Friday, January 30, 2015

"We came here to serve God..and also to get rich"


Jesus' "incredibly disrespectful, offensive and irresponsible inaugural miracle"

In a compelling section of his "Selling Water by the the River," Shane Hipps discusses the John 2 account of the wedding at Cana, concluding that "this inaugural miracle sets the stage for [Jesus'] way of operating in the world.  It frames his entire ministry."  He suggests that Jesus' use of the ceremonial washing jars, instead of using the "obvious" amphoras [wine containers] that were surely nearby, was an "incredibly  disrespectful, offensive and irresponsible thing."

Teaser: it has something to do with Tuma.

The entire section can be viewed on Google Books; pp. 31-36 here (the page numbers are not marked, so read from  the paragraph beginning "Jen had a warm but weary..." to the paragraph ending "confines of the riverbanks.")

When Shane autographed my book, he asked about me.  I mentioned I was a pastor and Bible teacher, and that I had found his teaching helpful.  He smiled, "And you haven't gotten in trouble  for that yet?"

I have always found it fascinating that John very intentionally hitches (some would call it framejacking)  this story to Jesus' temple cleansing. So it's worth pursuing how the temple tantrum was also  an "incredibly disrespectful, offensive and irresponsible inaugural miracle"...and for similar reasons.

Also: see Michael Frost  video  HERE for help on this text, including a suggested inclusio.
("Uncle Joshua would've had a lampshade on his head")

Thursday, January 29, 2015

" Jesus had almost nothing good to say about families."

" Jesus...had almost nothing good to say about families."
 -Walter Wink

I'm guessing you may want context! 
 See Walter Wink, The Powers That Be - p. 75

"the city devours": Zombie Eucharist

pic credit
Matthew Tan:
Many often talk about cities as being soul destroying, whether it is in reference to a cultural deadening borne from the replacement of theatres, independent stores and galleries with consumerised counterparts (especially via commercial chains), or in reference to the decaying (often brutalist) architecture. 
A similar insight can be found in the sociologist Jacques Ellul's The Meaning of the City, in which Ellul warned his readers about cities being more than just boring architecture or sites of waste. For Ellul, cities are parasites. More specifically, Ellul compares them to vampires as they 

prey on the true living creation [...] The city is dead, made of dead things for dead people [...] the city devours men

Writing thirty years later, Ward made an explicit reference to this passage and extended the analysis to give it a Eucharistic inflection. In his Cities of God, Ward spoke of vampires as working in an anti-Eucharistic fashion. Rather than giving blood for the life of the world, the vampire takes blood from the world and and ends life to sustain an already dead being. "Vampire stories," Ward argues "are Eucharistic stories played out negatively. A similar observation could be said of the zombie genre...continued here

On a related note:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dr. Hani Raoul Khouzam on PTSD

Dr. Hani Raoul Khouzam gave an amazing presentation on post-traumatic stress at a local seminar for clergy(Thanks to  Chaplain Terry Rommerheim and  Veterans Adminstration Central California Health Care System team for organizing it).

Here's an interview from another event. 

prayer to Allah in the House of Representatives

 This prayer to Allah in the House of Representatives is a sign-ificant sign  of the times...

and the implications need to be discussed.. But I sure was shocked to see this pop up when I clicked to play the video:

Ignatius of Loyola directs mimetic and histrionic kittens to play religiously on stage: copy-catechism

pic credit
From The Idea of a Theater by  Fergusson
The Histrionic Sensibility: The Mimetic Perception of Action

The trained ear perceives and discriminates sounds; the histrionic sensibility(which may also be trained) perceives and discriminates actions.Neither form of perception can be defined apart from experience but only indicated in various forms of its use...

