Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ten Suggestion for Faithful Living Today

  • First, live as though in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated into the world and the outcome of history has already been determined. (Quit worrying)
  • Second, love people as the very image of God and resist the temptation to improve them.
  • Third, refuse to make economics the basis of your life. Your job is not even of secondary importance.
  • Fourth, quit arguing about politics as though the political realm were the answer to the world’s problems. It gives it power that is not legitimate and enables a project that is anti-God.
  • Fifth, learn to love your enemies. God did not place them in the world for us to fix or eliminate. If possible, refrain from violence.
  • Sixth, raise the taking of human life to a matter of prime importance and refuse to accept violence as a means to peace. Every single life is a vast and irreplaceable treasure.
  • Seventh, cultivate contentment rather than pleasure. It will help you consume less and free you from slavery to your economic masters.
  • Eighth, as much as possible, think small. You are not in charge of the world. Love what is local, at hand, personal, intimate, unique, and natural. It’s a preference that matters.
  • Ninth, learn another language. Very few things are better at teaching you about who you are not.
  • Tenth, be thankful for everything, remembering that the world we live in and everything in it belongs to God.
  • https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2018/05/22/the-inherent-violence-of-modernity/

Monday, May 21, 2018

02.Luke 1:5-8

A faithful priestly family, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were living faithfully - “righteous before God” (v.6), that is, within the story line that governs Luke’s account. He carefully situates them in this story within the history of the world going around them. God’s work is this world, in this world, and for this world – “in the days of King Herod of Judea” (v.5).
“Righteous” means living in right relation to God and for right relations in the world God created. Far from a stuffy, priggish, rule-keeping fetish, righteousness is the freedom to live for God and from his good order and intentions for his world.
Just one problem: Elizabeth was barren! A curse from the world’s point of view, though from the story line of divine promise from which Luke worked, just where she needed to be. A barren “mother” of Israel, Elizabeth takes her place alongside Sarah (Gen.11:30), Rebekah (Gen.25:21), Rachel (Gen.29:31), and Hannah (1 Sam.2:5), as those who received from God new life from their deadness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood well that “God’s work is this world, in this world, and for this world”: “What matters is not the beyond but this world, how it is created and preserved, is given laws, reconciled, and renewed. What is beyond this world is meant, in the gospel, to be there for this world” (Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works) (p. 363). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition).

Elizabeth’s and her predecessors’ receipt of new life from God in spite of their barrenness prefigures Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead. 

01.Luke 1:1-4

Luke’s elegantly written preface expresses his intent in writing this gospel. Luke is traditionally thought to be a Gentile doctor and cohort of Paul (though the gospel itself is anonymous and Luke is a common Greco-Roman name). Aware that “many” have already set down accounts about the events “that have been fulfilled” in their midst, that is, God’s promises to his people in Jesus, he decides to draw up his own to add to their number. Luke believes he has something to say about these things that will aid the story of Jesus having its full effect. One scholar notes that such an addition to a tradition of writings about a similar subject strives not “to strike out boldly in a radical departure from one’s predecessors, but rather to be incrementally innovative within a tradition, by embracing the best in previous performers and adding something of one’s own marked with an individual stamp” (cited in Garland, David E.; Clinton E. Arnold. Luke (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 3) [Kindle Locations 1332-1334], Zondervan. Kindle Edition).

These previous accounts of Jesus and the one Luke pens are “orderly” (v.1,3). All of them attempt to display the significance of Jesus’ life and ministry. They seek to “preach”! The orderly account Luke gives is about historical events crafted to persuade the reader that what they have heard about Jesus is indeed the truth (v.4).

That Luke depends on “eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (probably conceiving of them as one group, eyewitnesses who became servants of the word) and declares he has “investigated everything carefully from the very first” (v.3) sets forth his credentials. “Orderly” (v.3) “modifies the infinitive ‘to write’ . . . (and) does not refer to a chronological sequence of what happened but to a coherent, sequential arrangement of the material so that the reader has clear impressions” (Garland, Luke: 1389-1390).

“Theophilus” is the addressee of Luke (as he is of Acts as well). Though a common name at the time, it means “friend of God” and may well be a symbolic name for those instructed in the faith whom Luke wishes to fully persuade of its truth. His respectful address “most excellent” would build a relationship of trust between Luke and these readers.


