Archive for August, 2007

22
Aug

Grammar and stuff

   Posted by: Mark    in General

First, an update: today I spoke with the “risk manager” for the construction group that is working behind our house. I recently posted that I had snapped some pictures of a group of brigands (ooh, that sounds serious) that had vandalized some of the construction equipment recently. This risk manager had left a message for me yesterday, having found my phone number on the back of the pictures I printed and delivered to one of workers last week. This gentleman was very appreciative, thanking me multiple times for keeping an eye out. He even offered to send us a gift certificate! I declined, and we talked for a bit longer. I was impressed with the man, as he was so sincere in his gratitude and in his efforts to contact me and show this gratitude. I do not know if the man is a Christian, but he was certainly more gracious than most folks.

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I enjoy reading, and do a lot of it. I enjoy writing, but do not do very much of it, unless you count the emails I send on a daily basis at work. I have the automatic spell checker turned on both at home and at work, and try to proof read almost every email before it is sent to catch the non-spelling errors I often make. I do try very hard to insure that my sentences are clear but not too simple, and that I am using as few words as possible to convey what I am trying to communicate. I am sure I fail miserably much of the time, but I do try to learn from the mistakes I discover.

I despise spelling errors. And I really, really dislike grammar errors. I am sure I make a lot of both types of errors (my sister is undoubtedly laughing about my inability to spell “hooray/hurray” consistently, and a recent gaffe in which I completed a video with “parking lot” as a single word instead of two). And I am sure you will not have to search long to find sentences ending with prepositions.

I mention all of this as an introduction to one of the most substantial problems I have with the King James Version of the Bible: inconsistent pronoun usage when referencing God. And lest you think I am attacking “The Word of God,” don’t get your culottes in a twist; put down your Welches and repeat three times to yourself: “he is talking about a translation, not God’s inspired word.”

In I John 4:4 in the KJV reads as follows:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

This is one example of the KJV’s use of impersonal pronouns to reference God or the Holy Spirit. Mind you, I do understand that God is genderless. And I do not pretend to be a Greek scholar. But it seems as if the most consistent translation would read “greater is it that is in you…” or “greater is he who is in you…” (depending on the most correct gender translation). I have harder time talking about “the God that is in me,” and think I would more accurately talk about “the God who is in me.”

And to compound my irritation with this, we sang the song this past Sunday that is based on the KJV version of this verse. I confess that I sang it “Greater is he who is in me” even though everyone else in the building was signing it as it was shown.

Do not misunderstand: this is not a life-or-death deal. But why do so many insist on sticking to something that is at best incorrect based on any grammar rules from the past 100 years, and at worst a subliminal foundation for basic “impersonalization” of God?

9
Aug

Wisdom from Challies, PG-13, and guilty

   Posted by: Mark    in General, Whatsit Bucket

Tim Challies has some humbling, thought-provoking, and potentially life-changing words today, if I am willing to act on them.

Hmmm, not sure I understand this one:

Tonight we all took a walk out behind the house where the county is doing some major digging and working as they put in an improved wetlands area. There are huge piles of dirt and a lot of big trucks, so it is a perfect place for kids to climb and get themselves muddy.
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While we were there investigating the work that is being done, I kept my eye on four boys in their early teens. They were just looking around like we were, except that they were also trying to find some cans of disgarded marking spray paint that still had paint in them. I heard them talking about a can as they passed us on their bikes a short while later.

We started back to the house, passing a storage container, ATV, and “Honey Pot” that had been set up by the workers. The four boys I had been watching were poking around to see what they could find. We walked on by, and I saw them gather in a corner near the porta-potty, and decided to head back when I heard the paint can shaking.

By the time I made it around to them, the were jumping and yanking on the ATV, and I was ready. I shouted “hey, guys!” in a friendly manner, and as they all turned, I snapped a picture. “I just want to be sure the police have a good picture in case anything ends up missing or painted.”

“We didn’t paint anything,” one of them said. I looked to the side and saw fresh orange marking paint where they had just been. “I’m sure you didn’t, but you know, just in case. Hey,” I asked, “what’s with this fresh orange paint on the side of the outhouse?”

“Outhouse? What’s that?” one asked.

“Right here,” I said, pointing. They all came toward me to see what I was pointing at. I snapped another picture and bid them goodbye.

And the part that just cracks me up is thinking about all four of those boys, who “didn’t paint anything,” lying awake tonight wondering what that crazy man with the camera is going to do with those pictures. And how they can get out of any trouble they may end up in the middle of.

