tried diplomacy. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on him (v. 29) and he advanced on the Ammonite army. then he makes a crazy vow to God, who was with him already, that if he's victorious he'll sacrifice to God the first thing that comes out of his door to meet him in his triumph (v. 31). Perhaps this guy was so red neck he normally had cows and sheep coming in and out of his door. Perhaps he had alot of friendly pets. Perhaps he didn't really mean a burnt sacrifice. Or perhaps, he was a nutcase who really wanted to prove his fierce commitment. That last one has something in common with King Saul. Well, he wins. and his daughter is the first to greet him, which bums him out. she's bummed too. he gives her 2 months to grieve then he did to her as he vowed (v.39). apparently there is a tradition that honors the girl (v. 40). but the dad, the deliverer does not receive comments or kudos.
fast forward to Samuel and Saul.
the people are fed up with the corruption of Samuel's sons and ask for a king. Samuel is rippin' mad. he blasts them, reminding them how God always provides a deliverer for them mentioning Jephthah and himself in the same sentence (1 Samuel 12: 11).
So later on King Saul is taking advantage of enemy panic caused by his son Jonny. but then Saul makes a ridiculous pronouncement cursing anyone who eats before dusk while they slaughter (14:24). turns out, this wasn't a good policy, starving exhausted soldiers aren't as effective. Jonny wisely ate some honey he found in the woods. he never heard his father's stupid curse. Saul sought God for some strategy and God didn't answer, which led Saul to believe someone sinned. eventually the lots fell to Jonny, who promptly confessed. Saul figured it was his duty to kill his son. the entire army intervened on Jonny's behalf. Saul learned one lesson from Jephthah but everyone else learned another.
What did Saul need to learn? Samuel confronts him in ch. 15. He rhetorically asks whether God delights in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obedience to God's voice (v.22). killing their children in sacrifice in complete disregard to God's command against murder exemplifies the twisted thinking that Samuel condemns.
For some reason we have trouble loving God and loving our neighbor at the same time. Historically, the crusades and the inquisition come to mind. socially, we all see and sometimes participate in increasing the offering to alleviate guilt. we apply a theory that flashing cash with one hand will distract God from the sin our other hand is at. children are so bad at lying and covering up their errors that it is humorous. as adults before the all knowing God, similar games are just plain pitiful.
Jephthah should of repented of his rash vow. so should Saul. they were foolish vows, foolish sacrifices.
"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice."
-Proverbs 21:3

Ecclesiastes 5 speaks to these situations.
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear. (ESV)
i think God makes exceptions for extremely stupid vows such as Jephthah's and Saul's. Saul, in fact went on to more success, but his other faults led to his eventual downfall.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thy will be done on earth, in Blacksburg, at Virginia Tech

Walking the dog this morning and praying the Lord's Prayer...thought about asking Father for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven...we ask because His will isn't done on earth...i know i am not in continual submission to His will...the massacre at Virginia Tech is huge for us as Americans because it is abnormal and close and without satisfactory motives...but this happens on a bigger scale daily in Iraq...we need our Father's kingdom to come...we need to bring it to those who mourn by mourning with them (Romans 12:15). in fact we need to respond with alot of Romans 12
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NIV)

we can also bring comfort, 2 Corinthians 1
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (NIV)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

vacay TV report - 24

what one word could i use to describe the hit network show 24? horrible. two words? absolutely shameful. three words? waste of time.
i don't watch television at my home. we have no cable or satellite dishes or aerials. we watch rented movies. what we watch is what we selected at our convenience. when we are vacationing with others we will join them in watching television. i've seen many believer bloggers extolling the show 24. i had high expectations.
first the camera work is distracting. 2nd the dialog was stilted. 3rd the story was ridiculous. at the end of the show (i had to sit through all of it because no other room was available) i realized i had just watched a soap opera.
i also wondered if the name refers to the length of time it took to write the script. i suggest viewers abstain from the show and read a book, or pray, or play a game with family.

