The Church in India…

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The following is a really good article posted over at The Gospel Coalition. The title is “The Gospel in India” and it is by Aubrey Sequeira. It is worth reading twice at least.

Here is an excerpt:

” … Recently, I had the opportunity to interview three faithful Indian pastors. Vivek Jones oversees the Marg family of churches, a vibrant gospel-centered church network with three congregations in the city of Pune, an urban hub in Central India. He also gives leadership to E3 ministries and is associated with Acts 29 in the India region. Edison D’Souza pastors Cross Cultured Church in Mysore, a growing and largely unreached city in Southern India. “Harry” (name changed) pastors a church in a historic northern Indian city and is involved in planting healthy churches across the rural landscape.

This interview offers insights into the state of the church in India, the encouraging and discouraging aspects of ministry there, how Western believers can more fruitfully serve their Eastern brothers, and more. … “

~ Two quick comments:
(1) I resonate with a lot of what is said in the post.  A lot of what was mentioned there –  the good and the bad – have been my observations from my times spent in and out of India.

(2) In the post, there is this movement mentioned, viz. the hyper-grace movement. I had never heard of it before. So I googled it. Here is a post on the concept of hyper-grace at gotQuestions.org, “What is hyper-grace?”

Also: 8 Signs of ‘Hypergrace’ Churches by Joseph Mattera over at CharismaNews

When the Dead Give Life …

When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” 15 Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows …

ElishaAndJoash

20 Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet. ~ 2 Kings 13:14, 15, 20+

~ I have an aunt who is a psychiatrist. She once walked into the room of a new patient and the patient said to her, “Oh. You can’t help me. You don’t know what I have been through!”

Up above we have a story of how Elisha, a man who during his life healed quite a few people and yet now was sick and headed towards death. Then we move forward in his story a short bit to his death and find out something else interesting. Even while dead, he gave life to someone.

Could my aunt have given life to her patient? Or did she need to go out and get felled by the thing that felled this person and then come back and be on with counseling saying “I know just how you feel?”

~ But thats not really what I wanted to talk about… per this story… Here is what . . .

– Some people cannot draw a line. However they are great art critics. In fact their critiques can be so constructive that an artist with an open ear can actually improve in their artwork.

– Some people cannot preach a sentence. However they can give such good feedback on a sermon heard that the preacher becomes much better. Though they themselves are dead in the pulpit, they however can give life to others in the pulpit.

– An English Lit. prof may at best write dead prose and just even on a good day may not be able to write a line of poetry or fiction. However she may be a fantastic writing coach to her students.

– The list of examples goes on… however there was one that I thought flashed my mind, but I have lost it. Cannot remember…

~ ~ I think I now remember… sometimes when you are preparing a message, you may find that you are not getting impacted by it as you should. So you think to yourself, how can I preach this. If I am not feeling anything, how can others? Should you just not bother?

Not necessarily. The fact of the matter is that no matter your condition, the Holy Spirit can still use your work to impact others. Just because you are perhaps in a hopefully temporarily lapsed state does not mean that the message will not effect anyone.

Work & Redemption … CB2 L8R ~ Scratchwork…

Tentative: think all this stuff through later…

~ How does work relate to redemption?

– In one sense, we use the term redemption to describe what took place on the cross and in another sense, one that is more metaphorical, we use the word to describe so very many things, like redeeming work or redeeming time or say, redeeming sociology.

To do things unto the Lord, is to involve those things in God’s project of redemption.

Redemption: The process of making fallen things un-fallen for the glory of God.
Divine recycling. …
The Midas touch – not to produce gold, but to redeem. Not to produce gold but to produce royalty.

Love:
Is it possible to have a full knowledge of what the Gospel is, of what redemption is and yet still to love a person and not desire their salvation?

Is shame in the atonement?
Is physical healing in the atonement? Yes in an already but not yet sense. No?

Shame is a consequence. It is a result of something. It does not just hand in thin appear. It does not just appear out of nowhere. Shame is a consequence. Yes. There is an unjustified form of shame as in when someone feel ashamed for the wrong reasons, but here also this shame is a consequence.

Shame generally is a function of guilt. I feel guilty. So I feel shame.

We sin. So we are guilty. God forgives our sin. We are not no longer guilty. All guilt is gone. Is all the shame gone?

