Showing posts from October, 2011


This year our six year old announced that he wanted to be a devil for Halloween.  We must have looked at him in horror, because he innocently responded, "Not the real devil, just the fake red one."  

Christians of all stripes have mixed feelings about Halloween, and much has been writing on both sides of the issues.  Rather than rehash previous comments, I have collected my favorite links on the topics.

John Sanidopoulos at Mystagogy can fill your bag with more trick or treat goodies than anyone else:  The Truth About HalloweenOrthodoxy and Halloween: Separating Fact from Fiction, and the Halloween Resource Page

Here's some other interesting posts from the Evangelical world and one of my favorite online stops, the Sci-Fi Christian:  Doing Theology with the Bride of FrankensteinToward a Theology of Trick or Treating, part 1, and part 2

If you have never read it, I do think Bram Stoker's Dracula is an incredibly Christian novel, and Aaron Taylor has a great post on ano…

A Silent Harp That Without Voice Gave out Melodies The Pearl 1:2

Hymn 1, Section 2 of St. Ephrem's The Pearl (see here for 1:1)

It was greater to me than the ark,
For I was astonished there at:
I saw therein folds without shadow to them
Because it was a daughter of light,
Types vocal without tongues,
Utterances of mystery without lips,
A silent harp that without voice gave out melodies.
The trumpet falters and the thunder mutters;
Be not thou daring then;
Leave things hidden, take things revealed.
Thou hast seen in the clear sky a second shower;
The clefts of thine ears,
As from the clouds,
They are filled with interpretations.
And as that manna which alone filled the people,
In the place of pleasant meats,
With its pleasantnesses,
So does this pearl fill me in the place of books,
And the reading thereof,
And the explanations thereof.
And when I asked if there were yet other mysteries,
It had no mouth for me that I might hear from,
Neither any ears wherewith it might hear me.
O Thou thing without senses, whence I have gained new senses!

God Behaving Badly (part 1)

How do you reconcile the longsuffering, loving, faithful, merciful God of the Old Testament with the fire and brimstone God of the New Testament?
Did the question cause a double-take? This question is usually thought of in reverse, and is asked by Evangelical Bible professor Dr. David Lamb, the author of God Behaving Badly, in order to make you rethink your perception of God in the Old Testament.  
I stumbled upon this book while doing research for our class on Joshua. A class-member asked about the nature of the violence in the book of Joshua and how we reconcile it with the New Testament. This is an important question, and one being posed by the current crop of aggressive atheists as a wedge designed to shatter and disrupt the faith of modern Christians.  
The following are a list of thoughts that have been helpful to me as our class has wrestled with these issues.
1.  This issue would not be a concern prior to the coming of Christ.  This is important to consider.  Prior to Christ, the…

The Forge 10-25-2011

Throughout the week, I stumble upon what I think are pretty interesting and beneficial articles.  Some just make you scratch your head, and others really add practical value.  I have never really found a good way to share the info.  

Welcome to the Forge.  In keeping with a "Sword in the Fire" theme, I have borrowed a term from the old blacksmith shop, using it to describe this mix of material that a reader might could melt down into something useful.  

Here's this weeks links:  

Check out this article Original Martyrdom Account of St. Peter the Aleut at the Orthodox history site.  

As I have gotten older, and watched my kids get closer to adulthood, leadership and becoming a godly man, are becoming more important in my life and in how I instruct my kids.  This site is always good, and here's a recent post:  Old Fashioned Leadership

I stumbled on this site through a Google alert I set up.  Dead Sea Scrolls and the "Rest of the Bible"  It is an account of the boo…

Ephrem the Syrian - The Pearl

Over the next several Sundays I will be posting St. Ephrem the Syrian's The Pearl.  Here's a brief bio on Ephrem:

Ephrem (or Ephren or Ephraim or Ephrain) of Edessa was a teacher, poet, orator, and defender of the Faith. (To English-speakers, the most familiar form of his name will be "Ephraim." It is the name of the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob (see Genesis 41:52), and is thus the name of one of the largest of the twelve tribes of Israel.) Edessa (now Urfa), a city in modern Turkey about 100 kilometers from Antioch (now Antakya), was a an early center for the spread of Christian teaching in the East. It is said that in 325 he accompanied his bishop, James of Nisibis, to the Council of Nicea. Certainly his writings are an eloquent defense of the Nicene faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ. He countered the Gnostics' practice of spreading their message through popular songs by composing Christian songs and hymns of his own, with great effect. He is known to …

Shatner, Queen, & Dostoevsky

This video has no relation to anything I normally blog about.  It's a culmination of the lack of time for a real thoughtful post, mindless internet suffering, and the unexplainable phenomena that is William Shatner.  
I can't understand it, but he cracks me up.  Here is a guy who totally re-invented himself as a caricature of himself.  Apparently he has a new album, and here is video release of his version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, which is equally entertaining in a strange way.  
I guess I never paid attention to the words before, but there is a little Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment element to the story, without any redemption.  

