Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"I Met Messiah"

I don't know much about this organization (One for Israel), but I'm enjoying this series of short videos called "I Met Messiah." In the series, Jewish people describe their conversion to Christianity.

Here a Jewish man named Mottel Baleston discusses briefly his personal journey to faith in Jesus as Messiah.   

Here is the passage in Scripture Baleston refers to, courtesy of Bible Gateway, in NIV:

Isaiah 53 New International Version

53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied;[e]
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.


  1. Isaiah 53:8 Or From arrest
  2. Isaiah 53:8 Or generation considered / that he was cut off from the land of the living, / that he was punished for the transgression of my people?
  3. Isaiah 53:10 Hebrew though you make
  4. Isaiah 53:11 Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint); Masoretic Text does not have the light of life.
  5. Isaiah 53:11 Or (with Masoretic Text) 11 He will see the fruit of his suffering / and will be satisfied
  6. Isaiah 53:11 Or by knowledge of him
  7. Isaiah 53:12 Or many
  8. Isaiah 53:12 Or numerous

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fine China, Fat Televisions, and Ordinary Coffee

My sister-in-law sent me this poem, and I love it.

My Grandparents’ Generation

by Faith Shearin

They are taking so many things with them:
their sewing machines and fine china,

their ability to fold a newspaper
with one hand and swat a fly.

They are taking their rotary telephones,
and fat televisions, and knitting needles,

their cast iron frying pans, and Tupperware.
They are packing away the picnics

and perambulators, the wagons
and church socials. They are wrapped in

lipstick and big band music, dressed
in recipes. Buried with them: bathtubs

with feet, front porches, dogs without leashes.
These are the people who raised me

and now I am left behind in
a world without paper letters,

a place where the phone
has grown as eager as a weed.

I am going to miss their attics,
their ordinary coffee, their chicken

fried in lard. I would give anything
to be ten again, up late with them

in that cottage by the river, buying
Marvin Gardens and passing go,

collecting two hundred dollars.

“My Grandparents’ Generation” by Faith Shearin from Telling the Bees. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Only in God

The Anglican Church is a big tent. I grew up as a child of Reformed parents in churches who were part of the Episcopal Renewal in the '70s and '80s. Those Episcopal churches are now part of the Anglican Communion.

Some of the treasures I received from that community in those days were the Episcopal liturgy as expressed in the beautiful and thorough Book of Common Prayer, the value of weekly communion, and also the tradition of the words of Scripture put directly to song.

The instrumentation in worship services was simple and beautiful, and the tunes were accessible to a musically-untrained, hyper-aware, internal little girl in a military family  -- afraid variously of Skylab landing on her house, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and making new friends. These old songs lingered in my head and comforted me with the sweet and timeless words of Scripture and the nearness of Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, my faith has been well-placed; Iranian ayatollahs (with different vowels in their names) may come and go, but our stronghold remains.

I have tried and failed to find many of those old songs. But I have found a few John Michael Talbot songs we sang at one time, and here is one I want to share with words from Psalm 62 -- the lyrics first and the link follows.

(John Michael Talbot is a Roman Catholic founder of a monastic community, so if you watch the clip you will see imagery common to that tradition.)

Psalm 62

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation
He only is my rock
My strength and my salvation

My stronghold, my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold
My Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is found safety
When my enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly

Psalm 62

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parts of Speech link

Very helpful link to the home page of Mrs. Bennett at a public school in Shallotte, NC -- a basic list and examples of the main parts of speech.

I don't know her but her parts of speech page is clear and thorough.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Apocalypse Then -- and Now

World events have prompted me to do something I have been meaning to do for a while -- read More Than Conquerors by William Hendriksen. 

I'd already been convinced of a particular interpretation of Revelation through a sermon series I heard many years ago by Randy Pope, which drew heavily on Hendriksen's explication of Revelation. Reading the book today -- which is surprisingly clear, orderly, and easy to follow, especially given the complicated apocalyptic text full of symbol and metaphor -- only strengthens my understanding, and it is also such a lift and encouragement. May I recommend this book to you, if you haven't understood the book of Revelation

From Deep to Deep

Sunergoi on Water in Psalm 32

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Royal Me

Cultural Emblems

Certain book and movie events, such as the recent movie about an abusive relationship portrayed as a romance, are worth considering as believers not because they are unique, but because of the reverse.

I haven't seen 50 Shades of Grey, but my understanding from reports (which emanate and titillate from every possible news source) is that this movie affirms, even valorizes, sadomasochism. If so, this movie, rather than being the cutting-edge phenomenon heralding a new sexuality, is actually emblematic of the long-time sexual identity of our western culture, in which the only boundary or guideline is consent.

The book series sounds like a charter for The Divine Right of the Consenting. The movie sounds like a sermon preaching the one moral value for sexual behavior in western culture today: The First Commandment of Consent. The celebrants snicker and gather to worship with a resounding "Amen-ything Goes -- as long as you have signed here, and initialed here, and here, and here..." (Be sure to read the fine print!)