Achan's family's punishment - Joshua 7

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me." 20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

i've read this story dozens of times but this time i realized Achan's family was killed along with because of his sin. his wife and his children and his animals as well as the contraband he took were destoyed. the punishment for one man's sin included the destruction of his family. i realized Joshua, and God, were consistent in the meting out of justice. not only did they destroy entire Canaananite cities, including the women and children, because of their sins, even though some were innocent, but they applied the same rules of justice within their camp. guilt by association was the rule in that time.

in this age of irresponsibility and lack of accountability, i'm offended, scared, and challenged as a father. i know that by the prophets God no longer held children accountable for the sins of their fathers (Ezekiel 18:20) in one sense. in another though, i carry Adam's curse in me. his disobedience left me with an inheritance of death. Jesus took the curse and offers me forgiveness from my ancestor's sin, but i didn't get a fresh start at perfection like Adam did. innocence is a concept before God that we probably don't even begin to grasp.

Monday, April 16, 2007



Notes on linguistics problems in Mormonism

By Richard Packham

.....During my teaching career of thirty-five years I used comparative linguistic techniques in the classroom. I have found that my knowledge and experience with the phenomena of language give me a somewhat unusual perspective on Mormonism.

This article gathers together my own observations as well as comments of others. Some of these problems are well-known, but some of them I have never seen discussed before. So far as I am aware, nowhere else has Mormonism been critiqued solely from a linguistic point of view, gathering together all of the linguistic problems in one place...

vacation book report: The Last Jihad

i started reading Joel Rosenberg's blog for his middle east updates. i grabbed his two novels at the public library for some light vacation reading. his first is The Last Jihad. the concept is dated. it was released right before the 2nd invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein the bad guy who tries to launch a nuclear missile at Israel, too bad reality showed he didn't have one. the story ends with a couple mushroom clouds. the convolutions of conspiracy of this novel were pretty good. the action was page turning. the writing was somewhat amateur; "locked and loaded" was used to excess. once is bad enough, several times is painful. the Gospel wasn't blatant, but acknowledged. this Christian author used minimal expletives, hell and the condemnation to it. there was no romance, but violence aplenty. the conspiracy was good enough to keep me from figuring it out yet all the clues were there so i didn't feel robbed at the revelations. it was a fine read in a New England April Nor'easter that brought a foot of snow to the mountains of Vermont.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

video on church planting movements

Guy Muse of the M Blog shares an encouraging video regarding world missions. it's a well produced short movie from the IMB.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leviticus 21 and the disabled

chugging through 10 to 12 chapters of the Bible every day in order to have the whole thing read in 3 months. slogged through Leviticus last night. it can be really hard and confusing at times. like this in ch. 21
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, 17 “Give the following instructions to Aaron: In all future generations, none of your descendants who has any defect will qualify to offer food to his God. 18 No one who has a defect qualifies, whether he is blind, lame, disfigured, deformed, 19 or has a broken foot or arm, 20 or is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or has a defective eye, or skin sores or scabs, or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron who has a defect may approach the altar to present special gifts to the Lord. Since he has a defect, he may not approach the altar to offer food to his God. 22 However, he may eat from the food offered to God, including the holy offerings and the most holy offerings. 23 Yet because of his physical defect, he may not enter the room behind the inner curtain or approach the altar, for this would defile my holy places. I am the Lord who makes them holy.” (NLT)
this passage is so sad on so many different levels, especially if the reader falls into one of these categories. but i read it from with a parent's and an elder's eyes last night. a wonderful acquaintance with a great family just found out he has massive colon cancer. being a believer, a priest in the new covenant, didn't protect him from the evil in nature. likewise, Aaron and his descendants had no health guarantees either. his two older sons had already been killed by their acts of pride in the office of priests. there is so little guaranteed on this side of life. most of the guarantees are negative: death, taxes, pain, evil.
Jesus offers an extremely important positive promise this side of heaven, and in fact is necessary to enter into heaven, forgiveness.
as a parent i do like how the disabled were not excluded from their families, just the temple service and they still enjoyed the fringe benefits. God didn't despise them. he did care for them. he does care for us. experiencing pain does not change that fact.
from tonight's reading at the dinner table...
Luke 14
3 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just....21b Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame. 22 And the servant said, Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room. 23 And the master said to the servant, Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (ESV)
Heaven is not exclusive in regards to disability, just faith

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Rutger's Women's b-ball team

at CNN

The team broke its silence Tuesday on the controversy that has raged since Imus called the players "nappy-headed hos."