Kittens in their play seem to be using something like our histrionic sensibility. They
directly perceive each other’s actions: stalking an imagined quarry; the bluff and formal
defiance which precedes a fight; flight in terror; the sudden indifference that ends the
play. Their perception of each other’s actions is itself mimetic, a sympathetic response of
the whole psyche, and may be expressed more or less completely and immediately in
bodily changes, postures, and movements.  The soul of the cat is the form of its body; but to some degree the soul is actual in different ways in different moments, depending upon what the cat believes, or make-believes the situation to be...When kittens perceive and imitate the actions of grown cats, the histrionic sensibility is being used for educational, moral (or by analogy) religious purposes: to explore the potentialities of the cat nature and the dimensions of the world in which the cat finds itself...

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola  would seem to be far removed from the play of kittens; yet their purpose is to reveal, through the techniques of make-believe, the potentialities of human nature and the realities of the human situation, as Loyola understood them.   When he explains to the devout how to make present to their feelings and imaginations as well as their reason, scenes from the life of Christ, he  sketches a technique like that which the Moscow Art Theater used to train actors. His immediate purpose is similar: to reveal a scene significant on many levels, and a mode of action capable of evoking a mimetic response of the whole being pp 236-238, The Idea of a Theater, Fergusson

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

binding and loosing as blank check

Dan Martin:

A recent discussion after church reawakened a long-time concern regarding the popular interpretation of Jesus’ instructions regarding dealing with conflict, recorded in Matthew 18:15-20.
This is a glaring example of translators’ neglect (whether deliberate or inadvertent is not mine to judge) of very elementary grammar, which has resulted in both the assumption of inordinate and unwarranted power/authority on the part of people who consider themselves to be in positions of “leadership”, and abject fear and submission on the part of those deemed their “underlings” – neither of which, may I remind you, is a category instituted or approved by Jesus himself (see Mt.23:7-12).
In the vast majority of English translations of the passage familiarly labeled “binding and loosing” (v.18), Jesus’ words are interpreted as if those two terms were cast in the future tense, and therefore amounted to a “blank check” enabling “church authorities” to hand down a decision that will be confirmed unquestionably “in heaven”. In our large collection of English translations, I have found only two (Charles B. Williams -1956, and Clarence Jordan – 1970) besides my own, where any effort has been made to convey accurately that those words are NOT future, but perfect passive participles. I find it interesting that both of these, like my own work, were translated by individuals, and not by committees hired by institutional hierarchies!
This grammatical error should have..
from Discernment vs. Decision,
continued here

See related posts on this blog here

Rob Bell on binding and loosing: "the Bible is a difficult book"

Dan Martin on apologetics

Dan Martin:

"Doubt, it appears, is unacceptable for an apologist … which is just one reason I don’t aspire to be one.

...When atheists, agnostics, and seekers object to the apologist that the theistic explanations on offer don’t cut it, my vote is with the skeptics, not the apologists"  link

Miss Israel and Miss Miss Sarajevo

In light of  this news from a beauty pageant,

          there a time for Miss Sarajevo? (see this)

"Don’t breed like rabbits"- Pope Francis

"Don’t breed like rabbits"- Pope Francis 

Once again, some find it tough to tell when Pope F is being rade just need context and translation.
See this

fill in the blank: "_____ is the only thing that gives me any authority to say anything"

Just a couple quotes from interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber:

"..The problem comes when I think God agrees with me or is co-signing on it, or it’s somehow the prophetic thing to assert that my snotty opinions are God’s truths."

"Being grounded in a congregation is the only thing that gives me any authority to say anything"


Sunday, January 18, 2015


It's also wine. link
"some rabbis who work with conversos talk about a feeling of

añoranzaa yearning or longing to be whole, a universal quest." -Doreen Carvajal, 

I wonder if some have añoranza/anxiety/angst.

I wonder if  añoranza is akin to sehnsucht..


Sehnsucht (German pronunciation: [ˈzeːnzʊxt]) is a German noun translated as "longing", "yearning", or "craving",[1] or in a wider sense a type of "intensely missing". However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, saudade, or it can be equally translated as theRomanian word dor. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.[2]Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.[3] Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.[citation needed]It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call "home". In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman's closing lines to "Song of the Universal".,.

