Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grammatical thought

First, metadiscourse guides or directs the reader, which means that it is an indicator of the author’s intent. Second, it helps us to understand not only the text, but also the writer’s stance toward it. This also speaks to authorial intent. Although metacomments might indeed have a formulaic quality, they also represent the writer’s choice to mark the presence of some feature that might otherwise have been overlooked.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 105.

The source

“As with all the fruit of life in Christ, each describes us by virtue of our union with Him, and each makes demands of us in our walk with Him.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
That's a wonderful description of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the result of our union with Jesus, walking by the power of the Holy Spirit—and obeying as a result of that power within us. All God, all the time—and that is why it is possible. By the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.
</idle musing>

Stop and think about this

Scapegoating is all around us, but it can be hard to perceive. To understand how the scapegoat mechanism works, it may be helpful to think about the dynamics of the childhood playground. (This is a theme explored by Nobel laureate, William Golding, in his 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies.) Like most people, my first encounter with the dark world of scapegoating was on the playground in elementary school. I can see that now. But as I attempt to describe the scapegoat mechanism, bear in mind this phenomenon occurs unconsciously—for they know not what they do. “To have a scapegoat is not to know that one has one. As soon as the scapegoat is revealed and named as such, it loses its power.” Scapegoating is done instinctively but not innocently. It is sinful.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Scapegoating, the defense mechanism of choice for thousands of years...
</idle musing>

Skewed priorities

Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bear your cross

“The cross does not refer to some special burden we bear in life. It speaks to bringing all of life into submission and service to the Father’s will, as did Jesus. The cross shows the extent of that submission.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Amen! We need to remember that! The life under the cross is all-encompassing, all-consuming. It is designed to kill us so that we might truly be alive.

But too often we reduce "bearing the cross" to some special (usually minor!) incident in our lives...
</idle musing>

It's a gift

To follow Jesus requires the courage to leave the crowd and join his little flock, one not driven by the demonic spirit of fear. The little flock has heard its Shepherd say, “Do not be afraid.” Because the little flock is not driven by fear, it does not become an angry crowd or need to form an angry “us” movement in opposition to an imagined enemy “them.” The little flock receives the kingdom as a gift flowing from the sheer good pleasure of God. Once we realize God’s government is given as a gift, we never again need to fight, harm, or kill for any other government.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
But we don't really believe that, do we? If we did, we wouldn't act the way we do...
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you? Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heat? What heat?

Anyone who thought we came up here to relax, retire, and generally be lazy needs to spend a day or two taking care of 7 cabins and 2 motel rooms...

We only have one more weekend before the cabins close. And we had managed to get through the summer without any major problems. Sure, minor stuff like water closets almost falling off, and toilets backing up, and...you know, minor stuff. Until Saturday night...

It started out innocent enough. I got a call from the guests in Aspen saying that the heater wasn't working right (it was about 11:30). That furnace is a bit flaky, so I thought nothing of it. I couldn't get the pilot to stay lit, so I gave them a pair of space heaters. It's a small cabin and that was more than adequate.

When I got back, Debbie said she thought maybe our furnace pilot had gone out. It had been very windy and that sometimes happens. About that same time, I realized that the oven wasn't preheating...and the burner on the stove was only about 1/3 lit...Uh-oh!

We run on propane, which means that the tank gets filled periodically. We have a remote sensor that is tied to the supplier's office. When the tank gets below a certain percentage they come and fill it. They call it "keep fill" or some such jargon. Works well–especially in the winter, when you don't want to tramp through drifts all the time to check the tank.

But now there wasn't any propane getting to the house–and at least one of the cabins. And the temperature is 32ºF and dropping. And we are full. And one of the cabins has a 5-month old baby in it. Don't panic. Check the tank to see if there is propane. Flashlight in hand, I trudged out to the tank. The gauge says 50%. Check the valves. They're open...Now you can panic! Not really.

I went back to the house and grabbed the business card for the supplier. There was a cell phone number for after-hours. It's now 11:56. Mark answered the phone on the second ring. I explained my situation. He asked if the valves on the individual cabins were open. Yep. I told him about the dying and disappearing flame on the stove and the pilots.

