25.5.10

Grace

"We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe. But in our human foolishness and shortsightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite... But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude."
- General Loewenhielm, Babette's Feast (quoted in "What's so Amazing About Grace?" by Phillip Yancey, pg. 25)

Lost Time Gaming

Here, have a look at this. And I thought I was bad for wasting time. Of course, one might then question this blog, and notice that I just spent approximately 36 seconds, at work, posting this....

24.5.10

The Lost World of Genesis One


John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009. 192 pages.

John Walton is a Prof. down at Wheaton College, and an author of numerous books on various parts of Old Testament scholarship. This particular book is an explanation of what he believes to be the most accurate and, when properly understood, 'literal' reading of Genesis one as it would have been understood by its original hearers.

In order to explain this view, Walton lays out 18 propositions, each one taking up a chapter of his book. These propositions begin from highly general points (i.e. Proposition 1: Genesis One is Ancient Cosmology) and slowly progress towards the more specific (Proposition 9: The Seven Days of Genesis One Relate to Temple Inauguration). Once here, he then moves from his specific reading of Genesis 1 back out to a broader view on current theological and cultural issues (i.e. Propositions 18: Public Science Education Should be Neutral Regarding Purpose). Walton calls his view the "Temple Inauguration View." In Genesis One we do not have a science text. In fact, Walton points out, nowhere in the Old Testament do we find God correcting or advancing the science of the Hebrew people. More importantly, Genesis One is not concerned with material origins at all. Rather, it is concerned with functional origins and teleology. So, Genesis one does not tell us how things were made, or how matter came into being, or what things are made out of, or any of that. Instead, the text focuses on purpose and function (i.e. "God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night." Genesis 1:16).

Along the way, Walton explores both Genesis One and Ancient Near Eastern parallels, pointing out both the similarities and the differences between the different origin stories. What I found most interesting was that Genesis One is, in many subtle ways, modeled after the dedication of a temple. So, both took seven days. Both focus on the temple being built as the dwelling place for God (affirming both the biblical idea that God is present here, and also creating some interesting questions around Sabbath, as it becomes not just a day of rest, but a day of governance, a day in which God takes up His holy seat from which He will rule over all that He has created). And so on (read the book for more).

This is, without a doubt, an important book both for theology and biblical exegesis. It is a necessary corrective to our normal use of the idea of 'literal' reading of the bible. Walton makes the point that the most 'literal' reading is not necessarily the reading which takes all the words individually without nuance and as statements of fact (a clear example is that no one reads Psalms in this manner, and we understand that to do so would not be 'literal'). Rather, we need to come as close as possible to how the text was meant in its original setting. The shift from material origins to functional ones is difficult for modern people to conceive, since we live in a world in which materialistic assumptions are so ingrained that most of us don't even see their effect. However, this shift is necessary if we are to understand Genesis one.

Naturally, Walton does not, and cannot, answer all questions. So, as you come to the end of his book you will find that he skims over questions which are actually of deep concern (such as what a changing interpretation of Genesis does to our concepts of sin, death, fall, etc.). Still, even here his brief thoughts and suggestions are provocative.

Overall, an excellent book. If you are interested in the debates going on around Genesis, Evolution, Science and Faith, and so on, then this book is a must read. If you are not, the book is still worth reading, but you will probably want to skip Propositions 15-18, but it will still be worth your time just to rethink Genesis One and understand some of the deeper meaning that resides there.


End of the Weekend

The weekend is over. Yes, its Monday night, I know. For me, that is now the end of the weekend.

Anyway, I was at History Maker Conference Fri-Sun, as I mentioned in my last post. It's over now, but it was a great weekend. It is true that regardless of religion or the presence of God, having 3500+ people in an arena singing has a deep emotional impact all its own. Nonetheless, God was there. Christianity, and our experience this weekend, was not merely emotionalism, but it certainly wasn't less than that either.

My number one highlight remains seeing students, particularly BAC students, surrender to Christ and ask God to use them. Other than that, day 3 brought some more good talks by Bob Lenz (both in the main session and a break-out session), a 2nd terrible talk by that other guy, and more good times.

