Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts and a verse of the day

Warning: This post is not mistitled. There is no thread.

I played Wii and guitar hero over the weekend with some friends from church. We bowled, golfed, played tennis, and some short weird Japanese games. It was fun and I can imagine how it could become seriously addictive. Fortunately, Steve and I don't have one. I also discovered a fun Yahoo word game called Bookworm. It's like a version of Boggle. It too is seriously addictive.

In my LIFEgroup we've been studying The 10 commandments. The last two weeks have focused on the first two commandments. I was struck by the idea that in prohibiting the worship of other Gods and of the use of idols in worship, God is reserving to himself the right to define himself. We are not to worship our ideas and desires, or imaginings of God, but only the true God as He reveals Himself. It's a very logical extension of His response to Moses. Moses' asks God's name at the burning bush and God responds, "I am Who I Am." It's only in the context of His relationship with Israel, the incarnation in Jesus, and the presence of His Spirit in the church that He will reveal Himself and be encountered.

I think it's neat the way different babies can be cute in different ways.

One of the things I've observed while being part of weeding over 11000 items out of our library in the last three months is that at some point in the 1930's several American publishers of religious books began using Roman numerals instead of Arabic for the publication dates. Books published by Doran, Revell, or Abingdon-Cokesbury in the 1910's or 20's and later in the 50's have publication dates like 1923 or 1918. Books published by those same publishers in the 30's-40's have dates like MCMXXXVIII or MCMXLV (Yale books have MDCCCCXXII). I just find that a curious practice. It might be an interesting thing for someone to research sometime, but I can't think of a good reason to.

One of the books I weeded today was titled That They May Have Live. I had to search that title three times. The first time I entered "That They May Live." That got no results. So I looked at it more closely and realized my mistake. I entered, "That They May Have Life." Again no results. My mind couldn't wrap itself around the apparent typo.

I finally got around to reading Ender's Game this summer and have gone on to The Speaker for the Dead. I've liked the other Orson Scott Card stuff I've read and I was tired of having my sf fan credentials questioned any time I mentioned I hadn't read any of the Ender books. I'm really impressed. I enjoyed Ender's Game, and I really enjoyed TSftD. I would never have expected to like a book that focused so much on interpersonal and family relationships as well as I did. I think Card does a good job setting up the parallel of the humans inability to understand one another with their inability to understand the aliens. I also enjoyed the way biblical allusions fall seamlessly into the story, especially this one about Ender's role in the xenocide:
"Yes, well, it's nothing mystical," said Ender. "I think of it as being like the mark of Cain. You don't make many friends, but nobody hurts you much either."

Have you heard about Cuil? It's a new search engine built by some former Google employees. Supposedly it indexes 3X as many web pages as Google and is attempting a completely different approach to determining relevance and claims to be less reliant on popularity. I like some of their ideas but I've gotten nothing out of performance. So far it's taking forever for me to access the search screen and I've only seen numbers of results, no actual links. I hope that it can get better and maybe if traffic slows down the site'll work better in the Trinity environment. The general consensus on the cataloging lists I follow says, "Wait for 'Cuiler.'"

That's it for today's episode of "Random stuff bouncing around Everett's head."

Verse of the day:

"And God spoke all these words, saying,

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

"You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:1-6 (ESV)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bought With A Price

From Nicolas Cabasilas The Life in Christ, bk. 7, s.13:

"The blessed Paul makes all things clear in a brief saying, 'You are not your own, you were bought with a price.' He who has been purchased does not regard himself but him who has purchased him, and lives according to His will. In the case of men, the slave is bound to the wish of his master, but only in body; in his mind and reason he is free and can use them as he pleases. But in the case of him whom Christ has bought it is impossible for him to be his own. Since no man has ever bought a complete man, and there is no price for which it is possible to purchase a human soul, so no one has ever set a man free or enslaved him save with respect to his body. The Saviour, however has bought the whole of man. While men merely spend money to buy a slave, He spent Himself. For our freedom He surrendered body and soul by causing the one to die and by the depriving the other of its own body. His body suffered pains by being wounded; His soul was troubled, and that not merely when the body was slain, but even before it was wounded as He said, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death.'
"So in giving Himself completely, He purchased the whole man. Therefore He has purchased the will too, and it especially. In other respects He was our Master and had control over our whole nature; but it was by our will that we escaped from His service, and He did everything to capture it. Because of the fact that it was our will which He was seeking, He did no violence to it nor took it captive, but He bought it. Thus of those who have been bought, no one will do right by using his will for himself , but will commit an injustice to Him who has bought him by depriving Him of His possession. It is by the self-will and by rejoicing in that which is one's own that one would use one's will for oneself.
"So it remains that none of the virtuous and righteous loves himself, but only Him who has bought him. It must be that at least some, if not all, of those who have been purchased should be thus disposed. How could it be reasonable for such an awesome purchase to have been made in vain? For those who love only Him it follows that they should enjoy all pleasure unalloyed with trouble, since He whom they love does nothing contrary to their desires. They are moved with an exceedingly great and supernatural divine power of joy and this power finds complete fulfilment, and that which delights them surpasses every abundance of grace."

Cabasilas has been my breakfast reading for the past few months (I don't eat breakfast regularly) and has been an interesting read. Essentially The Life in Christ is about the power of the sacraments in the believers' life. As a 14th century Orthodox Greek, Cabasilas has a much different view of sacraments and how they work than we do. Nevertheless, there have been times when I've found some of his ideas showing up as part of my own worship, especially during communion. The idea that in communion God is joining me together with the rest of the worshipping body has been a powerful one. As we share the one bread, we become one body. The last book (chapter) focuses on the joy and perfection of a man who is shaped by the Spirit's power through the sacraments. The whole is more perfectionist and works oriented than I am but it has been interesting and encouraging. Especially when I read the quoted passage above and then heard a message on 1 Cor. 6:12-20 the next morning. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who sends His Spirit that ruined sinners might become His temples.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Extreme Build 2008

We're back from the Extreme Build. It was an amazing week. It was sunny and hot, but not humid, all week. When we showed up for work on Monday the walls were build but lying on the ground, the foundation and basement were in place, and there were floor boards on the house. We had to get the floor laid and the walls up. By the end of lunch that stuff was in place and Daddy had almost passed out from exhaustion. Mostly I helped carry things and pass flooring and walls up to the house. Still it was a lot of fun watching Bessie, Sarah, and Jacob drive the first nails on the front wall of what was to be their new house. On Tuesday we built scaffolding and began putting on OSB and insulation. It was fun climbing on the scaffolding as we put it up on the back of the house. Wednesday and Thursday were taken up with putting on siding (several false starts) and soffits. Thursday also involved bending metal to cover the face boards of the roof. Friday involved repairing the siding on last year's Extreme Build house. I got to be the crew chief for the scaffolding portion of that job. "I don't know anything about that. Scaffolding I can do. It's like tinker toys." (my response to a question that morning). Friday afternoon and evening afforded the pleasure of working with daddy on building a door for the crawl space and working on the side porch. Saturday involved more porch work including digging "China-holes", building the stairs, and some more metal bending. Saturday also involved the house dedication where we prayed for the house and handed Bessie her keys.
Highlights included getting to know the GBC crew better, especially all the time we spent with Ken, Gina, and Taylor Whittle, and watching 88 year old Vic Carr (who still remembers me as the little boy crawling under the pews at Gano Avenue) build a house. Other highlights were listening to stories from Bob Durbin from Irvine and a lot of the other crew members, learning to use the brake for bending and cutting aluminum, getting to know Fred Doyle, Jim, Mary, Drew, Bob Jones, the Texas crew, getting busted for using an effective but very non-standard scaffolding extension ("No. You can't use the ladder like that." "We've been using it all morning." "Well, now you've been caught."), watching Jacob's joy when Daddy presented him with an engraved hammer, seeing Bessie and her kids working so hard on their house and the support from their family, seeing Mom start to take charge of the rest tent and nagging everyone to drink more water and Gatorade, the trips with the Whittles to Cumberland Falls for supper at DuPont Lodge and to see the moon bow, and to Natural Arch the next night even though we were all wiped out from our first full day of work--the first three days we did half days.
Over the course of a week a crew of 150 volunteers made of Baptist groups from all over Kentucky, from Indiana and Texas, a couple of Habitat teams from Louisville, a work crew from the local housing organization, and the Watson family built most of a house in order to show the love Jesus. We were disorganized and snippy at times and we didn't get it all done, there's a crew coming down today and tomorrow to try and complete it, but it was a good work and I'm glad to have been part of it. It was a good vacation. Of course it was also a special blessing to get that time to spend with Mom and Dad and to see how happy Daddy was to be carpentering again. I know he loves working at Toyota, but in his heart he'll always be a "hammy saw man." I took some pictures and if any of them survived the disintegration of the disposable camera I'll see about getting them up here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