Several players said they would welcome the chance for a face-to-face meeting with Imus.

"I would like to speak to him personally and ... ask him, after you've met me personally, do you still feel in this category that I'm still a 'ho' as a woman and as a black, African-American woman at that?" said Kia Vaughn, a sophomore center.

"I achieve a lot, and unless they have given this name of 'ho' a new definition, then that is not what I am."

Carson said, "We haven't personally received an apology. And personally, if someone were to apologize to me, I would feel better if I heard from them themselves. Reading it in a newspaper or watching on television or hearing it on radio doesn't serve any justice to what he said."

Coach C. Vivian Stringer praised the accomplishments and character of the team members, five of whom are freshmen.

"Before you are valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies, and yes, even Girl Scouts," she said. "They are young ladies of class, distinction, they are articulate, they are brilliant, they are gifted. They are God's representatives in every sense of the word."

Stringer described the underdog team's hard work to bounce back from defeats early in the season to face off against the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers for the national championship.

"Ultimately, they ended up playing for the national championship," she said. "No one believed in them but them."

Another player, Heather Zurich, said the uproar over Imus' remarks took the joy out of their achievement.

"Our moment was taken away," Zurich said. "We were stripped of this moment by degrading comments made by Mr. Imus last Wednesday. What hurts the most about this situation is that Mr. Imus knows not one of us personally."

i'm in the "fire him" camp. what kind of example is he making for his young son? for his millions of listeners? this isn't an isolated example of his. his racist remarks and impersonations have gotten him in hot-water before. it's cheap humor, not worth the mega-bucks he's making.

Hindu hate speech

A group against the defamation of Hindus finds

Bible Study Lessons from Antioch, Ill., The Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Answers of Gilbert, Ariz., Mission Frontiers of Pasadena, Calif., and many others, however, were identified by the Hindu foundation as Internet "hate" sources.

"This is the first of what the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) hopes will be an annual report on anti-Hindu hatred found on the Internet," said the report, which was from a group that provides "a voice for the 2 million strong Hindu American community."

"Hate is an ugly thing, and its ugliness is well illustrated in its various manifestations on the Internet, including those detailed in this report," wrote Jeffery Long, of Elizabethtown College, in the forward.

their solution in India is simply to riot against Christians or force reconversions which is much better than criticizing others on web pages, or not.

quote of the day in my defense

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.
A. A. Milne
English juvenile author (1882 - 1956)

unwanted embryos, unwanted people

a new bill in the US Congress
Expanding funding, though, still appears to be an uphill fight. The bill the Senate is considering is nearly identical to one passed by Congress last July that drew the only veto Bush has issued since coming to office. It would allow funding for research on stem cells extracted from excess embryos at fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded.

the whole concept of excess embyos, unwanted humans, is why many pro-life people, like myself, are opposed to in vitro fertilization. some even adopt these embryos to rescue them from the freezer and the trash. i presume the reasoning goes,
it costs money to keep these things viable, they have uses for medical research, they have no rights,
my response is first the babies then the comatose then the severely disabled then the prisoners then the minorities.
no, this time, this slippery slope is different from history.
really? here is Senator Brownback's response,

Washington should limit research funding to adult stem cells only.

By Sam Brownback

Last year I met a courageous young woman, Jacki Rabon of Illinois, who was paralyzed in a car accident at age 16. Today, thanks to an ethical adult stem cell treatment that she received in Portugal, Jacki is regaining feeling in her legs and can walk with the aid of braces and a walker.

This week, the Senate will debate a bill that would provide taxpayer funding for a different type of stem cell research from the type that is helping Jacki and scores of other patients. The Senate will vote on whether to fund embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. We all started as an embryo, and biologically, the human embryo is no less human than you or I.