~ Yet still a point is made. There is a connection between shame and the atonement. He died to take away our guilt. So he died to take away our shame. Hanging on the cross was shameful. (Incidentally, Jesus likely hung completely naked, not as the renaissance and other paintings depict.) He bore shame for us also.

Think through later…

On Giving Too Much Advice

Ephesians 4:29 states,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

~ Its the “according to their needs” clause that has jumped out at me of late.  I can think of at least two problem areas that this verse calls me on.

(1) Giving misdirected advice: The person has a problem with A, and you give advice on dealing with B. Basically results from not listening well.

I had a friend who once talked to me about how she was thinking about dropping out of college and I just rambled on with all this stuff that I thought would help but failed to see that the problems were really sourced in some psychological issues that also were likely connected to home.

(2) Giving too much advice: Blah blah blah. My above example should serve to explain this as well. I have had a habit of just rambling on presuming to know the entirety of a given situation and a person’s life and … Not!

The Bible & A Fortiori Reasoning… All the more so

~ In the Bible, we often find Scriptures that employ what is known as A Fortiori reasoning. This means that you reason from something greater to something lesser (or vice versa). It is a “how much more” form of reasoning.

For example, when Jonah gets upset that God allowed a little plant to die, God responds,

“You were upset about this little plant, something for which you have not worked nor did you do anything to make it grow. It grew up overnight and died the next day. Should I not be even more concerned about Nineveh, this enormous city? ~ Jonah 4:10-11 (NET Bible)

Or…

If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! ~ 2 Cor. 3:9-11 

And one more for the road…

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” ~ Matt. 6:30

I.e. If Jose is willing to let you borrow $1,000,000 for something foolish and frivolous, then how much more will he be willing to let you borrow $10 for other things.

BG_Xara

The Point: There are certain verses that you might come across when reading Scriptures such that you might consider that these apply to you assuming you have an active, walking and talking with God in Christ. For example,

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” ~ John 14:2

While this is talking about the life beyond this one, it can just as well be applied to today.  From this you could consider that whatever the next stage in your life in the here and now, God goes ahead of you and prepares things for you there and then.  God already has things in the works for when you get there (See Eph. 2:10 also).  And …

And … of course, the usual qualifiers apply of course such as you must be having an active prayer life, seeking Him, not nursing secret sins, etc.

 

The Nature of the Bible

When one considers the nature of the Bible and compares it to the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, one will find parallels. For example, Jesus Christ was fully human and fully divine. Like so the Scriptures are fully human and fully divine. Another example is that Jesus Christ was without sin – without “blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). The Scriptures in their original autographs are inerrant.

More about this can be read here: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation By Norman Geisler & William Roach.
DI

I draw on this notion of the theanthropic nature of Scripture quite simply to make a simple point and that is that to fix ones eyes upon Jesus is to fix ones eyes upon Scripture. Hebrews 12:2 states “… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith …” It actually states, “fixing” not “fix” which is almost as if to assume that we will be already doing it.

The point is that one way to fix your eyes upon Jesus is to fix your eyes upon the Scriptures. Got guidance? No? Then read.

Sin, Shame, Guilt & Proclaiming the Evangel (2) ~ More Notes…

I got the following from Logos Bible Software:

FromLogos

 

~ Some quick comments:

It seems to me that shame has both an objective and subjective dimension.

1) You can do something shameful and feel ashamed.

2) You can do something shameful (e.g. steal from your mother) and feel no shame.

3) You can do something thats not shameful and feel shameful. (You may need to get counseling here.)

4) You can do something thats not shameful and feel no shame.  Sounds tautologous..

 

 

Sin, Shame, Guilt & Proclaiming the Evangel (1)

I. Note passages from the Bible
II. Note some notes
III. Comments

II. Noting Some Notes:

Shame

(1)

SHAME. The Eng. word and its cognates appear about 190 times in OT and 46 times in NT. These occurrences are translations of original forms representing at least 10 different Heb. and 7 different Gk. roots and a considerably larger number of Heb. and Gk. words.

