Thursday, June 23, 2011


The Bible talks a lot about sacrifice, about waiting and hoping. But lately I've been thinking about how it talks about rewards and reaping and feasting. I don't have any specific questions except: what do you know about those?

UNFURL: “...he bore a tall staff, as it were a standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many thongs. ‘It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell. She wrought in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!’ ”
“Behold! Upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold. Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur’s heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor…” – JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King

FRUIT - "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who ABIDES in Me, and I in him, bears muchfruit; for without Me you can do nothing." – John 15:5

FULFILLMENT - "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them." – Psalm 145:19
"For I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." – Luke 22:16
"But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves." – John 17:13

REAP – “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.' – Psalm 126:5-6
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” – Galatians 6:9

PERFECT - "YHWH will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O YHWH, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands." - Psalm 138:8

BURGEON - to begin to grow, as a bud; put forth buds, shoots, etc., as a plant. ( "For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord YHWH will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." - Isaiah 61:11

FINISH – Jesus is the finisher. He does finish. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." – Hebrews 12:2
"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" - Philippians 1:6

CULMINATE – “And the 2nd day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did 6 days. But it came to pass on the 7th day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city 7 times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city 7 times.
And the 7th time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: "Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!"... So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Joshua 6:14-20

CONSUMMATION - completion. perfection; fulfillment. (
Not an ending, though... Sometimes completion is a good place to start. Congrats to my cousin and his new bride!

JUBILEE - "His deep desire was for forgiveness; He longed to see their liberty & His yearning was embodied in the Year of Jubilee. At the Lord's appointed time His deep desire became a Man, the heart of all true jubilation & with joy we understand: in His voice we hear a trumpet soundthat tells us we are free! He is the incarnation of the Year of Jubilee."
“And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.” – Leviticus 25:10

FEAST - "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end." – Exodus 34:22
FEAST - "And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees… And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." – Isaiah 25:6, 9
FEAST - "Then he said to me, Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God." – Revelation 19:9

CELEBRATE – “Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.” – Nehemiah 12:27

To God be all glory.

Each Bite

I sat beside a stone fountain that wasn’t running.  In my hand I held a small paper cup with one scoop of chocolate ice cream in it.  My other hand wielded a long-handled spoon.  The day was hot enough to insist on rolling down car windows or turning up the AC.  But in Aurora, tens of miles from mountain ranges in the west, the sunset on the longest day of the year was already approaching.  Above the sky was still bright blue, but washed-out by the yellow evening glow.

Carefully, thoughfully, I dipped the tip of my spoon into the ice cream scoop and brought the one round bite to my tongue.  Texture.  Taste.  Temperature.  I summoned my attention to them all even as my spirit offered gratitude to God.  The semisweet chocolate was so good – a bit bitter, still creamy, sharp and round and sweet and cold but melting.  Without thinking the spoon went into the cup again, brought out a bit larger bite, and I remembered just before it touched my lips: this dessert is for experiencing.  I slowed down, and enjoyed another bite. 

“You’re not in a hurry,” I coached myself.  “You can sit here and watch the sunset and eat your ice cream.”  So I took little spoonfuls into my mouth and savored. 

Not that anything was imminent, I realized that I was bound by a sort of natural limit: ice cream melts.  If I steadily enjoyed my cup of bliss, no problems.  But if I dilly-dallied, drew out each mouthful unnecessarily, holding it in my mouth until the flavor was all diluted with saliva, or balance-walked the edge of the fountain with the ice cream waiting in my hand, then the experience would diminish into a cup of sweet chocolate soup, and might in the evening’s heat even get a bit warm. 

And then I thought life is kind of like that.  I need to savor each moment, living it to the full.  But if I hold on to moments and try not to let change happen, it’s going to ruin it.  And if instead of being where I am, I’m worrying or regretting or complaining, that’s not the point either. 

I finished the last bite of creamy chocolate and scraped the bottom of the cup with my spoon.  Then I hopped up, slung my purse over my shoulder, dropped the disposable serviceware into the trash can nearby, and twirled to lift first one leg and then another over the low place in a chain-scallop separating the plaza from the drive.  Back in my car, I drove home with a smile. 

To God be all glory.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pigfest Excursion - June 2011

Fifteen adults and ten kids filled the house of my friends and long time fellow Pigfesters for a Pigfest of their own this weekend.  There was a craft project (pig masks) for the kids, and plenty of farm-fare for our feast.  Lasting about four hours total, we covered five full-length debates and two miniature ones (something introduced last year at the Pigfest of June 2010).  The three guests who had never before participated in a Pigfest all jumped in with the appropriate gusto. 