Ok, enough distractions, next time expect something a little more serious and practical.  

ht: The Sci Fi Christian

A Song of Glory to the Savior

I bow down to Thee, O Master; I bless Thee, O Good One; I beseech Thee, O Holy One; I fall down before Thee, O Lover of mankind; and I glorify Thee, O Christ; for Thou, O Only-begotten Master of all, O Only Sinless One, wast, for the sake of me, an unworthy sinner, given up to death on the cross in order to free the soul of a sinner from the bondage of sin.

And how shall I repay Thee, O Master?  Glory to Thee, O Lover of mankind!  Glory to Thee, O Merciful One!  Glory to Thee, O Longsuffering One!  Glory to Thee, Who forgivest every fall into sin!

Glory to Thee, Who didst descend to save our souls!  Glory to Thee, Who didst take flesh in the womb of the Virgin!  Glory to Thee, Who didst suffer bondage!  Glory to Thee, Who didst accept scourging!  Glory to Thee, Who wast made an object of humiliation!  Glory to Thee, Who wast crucified!  Glory to Thee, Who wast buried!  

Glory to Thee, Who didst rise from the dead!  Glory to Thee, of Whom the prophets spoke! Glory to Thee, in Whom we have…

Communion and the Sales Process

I am in sales and have been for most of my adult life.  Anyone who has worked in sales within an organization has been through sales training.  

Most training can be boiled down to having an outcome in mind; probing the customer so that you can tailor your product to his needs; offering solutions to the needs; handling objections; and closing the sale.  
To get really good at this takes a lot of practice.  The practice can take shape in real interactions or coached role plays.  While painful and tedious, role-playing can be extremely effective and eventually you find that you are constantly role-playing in your head.  
As you enter an interaction, you begin framing the conversation and trying to shape your questions and comments toward a certain outcome, imagining scenarios and objections that you can counter, moving the customer to your end goal.  
While this works great for sales, it is horrible for relationships, at least relationships that are  deep enough to be called communion.  Com…

Book Review: Dostoevsky

I have been a fan of Dostoevsky for some time having read the Idiot, Demons, Crime & Punishment, and the Brothers Karamazov; but outside of brief snippets of his life I knew little about the man.  

So I was full of anticipation when I fell upon a new biography of Dostoevsky by Dr. Peter Leithart. Dr. Leithart is a pastor and professor of theology and literature in Idaho, and does a wonderful job in this short summary of the life of one's of the world's greatest novelists.  

The book is written in such a way that it feels like one of Dostoevsky's own novel.  He paints Dostoevsky in several flashbacks as the famous author sits with a friend near the end of his life.  Dostoevsky himself was a master of generating psychological tension and struggle, and Leithart does the same, letting us into the heart of the writer as he struggles with the crosses of his life.  

Dostoevsky does not appear to us as a perfect man, but one who offered his own flaws as a sacrifice to God, transf…

Prayer before the Gospel

Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge; 

and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings; 

implant in us also the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee: 

for Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we give glory, together with Thy Father who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Out of the Water into the Battle

One of the best activities I get to be involved with is our Adult Sunday School class.  It has been pretty significant in stemming the tide of darkness in my own life, keeping me accountable, and forcing me into the Bible like a miner bringing back precious resources for his fellow man.  

I am convinced that the process of study and presenting has done more for my own life than that of the members of the class, because the act of distilling truth into a form that can be communicated drives me to think clearer and apply what I have to speak.
Not only does the backroom study influence me, but the classroom interaction generates greater benefit for me than the members might suspect.
Currently we are studying the book of Joshua.  My approach is to address the literal happenings of the text, then uncover the types that are hidden reflecting back to us the person of Jesus, using that to reveal action needed in our own life.  Yet the comments in class always enrich me.    
For example, this past…

God is Not One

I had a couple minutes to burn the other day, so I popped into a bookstore to browse.  Walking down the aisles, something excited the heart of this theology nerd.  The book was titled, God is Not One.  My brain began to work through the content's possibilities--perhaps it is a book on the Trinity, explaining its forgotteness in modern Christianity and its implications for faith and life in the Church.  Sounds exciting, hmm?

I reached for it with the anticipation of illumination, hoping for shafts of light to pierce my mind unraveling any misconceptions I may hold, then piecing the threads back into a glorious tapestry of dogma. 

The book was not what I expected, but I was not disappointed.  The subtitle read, "the eight rival religions that run the world--and why their differences matter."

I was intrigued enough to skim further and found something refreshing.  The author asserts that not all religious paths lead to the same place.  Each conception of God and man are uniquel…

Top Posts for September 2011

Here are my top five posts for September.  Thanks to all the readers.

1.  Track 4 - Unexpected Victory