Archive for February, 2009

It took me awhile to get through All About Jesus, more because of my schedule than because the book is bad. Actually it is a good synthesis of the known story of Jesus.  It’s subtitle says “The Single Story from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Taking all four of the Gospel books and compiling it into one seamless story-line isn’t an easy task. The compiler, Roger Quy, did an excellent job of sticking to the texts. He used the New International Readers Version which I had never heard of as his primary text.  The NIrV has this to say about itself:

The NIrV was designed to make the Bible clear and understandable to early readers and can be read by a typical fourth grader. For this reason, it is also of value to the millions for whom English is a second language. It intends to be distinguished by five fundamental characteristics—readability, understandability, compatibility with the NIV, reliability, and trustworthiness. It serves as a natural stepping-stone to the NIV when the time is right.

This book doesn’t read like a novel. I kept wanting it to be like a John Grisham or Tom Clancy novel with smooth transitions and story-line. But I realized that the only way that would be possible is by adding to the story which would take away from the compiler’s primary goal of capturing the authentic story of Christ’s life. I’m not sure if a different version would have improved this area or not. The Message paraphrase could potentially make for an easier to follow story but as a paraphrase would lose some of the “inerrancy” of the story. I’m by no means a Biblical scholar so I assume their time line is accurate.

A few times the story repeated itself – in keeping with the original text they sacrificed smoothness to keep sections together. For example on page 200 and 201 it says this:

Herod and his soldiers laughed at him and made fun of him. They dressed him in a beautiful robe. Then they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends. Before this time they had been enemies…. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers twisted thorns together to make a crown.  They put it on Jesus’ head. Then they put a purple robe on him.  They went up to him again and again. They kept saying, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” And they hit him in the face.

And again on page 205:

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium.  All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. They took of his clothes and put a purple robe on him. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honor you, king of the Jews!” They said. They spit on him. They hit him on the head with a stick again and again. They fell on their knees and pretended to honor him.

This is actually the only book of this type that I’ve read so I appreciate their effort. At the end of the introduction is this statement of purpose:

This book is meant for those who would like to find out more about Jesus. It is ideal for someone who is new to the Bible. Readers who already know the Bible may find that it helps them learn more about the life and message of Jesus.

I’m not completely sure if he accomplished this goal or not.  Obviously there were new things that jumped out at me this time, but that is the same with every Biblical story and even great novels.  I think if I was wanting to introduce someone to Jesus I would probably recommend reading the Book of Mark in The Message paraphrase before recommending this book.

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That is what Blood:Water Mission is asking you to do this year.

Kind of.

From March 1 until April 9 the organization is asking that you give up all forms of liquid except for water as part of their 40 Days of Water Campaign.

You might also notice that their dates don’t actually coincide with the 46 days of Lent which begins on  Ash Wednesday (Feb 25) and goes until April 11.

From their blog:

We challenge you to make Water your ONLY beverage for 40 DAYS starting MARCH 1 and ending APRIL 9 in conjunction with the Lenten Season and World Water Day (Mar. 22).  Gather your friends and join in solidarity with our African brothers and sisters in an effort to provide clean water for communities in need.

There is a slight catch though:

As you do so, we ask that you keep track of what money you would have typically spent on other drinks throughout the day and save that money.  At the end of 40 days donate what you saved to Blood:Water.  Imagine, if you saved $5 a day just by cutting out a visit to your local bar or barista, then you’d save $200 in 40 days.  That’s enough to provide clean water for 200 people for an entire year!

What do you think?

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Much was written in the Gospels about the connection between Jesus and David.  He was called the Son of David several times and the geneology says he was the son of Abraham and the son of David.  Thus David must be an important character in the Old Testament.  So it is no surprise that a lot was written about him, specifically in 2nd Samuel.  Tim chose a section from the book that I’m sure we are all  familiar with – Chapters 11 & 12.  If you can’t recall the topic, one word will suffice to remind you – Bathsheba.

You might recall that David was enjoying the view from his rooftop when he spotted a beautiful woman bathing across the way.  He quickly sent his staff to inquire about her.  I had never realized the importance of the characters in the story:

* Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) was one of the top 37 soldiers (mercenaries) out of millions of soliders

* Eliam (Bathsheba’s dad) was another of the top 37.

