For my Scripture reading last year I read Deuteronomy over and over. This year I am attempting to dig into the Wisdom books. I have been reminded that the road to Christian maturity is one of meditation on God’s Word, a constant approach and re-approach to the same texts, seeing them through the lens of Jesus and His Church.
I don’t have the discipline right now to follow a lectionary style of reading every day and I don’t want to launch out on another read the entire Bible project. So in these overly busy years I want to try and focus in on something that I can benefit from by repetition. I also want to feel some freedom about where I read, because I tend to feel very rigid about starting in one place and proceeding on until the end, not hopping around. I am trying to break away from the feeling that I should constantly be reading the lectionary or doing Genesis to Revelation on a cycle.
Part of the problem with my Scripture reading is that I find myself addicted to reading news and social media throughout the day every day. I need to drive a stake through those habits so that I can spend more time reading quality material and less on passing fancies. Lent might be a good time to try and change those habits.
The controversy of the week in the Christian blogosphere regards Rob Bell and his apparent leap into universalism – (not surprising to me given the Wheaton and Fuller pedigree). I had never heard of Bell until last week, maybe because I don’t much care about celebrity preachers in general. What has been interesting to me is watching the reaction of people that I follow to Bell’s position, from the “left” and “right” theologically. But this post isn’t really about Bell or the reaction to him as much as it is about my own experience with the doctrine (and reality) of hell.
I had a period of apostasy that lasted for about eight years. During the last year of that time I was consistently worried about the possibility of death and an endless eternity in hell. This fear was part of what God used to bring me back to Him. For some folks, the gracious message of love and forgiveness, new life and cleansing, is what draws them back to the faith or to Christ for the first time. For me, the fear of hell was very real and very terrifying. It spurred me on more than the idea that I could be forgiven, which I always took as a given.
Removing the concept of hell from our lexicon is removing an effective means of spurring people to salvation. It is also a gigantic and terrifying lie. If hell is a reality – and if we take the Scripture seriously it most certainly is – then we may be condemning people to that very place if we backhandedly assure them that they need not worry overmuch about the possibility of spending eternity there, because in the end everyone is saved and “love wins.” That is something I would not want to stand before God and explain on the Last Day.
Last week we closed on a short sale here in Virginia. Our house sold for about 158,000 dollars less than we paid for it. It lost that much in 4.5 years. Some lessons learned:
* The sale took about six months to complete. The process restarted at least once and the closing date was extended a few times.
* The banks are government-sized bureaucracies. The left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. You aren’t dealing with a person, but a system. One side was pushing along a foreclosure while the other was working with us on the short sale.
* We had to stop making our payment in order to play this game. Although our payment really was killing us, you can’t do anything until you fall behind. The bank only works with those who quit paying. For us, this was no huge loss as we wanted out of the house and had a good situation to get into on the other side. It made eminent sense for us to do this, but it’s not for everybody.
* We maintained our homeowners policy on the property and continued to pay utilities throughout the six months. The house was well-maintained and I think that helped us, although I’m not sure.
It is good to be free as Mr. Gallagher said!
I had one of those experiences in reading the Scripture today where a verse jumps out as if you had never read it before. I was in Psalm 35 and David says:
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom, as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
I went about as one who laments his mother, bowed down and in mourning.
Since I lost my mother about six months ago, this acknowledgement of the grief involved in mourning a mother struck me. David knew the feeling, as we all will eventually if we outlive our parents.
1936 – 2010
Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend the soul of thy servant, now departed from the body. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.
Back from the dead on here. A manic month is behind us which involved moving and all the joys that a move contains. Unpacking is preceding apace and things are just starting to settle down (a little). I feel like I have less and less to say the older I get, because I think it’s all been said before, but I should try to write a bit on here. We’ll see.
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 ESV)
When I think about peak oil, the bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security and the trend of this country I think that I will be like a pensioner in Russia following the Soviet collapse. All trends point towards implosion right around the time I want to retire: the 2040’s. So my future may involve collecting a meager check from the collapsed state in a future post-collapse America.
It seems like the challenge I face in this world is that I am drowning under waves of information. Twitter feeds, Facebook stream, Google Reader constantly shooting more articles at me. Newspapers arriving at the door, books glaring from the shelf, papers on various subjects. Movies to watch, shows to keep up with, sports talk bombarding me with the soap opera that is the NFL.
All of it crashes in upon my brain every day and I have to try to prune it back, manage it, reduce my inbox, get my unread items to zero. I am tempted to cut the tether binding me to the Empire of Information, but I can’t summon the willpower to do it. What if I miss some amazing trend in theology or come up short when someone mentions the name of a 16th century author whose works have recently been unearthed from a dig in central Saxony? I would like to change, but not today, not today Lord.
The weather is consistently in the 70’s here, not really Fall-like, but not summer either. Very few acorns this year, following last year’s complete zero and the massive amount in 07. I saw one tree on another block with tons of acorns, but that’s it.
I saw a mouse crossing the road yesterday. I also saw a young doe maybe 20 feet from me that waited until I got closer to run.
I met some guys to learn book binding yesterday and that was fun. All I did was fold paper, make a tool, punch holes in the paper and wax string. I didn’t have time to get to sewing and binding. I’d like to learn how to do it and start doing it at home, but I think that’s a long way off right now.
Here’s a super cheap seminary that I might go to. Or not.
Great to see Notre Dame win yesterday, but I wish they would dominate a game once or twice.