Author Archives: kwilson

Rejoice, rejoice, again I say rejoice

The theme from a well know hymn, and a clear message in countless Scripture passages, regardless of the circumstances. Again in Psalm 40:16 we have “rejoice and be glad…”

But as I noted in Confusion of Focus, we often don’t. We are mired in worldly circumstance, at times even including the circumstances of relationship with other believers.

What have we forgotten in our haste to make things work as we assume they should?

We have forgotten who is in charge, of course. That is even true despite the passage of  the major Christian milestones of Easter and Christmas in which we are confronted by the Lord of all creation fulfilling the promise of a redemptive paradigm. We often don’t dwell on the implications of these acts.

Everything is (and continues to be – note the active voice) created by Him, and in His mercy He is redeeming in the world according to His will. All the capital H’s are important. They denote God, and Him alone.

The elect have reason to celebrate, for His hand is permanently upon them. The world has reason to celebrate, since His common grace permits the dynamics of creation to continue from moment to moment. Without the dynamics of God’s activities in the present moment, neither would continue.

In this there is joy. We see it in our play (and playing is important for everyone at every age), as we loose ourselves in what He has endowed us with. Let us carry that joy into all of our lives and rejoice.

But notice that I never said easy…

 

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Called by whom?

My recent experiences led me to recall an interesting ecclesiastical puzzle that a friend brought up some time ago and that I have observed several times in congregations.

Case 1: The Pastor of a protestant church (I have no Catholic experience to offer) announces that he has been ‘called’ to a new church and will leave shortly.

Although people may be sad and regret the situation (or not in some cases), they do not question for a moment that the ‘call’ is devine. He is wished well and sent off into the sunset as an obedient servant.

Case 2: Same scenario except that this time a congregant member of a protestant church announces that he doesn’t fit at the church for one reason or another, and is moving to or looking for a new church.

In this case, the congregant is more often than not told that he or she has been placed in that congregation by the Lord for a reason and shouldn’t ‘run away’ from problems. His or her reason is assumed to be a man-centered one and certainly not devine in origination. If they do leave, the well wishes are often grudging as best, possibly judgemental and assumes that the congregant has the problem.

So, what is wrong with these pictures?

In many (I won’t go so far as to say most) instances, the pastor in Case 1 was less than happy with the current church or he wouldn’t have bothered with the new offer. The legitimacy of that unhappiness is not relevant to our discussion here. The new ‘call’ may legitimately be a better devine utilization of pastoral gifts. It may also be just a more comfortable fit for the person. In either case, no fault is attributed.

The situation in Case 2, however, present a problem. Why can a Pastor feel a calling to a new situation (even one that suits better) and it is okay, even a blessing for all, while the same move by a congregant is treated as man-centered and a problem in the congregant?

It just doesn’t wash, folks.

Is the Pastor intrinsically closer to the Lord? I don’t buy it as universal. Is the congregant intrinsically farther from the Lord? Again, makes no sense.

If the congregant should be working through whatever the issues are, then the pastor should be doing no less. If the pastor can hear a new and exciting call, then the congregant can do likewise and should have equal blessing. The congregant and Pastor should be regarded with unanimity.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there is not a clear time to go, or to stay. That is always between the believer and the Lord. The problem illuminated here is the use of man-centered values and reasons to treat two situation differently.

Just something to ponder…

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Confusion of Focus

A good friend, who follows my blogging drivel, dropped me an email one day that got me to thinking (yes, I know that is a shocking revelation). He commented that a certain situation that he was aware of was, in his words, “figuring in your rants”.

He was correct, but what it made me think about was the percentage of negative ranting vs positive ranting in the blog – not only my blog, but others as well.

Yes, this stuff needs to be said, and yes, often is strikes a common cord with many others. But like media in general, we are often soooooo negative in focus. There are lots of good things, honest there is. It is certainly cathartic to rant righteously, but we also need to rant about that good stuff as well.

Christians have eternal reason to rant positively. And so we are back to my “How shall we live?” thread.

I don’t have an answer, but maybe just bearing it in mind will be a step on the road…

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Irritated by the Beloved

Assuming that you are are believer, then you are living in the Beloved – marked by God before creation, saved through Christ, changed, inhabited and directed by the Spirit, and His into eternity no matter what. More significantly for today’s post, you are in all of this with a lot of brothers and sisters in the faith.

This family of faith are, in the end, closer to you than any other earthy group of people. As a family apart from the creation, we are precisely that – apart. No bond of flesh within creation is as eternal nor significant. We are commanded to be loving and supportive within that family.

And there’s the rub (to abuse Shakespeare shamelessly)…

Why? Because our brothers and sisters in Christ, or at least some of them, can be very irritating! I would venture to say that within each local assembly there is at least one, and likely several, believers who really annoy you. If not, then I think you are either not involved or in denial…

That said, what do we do with these bozos who are part of us for all eternity?

