Showing posts with label Semi-Random Musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Semi-Random Musings. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Semi-Random Musings (34)

It is often quite incorrectly believed that evil is a product of stupidity and that the answer to stupidity is education, which, generally speaking, it is not. In fact, in a fallen world, the relationship between intelligence and cruelty is actually the inverse of what we might expect: with increased intelligence comes increased capacity for creativity in evil-doing, and for taking senseless pleasure in the injury of others.

If you doubt this, try googling “nasty dolphins”.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Semi-Random Musings (33)

Mark’s list of the twelve apostles includes the names of two fathers: Zebedee and Alphaeus. Matthew includes the same two fathers, and Luke includes Alphaeus.

If you wonder why, look no further than their sons, both of whom are called James. To distinguish between them, the gospel writers use the names of their fathers as what are called disambiguators, phrases that clarify the author’s intended meaning.

Good thing too, or the New Testament could get pretty confusing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (32)

Jonathan Noyes’ latest post at the Stand to Reason blog asks “Do You Know What Your Child Is Being Taught about Sex?” It’s a decent primer for Christian parents with children in the public school system, at least with respect to the issue of what is actually being taught. I don’t think Noyes has missed much in describing the variety of poisons to which our children are being exposed.

Where Noyes missed the boat completely is in failing to address how the school system is disseminating its propaganda. In the end, the delivery method matters more than any particular offensive and ungodly bit of misinformation.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (31)

Sometimes witnessing doesn’t work, even when you do it to the best of your ability and everything initially appears to go swimmingly.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience. I know I have. I used to be a great believer in dialectical arguments and persuasive apologetics. I would study up a storm to answer a question from scripture that I believed might be important to someone’s salvation or growth in Christ.

I’m not saying a good apologetic never works, but there are things even the most polished and articulate argument can’t possibly accomplish.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (30)

“When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.”

This first phrase nicely encapsulates the condition of the believer. Iniquities do not characterize him. Iniquities do not magnetically draw him the way they once did. Iniquities are not his goal or the meaning of his life. Iniquities are an enemy with which he is perpetually in contention.

Occasionally iniquities even prevail. For a moment only.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (29)

Three unrelated thoughts about failures of memory.

Critics of dispensational teaching frequently insist that it cannot be valid because we do not find it discussed explicitly in the writings of the church fathers or, to the best of our limited knowledge, throughout the next couple of millennia of church history. I have always found that a weak argument, not least because both our knowledge of church history and of the opinions of the church fathers are so fragmentary. In fact, precious truths are far more easily lost than we might think.

Perhaps that’s why Proverbs says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it.” Some things are invaluable.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (28)

Somewhere back in December — wait, I should be able to do better than that.

December 11, 2013 was our first post ever. So this post, published on December 10, 2022, marked the completion of our ninth full year of daily publication, though I didn’t notice at the time. Today’s post means we’ve published across eleven different calendar years, for whatever that’s worth. So we thank the Lord for unanticipated longevity and for the endless wonders of the word of God and the person of Christ. We have yet to beg anyone for subject matter.

Let’s just say that in 2013 I didn’t really expect we would still be writing blog posts in 2023. I didn’t expect not to either. In 2013, that sort of thing was just too far away and too unreal to spend time thinking about.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Semi-Random Musings (27)

I have written once or twice about the use of disambiguators in scripture. These are the little bits of information the Bible’s writers supply in order to help us distinguish James (the brother of Christ) from James (the brother of John) or Mary (Magdalene) from Mary (the mother of Jesus).

The Benaiah who served David and Solomon is consistently called the son of Jehoiada. Good to know. With that disambiguator appended to his name it’s impossible to confuse him with two later Benaiahs mentioned by Ezra and Ezekiel, or with Benaiah of Pirathon, another man of valor in David’s service.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Semi-Random Musings (26)

Unless you come from a megachurch background where the primary influence on your Sunday praise fodder is the Hillsong catalog, you are probably familiar with the name Isaac Watts (1674-1748), lyricist of several absolutely wonderful old hymns. The three I know best are “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “Jesus Shall Reign”.