The so-named “Great Commission” applies only to the 11 original apostles, and as it is poor hermeneutics to force its expansion to all Christians, we ought to demote its greatness.  (Mark 16:14-18) was read.  Evangelism would still not be out of order, but it is not – as is commonly preached to believers – commanded to everyone.  “Those who believe” in Mark’s account of Jesus’ final command would then refer not to all who are likewise preaching the gospel, but to those who have received the apostles’ message with faith (certain signs are predicted to “follow those who believe.”)  Both Matthew and Mark specify that Jesus was speaking to the eleven apostles when He gave the commission.  Did Jesus expect only those eleven men to reach the whole world, as the commission instructs?  The biblical concept of “whole world” could have meant merely Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (everyone else).  Also it could have meant the known world – evidence is that Paul (an apostle who was not one of the eleven) was seeking to take the gospel to Spain because it was one of the ends of the earth.  Christians with callings besides evangelism are not failing when they don’t preach the gospel, if this commission does not apply to them.  Are we exalting the command we’ve appropriated and exaggerated over other commands or callings?  Did the “Great Commission” apply to Matthias, who was selected to return the number of apostles to twelve; and if so, does that mean the command and promises applies to all who, by authority of or recognition by the original apostles, succeed them – or even to all who have the calling or gifting to apostleship?  Does not the command itself, to make disciples, indicate that the converts are to become like the apostles and thus inherit their mission?  When Jesus says “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” is this very instruction exempt?  Essentially, whatever is preached today in evangelism is the apostles’ very teachings (or at least those recorded in Scripture) so that in a way it is still those men who are being used by God to fulfill this commission.

Fathers should work outside the home, because it is more efficient.  Not all dads, though, are inefficient working in the home.  Different occupations and different house layouts and different family styles would change the efficiency of working from home.  For example, working at home would function better if the work was done in the downstairs shop or in the smithy across the yard or the fields behind the house.  If women and children would leave the men alone while they’re working, instead of taking advantage of their presence as though the men had nothing else to do, more work could be done.  However, women have much work to do around the house that they manage to get done despite the presence of children – and, where applicable, of husbands (who sometimes by their proximity can cause as much distraction and hindrance as children).  When men are home they have the advantage of not missing out on their families.  If some milestone is reached, he can witness it or participate in it.  But he would be sacrificing socialization with other workers, other fathers and husbands, that he would typically get at work.  Also the possibility of distraction – and distance from the other people working on the same project or employing the man – does make his work less efficient.  There is value in kids seeing dad work.  Are they going to be brought “out of the home” to witness that – or even to participate in it?  It seems to be assumed that more is better in time spent with family, but there can be a limit reached after which it is healthier for the family relationships for each member to get out, to be around other people who have nothing to do with their family.  Working outside the home is an opportunity for that.  (It was interjected that the same could apply to women, needing breaks, and a weekly activity like MOPS was suggested – though that usually involves considerably less time away from the family than a man’s career would.  Maybe men should get out of the house only once a week, like the women?)  It is a concern that the children of men working from home are getting used to an unrealistic world that will not always be available to them (Mommy and Daddy won’t always be around to give them attention and help, and it is not likely they will be able to find jobs with such flexibility to allow them to be home with their families most of the time either.)  Agrarian societies are more ideal, a blend of working as a family and having access to home but also getting out of the domestic environment.  Are we going to revolutionize society back to a work structure that would be more ideal?  Is it worth it to try to live like agrarians when the jobs we have are technology- and information- based?  How much does the marriage relationship of wife as helper apply to a husband’s work?  Could he benefit from having his wife’s help in his work?  Or is the wife’s help limited to raising the kids and keeping the house for him?  Can she help him with his job once he comes home from an away job?  Fathers are given the responsibility of teaching their children, and being at home more often is the best way to do that.  They can also, then, emotionally support their wives who would be crazy being home alone with young children so much. 

