Wednesday, April 26, 2017

3 things

Dallas Willard on acknowledging God in all we do. Here's a snip:
Discipleship means learning to acknowledge God in all we do—and it takes a lot of learning. You actually never get done learning because you are always learning, and increasingly you are able to acknowledge him in all of your ways. You are able to do everything you do in word or deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As you do that, among other things, your fear and anxiety disappear because you aren’t out there on the limb by yourself. You are actually watching God in action in your life. You stop second guessing yourself and lambasting yourself because you didn’t do it right.
* * *

Love is not easily triggered.

Everyone is mad now, seemingly all the time. If you go to any social media outlet you will find plenty of outrage. Plenty of people being “triggered.” It’s evidence of one of our favorite sins, anger.
* * *

Reading Scot McKnight's review of Greg Boyd's new book, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, I came across this quotation from scholar Thomas Torrance:

He is not part of what the Father has to say or even the main thing the Father has to say: as the one and only Word of God (John 1:1), Jesus is the total content of the Father’s revelation to us, wherever and whenever this revelation comes to us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Translation Blues

It was an article that provided six handy Bible quotes for dealing with anxiety (or something like that). Not the sort of thing I normally click on, but there it was, I glanced down through the six quotes, One of them caught my attention. It was said to be Ephesians 2:19-22.

Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.

Those were the words, but they didn't look at all familiar. What translation is that, I wondered. I googled the quote, and found a thousand Instragrams, Pinterests, and therapeutic self-help articles, but as yet not the translator responsible for this travesty.

I'm not philosophically against all loose translations, but when they actually hide the original meaning and substitute something entirely new, that kind of bothers me. This is substitution, not translation. Here's a more literal rendering of those verses (NIV).
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. 
So, there's quite a gap there. The first converts Biblical truth into pop-psychology, just right for our therapy culture. There are a million churches that thrive on that sort of thing. It is the form of Christianity, more or less, but not the substance.

Monday, April 24, 2017

4 things

Monday morning. I'm going to try posting something to this blog every day for six consecutive days. Just a little test. I want to see if it might jumpstart me to keep going beyond that.

* * *

I was looking at pictures of my oldest boy with his lovely soon-to-be bride. I was thinking, "Two lovely people," and then, isn't that a song? So I Googled, looking for the song, and I found a piano transcription, but not a sung version. Am I "misremembering"? Anyway, here's the lovely people song, written for piano by Billy Mayerl.

Can't you just hear Fred Astaire singing the lyrics that go with this melody?

* * *

I'm reading through The Gospel of Luke, slowly. I read a little, and either copy out a verse or two in my journal, or perhaps scribble out a few thoughts. My plan is to keep doing this through all four Gospels, then start over. For the rest of my life. It doesn't mean I won't read from the rest of the Bible, but this practice will be my baseline, reading from the 4 Gospels. I'll get plenty of Paul and the rest of the NT via sermons, since pastors just love to preach from the epistles. I'll make sure I'll read from the OT, and The Revelation of John will always be important to me, but the 4G's, they're fundamental to knowing Jesus.

* * *

Want to read a lovely poem? Read Hatley St. George by Malcolm Guite. It's a beautifully crafted work of art.

* * *

I don't keep up with as many bloggers as I used to. It's down to a few reliables now. One of these is The Blazing Center, where Mark nd Stephen Altrogge have been hitting the bull's eye lately. Mark's recent post, 7 powerful steps to overcoming regret, is one of these, I think the curse of chewing over old regrets again and again is a hazard of the 60-something club, of which I have recently become a member. Mark's post was helpful.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Wondrous Love is This?

Each Monday I'm going to feature the worship song of the week. This is the song that will be using in my devotional time throughout the week. This should be fun. I'm going to hunt for songs that move me, songs that I find powerful and that say true things about God and his Kingdom. The song for this week is What Wondrous Love is This?

There are many wonderful versions of this song, but I'm going to feature the good folks at

From languishing to flourishing, by God's grace

I've been languishing.

Spiritually speaking, that is. I've been spiritually languishing.
Def.: (verb) to lose or lack vitality; grow weak or feeble
Yeah, that's me. For some time now. A kind of subsiding, as of a dying flame.

This can't go on. As any Christian believer will tell you, this simply can't go on. Whatever measure you want to use--Bible reading, prayer, praise and worship--all these things have suffered. That is, the practices that make up the life of faith

I've been that guy who reads the Bible front to back in a few months, keeps a prayer journal, sings loud at church, and plays the role of encourager with other men. I've been. But am not now.

What is the explanation? I'm not at all sure. But I sure now that I want to do something about it. I want to da a few little things, small steps, to return to daily Scripture reading and prayer, and to incorporate some hymn singing into my regular quiet time.

These are all more-or-less private matters, of course, but in time it begins to affect your outward walk, the way you think and thus the way you speak, and the kinds of work you lay your hands to. It begins to affect the way you interact with people, the choices you make about your time and your money, the things you set your mind to: in short, the lived life.

I plan to read briefly from the Scriptures each morning. Not large chunks, but brief passages from the life of Jesus. This will keep me in the four Gospels for the foreseeable future. I'm going to write out a verse or two that I want to focus on, and I'll seek to form a prayer from the passage as a whole.

Finally, and this is new to me, I'm going to sing a worship song. This is probably the most revolutionary thing I'll do, in the sense that it goes against my more or less inhibited nature (not to mention my deep dissatisfaction with much that falls under the heading of worship song).

That's the beginning. Together they are a way, I hope, of setting my mind on things above, as Paul urges, or as he says elsewhere of putting on the new man. Or, to put it yet another way, of exalting God in my daily life. But I also intend to involve A Stranger Here in this process. I'll be sharing the Bible verses and the songs. In so doing, I'm taking the blog back to its roots as a devotional journal of sorts, and I hope also to be much more frequent in my posting here. You may see other changes here in due time as well.

Pray, please, for the languishing to turn to flourishing, by God's grace.