Many of Watts’ hymns paraphrase psalms.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Semi-Random Musings (25)

I have always liked the story of Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson. For the uninitiated, Phinehas was a young priest who took it upon himself to execute the son of a Simeonite tribal chief in the act of committing adultery with a Midianite woman by impaling the two on the same spear. As a child, I found his rather decisive move a bit daring (not to mention violent), but also commendable and brave.

After all, a spontaneous impalement is both unilateral and very final. It tends to inspire the neighbors to murmur things like “I say, old boy, don’t you think that’s a bit drastic?” Or worse.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Semi-Random Musings (24)

I have found myself thanking the Lord for some strange things lately. One of them is death. Another is the limits of human memory.

The mind of God is a staggering thing to contemplate. The moment we do so we are almost guaranteed to get something wrong. Nevertheless, enough has been written about it in scripture that we can be confident there is nothing God does not know, no prayer he does not hear, no burden of which he is not aware, and therefore no care or adverse circumstance in which he is unable or unwilling to provide grace.

That’s pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Semi-Random Musings (23)

I have seen the future of the church. It is non-institutional, non-sectarian, untraditional, discreet, highly portable and deadly serious. These are all good things.

That’s my conclusion after a week away up north with a group of 11 Christians of varied backgrounds, denominations and convictions from all over our province. What drew us together was a pair of mutual friends and our love of Christ, not any particular theological compatibility or shared history.

Here is my concern, and it’s a big one: in our movement toward what sure looks like the inevitable next phase of church life in North America, we are in danger of leaving our leadership behind.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Semi-Random Musings (22)

You really can’t make this stuff up.

As you have probably read or heard elsewhere by now, the 117th Congress got off to a rocky start January 3 with an opening prayer that concluded with the words “amen and awoman”. Naturally the video went viral.

Of course it did. In this emotionally-charged and hyper-politicized environment, how could it not?

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Semi-Random Musings (21)

Most of our readers would not be aware that I have been at the office almost non-stop these last few weeks as a consequence of a plethora of COVID-related staff absences. That’s not because even a single employee of hundreds across the globe has contracted the coronavirus — so far as I know, they are all healthy as horses — but because almost nobody currently working from home has any enthusiasm about returning to work in the current environment, and the corporate powers that be are even less enthusiastic about ordering them to do so. The vast majority of my co-workers seem content to hunker down in their basements doing not too much of anything until sometime in Spring 2021.

Yeah, sure … that’ll be the end of it. Right.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Semi-Random Musings (20)

I have always wondered about the purpose of the book of Esther.

Of all the books in the Bible, Esther seems to have the least to do with 21st century Christianity. It is basically a book of Jewish-centric history which tells how the nation of Israel (for the umpteenth time) survived extermination at the hands of its enemies. God is not even mentioned in its pages. The national feast inspired by the events in Esther (Purim) is nothing like the God-ordained celebrations of Leviticus 23. Purim commemorates the “days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies”, and is (or at least originally was) more like today’s secularized Christmas celebrations than any of the seven feasts of Jehovah, all of which were rife with rich spiritual symbolism, speaking to generations about the meaning of the death of Christ and its consequences for mankind.

So why is Esther in our Bibles?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Semi-Random Musings (19)

“[T]he one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.”

Tough times, when prophets are anointed in blood.

Not literally, of course; let’s not be grotesque. But the Bible’s first mention of Elijah’s successor tells us he would cause death, and he needed no sword to do it.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Semi-Random Musings (18)

There are no wasted words in scripture. At least, I’m not having much luck finding any.

The apostle John says that if everything Jesus did were written down, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Sanctified hyperbole? Maybe. But what is certain is that we’d need tractor trailers to carry our Bibles to church and bigger doors on our buildings. Much bigger. Add a few more unnecessary details to our Old Testaments, and we’d have to leave them at home. Except of course that our homes would not be big enough, and we couldn’t afford to own all the volumes.

The Holy Spirit is not just the world’s greatest-ever writer, he is also the world’s greatest-ever editor. We get exactly what we need and no more. No detail is frivolous.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (17)

How many significant lessons have you absorbed from the history of neighboring provinces or states back in the 1640s, and how often do you reference them when making important decisions today? My guess would be not too many, and not very often.

