Tenebrism, Tenebrae & Frankenstein

~ I am reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and must say that if there is such a thing as Literary Tenebrism, then this is it.

So I put some stuff together and came up w/ this.

Of the painters up above, Caravaggio is known for being the Tenebrist par excellence. Tenebrism is a form of painting that involves what can best be described as a lightening of the lights (and all colors) and a darkening of the darks. It is what you get (almost) when you have just candlelight. It is also very much so what happens in a church sanctuary when Tenebrae is observed.

Shelley’s writing is like that. She really highlights a lot of things within a scene and really gets involved in details giving them much color and yet – yet the whole story is set against a really dark background.

I will probably come back and post some excerpts here but the book is available for free online at Adelaide University.

Also here is an article I found online: The Theology of Frankenstein: Deism vs. Biblical Theism

Also will say – Mary Shelley is a must read. Don’t watch any Frankenstein movies unless you have read her first

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Swirly Cat

Been busy and also stuck on some other artwork (= Consider the Lilies), but in the meantime looking at something like those metallic fences or gate-like ornamentation gave me an idea. So here it is:

Swirly Cats Eat Swirly Things ~ RGB Rao

 ~ I could have done it a wee bit better, by working out a Rule of Thirds / Golden Ratio thing, but decided just to eye it.

Alternative title: En France, les chats mangent des escargots.

Land of Uz . . .

~ I recently did the pic below using Sketchbook Pro, a tool which is now free. The poem is something I wrote some years ago but I am setting it to the art along with a devotional by John Piper of Desiring God Ministries.

~ In the pic below we have a character from the Bible, Job seated on the floor. He is surrounded by some broken pottery. The story of Job is basically about this guy who goes through some intense trials and some intense processing thereof. I will put a link to an animated explanation to it down below.

Land of Uz

Words for the Wind

Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind? (Job 6:26)

In grief and pain and despair, people often say things they otherwise would not say. They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up. They sing in minor keys and talk as though that is the only music. They see clouds only and speak as if there were no sky.

They say, “Where is God?” Or: “There is no use to go on.” Or: “Nothing makes any sense.” Or: “There’s no hope for me.” Or: “If God were good, this couldn’t have happened.”

What shall we do with these words?

Job says that we do not need to reprove them. These words are wind, or literally “for the wind.” They will be quickly blown away. There will come a turn in circumstances, and the despairing person will waken from the dark night and regret hasty words.

Therefore, the point is, let us not spend our time and energy reproving such words. They will be blown away of themselves on the wind. One need not clip the leaves in autumn. It is a wasted effort. They will soon blow off of themselves.

O how quickly we are given to defending God, or sometimes the truth, from words that are only for the wind. If we had discernment, we could tell the difference between the words with roots and the words blowing in the wind.

There are words with roots in deep error and deep evil. But not all grey words get their color from a black heart. Some are colored mainly by the pain, the despair. What you hear is not the deepest thing within. There is something real within where they come from. But it is temporary — like a passing infection — real, painful, but not the true person.

Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind — spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul, not reproving the sore, is the aim of our love.

The Book of Job

Craig Keener’s Post: The faithless prayer meeting—Acts 12:5-16

~ I need to remember this for later – Do not want to lose track of it.

Excerpt:

The narrative bristles with irony:

  • Israelites at the first Passover were girded and sandaled, ready to escape captivity (Exod 12:11)—in contrast to Peter, at a later Passover season (Acts 12:4, 8)
  • Whereas the church is praying fervently for his deliverance (12:5, 12), Peter is sound asleep (12:6-7; cf. Luke 22:45)
  • Neither the people praying (Acts 12:12, 15) nor Peter himself (12:9) initially believe his release
  • Peter thought the angel he was seeing was a “vision” (12:7) just as Jesus’s male followers once had supposed that his female followers saw only a “vision” of angels (Luke 24:23)
  • An angel frees Peter (Acts 12:7-11) but his supporters suppose him an angel (or ghost; 12:15)—as some supposed when they saw the risen Lord (Luke 24:37)
  • When a woman joyfully proclaims his survival (Acts 12:14), others faithlessly dismiss her testimony like that of the women at the tomb (Luke 24:11)
  • Whereas Peter’s guards in 12:6, 10 fail to keep him in, in 12:13-15 his own supporters keep Peter out
  • Whereas the iron gate in 12:10 opens of its own accord, in 12:14 the gate of the house where fellow-Christians pray for his safety remains barred to him
  • Whereas Peter comes to his senses only when he recognizes that the “vision” (12:9) is real (12:11), believers accuse Rhoda of madness (12:15) for declaring Peter’s presence

To borrow an analogy from Luke’s Gospel, Those inside have been “knocking” in prayer that a figurative door may be “opened” for them (Luke 11:5-10), for Peter’s release (Acts 12:5, 12)—yet fail to believe that the answer to their prayers is knocking on their door!