...Sehnsucht took on a particular significance in the work of author C. S. Lewis. Lewis described Sehnsucht as the "inconsolable longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:
That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.[5] 

is he or isn't he?/are we or aren't we?

"....Maybe Marcus Mumford is more secure in his beliefs about Jesus than those of us who have debate whether he is in or out of the Kingdom of God."-from a great post by here

Reminds me of the pastor who said after hearing Bono speak at Willow Creek Leadership Summit:

"Before I heard Bono, I wasn't sure he was a Christian.  After I heard him, I wasn't sure I was."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"From Sex Addict to Saint": video

 A random episode from the long-ago KRDU video series, "Before They Were Saints."
 Apologies for the cheesy host.

Augustine and the prophetic nature of "producing stinkless musical sounds from your behind"

From "Jesus and the Grotesque," an excellent chapter in Tortured Wonder: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels (click that title for a review in the MB journal, Direction), here's Rodney Clapp:

St. Augustine  observes... there are those who “produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region" ...there are recurrent rumors of jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke's ability to pass gas in tune, or the historically documented showmanship of the “fartiste” Le Petomane a nineteenth-century cabaret performer who "could blow out candles with a well-aimed blast and break wind in tenor, baritone, and bass registers" ... (Who knew comedian Jim Carrey and his ventriloquized butt had such a venerable pedigree?)  -link, p. 186, most of the chapter readable between the pages here  and here

If you don't get the profound connections to a deep theology yet...(: the chapter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Please take this challenge by a humble rock star: 20 case studies in reading the Bible in context (of all things)

I've said it before:   The humble and unassuming Craig Keener is a rock star among Bible scholars/teachers.

I highly recommend doing what he recommends below (see his first sentence for the challenge)

When you've finished, click the link at bottom to see if you  independently came to the same conclusions he did, simply by reading the Bible in context.

Craig Keener:

I highly recommend that you look up the following verses in context and decide for yourself what they mean.  Ask yourself the questions we have attached to each of these texts.  After you have finished, you may check your own conclusions with our observations on these and other texts below.  If our observations bring issues to your attention that you had not considered, you may want to consider them and reread the text (although in the end you are not obligated to accept all our conclusions).  If our observations merely confirm your own reading, you can surmise that your context-reading skills are fairly well-developed.  The goal is not simply to hold particular views on the sample texts listed below, but to learn the skill of reading all Scripture in context.  (As a young Christian I used most of the following verses out of context until I began systematically studying the Bible book by book, at which time their context gradually became obvious to me.) 

Some of the more difficult passages (toward the end of our list) are more debatable in sense than some of the more obvious ones (toward the beginning).  Also, in some cases the passages may include a principle that applies to the point for which people often quote them.  But the exercise here is to determine what the text specifically means, so that we can apply the principle in all the appropriate ways and not just in the ways we have often heard.