At the Red Sea, shortly after the final vanquishing of the Egyptian army, Moses and the people of Israel sang these words to the Lord: “The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.” Perhaps at the time that was more anticipatory than precisely accurate: Philistia was all the way across the Sinai Peninsula. It seems unlikely the news of Pharaoh’s stunning defeat could have traveled so far so fast.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (16)

If you don’t believe anything you see on CNN or MSNBC anymore, if The New York Times prints more fiction than fact, and if The Drudge Report has too many tabloid-style shock items for your taste, you may like Disrn, a new website created by Adam Ford of The Christian Daily Reporter and the Adam Ford Newsletter in partnership with Seth Dillon of The Babylon Bee.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (15)

In the first century it was said without exaggeration that “from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him.” If you were interested in what Moses had to say, you could find out all about it in any city among the nations. Judaism was not some obscure cult religion. Its influence on the world was inversely proportionate to the relative insignificance of the Jewish people.

For the most part, it was not the conduct of the Jews among the nations that gave the Law its broad appeal and drew Gentile proselytes to it. In fact, Jews were often disliked and not infrequently persecuted.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (14)

Numbers 4 states repeatedly that only men from the tribe of Levi between the ages of thirty and fifty were to be engaged in the service of the tabernacle. Upon reaching fifty, they were to “withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more.”

On this basis I have heard it suggested that local church elders should be careful not to stay in the saddle too long, and that age fifty is a logical time to pass the torch to the next generation. Presumably then, these men — still fifteen years too young to collect a government pension — should make their way back to the pews to spend their next thirty or forty years grinding their teeth at the spectacle of younger men making all the mistakes they have learned to avoid. Or else start spending all their winters in Florida.

This cannot be quite right. It isn’t.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (13)

“Go, tell his disciples and Peter …”

The earliest manuscripts of the gospel of Mark end with a “young man” (read: angel) instructing three terrified women at the open tomb of the Lord Jesus to go and share the news that while Jesus of Nazareth had died and been buried, Christ the Lord had risen and planned to meet with his followers once more.

No wonder they trembled.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (12)

I cannot say what the process of becoming honest is like for the occasional white-liar, but people who practice deceit definitely have great difficulty quitting.

I have probably detailed in some post or other my own experience of giving up the practice of lying cold-turkey by forcing myself to publicly confess every single new falsehood I uttered, and doing so the moment the words left my lips. It involved a level of red-faced humiliation and personal exposure I was very much unused to. Rarely was a confession received in quite the way I expected.

I suppose all bad habits are hard to break.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (11)

“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

To treat a medical condition helpfully, a doctor must first be an accurate diagnostician. If a physician fails to correctly discern the root cause of the problem, nothing he prescribes is likely to solve it. If he fails to correctly assess the current progress of an affliction, he may offer a solution that would have been helpful two weeks ago but will do nothing useful now. And if he fails to note the attendant risks associated with the problem, he may contract a communicable disease himself and spread it instead of restraining it.

A single approach to sin in the lives of others will not do. Some sins are infectious; others are merely repulsive. Some sinners need a sharp rebuke, others gentleness.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (10)

When the question arises as to what God will do about the “good people” in our world who have never heard the gospel, it is almost always sick babies or hypothetical aboriginals in jungles half way across the planet the questioner has in view, as opposed to his own mother-in-law who declines to give a moment’s consideration to the lifetime of Christian testimony with which she has been presented.

We also hear many more sermons on Genesis than Ezekiel, so when complaints about God’s justice are raised, it is usually Genesis to which we resort in response: Abraham’s conviction that God does not “put the righteous to death with the wicked”; the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood; Lot’s deliverance from Sodom.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (9)

It’s funny how the visible man and the Lord’s man are often confused.

Years ago, I attended a church where the most noticeable, likable, impressive presence was a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman who greeted visitors warmly at the door week after week. His family was well known and he had been associated with the same church for decades, so his name was one with which Christians from other churches were always most familiar.

