Back to the Mars Mission…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a hard time waiting to get back to our Mars Mission. Thank you all so very much for your participation in this so far; you are all amazing!

paulfg posted a wonderful comment the other day, and since it came on Saturday, I thought that a lot of people might have missed it, and frankly, Paul came right to the heart of where our discussion about our plans for worship should probably go at this point.

Here is what Paul wrote… thank you Paul!

Dear fellow colonists, may I be allowed to make an observation of love and affection?

One of us asked a question based very much on current “church think”. Yet all of us fell into line and followed suit. If we are to begin again as colonists of Mars – then either the current earthly church-think is the best that “corporate worship” can be, or we are too ingrained in that tradition to leave our comfortable “habits of form” behind.

I have a suggestion.

That we are as “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” in this debate – or else we may find we also – unintentionally – take all the division and dissent of current church-think with us as well. Thank you.

Everyone sits quietly for a moment. Then all eyes turn to you because you are next up. What are your thoughts?

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Picking up the Pieces

In looking back at our adventure through the Song of Songs, I’ve been thinking about some of the different ideas that people have about the book, many of which I mentioned before we got into the text, and some others that were suggested in comments. God’s view of perfect love and intimacy in Christian marriage is a popular one. God’s book of sex in marriage is another popular idea. Too dirty for the church; doesn’t belong in the Canon is an old traditional one.

There are more of course…

Now that we’ve all read through the book, what is actually contained in it?

What is actually in Song of Songs:

Lovers’ fantasies, dreams of romance, erotic imagery, verbal expressions of romantic passion, sexual innuendo, women treated as possessions, frustration.

What is not actually found in Song of Songs:

Betrothal, marriage, sex, physical union, physical proximity, passion fulfilled, anything dirty or pornographic.

Interesting, isn’t it? I might be wrong, but I almost have the impression that people write books about Song of Songs without ever reading the whole thing. If anything, it is almost a romantic tragedy along the lines of Romeo and Juliette.

Well, before we go much further, there are a couple factual details to clean up. First, you will recall that “She” was somehow promised to Solomon by her brothers, with the strong implication that there was a cash payment involved. So, was “She” to marry Solomon? Don’t answer too quickly!

Some commentators over the years maintain that this is the actual historical story of Solomon and one of his many wives, so maybe this could be true… except that Solomon can’t really be “He”. I will admit that if he was “He” it would be a tidy little package at the end. How could Solomon be both “He” and the impediment that keeps “She” and “He” from getting together? Maybe if he had multiple personality disorder.

Isn’t it possible that “She” could have been promised as a concubine in return for royal favor? That would explain why “He” spent so many of his lines talking about how “She” was so much more special than all other women… but this solution would give us a messy ending to say the least, and we can’t have that.

Here’s another possibility: Maybe “He” bought her from the king and they ran off and lived happily ever after in a beautiful castle in the Swiss Alps… yes, maybe there is a sequel that is lost to history.

What? That’s stupid?

Maybe so…

OK, fine. We don’t know what happened because the story ends and leaves this hanging; maybe that’s on purpose. There is one thing we can be quite sure of, in my view: This story is not history; it is not telling of real people and their real historical lives. No sir, because it is written in a style of Hebrew poetics that is used to present allegory, not history, and that much we do know. That doesn’t mean that the author might not have based some or all of it on a real-life experience or personality, but the story itself has a deeper meaning than just relating historical facts.

When we began our adventure, we had a working theory that “She” represented God’s people and “He” represented God. Let’s just say, just for fun, that our working theory was correct. How does the story end?

Please share your thoughts… and I’ll give you mine in the next post.

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TLP Living: 6/18/18

My First Attempt

Last week I wrote about vintage cooking and told you that I was going to try my hand at recreating some old dishes. This week I can report that I followed through. Looking through Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book, I selected the recipe for “Bean Soup” that Mr. Jefferson obtained from Gouvenor Morris ‘The Elder’. Gouvenor Morris, Sr. was one of the Founding Fathers of our Nation, and he and Mr. Jefferson would have first met in the Second Continental Congress where both served. Morris signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, but he is best remembered by history as the man who actually wrote the Constitution in that clear language of simplicity and elegance that only a lawyer or Federal Judge could ever fail to understand.

