Thursday, November 02, 2006

Still Outside of Cyberspace, at Least at Home. Having apparently broken our DSL modem in the emptying of our den, we continue to be outcasts from cyberspace at home. Furthermore, the tv is very difficult to reach, turn on, and watch, not that watching it is a big item (no cable). But these setbacks, of course, are not all bad. In fact, they may be mostly good. We have conversation in its place.

In the July/Aug 2006 edition of Mars Hill Audio, there is a conversation with Stephen Miller, "on the factors that sustain the art of conversation, and why it's a dying art". Miller is the author of Conversation: A History of a Declining Art.

Did I report that I now have a subscription to The New Criterion? I am working my way through the September 2006 issue, and I am thoroughly enjoying the essays. I know I am in a honeymoon period with this magazine, but it seems to be every bit as interesting as First Things, without the Roman Catholic evangelism (not that the latter is all bad).

Carol's Wednesday Women's Bible Study is going very well. She is teaching a Beth Moore study entitled "Patriarchs". The format consists of weekly sessions that alternate between the Beth Moore video segments and discussions. A number of women who are not part of the regular church attenders are coming. All the prayer you can spare for Carol in this venture would be well offered.

My Wednesday night men's group started on a study of Luke last night, having finished Galatians. I think Galatians will turn out to be a good pre-Luke exercise, because Luke himself is believed to have been a Gentile, was a close friend of and fellow-traveler with Paul, and the Gospel he writes is for Gentiles. So Galatians, which is a sort of Declaration of Independence from Judaism (or, as the Baptists among whom I was raised referred to it, "The Magna Carta of the Christian Church"), is a great platform from which to leap to a consideration of Jesus' life through the eyes of such an author as Luke.

We considered verses 1 through 25 of the first chapter of Luke. So much there! But I must mention two points. The first is what Gabriel says to Zacharia about what John will be to Zacharia and his wife. "He will be a joy and delight to you . . . " When moderns talk of children, the burden of them often characterizes the conversation. But here a child will be "a joy and delight". I consider that idea, "joy and delight", to be a much greater idea than what Zachararia and Elizabeth will experience with John; I consider "joy and delight" to be the ultimate gift that God in his grace will give us. Zacharia and Elizabeth get to experience "joy and delight" in a significant respect during their lifetimes, but it is simply a down payment on what we will share in eternity. (The joy and delight we share in our children is both a gift all its on and a down payment as well.)

The second point is how God rewards the faithfulness of Zacharia and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, being "barren" at middle-age, suffered "disgrace among the people" for it. Yet she and Zacharia "were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly". By the time Jesus is born, the culture links good works with good fortune (Never mind the book of Job). People would ask of the situation they observed in Elizabeth and Zacharia, "Who sinned here? They cannot really be as righteous as they seem!" There is a "disconnect". What a temptation faced Zachariah and Elizabeth to become bitter with God. But they "kept on keeping on", as it were. God is, after all, faithful.

Which takes me back to the Beth Moore series that Carol is teaching. I watched one of the videos with Carol the other night, the one that dealt with Abraham taking Isaac to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him. What faithfulness Abraham exhibits. (And what an effective presentation by Beth Moore.) How we honor God when we, as parents, "give up" our children to his plans for them.

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