It took me a month or two to realize that almost all the spiritual energy in that church was coming from elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (8)

“Darwinism was once a well-fortified castle, with elaborate towers, moats, and battlements,” says author Tom Bethell. “Today, however, it more closely resembles a house of cards, built out of flimsy icons rather than hard evidence, and liable to blow away in the slightest breeze.” So begins Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates.

What isn’t initially obvious is that the “debates” in view are almost all in-house, which to me is a big selling point. Rather than rehash the arguments of creationists, Bethell has instead elected to draw his citations primarily from a murderer’s row of big names on the other side of the table who stray here and there from Darwinian orthodoxy.

As you might anticipate, where weaknesses in their case have come to light through disagreements in the evolutionist camp, these have not always been well-publicized.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (7)

Growing up in a Christian home, I was occasionally chastened for misbehavior with the words “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Or I heard other Christian parents using it. Or my irate Sunday School teacher. Or somebody. The memory’s a bit fuzzy, to be honest.

In any case, the line was very familiar, though for some reason I wrongly associated it with Saul and Samuel rather than Moses, who actually said it to the emissaries from the tribes of Reuben and Gad who had proposed to settle their people in the land beyond the Jordan. They solemnly promised to first fight alongside the other men of Israel in order to bring God’s people into their inheritance.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (6)

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have attempted to put together possible timelines of Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances to his disciples over the period prior to his ascension.

As anyone who has attempted this will tell you, synthesizing four Gospel accounts and the summary Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 15 is no easy task. There is simply not enough information provided to dogmatize about some of the details. Some calculate 10 appearances, others 12. Most don’t speculate.

One thing nobody can reasonably fail to notice about the appearances is this: however long each may have been, and however many of them there may have been, there is still an awful lot of time unaccounted for in between appearances ... the better part of forty days, in fact.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (5)

Last week’s Too Hot to Handle discussion with IC on the subject of collective identity opened a bulging can of worms, and we could hardly avoid leaving a few of those slimy stragglers wriggling around in the bottom of the rowboat.

One such not-entirely-explored issue is the importance of caring for immediate and extended family, a responsibility that in the New Testament is committed to both Christian men and women.

It’s also a responsibility Western governments have in the not-too-distant past assumed on our behalf — not entirely, but extensively.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (4)

Dr. Jordan Peterson likes to say the Bible is “hyperlinked”, by which he means something along these lines: that the earlier writings inform the later ones, and the later writings explain the earlier ones. Despite having been written by numerous different authors, it’s one great connected web of spiritual information.

Without giving away everything IC and I expect to discuss this Friday, we’re taking a similar position on the subject of daily Bible reading: it takes all of God’s word to interpret any given portion of it accurately. Bits and pieces here and there will not get the job done.

Other Christians take a different view.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (3)

Some meanings are just lost, I’m afraid. At least that’s how it seems to me when I dig into the original languages of scripture in hope of finding the most accurate translation of specific words.

To the post-modernist, a text means whatever he pleases at any particular moment. Authorial intent doesn’t matter in the slightest because the post-modernist assures us intent cannot be known and, further, if intent could be known it would carry no more weight than the most trivial and uninformed interpretation of the reader.

Word studies? Who cares?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (2)

There’s often quite a difference between what we assume went on in a Bible story and what probably really happened.

My mental pictures of Bible characters and their environment tend to auto-default to the flannelgraph cutouts of my Sunday School years. These presumably came from the fertile minds of whoever was drafted to produce the art for the curriculum. But such sacred two-dimensional imaginings are not necessarily the first thing a ten-year old challenges or even notices. They are what they are, and they stuck with me.

This was long before Veggie Tales, so thankfully I don’t carry around the mental image of the prophet Daniel as played by Larry the Cucumber. Not much, anyway.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (1)

My workplace isn’t a complete and utter hive of political correctness like so many major corporations today, but that’s sure not for lack of trying.

In our case the issue is economics rather than ideology. It has been deemed insufficiently cost-effective to put a dedicated Human Resources rep in what is really only a regional satellite office, so instead we are PC-policed from over a thousand miles away. Which means we aren’t, really.

That would be a nice benefit if we were free to enjoy it. But we aren’t. Somehow, without any discussion of the subject, we have managed to begin policing each other … for free.