Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Since being the victim of a corporate downsizing two years ago, I have had a scant number of interviews relative to the number of positions in my field to which I have applied.  Thankfully, there has been part-time work through the same full-time employer that released me; and while I enjoy the work and have good coworkers, the pay is insufficient, and the benefits are ending at the end of the year.  This means that, according to the (Un)Affordable Care Act, the health insurance I cannot afford this year will be even more unaffordable next year.  And there is a fine for not being able to afford it.  Suffice it to say that I have considered additional revenue streams.

One idea is to advertise for pulpit supply.  I have plenty of past experience in a variety of local churches, but never placed my name in a public forum to promote my availability.  I enjoy communicating God’s Word.  If you are interested, my credentials are here.

Speaking of communicating, I have looked at writing and editing jobs.  There are writing positions available, however most require a degree in English or Journalism, but I do have certification as Copy Editor through Poynter Institute.

Another idea I had in the area of writing is to monetize my blog.  I dislike the preponderance of advertising on blogs I find at Patheos.com, but if advertising could be controlled, it might be workable.  I need to investigate this some more.

I have also considered crowd-sourcing.  For instance, all I need is 50,000 readers to commit one dollar per year via my PayPal account (e-mail address is in my profile).  With that much income, I could concentrate solely on blogging.  Oh, wait, I need 50,000 readers.  Looks like I need to expand my base for that to work.

Monday, November 23, 2015

(Ir)Relevant Links

My life has been busy, so this seems to be a good time to offer up a potpourri post.  I begin with a set of posts that might fall under the general topic of relevancy in the local church.
  • Glenn Chatfield passes along Nancy Pearcey’s admonition to make our method as Christian as our message.
  • Tanya Nevin offers her reasons for joining a dead religion.  Some of you will object to the Lutheran understanding of Baptism and Lord’s Supper near the end of the post, but she does a solid job of describing the vacuity of relevance.
  • Jonathan Aigner has two recent posts that I thought were helpful.  (FYI, he writes at Patheos, which inundates readers with advertising, much of which is questionable.)  The first makes a case that worship should be boring—exceedingly boring—to help us remember that worship is not an experience, but an honored communal time with God Almighty.  The second offers 10 Reasons to Follow the Liturgical Calendar.  All local assemblies should do this, even if just one time through the year, though once would really sell it short.
  • Mary Abrahamson shares the wisdom of teaching hymns, rather than simple choruses, to children.  And, in my mind, if that is good advice for children, it is doubly so for instructing adults.
  • Lastly, Caleb Keith helps us understand the benefits of Moving to Paper.  True, this does not deal directly with worship or the gospel, but I think he makes a good point for “outdated” methods being the best for an intended purpose.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Torn Lions Yield Sweet Nourishment

From the opening of Judges 13, we see that Samson was unique.  He was born to a barren woman.  From the beginning, his life's purpose was announced, and he was set apart, being placed under the Nazirite vow his entire life.  Even his mother was placed under the vow until his birth.  In addition, we learn later that he was empowered to complete his task through divinely-given physical strength.  The only problem is that Samson had a disregard for God's Word.  For instance, in Judges 14:2-3 we read:
Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines.  Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah.  Now get her for me as my wife.”  But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”  But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
Samson's parents were right to steer him to take a wife from his own people.  The expectation of every Israelite was to marry from within the nation.  Besides this, Philistines were under judgment to be annihilated from the land.  But Samson would have none of it: he lusted after the foreign woman.  In his pursuit of her, Samson was attacked by a lion; and he was strengthened and ripped it to pieces.  When the job was done, he continued in his intentions.  One cannot help but wonder if God put the lion in Samson's way to warn him of his actions.

After some days, Samson went again to take the woman in marriage, and he came upon the lion carcass being used by bees as a hive.  He scraped out honey to eat (Nazirites were forbidden to touch the dead) and then gave some to his parents.  At the beginning of the marriage feast, Samson proposed a wager and riddle from his encounter with the lion and honey:
Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.  (Judges 14:14)
After days of his fiancée's nagging, Samson gave up the answer:
What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion? (Judges 14:18).
If we look closely at Samson, we see that he is a picture of the nation of Israel.  It had a divine beginning, was set aside solely to God, and had a stated purpose.  The people were divinely strengthened to perform the tasks before them.  But also like Samson, the nation had a disregard for God's Word.  Time and again, the Law was left by the wayside in favor of other ideas and practices.  God continually sent prophets to warn the people, which were dealt with much like Samson's lion, yet what they left was nourishing and good for the soul.

The greatest prophet to come to Israel was the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  As with those who had come previously with words of warning and judgment, the nation turned on Jesus and figuratively tore Him to pieces.  Yet from His death came the sweetest and most satisfying of all nourishment:
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  (John 6:54-56)
Or in other words: take, eat, this is my body; take, drink, this is my blood.

Your sins, though great, are now forgiven.