Excerpt taken from The faithless prayer meeting—Acts 12:5-16

The Most Common Command & the Most Common Promise in the Bible is?

~ It is interesting to note that the most frequently found command in the Bible is ____________ Guess? It is not “Love one another” or “Love God” or “Forgive others” or “Do unto others”, etc. No. It is “Do not be afraid.” That is the most common command found in the Bible. It is given to the person reading the Bible as well as to various characters found in the Bible such as David or Jacob and ?!? Va va va voom – the Virgin Mary – Merry Christmas!


The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)

~ That said – there is something else in the Bible that is interesting and this is the most frequent promise found in the Bible. Like the command, this promise is also given to those reading the Bible and also to various characters and figures in the Bible. And what is the most frequent promise given in the Bible? It is “I [God] will be with you always.” Yes, God will always be with us – through good times and bad and even beyond the grave.

~ Now all that said – what is particularly interesting is that often enough the reason (i.e. rationale given) for the command is the promise. The command is grounded in the promise. 

~~> I.e. The reason you ought not to be afraid is because God is with you always.  

So what follows below is a smattering of verses that I started to collect and edit with said command or promise or both. This is just a smattering because it got to be too much work so I cut it short. Anyway here it is in case its of interest.

Genesis 15:1 “… the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. …”

Genesis 21:17 “God … said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid…”

Genesis 26:24 “That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “… Do not be afraid, for I am with you…”

And… Genesis 46:3, Numbers 21:34, Deuteronomy 1:21, Deuteronomy 2:4, Deuteronomy 3:2, Deuteronomy 3:22, Deuteronomy 7:18, … cut

Deuteronomy 20:1
“… do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.”

And … Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, Joshua 8:1, Joshua 10:8, Joshua 10:25, Joshua 11:6, Judges 6:23, 2 Kings 6:16, 2 Kings 19:6, 2 Kings 25:24, 1 Chronicles 22:13, 1 Chronicles 28:20, 2 Chronicles 20:15, 2 Chronicles 20:17, 2 Chronicles 32:7, Psalm 27:1, … cut

Matthew 10:31 “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Matthew 14:27 “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.

Luke 1:30 “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

Luke 2:10 “But the angel said to the Shepherds, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.'”

Revelation 1:17 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”

Jubilia 

~ The above is Jubilia. Its random stuff I made while experimenting around. I tried to convert it to a Mary with a yellow halo and stuff. It did not work so… it is what it is. 

Isaiah 6:3D

~ I was wondering if I could pull off some 3D stuff with the Hosea pic down below in a previous post. So I experimented and made this the night before. It consists of the word Holy Holy Holy! (in Hebrew) as found in Isaiah 6:3

“… they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; …”I used Blender 3D to make it and then created a video out of it. There is an error in it that I need to resolve. The script letters are individually backwards… but I will figure it out.

However WordPress would not let me upload videos unless I get a WP account for which I have to pay, so I converted it to an animated gif and loaded it.

The lighting is a little bit of an ehh… and these grid like lines showed up after I put it through the gif animator maker. Ehh again but whatever. Just an experiment.

Between the Wind and the Whirlwind ~

~ I am reading through Hosea and came across the verse below.  I know I’ve seen the verse before and I don’t just think in the Bible. It just has some kind of familiar literary ring to it. So anyway in thinking about what it means, I had an idea and decided to give it a whirl.

~ The Hebrew I got from two places. First I googled around and found a free Hebrew font, Stam Sepharad CFM from the kind folks at Open Siddur Project. Thanks!

I also got the verse from https://biblehub.com/texts/hosea/1-1.htm

I then pasted the verse into Affinity Designer, set it to the d/l’d font and played around. Since Hebrew is read right to left, I was curious how this would work.

*Note: If some of those letters looked scrunched or upside down, etc., thats ok. It a whirlwind… To get the effect that I want, I think I will ultimately have to do this in 3D.