1. John 10:10: Who is the thief?  (Start back at least at 10:1 or 10:5)
2. When Jesus says, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32), what does He mean by being “lifted up”? 
3. Which day is the “day that the Lord has made” (Ps. 118:24)?  Does the text refer to every day (the way most people apply it) or to a specific day? (See Ps. 118:22-23; more generally 118:15-29)
4. Is God’s announcement that He owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10) an assurance that He can supply all our needs?  Or does it mean something else in context?  (Keep in mind that other passages do teach that God supplies our needs; the question here is not whether God will provide, but whether that is what this passage means.)
5. What does the “baptism of fire” refer to in Matt. 3:11?  Is it just a purification or empowerment for believers or something else?  (Keep in mind that “fire” symbolizes different things in different passages.  The question is, what does “fire” mean in this immediate context?)
6. By calling us to “imitate” God (Eph 5:1; King James’ “followers” here is literally “imitators”), does Paul want us to speak planets into existence?  To be everywhere at once?  Check the context (4:32-5:2).
7. What does it mean to resist the devil in James 4:7?  In 1 Peter 5:8?  In Ephesians 4:27?  Some people use these verses to support rebuking the devil whenever something goes wrong.  Is that the point?
8. Some people quote Joel 2:9 to say that we are God’s mighty army (in a spiritual sense).  Other texts may say that, but is that the point of this text?
9. Some people quote Joel 3:10 to say that we should claim God’s strength when we are weak.  While that is a biblical principle (2 Cor 12:10), is it the point here?
10. More controversially, read Isaiah 14:12-14 in view of the whole of Isaiah 14.  To whom does this text refer?  (Keep in mind that “Lucifer,” found only in the King James Version, is simply a Latin title for the “morning star,” not actually found in the Hebrew.  Because some interpreters believed this text referred to Satan, they applied the title to Satan, but the Bible does not use the term anywhere else, so whether or not it is actually Satan’s title depends on the meaning of this passage.) 
11. Many people apply Ezek 28:12-14 to the devil, just as they apply Is 14 to him.  In context, is that really the point of this passage?  (Again, we are not questioning whether the devil exists or whether the devil fell.  The question is whether this passage discusses it.)
12. When Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13), does he have anything in particular in mind?  (I.e., does “all things” mean that he can currently fly, walk through walls, spit fire, and so forth, or does it mean something more specific?)
13. What is the “word of God” (or, “word of Christ” in most translations) in Romans 10:17?  Does it specifically refer to the Bible in this case or to something else?
14. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.  Some people quote this passage to claim that spiritual gifts have passed away.  But according to the context, when will the gifts of the Spirit pass away?  For that matter, what is the function of this chapter in the context of the whole letter to the Corinthians (cf. 12:31; 14:1).  What is the function of 13:4-6 in the context of the whole letter to the Corinthians?  (You may save this question until our study on book-context if you wish.)
15. Some people emphasize “now-faith” in Hebrews 11:1, as if faith must be directed toward what we receive in the present.  In context, is the sort of faith that Hebrews 11:1 talks about oriented toward receiving something in the present or toward receiving it in the future?  (Start back around 10:25 and read through 12:4.)
16. Revelation 3:20.  When Jesus knocks at the door, is he trying to get someone converted?  (To whom is the verse addressed?)
17. One could say that when God “gave” his Son (Jn 3:16), this refers to giving Jesus at his birth in Bethlehem or giving him to the world when God raised him from the dead.  What does “giving” him mean in context?
18. When one seeks first the kingdom, what things are added to one (Matt 6:33)?
19. Who are Christ’s ambassadors in 2 Corinthians 5:20?  Whom are they entreating to be reconciled to God?
20. Some people say that the “witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1 are the dead watching us from heaven.  But in the context of Hebrews chapter 11, does “witnesses” refer to those who watch us or to those who testified to the truth of God’s claims?  (This one may be harder to see depending on your translation, since some translations do not show the connection of related words in this context.)
21. Some people claim the promise that no weapon formed against them would prosper (Isaiah 54:17).  Is this a guarantee for every individual Christian in every circumstance or for God’s people as a whole protected by His plan for them?
22. Does Proverbs 23:7 mean that whatever we think about ourselves will come true?  (“As a person thinks in their heart, so they are.”)  Or does it mean something else?  (Read 23:6-8.)
23. Does Psalm 18:7-15 refer to Jesus’ second coming?  Read 18:4-6, 16-19.
24. Who is the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley, in Song of Solomon 2:1-2?

25. In Matthew 18:18, what does Jesus mean by “binding and loosing”?  Does He refer to how to treat demons here, or does He refer to something else?  (Read especially 18:15-20.)
26. What is the “coming” to which Jesus refers in John 14:1-3?  Does He refer here to His second coming or to something else?  (Read 14:4-23, and perhaps 13:36-38.)