Two main meanings can be distinguished: descriptions of states of mind, and descriptions of physical states. The states of mind may be classified into three broad categories: first, those where an individual is or might be the object of contempt, derision or humiliation; second, those where he feels bashfulness or shyness; third, those where he feels respect or awe. The physical states involve a degree of exposure or nudity, or the words are used as euphemisms for the sexual organs.

The most frequent usage by far involves the ideas connected with contempt, derision and humiliation.

Woolley, P. (1996). Shame. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 1085). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. (Note: Emphasis mine)


(2)

Shame correlates with several parallel themes such as sin, nakedness, reproach, humiliation and guilt. It is, however, particularly connected with post-Fall sexuality and humanity’s broken relationship with God and others.

After the Fall, Adam and Eve were ashamed to stand before God, whose test of obedience they had violated (Gen 3:1–24). This is not surprising. But the unaccustomed sense of nakedness and shame they experience toward each other is unanticipated and clearly portrays the devastating effects of sin on the very core of our being. Shame is thus seen objectively as that moral state which exhibits the reprehensible and degrading nature of sin, and subjectively as a psychological or emotional consequence that flows from guilt and sin. The two are necessarily related. To sin and feel no shame aggravates the offense. Thus one of the strongest condemnations Paul can direct against the enemies of the cross of Christ is that they “glory in their shame” (Phil 3:19 RSV). At the same time, to continue to feel shame after sin has been forgiven would be equally inappropriate, since forgiveness removes sinful reproach through the One who endured the cross and despised its shame (Heb 12:2).

Shame and judgment are juxtaposed so frequently that “to be put to shame” is recognized as an idiom meaning to come under God’s judgment. But there is also a sense in which shame functions as a moral deterrent within the believing community. Thus when Paul cautions the Ephesians against unwholesome speech, he suggests that it is a shame to even speak in public about what evildoers perform in secret …

Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000). In Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed., pp. 780–781). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Living in Truth ~ Excerpt From Humanitas.org

~ There is a post at Humanitas.org that I think is just very important reading for folks in the West. The title is:  Living in truth, however dark the times

Here is an excerpt:

“Anxiety and discouragement and even despondency are reflected in the mood of many Christians these days—as well as anger.  What will happen in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage?  Obviously, religious liberty will become front and center as the implications of the Court decision play out in the daily lives of many Christians whose faith practices run afoul of the new ruling.

2161839452_7ffbf4bdc6_zHowever, this dark mood has been building for quite some time.  Against the talk of doom and gloom by many alarmists, Dr. Os Guinness points out that this is “not Christian language at all.  We should always speak the language of faith and hope and mission.”

Speaking before the court’s ruling, Dr. Guinness reflected on cultural momentum that has been underway for at least a century:  ‘We are living in 500 years of western dominance, which is clearly now declining. … Will we have a vision of faithfulness that will be true to our Lord and adequate to the extraordinary times in which we’re living?’  Our cultural moment requires ‘an unshakeable, unwavering confidence in the power of the gospel.'”

~ Amen, Amen and Amen!

~ I have come across some reds and blues – anger and sadness – post the Supreme Court decision.  People are apprehensive about the future.  The Pax Americana has come to a close.

However I am also adamant that this should not get us down too much. There are so many more reasons – starting with the Cross – to be calm and content then there are to not be.  And… some day I will write on that… but not right now.

 

 

Conversational Skills from the Bible…

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ~ Col. 4:6

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~ Eph. 4:29

…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. ~ Matt. 1237

Therefore thus says the Lord:
“If you return, I will restore you,
    and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
    you shall be as my mouth.
They shall turn to you,
    but you shall not turn to them. ~ Jer. 15:19

He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. ~Prov. 17:28

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you[a]—see that you excel in this act of grace also. ~ 2 Cor. 8:7

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:2

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. ~ Proverbs 25:15

Lost and Found ~ More to Process Later…

LA_City_Hall_with_sister_cities~ There are those who are lost – this is everyone who does not know God. It is the default setting into which we are born in.

And then…

There are those who are lost among the lost. All I can see is that there are people who I have met in life who are just so going left and right, up and down, indecisive, flitting from one thing to another… confusion central … life is a mess.

Then there are the found… the found meaning found by God. Found in God. Those who live by faith and have their compasses ever pointing heavenward are never lost. They always have direction.

