procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


as mentioned, i'm reading Tim Keller's the reason for God for a book review. and just made it to the half-way point this afternoon (before succumbing to swine flu for an afternoon nap).

in it, this masterful quote from C.S. Lewis (who i think Keller really likes for his apologetics):
If what you want is an argument against Christianity... you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say ... "So there's your boasted new man! Give me the old kind." But if once you have begun to see that Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue. What can you ever really know of other people's souls - of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands.

If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him.

You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next-door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count when the anaesthetic fog we call "nature" or "the real world" fades away and the Divine Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?

this is from Lewis' Mere Christianity (Macmillan: 1965 p168), which (so it was sold to me) is what Tim Keller is trying to perhaps not emulate in the Reason for God, but retell, from his own perspective; to set out clearly, and carefully, just what it is that makes Christianity not stupid, but reasonable, and sensible.

i think Keller wants the non-Christian to pick up this book and say firstly, 'that's a stupid title - as if there's a reason for God'. then he wants their Christian friend to say, 'why's it stupid?' and then whatever their answer, be able to say, 'no, he talks about that too - he's thought about that, we - Christians - HAVE thought about that. you're not the first or the only one to ask that. read his answer. than come back to me'. or something like that.

if you're reading, Mick, i'll have that review out for you soon!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

3 John Analysis

1 The elder to the BELOVED Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Walk in Truth :: A Prayer
2 BELOVED, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Walking Well
5 BELOVED, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are,
6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.
7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.
8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Walking Wickedly
9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.
10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

Walk Well Not Wickedly
11 BELOVED, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Witnesses (3)
12 Demetrius has received a GOOD TESTIMONY from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.
14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by the name.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

books books everywhere

reading three good ones at the moment:

  1. Reformation, by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Penguin: Victoria, 2004)

    you may remember it from here!

    i'm really enjoying it - it's engrossing, thorough, and good at drawing together various threads.

  2. also on my stack is The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller (Penguin: London, 2008)

    i'm reviewing it for church, where we're trying to get regular book reviews going. if you've read his ground breaking article (download here i think), Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs, you'll know what it's about.

  3. last on my list is a book that my friends at AFES ordered me a review copy of! It's called What are we waiting for? Christian Hope and Contemporary Culture, eds. Stephen Holmes and Russell Rook (Paternoster: Bucks, 2008)

    i originally heard about it from Chrisendom, and have already read the first three chapters - getting it only late last night!

    when i've finished and reviewed it, assuming i don't upset anyone in the upper echelons of AFES, it should turn up here, at the AFES online magazine, webSalt. (where you can sign up to get RSS feeds - you can even check out my old reviews of Lee Strobel's the case for easter and Peter Bolt's Living with the Underworld)

lots to read about, lots to think about, lots to chat about.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Proverbs 3:1-12 Chiasm

yes, i know, it's been too long between chiasms. here's a little sugar for you all:
1 My Son, do not forget my teaching,
 but keep my commands in your heart,
2  for they will prolong your life many years
 and bring you prosperity.
3  Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
  bind them around your neck,
  write them on the tablet of your heart.
4  Then you will win favour and a good name
  in the sight of God and man.

5        Trust in the LORD with all your heart
        and lean not on your own understanding;
6         in all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make your paths straight.

7               Do not be wise in your own eyes;
              fear the LORD and shun evil.

8               This will bring health to your body
              and nourishment to your bones.

9         Honour the LORD with your wealth,
         with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10        then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
         and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My Son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline
  and do not resent his rebuke,
12  because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
  as a father the son he delights in.

as you can see from what i've bolded, the structure presents itself:
1&11 - my son
5&9 - Trust/Honour the Lord
7&8 - the central idea
yep, we've got a typical A B C B' A' chiasm

i'm actually preaching on proverbs 3 this week (see post below), here are my notes that i plan to preach from for this section:
  • My son - tefillin, t-shirt. v3b,c - breath, heart.
  • maybe mention Hebrews 12 - the good father, the son who can trust in his father
  • Trust - lean = chair
  • Honour --> generosity
  • Central idea = 7-8 = Don’t determine for yourself what wisdom is. but fear the Lord, knowing he is the one with power over life and death, he is the one who by means of a crucified Palestinian carpenter was able to reconcile a sinful humanity to himself.
  • What healing and refreshment this will bring!
  • It’s not all about us.
  • We need to keep remembering our poverty, our inability to create a universe – let alone to keep a family functioning. But we have God’s wisdom – revealed ultimately in Christ.
  • So we keep turning away from evil, and to this omniscient (all wise) God.