Two issues are at stake:

First, should we treat the young human as a person or as a piece of property? Will the federal government maintain high ethical standards in research, or will we sanction the destruction of young human lives to further speculative research that might or might not eventually help patients?

Second, should we fund the research that holds the most promise to bring treatments to patients soonest, or should we fund speculative and unethical research, the benefits of which are unclear and may never come?

For the sake of the patients, we should fund adult stem cell research to the exclusion of unethical embryonic stem cell research. Jacki should not have to travel to Portugal, at great personal expense, for a treatment with her own adult stem cells. And she is not the only patient who has had no choice but to travel around the world for an adult stem cell treatment.

We know of 72 peer-reviewed adult stem cell treatments and applications for a wide range of diseases and injuries. Yet embryonic stem cell research has not yielded any treatments or applications to date.

Patients should have the peace of mind that their treatment did not come at the expense of another's destruction, and they should not have to travel around the world to seek help. I urge my Senate colleagues to reject the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act and taxpayer funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

Sam Brownback is a Republican senator from Kansas and a candidate for president.

as always the comments are very interesting

book report: Schizophrenic

Schizophrenic is written by Tom Miyashiro who started a ministry called Faith 2 Faith Ministires International. Although he was born into a Christian home his teenage years were violent and rebellious resulting in hospitalization and medication which did little to help. But he had a radical conversion. Like Paul on the Damascus Road, Jesus changed him radically. He went back to his public school and immediately started evangelizing and kids were converting to Jesus. Despite a terrible school transcript and in need of a full scholarship, he got into a Bible school paid for by some men in his church and ended up with a Masters in Mysticism & Religious Experience from the University of Kent, Canterbury, Great Britain. This book is his story and its a story of hope for those who have lost it. He consistently points to Jesus. He ponders the God-man. This is a short encouraging read. He has a successful ministry in public school outreach in England and is back to New England to reach the youth here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Aaron the fallible high priest

been reading Exodus about Moses's brother, Aaron. Moses was the prophet, his brother got the high priest job. while Moses is up on the mountain getting the good word from God himself, Aaron is placating the wandering tribes by making them the golden calf as a worship aid.!? God knows what's going on and tells Moses, "they've already turned from me and have started worshipping an idol. i'm gonna wipe them out." Moses pleads for God's mercy on the people he has redeemed, Jesus is now our mediator, and God sends him down the mountain to straighten them out. Moses asks Aaron, "what's going on?" and Aaron makes one of history's lamest excuses, "the people gave me some gold, i threw it in the furnace, and, what do you know, this idol popped out!" Moses goes nuts and performs some iconoclasm. there isn't much of a record of him chewing Aaron out. the absolute lameness of his excuse pretty much says it all, and its on permanent record.
by the end of the book of Exodus, Aaron and his boys are being anointed as high priests for the people before God. God had mercy on Aaron. he deserved death. he led the people astray. he didn't keep them on the straight and narrow. yet he was still anointed. but i'm sure he was humbled. his sons took his example to the next level though. since dad bent the rules and got away with it, they decided to offer strange fire, (Leviticus 10), whatever that was. immediately, God fried them. and Aaron wasn't allowed to take time off from work to mourn for them. if he didn't grasp the gravity of his sin before their deaths, he got it now.
mercy is so messy. justice is so clean. mercy slows things down. justice brings things to a complete halt. mercy enables life to resume. justice doesn't.
God gives mercy before justice. when the mercy is trampled on, eventually the justice will follow. i want to be merciful. i'll let our Father handle the justice. this means i need to forgive.
and forgive.
and forgive.

Mormon similarities

Bill McKeever notes a similarity between him and a Mormon apostle's son

On November 5, 2005, McConkie spoke at the Joseph Smith Symposium in Palmyra, New York. The title of his talk was “Two Churches,” an expression taken from 1 Nephi 14:10 that reads, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil.”