First, let us remember that they will only bug you in the flesh. In the New Jerusalem, all the vestiges of the flesh which lead to the observations in this post will be gone, for  “we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). As such, the conflict will be gone and forgotten. Thus we only have to consider now – now being the time until we either die or the Lord returns.

With that in mind, do we have to embrace every other believer as our long lost friend – approving and supporting all that they are in the flesh? Should we expect ourselves to interact with all of them well, and fit with them? Are we sinful if we don’t care for or feel comfortable in the company of some? Many pious Christians might seem to believe that this is the case,and in fact our obligation.

I would disagree. I think this is without biblical support. Further, it can lead to reactions and guilt that can be sinful.

The confusion appears to be around the difference between acceptance and preference. That is, global acceptance within the family of believers is regarded as proper and pious, while preference is not. But because you accept an individual as a  brother or sister does not imply that you ‘fit’ with them in the present flesh. I know of no biblical text that would propose this.

As long as we are in the flesh and all that it brings, we will be a better fit with some than others. This is where preference comes along. You have a preference for some over others – a natural resonance if you will. And there is nothing sinful in that.

Now, in the New Heaven and Earth, this will apparently not be the case because of our state (1 John 3:2 again), but even this is just an interpretive assumption.

We certainly are called to treat our brothers and sisters in the Lord with deference and general regard. After all, we are all strangers in the same strange land (to use a Robert Heinlein phrase). But our relationships can be at various levels, and those levels can be determined by individual preference. There is nothing sinful in that, and I would go so far as to say that to believe otherwise is error.

Let us treat each other with the deference that our relationship in the Lord brings, but realize that having preferences in close relationships is quite acceptable and not sinful, as long as it does not result in ill treatment of a brother or sister.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Listen here, Elvis has left the building…

It is amazing how some people can’t take a hint graciously, no matter how clearly and politely it is delivered.

I held a post on a volunteer (let’s say that again loudly, VOLUNTEER) board of directors for a few years, quite some time ago. It lead to an interesting observation that I think has wider application.

In that position people tended to suggest that ‘we’ do things, of course meaning that in the end someone else should do them because they were busy or whatever. The end result was months of often singular and invisible labour, lots of blame from those that didn’t actually do, and eventual burnout, for those that actually “did”.

So, in the end, after a few years of service, with the beginnings of stress related health problems, volunteers politely resigned.

Although some are most gracious, as in “sorry to see you go and good luck”?, there are those others who responded “you can’t go until we approve” and “you OWE more service”. They were of course in most cases the ones on whom the responsibility to do stuff would now actually fall. What planet are these people living on? A volunteer, particularly one who has sacrificed much more time and grief than they have, OWES them nothing, nada, zilch, zero…

Anyway, it is truly amazing how self absorbed people can be. No wonder people don’t volunteer readily for some things.

Go figure…

 

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Keep Your Greek – Book Review

So, you maybe know a usable amount, or a lot, of NT Greek. You did the basic grammar courses, added a syntax and exegesis course, and maybe a related preaching or teaching course. Lots of sweat and a little inspiration. And voila, usable Koine Greek (hopefully).

We all agree that this is invaluable if not vital do quality study, preaching and teaching of the Word.

Now the real challenge begins. Retaining a language that you do not actively speak every day means deliberately keeping it up. But how?

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek, Strategies for Busy People by Constantine Campbell was created to address this problem.

This book was not created in the vacuum of the academic study. Each chapter of the book was created through a blog post and associated blog comments (a subset of which are included in most chapters). I followed this process online and the result is a timely compendium which hits the mark.

The book is clearly written and addresses each issue concisely. There is lots of (Greek geek) humour and a point of view that those using Greek will appreciate. In short, it does the job in an engaging fashion, which is half the battle.

It is not that this book contains a lot of surprises, since there is little new under the language learning sun. However, it pulls together most of the tips and tricks appropriate to Koine under one roof. This is uniquely useful and encouraging.

The main requirement, as expected, is ongoing, consistent effort. No surprise there, but the encouragement is appropriate and appreciated.

Along with the expected suggestions (keep your vocabulary up, practice parsing), there are a couple of strategies for retention and increased usability that are not as often suggested:
– skim reading, as you would in English, to practice getting the ‘just’ of the text. This is rarely suggested for this type of language work, especially for the less advanced.
– varying reading speed deliberately.

Lastly, there is a section on recovering your dormant Greek.

Overall, this is a useful, engaging and most of all encouraging look at a problem shared by most serious bible students. It is a welcome addition. Constantine Campbell is to be commended.

I should close by mentioning that Zondervan gave me a copy of this book for review. Irregardless, I would likely have purchased it and my opinions to do consider that.

 

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Doesn’t it drive you crazy when…

Those readers who are old enough will recall Andy Rooney’s commentaries at the end of many episodes of the 60 Minutes show. You may remember chuckling at (as well as often likely agreeing with) his complains and comments on many of the strange aspects and occurrences of life as he marveled at them. In more recent times, Rex Murphy often writes in the same way, though more politically pointed in most instances. His attitude, though is much the same. In remembering this, you will have some idea where I am headed in this Topic or potential series.

