… we all too [often] view our involvement in missional church community through the lens of volunteerism. In other words, we love the vision and reality of ministry and want to be involved, as long as it fits. We have discipled entire generations of Christians to see missional engagement as a voluntary opportunity they can add to their lives when it works or isn’t too demanding. This isn’t to say that many people don’t live sacrificially, but rather that the general trend reflects an attitude of optionality. via Disciples, Not Volunteers « A Living Alternative Our Missional Pilgrimage.

I’ve “beaten on this piano key” before, as the Brazilians say. Scripture contains nothing of the language of volunteerism, but rather is replete with the call to take up the cross of Christ. Churches and preachers sometimes speak the volunteer language: “We need volunteers for …”

Certainly, all work must be done gladly and willingly, not grudgingly nor out of the weight of obligation — though the terms of necessity (1 Cor 9:16) and constraint (2 Cor 5:14) are present in Scripture.

Volunteerism means I can take up and quit service at my discretion. It means no one has a demand of me that can be made. It means I can fit it in as long as it’s convenient, and leave it off when it becomes a burden.

Volunteerism, therefore, is hardly an adequate concept for life in Christ and service to God. Let us be done with it and remove it from our lips and faith.

Hypocrites like others to see them doing their religious acts. Solomon, however, was motivated by a different desire: the first prayer at the temple was his, and he wanted to show the people that God must be approached humbly in repentance. He’d thought ahead: he had a bronze platform built so all could hear and see him as he knelt before the Lord in prayer.

Solomon’s prayer at the temple dedication, in 1 Chronicles 6, was the text of our reading last Wednesday night. It still rings in my ears, as this sinful man needs daily to humble himself before the Lord. For that, preparation must be made, the bronze platform to show our penitence when the moment of ultimate glory arrives.

The Cloudburst poem, “The Bronze Platform,” uses my favorite seven-line structure, with the rhyming scheme A-B-A-B-A-C-C, in iambic pentameter. The seven lines are a favorite, because they allow a full thought without losing the modern’s short attention span.

The poem has been sent to the email list, which you may receive through a free subscription. As for the Platform poem already sent to the list, ask in the comments with your email address, and I’ll forward it to you.


It was billed back in the 70s as the Simple English Bible. So far, it’s just the New Testament, no word on the whole Bible. The people broke away from World Bible Translation Center in Dallas. Became International Bible Translators. Had Jack Lewis, Hugo McCord, and Clyde Woods as translators, among others. Put it in the hands of a denominational publisher, Destiny Image. Renamed it The Great Book: Plain English Bible. Google Books has much of it in their collection.

This from my daily Bible reading, done today in the NLT, then the NET Bible, which provoked thoughts of non-literalness.

“But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ via NETBible: Matthew 25:9 NASB

If the Greek were translated literally, it would look more like the KJV, NKJV, and HCSB: “to those who sell.” The RSV, ESV, NRSV, ISV, and NASB, the latter highly praised for its literal approach, translate it as “to the dealers.” NAB has “merchants.”

The NLT translators seem to know that oil was sold in a shop (any shop? NEB has “the shop”) rather than from a dealer’s home or in a market stall. Weymouth pluralizes it with “shops.” The PEB (old SEB) has “store.” Maybe they’re right. But shop/store isn’t the idea. Continue reading

Prayer for November, 2010:

We invite the brotherhood to dedicate the month of November to the following petition:

May we dedicate ourselves to developing the spirit rather than giving in to the flesh; to decency and not sensuality. (see Romans 13:13-14)

May our missionary petition be:

That our life in Christ may underline the truth of our message of proclamation. (see 1 Peter 2:11-12)

How to use these prayers Continue reading

What’s up with NLT in 2 Tim. 4:1?

Premillenial language, if not the intent, is present in the New Living Translation’s rendering of 2 Timothy 4:1, “And so I solemnly urge you before God and before Christ Jesus––who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:”. Literally, the verse reads, “at his appearing and his kingdom.”

The idea of “setting up” a kingdom comes straight out of the premillenial playbook. One site proclaims that “Jesus Christ Will Descend To Jerusalem To Set Up His Earthly Kingdom.”

The NLT rendering is similar to the “GOD’S WORD Translation” which renders the phrase, “because Christ Jesus will come to rule the world.” Um, nope. He is not coming to rule the world, but to claim his own and take them into eternity.

Christ’s return (his “appearing”) will be that of the full revelation of his kingdom (so The Lutheran Study Bible). In this verse, we see the “eternal kingdom” that Peter mentions in 2 Peter 1:11. At his appearing he will exercise the power inherent in that Kingdom for judgment — both to punish and reward (see 2 Tim. 4:8). Continue reading

You have your opinion, I have mine. Usually, opinions, being what they are, don’t matter much. Some of us prefer Apple, others a PC. In the end, both get the job done. But at times an opinion matters and means the difference between life and death, between right and wrong.

Text: Matthew 22

Memorize: “While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them a question: ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said, ‘The son of David.'” Matthew 22:41-42 NET

Usually, Jesus’ enemies asked him questions, attempting to test him and make him stumble. Sometimes he answered them, sometimes not. This time, however, our Lord challenges the Pharisees with a question, which deals with the central issue of his identity. No matter of personal opinion, the answer was Continue reading

The chemical weapons stockpile has been stored at Pine Bluff Arsenal since the 1940’s.The disposal of the ton containers at the PBCDF is the final campaign of the chemical weapons disposal mission. via KAIT-8.

Seventy years of stockpiled chemicals. Do governments ever throw anything away? The human gathering and storing instincts pop up in the strangest places.

Like my office. I started, um, reignited, my declutter mission, attacking the piles of paper so that FlyLady would be proud of me. I have to stop at times to let the shredder cool off. That’s when I hear all the precious sheets of deadwood declare their essentiality to my well-being. And who knows, but that tomorrow, or maybe even in an hour’s time, I may need the information or the proof of purchase that little square holds? Parting is painful sorrow.

Joy in Tanzania is cheering me, and millions others, on to greater heights of simplicity. I confessed, when she asked yesterday, to being a pile-shifter. But isn’t that what corners and cubbies are for, to safeguard sliding columns of yellowed paper? Continue reading

Text: Matthew 20

Memorize: “He said to her, ‘What do you want?'” Matthew 20:21 NET

In two stories in sequence, Jesus asks people what they want. In the first, he asks “the mother of the sons of Zebedee [who] came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor” (v. 20). And no small favor at that! In the second, two blind men cry for mercy, so he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 32), as if he didn’t know already.

He denies the first, while he grants the blind men’s desires. With his questions about what they want, he shows both his willingness to consider the requests, at the same time indicating that he doesn’t fill in blank checks. Continue reading