“Fulfilled” (v.1): the “events” Luke writes about are part of a story. Israel’s story with God. The story prefaced by creation and beginning with God’s call to Abraham (Gen.12:1-3). Jesus only makes sense as the culmination and climax of this story which though particular (that is, Jewish) carries universal significance for all people. This verb is in the perfect tense - pointing to an action completed but with continuing effect (Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (p. 40). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition). The culminative, climactic effect of Jesus’ work continues in Luke’s day and beyond (Acts). As we tell this story today we may do so with the same confidence as Luke of its unending and inexhaustible significance.

“truth” (v.4): in the emphatic position in the Greek. This is Luke’s object in writing. Not primarily the historical veracity of what happened in and through Jesus. Theophilus may well have already been “instructed” (v.4) about that. No, Luke’s offering his considered interpretation of what happened in and through Jesus. As noted above, Luke is preaching, seeking to persuade Theophilus to commit himself fully to Jesus’ cause. Our preaching/teaching today should similarly be a persuasive unfolding of the meaning of Jesus seeking full or fuller commitment to him from our listeners.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Contemporary "Four Spiritual Laws"

God intends for you to live the life (Rev.21-22) he always meant you to live (Gen.1-2) with him on earth.

We refused this life, broke relation with God, and brought decay and destruction to God’s good creation.

God has both reclaimed (forgiven) and restored us (and his creation) to his eternal purpose for us fulfilled and made available to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Messiah.

As we await Jesus’ return and full experience of the life God intends for us, we can now begin to live that life (partially and fragmentarily to be sure) as witness to the credibility of God and the reality of his promise of the fulfillment of all his purposes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Say Goodbye To The Information Age: It’s All About Reputation Now

In a world of fake news, the only antidote is our ability to judge the reputation of the people supplying us with information.


There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced.

We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the “information age,” we are moving towards the “reputation age,” in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated, and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know . . .

Read more at https://www.fastcompany.com/40565050/say-goodbye-to-the-information-age-its-all-about-reputation-now

Monday, April 30, 2018

Review of Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture

Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson                                                                                                                        Crossway, 2018

This is a fine and helpful book on several fronts. First, the authors offer a lucid and compelling model of scripture as a musical composition. Going into a fair amount of detail (which helped this author to understand because I am musically illiterate), a rich and textured approach to the Bible emerges from their exposition. This model is especially helpful in that handles both the unity of the biblical story and the many different ways that story is told that both unify and at times offer discordant or alternative points of view on aspects of the story.

The bulk of the book traces the Exodus theme, the major biblical symbol of redemption through the length and breadth of scripture. I believe the pattern of Exodus to Exile is a macro structuring device that determines the shape of the larger story as well as many of its parts. Roberts and Wilson are judicious in their selection of material in this section so that even if here or there one is not convinced by their explanation, I suspect that most of their explanations here will carry conviction. And offer much grist for a preacher or counselor to make use of in their respective work.

A final virtue particularly important to me was the Coda. In this final reflection of the book the authors frame living and echoing the exodus in our lives in terms of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I have maintained for a number of years now a vision of Christian existence in terms of “Living Between the Font and the Table.” I found much material in the exposition to support such a view and for that I am particularly grateful.

In touch with the relevant scholarship but with a light touch, Echoes of Exodus would serve well for individual or group study for almost any level of bible reader.  Bravo!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Do You Ever Think About Being A Hobbit?

April 24, 2018 · Fr. Stephen Freeman 
I stumbled into the Tolkien novels as a teenager (in the 60’s). They were a gift from an Aunt and so collected dust on a shelf for a year or more. A virus turned me into a shut-in for a short season, and I dusted them off out of sheer boredom. I extended my illness for a couple of weeks until the whole series was finished. It was a journey into another world, one that had a way of changing the world I lived in. There were no elves that suddenly appeared nor was there an army of orcs invading my town. But there was an ache that I felt as I read that seemed to match an ache in my life. It took some years to discover the connection.
People have told stories from the earliest days of our existence. We do not have the words of the earliest stories, but we have seen their illustrations, recorded on the walls of caves. No one knows what how the stories went, but they seem to involved animals. The beauty of those animals tells us that the stories included wonder.
People have a way of seeing the world as a story. . .