He told me he would get somebody out here...

Meanwhile, I was thinking what it could be. Perhaps some debris from the supply line had blocked the hose somewhere. That happens with older copper piping and propane. And some of our lines are old. Mentally, I mapped out the supply chain. Aspen is fed from Birch, which means that Birch also was without heat. But so were we.

It's now about 12:15, so I didn't want to wake people up to see the extent...but Cedar's water heater (the only one with a propane water heater) was in the shop. I could check that and see if they were without heat...yep. It's out, too.

That means I have 7 units without heat, plus us. Two of the units are on a separate tank, so they are unaffected.

12:30, still no answer from the propane company. I call again. Voice mail. I leave a message sounding a bit stressed, as you can imagine.

1:00, still no answer from the propane company. What to do...the temperature is still dropping. And there's a 5-month old baby out there with no heat.

It's almost 1:30. I'm going to have to wake up Max and get his input. The phone rings. It's the propane company. They had decided that the gauge must be defective and they had someone coming out to look at it. But he lived in Lutsen–a half-hour away.

2:00. He arrives. We go out to the tank. He hits it with a rubber mallet. Sounds empty. But the gauge still says 50%. He taps the gauge lightly with the mallet. Nothing moves. Still says 50%. He checks the valves. Everything is open. He loosens the bleed screw a bit. There should be the hiss of escaping propane and that nasty smell. Nothing! Just then I notice something I hadn't seen before. Off to the side, not obvious in the thick darkness, is an old-fashioned pressure gauge. It reads 0 pounds of pressure. The tank is empty! At 2:00 in the morning.

Steve (the propane man) says he will go get the tank and we'll fill the tank. Then we'll have to knock on every door and re-light the pilots. He suggests that while he gets the truck I make a list of what needs to be re-lit. We don't want to leave stove pilots unlit...

By now it is 2:30. He arrives with the truck at 3:00. But, how do we get at the tank without him having to back up and have those noisy beepers wake everybody up? Where he would normally park is taken by guests' vehicles. We figure out a spot. Very close to a cabin bedroom : ( But it will only require a very little bit of backing up after the tank is filled. Best option in a bad set of available options...

Steve starts filling the tank. Or tries to. The gauge (the actual pressure one) doesn't seem to be moving. And the fittings are icing up. Not normal. He trudges over to the truck, checks the meter. One gallon. Thats' all the tank would take. One gallon. And it's 3:15 in the morning. And the temperature is still dropping. And there's a 5-month old baby out there...

Off comes the propane supply hose. He looks at the fill valve. It looks fine. Nothing blocking it. He goes back to the truck again and comes back with a long chisel-looking thing. He places it on top of the fill valve, pushes it down, and it releases. He reconnects the supply hose, presses the remote to start the truck's supply. The pressure gauge on the tank starts to move. The icing around the supply valves begins to dissipate. Whew!

But now we have another problem. The supply truck is almost empty. After all, it's Saturday night and they had been using it all day to fill up tanks...But he managed to get 325 gallons in. That will last us quite a while, so we will get through the weekend easily.

Steve disconnects the supply hose, we struggle back through to the truck. In order to rewind the supply hose, he needs to haul the hose down the lane a bit. Without getting it caught on all the various junk that is on the path to the tank. And as quietly as possible. Then he needs to back up without hitting the cabin porch behind him or taking out the kiln on the other side. All without being in reverse with those horrendously loud beeps going on any longer than necessary...

Success! I only counted 40 beeps. But at 3:45 in the morning, that seemed like a million. And loud!.

Now the fun part. I have to wake up every guest (at almost 4:00 AM!) and tell them they don't have any heat and that I need to relight their furnace...The first one I did was the one with the baby. Praise God! They had brought along a space heater and were using it. I relit their furnace and stove pilots without the baby waking up. What an answer to prayer!