The Most Common Trait in Great Men ~ From Head Heart Hand (D. Murray)

~ The following excerpt is from a post on Dr. David Murray’s blog, Head Heart Hand. It contains a lesson that I do not want to forget, so I am posting a part of it here. Its a note that Dr. Murray has taken from a book (down below) on Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.

“Looking back, however, his biographer highlighted one pivotal period in his life. Truman took seriously ill with diphtheria while in first grade and was packed in snow to try and reduce his dangerous fever. He ended up being paralyzed for a year, but it was during that year when he took up reading. He read the Bible, especially Matthew and Exodus, but he also read a set of books, called Heroes of History. As he read about Moses, Cyrus, Hannibal, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses Grant, and many others, he noticed one common trait in them all. Here’s how he put it in his diary:

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves . . . Self-discipline with all of them came first.”

It was a trait that he himself quietly cultivated and strengthened over many years and through many difficult providences, never realizing the greatness he was being prepared for.”

 

In The Meanwhiles…Self-Forgetfulness

~To Do: Continue to look into 1 Corinthians 4:1-4 and also what Tim Keller says about it in his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

The above relates to identity.

snip: “I care very little if I am judged by you…”

Quite often people tell us who we are. For better or worse, this can have a powerful impact on us. The whole 1000+ pages of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is all about that. Let me slip that in. Why not?

From Fantine, Book 1, An Upright Man, I., Monsieur Myriel – Paragraph 2

“Although it in no way concerns our story, it might be worthwhile, if only for the sake of accuracy, to mention the rumors and gossip about him that were making the rounds when he first came to the diocese. Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.“ ~ Victor Hugo

So people – you, Joe, Jane, Jasminder, etc., judge us and in that process unwittingly tell us who we are or think we are. This can have a powerful molding effect.

snip: “…or by any human court.”

Like so with human institutions. They too can judge us and in effect tell us who we are or think we are. So and so forth.

However… here comes the “Huh?” The apostle Paul says also,

snip: “… indeed, I do not even judge myself.”

~ Huh? What does that mean?

~ I am still thinking about this and have not put my thoughts together. I will have to keep reading Keller’s book. I’m think that part of where he is going to go is that we need to be care not to go too far into self-consciousness. There is a certain kind of freedom that comes with not being too self-conscious. My 2 cent suspicion.

Ok. Ciao.

Oh yeah. Le chat! What does the cat have to do with anything here? Nothing. Just was doodling around and did it and so I thought I would throw it in. So zip. Nada. Nothing.

Patience & Persuasion

~ I just made this… I see too many internet wars being waged on various social media venues.  A lot of it seems to involve persuading others of one’s point of view by way of fixing them, controlling them, shaming them, etc. I don’t think any of it actually works. What happens instead is that people only get hardened in what they already believed in and the rage climbs higher.

~ What people do not seem to realize is that, if you fail to persuade properly (i.e. being rude, crude, etc.), then you actually undo yourself.

~ It could have been otherwise had a less bellicose approach been taken.

Lion From Zion

Reworked… take n

I made this using Affinity Designer.

~ The above did not come out quite as I expected. I was doing one thing, then I got an idea for another thing and so took a detour and well, this is what I wound up with. It is something quite different than what I had done on paper.  Its a bit of a blah, but oh well whatever.

