Saturday, January 13, 2007

Some thoughts on this week's passage

Every year I'm tempted to read through the entire Bible (and Apocrypha). I usually don't, but am always happy I did. Making your way from Genesis to Revelation clarifies quite a bit, especially the centrality of themes consistent throughout the entire Bible. You can begin to see the old Western Christian guideline: Creation, Fall, Redemption. (Those first two things happen quite quickly.) More importantly, you can see the truth of Jesus' statements in John 5:39: "You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me."

Although I want to finish the Bible this year, I know I won't, which is one of the reasons I'm posting the Calvinist Gadfly's scripture passages. I hope to have at least embedded 52 NT passages by the end of the year. Rather than get a quick overview, I can spend a bit more time mulling over each passage.

So here are some thoughts on this week's post (Phil 4:6-7):
1. "Don't worry" is an present active imperative. In other words, "Stop worrying."
2. "About" is an extension of the word for "worry," but it is arguably possible to read this passage as, "Stop worrying. But in everything - by prayer...."
3. "Your" is plural. This is a letter to the church.
4. "thought" is probably just as good a translation as "understanding" in the old KJV. The word is "mind".
5. "In Christ Jesus" is not an accident. Our confidence and hope - the reason we are told to stop worrying - goes back to that phrase. There's a Seinfeld episode where the gang dirties every fortune cookie by adding the phrase, "... in bed." ("You will have great success... in bed.") For the Christian, every promise goes back to Paul's phrase, "in Christ." God loves us in Christ. We are more than conquerors in Christ. So he says here, the peace of God will guard you (all) in Christ.

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Bible Week 2

Here is week 2's memory passage from Calvinist Gadfly. Again, I simply steal his format and provide the Holman Translation.

6 Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:6-7)

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Bible Week 1

Alan Kurschner - over at Calvinst Gadfly - threw down the kind of challenge I really need to take up. He's offering a passage of Scripture every Friday for memorization. The goal is to have embedded 52 sections of the New Testament to memory by 2008. So, I'm going for it. But like all whiny people, the first thing I do is debate using his chosen text: the NIV (although I think the NIV may better clarify the meaning of this first passage). Still, I've decided to re-post his selections here using the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Here's week #1:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 HCSB)

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Fundamental Isms

Like any collection of writings, aphorisms, rants and insights, this blog should have a direction. There should be some clear expectations, because if the editor doesn’t make a few decisions, how will the contributing authors know what the reader wants? The problem is that the author and editor are one in the same and he doesn’t really know if he has an audience. So, by default, the author, editor and audience are one in the same (at least at this beginning). That makes it even more important to have some concept in mind.

Here are a few guidelines, in case any other authors or audience members want to jump in.

  1. A short post is a readable post. Once someone has to scroll down a couple times, they’ve probably strained their eyes and lost interest.
  2. Christianity is imperfect. There’s a human factor in Christianity. I have no idea why God included us, but He did, and we have a tendency to mess up His best designs. The author(s) will try to avoid messing it up permanently (as if any person can).
  3. Evangelicals are strange. Of course atheists, Catholics and Hindus are strange, too. The only un-strange group of religious folks I’m aware of is Islam (well, except for the Sufis). Sometimes these oddities are funny, often they’re harmless and usually well-intended – but they can be dangerous. All of these are worthy of comment.
  4. The culture is interesting. Movies, music and Harry Potter are not the devil’s offspring. They may be corrupted, but they’re part of our story.
  5. The Reformation happened. The final arbiter of truth is the Scriptures and the final statement of Truth is Jesus. We are at our best when we wrestle with those Scriptures and yield to that Jesus. Oh, and we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

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Archive: I'm No St. Francis

From Joe's Observatory. Original post date 2.17.05

It's very difficult to believe that God is always attentive. I am often tempted by the image and theology of deism - that God winds everything up and departs for his vacation home somewhere to the west of Ursa Major. At the same time, the sheer tendency of humanity to be reckless, vulgar, narcissistic and violent demands that somehow God is holding things in check. It is very easy to imagine God's absence and very difficult to describe His presence. But it is impossible to think the world is utterly uncared for.

The hidden-ness of God is one of the great troubles that we have, but the greatest necessity of the kind of faith He seeks. I believe it is one of the reasons for the Church. We come together to talk about God, not only as described in the Bible, but as the One working in lives. We, through the Church, can see the gentle correctives and inexplicable mercies that suggest our course is being guided by a benevolent and purposeful hand.

Why can some saints see the hand so clearly while most of us struggle to catch a glimpse? I'm not sure exactly. I wonder what drove St. Francis or even Martin Luther. In my own case, I fear God. I fear that He will demand more of me; however, I cannot stand less of Him. We are helpless lovers, bound to one another: He in His Incarnation and Crucifixion; me in my longing and restlessness. It is obvious that I am the one who prefers flirtation and passing immature letters, while He is dedicated to our consummation. And though I beg for Him to be more assertive and present, I wonder if He knows that I'm always on the verge of fleeing His kindness.

Alas, so it goes.

You would think God would have better taste in sinners. I'm very fortunate that He does not.

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