Next cabin. They had noticed that the furnace was out at about 11:30, but thought it was too late to call me! He had tried relighting the pilot himself, without success. So when I said I needed to relight it, he laughed. Until I did. : )

And so it went. One cabin requires you to climb underneath–but it also has a gas stove with pilots. So I still needed to wake them up. Another one was stubborn and wouldn't light right away. I finally got it lit (or so I thought). Last cabin. It was being stubborn, too. It's at the end of the line, so there was a lot of air in the line. When it finally lit, I absent-mindedly said, "The most beautiful sight in the world!" The guest laughed. Laughed. At 4:15 in the morning!

Did I mention that this whole time Debbie has been praying? I attribute the good response of the guests to her intercession. And people were thinking we came up here to relax and get away from the pressures of life!

Footnote: The cabin that I thought I got lit? Well, it didn't light! They called me at 8:30 to let me know. Poor guests! At least this is the cabin with a wood stove. They had lit the stove and it was starting to warm the place. I tried again from the top side to light the furnace. No dice. I clambered under the cabin. This cabin is not a pleasant one underneath...and the furnace is a tough one to access the pilot light. It took me about 10 minutes to get it lit. The pilot would spit and sputter. Finally it lit. I turned the valve to allow the furnace to come on. Success!

I climbed out and apologized to them for the trouble. There response was priceless, "That's ok, you probably had a worse night that we did." Understatement of the year!

The amazing thing? The people who were closest to the loud beeps were the ones I had given the space heaters to. When they checked out, he told me that they slept wonderfully well. The space heaters had kept them "snug as a bug in a rug" and they hadn't heard a thing! How's that for answered prayers?

Willpower or self-control?

“Willpower is a secular version of self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit for management of self in the strength of Christ. Willpower is seated in the natural man, while self-control is rooted in the Vine and is a product of abiding in it. It enables the believer to wage war against the deeds of the flesh.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
I like that; "rooted in the Vine and is a product of abiding in it." Of course, that means if we stop abiding, the self-control stops flowing. Only as we abide can the life-giving flow of the Holy Spirit sap keep us in self-control.

Through the cross

What we may venerate as freedom-loving revolutionaries, the cross exposes as a demonic mob quite capable of killing the innocent. We should never forget that Jesus was executed in the name of “freedom and justice”—whether it was the Roman version or the Jewish version. But the cross shames the ancient deception that freedom and justice can be attained by killing. The crowd believes this pernicious lie, but Christ never does. The Passover crowd shouted, “Hosanna!” (“ Save now!”) until it realized that Jesus wouldn’t save them by killing their enemies; then it shouted, “Crucify him!” Jesus refused to be a messiah after the model of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Judah Maccabeus, William Wallace, or George Washington—and the crowd despises him for it. The crowd loves their violent heroes. The crowd is predisposed to believe in the idea that “freedom and justice” can be achieved by violence.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's the life, stupid

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Friday, October 17, 2014

Is it possible?

If it is not a practicable duty to be perfectly holy in this world, then it will follow that the devil has so completely accomplished his design in corrupting mankind, that Jesus Christ is at fault, and has no way to sanctify His people but by taking them out of the world.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
That's the default position of most Christians today, isn't it?

If it is true that we can't be holy, then we might as well hang it up. The devil won and God isn't who he says he is. He can't deliver on his promises so why pretend? At least be honest with yourself and stop trying to "convert" others to such a miserable life!
</idle musing>

If only!

“It is disturbing to hear the vitriolic invective leveled against governmental leaders in public discourse. Scathing verbal muggings and personal character assassinations are commonplace, accepted, and even expected. Issues on which people differ soon reach the level of personal assault.

This acrimony is not limited to the secular realm. Rancor finds itself on the lips of Christians who join in the rhetoric. Such mean-spiritedness infects the discourse of the church itself when its members engage in gossip and personal attack.

