48 years ago today

48 years ago today, this happened in northern MN. Hi temp 10°, low temp -40° overnight. To the love of my life.

*And yes, color photography was invented by then.

Wedding: February 20, 1971.

The rest of the story….We had originally planned to marry on March 20, 1971 during quarter break from college. But the pastor refused to marry anyone during Lent. So we were married the Saturday before Ash Wednesday.

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Chronological CSB #01

I have been reading the CSB Chronological Bible for two weeks. For the most part I have settled into its layout and even font size, although I still need a little more light.

I don’t get the heading arrangements

Aside from the normal Biblical text: book, chapter, verse, the Chronological Bible uses a system with:

Act — Scene — Reading

So for today’s reading (Genesis 30-33) was labeled:

Act 2— Scene 1 —Reading 8

In this photo, who would know that Act 2 — Scene 4 —Reading 15 refers to Ruth (given away by the name in the text)? When it comes to later texts in which names of people or places is not mentioned, how would such a system work?

Unless a reader keeps this extra structure handy on a separate sheet, I find no value in adding it to the notes. Maybe someone has a good reason for it. But if you asked me what is Act 2 — Scene 4 —Reading 15 I would have no clue. And only by looking at p. 392 would I discover that the reading for that day is the Book of Ruth.

Perhaps it will make sense when I get to 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 &2 Kings, as well as the integrated prophetic readings. But not sure how this helps the reader.

Peace—in a time of little peace

Peace— that elusive sense of everything being okay… or at least long enough for the headache to pass. Where are you looking for peace? Changed circumstances? Changed people? Changed economy? We find more people looking for peace, yet not finding anything more than a too-soon-passing respite from work, family, friends…

God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, as the Prince of Peace. He did not come to solve immediate problems. He came to solve the underlying problems: sin, death, and the devil. You will only find peace, today and for eternity, in Jesus.

Two New CSB Bibles arrived

I will be using and reading the CSB Bibles in coming weeks. I purchased the hardcover Baker Illustrated Study Bible and the Leather touch Chronological Bible (at $25 why not).

Baker Illustrated Study Bible (https://www.bakerillustratedstudybible.com)

Day by Day Chronological Bible (https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/csb-day-by-day-chronological-bible-brown-leathertouch-P005807998)

Baker Illustrated Study Bible:

  1. Bulk: By that I mean the depth, 2 ¼ inch thick, is rather hefty (For comparison the LCMS ESV Study Bible is about the same thickness). Of course, as a study Bible I will not be carrying it with me wherever I go, leaving at the study desk. So less of a problem.
  2. Text quality: I am a little surprised in font choices and sizes. The text font size is smaller than I expected. This is rather disappointing. The text of the Scriptures themselves are a challenge to read. It is doable, but the lighting has to be just right for reasonable comfort for longer reading periods. The only smaller font that I have seen in Bibles is the font for Compact Bibles.

Even worse, the font used for the footnotes fails on two issues: a.) even smaller size than the main text and b) it is a Sans Serif font with a lighter (fainter) look. That combination works against easy reading. Also the font and placement for cross references is not easy to read. The cross references are in the inside margin of the page, which makes it less friendly to use. The concordance font is very small as well. Good thing I keep a magnifying glass at my desk.

Red letters are used in the New Testament for Jesus’ words (quite common). Given the size of the font and red (which is lighter than the black) may be a longer term problem.

Maps: For me, this is a strong point. I have not examined all the maps, but the ones I have are well done. The text is small but readable. Moreover the color choices make the maps a good resource.

Day by Day Chronological Bible

  1. Bulk: This Bible is produced by Holman Bible Publishers. It is a little bigger than I expected, but workable and portable: depth 2.20; length 9.80; width 7.60. The leather touch cover is nice, flexible. The sown binding should hold up well.
  2. Text Quality: The font size smaller than I would like for continuous reading.  But the font itself is very pleasing to read, and it is darker than many other Bible fonts.  (Notice the bleed through on the page.)

 

The fonts used for page headers/footers is Sans Serif (which works well), Interestingly both headers and footers are printed with a blue color (which is ok). The chapter numbers are likewise blue, which I like. Oddly, the Psalms chapters are smaller font and not printed in blue (see first photo). Don’t see the reason for such a change.


While the darker font aids in reading, the bleed through is distracting. The inside margin is ¾” and the outside margin is 1 ½.” While this is good for note taking, it seems a little narrower margin could have allowed a larger font for the text.

Conclusion

While both Bibles offer some good features, my initial impression is that there are some drawbacks for those with vision limitation and color blindness.

I will begin using them in the coming weeks to evaluate each Bible more completely.