Today was a day to catch up on sleep, be with family, fail to run errands (mostly because everything is closed on a holiday Monday), and watch 4.5 hours of "Lost" Season Finale stuff. Don't even get me started on Lost though.

23.5.10

History Maker 2010 - Mid Conference Thoughts

ICON (plus counselors, almost entirely from 3D) are in the middle of going to the History Maker conference out in Langley this weekend. Now it's Sunday morning, the last day is before us, and I am home alone waiting until it is time for me to go pick people up. Seriously, I don't sleep well without Kristina... I miss you honey, and I love you :)

Anyway, the conference. I have to start by saying that one of my biggest struggles is to contain my cynicism. I know I need to. I know it comes from pride more than anything. I also know that the conference is not for me; its for the teens. So, that said, most of the conference has been quite good. Watching students praise God, surrender their lives, having fun, growing and bonding, all of it is amazing. The main speaker, Bob Lenz, has delivered humorous, engaging, and content rich talks which focus on God and heaven and Jesus and surrender. I am looking forward to hearing him again today. Other than the hip-hop rappers (and anyone who is at the conference knows I don't need to say any more about them... their second set, on the second day, was much shorter than the first. Upon seeing this, one of our counselors commented that they got instant feedback and weren't allowed to stay for much longer :) the music has been really good. Ben Cantelon leads a very good worship session. And Starfield... well, they are Starfield (and apparently that's all it takes :)

Sadly, last night's speaker (who was not Bob Lenz, so if you really care you can find out who he is by looking up info on History Maker) preached a false gospel. Yes, I realize exactly how strong a statement that I just made. It's the truth though. After the event, which ended early for the night (Praise the Lord! If I had to listen to one more 'bathroom' story... *puke*), I had to take our group aside and explain what was wrong and what we really believe. If all it had been was a bad speaker, or poorly delivered, I don't think I would have done anything. We all have bad days after all. What he ended up saying was that we have to repent and believe the good news (so far so good). What is this good news you have to believe in? That you can stop thinking bad thoughts about yourself, that everything will be alright, that you will get rid of that pimple, that you will get a girl/boyfriend, that you will get a job, and on and on with the good news of positive thinking and the 'American Dream.' He didn't add 'you will be rich and healthy' but he was this close. For me, I am left wondering if he just messed up somehow (really huge mess up, yeah) or if that is really what he believes about the gospel of Jesus Christ? If it is, I feel sorry for his church. The one saving grace about this talk was that it was so bad I don't think most people heard, or will remember, his terrible news.

So, that's the lowlight. Highlights? 16 of our crew crashing White Spot. Listening to Bob Lenz (Heaven is better than: 1. Money. 2. Food. 3. JetSkies/WaveRunners 4. Getting Drunk. 5. Sex and in heave there will be no more: Tears, abuse, suffering, sadness, death, disease, pain, etc. Good stuff, and everyone remembers that talk.) And, more than anything else so far, my number one highlight so far: seeing some of our students come forward to surrender their whole lives to Christ. You guys ROCK!!!



12.5.10

Contempervant Growtivation

Hilarious video clip making fun of hip church: Here (Link courtesy of Prof. John Stackhouse's weblog).

I can't wait to get my full dose of contempervant growtivation, I'm just so excited!



Recursion




Tony Ballantyne, Recursion, New York: Spectra Publishing, 2006, 432 pgs.

Gotta love awesome little cover descriptions on books right? Personally, regardless of the quality of the book, I always get a kick out of how these things are written out. Designed to tantalize, effected to entice, and constructed to captivate, these phrases leap from the front, and back, of book covers in all their cheese covered glory. Thankfully it is usually the editors, I presume, who write these things rather than the author.

