31 August 2008

iowa 46, maine 3

Great to get to see some Hawkeye football this weekend, as we beat Maine 46-3. Yes, I know Iowa is a Big Ten school and Maine is D-II, so we should have beaten them like that. The Hawks looked much better in this opener than last year's opener, when they won 16-3 against a lousy Northern Illinois team that ended the season 2-10.

The Big Ten Network has a five-minute video with highlights from the Iowa-Maine game and the post-game press conference with head coach Kirk Ferentz. Check it out.

29 August 2008

how many countries can you name in five minutes?

Stumbled on this fun quiz surfing some Anglican blogs...


18 August 2008

st ephrem the syrian on christ's victory over death

At a Eucharist before a recent memorial service, I read a portion from an Easter sermon by St Ephrem the Syrian (I did my master's thesis on him). I've had at least two people come up to me since asking for copies of that, so I thought I would put it here as well.

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length he came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

17 August 2008

ken lee

From "Music Idol" in Bulgaria.

11 August 2008

hermeneutics & children's curriculum

An interesting piece...

Seminaries and grad programs that train pastors, and the academics who teach in those programs are very concerned about proper hermeneutics. We want pastors to have the very best training so that God’s word is handled properly and that preaching proceeds from the authoritative teaching of the text rather than from human cleverness or tangential ideas. This is as it should be since we seek to teach with the authority of God’s Word. My question is, why do we not show the same interest in assuring that children are taught with the same care?

It has been my practice over the years to work with the Children’s education program in my church to evaluate curriculum and train teachers for the pre-school through elementary grades. What I find in curricula is consistently shocking from a hermeneutical standpoint. I should hasten to say that curricula are often excellent from an educational standpoint—for that is the expertise of those producing curriculum. In the area of hermeneutics, however, the violations of sound method are frequent and obvious. I have identified five basic fallacies that appear repeatedly:

1. Promotion of the Trivial: The lesson is based on what is a passing comment in the text (Josh 9:13, they did not consult the Lord), a casual observation about the text (Moses persevered in going back before Pharaoh over and over) or even a deduction supplied in the text (Joshua and Caleb were brave and strong). The Bible is not being properly taught if we are teaching virtues that the text does not have in focus in that passage. We would like children to be virtuous, but we dare not teach virtues rather than the Bible. The plague narratives are not teaching perseverance nor is the feeding of the multitude teaching sharing (as done by the little boy in one of the accounts).

2. Illegitimate extrapolation: The lesson is improperly expanded from a specific situation to all general situations (God helped Moses do a hard thing, so God will help you do a hard thing. But the hard thing Moses was doing was something commanded by God whereas in the lesson the hard thing becomes anything the child wants to achieve). In these cases what the text is teaching is passed by in favor of what the curriculum wants to teach and biblical authority is neglected.

3. Reading Between the Lines: This occurs when teachers or students are asked to analyze what the characters are thinking, speculate on their motives, or fill in details of the plot that the story does not give. When such speculations become the center of the lesson, the authority of the biblical teaching is lost because the teaching is centered on what the reader provided.

4. Missing important nuance: This occurs when the curriculum pinpoints an appropriate lesson but misses a connection that should be made to drive the point home accurately. It is not enough, for instance to say that God wants us to keep his rules—it is important to realize that God has given us a sense of who he is and how we ought to respond in our lives. It is not just an issue of obeying rules—God wants us to know him and respond to him by following in his ways and being like him.

5. Focus on people rather than God: The Bible is God’s revelation of himself and its message and teaching is largely based on what it tells us about God. This is particularly true of narrative (stories). While we are drawn to observe the people in the stories, we cannot forget that the stories are intended to teach us about God more than about people. If in the end, the final point is “We should/shouldn’t be like X (= some biblical character)” there is probably a problem unless the “X” is Jesus or God. Better is “we can learn through X’s story that God . . .”

If we are negligent of sound hermeneutics when we teach Bible to children, should it be any wonder that when they get into youth groups, Bible studies and become adults in the church, that they do not know how to derive the authoritative teaching from the text?

We all have a working hermeneutic, even though most have never taken a course. Where do we learn it? We learn it from those we respect. For many people this means that they learn their hermeneutics from their Sunday school teachers. Teachers in turn teach what is put into their hands. Perhaps we ought to be more attentive how Sunday school curriculum is teaching our children to find the authoritative teaching of God in the stories.
From the Zondervan blog, by Wheaton prof John H. Walton.

09 August 2008

a tale of two car repairs

It was the best of vacations, it was the worst of vacations...

No, actually, we had a great vacation--just got back from a week of travels. We spent most of the time with my parents in IL, but also saw our friends Ben and Krisanne in IL and Rebecca's grandmother in MO.

The troubles started last Saturday--as we were leaving the home of some friends that evening, the van took several times to start. Rebecca has been warning me about this problem, but the van never seems to act up when I'm driving. I still have my keys and alarm code to my father-in-law's mechanic shop where I used to work, so after dropping the family off I went to the shop and checked the charging system. Battery: good. Alternator: bad. Ugh. It was now 9:45 on Saturday evening, and we were planning on leaving early the next morning.

I had one trick up my sleeve from my shop management days, and still knew the wholesale number to the local O'Reilly auto parts store. They were open until 10pm during the week--what about Saturday? Sure enough, they were open for fifteen more minutes, and they had one alternator in stock that fit our car. So I went after it, took it back to the shop and prepared to install an alternator on my wife's van, which is absolutely hilarious, because I am the black hole of auto repair. I can sell the repair, but the most I had ever done before was an oil change.

Fortunately, Tony, my father-in-law, showed up as I was printing instructions on how to install the alternator, and he said he would help. Which of course meant that he installed it and I "helped," which itself means that I held the flashlight. He did it in about 45 minutes--would have taken me over two hours. So, thanks to my sales background at the shop and my father-in-law's gracious work, we were on the road the next day, rather than waiting until Monday for a repair.

On the way home, our left rear tire separated, losing a nice chunk of tread, so I got to put the spare on at the side of the OK Turnpike, as trucks whizzed by at 85mph. Check it out--yes, this tire is the one from our car. During my time at the shop I had seen so many people that couldn't deal with a flat, because they didn't know how to get their spare, never checked the air in the spare, couldn't find the wheel lock key, etc. so I learned from their mistake, knew all my details and it was a relatively quick process. Which probably seems like a minor deal to most people, but to me, that was pretty cool.

These were minor issues compared to what could have happened, but we are grateful to be home. We found gas for $3.36 in Missouri--how awesome was that? How ridiculous was it that were were excited about $3.36 gas? Rebecca and I also got a good deal of time to discuss something that we have been talking about for some time, and made two pretty big decisions during this trip. More on those later, probably next week.

02 August 2008

video interview with gregory venables, anglican primate of the southern cone

AnglicanTV interviewed Archbishop Gregory Venables near the close of the Lambeth Conference. The archbishop is our primate at CHS, and his evangelical spirit is a joy to experience.

Check out the video here.