As for the Hebrew up above, its a partial quote from the book of Amos and it says “The Lord roars from Zion …” Amos is a fairly obscure and unheard of book that nevertheless contains a verse which many people actually might have heard of, viz.,

~~~> “But let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  ~ Amos 5:24

This was a major motto of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also preached a sermon, “Let Justice Roll Down” referring to it.  In addition, he also referred to it in his unforgettably famous “I Have a Dream” speech back in 63′, and that to wit is,

“We cannot be satisfied so long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I Have a Dream

~ The latter is worth googling if you are not familiar with it.   Oks… Ciao…

On Completing Others

~ The following is a very touching scene from a movie I saw years ago, the romantic comedy, Jerry Maguire. In this scene, Jerry (Tom Cruise) in so many words, basically affirms his undying love for this woman, Dorothy (Renée Zellweger(!)). What he says is unforgettable:

~ My thought. I’ll be honest. When it comes to the above, I am part of the cynical world. No human completes another. I mean what happens to Maguire if Dorothy dies tomorrow?

Does he go back to being incomplete?

Picasso: From Guernica to Grace

~ The following is a post that I have had in [Draft] status for a long time. Its an essay that I’ve worked on over and over but just have not been able to fix its numerous aching defects. So… So there comes a time, when you just have to put it out there anyway. Oh well. So it goes. Whatever. So anyway, here it is. What can I say? The time has come to put this to death by giving it life.

Pablo Picasso speaks to the fallen-ness of this world.  His paintings are at first blush misshapen, grotesque, distorted, tortuous and bitterly twisted! I.e. They are fallen. However on second blush, and third what one can draw out of his work is beauty. And this is an interesting sort of beauty that one can draw out, for it is something like a fallen beauty, that is to say, it is something sourced in or derived from something fallen. It is a beauty from ugliness.

This world presents to us both ugliness and beauty in all its glory.  Just turn on the evening news or open up the papers.  From tornadoes ravaging Iowa to an 80 year old steam pipe blast in Manhattan spewing asbestos everywhere, what we find is a glorious ugliness. This is the world that you and I live in. Its broken. However this is also the world that Picasso lived in and grappled with and therein lies hope.  Consider the following painting by Picasso, Guernica. 

Guernica, 1937 – Pablo Picasso

At first blush, a Guernica world sees the world in black and white.  Here truth begets truth and only begets truth. Here too beauty begets beauty, goodness, goodness, and of course lie begets lie, ugliness, ugliness and so on.  Indeed here, Guernica begets Guernica and only itself. It begins with itself and dies with and within itself. It is its own grave. At first blush.

Yet Guernica is only one painting. When we look at the whole world, we see that there is also another begetting, and this is grace begetting grace. This is a very different kind of begetting, for grace begets itself through others.

On second blush, Grace draws color out of Guernica and gives one eyes to see the Guernica behind the Guernica. The world is not simply about good people doing good things and bad people doing bad things – do’s and don’ts without a divine Because. No, grace takes you out of a gaunt What and takes you to a transcendental Why, and all through a heavenly Who.

Picasso painted Guernica in 1937. He painted it in response to the Nazi bombing of the Basque village of Guernica in Spain. Picasso never really explained Guernica all that much. I don’t know why. Perhaps he wanted you to blush twice. If you think hard enough about Guernica or any work of art, you will find yourself seeking seeking something more, something greater, something wondrous, and yea even exhilarating – something that can only come by way of grace. This takes us to the primary work that is of grace.

When grace begets grace, then ugliness begets beauty. This is what grace does. It  draws out beauty from ugliness, not simply beauty from beauty.  When grace begets grace, it draws out good from bleak and hopeless, and yea even disgracefully evil situations. Grace redeems. When grace begets grace, it draws out a truth that is felt from a truth that is just bare-bones known. As it says in the Good Book, “Love rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Love does not and cannot simply know the truth.  

When grace begets grace, you see Picasso’s full palette.

Le Reve (The Dream) – 1932

Paul David Tripp Quote

~ I found the following article which taking a look at the Articles list at Crossway Books:

10 Things You Should Know about Sex by Paul David Tripp

~ I want to basically excerpt something that he said and post it here:

4. Sex cannot satisfy your heart.
Sex is powerfully pleasurable, but it cannot satisfy your heart. The touch of another person stimulates your body and your heart, but it never leaves you fulfilled. …

Whether we know it or not, every human being lives in search of a savior. We are all propelled by a quest for identity, inner peace, and some kind of meaning and purpose. And we all look for it somewhere. Here’s the bottom line: looking to creation to get what only the Creator can give you always results in addiction of some kind.”

~ What is of interest to me is are the four things that Tripp mentions that he thinks all people are in a quest for. Here are the four with my own elaborations:

  1. Identity
  2. Inner Peace
    1. I would say that this is the same as Contentment or Happiness in the sense of human flourishing, not simply split second pleasures.
  3. Meaning 