So, what is this book? Well, you won't get a very good idea from reading the back, thats for sure. Not that I was entirely disappointed, but it was not what I expected. The problem is that it is hard to tell you what the book is really about without ruining the ending. So, instead, let me tell you how it is constructed. The book is made up of 3 stories, all in different time periods, and all radically different. There is the story of a woman living in a society where literally everything you do is watched by a kind of 'big brother' organization whose only goal is make sure you are living healthy and happy, but she is neither and plans an elaborate suicide attempt. When this fails, she is committed to a mental institution. The second story, in terms of time lines (they are actually presented from the furthest in the future, then the past, then the middle), follows a man who is a kind of cross between an entrepreneur and a high tech spy (completely outfitted with multiple personalities, each with their own gifts and abilities!) as he seeks to make some kind of deal with AI's. Finally, the far future, follows Herb who accidentally destroys an entire world with self-replicating machines and is then recruited by the 'Environmental Agency' as a kind of punishment.

Yes, oddly diverse story lines. They are all connected, however, by AI. I won't say anymore than that about the plot. For the story, I kind of felt like I was reading a high-tech Tom Clancy novel. This is not entirely bad. It was entertaining, and Ballantyne's ideas surrounding technology and science-fiction type stuff were even surprising at times. However, much of it, in terms of plot and character, was highly predictable and repetitive.

So, conclusion... certainly not on any top list of mine. If you have nothing better to read, and you enjoy science fiction, and your attention span is too short to follow one story line, and you don't mind picking up random details to pull the stories together, then this is the book for you... whoever you are. If thats not you, then be prepared for a light and enjoyable distraction, but only if you at least like SF already. Otherwise, avoid this book.

Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty


Leslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1995. 105 pgs.

In this gem of a book Newbigin takes the reader on a journey away from the idea of Cartesian certainty and towards a more proper scaffolding for thought and belief. He denies the possibility of ideal certainty with no doubt and concludes that seeking this ideal can only to skepticism (of an extreme sort) and Nihilism. The thesis of this book might best best be stated as follows: the proper confidence of a Christian is not the possession of indubitable knowledge but the confidence of one who has heard and answered God's call of 'Follow me.'

In order to demonstrate this point, Newbigin first examines three 'paths' whose titles, which are his first three chapter titles, seem somewhat counter-intuitive.

In the first chapter, 'Faith as the Way to Knowledge,' Newbigin argues that if knowledge, and God, are ultimately personal then we must view our learning and knowledge within the context of a story. This, he concludes, means we walk by faith and not by sight. To bolster this position, Newbigin points out that basing true knowledge on vision, or theory, forces a wedge between theory and practice (first we grasp the vision, then we seek the 'how' of embodiment or application. Incidentally how many of our sermons follow this same path?) whereas this distinction is completely absent from the bible. From a Christian point of view truth, God, speaks a word that can be obeyed or ignored and thus permits no distinction between conception and action. (and under this conception, as Newbigin explains more fully later, there is no knowledge of any kind apart from faith)

In the second chapter, 'Doubt as the Way to Certainty,' Newbigin tears apart Descartes ideal certainty as impossible. His conclusion here is that proper certainty can only rest on the fidelity of God, not on the competence of human ability (thus it is in doubting our own abilities and trusting God's that we can find a proper sort of certainty).

The third chapter, 'Certainty as the Way to Nihilism,' Newbigin makes the argument that the question for certainty beyond any possible doubt can only lead to Nihilism (as no such certainty exists) and that we are in fact operating on the basis of an illusory or delusional goal.

With the normal foundations upon which we explore certainty and doubt satisfactorily demolished, Newbigin takes the next 4 chapters to outline a Christian understanding of faith, doubt, and certainty.

His points are that we only have certainty through knowing God, by His grace, the same grace which allows room for our doubts, and that this certainty is of an entirely different sort than what we normally expect or desire. It is not unquestionable but relational. More specifically, we grow through knowing Christ and Scripture. In chapter 6 Newbigen makes the point that our freedom is severely limited in many ways but, he adds, in one way we are very free: we are free in choosing that which we will attend to. This choice, in turn, shapes our identity to the core. Thus, as Christians, we ought to choose to attend to God in scripture for here we find the Word of God incarnate which is the way to a true understanding of all that is, both seen and unseen. Finally, the end point, as I laid out in the first paragraph, is that proper confidence comes from faith and faith alone (and, in fact, all of our knowledge and all of our doubts are based on faith as well).