Like the Constitution, the bean soup recipe is clear and easy to understand, unlike so many old recipes, and yet leaves a little room for creativity. Its main ingredient is “beans”. Since the beans must soak overnight, I assumed that they should be dry beans… but there are many kinds of dry beans. My guess is that back in the 18th century, they had the kind that they had… and so the kind that I happened to have was Navy beans, so that’s what I used.

The remaining ingredients were carrots, turnips, parsnips and celery. I was amazed at the lack of onions. Carrots, celery, 1 part each, and 2 parts onions are the basis of most Western soups… but not this time.

What you do is simmer the beans for about an hour and then add the root vegetables and simmer for another 3-4 hours. Then, you force the soup through a colander, return it to the pot and add the celery, simmering for another hour or so before serving it over croutons. You’ll have to pardon me, but I just used an immersion blender for the puree…

I wasn’t sure I would like the finished product, not being a carrot or parsnip fan, but the result was nothing short of amazing. The addition of the celery at the end gave it a real flavor boost, and the carrots, having been cooked for so long, rendered a sweetness in the background of an earthy flavor that balanced out perfectly in the final product. I must say that this one is a total winner, although for me, it’s more of a fall/winter dish that one for a hot and muggy summer’s evening.

Unless of course, you decided to give it a spicy Southwestern flair… but I always follow the recipe before I make it my own.

One last note: I had some left-over goat cheese in the fridge, and I used it for a garnish… That little departure put the soup over the top, and if it hadn’t been for the garnish, this dish would have been entirely in keeping with my wife’s “forks over knives” diet kick…

This week, the menus are the creation of She Who Must Be Obeyed, so it’s all “forks over knives” which has taken away every last bit of fun in the kitchen, replacing it with the fait and fleeting hope of one day being able to achieve the lofty goal of mediocrity.

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TLP Inspiration: June 18, 2018

An Empowering Relationship

Good Monday Morning from the Heartland

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is an empowering relationship.  This relationship provides us with all that we need to walk with Him through this life, and no matter what may happen to us along the way, no matter how many trials we might endure, to go through this life victoriously.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful 
    for those who keep the demands of his covenant. 

Psalm 25:8-10

Our Lord empowers us by giving us comfort in rough times. Our Lord leads us in His ways, He is merciful and quick to forgive when we ask, and all of this is incredibly empowering.  It empowers us to live as God would have us to live.  It empowers us to live free from sin and shame, and it sets us free from the traditions and ways of this world.  Finally, it changes our entire outlook on life and our priority system.

There is no greater blessing in all the universe than to live in relationship with Jesus Christ and living according to his leading will surely improve all of our human relationships.

Why would we ever wish to neglect this relationship?

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Sunday Sermon Notes: June 17, 2018

Title: Jesus in the Synagogue

Text: Mark 1:21-28

Jesus went to the synagogue at Capernaum and taught there. Mark doesn’t tell us what He taught, just that He did teach; the exact content isn’t the issue in this text, the reaction of the people is the real message. The people were amazed not so much by His content, apparently, but at His manner.

I know a preacher who is more than capable of bringing a brilliant sermon to his group, but as he does so, it is obvious that he is uncomfortable, nervous and insecure.  By the time his people have finished their lunch, they have forgotten what he taught only an hour earlier. Other preachers I know present really weak content with confidence and an air of command that their groups recall and consider greatly inspiring. Jesus had both content and an air of confidence and authority; He really made an impact on the people and that was quite a contrast with what they were used to hearing.

Then there’s this guy…

The guy was possessed by an “impure spirit.” This impure spirit starts talking to Jesus:

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Mark 1:24

Now this is something you don’t see every day! Did you notice that the spirit is the only one in the place who knows who he’s talking to? Oh yes, they know exactly who Jesus is, and they tremble. They also know who indwells you and me, and they tremble!