There are two other new posts before this one.

Last night I was reading in Nicholas Cabasilas' The Life in Christ. Cabasilas was an Orthodox Archbishop of Thessalonica in the 14th century. The Life in Christ is mostly a work on the power of the sacraments for Christian living. The final chapter focuses on joy in Christ. As I was reading I was really struck by his discussion of 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a, "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price." (ESV). I left the book at home, so sometime after vacation I'll have to post the pertinent paragraphs. Basically he observed how no one really knows what a man is worth because no one has ever really bought anything more than a body. No one has ever purchased the whole man, body, soul, and spirit. No one, but Christ, who paid an infinite price to redeem the whole man.

This morning at our monthly church men's breakfast, my friend Matt, who is moving away (sob) to plant a church (Huzzah!), spoke on 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a, and how we were bought with a price. His message was titled, "Gospelizing Your Sexuality...and Everything else." "Gospelizing is a great word. It's a nice Anglicizing of Evangelizing. (Incidentally, I think "holification" is also a fun Anglicized substitute for "sanctification"). His message took in the whole of 1 Cor. 6:12-20 and how the point is not to focus on right and wrong, but to focus on the truth of the gospel for all of life. Namely, that God has purchased us and owns us absolutely but his slavery is freedom (cf. Romans 6). With that in mind, how can we possibly turn from Christ, our master and lover, to immorality. Not only is that an unhelpful thing to do, but, more importantly, it just doesn't make any sense. We need to constantly gospelize our lives so that we remember the truth. After the message we talked some about how we can have that gospel perspective on our lives. I thought, though I didn't say it, that it would be helpful to walk around wearing a sticker that said, "Sold." Then I realize that I already wear a cross all the time. I wear my price tag daily. Unfortunately, it still tends to become more of an accessory than a reminder as does my daily recitation of the Jesus Creed. It's easy for reminders to become background and lose their meaning. The word "phylactery" also came to mind. Various guys mentioned different things they do, such as listing reasons for thankfulness to God or meditating on the obedience of Christ. Ultimately it comes down to two things. The power of the Holy Spirit and remembering. Without the regeneration of the Spirit we're spiritual corpses and nothing matters. Without actual deliberate remembering, howsoever you do it, no reminder will help. It's not technique, it's action.

Some quotes/thoughts that struck me:
-The chiasm of v. 13. The Lord is for the body as food is for the stomach. We are meant to be filled by Him.
-We think about God coming to fill a hole in our life, but God's not that small. He invites us to be part of his plan and kingdom work for the whole world.
-In the context of accountability groups we need to preach the gospel to one another rather than just confess sins. And in gospelizing one another we need to move beyond just proclaiming forgiveness to the whole work of the gospel: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
-Matt has given us permission to use other adjectives for the blood of Jesus than precious. It is "effective blood", "powerful blood", "costly blood". I like "strong blood".

I think over this next week I will work on memorizing 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 while I'm on vacation.

1 Cor. 6:12-20 (ESV):

2 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 "Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food"—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." 17But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Feed My Starving Children and Extreme Build

On July 9th I got the chance to go with 16 kids and 6 other adults from the 3-D, our church ministry to middle school students, to Aurora, Illinois. We went to volunteer with an organization called Feed My Starving Children. You can read all about them here. We joined with 26 other volunteers from BP and another youth group and for about an hour and a half we boxed up 15000 meals that will be sent to Haiti. Our meals will feed 42 children for a year. It was a good time and the youth really seemed to enjoy it. On the way out the kids were asking when we'd be able to come back and do it again. Apparently some children will even have their birthday parties there. It's a great operation.

