Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My humble blogpology

I have just been reading, erm, listening to the New Testament this afternoon. I & II Timothy and also Jude (oh, and I finally polished off Genesis... phew!).

I need to change my mentality & approach towards academic and theological discussions. I think, perhaps, that sometimes I am too... 'robust'.


1 Tim 1
3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to
devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies
rather than God's work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some
have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be
teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what
they so confidently affirm.
1 Tim 3
8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere . . . They
must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.



1 Tim 6
3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound
instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and
understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels
about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and
constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth
and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.



Jude 1
8 . . . these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject
authority and slander celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he
was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a
slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10Yet these
men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things
they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very
things that destroy them.
I want people to know me as a guy who has a good time, who keeps hold of his faith strongly, but who is marked by gentleness.

I don't want anyone to suffer under the lashes of my passion or convictions.

Brothers and sisters out there in the Blog-O-sphere, please accept my apology for any fervent words that might have caused offense.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pumping on your stereo

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

I've done the ultimate thing: I have the entire bible in MP3 format; I also have a portable MP3 player.

Between the two I'm now able to hear the Scriptures as I eat, walk, drive and play.

Sound like a bit too much? Well, since doing BCNZ and particularly my preaching courses I've been driven to understand the Scriptures deeper and deeper.

How can I get them into me? I never take enough time out to sit down and read a good whack of them, but ealier tonight I managed to listen to Matthew, Philemon, Titus, Hebrews and James.

Sssssmokin'!

Man, this is so awesome I just get all excited everytime I see somebody at BCNZ to tell it to.

Think that I'm crazy? Yeah well, you can get lost :P

I'll just go finish loading the OT onto this little puppy and then maybe I'll veg out on my bed and listen to Genesis.

Sacrilicious.

---

The Listener's MP3 Bible, narrated by Max McLean, choose from NIV (7 CDs) or ESV (4 CDs).
75 hours of audio. Costs US$50.
Examples of Max's lilting timbre: Exodus 3 (Biblegateway's NIV audio), Proverbs 1 (Max's site)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Augustine & Everything After

I want to go back to the beginning.

Luther did it.

Calvin did it.

The Eastern Church have their own path there that "we" managed to diverge from.

The beginning? The Patristic Writers... Augustine... those sorts.

I need to know.

I can.

I shall.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Letter to All Thinking People

This is something I scrawled down the other day on a piece of paper.
I lay there on the floor, face down, frustrated. Thoughts about life boiled through my head. Sometimes I think too much, sometimes other people don't think enough.
I needed to get something out... but what?

This is what I wrote:

A letter to all thinking people

Look around you at the world. Is something missing?
Is something askew? Does the future that you
plan for yourself look different than your
parents' lives? Does it look the same?

Where do you live?
What do you do?

Why

...why???

You rise, work and come home. You have paid
for this home, those children, this life. You have
paid for it in dollars; you have paid for it
in work-hours: you have paid with your life.

You live to work and work to live... only to
keep doing it over and over and over again.

But why? What do you live for? Do you tell yourself
that your reasons for living actually fit into the gaps between
work; those gaps where you watch TV, eat, commute in rush-hour traffic
or spend in an evening with friends?

Is that what you want - a life of the gaps? A life
spent watching somebody else's soap opera or making reruns
of your own day in and day out?

Am I insane? Am I wrong, or do you feel the disease too?
Do you feel the illness keeping us all asleep? Even the
most productive worker ends up giving his life's
produce to his employer: his own life grinding around
and around like a cog going nowhere.

You may have your family christmases, your
movies, your custom-built houses, your sex,
your friends, your trappings and distractions,
but where do they take you?

Don't they just pull the veil further over your eyes,
each piece like another slow blink of a
drugged person succumbing to sleep?

Please! One of us is wrong! What if, in some
terrifying way, the truth rests with my words?

Step away from your life for a moment. Lay aside
how they tell you to live, ignore the lifelong rituals
that your parents' layered upon themselves.

Be free, think, consider:

What do you really live for?

What good does your life bring, when all is
said and done?

If you could do anything you wanted in life, changing
your past, how would you do it differently?