Life in the Vine promotes a different approach for us as children of God. In the passage we saw earlier, the apostle calls us “to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1–2). We are to be courteous, not contentious, and gentle, not abusive.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
If only that were true of us! We can't even say with I John 3:18 that we love in word (Τεκνία, μὴ ἀγαπῶμεν λόγῳ μηδὲ τῇ γλώσσῃ ἀλλὰ ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ/ Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth)! Lord, may we be known as people who love in word as well as in deed!
</idle musing>

Digging the graves

A secret (or not-so-secret) longing for the world’s violent destruction is grossly unbecoming to the followers of the Lamb. We are not hoping for Armageddon; we are helping build New Jerusalem. We will not complete it without the return of the King, but we will move in that direction all the same. We refuse to conspire with the beasts of empire who keep the world confined to the death culture of Babylon. There’s always another Armageddon looming on the horizon, threatening to perpetuate the bloody ways of Cain and throw more Abels in a mass grave. But we are not to cooperate with that vision. We are to resist it. We are to anticipate a future created by the Prince of Peace through the very lives we live. We are to work in concert with Jesus Christ as he labors to repair the world.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Would that we would listen—and respond! Unfortunately, it seems that far too often we are the ones urging and cheerleading the "bloody ways of Cain" and digging the graves for Abel...Lord, teach us the ways of peace!
</idle musing>

Thursday, October 16, 2014

But what can I make off of it?

Ran across this yesterday, an older (2011) apology for organic farming by Eliot Coleman. Well worth the read. I found this paragraph especially relevant:
By being self-resourced, biological agriculture offers no foothold for industry, resulting in no advertising, no research and development, no buzz, no audience, no business. If everyone can grow bounteous yields of vigorous plants that are free of pests by using homemade compost and age-old biological techniques, there is no market for fungicides or pesticides or anhydrous ammonia. If a concept cannot be commodified, that is to say if it isn’t dependent upon the purchase of industrial products, industry is antagonistic and the idea gets short shrift in our commercially dominated economy.
<idle musing>
When everything is reduced to "how much is it worth in cash?" you lose a lot...like the essentials! Some (most?) things that are worthwhile don't have a cash value that you can redeem at the local bank...
</idle musing>

There's more to it than we think

If you have never looked into the Bible with this view, you will be astonished to see how many more passages there are that speak of deliverance from the commission of sin, than there are that speak of deliverance from the punishment of sin. The passages that speak only of deliverance from punishment, are as nothing, in comparison of the others.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
But most people don't read—or read with blinders on that prevent them from seeing such a radical idea as salvation from sinning instead of just salvation from the judgment of sin. That's too much for God to do! After all, we're finite beings!

By that logic, there was no innocence and Christ didn't truly become human! Think of the ramifications of your presuppositions, people! Are you docetists? (Look it up! You might find out that you are and didn't even know it...)
</idle musing>

Grab the scalpel

“A gentle approach would not be condescending or accusatory. It would come seeing itself cut from the same cloth. Like a surgeon who takes care to set a broken limb, painful firmness may be needed, but the infliction of unnecessary pain would be avoided. So the skillful physician of the soul ministers by speaking the truth in love and attending in gentle perseverance.”— Vine Ripened Life

Made in the image of me

What I saw was that great and powerful nations shape God into their own image; great and powerful nations conscript God to do their bidding. Great and powerful nations use the idea and vocabulary of God to legitimize their own agenda. Great and powerful nations project God as a personification of their own national interests. And for the most part, they don’t know they are doing it.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Well, if you are great and powerful, you must be God, right? So therefore God looks like you...doesn't he?

And we certainly aren't exempt from doing this today. Look at the civil religion in the U.S. and then look for that god in the Bible. Bet you won't find it in YHWH! But I bet you will find it in Baal or Molek or Asherah...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enjoying the fall

Slow week at the cabins. We're winding down, just two weeks left. We only had one to clean yesterday and nobody coming in. So we went hiking! Today's a bit busier, with two coming in. This weekend will be hopping, as usual. So we're relaxing and enjoying it—well, maybe relaxing isn't the right word for it : )

We're in the midst of Indian Summer, and it has been beautiful. We've been hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail, especially along the Brule and Temperance Rivers. It's just beautiful with the leaves on the ground and some still on the trees.