5 Minutes:
We should stockpile chocolate for trading during hyper-inflation emergencies, rather than precious metals.  Chocolate would be difficult to store and transport since it melts.  Are higher chocolate concentrations better, like gold over silver?  (You can always add milk and sugar later, right?)  Maybe we shouldn’t bother, because if hyper-inflation comes, we’ll all be in big trouble and won’t be able to protect our stockpile.  So perhaps it would be better to invest in a non-precious metal: lead, like John Wayne.  It would be tempting to eat your chocolate currency yourself.  Then again, this could be seen as an advantage.  This trade good, unlike precious metals, is useful for something.  It has some nutritional value: protein, iron, sugars – along with being an aphrodisiac.  As people consume the chocolate, the amounts remaining become increasingly valuable.  Now is a good time to pursue a chocolate investment as the world’s chocolate supply is being threatened by war in Libya (one of the world’s largest chocolate producers).  It could be to our advantage to employ a community effort to invest in chocolate, choosing carefully who is to be in charge of “loss prevention.”  As a short-term measure, which is unlikely for a hyper-inflation scenario, it might actually work.

Practical Christianity is more important for knowing (pleasing and trusting) God than reading Scripture for oneself.  For most of history 75 percent of the Christian world has been illiterate, so this is the only reasonable conclusion.  Examples of practical Christianity are: the sacraments (including penance/confession of sin, baptism, communion, confirmation/laying on of hands and praying for a believer to receive the Holy Spirit, marriage, praying for the sick, holy orders including Christian ministry and missions and monasticism), evangelism, testimony/sharing what Christ has done for us, oral Scripture reading/hearing, almsgiving, listening to God, rest in Christ/finding out what it means that Christ fulfills the Sabbath for us, peace-making/judging disputes.  Also suggested was James’ instruction to care for widows and orphans.  If someone is able to read, reading Scripture is the most important way to know about God.  What about pleasing Him or trusting Him?  Life experiences or examples leave us all to assumptions about the character of God, and to doubts when faced with discouraging events – lacking the assurance of a clear description of God from the Bible.  People with different experiences from one another could wind up believing in a different God.  We also run the risk of worshiping traditions, the rituals of the religion (similar to pagan religions), and our own works rather than worshiping a worthy God.  What differentiates us from the other religions is the revelation of God in His book.  But are we equating reading Scripture with understanding God?  Who is to say that by reading we get an accurate interpretation or comprehension?  The disciples were recognized as unschooled men whose power came because they had been with Jesus.  Perhaps the most important thing is to spend time with Christ – but how is that done?  Christians have always had access to some Scripture (even if it was only passages different members had memorized).  Originally most Christians had a familiarity with the Old Testament, at least.  In the Old Testament, Israel was commanded to write the words of God in prominent places where it would always be in their way, so God must have seen it as important.  David also highly valued his ability to “meditate” on the Law or the word of God.  When the temple was finished, this great practical work of faith, it was culminated with the reading of Scripture, with reminding the people of the precept-style truths.  Public reading could substitute for private reading in most of these instances.  Scripture itself tells us to do what we hear.  But how do we know what to do if we don’t read Scripture?  So certainly personal Bible reading comes first.  Do we feel like we can get all we need to please God by private reading – as personal as Christianity is – so that we are missing out on better ways (taking advantage of the community, the Church, that God has given us)?  To know God you have to heed His word.  Scripture has been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that God is not limited to what we have read in the Bible to guide us for our daily lives or to reveal Himself to us.  The Bible says “Don’t be ignorant” four times: spiritual gifts, the return of Christ, and two other things – possibly one of them is Scripture?  (Addendum: List of verses about not being ignorant, in addition to 1 Corinthians 12:1 )

5 minutes:
Unicorns have existed, will exist, and appear throughout the Bible.  Scriptures in Numbers, Job, Psalms, the prophets (esp. Isaiah), and Deuteronomy use a unique Hebrew word translated in the King James as “unicorn.”  It may not mean the mythical beast we think of: a horse with wings and a horn and magical powers, but it does not mean “wild ox” as other versions translate it, including NKJV.  The very context rules out an “ox” interpretation.  Also there are 7 other words that actually refer to oxen; the Old Testament authors weren’t lacking such a word to use; they obviously meant something else.  What did they mean?  When the Western (Christian) world first encountered rhinos in Africa, they called them unicorns because of the single horn on a rhinoceros’ nose.  Also we have discovered fossils of extinct deer with one horn on the head.  However, a deer would not likely be strong enough to fit the Bible’s descriptions.  On the other hand, one of the passages describes the unicorn as “skipping,” an unlikely activity for rhinos.  Usually the animal is associated with strength and not being able to be tamed for domestic purposes like plowing.  Isaiah’s mention of unicorns is in an as yet unfulfilled prophecy, so unicorns, whatever they are, must also exist in the future.  (Addendum: Blue Letter Bible entry for the word “unicorn” including occurrences and Hebrew dictionary  This scene from The Gods Must Be Crazy was also referenced. )