A video shows my emotional life

…from decades ago.

Although more than two decades ago, I still have flashbacks to the breakdown. Over the years I have felt inadequate to describe what it felt like as I was going through it and the aftermath. While the breakdown was a specific point in time the events leading up to it and the aftermath of years encompassed so much but included only some elusive descriptions.

A couple days ago I came a cross a video of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and the resultant tsunami devastation. As I watched the scenes of the waters rising, and taking everything in its wake, it struck me how closely this scene described how I felt.

Buildings were pulled from their moorings, being driven by forces often unseen, then collapsing at some point. That powerful flow of water took people, property, and everything else in unexpected directions. There were no straight lines in the resultant destruction.

This photo illustrates my emotional sense during that time. Everything recognizable, but changing instantly. What I clung to previously was now being torn apart.

That was how I felt, observing people, places, events happening around me but unable to fully grasp the significance, the reasons, the seeming incidentals were passing me by in the torrent of rain. I couldn’t focus on one thing, yet I couldn’t comprehend the full scene either. I was being tossed by events, more as an observer than a participant.

I have realized over the years that I have memory gaps, especially in the 2-3 year period. But it seemed odd, because my memory had never failed that way.

And yet, this video captured my sense of emotional turmoil, previously unstated, even unknown during the most turbulent storms. Recognizing, but not recognizing. Seeing but not seeing. Experiencing yet unable to comprehend. In the midst of this terrible tsunami video, I began to sense my own description of what happened to me.

As I continue to reflect on this turbulent time, this video is almost comforting in a strange way. Finally something reflects my emotional devastation, helplessness, being pulled along. And throughout this time, there were some who endured my inability to communicate what I felt. For them I am grateful. They reached out with life lines and floated on some of the destroyed foundations, always encouraging and comforting even during the worst days.

This video almost gives me comfort in a strange way; it helped me identify how I felt for so long.

https://youtu.be/wvSWBlg6XLc

Abuse in the Church and heresy that supports it

The Plague of Abuse

Abuse is a major plague affecting churches of all persuasion. It not only destroys peoples’ lives, the ripple effects for family, friends, and churches grow beyond our eye sight.

Thankfully, many people are addressing the problem of abuse. Here is a small sample of people writing about abuse in the church.

Dee Parson: http://thewartburgwatch.com

Amy Smith: http://watchkeep.blogspot.com

Julie Ann: https://spiritualsoundingboard.com

Others are writing and providing organized help for those abused, such as:

Boz Tchividjian: https://www.netgrace.org

And many of those who have been abused and continue to suffer from the church, such as:

Lori Anne Thompson: https://loriannethompson.com

Every person in the church would do well to read what each of these people write. To see the devastating effects of abuse. To grapple with the hidden costs of abuse. To realize that reintegration into a church can be threatening to say the least. To come to grips with how pervasive, soul destroying abuse can be.

The Heresy behind Abuse

Another layer of recognizing what is going on is to realize that many abusers and their defenders have used what seemingly provides a theological/Biblical basis for “handling abusers.” That is, a seeming “confession of sins” by abuser is offered (ala Matt. 18:15-20), then a quick absolution, and even quicker turn around to begin another ministry. As if that solves the problems. 

It gets even worse. Many of them claim that the only solution is for the abused person to meet face-to-face with the abuser, so that forgiveness can happen. By such a practice, this ensures that the abuser does not face consequences because he (I am using male pronoun, because most often it is a man) is in the position of power, hence the abuse is multiplied. Little wonder that those abused refuse to be put into that position.

Added to this dilemma, such an approach short-circuits the role of the congregation in the process (18:17). And the witnesses are not to be advocates for the one who sinned (the abuser), rather as witnesses that the process of confronting the abuser with what has happened. But another disaster has entered the process. The abuser seemingly can suggest his own punishment, even determining if something is too difficult to endure.

The Heresy

That process almost sounds Biblical. But they are using Biblical words with a different meaning, and therefore twist it to support the abuser. In the process, words like “confession of sin,” “repentance,” “forgiveness of sins,” etc. are detached from their biblical context and meaning. Thus, if questioned the abuser/defender can claim that the process of Matthew 18:15-20 has been followed. 

Sadly according to this misuse, a word like “restoration” automatically means as soon as forgiveness is declared, then the person can resume that same position or similar one in another church. That process does not reflect Biblical confession, absolution, or restoration. And that is the heresy.

