It’s not that I’ve got nothing to write about . . .
Just haven’t had the time! 🙂
Will be back to posting, hopefully, soon.
It’s not that I’ve got nothing to write about . . .
Just haven’t had the time! 🙂
Will be back to posting, hopefully, soon.
In case any of you were wondering if I’m ever going to put out the next version of this software. . .
I’ve been working on version 0.15 off and on over the last few weeks, mainly in little snatches. It’s been a busy time.
This version maintains the slow progress curve I’ve been following – it will have some better stuff “behind the curtains”, will fix a few bugs, and will greatly improve the admin sections you don’t see. It will also (hopefully) include trackback and some other nice SnapOns on the front end.
Regarding comments spam: I’m working through some ideas about how to “recognize” spam when it hits. I’m tired of playing the chase game – bans, blacklists, etc. I’m going to go down a different road in the spam battle, with the hope that we can come up with something that will eradicate most spam without having to a) spend lots of time constantly maintaining blacklists and b) without punishing all the good commenters. My philosophy is that real commenters should not have to go through extra steps to leave a comment. I do realize that often that’s unavoidable, unfortunately.
Many of you may have good ideas on this – if so, please let me know what they are. As I mentioned, I am toying with some ideas of my own regarding recognizing spam, and will hopefully be implementing some of them soon. If any of you have been working through this issue as well and would like to collaborate, don’t be bashful.
‘night all 🙂
But the minute we start advertising the faith in terms of benefits, we’re just exacerbating the self problem. ‘With Christ, you’re better, stronger, more likeable, you enjoy some ecstasy.’ But it’s just more self. Instead, we want to get people bored with themselves so they can start looking at Jesus.
We’ve all met a certain type of spiritual person. She’s a wonderful person. She loves the Lord. She prays and reads the Bible all the time. But all she thinks about is herself. She’s not a selfish person. But she’s always at the center of everything she’s doing. ‘How can I witness better? How can I do this better? How can I take care of this person’s problem better?’ It’s me, me, me disguised in a way that is difficult to see because her spiritual talk disarms us.
This describes me in so many ways. . .
In my observation, living even an intense and God-honoring Christian lifestyle with the focus reversed, with our eyes upon ourselves, leads to burn-out, loss of faith, and disillusion. The self-obsessed Christian begins performing, begins trying to meet an expected standard of behavior and devotion that, without the element of joyous self-forgetfulness that is the very mark of childlike faith, is in the long run impossible, and can only result in a dry and frustrating existence. When one is running in the mud of self-scrutiny, with his peripheral vision constantly scanning the faces of those he believes are looking on, stopwatches out, “timing” him, it’s not long before the runner slows, and then stops, and then slowly sinks into the mire.
This should not be! We are called to firmer ground, and to a cloud of witnesses who are cheering, not evaluating. And we are called to fix our eyes on Jesus, not just to glance at Him now and then. When we finally focus, when we truly look to Him, we forget ourselves. And it’s then that we run, finally, in the freedom, joy, endurance, and athletic, lithe grace for which we were created.
When we’re truly and solely looking to Jesus, we leave ourselves behind in the dust. And that’s when the joy of the run begins!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
– Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
The first Bible I ever bought as a believer was the New King James Version, and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this wonderful translation. I treasured my battered leather-bound NKJV for over ten years until it started falling apart. I still have it, lovingly tucked away in a drawer.
Since that time I’ve bounced from version to version. I like the NIV. It’s readable, of course, but it somehow leaves me a bit flat. The NASB is a translation I respect greatly, but it can sometimes make for a hard read; I don’t always “grasp” what it’s trying to say. For devotional reading I’ve enjoyed my New Living Translation.
I recently discovered the English Standard Version. I love this translation! Something about the way it reads . . . I’m no scholar, but it seems very transparent, allowing the meaning of the passage to reach me relatively unhindered.