    1. I call it the Meaning of Life, i.e. the Story of Stories or the Grand overarching Meta-narrative (think Superstory).  We are all searching to be part of a story – a story that lasts and one that in particular has a happy ending. When we are part of the Story, our lives have direction (i.e. purpose) and we have identity (think cast of characters).  When we are part of the Story, we are part of something larger than ourselves, i.e. significance. And of course, when we are part of the Story, we have a sense of belonging, i.e. identity again. (Our lives are not simply suspended in mid-air.) The question is: “Is the story that we are a part of, one that is broken?” or “Is our story a part of a greater Story of Stories, one that can reach down, bend over and fix our broken story?”
  4. Purpose
    1. Purpose is not the same this as “the Meaning of Life”, an expression which is meant to encapsulate the whole of life. Rather Purpose is a subset. I call it something like “What is the Meaning of MY Life?”. That is to say, Purpose has to do with not just why all humans are here or what all humans are to do, but more specifically, why am I here and what am I do to do in this life? (~ I still have to resolve how this relates to significance.)

~ Here also is a brief clip on who Tripp is: 

Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries.

 

Lazy Sunday…

~ Just made the following w/ Affinity Designer. I had in mind to do a certain something with the line work, but so far have not succeeded in doing that something. Oh. Well – another day I suppose.  In the meantime, I guess I will go read something by Hemingway or someone … Siyanaras!

Face Test

 

Knowing vs. Teaching | Bezalel & Oholiab

~ In the book of Exodus, we find mentioned, two artists par excellent.  These are Bezalel and Oholiab. One place among many that you can read about them is Exodus 35:30-35,

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And He has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. (NIV)

~ Now what I find interesting about this verse is that it is saying not only that God gave these guys the ability to do art, but God also gave them the ability to teach others how to do art.

As regards verse 34, Walt Kaiser says in his commentary,

“Verse 34 adds that Bezalel is given “the ability to teach others,” a capability of training and guiding assistants who work with these two artificers. All the abilities these gifted craftsmen own come from the expertise God has given to them.”

Kaiser, Jr., Walter C., Exodus (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7881-7883). Zondervan. 

~ I find this interesting because we meet a lot of people in life who are super-smart at Neuroscience or Astrophysics or whatever, but you ask them to explain one jot of it and in no time, they are sort of out in who-knows-where-land and you have no clue what they are talking about.  And… and … they don’t quite get that you don’t get it. They just keep going, going, going. The plane is not about to land anytime soon.

All that said and aside – two quick points:

  1. I think that teaching has to be learned like anything else. We all too often assume that to know something well means that you can automatically teach that something well. Why? Why assume that?
  2. We also assume that while every subject under the sky is learn-able, teaching is somehow not. We assume that teaching skills are somehow something that one is born with – something innate. Why?

No. Point in fact, people need to be taught how to teach, not just be told to teach or assumed able to teach.  Teaching is an area we all need to grow in. 

Palanquin Bearers by Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu

~ I am surprised I missed this poem. I thought I had posted on it before… but in doing a search through my posts, I cannot find it. Soeee….here it is – Palanquin Bearers by the poet, writer and former President of the Indian National Congress, Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949). I have to post the poem, because it bears an interesting contrast with Song of Songs.

Palanquin Bearers by Sarojini Naidu

Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,
She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;
She skims like a bird on the foam of a stream,
She floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream.
Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Softly, O softly we bear her along,
She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;
She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,
She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.
Lightly, O lightly we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Royal Palanquin in Mehrangarh Fort out in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

~ Echoes of a Voice ~

~ I am reading a really interesting article, A Way Forward For Pastor-Apologists: Navigating The Apologetic Method Debate by Joshua D. Chatraw, which discusses four echoes of God’s voice that take us beyond our everyday mundane reality (or at least push in that direction).

Chatraw sources the ideas for these four echoes from the N.T. Wright book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. Since I do not have that book, I cannot source the original discussion and so I am just going to take notes by doing a cut and paste from the Chatraw article which can be found online (pdf).

Simply Christian

Here is the excerpt which I find fascinating:

“N. T. Wright’s book Simply Christian serves as an example of what could be called soft experiential/narratival apologetics.36

Four basic human experiences,
namely

the quest for spirituality,
a longing for justice,
a hunger for relationships,
and a delight in beauty

(which Wright describes as the “echoes of a voice”), function as the threads that run through this apologetic.37 Wright takes up each of these signposts one at a time, connecting Christian belief with common human experience.

For instance, in reference to the “echo” of a longing for justice, Wright asserts that “simply being human and living in the world” means we have an intuitive desire for justice.38 The Christian story offers an explanation, suggesting that obtaining justice “remains one of the great human goals and dreams” because we have all “heard, deep within [our]selves, the echo of a voice which calls us to live like that.” Moreover, the Christian story explains that the source of this voice, God himself, became human in the person of Jesus Christ and did what was necessary in order that justice could ultimately be done for all.39

