Showing posts from February, 2017

The apostles as whipping boys

I wish we would get off this “weren’t the disciples stupid?” kick.Jesus was blowing their paradigms as much as he is blowing ours. They are just different paradigms.When their paradigms were blown, it meant ostracism from the Jewish community and death at hands of Rome.What does our paradigm getting blown up mean?I think too much of this tendency is designed to make ourselves feel better.

What I did Wrong as a Parent

This is a hard question, made all the more difficult because I can’t do anything about it other than admit it to my son and profess it on this blog so maybe someone else won’t do the same.1.I worried far too much what other people would think of my parenting skills and my child.That’s my biggest.2.I didn’t serve with him enough in ministry; we served separately.3.I sometimes put work ahead of him.4.I let him watch too much TV.5.Lost my temper at him too much.6.I didn’t emphasize relationships with missionaries enough.But good?1.We all went to church and didn’t talk bad about people.2.We went to historical places for trips and only once to DisneyPlace.


Lent begins Wednesday.  As a lifelong "low-church" Protestant, Lent really has not had a place in my life, but in the last ten years I have started to take it seriously as a time of spiritual preparation.

In fact, I was reading some rants against Lent.  A professor at an evangelical seminary who has become an Anglican (not my cup of tea--bad pun--but I have lots of friends who have done that, I think because of the Englishness and C.S. Lewisness and N.T. Wrightness of it) posted that he was looking forward to Lent.  Some of his "friends" went off on him, about how evil Lent was.

Evil?  Maybe Carnival/Mardi  Gras is, but not Lent.  Lent can be spiritually healthy, as long as it is not a way to build up our pride and flesh.

Lent is not about giving something up.  It is about looking forward to something.

My choice is to fast, as much as possible, from media (TV, movies, and Facebook) and sugary sweets.  The sugary sweets are bad for me, but not as bad as the media.  …


Last week I came home from a conference and was unpacking; I turned on the TV and watched, off and on, this French movie.  I admit to not watching every single minute of it.

I had a feeling of what was going to happen in the film, but cringed in shock when it did.  Spoiler alert, although spoiler alert assumes you are recommending a movie, which I am not.

An elderly couple are living out their lives in a tony Parisian apartment after lives as musicians.  The wife has a bad stroke and is miserable, in pain and bedridden.  The man cares for her.  She isn't getting better.  He feels the stress.  No one is helping, not really, especially the children, but he won't send her to a facility because she always said she didn't want that.  So one day he smothers her with a pillow and kills her.  To cover up the smell he closes up the room with tape.  Then he dies, or kills himself; that part is not clear, but he wakes up and they go for a walk. 

Critics of course love this kind of st…

Walking My Dog

The other day, Friday, was balmy and breezy.  We've had unseasonably warm weather in North Georgia and I for one am tired of it and would like some snow.  But my husband was replacing the cover on our boat (which is more like an anchor because it's out of commission). The old cover had become torn due to weather and age. 

It turned out to be a bigger deal than we had expected, because a cat had taken up residence in the boat.  For how long, I don't know, but it was in the hull and not interested in coming out.  Because the old cover was torn, the cat probably had crawled up in there in a storm. 

I have to stop here and say (and I deal with this in another post today) that we have recently become a haven for cats.  I have counted at least eight in my yard when I drive in at times.  Black, tabby, and mostly greyish ones.  They are not feral; they belong to someone who feeds them (most of the time) but they love our yard, which makes no sense because we have a dog. Of course,…

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12:22-32

These verses seem simple on the surface but really are a mystery.Our former pastor, who has moved to a larger church and got a lot of notoriety from a sermon he preached on a sensitive issue, used to explain that the rabbis taught that the Messiah (according to Edersheim, I think) would heal the blind and raise the dead.So Jesus does, which leads to verse 23, the multitudes believing in him.“Multitudes” is a tricky word. Thousands, in the book of Acts, believed in the early church, and they were Jews in Jerusalem, so the Jews per se were not against Jesus.But multitudes also were calling for his crucifixion.These multitudes did not have to deal with social and mass media, which give a faulty view of reality.

