Monday, November 10, 2003


(Rasselas by Samuel Johnson)
It is precisely the things that Rasselas and Nekayah envy in those whose example they seek that turns out to be the most burdensome to their prospective mentors. The very strengths desired turn into the most obvious weaknesses because the strengths are over emphasized--tipping the scales and obliterating balance. In all things, it is circumstance that is enviable. In all things, it is circumstance that is most cumbersome and wearying. There must be something more.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Chippin' Logs

(Thesis Forecasting and Discerning Soap-Boxes)

“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”

So said Spurgeon. The great church heresies of the middle ages were labeled as right “except”. In all great ecclesiastical undertakings the church has sought God’s wisdom in knowing where their error lies. The results were historical and covenantal declamations known as “credo” or creeds which means “I believe”.

Nothing can be orthodox save one point. Nothing can be true and followed by a “but”. Nothing can be right with any exceptions tagged on. Yet it’s so easy as Christians to point that out in the lives of others and well neigh look over the issues of our own hearts in which we fall so terribly short. It’s easy to see the blatantly evil in more of an objective light. It’s near impossible to apply such objectivity to the subject of ourselves.

Think of the speck Christ talks about in Matthew 7. It could actually just be the log in our own eye obscuring our vision and superimposing that speck into another’s eye.

I remember hearing some time back about a psychiatrist who said something to the effect that the reason a person commits a murder because they have had something in their background that they haven’t been able to cope with and they themselves want to die. Though obviously absurd, I think a similar view could be more accurately applied to the Matthew 7 scenario. The reason people are so eager to lash and point out the downfalls of others is because they see those same or worse short comings in themselves and seek to remedially clear their conscience.

Thus, we are almost right except. We’ve pointed out our brother’s abnormal wart and taken no heed to the tumor over our own hearts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Deliberate Image

(Lecture, Reading, and Thoughts)

There is nothing God does without purpose.

We’ve been studying the “Jordanesque” way to pull a passage of Scripture apart by examining the details, following the footnote trails, and thus gain a broader view of God’s working continuity throughout history. The concept I’ve been wrestling most with as of late is the idea that everything man does is tied to some root ideology or belief.

In the eulogy written for his father, Andrew (?) Postman told of his dad’s deep love for his fellow man, his acknowledged need for community, and his selfless heart. Postman illustrated this by telling the story of family road trips and the fun they’d have at toll booths when his father would pay for the car behind them. The joy and humor it brought to the Postman family when down the road that car would pull up beside them and the occupants would either have an inquisitive look of confusion or an eagerly smiling wave of gratitude, that incident left an impression on a young boy who later saw it as a revealing of his father’s character.

Why did God choose the plagues He did to send upon the Egyptians? Why did He use the imagery of bondservant in context with the hope gospel? Why did He require blood from a particular sacrifice to be put on the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of the priests? Why are there seven days of creation and seven bowl judgments?

If God, Who is above all, in all, and works through all, if God, who created all things but man specifically in His own image, if God works all things out deliberately, is it not right to assume that man too—as image bearer—has a deeper meaning and purpose for all things acted out. Granted, because the image has been distorted by man’s fall from grace, the deliberateness on man’s part is both perverted and often unconscious. But nevertheless, there is nothing man does without purpose. It is only under the grace of our Creator that such purpose can be redeemed to mirror, however dimly, the greater purposes of a deliberate God.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Jordanization Exercise

(Amos 3:12)

Thus says the LORD: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.” —Amos chapter 3, verse 12

Shepherd: High Priest, king, Christ, mediator

Lion’s Mouth: Satan and Judgment—Ps 22:21; II Tim 4:17; I Pt 5:8

Legs: Sacrifice—Ex 12:9; 29:17; Lev 4:11

Ear: Servitude and Sacrifice—Ex 21:6; Deut 15:17; Pro 25:12; Luke 22:50; Ex 29:20;
Lev 8:23; 14:14-17

Samaria: Capital of Northern Kingdom of Israel and Burial Place of the Kings—II Kings
13:13; 17:24-28

Couch—Rest and Comfort

Sarcastic Exasperation: Sacrifice—two legs and a piece of an ear. The legs were to be a burnt offering along with the head of the animal. Where are the ears? On the head. Where is the big toe that was to be tipped in blood along with the right ear lobe? On the foot. Where else have we seen foot—or more specifically, heel—imagery alongside head imagery? Genesis 3:15, of course, sets the precedent for this extended metaphor which separates the kingdom of man, under the ruling head of Satan, from the kingdom of God whose heirs will one day crush the head of the serpent.

How interesting it is that in sacrifices the head and legs together would be offered.
_ Other parallels between ear and legs:
~Hearers versus doers of the law/word (Rom 2:13; Js 1:22f)
~Implies action—putting feet to words

How much more interestinger is it that Nehemiah has a play on words for the Exodus 21:6 imagery of doulos: “Many years you BORE with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not GIVE EAR.” (9:30)

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Practical Application 201

(Jordanization of Life)

As I’ve been thinking through my Jordan reading and trying to make a Jordanizational application to Sunday night Teen Bible Study with the girls, I was
reminded of a particular exercise my high school English teacher had the class do. The point I have long since forgotten—I could take a few semi-educated stabs—but what I do remember is the following directions part. She brought in some sliced bread, a jar each of peanut butter and jelly, and a knife. One person was to explain to another the steps and procedure of making a PB&J, while the other was to follow those direction to the letter. It was a lot of fun to play with an extreme literalist taking orders from an extreme control freak!

So as I thought through Sunday’s lesson on I Peter 5 in light of what Wendy and I had talked to the girls about last week—taking each passage in context and paying heed to the details—I determined to go through the bread spreading exercise with the girls. I Peter deals a lot with authority and accountability, from ecclesiastical and civil to covenantal and marital, Peter ties them all together with the example of Christ’s bi-embodiment of leadership and submission. Since relating to and with authority happens on a daily basis, it is also a good example in and of itself for Peter’s address to suffering. He is constantly saying things like “do not be caught off guard”, “be prepared”, “be ready to give an account”, “do not be surprised” while at the same time exhorting them to honorable conduct, good deeds, unity of mind, brotherly love. He’s telling them to be prepared by keeping up the ordinary means of life. He’s urging them to continue in tenderness of heart and humility of mind, he’s reminding them to be self-controlled and sober-minded. He’s calling to mind the simplicity of covenant community by encouraging hospitality and the stewardship of gifts in useful service for the saints. To what end—“in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ”. These are the details that by skimming over cause us to misconstrue what we often take as the bigger picture. In this case the issues of authority and suffering were brought into such clearer light because I tend to over-spiritualize and hyper-analyze anything that looks to be a big picture idea in Scripture.

I brought a bag of bread, a jar each of peanut butter and jelly, along with a knife. All I said after explaining the exercise is, “I’m investing Rachel with the authority to give Meg directions on how to make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich”. I didn’t say anything else as we all laughed hysterically at the end result—PB&J neatly spread all over the out side of the bread bag—but then every one shook there heads. “I see what God’s saying,” someone piped up. And I think it became a little clearer than jelly to me too.