Our police officer neighbor suggested I bring a couple of prints to the site boss tomorrow. I do not know that they can do anything about it, since I did not actually catch them in the act, but it sure was obvious to me.

7
Aug

What makes the gospel glorious

   Posted by: Mark    in The Church

I look forward to Tuesdays. On this day each week, I get to spend anywhere from two to three hours in the car as I drive across the river and through the city to work, rather than getting to work from home. I despise traffic, and drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. But on this one day, I get to listen to one or two messages from Pastor Patrick Abendroth of Omaha Bible Church.

Pastor Abendroth has confidence in his preaching, but is nothing if not humble. He is consistently careful to properly apply passages in context, both culturally and textually. He is one of the most effective expositional preachers I have ever heard.

Today I listened to “What makes the Gospel Glorious” and was filled to overflowing yet again. Here are some quotes that stood out to me:

  • We don’t see grace as glorious because we don’t see ourselves as sinners; utterly and completely devoid of any merit whatsoever, to please God in any way, shape, or form.
  • …the key to rightly praising Jesus Christ and exalting the cross and exalting what he has done for us and praising him; the key to that is understanding what you’ve been saved from. It’s no wonder we’re mumbling about the gospel. It’s no wonder we’re half-in, half-out in some sort of lackadaisical way, calling what we give to him praise, even though it’s pretty shameful, because we think somehow we’re good enough to earn grace, which is contradiction of terms.
  • [an aside on Ephesians 2:1-3] Throughout history, every corruption of the gospel, every perversion of the gospel, has started here. It started by not seeing this. Somehow it’s something other than spiritually dead, and that leads us to somehow it’s something other than just the cross; perhaps it’s the cross and something else.

    But this is the key to understanding salvation; it’s understanding sin… Dead means more than sick. Dead means dead (spiritually dead here..). Dead means more than dying. Dead means more than in danger of dying. By the way, this therefore means that the salvation of the gospel analogy that says: “God throws you the life-preserver, and all you need to do is reach out and grab the life preserver” that’s been so famous shows absolute and complete biblical ignorance. Dead people don’t grab life-preservers. You’re at the bottom of the ocean. You’re fish food, and they’re eating your innards, and you’re swollen, right? That’s the right idea. And God has to go down there and give you a new heart, and make you alive, because you’re dead. So let’s be clear… it’s not that you’re sick. Sinners are dead spiritually… Dead means the total humbling of the sinner before God.

4
Aug

The Glory of the Cross

   Posted by: Mark    in Pensiveness

I had about an hour in the car alone today, and was able to listen to and concentrate on an album I have come to love. One song in particular, called “The Glory of the Cross,” has continued to awe me every time I hear it. Here is the first verse and the chorus. If you read it slowly, and comprehend the words, perhaps you will feel the immense impact:

What wisdom once devised the plan
Where all our sin and pride
Was placed upon the perfect Lamb
Who suffered, bled, and died?
The wisdom of a Sovereign God
Whose greatness will be shown
When those who crucified Your Son
Rejoice around Your throne

And, oh, the glory of the cross
That You would send Your Son for us
I gladly count my life as loss
That I might come to know
The glory of, the glory of the cross

The next verse is just as powerful, and plainly states that the righteousness that was revealed at the cross “proved to all [that God’s] justice has been met.” This one sentence encompasses incredible Biblical truth that I think many Christians completely miss: Salvation is not a gift that results in God accepting our sinfulness! The death of Christ on the cross did not enable God to ignore our wickedness or give us a “pass” or “bye” on our rebellion. For him to do that would require that he set aside his holiness, which, could he do it, would cost him his deity. Our sin is an offense beyond comprehension; so great that it requires our eternal separation from God to accomplish his justice against it. But God meted out his righteous judgment on Christ, in our stead, in totality, and thereby accomplished that justice. And he did this according to the counsel of his will, not based on any innate virtue or goodness we think we have. Wow. Were we to understand this more, we would surely be more grateful than we are.

You can read the rest of the lyrics here, or listen to the beginning of the song: The Glory of the Cross

Five points of Reformed Baptist churches: How does your church measure up?

Human pixel show: I can’t even imagine the planning, practice, and effort that it would take to do something like this.

Extinguish your fire: Not much else can be said.

What a concept: Sounds kind of like “The Game.”