Peter over at Stronger Church has a great post [hat tip: Mr. Standfast for directing me to Peter’s blog] about why he’s begun using the ESV more and more in his services (side note: Peter is a Pastor who has evidently been at the same church for 25 years! Wow!). Peter writes:
The ESV – to me – is now the better choice for best of both worlds. I like the way it reads. It’s not as easy to read as the NIV, but not that far off. And it’s worlds better than the NASB, even from the 1995 NASB update. From charts that I have seen, it occupies a place of middle ground between those two translations.
What helped win me over was also the level of technical savvy among the people who promote the ESV. The passage of the day in the right sidebar is fed by an RSS feed from their site, they offer several great Bible reading plans. I’m currently following their One Year Bible plan, which is also an RSS that I download into my feedreader every day and read on the bus.
And did I mention they have a Blog?.
Most importantly, though, the ESV is just a great translation and they have done excellent work in making it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out if you get a chance.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
– Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
Of all Paul’s letters, his letter to the Philippians seems the most joyous. I don’t know as much about its historical context as I’d like, although my understanding is that he wrote it while he was in prison. Paul goes hard (that’s Thinklings slang for “Paul is awesome”).
”I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”
This is an amazing statement. Whatever situation? I think of my own level of contentment; it varies, unfortunately, with circumstances; it’s not unusual to have my contentment gauge pointing at an eighth of a tank or less. But Paul was content, and he lived and worked in conditions and circumstances that would have literally killed us, comfortable progeny that we are of our modern and convenient era.
Notice that with Paul contentment wasn’t something that just happened. He “learned” contentment. Just as joy isn’t so much a feeling or the result of circumstances (it’s actually a command), contentment is something that is learned. I find it interesting that he doesn’t just practice contentment in the low, hungry, and needy times. He had also learned the secret of contentment in times of abundance and plenty. Isn’t that wise? So many people, perhaps you and I, live lives of discontent amid the luxury of the 21st century West – a luxury that the ancient world would not have been able to comprehend. Think for a moment of your clean soft bed or hot indoor shower. A toothbrush. Refrigeration. These comforts were reserved in ancient times for the wealthiest kings, if even them, and most of us enjoy them (and take them for granted) every day.
And what is the secret Paul had learned? “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” As I (slowly) grow in my relationship with Christ the two words that increasingly make me grind my teeth, both when I say them and when those I love say them, are the words “I can’t”. It’s particularly galling because those words contain a seed of truth. There are many things God calls me to do that I “can’t” do, on my own. But He can. He can! Many things I continue to leave undone because I’ve allowed myself to rest, defeated, in the truth of my own inadequacy. But He can. He specifically promises to strengthen me in my weakness as I face life and the challenges, tasks, and struggles it presents.
I think care must be taken with this verse too. People justify all kinds of crazy ventures and activities outside of their giftings and callings by saying “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. But the context must be understood. What Paul is speaking of are the hardships, triumphs, emptyings and fillings that he encountered, sometimes in tidal waves, while on the road of God’s mission and will. If we follow Jesus we will receive and live the abundant life He promised, a life with high peaks and low valleys, a life lived with a joy we could never have imagined but also with frequent hardship and trials. And, if we’re wise, as we follow our Lord we will learn contentment and peace, so that the world will marvel.
And when we’re at the end of our strength and our mind is reeling; when we’re gasping out the words “I can’t do this,” God reminds us, gently but persistently, “Of course you can’t, child. I never expected you to do this on your own.”
“But through Me, you can!”
Some random updates, as posting has been sparse these last few days.
It was a good weekend. Friday night was a good night to relax, as all but one of our kids was out of the house (the girls spent the night at the grandparents, Andrew was at a guys retreat with friends). I crashed in bed – it was awesome to get some sleep.