* Bathsheba’s grandpa was actually a top advisor to David

I think the point here is that David knew the family surrounding this  “beautiful woman.”  This should have been a second opportunity for him to realize the folly of his desires.  In this chapter alone David broke at least 7 of the 10 commandments.  To finish the story recap David slept with Bathsheba, got her pregnant, brought Uriah home to try to pretend like it was his doing, and killed Uriah – who had too much honor and integrity to indulge himself while his comrades were suffering in a war.

It is a little ironic that while David, God’s chosen, was full of deciet and lies that this Hittite or foreigner, would have such high honor and integrity.

In 12:1-7 we see that David has the moral capacity has Nathan tells him a story and David is very angred.  This is a demonstration that we have the moral capacity but that we don’t neccessarily act morally. We like David often pronouce strong judgments on our immoral actions (Romans 2:1 and Genesis 3:4-5).  But it is our actions that slowly erode our moral compass.  Like Romans 1:18 says we “suppress the truth by our wickedness.”

We watch ourselves sin, know it is wrong, and then judge ourselves.  Sadly, a new moral compass won’t help.  Many today just thing we need to fix the compass or try some new programs to reteach morality – it won’t work.  It is actually also part of the problem.  We love to sin but don’t like to face the consequence – death. Fortunately we have a Savior who died so that we wouldn’t have to.

Who is most like Jesus? In this story who is most like Jesus?  Is it David? Uriah? Bathsheba? or Nathan (he confronted David about his sin)?

It is actually Uriah, he shows us the suffering side of Jesus.

  • Uriah refused to take the easy path, enjoying life while others suffered.
  • Uriah refused to have his feet washed, instead staying with the servants/body guards – Jesus washed feet as a servant
  • Jesus kissed Judas as He was being betrayed – Uriah honored David by staying with the servants/body guards.
  • Jesus was betrayed by one close to Him Uriah was betrayed by the whom he served
  • Uriah made the right decisions
  • David used someone else, war to kill Uriah.  The Jews used Roman law to have Jesus killed.

Are we willing to admit that we are morally bankrupt and in need of a Savior? It is hard to say that we are screwed up and don’t know right from wrong in the depths of our heart.  We need Jesus’ help to make sure we avoid temptations.

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I’ve been writing about the current salmonella outbreak on my running blog and how it relates to the energy bar realm. There are actually quite a lot of products being voluntarily recalled.  One of the company’s affected is Nature’s Path (link to my blog).   When I went to their site to research I was struck by something a little scary:

Zoomed in a little closer you can see the problem:

In the midst of a peanut recall their site is advertising another peanut product. Not good advertising. In fairness, the main image rotates about every 6 seconds, so this is one of several images. It just happened to be the first one up when I visited.

They obviously shouldn’t be advertising peanut products during a recall when other product lines have been affected.  On the other hand some companies, such as Clif Bar are being very pro-active to rebuild any lost trust the recall may have caused.  Take this excerpt from a letter published by Gary & Kit, co-owners of Clif Bar & Company:

We are accountable for the food we make. At this time, we can tell you that none of our recalled products has tested positive for Salmonella. But in light of the FDA’s investigation and mounting consumer confusion, we are taking the following actions immediately:

  • Clif Bar is taking a break and temporarily suspending production and shipments of our recalled products with peanuts and peanut butter. Now and during this break, consumers can enjoy our 91 other products that do not contain recalled peanuts or peanut butter.
  • We’re reviewing our own business practices to ensure that we’re doing all we can to continue raising the bar in food quality and safety.

I just thought I’d point out the irony that I found.  Two examples of how to effectively handle a “crisis.”

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It is fun to work with middle school kids! They were supposed to be creating ads for a product and some of them had fun drawing me. I’m not really sure what to make of their depictions.

And this beauty as well:

From Art Shanty Projec

When you take art and throw in some ice or snow you get a fun-filled afternoon or in our case 2 afternoons!