Jesus responds to the spirit by telling it to be quiet and come out of the man…. and the spirit obeys; authority again.

Before this, the people were amazed, now they are beyond amazed:

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:27-28

Take a moment and consider the reaction of the people. If you consider these words carefully, you should be more amazed than those people were. Jesus had just taught in the synagogue with authority. Then He was accosted by an impure spirit who recognized Jesus as the “Holy One of God” and Jesus told the spirit to shut up and get lost… and the spirit obeys, and the people say, “What is this? A new Teaching – and with authority!”

The people had heard Jesus teach, and they were impressed by His authority. Then they saw His authority confirmed in a way no one had ever seen before. They also heard the spirit tell exactly who Jesus was, but all they could comprehend was teaching and authority. Doesn’t this remind you of something common in our time?

“Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God.”

There is a lesson for us to learn here: Never underestimate the capacity of human beings to miss the obvious. (You may quote me on that!)

Even so, the word spread about Jesus…

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TLP Op-Ed: June16, 2018

A Week to Remember

Here we are at the end of an amazing week. The big meeting in Singapore has concluded with an agreement in principle; now the technical people can sit down together and negotiate the terms for a final deal. One would think that this would be good news.

The Inspector General of the Justice Department has come out with his much-anticipated report about the recent investigation into the Clinton email scandal and now we can argue about what it said.

Mr. Trump reports that it proves his innocence: I wasn’t aware that anyone had accused Mr. Trump of having any involvement in Mrs. Clinton’s illegal email servers…

I’m not sure whether this week is more memorable for the substantive things that happened, or for the bizarre atmosphere in which they have taken place. Here are a couple of examples…

The Singapore summit resulted in about as much as any reasonable person could have hoped for. Therefore, it’s being denounced. The very same people who were demanding that Mr. Trump meet with the North Koreans to negotiate instead of threatening, are denouncing Trump for coddling a dictator, for giving legitimacy to a rogue regime. Foreign Policy experts are denouncing an agreement in principle as though it were a final treaty for it’s lack of detail, even though they know full-well what it really is, and other serious people are joining in, also knowing that what they are saying is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

Even more amazing is the fact that no one in particular seems to care; it’s business as usual.

Then there’s the IG report… Topping the list of bizarre and ridiculous has to be Mr. Trump’s claim that it proves his innocence in the Russian matter. It wasn’t even about the Russian business, that’s a whole different report. Sir, as hard as it is for any of us to believe, not everything in this world is about you.

It seems that over the past couple of days, everyone claims that the Report proves… whatever they want it to prove. I think we all know that can’t be true.

Finally, we have the stories that have been lost in coverage of the 2 “big” stories. The Department of Justice continues to defy requests for clean documents from the relevant Congressional oversight committees, and the former director of the FBI, Mr. Comry, has threatened the committees to avoid being held in contempt of Congress.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Is there outrage in Congress and the Press about this illegal stonewalling by the FBI and DOJ? No, of course not. There is denunciation of the oversight committees, even on the part of the minority members themselves who claim that Republican majority members of the Committees are engaged in some kind of partisan witch hunt against a Republican-run DOJ.

This week has been nothing, if not surreal.

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TLP Inspiration: June 16, 2018

Good Saturday Morning from the Heartland.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is a merciful one, in fact it is based upon mercy.  Jesus Himself saw to that by going to the cross so that our sins might be forgiven.  He is the one who made it possible for us to draw near to God; to approach His throne.

Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, 
    for they are from of old.
 Remember not the sins of my youth 
    and my rebellious ways; 
according to your love remember me,
    for you are good, O Lord.

Psalm 25:6-7

In many relationships, we have difficulty approaching others because we have hurt or offended them… how will they react?  In relationship with Jesus, He has already forgiven us; we can approach in praise and thanksgiving.

We may approach Him for His guidance, His mercy and His love… we will truly be missing out if we neglect such a great relationship.

May we never neglect our relationship with Him, that relationship which is so very wonderful merciful.

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