Like his father, McConkie makes no pretense that he believes all professing Christian churches outside of the LDS Church fall within the parameters of the church of the devil. It is no secret that McConkie and I rarely agree on doctrinal issues but in this case, I think my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ need to listen carefully to three comments he makes:

  1. “Perhaps we need to rethink the idea of seeking common ground with those we desire to teach. Every likeness we identify leaves them with one less reason to join the Church. When we cease to be different we cease to be.”
  2. “Truth, however, is more important than harmony.”
  3. “Any time we declare something to be true, we have picked a fight with that which is untrue... It is as certain as the night following the day that we will never be able to declare our message without opposition or without giving offense to some.”

I happen to agree with McConkie regarding the above points (though, of course, for different reasons). Shallow conversations that fail to define our unique positions do nothing to compel Mormons to see the importance of biblical teaching over “latter-day revelation” that tends to contradict it. While I am a strong proponent of displaying respectful behavior towards members of the LDS Church, I find it delusional to think that we can ignore the necessary message of the gospel and still somehow call this evangelism. At some point in their lives, Mormons need to confront the issues that separate their error from orthodoxy.

i say, here, here. when the boys on their bikes come to your house invite them in and ask them some questions.

Easter with the Umlands

a light, personal piece today
The children got out of bed early without much protest or coercion. They had been prepared for the morning by already having picked out clothes, retiring early, and clear understanding of the day's obligations.
The early, 8 AM service, was empty, as many choir members as worshipers. The kids sat with us and listened to the grown up teacher. I fired up the oven as soon as we got home. But first the children got to search for their Easter bags with treats and a present. My dear wife got a gift card to the local coffee chain and a box of fine candy in celebration of her Lenten fast from coffee and chocolate. I started the ham first. The lamb went in after. Then Grandma and Grandpa arrived from New Jersey in a delighted sans-traffic frame of mind. The kids were overjoyed. We visited a house together that we'd like to buy if we sell ours. Now both sets of parents have given their approval, which is important to us. My brother arrived with his wife and their month old first born and his mother-in-law. The baby is an accomplished sleeper. Dinner was served. I broke my Lenten fast from meat. Yes, beans and rice can be boring, but i lost 10 pounds that i didn't need and brought my cholesterol down. We prayed. We ate well. We laughed. We ate some more, no break before dessert, apple pie and chocolate chip cookies. I own a television that has no reception and my father-in-law really wanted to see the Masters golf tournament. So the boys went to my brother's house and we watched the winner hold off the champs and give Jesus the glory.
I'm going through the Bible in 90 days again, and the morning's reading was from the Exodus. I love God's timing.
12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 12:2 “This month is to be your beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year. 12:3 Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to their families – a lamb for each household. 12:4 If any household is too small for a lamb, the man and his next-door neighbor are to take a lamb according to the number of people – you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat. 12:5 Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 12:6 You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around sundown...
12:11 This is how you are to eat it – dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover.
12:12 I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the LORD. 12:13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt...
12:24 You must observe this event as an ordinance for you and for your children forever. 12:25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give to you, just as he said, you must observe this ceremony. 12:26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ – 12:27 then you will say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, when he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck Egypt and delivered our house-holds.’” (NET)
On Sunday, we remembered that by his Sacrifice, Jesus delivered us from the land of death, and is now leading us to the land of Promise.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

dialog vs. shouting

great article.

Why do people yell? Why do Christians stand on street corners and condemn people who are “going to hell in a hand basket?” Why do Christians say STUPID things like…

  • “Get saved or microwaved.”
  • “Get right or get left.”
  • “Eternity, smoking or non-smoking, the choice is yours!”

I think they do this for one main reason…

It’s Easy! No, seriously, it is easy to yell, scream and condemn people that you do not know…it is much harder to actually develop a relationship with someone who is a heartbeat from hell, be their friend, LISTEN to their story, ANSWER their difficult questions…and wait patiently for years as God draws them to Him.

THAT’S HARD! And so Christians have taken the stupid easy way out and just yell at people–and it does not work! Please spare me your e-mails on this! I have never asked someone, “How did you come to Christ,” and they replied, “Some really nice man with a megaphone yelled at me and said that my skin was going to fry like bacon unless I received Jesus.”