This past weekend started with a trip to nearby Powderhorn Park for the 2nd Annual Art Sled Rally. But first we had a stop at the Midtown Global Market for some Holy Land buffet! Excellent Middle Eastern food at an affordable price.

Then the next day we ventured out to Medicine Lake, near Plymouth, MN, and explored the Art Shanty Project.

Yes an absolutely wonderful weekend. The weather was perfect each day too which made it even better.

From Art Sled Rally

As you can imagine I took a lot of pictures, too many to even attempt to post here!

The Art Sled Rally was simply a sledding extravaganza where individuals and groups got together and made creative sleds.  Some were simply cardboard over a plastic sled while others were elaborate like that Star Wars Landspeed racer!  We got our spot at the bottom of the hill and enjoyed watching successful sledders make it to the bottom, some crash into the crowd, and some fly into pieces crashing at the bottom!  This is a link to my Picasa Album, here is a piece with video from MPR and a YouTube video of the beer explosion.

From Art Shanty Project

The Art Shanty Project was not quite as cool as the rally but was still very interesting and well worth the drive.  Basically when you ice fish, you want to have some type of shelter to help keep you warm and to help block the wind.  These can be called ice houses, but for this instance they are ice shanties!   Add some creativity and a little art and you have a nice little festival on the ice.  Some of the shanties were quite unique like the 3 story tall tower or the live theater shanty.  Others involved physical labor like the Peace Coffee making shelter where you pedal powered the radio and coffee maker or the shanty on wheels that you could pedal around the area.  Another highlight was the confessional shanty where you could write your confession and send it off to the fishies (or have it hung on the outside wall).   There was a lot of publicity about this project in it’s sixth year so you can visit their site for some great information and see pictures at my Picasa Album.

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Ruth is a pretty short book, but it has some great power and lots of good little sub-plots.   Tim covered some of them in his introduction of the message this week at Seward Church.  Let me highlight some of those and then get into the story a little deeper.

– The story begins with a story of immigration Naomi and her family moved to Moab from Israel due to a famine.  Many stories in the Bible have something to do with immigration and most of our families have an immigration story as well.  Some more recent and some more heart-breaking than others.

– Moab (and thus the Moabites) was the child of Lot and his daughter.  This act of incest was only the beginning of the sexual sins found in Moab.  The Israelites looked down on the Moabites as prostitutes.

– The earthly geneology of Jesus can be traced through Ruth to the Moabites and through Boaz to Rahab, who was also a prostitute (read the fully story in Joshua 2).

1) Absolute transforming power of grace lived out in relationships. It was the power of relationships that transformed 3 lives in this story.   First it was Naomi’s sacrificial love towards Ruth and Orpah.  By her insistence that her daughters-in-law could go back to her families she was making a sacrifice that is hard for us to comprehend.  She was sacrificing her future well-being.

It was this transformation that led Ruth to declare that she would reject her gods and follow God.  Tim Keller says (paraphrase) “When Naomi truly loves someone who doesn’t believe (in God), Ruth believes in her God.  He is trying to say that it was Naomi’s love, through relationship that cause Ruth’s conversion.

Ruth sacrificed her future when she moved back to Israel, again some of the cultural differences are hard to translate but if you were a prostitute it would be hard to move to an uppity neighborhood.  She knew she would be ridiculed, berated and looked down upon for being a Moabite.

Boaz also sacrificed his future, his wealth, and his legacy by redeeming (marrying) Ruth.

2) God puts signs of hope in every life.

Naomi was desperate, she had been widowed, she was getting older and more feeble, she was poor and desolate.  So desperate that she changed her name to Mara or bitter.  But in her darkest hours it was also Ruth’s greatest moment of hope. This story is an example of the fact that even though you can’t always “see” God’s hand working in your life you can know that He is there working.

There is somebody who immigrates into a place of deep suffering at the cost of His life to bring us Hope even in His most desperate moments.  Christ purchased our lives, similar to Boaz (redeeming Ruth) so that we can have hope and peace.  Finally, Christ’s pain was worse than anything we can experience.

I think it is amazing to see the corollaries between the Gospel message found in the New Testament and this 4 chapter story.

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