With so many leaves off the trees and the undergrowth dead because of the frost, you can see a lot more. And the sound of the river! It's so much louder. We have to shout sometimes to hear each other.

It's also time to preserve the harvest. Yesterday I picked the apples off of one of the two Haralson trees. I got four bushels. Now all I have to do is sauce them! I started last night, but only got 18 pints done. It didn't even dent the pile of apples! I better get more done tonight...and the next night...and the next night...

I'm also making kraut. I harvested the late cabbages the other day. I grow Danish Ballhead as my late cabbage. It makes a great kraut. And the heads are huge! And dense. And tender. And juicy...Last year I had a head that must have weighed around 10-12 pounds. The heads this year a bit smaller, but still substantial. Last night I made four quarts—from one head! I make three quarts from 2 heads from "normal" sized heads, just to put it in perspective.

Good thing the cabins are slow, because I've still got about ten more heads to go...and the apples to sauce! And then another (smaller) apple tree to pick...and sauce. But we'll be thankful this winter!

OK, back to editing and then replacing that faucet in Pine, and clearing out the shop so I can tear down the extension. And then we'll take a nice walk in the afternoon before I start making kraut and applesauce again. Oh, I better remember to pull back the row cover on the overbearing strawberries, we probably have a few ripe ones to eat for a snack!

The unpicked player

“How many times have you confessed your sin of not being gentle with others to God? We confess our lack of love or lack of kindness, but rarely do we admit before God our deficiency in gentleness. It just doesn’t make the list. If it does, it’s like the boy left standing after all the others have been picked for one side or the other in a pickup basketball game. It’s recognized because it has to be, but it doesn’t really have anything to contribute.”— Vine Ripened Life

<idle musing>
Ouch! Guilty as charged : (
</idle musing>

Oohh! Book lust!

The Syntax of Volitives in Biblical Hebrew and Amarna Canaanite Prose

The Syntax of Volitives in Biblical Hebrew and Amarna Canaanite Prose
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic - LSAWS 9
by Hélène Dallaire
Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming, October 2014
xii + 250 pages, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 9781575063072
Your Price: $49.50
www.eisenbrauns.com/item/DALSYNTAX

Times like this when I miss working for Eisenbrauns—free books of exceptional quality : )

I might have to actually buy this one! I wonder how long it would take to get one through Interlibrary Loan...

Break the lockstep

…[W]hen we separate Jesus from his ideas for an alternative social structure, we inevitably succumb to the temptation to harness Jesus to our ideas— thus conferring upon our human political ideas an assumed divine endorsement. With little awareness of what we are doing, we find ourselves in collusion with the principalities and powers to keep the world in lockstep with the ancient choreography of violence, war, and death. We do this mostly unconsciously, but we do it. I’ve done it. And the result is that we reduce Jesus to being the Savior who guarantees our reservation in heaven while using him to endorse our own ideas about how to run the world. This feeds into a nationalized narrative of the gospel and leads to a state-owned Jesus. Thus, our understanding of Christ has mutated from Roman Jesus to Byzantine Jesus to German Jesus to American Jesus, etc. Conscripting Jesus to a nationalistic agenda creates agrotesque caricature of Christ that the church must reject—now more than ever! Understanding Jesus as the Prince of Peace who transcends idolatrous nationalism and overcomes the archaic ways of war is an imperative the church must at last begin to take seriously.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
This is the first excerpt from the book A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. I loved this book. I can't say enough good about it, but hopefully you'll see why in the upcoming weeks as I post excerpts from it.

And hopefully you'll examine your own presuppositions and unexamined assumptions. You might even change your mind! : )
</idle musing>

The details count

Christians may strongly wish or desire to be rid of all their sins, and may pray for it, even with agony. They may think they are willing to be perfect, but they deceive themselves. They may feel, in regard to their sins taken all together, or in the abstract, as if they are willing to renounce them all. But take them up in the detail, one by one, and there are many sins they are unwilling to give up. They wrestle against sin in general, but cling to it in the detail.—Charles Finney