Believers need to identify pagan and secular creeds in order to answer them. So it's important we at least note these cultural markers and icons as they come along. (And if you've ever read the Old Testament you should not be surprised when they do. A thorough reading of Scripture precludes naivete.)

Emblems both define and differentiate.

When pagan creeds are widely broadcast and affirmed, we are given clarity about the world we live in and our neighbors suffer daily in; they help pinpoint its dark places. They help clear away confusion and foggy thinking and give us an urgency for the gospel.

And as a sort of bas relief or photo-negative, they also help us identify the ideas, practices, and people who are nurturing spiritual, mental, and physical health and wholeness.

The spirit of the anti-Christ has to do with whoring Babylon and an "I did it my way" religion. In other words, if I consent and you consent (though even that latter part's a bit wobbly -- maybe you "consent" under the influence of alcohol or manipulations), who is to say we are wrong? Certainly no god but myself. The Royal Me.

And what is the most natural place for this rejection of the first human relationship -- the one between the real God and man -- to nestle? In the heart of the very second human relationship -- woman and man.

The Garden and the Ghetto

That nascent and beautiful marriage of a man and a woman was founded in a Garden as a bond created for love, intimacy, fellowship, fertility, communication, comfort, co-regency, and, as my friend Bill Mattox points out, as a locus of diversity (man and woman are decidedly not the same).

In a reverse world, this male-female union becomes instead a weapon warped and wedded to fear, domination, aggression, anxiety, and subtler, arm-twisting power-grabs like withholding, silent-treatments, blaming, and punishment, all enacted on the hardscrabble grey pavements of The Land of Looking Out for Number 1. The Garden exchanged for a Ghetto. As C.S. Lewis describes, we are indeed children playing at mud-pies, though offered a vacation at the seashore.

A Better Romance

But I must add that this is also no time to be discouraged. These moments of clarity not only point out what is wrong, but point out what has always been true.

We dwell on the One who gave it all to love us, who suffered that we might live, and who offers a real and true relationship. Christians enjoy the true romance of a Groom for a Bride.

He walked in our world. There is no new evil here; He came and saw it and conquered it with real, living, divine love -- the kind of love that casts out all fear.

And then we love like he does, because he first loved us. Not left to love on our own, his Spirit makes us lights in the darkness of the world and, yes, even the bedroom. This radiant and wholesome love arcs out into our families and neighborhoods. We are called to share and show all kinds of true love to people really hungry for it. We have good news to share daily not just in how we talk and how we live with our husbands, but in how we love our children, family, friends, and the whole world.

This good news -- the kind spoken in both words and deeds and beginning in our marriages -- is not only true, but healing and wholesome, infectious and irrepressible. Across the ages, even death has not been able to stop it.

Who can resist him?


The article below is by a clinical psychologist, and it discusses what happens to a person psychologically when sexual intimacy, fear, and aggression experiences are fused together in the human mind. (A salient but long quote from the article also below.)

Here's is the article: Hooked Up and Tied Down

And here is a quote from it, emphasis mine:

"Sexual Arousal, Aggression, and Fear

Human beings have neural networks related to sexual behavior, and these are shaped in subtle ways by our sexual experiences. We have separate neural networks related to anger and aggression, and these are shaped and strengthened when people engage in violent or domineering behaviors. We have still more separate brain maps for fear and anxiety, which are shaped and reinforced by frightening or anxiety-provoking experiences.

If you think about these three emotional experiences—sexual arousal, aggression, and fear—they are typically quite distinct emotional experiences. There is some overlap between them in terms of physical or bodily response: all three, for example, involve increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, because all three involve activation of the sympathetic nervous system. And yet, for most healthy individuals, sexual arousal, aggression, and fear remain distinct emotional, cognitive, and physical experiences. This is, I will suggest, a good and healthy thing.

So these neural networks and these experiences normally remain distinct—unless our experiences begin to fuse them together. When this fusion happens, the brain gets confused. And this is exactly what happens when people experiment with sadomasochistic sexual practices. These distinct neural networks and brain maps become fused according to Hebb’s principle: neurons that fire together wire together. Once this happens, aggression automatically triggers sexual arousal. Or fear and anxiety automatically trigger sexual interest. When this fusion of neural networks becomes pronounced, people often will present to the psychiatrist with clinical problems. Patients complain, for example, that they cannot get aroused unless they get aggressive or violent. Or they complain that they become involuntarily aroused whenever they experience fear. Once these distinct neural networks are fused, the person is—at the level of the brain—literally tied down.

....Before making decisions about our sexual behaviors, we need to ask ourselves some questions about what we want to be doing to our brain and our body—what kind of neural tracks and networks do we want to be reinforcing through these behaviors? Do we want to be fusing sex and love? Sex and security? Sex and attachment or commitment? Sex and fidelity? Sex and trust? Sex and unselfishness? Or do we want to be fusing in our brain and in our experiences sex and violence? Sex and dominance? Sex and submission? Sex and control? We shape our brain by our choices. And we develop increasingly automatic and ingrained habits by our repeated choices. But the initial choice of which path we embark upon is up to us."