27. This final question may be the most difficult one.  Read Isaiah 7:14 in context (especially 7:10-16; 8:1-4).  In the immediate context, to whom does this newborn son refer?  (If your conclusions may disturb you, don’t worry; we will clarify them below.  But it is important for you to grapple with the text intelligently in its context first, and not simply to interpret the passage according to how you’ve seen it used elsewhere.)   --
--The Bible in Its Context: How to Improve Your Study of the Scriptures,  LINK, 
click for suggested answers


Bonus: Dave's Top Ten list of "misundertaken" Scriptures

"Why you WANT to be left behind"

Steve Bremmer is an awesome missionary in Peru.

Here on his podcast he interviews James-Michael awesome missionary
 to and from the US (:

Topic: "Why you WANT to be left behind."Listen here


in my Father's house, there are many and now

"In John 14, 'in my Father's house are many rooms,'}: In the context of John’s entire Gospel, there is no reason to assume that the 'Father’s house' refers to heaven."-Craig Keener, link

see also

"I go to prepare a place for you": 'many mansions' on earth?

Divorce and Remarriage? Craig Keener video

Craig Keener video: Matthew and Great Commission


Here's Keener, in some text related to the video:
How to Make Disciples in Matthew 28:18-20
                The immediate context of 28:18-20 provides us examples for how to testify about Christ (28:1-10) and how not to testify about Christ (28:11-15).  But the context of the whole Gospel of Matthew further informs how we should read this passage, especially because it is the conclusion of the Gospel and readers would have finished the rest of this Gospel by the time they reach it.
                The command to “make disciples” of all nations (KJV has “teach” them) is surrounded by three clauses in Greek that describe how we make disciples of the nations: by “going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching.”  Jesus had spoken of “going” when he had sent his disciples out even within Galilee (10:7), but here disciples must go to other cultures and peoples because they will make disciples of the “nations.”
                Making disciples of the “nations” fits an emphasis developed throughout this Gospel.  The four women specifically mentioned in Jesus’ ancestry (1:2-17) appear to be Gentiles: Tamar the Canaanite, Rahab the Jerichoite, Ruth the Moabitess, and the “widow of Uriah” the Hittite (1:3, 5-6).  Ancient Jewish genealogies normally emphasized the purity of one’s Israelite lineage, but this genealogy deliberately underlines the mixed-race heritage of the Messiah who will save Gentiles as well as Jews. 
                When many of his own people ignored or persecuted him, pagan astrologers from the East came to worship him (2:1-12).  God and his Son could raise up Abraham’s children even from stones (3:9), work in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (4:15), bless the faith of a Roman military officer (8:5-13), deliver demoniacs in Gentile territory (8:28-34), compare Israelite cities unfavorably with Sodom (10:15; 11:23-24), reward the persistent faith of a Canaanite woman (15:21-28), allow the first apostolic confession of Jesus’ Messiahship in pagan territory (16:13), promise that all nations would hear the gospel (24:14), and allow the first confession of Jesus as God’s Son after the cross to come from a Roman execution squad (27:54).  Matthew probably wrote to encourage his fellow Jewish Christians to evangelize the Gentiles, so the Gospel fittingly closes on this command.
                “Baptizing” recalls the mission of John the Baptist, who baptized people for repentance (3:1-2, 6, 11).  Baptism in Jewish culture represented an act of conversion, so as “going” may represent crosscultural ministry, we may describe Jesus’ command to “baptize” as evangelism.  But evangelism is not sufficient to make full disciples; we also need Christian education.  “Teaching” them all that Jesus commanded is made easier by the fact that Matthew has provided us Jesus’ teachings conveniently in five major discourse sections: Jesus’ teachings about the ethics of the kingdom (chs. 5-7); proclaiming the kingdom (ch. 10); parables about the present state of the kingdom (ch. 13); relationships in the kingdom (ch. 18); and the future of the kingdom and judgment on the religious establishment (chs. 23-25). 
                But in Matthew’s Gospel, we do not make disciples the way most Jewish teachers in his day made disciples.  We make disciples not for ourselves but for our Lord Jesus Christ (23:8).  This final paragraph of Matthew’s Gospel fittingly concludes various themes about Jesus’ identity in this Gospel as well.  John (3:2), Jesus (4:17), and his followers (10:7) announced God’s kingdom, his reign; now Jesus reigns with all authority in all creation (28:18).  Further, we baptize not only in the name of God and his Spirit, but in the name of Jesus (28:19), thereby ranking Jesus as deity alongside the Father and the Spirit.  And finally, Jesus’ promise to be with us always as we preach the kingdom until the end of the age (28:20) recalls earlier promises in the Gospel.  Jesus himself is “Immanuel,” “God with us” (1:23), and wherever two or three gather in his name he will be among them (18:20).  To any ancient Jewish reader, these statements would imply that Jesus was God. 