On cue, the Pharisees claim he can cast out demons because he is controlled by Satan, that is, a sorcerer. Jesus claims to do it by the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit), and they have called that Spirit Satanic, therefore committing blasphemy.This is a point of no return, not kn…

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12 Again

I do seem to be stuck here, but there is reason to be. There are several indisputable claims to uniqueness here that, as Lewis says, you can dismiss as the ravings of a nut or take very seriously:

“I’m greater than the Sabbath.”“I decide who is guiltless.”“I interpret Old Testament Scripture.”One also gets the sense that Jesus is being followed around by the Pharisees. He doesn’t stop there, but heals a man after asked.Their type of adherence to tradition, culture, and law had put moral blinders on them. If our version of God’s law hinders us from doing good, from showing compassion, we have misunderstood it.I have been so guilty of this, so focused in decorum versus freedom to serve.The two are not enemies in God’s universe, just in our own application.My son told me an interesting story last night. He was late for a meeting at work and found himself rationalizing why he had not helped a homeless man on the street in Dalton.He said, “How messed up is that?”Indeed; he hada responsibili…

The People vs. OJ

Man.  I got hooked on this on NetFlix, mostly because a former student was a background actress in it and I wanted to see her.  I didn't because I was too caught up in the show.  I can't say I recommend it because it will take eight to nine hours of your life that would be much better spent on helping your neighbor, learning a new skill, praying, etc.  But it was addictive.  I did not pay much attention to the trial when it happened, I confess.  I think I had a life to live at the time.  At the time I just couldn't believe OJ would do such a horrendous crime so I chose not to accept that he was guilty, but I soon knew better.

My outstanding (in my mind, not in quality) thoughts:
1.  Considering the race relations at that time, perhaps it was best that he was acquitted to avoid a repeat of the riots in L.A.  Since he will be in jail for a while still, is disgraced, lost everything, etc., justice was done.  He would never have been executed anyway, so disgrace, poverty, and …

Some approaches to teaching Esther

I have changed the header on this blog to reflect that I post resources for teaching Scripture to small group.  Here is my resource for Esther.

The challenge of Esther is, of course, that the name of God is not mentioned, nor the covenant or even the law.  It is very Jewish, very sly, very dramatic, very providential.  I think it should just be taught as a whole and should not, I repeat, should not, be allegorized in any way.  I don't think any Scripture should be and should only be studied for what it is directly saying, which I realized cuts into some sermon approaches.

Why do I say sly?  Well, I mean humorous.  Think of these: --> It is hard not to read Esther closely and see the humor or at least irony..1.The noblemen are afraid that their wives will misbehave because of Queen Vashti’s refusal to appear.2.Haman thinks he’s the one who is going to be honored.3.The king makes a law to destroy all the Jews and then forgets about it and honors Mordecai the Jew.4.Ha…

Hysteria Revisited

NPR again--apparently The Handmaid's Tale is now the novel of the age.  We are all going to be living in a patriarchal theocracy where the women are "Hagars" to Abrahams.

Yes, I've read it. Interesting enough book.  But why in the world would people on the left think that America was going to become like that?  Isn't the view of women in it more like the Muslim countries than a secular republic?

I do hesitate to use the word hysteria in regard to women, knowing that the origin of the word was a slap at women, in a sense--same word as hysterectomy, referring to the womb.  Only women are supposed to have hysteria, according to the ancient origin of the word.  Men have plenty of it, although with men more violence gets involved.  In this case, however, the hysterical reactions seem to be coming from women, mostly.  

Au Revoir, Les Enfants

I have to thank TCM for doing its 30 Days of Oscars alphabetically this year.  Although there is no thematic continuity (Blazing Saddles followed by Blow-up?), it allows me to follow better.  Even more, now TCM has streaming videos of all its movies for a few days after, so I was able, at my husband's recommendation to watch this masterpiece by Louis Malle, better known as Murphy Brown's husband (hard to believe).

I rarely cry at the end of a film.  This one did it.

Go watch it. It is truly breathtaking.  In brief, two upper class brothers are secluded in a Catholic boarding school in France during World War II.  The younger one, about 12, is sort of the leader of the pack and looked up to by the other boys for his talents and coolness.  The older one is a bit of a turd toward women but has a lot of hutzpah.  What they don't know is that the monks are hiding Jewish boys.  The younger son, Julien Quentin, becomes friends with a new boy with a secret and who proves to be his…

Ezra: 20 years and 10 chapters in 20 minutes

 I am supposed to teach from Ezra tomorrow.  These are my notes, for what they are worth.  
Date of happenings: 535 B.C. and following, right after book of Daniel.Date of writing:end of this period, by the priest Ezra who joins the exiles later in the story (not beginning)Theme: Exiles in Babylon return to Judah (journey took 3-4 months) Three big take ways:1.God moves people for His purposes2.Worship is central to who we are individually and together3.God restores (in this case Israel, with whom He is not finished.However, we the church are not Israel;the U.S. is not Israel; we should not confuse the three).
Chapter 1: (Read in entirety). “In order to fulfill the word of the Lord by Jeremiah,” God moved Cyrus, the king of Persia, to send the Jewish exiles who wished to go back to Judah.Isaiah also prophesied this, long before, but there isn’t a specific record of Jeremiah saying it.
Cyrus did not force them; he also instituted freewill offerings rather than taxes.They were allowed to t…