Then there are the lost among the found … This could be due to sin… it could just be due to being hit hard by the rough and tumble of life, such that they find themselves perplexed, confused, lost… I think of Job or Paul… These are the lost among the found. Lost yet found.

Lost: ” …We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, – ”
Yet Found: “- but not in despair; ~ 2 Cor. 4:8

Isaiah… backgrounds… CB2 L8R

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” ~ Psalm 21:19.

May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
Psalm 61:7

~ Relate this to Isaiah later on… so also Psalm 23

Two Posts on Love Worth Reading . . .

 

heart_shaped_line_266972

~ There are couple of blogposts on Love that I want to highlight as well worth the read. These are from Pastor Steve Cornell’s blog Wisdom For Life, a blog thats one of my best finds this year.

(1) 12 Tests of Love:

~ How does one distinguish infatuation from genuine love? Here are some tests:
1. Test of Time – Love benefits and grows through time; infatuation ebbs and diminishes with time.
2. Test of Knowledge – Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may grow out of an acquaintance with only one of these characteristics known about the other person.
3. Test of Focus – Genuine love is other-person centered. Infatuation is self-centered.
. . .
9. Test of Physical Attraction – Physical attraction is a relatively small part of love, but it is a central focus of infatuation. (Now don’t read “small part” as “not a part” …
. . .
12. Test of Delayed Gratification …

(2) Being In Love vs. Behaving In Love

~ This is from a post titled “What if you don’t feel love?”

“A wife once told me that she planned to leave her husband because she “just didn’t love him anymore.”

She saw herself as a victim of feelings she couldn’t change. …”

John Piper Devotional on Job

~ The following is a poem I wrote on Job. I wan to attach to it a devotional from John Piper.

JobIM2

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.

For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Nature of a Yoke (2) ~ Outline

~ Due to time issues, I am just going to put a rough outline of my thoughts here. I will work it out later.

I. What is a yoke?
A. Many types
1. A single strap often put around the neck of a someone like a slave.
2. A wooden balance shaped object with two bows for placing the heads of cows.
3. A yoke with multiple bows suited for many cows
B. Purpose
1. To lighten a load
2. To provide balance
3. Illustration: Like the straps on a backpack. They make the load more manageable It beats carrying a heavy handful of books.
C. In the Bible
1. Yoke stands for the physical implement put around the neck
i. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…” ~ 2 Cor. 6:14). I.C.1.i.
2. Yoke stands for both the physical implement and so also the burden.
i. “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” ~ 1 Kings 12:4
3. Etc. Verses can be multiplied
II. The Nature of Yokes 
A. We were created/designed to be yoked.
1. I.e. We have been created to do things with our two hands
2. We have not been created to have empty hands.
i. Illustration: Upon retirement, boredom surprisingly sets in rather than rest & relaxation. * CB2 
B. This means that there is always something to do.
1. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2:10
i. No such thing as unemployment when you live under God.
ii. The unemployment rate is 0 in the Kingdom of God.
iii. God is sending us a stream of good works (= yokes) our way. Things for us to do.
C. We are all constantly under a yoke – like it or not
1. During Jesus’ day
i. The yoke of the Scribes and Pharisees, 1,001 rules
ii. The Roman Yoke – taxes, rough rulers
2. During Jesus’ day and our day
i. Having a hectic, stressful life.
ii. Your job – can be a light yoke or harsh one ~~> Having a tyrant for a boss at the workplace
iii. Having a mental illness like schizophrenia and as such being on meds which keep you weak and sluggish 24/7.
iv. Alcoholism or being addicted to a drug. Your drug is your yoke. Though chosen, now its a very difficult yoke to be free from.
v. The yoke of being in debt to someone. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. ~ Prov. 22:7
vi. While employment can be a yoke (see ii.) so also can unemployment (creditors knocking, bills piling up, etc.)
vii. Being unequally yoked (in marriage, crooked business partner, etc.). See I.C.1.i. ~~> 2 Cor. 6:14
viii. Living under a totalitarian regime
ix. the yoke of sin… our natures are sinful
x. etc.
III. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke in itself
A. Not a yoke that is imposed on us (e.g. Roman yoke) but a yoke we take on. “Take My yoke upon you.”
1. Which means that it can be rejected to our detriment.
B. Must be taken on and learned from: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me.”
C. The yoke of a gentle and humble Person, not a ruthless boss: “For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
IV. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke in relation to other yokes
D. If taken on, will in due course expunge all yokes involving sin on your part (e.g. doing drugs)
E. If taken on, will make lighter and more bearable, all other yokes, not involving sin on your part (e.g. being delivered from tyrant boss.)
F. Summa: If you take on Christ’s yoke, other yokes in your life will become either be removed or be made more bearable. i.e. the burden becomes lighter.
IV. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke & You
A. Discipleship