Overall another excellent book. However, it is a highly philosophical work and I know that this alone will bar many readers from its pages. So, I recommend it, but know what you are getting into. If you don't recognize words like Cartesian, or Descartes, you may need to have dictionaries and the internet ready. Once that would have described me though, so don't let it stop you if this sounds like something you are interested in reading.

9.5.10

the GOD i Don't Understand



Christopher J.H. Wright, The God I Don't Understand (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2008) 221pgs.

Christopher Wright has, apparently, been around and writing for a long time. I had no idea. I wish I had. He is an Old Testament (OT) scholar who has written quite a few books that look like they could be worth reading. In the meantime, I had this book recommended to me by a friend who knew I was thinking through, and struggling with, the issue of the Canaanite genocide texts in the OT. So, I picked it, and I am very glad I did.

In this book Wright writes about different things about God, or God's actions/plan, that he does not understand. They are, he lays out in his introduction, mysteries. But they are mysteries of different sorts. Thus, he begins with the the problem of evil, and of genocide commands in the OT. Both issues which make him angry and grieved and morally disturbed and puzzled. His third section, however, focuses on the Cross. And his fourth, and final, section is "What about the End of the World?" These are issues which fill him with gratitude and hope, even though they are difficult to understand.

Beyond that outline, I have nothing but praise for this book. It is an honest approach to difficult questions. Rather than seek a complete answer to all the questions he grapples with, Wright is satisfied to leave them as a mystery. Instead of offering answers he seeks to make the reader think. He wants to position the reader in such a way that their thinking on these issues is clear so that they can appreciate the mystery. To do this, he first seeks to remove common misunderstandings surrounding the issue, and then offers guidelines and hints which point us beyond the problem to hope, even if not to full understanding. In this, Wright is insightful and wise.

His conclusion on the mystery of evil serves, I believe, as the best example of this: "God with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself, knows that we finite human beings cannot, indeed must not, 'make sense' of evil. For the final truth is that evil does not makes sense. 'Sense' is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God's good creation and God's image in us. So evil can have no sense, since sense itself is a good thing."

Another book I highly recommend, most especially if you are interested in apologetics or have similar questions as Wright. Even if you do not fit those descriptions, however, this book is worth your time just in that it will help clarify your thinking on important issues of the Christian faith.

Reviewing Books #2

Right, so more explanations. Right now I am at least 7 books behind in reviewing books (I think I am missing one or two, but not sure). I will get to them, but I just wanted to share a minor change with you.

I now have 3 categories I will place books into in terms of organization. I don't know if you pay attention to such things, but at the bottom of each of my posts are labels. These labels are intended to help you navigate my blog if you wish to find posts with things in common. So far all of my book reviews have had 3 labels: Book Review (duh), Fiction or Non-Fiction, and then the specific kind of writing (fantasy, science fiction, theology, etc.). I have now added a fourth:

Not Recommended: Pretty self-explanatory.

Conditionally Recommended: This means that it was a decent, or good, book but that something about the book will make some people unable to enjoy it, unable to read through it, or simply not care. I am pretty sure the majority of books I review will fall into this category. (so far, including this post, of 19 book review pages: 2 are like this one, explanatory; 9 are Conditionally recommended, 6 are recommended, and 2 are not recommended).

Recommended: This means that it was a very good book and, not only that, it is a book I think most people can benefit from reading. Now, even here, there are a few implicit assumptions. 1. you like reading, or can enjoy it (even if you don't generally). 2. You like thinking (so, I include some books in this category that are not all easy). 3. You are either Christian or interested in religion (this is not always an assumption, but I have included books like "After You Believe" in this category while being fully aware that a non-Christian who cares nothing about religion will not enjoy this book).

Right, so those are some words of explanation. Back to reviews :)

The Last Unicorn


Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn. (New York: Penguin, 1968) 304 pages.

My second Peter Beagle book and, I have to say, this novel was as much of a treat to read as were his short stories.