Saturday opened with a sweet victory by the Giants over our flag-football rival The Texans (7-8 year old league). They are the only team that had beaten us – we had each beaten the other once. We won by a touchdown and we are still savoring the victory and our secured position as the best team in the league. It was my better-half’s idea to treat this game like a homecoming game; the kids all had their hair painted, we had those tough-guy black bars under their eyes, streamers on our cars, slogans on our windows, signs and spirit! That was our edge. Blake played the entire game and did a great job. Who dat say gonna beat dem Giants? Heh.
This morning the 249N band led worship with the following songs in our junior high service:
Failure to Excommunicate (Relient K)
Almighty God (Parachute Band)
Knees to the Earth (Watermark)
Into Your Presence (Canadian Vineyard)
Change Me (Sanctus Real)
The Watermark and Vineyard songs were particularly good – the worship was great! I’m blessed to get to work with this group.
We had a wonderful Mother’s Day and Jill enjoyed her new Brighton watch and Old Navy blouse (she, um, helped me pick them out so I knew she’d like them :-). The day was very rainy so after a great lunch at Pappasitos we came home and watched Phantom of the Opera. Great flick.
I leave you with links to Mr. Standfast’s Christian Identity series. It’s a great series and well worth reading:
Hope your weekend was great, and that your week is even better!
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John 1:14 (ESV)
I don’t think I’ll be able to do justice to this passage, because the majesty of this truth is something that I can only grasp for short periods of time, if at all. I still look through a glass darkly. And even what I can grasp of this passage is too large for me, too breathtaking.
The Gospel of John starts with the following famous sentence, stated so simply, and already we are in waters that are too deep:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This remarkable statement is followed closely by
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
The Word that was with God and was God. Through Him all things were created, and (with the characteristic Hebrew rephrasing of important truths) “without him was not any thing made that was made.”
How mysterious, how awesome is this Word that John refers to. The Word of God – the great Logos through which He created the universe. The Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God. In here we begin to glimpse the amazing eternal relationship of Father and Son, of the One who speaks all things into existence and the One who is the very Word of God, through which
all things were made.
These are deep waters and high heavenly spaces which we are attempting to navigate. These words, written in the straightforward style of John the beloved disciple, contain a mystery, one that believers will have all eternity to enjoy. Because “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
To have received the very words of God in revelation, as the Hebrews did from the beginnings of their history, was in itself an awesome thing. But who would have expected the Word of God to actually come and live with us? What an audacious act our Lord committed! No wonder Jesus was such an enigma to the religious leaders of His day. No wonder He confounded their preset ideas of how God would fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament.
But much wonder when we think of His revolutionary act of love, humility, and sacrifice. The grace and truth of God, embodied in a tabernacle of flesh, able to touch, to heal, to laugh and cry with His followers. Able to kneel and pray, to be tired, to be hungry. Able to suffer, beyond anything we can imagine.
This is the glory of God. I’m learning more and more that, when you break the universe down to its basic truth, the glory of God is all that matters, and it is what all things point to. And we have beheld His glory.
There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
– Judges 13:2-3 (ESV)
Have you ever noticed how many times the scenario above has played out in Scripture? The Lord visits the barren and declares ”Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive”. Thus spoke the angel to the parents of Sampson, and to the parents of Isaac, and to the parents of John the Baptist. And to how many others?
God could accomplish His purposes through people with the equipment and qualifications to get the job done. But instead he chooses people like Manoah and his wife. Isn’t that His way? That’s what our God does. That’s who He is and one reason I love Him. He is the bringer of life to the barren. That’s why I was, as a young man, drawn to Him. What other god of this world – money, power, sex, human accomplishment, music, sports, fame — cares at all for the barren? None of them do. The gods that men gather to themselves don’t care for the brokenhearted, for the losers, for those whose last thread of hope has just snapped.
A little later in the Judges 13 passage, we witness this marvelous scene:
Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.