One more thing before I leave this point…did Jesus do this? NO…this is NOT CHRIST LIKE BEHAVIOR! Jesus did yell, condemn and put down the Pharisees, while He hung out with the lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors. (For those who don’t think Jesus did this–please read about Him clearing the temple–Jesus was passionate…but about the right things!)

We are called to reach people who are without Christ–NOT drive them away!!!

HT: St. Paul's at UConn

thoughts on cussing

Eric Pement concluded
Christians are not immune from stumbling themselves or others by loose habits of speaking. It may occur with vulgar words or in other ways. I know of a much-loved minister who cannot resist making sexual or scatalogical innuendos in private conversation, even though “technically” he has never said anything obscene. At some point, he needs to be reminded that “coarse joking” is out of place in the life of the believer (Eph. 5:4, NIV). Not knowing what he’s doing, he loses more esteem by his off-color remarks than he gains from having a new joke to tell.

Our point was summarized long ago in James 1:26: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” Swearing does not show “realness” or gutsy emotion. Rather, it betrays a flaw in our ability to communicate sensitively and tastefully, not unlike the woman who dumps four spoonsful of sugar in her coffee and imagines she really likes coffee. She likes the buzz, not the coffee. As Christians, we must go “against the tide” of the world in many instances, and if we do not want our testimony nullified by our own actions, we will pray this prayer with the Psalmist: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

and i agree.
John Frame wrote
Between the extreme of the street language and the extreme of a total abstinence from such expressions, there are lines that are hard to draw.

As in all questions of linguistic usage, much depends on one's upbringing, the perceptions of his own culture, subculture, etc. What is seen as coarse in one society will be routinely accepted in another; what is seen in one society as a Christian "given" will be seen in another society as self-righteous. There is a place for flexibility and sensitivity, as we seek to contextualize the gospel to all cultures and subcultures. Perhaps the absolute principle is this: The Christian should always be, and be perceived as, one who, while not self-righteous and legalistic, nevertheless avoids contemptuous or irreverent attitudes and the language which in the "target subculture" expresses those attitudes.

these are older articles. the Bible is even older. i'm guilty of this sin. it's nothing i take pride in. it's not something i've written in public for my blog. (i hope...) so what do we make of this by Emergent Village leader Tony Jones?
This connection between deconstruction and the Bible is especially meaningful, methinks. I am quite convinced that the Bible is a subversive text, that it constantly undermines our assumptions, transgresses our boundaries, and subverts our comforts. This may sound like academic mumbo-jumbo, but I really mean it. I think the Bible is a [inferred expletive - ju] scary book (pardon my French, but that's the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this). And I think that deconstruction is the only hermeneutical avenue that comes close to expressing the transgressive nature of our sacred text.

the asterisks are in his original. immature? no class? needs to see the writing tutor? my wife was a writing tutor in college. she comments often on lame Christian books with editing that leaves much to be desired. what did that expletive add to the sentence? could better intensives be used? perhaps "very" or "really?" perhaps a better adjective altogether such as "frightening?" perhaps he could include an ellipsis describing the intensity of his feeling rather than apologize for his French/sin. Mr. Jones is a PhD student at Princeton. He should know how to write better and how to control is writing better. His leadership example will only be amplified by admirers. His point is missed by potential students. The whole thing makes me feel used. He gets traffic because of his sin. He divides believers instead of uniting them. How is this a good thing?

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Bicycle Thief - a cinema review