i think that with our new website at St Albans Lindfield, there may be the opportunity to listen to my sage words. check there in a week or so. or just check out the site anyway - it's pretty!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paraphrasing Proverbs

The worshippers of Yhwh counted the wise among them, and the wise faced the realities of experience from the point of view of the Yahwist faith that was theirs.
R.E. Murphy, Proverbs WBC 1998, i think describing G. von Rad's understanding of OT wisdom
i'm trying to work out (preferably before Sunday @8:30am!) what the relationship is between
  • wisdom,
  • the son, and
  • the man (הַאָדָם)

    do you think the above quote is right?

    i'm thinking in particular about Proverbs 3:13-26, and throughout proverbs - i take it that instruction for the man is general advice to humanity, whilst that to the son is specific for the follower of Yhwh. but why would the man care unless he followed Yhwh?

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  • Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    backmasking for beginners

    a post on Led Zep IV over at F&T reminded me about the eerie art of backmasking. my old music teacher once put on Queen's another one bites the dust, which when backmasked (ie, unmasked by playing it backwards i presume), appears to say 'start to smoke marijuana'. we then got to try it ourself, doing it both backwards and forwards (ie saying 'start to smoke marijuana' and seeing if it said 'another one bites the dust'). we did it on a cassette player with an adjustable head so you could read the tape going the other direction. it was pretty cool. a few years ago i tried the same thing with the Beatles' i'm so tired, which pretty obviously says 'paul's dead man. miss him, miss him' as i recall. Revolution 9 also says 'turn me on, dead man' under 'number 9'

    as a youngin', i was pretty freaked out. we were played a gospel choir, and that was backmasked, and the subtitling told us we were hearing them say good things about God. even backwards! however when played death metal, they all seemed to be saying that Satan was a swell guy and they had fun serving him. [i'm not quite sure then where the other popular idea going around back then came from, that people in satanic churches read the bible back to front - is it back-to-front or all thru?!]

    for your paranoid pleasure, check out this guy's site for a dozen more obvious songs backmasked (without you having to destroy your dad's records!)

    it did put a lot of fear in me, but in retrospect it shouldn't have, for several reasons:
    1. enough songs are, and always have been, explicitly immoral and crude, and generally against the very idea of God, that putting messages in backwards isn't really necessary
    2. you have to be a] paranoid, and b] have someone tell you what it says in most cases for you find it plausible
    3. who says we can hear stuff backwards anyway? it's not like it's straightforward - it's not like reading a word backwards, it's a completely different thing

    it seems you can separate this into two groups: some are really bored people putting things into their music (including things really really slowly such that it just sounds like bass, or the converse - really fast so it seems like a quick electronic squeak - both needing to be played at an appropriate speed to get any meaning from them), or it's the paranoid people imagining things.

    but i don't know - maybe there is something to it. but i doubt it. it's cool tho!

    [i hope the thing with the tape made sense. there's two sides to a cassette reel, normally only half is played, whilst the other returns to the spool. when you spin it, that bit gets played. but if you move the head that reads the tape to the 'returning side', you are backmasking. easy!]

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    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    Maundy Thursday's Watchword

    Thursday, April 9

    Maundy Thursday

    Watchword for the Day
    He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful. Psalm 111:4

    Psalm 47
    Job 12:13-13:19; Romans 15:17-29

    'Am I a God near by,' says the Lord, 'and not a God far off? Do I not fill heaven and earth?' Jeremiah 23:23-24

    Jesus said, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. Luke 22:42-43

    Atoning Saviour, may your will be our will; may our lives reflect your love and compassion every day. Amen.

    this is today's daily reading from the Moravian Church in North America .
    as far as i can gather, these watchwords are put together by lay-people, and are sent out daily, and anonymously, which continues a tradition of almost three hundred years.

    i started receiving the daily watchwords after doing some wiki-research about the Moravians and Count von Zinzendorf - absolutely the most astonishing missionary source in the last half millennium at least. have a read through. really fascinating.

    the reason i haven't posted for sometime is i've been away. talking to people about Jesus. more about that later.

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