Thinking Out Loud

May 7, 2010

Tell Mother You Love Her – With Eggs

This year, why say it with flowers when you can say it with eggs?   The day after tomorrow is “Mother’s Day” in North America.  (Sorry, I’m not sure when “Mothering Sunday” is in the UK.)

The graphic at left is the front page of a grocery store flyer that arrived in our newspaper Thursday night.   There’s even a promise of more equally great Mother’s Day suggestions inside.

Say it with eggs.

It’s not a horrible idea when you think about it.   Eggs are what distinguish females from males.   Eggs are where it all begins when it comes to someone becoming a mother.

It’s also a practical, inexpensive gift.   Every child can afford to give this gift and every mother — with a few allergy exceptions — can enjoy receiving them.  (These are large premium eggs, in a box of 18.)

It’s also a great way for a retail food store to say, “Hey, we have chocolates and flowers and greeting cards, too; but we think this gift suggestion is the one worth putting on the front page of our advertising piece.”

If you agree, remember to keep your eggs gift-wrapped (so it will be a surprise) but refrigerated (so they don’t go bad.)   This could get tricky.

For everyone else, your local Christian bookstore is filled with a number of inspirational gift books for women in general and mothers specifically.  Or you can’t go wrong with an inspirational novel.   (If you want to go all out, I’d recommend the NLT Sanctuary Devotional Bible for Women.)

(There…you see?  With the last paragraph I kept this post “on focus” vis-a-vis this blog’s overarching theme.)

Note:  This piece was written in good fun and I don’t need to be reminded of the patriarchal nature of my remarks re. eggs.

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April 2, 2010

God Help Me

Or should I perhaps say, “God, Help me.”  (What a difference a comma makes!)

The following is from John Cassian (365-435)

There is something which has been handed on to us by some of the oldest of the Fathers and which we hand on to only a very small number of the souls eager to know it: To keep the thought of God  always in your mind you must cling totally to this formula for piety:  “Come to my help, O God; Lord hurry to my rescue.”  (Psalm 70:1)

It is not without good reason that this verse has been chosen from the whole of scripture as a device.   It carries within it all the feelings of which human nature is capable.  It can be adapted to every condition and can be usefully deployed against every temptation.  It carries within it a cry of help to God in the face of every danger.   It expresses the humility of a pious confession.   It conveys the watchfulness born of unending worry and fear.   It covers a sense of our frailty, the assurance of being heard, the confidence in help that is always and everywhere present.   Someone forever calling out to his protector is indeed very sure of having him close by.   This is the voice filled with ardor of love and of charity.   This is the terrified cry of someone who sees the snares of the enemy, the cry of someone besieged day and night and, exclaiming that he cannot escape unless his protector comes to the rescue…

This little verse, I am saying, proves to be necessary and useful to each one of us and in all circumstances.   For someone who needs help in all things is making clear that he requires the help of God not simply in hard and sad situations but equally and amid fortunate and joyful conditions.   He knows that God saves us from adversity and makes our joys linger and that in neither situation can human frailty survive without His help.

~as quoted in Devotions for Lent adapted from the NLT Mosaic Bible (Tyndale Publishing)

March 14, 2010

Random Sunday Notes

  • I’m increasingly impressed with the New Living Translation.   I often explain the relationship between the old Living Bible and the current NLT is similar to buying a house that you really like but it needs to be brought up to the standards of the building code.   So you bring in a number of contractors who fix the parts that need fixing and leave everything else that’s good.   Bringing The Living Bible up to translation status was a similar project.    Passages like Romans and Hebrews gain additional clarity, while the Olivet Discourse in John’s gospel reveals its rather stark simplicity.    I like this treatment of Ephesians 2: 8-9:

    8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

  • This morning in church we looked at this passage in I Samuel 2: 12-13a

    12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests… 22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.

    It’s a reminder that today’s television evangelists who seem to have outright contempt for their followers and for God Himself, with their misuse of money and serial affairs are really nothing new.

  • Imagine you’re sitting in church and the service is nearing the end and an usher walks up to the person in the row in front of you and hands him/her an envelope and whispers, “Thanks for your offering, but we don’t want to accept this from you, even though it’s perfectly useful cash.”   That would be like something out of a weird dream, right?   But that’s what we do when people offer their [other kinds of] gifts to the church but they can’t jump through the hoops or clear the screening process.   We’re basically throwing their gift back in their faces.   The church should be a place where gifting + willingness determines ministry.