i don't know how i ended up putting this black and white Italian film from 1948 on my Netflix list. i do like foreign films. The director is Vittorio De Sica and he won many awards. This is not a feel-good movie. It's a tragedy. It's the life of a poor family in post-War Rome. The poor man finally gets a job from the employment office but he needs to get his bike out of hock. So they sell their linens. They will finally make money and get off welfare. But while he is out hanging movie posters his bike is stolen. He chases the adolescent but can't keep up with him and the accomplice who pretends to help sends them down a different street. The next day he and his son and his neighbors go out searching for it. They look for parts assuming it's been chopped up. His obsession results in jeopardy for his son who is approached by a man who keeps trying to buy him bells. After he rescues his son he finds the thief on his bike paying an old man. Once again he can't catch the thief, but he does find the old man. He tracks him down to a Catholic mission offering soup and a shave for listening to the service. In the midst of a full church he can get no justice from the man. The man has no conviction in the service. Eventually he escapes. The poor man lashes out at his son and slaps him across the face. he repents though and takes the boy out to eat, presumably with limited cash. He justifies it by saying that this life depends on finding that bike. He goes to a fortune teller, who takes more money but only tells him what he already knows, not where to find the bike. Finally he crosses the path of the adolescent and chases him into a brothel. He finds little help there. He finds little help from the police. He chases the kid into his neighborhood where the kid is defended by the neighbors. the boy finds a policeman who investigates and offers no consolation. it his word against theirs. there is no evidence. in defeat, they stumble out to the thoroughfare where hundreds of bikes are parked for soccer fans at a match. he also spies a lone bike. he struggles with his temptation then decides. i presume he reasons that since his thief got away with it couldn't he? but his son sees. and this time a crowd chases him, unlike when his bike was stolen. and he is caught. but the owner sees his son crying and does not press charges, he says his punishment is enough. the father and son walk off. the son takes his hand. he weeps. the end.
the better life is always just out of reach. the job. the bike. justice. he only has one thing to hold onto. his son's hand.
the son offers forgiveness and hope despite the sins against him.
The Son of God offers forgiveness despite our sins.

birthday of a cult. LDS

from This Day in History
On April 6, 1830 Joseph Smith and five others organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York.
did we really need religious books that claim Native Americans are Jewish? that everyone makes it to some level of heaven (unless you convert out of LDS - that's who hell is for - why convert then and increase your risk?)? that your level of heavenly bliss depends on your underwear and coffee abstinence? that God had intercourse with a teenage girl so his Son could be born? that a man needs more than one wife(only for a few years though, until it became politically inconvenient)? that skin color is based on whether your ancestor sinned but it can be changed if you convert (changed for same reason as polygamy)?

also the US also declared war on Germany in WW1 on this day and the Rwandan genocide began...


today's quote of the day points to our need for a perfect Savior...
Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways.
Samuel McChord Crothers

Greatest Comeback Victory Ever !!!!!!

The rivalry was ancient. This time the home team looked much stronger. The early rounds were tit for tat with no breakthroughs. Eventually the home crowd began to cheer for the away team. But being the typical crowd their support waxed and waned. In the last inning, the crowd was going nuts for the away team. The team had driven deep into the home teams end zone. Yet the home team made a magnificent defensive stand. The crowd was impressed and resumed cheering for their team again. The defense was drawn into an elaborate and risky offensive draw which they swallowed hook, line and sinker. The April Fool's plan was so unbelievable that some of the teammates, despite being told it ahead of time, were fooled and caved into the defensive pressure. They were exhausted and really wanted to believe the team captain but could not see how such a foolish plan would actually work. The home team sacked the away team's quarterback. His back was on the ropes. The K.O. was coming. The fly ball was caught and the double play was following. It was like a free kick clinic with the goalie paralyzed and blinded. The apparent collapse was so stunning and complete that even the weather seemed awestruck. It became midnight at midday. There was even an earthquake. Things got so weird it seemed like the Night of the Living Dead.
Turns out while the captain was off the field that the home team was celebrating on, he was pillaging their locker room! And when that home team marched off the field to discover the reverse of events in their quarters, he was marching back out to the field to pick up the trophies, thousands upon thousands of adoring fans who were the losers, the low achievers, the out crowds, the weak, the lame, the poor, the hungry. THEIR Champion won it for them. He delivered them. He carried them on his scarred back. They grabbed his nail pierced hands. They ate the food he prepared at the victory banquet. They try to convince the home team's fans to switch allegiance. Their Champion is generous. Their Champion loves them. Their Champion forgives them. Their Champion can overcome all odds. Their Champion gives them hope, with Him all things are possible. He has an open invitation to every single one of His fans to come live in His crib, which he built with them in mind. He even makes His fans family and shares all He has with them.
What a Good Friday it is.
1 John 3
1 See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don't know God, so they don't understand that we are his children. 2 Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children, and we can't even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who believe this will keep themselves pure, just as Christ is pure. (NLT)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Exxon's exploitation in Chad

such a sad book excerpt in Slate...