The Last Unicorn is a faerie tale. Not only that, but it is a faerie tale of exactly the right sort. It is the kind of tale where nothing is as it seems and everything is as it should. A tale which starts out in such a simple, non-presumptuous, way but which ends by giving so much more than you anticipated. A tale in which each character is human, frail and weak and a mix of good and evil, but where each one surprises you and makes you feel for him or her. It is, in short, a very good story.

The tale begins with a unicorn in a wood. This is Beagle's description: "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea."

The unicorn overhears two hunters talking about how there are no more unicorns in the world, and that if this wood, which seems so enchanted, still has one, then it is the last. The unicorn, overhearing this, awakened to consciousness of both others and its situation in that moment, sets off on a journey to find out what has happened to all of her kind. Thus, the journey begins. Along the way she is captured by won of the last witches left in the world, imprisoned with a harpy and many sad creatures who are used as the base for grand illusions, and they are all put on display in a travelling circus. There the unicorn meets Schmendrick the Magician and they escape.

This, of course, is only the beginning of a wondrous tale which winds its way through cursed towns, lost children, good princes, evil kings, and, of course, a monster at the heart of it all.

As with the last Beagle review, I will conclude with this: I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading. You don't have to be a fan of fantasy to enjoy this; you just have to enjoy a good story.

Memories

Memories, interesting things.

This time a year ago I had just finished my last term as a full time student. Hannah was barely 1 month old, and Nick, my brother-in-law, had very recently passed away. We were living with Teresa and Kevin (Kristina's sister and her husband), and I was spending a lot of time praying and thinking about a job offer from Burnaby Alliance Church.

I couldn't tell you what courses I was in, during the summer, or my last term. At least, I couldn't tell you without checking.

Now, this year, I just graduated from Regent. I have been a fully time pastor for just over 9 months, Hannah is 13 months old, and we are living in our own place. The job at Burnaby Alliance has turned out great (God, once again, showing His goodness), and we have a baby boy on the way.

As I look back I realize that time always passes so quickly. This is not news, but somehow there are moments, every couple of months, or every year, in which I am surprised by how much has changed. Moments when my memories take on the whimsical purple haze of nostalgia and I can't help but reflect. Which, of course, is the problem. I don't reflect enough.

P.S. That post on Canaanite genocide is coming, but maybe not for a while.

2.5.10

Show Them NO MERCY!


C.S.Cowles, Eugene H. Merril, Daniel L. Gard, Tremper Longman III. Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide, ed: Stanley N. Gundry. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003. 210 pages.

Right, I don't know what attempt this is, but I have decided the easiest way to write this review is to simplify.



The Issue(s): Many people read the Old Testament (OT) and get uncomfortable. They see a God of violence, and compare this God to their own image of Jesus and can't make them line up. Perhaps no part of the OT stands out in this regard as much as the account of the Canaanite genocide (and surrounding commands/events. One may look at Deut. 20, Josh. 7, and other passages such as Deut. 7:1-5; Josh. 11:11-21; etc.).

Deut. 7:1-2
When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you--and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

The tension between this passage and such passages as Matthew 5:43-48 is fairly obvious. How could the God who commands us to love our enemies also have commanded His people to commit genocide, destroying everything that breathes, including women and children? (Gotta love the emotional poignancy of phrasing the question with such words as 'genocide' and highlighting the deaths of those we normally call 'innocents')



The Book: This book is a '4 views' book, and thus provides 4 views on how to answer that question and deal with that tension. The formatting is exactly the same as every other 'views' book: Each author presents his view and is followed by a short response from all of the other authors. Therefore, you have 4 views presented and 3 sets of critiques/comments on each of those views.