Scripture is what has been traditionally and historically what the people of God have accepted as Scripture, not what the authors originally wrote.  (Example the passage in John 8 that “earliest and most reliable manuscripts” do not contain would be considered Scripture.)  The miraculous preservation of Scripture has been a doctrine taught by the Church and used as a defense of the authority of the Bible.  Basically it is taught that God has guarded the Bible, the words He wanted His church to have, throughout the centuries.  How long does something have to be unchanged or accepted in order to count as “preserved”?  Are we talking about translations, too, or texts based on the translations – especially the Septuagint?  If preservation is God’s miraculous way, and He intended for us to accept as Scripture the books as originally written, why didn’t God preserve the original manuscripts themselves?  Does this proposition increase the necessity of historical analysis – or decrease – and what does that say about the centuries of people who did not have access to the archaeological information we are uncovering today?  Is the preservation doctrine even biblical?  “Not one jot or tittle will pass away.”  It seems historical that there has been a miraculous preservation of the Bible – compare to Homer or even Shakespeare.  Isn’t a changed text, as the resolution suggests has happened, evidence against preservation having fully happened?  Are we allowed to start “affirming” or “accepting” some new parts to books or entirely new books now?  The original process of canonization included checking for authorship of passages.  But the number one rule was “Has it been accepted by the Church as Scripture?”  The texts we have received have been the Byzantine versions because they were more organized about copying and spreading their texts. 

Due to the amount of corruption in our current government system, we should exploit technology to make representatives accountable.  Democracy is possible, not too unwieldy, with technology today.  All citizens could have a voice in the way they want their representatives to vote if we set up some computerized system for tallying input.  Then if congressmen and senators do not follow the will of their constituents, we could vote them out of office next term.  The object would also be to reduce the influence of lobbyists: the loud minority.  Apathy, now and after a technological system is established, would be at least as great a problem as corruption.  But perhaps people would be less apathetic if they were given new hope that their voice mattered.  As the system stands today, to have any impact we the little people would have to start at the lower levels of primaries – it is very unlikely that the candidate that we really want is making it to the full election, and then who wants to vote for the lesser or slower of two evils?  Technology could make it easier to participate in small ways, easing citizens into involvement.  Most people who are eligible to vote shouldn’t, because the bills being considered – even if they were read in their hundreds of pages entirety – are too complicated to be comprehensible to the layperson.  In a more accountable, participation-oriented system, the bills would be necessarily written in the language of the citizen, which could be a huge advantage.  But most people who can vote shouldn’t because people are selfish, and a more democratic system like this being proposed would turn into a war of personal interests rather than the representative ideal of good men making decisions for the common good, seeing the big picture.  Technology could potentially eliminate the party system by giving voters more access to information about candidates.  Then we could vote based on character, actions, and positions instead of on affiliation.  However the party system does make the election process less cumbersome.  It is assumed that candidates identifying themselves with a certain party adhere to its platform positions on issues.  Also rather than going through each of a thousand candidates, you can seek for the ones in the party that most represents you – although we may need more than two parties to accomplish that.  However, if your attempt is to defeat the lobbyists, even in a technological system like this, they can be louder than the majority because they will participate whereas the average man still doesn’t think it’s worth it.  The way to stop lobbyists is to make it criminal for a citizen not to vote.  We could still use the technology to inform the legislators of the ideas and opinions of those whom they represent – but not in a way so directly affecting voting.  And the communication could go both ways fairly easily.  Christians are becoming a minority voice, similar to lobbyists.  If we empower the majority, what risks will that have for us and our children?  Persecution strengthens individual faith and the Church as a whole.  But should we pursue persecution, vote it into being?  Even increasing the voice of the people won’t fix corruption because the majority will be wicked, or tends to be.  And every vote continues the slide away from righteousness.  Monarchy, as archaic as it sounds, has the best chance of a truly righteous government (though you run the risk of occasional or even frequent tyrannical rulers as well) because while the whole people will very likely never be God-fearing, one king here and there might. 

Also suggested, though not debated:
Caffeine and alcohol ought to be regulated, only consumed by prescription.

People don’t say what they mean, either, so you don’t know any more about them than you do about a dog’s dream. (quote from Get Low)

To God be all glory.