1. Oxen in training are put into the bows of a yoke. One ox will be strong. The other will be weak and perhaps just a baby. This strong Ox pulls the bulk of the weight and thus trains the smaller ox.
2. Almost as if Christ is a yokefellow of yours, being yoked together with you and thus teaching you.

~ Only sinners get sick. Saints do not.
~ Only sinners get unemployed. Saints do not? No?

The Parade

There is a parade of works coming our way.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2:10

 

 

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Nature of a Yoke (1)

~ In this post I am just going to gather some background information on what a yoke is. I will likely need to refer to this information in future posts. I will start by setting down the koine:

28 Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς. 29 ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν· 30 ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν. From:  Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Mt 11:28–30). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

~ ζυγός (zygos) means yoke.

Here is said passage in the ESV: 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Another verse where zygos or yoke is used is Acts 15:10: “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

And yet still another verse with zygos is 2 Cor. 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

All that said, here is what a yoke look like? Here is one picture: Although you cannot see it too well, there are these two circular things called bows that wrap around the neck of the buffaloes. Let me see if I can find a picture that shows the bows. … Since I am unable at the moment to find a free picture of a yoke, I will put together a slapdash drawing of one. Here it is: A yoke basically looks something like this. YokeBOne last thing. There is also a term that I want to jot down. It is yokefellow. Here is its definition from Dictionary.com:

Yokefellow:

1. an associate or companion, especially at work; partner.
2. a spouse.

I’ll end this with another verse: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” ~ Galatians 5:1

Atheist Fiction Writers

~ I am trying to understand something…

Suppose I am an atheistic writer who is writing a fiction novel and I am doing so because I want to produce a literary apologetic for the atheist worldview. So I write. I write a story set in our contemporary times and in lets say the Western hemisphere, say modern day Los Angeles or Chicago or Stockholm, etc.

Here is the question: If once I have finished my writing, I have basically written a novel in which the protagonist experiences various miraculous phenomena, would it make sense? I mean miraculous phenomena that within the context of a fictional work is meant by authorial intent to be present an atheistic world – would it make sense?

No? Right? I mean given an atheistic worldview, i.e. given a materialistic worldview of nothing but rock, stick, bone and atom, how can miraculous phenomena take place? Moreover if I am seeking to build up a case for atheism, then am I not in fact weakening my case, if I am present a work of fiction based on realism that in fact employs miraculous happenings?

It does not make sense right?

So here is another question: Like so, can an atheist writer of fiction utilize symbolism, foreshadowing, certain forms of allegory or irony, i.e. various literary elements in his or her writing?

Do these elements not presuppose theism? Do they not presuppose a providential outworking of life?

Take for example in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In it the Mississippi River is supposed to be symbolic of freedom.

But why say that? I have seen pictures of this river and seen it on video and its just a river to me. A bunch of molecules. There is nothing in it that even remotely says anything about freedom.

Of take for example, Hemingway’s The Old Man & The Sea which I read years ago. According to many pundits, in it the sharks are supposedly symbolic of other fisherman and the connotations are negative.  However how can a shark be symbolic of anything? A shark is a shark is a shark and nothing else.

OMSea

And just so, Hemingway pointed this out when speaking of the symbolism in said book:

“There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are sharks, no better, no worse.”

Amen!

Peculiar Questions in the Bible

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself,” (Gen. 3:8-10).

1 Kings 19:9
9Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

12 After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. ~ Ruth 3:16

~Note: The KJV translates Ruth best.

 

The Guitarist (2)

In my previous post I mentioned someone I once knew who was an amazing guitarist and who was having trouble finding steady work and income via guitar playing. His lack of an income led to problems at home with his wife because they were not financially solvent. His wife urged him to seek other forms of employment so that bread could be put on the table, however he would not because, playing the guitar was his calling in life. God had given him this gift and this was what he was supposed to be doing.  How could he turn back on God’s call? The marriage ultimately folded.