Next week Mom and Dad and I will be down in McCreary County, Kentucky. We'll be working with a team from their church on the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship's and Mountain Hope's Extreme Build project. It's a Habitat for Humanityish style project where we go in a build a house for a needy family. I'm looking forward to it. It's Mom and Dad's first short-term mission trip. You can follow our progress on those two sites. I'll be having to get up before it's day. That's o.k. I'm prepared to suffer for the cause.

"There is no charge for awesomeness...or attractiveness"

That's not entirely true, as I paid six dollars for the awesomeness that was the best kung fu movie of the year, viz. Kung Fu Panda. He's not a big, fat panda, he's THE big, fat panda. Anyway, Cindee, Marie, and I saw that last night and it was great. But that's not even the best of the recent awesomeness.

If you read Jim's blog, and some of you might, then you know that last week I almost gave him a heart attack by walking into his house unannounced at about 11:20 p.m. on July 3rd. There he was, minding his own business sitting in his living room wondering why his wife was just sitting there not going to bed, when he heard the back door open. Then it closed. Then there were heavy footsteps in the kitchen and no response to his queries. Apparently it's unusual for people to walk into farmhouses in the middle of the night in the middle of corn fields west of Rochester, MN, without some sort of greeting. Who knew? Anyway as his "Who's there?" sounded way more stressed than his "Hello?", and since he didn't appear rushing out to great me with open arms, I thought it best to throw in a "Hey, Jim." Cue relief, puzzlement, and the open arms bit. Meanwhile, Tara, who'd thought this up and instigated it, sans the middle of the night terror (I told her I'd be there around 10. I don't know how long it takes to get Trinity to their manor house.), held her peace. The next morning I got to surprise each of the children as they came down for breakfast. It was a fine evening and morning of surprising.

Friday we celebrated Jim's birthday and threw a shout out to the country while we were at it. We had a small party with some of his friends and relatives and a trip to Wannamingo for a parade--mostly trucks, tractors, oddities, and, especially, much candy. That night we took a family ride on the trailer, shot the bb gun, and made a fire for s'mores. The older boys got to play with sparklers and Jim and I sat out and talked. He and Evan and I also went through a catechism Jim developed as a means of teaching the Faith to his nephew. I was impressed. Saturday I went out with Friendly Jim in the morning and helped clean a gutter, cart trash to the dump, and move a washer and dryer. We had a good time and I almost did a header into a dumpster. In the afternoon I helped Jim while he cut down a dead tree in his back pasture and we cut up the wood for the winter. Evan also developed a new game of ping-pong wherein he hangs on the tire swing and Jim and I push him back and forth. That night we attempted to watch Big Fish, an interesting movie, but confusing if you keep dozing off. After church and lunch we hung out at the house and played in the yard for a while until I finally headed back to Illinois.

I always have a good time with Jim and Tara and the kids. It was fun this year to see Avery toddling about and being all smiley. She can even say, "Bubba." Of course, almost all babies can, but I was still impressed. I enjoyed when Toby told us that we should stay hydrated or we'd feel sick as we headed out to the pasture to cut down the tree. "Hydrated" is a good word for a three year old, and it is good advice. When I told him that it wasn't cool to take keys out of his daddy's van, he replied, "It's cool for me." We had fun. I enjoyed helping Aidan work on his bounce pass. At 4, he's not yet ready to shoot to the basketball but he's working at being a point guard. On Sunday afternoon while Evan was potting hostas to be sold at the farmer's market, Aidan was rubbing dirt on his hands. I asked why. "So I'll be ready when we dig the next hole." I was really touched when Evan told me having me around was like having a second daddy. It's a lot of fun just hanging out and playing with other people's kids. Especially when they're as smart and cute as Jim and Tara's kids.

It was a good trip, and I was glad to get up there. I was planning to go anyway, but I was especially glad with the way Tara's surprise worked out. It's fun being someone's birthday present.