I urge you to consider these things carefully. Does
your life's choices appear the way they are
simply because you didn't think it possible to
step outside the box completely?

But who makes your box? Who is your jailer?
There are a million people like you, people who
you try to resemble in the need to be "normal" - but aren't
you all just taking the lead from each other? Who
made anyone be like that in the first place and
why can't YOU change the pattern?

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10)

"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Oh yeah, catch MY disease

Oh the inhumanity.
Hey young believer/unbeliever (Hey)
Black lung fever (Hey)
Transmit receiver (Hey)
Backed up deceiver (Hey)
Well I don't like it either (Hey)
We're all presidents for the (Hey)
Black lung fever (Hey)

Hey.

About three weeks ago I got sick. A sniffle. That ran it's course and I started to pick up a little cough. No problem, I always have my Asthma flare up when I get sick.

Being back at BCNZ as I was, just as I was getting better I got infected with something else. That makes two sicknesses in about two weeks. More serious this time, so I got some antibiotics from the Doctor. That started to clear it up but my cough was getting worse so I got some meds for that.

Then the meds stopped being able to help my cough very well, so I had it amped up in dosage. It turned out that I was still sick, too, so the Doc put me on a second course of a different kind of antibiotics - a more serious-type one this time.

Then... whoops, I catch something else as I'm getting better. Ack! Three in three weeks. My cough was pretty bad by then, and only getting worse. My medical history is an extremely colourful one (like lobar pneumonia involving hospitalisation three times already) not to mention my low immuno-globulin levels. Needless to say, the cough getting worse every day was a pretty bad thing so I went to the hospital. Now I don't usually go to the hospital, that's usually a little more extreme than visiting the GP. But at this stage with my general inability to breathe I decided it was probably the best thing to do.

After waiting in Waitakere hostpital for hours the Doctor finally saw me. Before he had checked me out at all he told me that I was probably just unable to use my asthma inhalers properly. Well, I've taken them for years and I have had professionals tell me my techinque is good, but even so I knew that my general breathing and lung situation was a little worse than just asthma (I can kind of mentally track the position of the problem in my chest).

So I insisted on a chest x-ray, which I think he wasn't going to do, and the wise Doctor looked at it briefly before telling me that I was fine and that I just needed to use my inhalers properly. Funny how that was his decision before he had checked me up. I might mention that he didn't do many physical checks on me except for a brief use of the stethoscope, nor did he even watch my technique with the asthma inhaler. Oh, and he didn't really ask many questions about my medical history.

So he turfed me on my ear. At least he gave me a "spacer" to deal with my mythical inhaler-incompetence (oh, except I had to ask him for it, he just tried to finish the consultation).

The next day came around, that's yesterday. I had run home to my parents with my tail between my legs as soon as the weekend came around, but yesterday evening they had gone out to dinner. My chest was congested and my breathing was very difficult. Suddenly things changed around in there and I started to have a big coughing fit and was very short of breath. Alone, all I could do was go and take some spare medicine that we had lying around that dealt with my breathing and hope that it didn't get any worse.

Soon after, I went to North Shore hospital (I wasn't going back to Waitakere). I saw a Doctor there who went through my medical history in extensive detail. Ironically, he then used the exact same chest x-ray that the last Doctor had taken and decided that there was probably a problem with my lower left lung. He checked me out with heaps of physical tests (not just a cursory listen like the previous Doc) and decided that, yes, I did in fact have something like pneumonia. He wasn't willing to identify it exactly, but he WAS willing to agree that I was sick and treat me for it.

Hooray!

So I'm not in top shape right now but I'm not crazy and I am being medicated for the correct problem, and that's a good thing.

p.s. I don't have a black lung, that's just a song that I thought was funny

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Achieving my potential

Everytime I come up with a new idea I find out that it isn't new. Instead, I discover that some clever clogs said it three hundred years ago.

Well, I'm adding some counter balance by stretching my reading in a more intentional direction.

I re-discovered Christian Classics Ethereal Library, which is a website of online classics that have become public material.