Is heresy too strong a word to use in this context? I think not. Words of the church and by the Church have been torn from their Biblical context and meaning—coopted to support the abuser. Even church, pastor, authority, forgiveness, reconciliation have been twisted from what Jesus instituted for the Church. In the process these heretics are wanting Christianity as a whole to change in order to accept their perverted understanding of those words. And that is heresy. 

In the 4th century at the Council of Nicea (AD 325) a bishop named Arius was trying to change a teaching regarding Christ. Interestingly the difference between orthodoxy (straight doctrine, hence praise) and heresy (false doctrine publicly defended as true doctrine) was one letter, the Greek letter iota (ι).

The council recognized the widely spread deception of Arius, and condemned the teaching. Heresy could not be tolerated. Even more, the use of words by Arius to promote and defend the heresy had to be challenged. The church would not be the true church if it allowed the false acquisition of Christian/Biblical words by heretics.

The Fallout

In the era of abuse of today, false teachers are using slipshod definitions and use of words like sin, confession, forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation to circumvent the Biblical process of dealing with public sin. That is, the abusers, their supporters, and all others connected with the abuse need to restudy those words, so that these words can be taken as originally intended and not as a means of sidestepping what happened.

This does NOT mean a one hour study session with quickly re-written new policy. Rather, it means taking a long (year or years?) serious look at all the Bible has to say about sin, confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Do NOT jump immediately to “forgiveness of sin,” because that will derail the purpose of the study. Confronting sin has to include not only the specific sin, but the larger consequences of the sin, the affect on family, the church, other spiritual leaders, etc. Over the years I have heard pastors who have abused a member claim that “I have been out of ministry for six months; now I am ready to begin serving again.” The reality is that he probably has not even dealt with the sin in its entirety, nor with the affect on other people.

Notice, too, that in the Matthew 18:15-20 passage, the one guilty of sin, does not determine the forgiveness, nor the consequences, nor the restoration, if any. In other words, he has no role in that whole process, regardless of how “fit” he might demonstrate at the moment. His only role is to confess the sin. He is not to be applauded, nor “rescued to serve again.” Sin has much greater consequences than his inconvenience. The church determines steps forward, and restoration to a former position is certainly not automatic, nor to be demanded.

The Way Forward

It is encouraging to see people and churches take stands against abuse. But it is indeed sad that abuses have lived in a subculture that thrives on heresy. This is a call for all pastors, teachers, and Christians in general to seriously study the critical words in their Biblical context. Don’t settle for a shortcut that seems to cut off the abuser in the immediate situation, but may open to other abuse and other heresies. 

=========================

For Study

I don’t have all the answers. Here is a suggestion for a beginning of this study, which gets to at least a couple items. Most critical I think is addressing the heresy that undergirds the abuse has to be identified, dealt with, and put away from the abuser, defenders, and the church. I would say a deep study of Galatians (what is the foundation of faith), Ephesians (what does it mean to be “in Christ” and in relation to one another), 2 Corinthians (how to deal with trouble in church), 1 John (what does Christ’s love mean for the Church, fierce love that Jesus demonstrated).

Study words such as sin, confession, forgiveness (in that order)

2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51

Psalm 32

3-4 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

Then

5-6 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.

From Jesus’ instruction Matthew 18:15-20

 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

May we as the Church root out this heresy and remove that as a foundation for abuse.

Update on my health

In July 2017 I fell [backwards] on a sidewalk. I broke my shoulder. (https://exegete77.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/time-for-nothing-and-yet-for-much/) That has been prominent in my life since then. Obviously the pain and recovery has taken a long time. And I notice that my balance is not quite right. I have had some near falls because my balance was not right. I have now learned how to brace myself and take extra precautions.

Memory

My fall in July 2017 left me with a broken shoulder and a few other problems. One of the more consequential problems is with my memory over the past 17 months, namely gaps in my memory. For a while I thought it was just a passing problem, but it is not. In early 2018 I had the neurologist test me, and nothing was noticeable except Vitamin D deficiency.

In teaching seminary classes I began to notice that sometimes a theologian’s name or book title would escape me. Usually not a problem as others would chime in with the info. Helpful and understanding students.

Now Personal

But in the past few months the memory blanks have become personal. In June when on vacation we visited family, and I spoke with my niece. I stopped her in one conversation and asked: “What is your son’s name?” I was shocked that I asked her but even more that I couldn’t even continue in the conversation until I asked.

Then 3 weeks ago our son stopped by and stayed over night. I had to stop him in our conversation and ask “What is your oldest daughter’s name?” The scary thing is when we lived near each other and they even lived with us for a couple years, their oldest daughter was best buds with me. And now, to not remember her name??? Disconcerting, indeed!

Not sure what is the next step, but the long term implications of this could be significant.

Next steps?