Essentially, what Wright is saying is, “Just about everyone has this sense that things are just not right with the world? So, what story best explains this intuition and provides the resources for us to respond appropriately? In addition to a longing for justice, Wright does this with each of the four human experiences—commending the Christian story as the best account of the human experience.”

~ The following is a book that Dr. Chatraw has recently published along with Dr. Mark D. Allen which also discusses the above issue.

Apologetics At The Cross

~ I would take notes from there however, I currently have the book in audio format only, and not in print.

Preach to Yourself

~ The following is an old devotional from John Piper that I do not wish to forget:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

We must learn to fight despondency. The fight is a fight of faith in future grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his promised future.

This is what the psalmist does in Psalm 42. The psalmist preaches to his troubled soul. He scolds himself and argues with himself. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! — Trust in what God will be for you in the future. A day of praise is coming. The presence of the Lord will be all the help you need. And he has promised to be with us forever.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes this issue of preaching truth to ourselves about God’s future grace is all-important in overcoming spiritual depression.

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking . . . yourself is talking to you!

The battle against despondency is a battle to believe the promises of God. And that belief in God’s future grace comes by hearing the Word. And so preaching to ourselves is at the heart of the battle.

Walk Into Your Weakness!

~ The below painting dates back to the early 14th century. It is by the Persian historian, writer and vizier, Muhammad Bal’ami. I found it on Wiki. It is part of work called the Tarikh-i Bal’ami, which since I do not know Arabic, I cannot comment on.

The Slaying of Goliath by David With a Stone From His Sling ~ Bal’ami Tarikhnama (14th Cent)

~ We are all familiar with the story of David and Goliath. Here are some thoughts and snips from an email I sent to some of my friends:

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.” ~ 1 Sam. 17

So the Valley of Elah is shaped like a triangle and you have the Israelites on one side and the Philistines on the other, each camped on the hills. The Valley itself is empty down below. So here is the logic of the landscape:

~ Goliath notwithstanding, whoever goes down first into the valley – whether it be the Israelites or whether it be the Philistines – are at a disadvantage. Why? (1) Those going first, will have to face a hail of arrows, javelins, spears, sling-stones and rocks coming down from the other army up on the mountainside, and (2) if they make it through all that and on to the bottom of the Valley, then they have to run uphill to face the enemy. This is tiresome.

So the question becomes – who will go down first? Who will enter the Valley first? So you taunt, jeer, and hurl challenges to the other side to get them to come down first. Or … Or you settle it quick by having your champions meet, then let them have it out, pne against the other and then let it be decided right there and then. All that simply to say…

“Walk Into Your Weakness!”
~ We often like walking or operating in our strengths. However there are going to be various times in life where we will be called to walk into our weakness. That is to say, we will have to step into an area of life where we will find ourselves unable to call a single muscle fiber to action and find ourself paralyzed – though with a thousand nerve fibers firing! And yet, we will find that when we walk into our weakness, then “…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Why? Because 2 Cor. 12:9 tells us that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:11 also says “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Weakness seems to be God’s preferred weapon. It is a major theme of not just 2 Cor 12, but the whole book of 2 Corinthians.

In meditating on 1 Sam 17, I see weakness in action in two ways.

First David walks into weakness, by not donning any armor, sword, helmet, etc. Contrast this with Goliath’s glitzy armored car display.

Second when David defeats Goliath (weakness triumphant!), the Israelites follow suit and walk – nay! – run into weakness.They charge into the Valley of Elah. They run into a position of vulnerability, i.e. a strategically weak position in the Valley, where they ought to meet an hail of arrows, javelins, spears, sling-stones and heck boulders being hurled or rolled down on them. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory!

So – what are your weaknesses? Could God be calling you to walk into some of them? To take off the worldly armor of Goliath and put on the invisible armor of God. So what are your weaknesses? Public speaking? Talking to a relative about anger management issues? Talking to a difficult person at the workplace? What is your Valley of Elah?

In the Valley of Elah

(~ Did not know that there was a movie with said name. I have not seen yet it so I am not endorsing it, although Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor.)

Twice-Defeated

~ Very recently there have been a number of disconcerting things taking place in the USA. These have to do with not only an event happening, but so also the response to them. Act and response have both been ugly. Here is my two cents worth on this:

~ While you can win a battle once and only once, you can most certainly lose it twice.

Brooklyn

One sultry afternoon while walking the streets of Brooklyn, I snapped this…

~ I daresay, I rather like this photo, though I think I can improve upon it… If I make it back there… snap…