Some Comments On This – A Sketch.
1. How does one determine what God’s call is? It seems to me that in the ruggedly individualistic West, one often looks inward in order to determine such. So we look at our gifts for example. Then from here we proceed to calling and in turn to professional work. In the more social and relational East however, one often looks outwards. They look out into society and ask what the needs are.  So to put it bluntly, in the East, people look outwards, see starvation and then decide that whatever they do in life, work-wise, it had better put bread on the table or else they will starve.  There are no psychological emotional struggles and such. You either work or you starve.
 ~
2. A gift is not synonymous with a call. A gift can operate on a local level or a global level.  When a gift operates on a local level, such as playing the guitar at church or at home for fun as a hobby, it serves a different purpose than to earn income. When a gift operates on a global level, then it could really be what you do to make money as in when you give a string of guitar concerts before very many people. Whatever it is, just because you have a gift does not automatically mean it is a call. You could just sit at home and play the guitar to unwind from a stressful day.
~

3. While we all have gifts that need to be nurtured, they can never develop into calls such that they conflict with what I call default calls. What do I mean by default calls. One, our primary call is to be Jesus’ disciple. If our gift/calling becomes an idol, we have a serious problem. Another default call is that we are all by nature called to be a father or a mother or son or sister or a husband or wife, etc. You cannot renege your responsibility, that is, your calling to be a father on account of your apparent “calling” to be a guitar player! To do so is not only to renege on your calling to be a father, but also to do a disservice to the Kingdom of God. The Bible explicitly speaks on what Kingdom values and actions are in very many places (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:8).  Honor them and push the Kingdom of God forward rather then getting caught up in self-fulfillment related call.

Mandora by Georges Braque (1882-1963)

David Foster Wallace Quote ~ Books & Culture

The following is David Foster Wallace quote that I am excerpting from an article, “Everybody Worships” by Alissa Wilkinson. Wilkinson is Christianity Today’s chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City.

“Here’s something else that’s weird but true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” ~ DFW

 

David Foster Wallace

 

 

 

The Guitarist (1)

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso
The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso
~ The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend:
\\~~>
I remembered a friend of mine from a long time ago who was a trained guitarist. This guy was having trouble finding steady work and income via guitar playing. I mean he played solo at times and was a part of some bands but that did not cut it. There was just no bread being put on the table.
~
Howevvvvs . . .  He would not look for any other type of work. He only was looking for more guitar gigs.  His wife was very frustrated.  However… he had to stick to his God given calling!  “This is my calling! God has gifted me with musical ability. This is what I am supposed to be doing in life!” Yet, as they sunk into a deeper and deeper financial hole, the tension, anger, fighting, etc., increased and a divorce ultimately resulted.
 <~~//
Now ~~~> That all said: What is wrong with this picture?

Tentative … cb2 l8r

We compare ourselves with something higher with the hopes of ascending, rather than descending.

Some ppl – so entrenched in negativism compare themselves only with view to stating what they don’t have. Others of a more noble mindset compare to ascend. It is about what God can do.

If it is not of faith it is sin… transitions… cb2

~ ~ ~

Story telling is our default setting. We all want to tell stories.  We are wired to tell them.

You ask a question: “How did you two meet?”

Nobody want to say “We met randomly at a bar one night. He was drunk. We had to take him home.”