I have already posted a couple and we will see where this leads. The actual threads, comments and discussion will unfold as life does…

 

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The Gas Company that is deaf…

If you live in Canada, in a house, you have likely been visited by the ubiquitous door to door sales rep (‘Fix Price Energy’, Telecommunications, Weed Killer, etc.)? They must train these guys at the same school that trains Jehovah’s Witnesses. Amazingly, this continues to some degree even during the pandemic. And to boot, some are either maskless or with one the is a joke.

The guy or girl (though the guys are much more aggressive, comes to the door (selling a product that is often MORE expensive in the short run and definitely so in the long run, therefor most likely NEVER be a good deal) and might say just doing a survey. Or he might ask to see your bill for you current service “just to be sure you are getting the best deal.” That is the first lie. Then he wants to know if you have signed up to save money “just like all your neighbours”. All the neighbours is of course a straight up lie.

I respond “Thanks, but I am not interested”. But being polite is unfortunately an error. Sir, you must want to save money. All your neighbours have signed up (they haven’t by the way), he insists. I try again, “Thanks, but I am not interested”. There must be a sociology paper in here somewhere. We do this dance a couple more times, then I start to get impatient with his inconsideration. After all, this guy is brain dead and I am just being polite. In the end I am intrigued by his stupidity and ask if he is getting the message. He says “Well since the door is still open you must really be interested”. Argh, we are back to night school for Jehovah Witnesses…

I tell him firmly that he should move off my property and I shut the door.

So, did he do his employer any good. Not likely. Not only am I still not interested, but I won’t buy any service from them now.

So now we know that there IS human junkmail, sent out just doing a survey, of course…

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Fire juggling in brief…

A short synopsis of the fire juggling pics…

 

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Did ya’ ever notice…

Question – What do the following services have in common, from the standpoint of ongoing use?

1. Cleaning lady or service company
2. Lawn service
3. Snow removal service
4. Financial Adviser

Let’s put it in a scenario… You decide that one of these services is to be farmed out – say, house cleaning. That is, you are too lazy, too busy or too whatever to do it yourself. So, you check around and find what appears to be a suitable person or service org. Most of these arrangements are informal, so you say go ahead and they start.

The first few times, maybe even more, are wonderful. If it is a cleaning service, your house is clean and tidy, including places you didn’t think of or didn’t want to think of. You are delighted. You can live in your mother’s standards without effort! Yay, freedom.

A period of time elapses when this continues and you settle into complacency around the service. It just happens as a given.

Then, slowly, the service starts to decline. It is not startling or extreme, just not up to the same standard here and there. A new lower standard settles in and that is what is permanent, not what you contracted for. If you are busy and not looking at it too closely, you may not notice for a while. The provider is too busy or rushed for everything, corners get cut, etc. It is slow creep…

You are paying the same, maybe even incrementally more, and have the same service level expectations. So why is this?

It is like they are on trial for a while, but that is not the real service level. You only see the real level once you are in the bag as a customer and you relax.

There is something wrong here! Isn’t the whole point that you should be able to relax with the assurance that the job is being done?

Now, I don’t have an answer other than vigilance and changing provider occasionally (a pain in the rear end). But this phenomena seems so prevalent in service areas that it is a sociological study in the making. Any Sociology PhD students out there looking for thesis?

I am also willing to bet that this generalizes more widely, but that would be outside of my direct anecdotal experience to date. You can draw you own conclusions.

 

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Luddites are everywhere…

I wrote this quite some time ago, but bear with me…

I am a member of several interest groups and also a Board of Directors. These groups are mostly populated by intelligent and enthusiastic people. They communicate, for the most part, articulately and willingly. Their willingness to explore better communications ends abruptly and uncharactistically, however, when it comes to innovative use of technology to facilitate the dialog.

Most of these groups communicate regularly via the internet. Most have matured enough in net use to use email. As the group grows, of course, the cc lists become spotty as people come or go, and very long lists give some mail clients problems. Add to that the problems that come with an overloaded inbox, and you would think that people would embrace an alternative offering less symptoms and more convenience. You would be wrong…

I suggested that a discussion forum would solve many of the problems (and it would). But getting a large percentage of the group populace to learn the tiny bit of protocol needed to use a forum, let alone actually type a message into it, has proved to be a problem of shocking magnitude.

Then we have those who are challenged into terror by even too much email.

It leaves me shaking my head in dismay that the possibility of expanding group discussion while at the same time reducing individual overhead is so hard to sell.

I just don’t get it and it drives me crazy…

Now, fast forward to 2021. Zoom has taken over in the form of many packages. Technology use has been forced to advance a decade in one year. All good. Yet I find that the luddites continue to lurk in the shadows. People who still refuse to use the technology to advance their calling, persisting in the delusion that shortly everything will change back or that the new way is inherently evil.

Sorry, it ain’t gonna happen, folks. The foundational changes are here to stay, and more to come.

 

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