March 9, 2010

The Evangelical Lent Experience

My first communication after joining the Tyndale Blogger Network — you’d think they would have avoided the TBN acronym — wasn’t so much a book to critique as an offer to help them clear out inventory of a $2.99(US) booklet, Devotions for Lent, which they provided to stores in 10-packs, and offered to ship out to reviewers in the same configuration for giveaway purposes rather than review.

I took them up on this because the thought of the very-Evangelical Tyndale House engaging the very-Mainline Protestant concept of Lent piqued my curiosity.    I expected them to use the opportunity to introduce what a few Evangelicals might have to speak to this period leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and also to infuse readings from their popular NLT (New Living Translation) with which non-Evangelicals would be less familiar.

“This is a win-win;” I said to myself, “And I want to see what it looks like.”

It turned out not to be daily readings, which is what I have been accustomed to seeing in a Lent devotional.    Rather, there was a collection of material for each of the six weeks of Lent, consisting of an introduction, a scripture reading, a classical devotional thought, and a contemporary thought taken from Mosaic edition of the NLT.   (Check out HolyBibleMosaic.com)  This version is also available as an iPhone app.    The scripture readings, referenced only in the weekly collection, are reiterated in a full text presentation in the second half of the 80-page booklet.

There is plenty of material here and I don’t want to minimize it by suggesting that these are only weekly readings; there is enough to break up the material and suggested scriptures over a number of days, perhaps Monday thru Thursday, for example.

But my problem in digging in deeper — aside from the fact that the season of Lent is now one-third passed — was the tiny type size used in the production of this resource.  Even with my seldom-used reading glasses it was a strain.   I had to ask myself if perhaps this was why these booklets were being so freely given away at this point.   Worse was the italicized typeface with the distracting flourishes on certain letters.   The writing of John Cassian — a writer with whom I was not familiar — had the word “Egypt” written next to his name, and I wondered if perhaps this was a clue that the reading was typeset in hieroglyphics.

I don’t mean to be over-critical, but sometimes it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines” and the small details which can undermine a great resource concept. I hope Tyndale takes another run at this in the period leading up to Easter 2011.

September 5, 2008

The “Other” New Study Bible Releasing This Year

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:20 pm

There has been a great deal of hype surrounding the October release of the ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible, and frankly, hype is the only word to describe it.   Yes, it has full color on every page.   True, some significant scholars have contributed to this project.   But much of the hype stems from the fact that the Christian internet world is totally dominated by Calvinists; in the same way as they have dominated Christian publishing.   As I’ve commented elsewhere on this blog; some people do, other people write, blog and talk.

Tyndale House Publishing is not particularly infected with the same (or different) doctrinal bias as is Crossway, the ESV publisher.   Tyndale is much more mainstream Evangelical, and their flagship Bible version, the New Living Translation (NLT) really cuts across denominational lines.   So after many years where the only NLT Study edition was the Life Application Bible — a personal favorite by the way, but not taken seriously by scholars — it is refreshing to see the release of the NLT Study Bible, which quietly debuted in August in hardcover and leather editions, with thumb-indexed versions of those editions to follow in October.

Personally, although I haven’t yet held one of these in my hands, I think it’s a shame that the NLT release has been overshadowed by the ESV fanfare.   Looking at the promotional literature that arrived today, I would definitely be willing to sacrifice color on every page to get my hands on some of these notes.   Contributors include: Scot McKnight, Mark Strauss, Gary M. Burge, Douglas Moo, and Tremper Longman III.

But choose you the NLT, the ESV, or even the classic NIV Study Bible, one payoff of all this publishing frenzy is that if someone gets a Bible for Christmas, chances are that this year, it’s going to be a study Bible.   And with more people digging more deeply in to God’s Word, it’s all good.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Last night for our family Bible time, I started reading the Life Application study notes out loud, on the book of Leviticus.   I obviously had not covered this section before, because in just two pages, several of the things I’ve struggled with in Leviticus was easily resolved.    If you don’t think anyone’s gonna put a Study Bible under the tree for you this Christmas, buy yourself one today!

(No, I don’t fit into the “write, blog and talk” criticism, because this blog exists to provide various avenues of balance.)

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