Thursday, September 25, 2008

September's Dose of St. Augustine

Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all. Whoever finds a lesson there useful to the building of charity, even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived ... [Book One, Section 39]

... if he is deceived in an interpretation which builds up charity, which is the end of the commandments, he is deceived in the same way as a man who leaves a road by mistake but passes through a field to the same place toward which the road itself leads. But he is to be corrected and shown that it is more useful not to leave the road, lest the habit of deviating force him to take a crossroad or a perverse way. [Book One, Section 40]

Here's thanks to God for His pursuit and correction, hoping He keeps me (and all of us) on the right road.

Cheers - cause I'm so British,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spiritual H2O

I can't believe it, but this looks real.

Spiritually uplifting, and it tastes good too.

(Don't stand to close to the Spiritual H2O guys.)

See ya later dudes!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In all your roads

Note: Be forewarned. This post is overtly Christian. If you happen to be one of the very few people who read this blog b/c you find it mindlessly entertaining but have no interest in the Bible or God, look away. Otherwise, I hope its beneficial.

This week, I found out I'm getting something of a promotion, and at least a change in my responsibilities to more strategic efforts. I didn't necessarily ask for it; and after I understood what was being asked of me, I wasn't sure if I actually wanted it. Don't get me wrong. At the core, I'm very excited by the opportunity. My responsibilities have increased, and I'm being asked to deliver some very critical and risky, yet exciting, projects in the organization. However, it comes with a very real, necessary cost. I'm going to have to be away from my home and wife - who I happen to like being with very much - for (on the order of) 2 days a week, nearly every week for the next several months. It's going to boil down to only 1 overnight away per week - which in the grand scheme is nothing compared to even some of our friends, but A) its not like I'm working for a mission (i.e. Mzinga is a for-profit company, not a para-church organization) and B) that is one more night then Cre and I would prefer. Overall, its not that bad, but we've both gotten so we don't really sleep that well when the other is away. (I'm thankful we've grown accustom to one another...)

Anyway, after discussion, consideration, prayer, and counsel from trusted friends and family, we decided that God had opened this door and we were going to give it a shot. We're trusting God for the outcomes and next moves... or at least trying to.

So last night I'm praying about this issue and Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind. I'm very careful to ascribe things to God in a judicious way. In this case, I'm fairly confident He was in it (Proverbs 22:6 might have something to say about that as well - thanks Mom & Dad).

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in Yahweh with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Anyway, for the last 24 hours, I've been turning that word over in my head. At first, it had its usual effect, which sounds something like, "Don't try to figure it all out b/c you can't. Instead, trust God, do what's right, and roll with the punches... in every part of life, even at work." It's a good word, and one that I continually commit to memory and then promptly forget...

However tonight, while mowing my lawn, a new thought occurred to me: What the heck does "acknowledging" God in my "ways" mean?!?

A few years ago, I had the privilege of studying under Dave Dorsey. Those that know him know that you cannot go through his OT classes without understanding road metaphors and literary forms in the Hebrew Bible. Proverbs 3:6 is a great example of both. That word "ways" is the Hebrew word derek. If you've driven around Israel and read the street signs, you know that derek = street or road, so it looks like we've got a road metaphor. The second word "paths" is the Hebrew word orah, which until tonight, I wasn't familiar with. As best I can tell, its a simile to derek, though it does have an interesting use in the book Job, where its translated "seige ramp". Anyway, my point is that the verse is a poetic repetition, meant to emphasize the author's point. In the case of the writer of Proverbs, he's trying to convince his audience of the benefits of following Yahweh's "path" - which is wisdom. Read simplistically, one might translate verse 6:

In all your roads know/acknowledge Yahweh, and He will make your road favorable (or straight)

In the Old Testament, "straight" roads imply roads that are flat, straight, safe, or generally easier to traverse. In a world where you walk everywhere, a favorable road can make all the difference in the journey, so what the author is saying is that "acknowledging" God is a very good, beneficial thing. The implication is that God's way is not just the altruistically moral or virtuous way, but the best way, the straightest way to get where you should be headed, and the wisest way (Note that the Bible defines wisdom as what is best for us in the long run).

The word translated "acknowledge" is the Hebrew verb yada. It occurs 947 times in the Old Testament and is translated into everything from "having sex" to "being close friends" to "apply" and "understand", but the most frequent way its translated is "know". So what does it mean to know or acknowledge - to yada - God on your road (derek)? More generally, what does it mean to to yada anyone on your derek?

First, I don't think its about prayer. There's no textual evidence to make me think the author meant "talk to God on the road", though that is a good thing to do. I'm also pretty convinced its not about adapting the "Post-game Interview Preface for Christian Athletes". You know that one where a wide receiver says something like, "I'd like to thank God/Jesus Christ for giving me the strength to catch 12 passes for 150 yards and 2 TD's." (that's 39 fantasy football points in the Onside Kick League for those keeping score at home) I'm sure many of them are sincere and God appreciates them getting the word out - free media and all that, but I doubt that's what the author of Proverbs was going for by "acknowledging" God.

So what else? Does it mean to pay Him respect or homage? If so, how? Is it about representing Him well on the journey? Is it simply saying that we should walk as He would walk / do as He would do on the road? Is it possible that the road where we "know" Him is His road (i.e. an obvious conclusion like "if you walk the road God wants you to walk, your path will be made straight... Duh")? More to the point, whatever it does mean, what does/can it practically look like to do this?

I asked Cre this question and she said something to the affect of the following, "I acknowledge my parents everyday, in the way I live my life. I am a reflection of them, and I journey through life reflecting that knowledge of who they are and who they raised me to be."

That sounded pretty astute to me - especially since she was tired and wanted me to let her go to bed. Still, I'm not 100% convinced yet - thus my post.

So what do you think? Give me some feedback - in person or in the blog comments. If you need me, I may be in Boston, trusting that God is making my road straight.

Cheers - cause I'm so British,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bono Fatigue

I've found myself growing in my wish that the new U2 album would hit the shelves, as if I needed it. Fortunately, I've found a community of people with a common condition: Bono Fatigue

From the website: This site is for U2 fans suffering from Bono Fatigue as a result of an over-consumption of U2 music, Bono interviews, Africa-related relief ideas etc. (BF can manifest in many ways. If you don't have it, you'll know it when you get it.) Since people at this site are recovering from BF, and are hoping to work through it and re-introduce U2 back to their lives, please do not post band photos, art or quotes unless absolutely necessary to your comment. Give others a chance to walk through this at their own pace. Thanks! Heal and enjoy.

Cheers cause I'm so British,