What is Maundy Thursday

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), from a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is usually translated "commandment," from John's account of this Thursday night. According to the Fourth Gospel, as Jesus and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciples' feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood. After they had finished the meal, as they walked into the night toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught his disciples a "new" commandment that was not really new (John 13:34-35):

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, you also ought to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The colors for Maundy Thursday are usually the colors of Lent, royal purple or red violet. Some traditions, however, use red for Maundy Thursday, the color of the church, in order to identify with the community of disciples that followed Jesus. Along the same line, some use this day to honor the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.

The sharing of the Eucharist, or sacrament of thanksgiving, on Maundy Thursday is the means by which most Christians observe this day. There is a great variety in exactly how the service is conducted, however. In some churches, it is traditional for the pastor or priest to wash the feet of members of the congregation as part of the service.

see also
more info here

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Lord's Prayer: resources

now that i've finished the series i'd like to mention links as i find them or as they find me...
two commenters
Rachel Starr Thompson
Abbey nous
both have authored books on this prayer, that i have not had the pleasure to read.
and some random links starting with this one pointed to from Abbey nous at the Upward Way Press

i have enjoyed not posting on everything i've seen this past month. the linked feeds display and RSS have served that purpose well for me, maybe for you too.

The Lord's Prayer: a summary

Father of us
who is in heaven
Glorify your name
Let your kingdom come
Let your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven
Give to us today our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sinned against us
and lead us not into trial
but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spiri
Forever and ever, Amen.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Lord's Prayer: the kingdom and the power and the glory

Bruce Metzger writes on Matthew 6:13 in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:
"'For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.' The Same expansion occurs also at the close of the Lord's Prayer in the liturgy that is traditionally ascribed to St. John Chrysostom. The absence of any ascription in early and important representatves of the Alexandrian (aleph B), the Western (D and most of the Old Latin), and the pre-Caesarean (f1) types of text, as well as early patristic commentaries on the Lord's Prayer (those of Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian), suggests that an ascription, usually in a threefold form, was composed (perhaps on the basis of 1 Chr 29.11-13) in order to adapt the Prayer for liturgical use in the early church."
when i was a kid memorizing from the King James Version, i didn't learn the trinitarian end. but i really like it. so is the ending inspired? sure. but not in the same way Matthew was inspired. it is a beautiful liturgical ending added to the Lord's prayer. and i still recite it but i also include the trinitarian ending. Peter writes, under inspiration, a similar phrase in his first letter ch. 5 v. 11
"To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (ESV)
This ending is all true. Everything does belong to our Father, the kingdom, and the powern and the glory and he shares it with His Son and His Spirit. The trinity teaches us something about community and relationship. Actually, we learn alot from the concept. Trinity - three whos and one what, three persons and one essence.
Here is a wonderful creed ascribed to an important early defender of the trinity, Athanasius

Whosoever will be saved,
before all things it is is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity
in Unity,
neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son,
and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one,
the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son,
and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate,
and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible,
and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal,
and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals,
but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated,
but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty,
and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties,
but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God,
and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods,
but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord,
and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords,
but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge ever y
Person by Himself to be both God and Lord,
so we are forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, there be three Gods,
or three Lords.
The Father is made of none,
neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone,
not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father [and of the Son],
neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons;
one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or l ess
than another;
but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid,
the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved
must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation
that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ .
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess,
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds;
and Man, of the Substance of His Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God and perfect Man,
of a reasonable soul in human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching His Godhead;
and inferior to the Father, as touching His Manhood.
Who, although He be God and Man,
yet He is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh,
but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether; not by confusion of Substance,
but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man,
so God and Man is one Christ.
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell,
rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God
from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise with their bodies
and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting;
and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully,
he cannot be saved.