I have set myself the task of reading their entire "recommended" list. Currently I'm reading my first choice, "Orthodoxy" by Chesterton. It's pretty great so far!

The aim of all this is to hone myself in a decisive manner by entertaining myself with productive and beneficial activities rather than just spending all my time at the PC shooting virtual people.

The following is a list with descriptions straight from the website, not my own words:

------------------

St. Augustine
The Confessions of St. Augustine -- The most popular work of the man who more than any other shaped western civilization. The first 10 chapters constitute a spiritual autobiography and some spiritual and philosophical reflections; the last three chapters are a reflection on the creation story of Genesis 1.

John Bunyan
Pilgrim's Progress -- A spiritual allegory. Of books written in English, one of the all-time most popular.

G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy -- Chesterton's writing reminds me of C.S. Lewis, but a little more colorful, a little more quirky. This book is an apology for the Christian world-view.

Jonathan Edwards
Religious Affections -- "What is the nature of true religion? . . . [What are] the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?" In this classic work by America's greatest theologian and philosopher, Edwards considers the nature of revival and the genuine work of the Holy Spirit. Don't read this book if you want to keep worshipping your idols.

George Fox
Autobiography of George Fox -- This is a fascinating journal of the exploits of the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). It is also very illuminating about the political and religious state of seventeenth century England -- for example, Fox lives through the commonwealth period, meets Cromwell, and prophesies his downfall after he treats Quakers badly.

St. Ignatius of Loyola
The Spiritual Exercises Spiritual exercises arranged into 4 weeks, by the founder of the Jesuits.

St. John of the Cross
Ascent of Mount Carmel
Dark Night of the Soul -- The writings of St. John of the Cross are unsurpassed for mystical theology. The "dark night" is a must-read for anyone seriously concerned about growing spiritually.

Thomas à Kempis
The Imitation of Christ -- This book is said to have been published in more editions than any other, apart from the Bible, with 6000 appearing by the turn of this century. This little devotional book is simply written but immensely moving. Highly recommended.

William Law
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life -- This is one of two or three books that greatly influenced the young J. Wesley.

Brother Lawrence
The Practice of the Presence of God -- In this little collection of letters and reflections, Brother Lawrence encourages us to be continually in God's presence.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sola Fide

Saved, because of grace, through faith?

Oh really?

I don't think we believe what we believe, half the time.

First I thought I had to be a good Christian and follow Jesus as my moral example.. my measuring stick.. my inspiration.

Then they told me that I was saved, by the grace of God, in faith.

Once my errors had been rectified I set about conforming to the image of Our Lord.

I attended Church on Sundays - two services each week!

I did my morning devotions.

I said my evening prayers.

I made sure I knew heaps of Bible verses.

I talked to all my friends about Jesus.

Some of them didn't really go to church all that often though.

They didn't really have much of a devotional life.

They couldn't bring themselves to pray alot.

Obviously, they weren't well up with the scriptures.

In fact, they really could be doing a lot better than that, now that I think about it.

I'll make sure I give them some more pointers next time I see them.

Thank God I'm saved by faith.

Yahwehriffic

Here's a question.

I already have my own opinion, as you might imagine, and yet I'm keen to raise some discussion in this general area. The comments on my previous post reminded me about this thought, but I figured it deserved it's own post.


The Old Testament talks many times about Elohim, Adonai and YHWH (unless you're using KJV :P).

When you hear the name YHWH, what does your mind invoke?

Do you think, "The Father"? Do you think, "The Trinity?"


Equally, when in church you hear the name GOD, what does your mind invoke?

Do you think, "The Father"? Do you think, "The Trinity?"


Some thoughts:

I would say that many Christians think and speak of the Spirit, Jesus and God, when in fact they mean the Father.

I would also say that when ever we mention one member of the godhead in any given situation we cannot disconnect the other two. Sounds simple and logical, but we don't really apply this all that often.

And that's when...

In the Hebrew text, the name of God is considered so sacred, it is hidden, and meant to be unspoken. The most accepted transliteration of the name of God is YHWH.

I kept reading.
The Jehovah's Witnesses use the more pronounceable version "Yahweh".

And that's when I knew I was listening to an idiot.