Judges 13:15-20 (ESV)
“Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Do you wonder if the angel of the Lord was smiling as He said that? The word translated here “wonderful” can also be translated “incomprehensible” or “beyond understanding”. What an apt description of our Lord: wonderful and beyond understanding. The Creator of all things, perfect in all His ways, comes with grace to the imperfect, barren ones and says “you are barren no longer!” He comes to the dead and raises us to life. He declares the poor to be rich, the weak to be strong. He declares those foolish in the world’s eyes to be wise, and He welcomes the lonely outcast to a place of deep friendship and a seat at the family table of the royal wedding feast. He is “the one who works wonders”.
He came to a world barren of hope, sending His angels on ahead to announce, once again, the birth of a Child to one for whom childbirth was impossible. She wondered “How will this be, since I am a virgin”? The answer to that question is the same answer that the hopeless heart receives when visited with the salvation of God; “the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The Most High has the power to make possible our impossibilities, to answer all of our “How will this be?” questions. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. And His name is Wonderful.
This is Jesus, who breathes life into dry bones, opens deaf ears, makes blind eyes see the beautiful lights and colors of creation again, and restores strength and usefulness to atrophied limbs. There is nothing too hard for Him. He plants hope that grows in the impossible soil of our circumstances.
And He visits the barren ones and declares them barren no longer. Praise His name forever!
Here’s how it works. If tagged, you pick out five occupations from the list below and finish the sentence on each. You can add more occupations of your own if you like.
If I could be a scientist I would . . .
If I could be a farmer I would . . .
If I could be a musician I would . . .
If I could be a doctor I would . . .
If I could be a painter I would . . .
If I could be a gardener I would . . .
If I could be a missionary I would . . .
If I could be a chef I would . . .
If I could be an architect I would . . .
If I could be a linguist I would . . .
If I could be a psychologist I would . . .
If I could be a librarian I would . . .
If I could be an athlete I would . . .
If I could be a lawyer I would . . .
If I could be an innkeeper I would . . .
If I could be a professor I would . . .
If I could be a writer I would . . .
If I could be a llama-rider I would . . .
If I could be a bonnie pirate I would . . . (what the heck’s a “bonnie pirate” I wonder?)
If I could be a service member I would . . .
If I could be a photographer I would . . .
If I could be a philanthropist I would . . .
If I could be a rap artist I would . . .
If I could be a child actor I would . . .
If I could be a secret agent I would . . .
If I could be a comedian/comedienne I would . . .
If I could be a priest I would . . .
If I could be a radio announcer I would . . .
If I could be a phlebotomist I would . . .
If I could be a pet store owner I would . . .
If I could be a computer programmer I would . . .
If I could be a police officer I would . . .
If I could be a politician I would . . .
If I could be a mom I would . . .
If I could be an underwater basket weaver I would . . .
If I could be a reality tv host I would . . .
If I could be a forensic pathologist I would . . .
If I could be a key grip on the next Star Wars film I would . . .
If I could be a fairy god parent I would . . .
If I could be a cast member on “Smallville” I would . . .
If I could be an Airbus pilot I would . . .
If I could be U2’s equipment manager I would . . .
If I could be a computer nerd I would . . .
Man, this is hard . . .
OK, here goes:
If I could be a phlebotomist I would practice phlebotomy to the best of my ability.
If I could be a linguist I would learn Greek and Hebrew, and would also translate Homer’s The Odyssey from ancient Greek into English just like C.S. Lewis did when he was a kid.
If I could be a key grip on the next Star Wars film I’d beg George Lucas to swallow his pride and let Peter Jackson direct the film.
If I could be a writer I’d write a redemptive novel that inspired people to seek redemption.
If I could be a computer nerd I’d . . . hey, wait a minute, I am a computer nerd!
Those I have decided to tag:
1. Andy at GodVerbs.
Eric at The Fireant Gazette – Update: Eric has already done this meme, so the lovely and talented Molly has graciously taken up the challenge.
3. And the elusive, ethereal (and possibly mythological) Blo over at The Thinklings.