Month: January 2004

Mudhouse Sabbath …

I recently finished reading Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. The book takes a look at eleven Jewish practices. Laurene explores these habits through the lens of one who practiced them as an Orthodox Jew and now seeks to integrate their significance into her journey with Jesus. The book holds a dual significance for the reader. First, one gains an appreciation for spiritual practices found in the Old Testament. Often we who follow Jesus summarily dismiss some of the things found in the Torah – Law – as having been superceded by grace. Yet, some of these practices understood through the lens Winner exposes us to cause us to consider the value of Old Testament practices as having import for today.

Second, the book serves as a great inspiration to study the Christian faith from its “whole” perspective. Rather than view ourselves as New Testament Christians – it would be better we view ourselves as the people of the God of the Bible – Yahweh! Instead of relegating the Old Testament to scant significance, we uncover beautiful gems exposing the wonderful work of God’s grace in redemption history.

I encourage you to get it and read it. You may find yourself longing to practice the significance of Sabbath in fresh new ways in hopes of intentionally encountering the presence of God without distractions of a normal day. Let me know what you think!

Bible reading …

A few years ago I picked up a copy of The Message by Eugene Peterson. It first came out in the New Testament and then some sections of the Old Testament were added. Once complete, you could purchase the entire Bible. Many found it uncomfortable to use as they were accumstomed to verse markings; a feature added in modern times. Others found it difficult to adjust to reading familiar passages with new expressions.

The Message has been “remixed.” This time you will find verse markers. The formal title for the work is, “The Message//Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language.” In the introduction you will find these comments,

Accurate, But Readable.
The Message was paraphrased over a period of ten years from the Bible’s original languages (Greek and Hebrew). The idea of The Message isn’t to water down the Bible, making it easier to digest. The idea is to make it readable – to put those ancient words that their users spoke and wrote every day into words that you speak and write every day. (p.10)

The key word here is paraphrase; a process of taking words and putting them in “idioms” or expressions found in conversations today. There are a variety of translations and paraphrases available. Read from them all. They help get a sense of the “original” language underlying the translation. Remember, there were translations before the King James and as long as language evolves, there will be more.

Interesting reading …

I recently picked up a book titled, Six Questions of Socrates: A Modern-Day Journey of Discovery through World Philosophy, by Christopher Phillips. The intrigue resulted from the description, “he begins with “What is virtue?” in the remains of an ancient marketplace in Athens and moves on to a Navajo reservation in the Southwest, where it turns out that the Navajo conception of virtue, hozho, includes a sense of order and harmony with the natural world both similar to and distinct from the conceptin of the ancient Greeks.”

In college I wrote a paper on the “cardinal virtues.” I found it interesting that two cultures continents apart might share similar views on virtue. Will let you know how it comes out. I already find it interesting the dominant means for decision making we find today stem from the practices of the ancient Greeks.

The point of engagement comes in our talking about what it means to follow Christ and how that looks in what we do interacting with our world. I wonder if I will find that we don’t always necessarily follow Jesus in the way we make decision but instead follow a utilitarian pragmatism where the end justifies the means regardless if the means requires us to shade the truth a bit.

Huge implications for who we say we follow.

Learning never ends …

People use different mantras that express their passions and values. I came across the “A Learned to Learner Litnay of Treansformation” by Leonard Sweet. One of my mantras for those following Jesus follows this same pattern. We never quit learning once we understand that to be a Christian is to be a disciple. Not an optional position in this relationship but rather the expression of that relationship. I want to follow Jesus everyday – learning to do life his way. Dallas Willard puts it this way, “learning how to live my life the way Jesus would live it were he me.”

in what ways are you learning … you haven’t stopped have you?

By the way, I will be on a plane in a couple of hours. Can you believe I hear lawn mowers in January as I sit outside working on some things in Spencer’s garage?

Out of town for a few days …

I left this morning and the thermometer in the car read 20 degrees. My plane landed at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana in Orange County California. I took off a few days to help a friend with a meeting at Fuller Theological Seminary. One of the most influential evangelical seminaries in the country. I will have some thoughts along the way about the relative nature of winter – relative to where you live in the country. We would not call a low in the 40’s and high in the 60’s winter – but some do.