Anyway… when stories take on a providential character, thats when they become good.

~~~

Christianity is both religion and relationship as I have blogged somewhere earlier.

The thought for those who only view it as a religion: Your way of relating with your mother, father, wife, etc. Is it a religion?

Revivals and Job Interviews…

Revivals are like job interviews. For a job interview, you do everything you can to prep and primp for the position. You research the company, study what you need to study, practice answering interview questions out loud, even in front of the mirror, dress well, and so on…

However once the interview actually takes place and you do everything within your power to make the best impression that you possibly can… and in fact lets us say that you do in fact do an incredible job… even then… EVEN THEN:

It is still up to the company to give you the job.

Even if you handle the interview in a most fantastic manner, the company is still not beholden to give you the job. At the end of it all, for reasons only known to them, it is still within their power to say “No”.

~ Like so with revivals. A church can only work to prepare itself as much as possible. However at the end of the day, … {Add comments on Martyn Lloyd Jones’ Church}

On the flip side, if you are slack in your prepping and primping for the interview, you can guarantee that things go south.

~ So you can either be in a position of prepping and primping with a who knows? Or you can be a position of slacking and slipping and be living down south.

(2) More or Less ~ The Job Interview

~ I made some additions to my previous post, (1) More or Less ~ Theological Background such that the post grew too long. So I am doing a cut and paste job and reposting here.

Possible Illustration – The Job Interview 

~ Lets say you are applying for a job as a museum curator or something like that, where you will be taking care of priceless Ming Vases. So when your interviewer tells you about the vases and asks you whether you can in fact take up a job where you will be handing such you say

“Well. I have scrupulously handled far lesser things – ordinary vases – with great care and attention. And since that has been the case, how much more will I take care of the Ming Vase.

Alternatively…

~ Lets say you are applying for a job as a museum curator or something like that, where you will be taking care of ordinary vases, and the interviewer acknowledges that they are ordinary but then asks if you can still handle them well. You answer,

“Well. I have scrupulously handled something far greater than this with great success, namely Ming Vases, so how much more am I capable of taking care of these vases.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much …” ~ Luke 16:10

(And it goes without saying that if you can be trusted with much, you can be trusted with little.)

One more verse has now come to mind

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  ~ Luke 12:48

I had a friend who once had a really rough medical school interview. He came from a very well to do family and just had a lot of things put in place for him.  In addition, his father was a big-shot who was very well known in his community.  The guy who was interviewing him knew about all this and sort of had it out against him for that reason. And at one point during the interview, he basically told him that “Unlike many other candidates, you come from a position of advantage. You have had it all. So why should we let you in?” Something like that.

My friend had no answer. I think the question was actually unfair, but I don’t want to get into that right now.  Suffice it to say that the guy would have had a really good answer if he knew Luke 12:48. He basically could have said something like the following:

“Yes. I understand that. I do not deny any of that. I realize that I have been born with many advantages that very many other people have not. However I also think that if the demands on me were greater, then I have no complaints and fully expect to meet them. In fact, perhaps the demands on me should be greater. In any event, due to my background, I intend to work that much harder and produce that much more, etc.”

~ Something like that. I am not giving a clean-cut crisp answer. However you get the idea.

(1) More or Less ~ Theological Background

~ There are some passages in the Bible that teach that if God takes care of little, i.e. lesser things, then how much more will He take care of for us, greater things.

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? ~ Matthew 6:25-31

~ Then there are those passages that teach us that if God has given us what is greatest thing to give, viz. His Son, then how much more will He take care of for us, lesser things.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” ~ Romans 8:32

~ We can apply this idea to other passages in the Bible. For example,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:6

~ A lot of people think that this verse is referring to some current situation that we are now in. Maybe you think that God inspired you to write a book or take on some major project at the workplace.  But I believe that its actually referring to salvation, hence the mention about the day of Christ Jesus.

Yet still, we are not too far off in thinking that if God will take care of the grand, great, and good work of salvation in us, then He will also take care of other lesser good works in our lives.

Grace is like a Boomerang.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” ~ Romans 11:36

Grace is like a boomerang that God throws and like all boomerangs it returns to to the thrower.

However when God throws it, it does not return the same. What I mean is that God throws it bronze, it returns to Him, silver. God throws it silver, it returns gold.

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:11

~ We are given the privilege of somehow being involved in this process. It is called worship.

“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:14

~ If you think about it… boomerangs are pretty amazing. They used to be used for hunting, warfare, etc. However unlike swords, spears, wrenches, they are ingenious and amazing.

 

Bhangra – 1st go…

~ I’ve been wanting to do some kind of Bhangra art for some time now… Anime/Manga style.  Finding references of dancers in their original Bhangra dress and wear is not easy.  You can find 100’s of male refs but not much of women.  Anyway here is a rough starter sketch. I did the first sketch in Manga Studio 5, and then just duplicated the original 2x and resized. Anyway… lets see where this winds up…

Bhangra