                Does the promise that Jesus will be with us “till the end of the age” (28:20) imply that once the age ends he will no longer be with us?  Such an idea would miss entirely the point of the text.  Jesus is promising to be with us in carrying out his commission (28:19); that must be accomplished before the age ends (24:14), so the nations can be judged according to how they have responded to this message (25:31-32).  Taking this passage in the context of the entire Gospel provides us plenty of preaching material without even stepping outside Matthew!  LINK, Bible in Context pp. 29-30

David Bauer's commentary on Matthew, free online

David Bauer's commentary on Matthew from Asbury Bible Commentary-- free online at Bible here, or click by section below

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Invisible Gorilla: selective attention

I recommend  showing this video to a group or class ,and doing it this way.
Show the first  (Regional Emmy winner) video  below starting at 4 second mark, telling the group that no one should say anything, or make any noise, while watching; just concentrate hard on following the instructions:

 You can see why calling it the "Invisible Gorilla" test might jinx things(:

Here is the backstory:
More? Click:

How about this version:
\ TED Talk   by Daniel Simons:

Christopher Chabris'  talk at Google about Invisible Gorilla:
 Here's a great spoof version:

Of course people have made endless variations:

YouTube search: "selective attention"
YouTube search: "invisible gorilla"

"The first thing a principle does is kill somebody."

"The first thing
 a principle does
 is kill somebody."
 - Lord Peter Wimsey, in Dorothy Sayers' 'Gaudy Night'

Great quote, though often spelled wrong when quoted: "principal," not "principle."  Well, that might work, too (:

Friday, January 09, 2015

"Teología de la Esperanza" por Jurgen Moltmann


I like this word so much, I've added it to the blog blurb:

"To be surprising, an event can’t be predictable. 
      Surprise is the opposite of predicatability.
            But to be satisfying, surprise must be 'post-dictable' ...

If you want your ideas to stick, you’ve got to break someone’s guessing machine and the fix it" 
Heath and Heath, Made to Stick, p. 71.  HT: Ryan Davis
still slide from this  power point based on the book

Thursday, January 08, 2015

absent-minded, accidental photobomb

This picture is amazing! It captures the cliche "absent-minded professor" (me!).
After the most recent Fresno Pacific University commencement ceremony, I spent time  on the quad (traditional place for families to gather for photos and congrats) tracking down several graduates who were students of mine.  I was especially on the lookout for Veronica, and was disappointed when I never found her in the crowd.

A few days later, she posted this picture on my Facebook wall.  I was shocked that I appeared in the picture, looking like a passerby or photobomber.  I  realized that I had walked right by Veronica and her family...likely specifically looking for her as I walked by...but didn't recognize her with her hair down!  I'm sure the relative or friend taking the photo didn't even notice me..

Dave Wainscott, I didn't get a pic with you but I guess this is close enough
 — with Danny RamirezEvelin Landeros and Dave Wainscott.
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