The Positions:
1. Radical Discontinuity, by C.S. Cowles
- Cowles argues that the pictures of God presented in, and by, the Israelites in the OT and the picture of God presented in the New Testament (NT) in the person of Jesus are discontinuous. He then argues that what we find in the OT, and have so much trouble with, is a cultural remnant; not the actual revelation of God but the mistakes of the Israelites. His position is well argued but, in my opinion, deeply and ultimately flawed. I will come to more thorough critiques later. (next post maybe)

2. Moderate Discontinuity, by Eugene H. Merrill
- Merrill's position is most easily summed up in this way: God is just and righteous and also merciful and loving. We don't know exactly how that lines up with genocidal commands, but it must. In the meantime, we accept the mystery and realize that these commands for genocide were unique to their time and place (and when better understood within their own context they are, according to Merrill, justifiable) and that Christians today can firmly stand against genocide and violence. Thus the discontinuity comes in that God did this once, but no more. This is a fine as it goes, but hardly an answer to the question of how we can accept these things about God. The fact that he leaves his assertion about the mystery of God until the very end, and does not elaborate at all...

3. Eschatological Continuity, by Daniel L. Gard
- For Gard what is visible, and disturbing, in OT commands are merely a foretaste of God's full righteous anger and wrath against sin. This does not change in the NT, it is merely delayed. So, there is no discontinuity. Rather, God has decided that He will delay his full judgment until the end of time. At that time, as we can see in Revelation, God will fully eradicate evil. The saints will praise God for his mercy and the rest will be destroyed. It is only our inability to see what it means for God to be completely just and stand against sin that makes us stumble at the account of the Canaanite genocide. We ought not to ask why God killed those people, but why he didn't, and doesn't, kill us all (a thorough, and completely honest, Calvinistic/Reformed answer, if ever there was one. That said, I have strong issues with hardcore Reformed/Calvinist theology)

4. Spiritual Continuity, By Tremper Longman III
- Longman examines the nature of Herem warfare in the OT, asking what is going on and how it compares with what we see in Jesus. His conclusion is that we see phases in God's interactions with his people. At the beginning, God fights flesh and blood battles through Israel to defeat her enemies. Shortly thereafter, God turns his wrath on Israel as they have been unfaithful. Phase 3 is the expectation that God will come in the future as a warrior and defeat all evil and right all wrongs, etc. This is exhibited in the prophets, but fully revealed in Jesus Christ and divided into two more phases. In phase 4, Jesus fights spiritual evil and defeats it on the cross. Phase 5, then, is the final battle and complete victory at the end of time. Thus, there is both discontinuity and continuity, but ultimately we serve the same God at each phase herem warfare derives from the original curse and from sin, both of which Christ has and will defeat. Another fine positions, but if this is so why the genocide first and Christ later? More unanswered questions...



My Conclusions: So, what did I think of this book? Well, my specific interactions with the questions of genocide, God, scripture, etc. will come in the next post but, in the meantime, I will say this: I did not find this book helpful. Other than Cowles each of the authors assume that the biggest part of the question is already answered (the question of how God could command this genocide and still be the God revealed in Christ) and instead focus entirely on the second question (are the OT and NT continuous? Do they present us with the same God?). Furthermore, the response sections tended to be filled with each author asserting their own position rather than engaging the position just presented. Perhaps this was partly due to space constraints, but if you are going to write a critique/response to an argument, you ought to engage it at least mildly (note: While every response was not this bad, many were).

The one helpful deed that this book accomplished was to give me a much more thorough understanding of the nature of herem warfare (Longman wasn't the only one to deal with this) and several other issues in the texts themselves. This is certainly a good start in any debate involved scripture, but it goes nowhere in this particular book.



My Recommendation: If the question this book asks is of interest to you then you definitely ought to research and read and think about it. Just don't come to this book for help.



1.5.10

A Few of My Favorite Things

I should be either practicing my sermon or sleeping. Naturally, I am doing neither. And, if I am going to blog, I ought to be working through the review I mentioned in my last post... so, naturally, I am not doing that either.

Instead, I want to share two of my favorite custom desserts (though not all of my own customization). Now, if you know me at all, you know that I have a massive sweet tooth. I dread the day (which fast approaches) when my metabolism fails me and I inevitably start to either gain weight or watch what I eat. Until then, I will enjoy the freedom to eat what I wish as a gift from God. So, on to the recipes:


Bread and Cream and Sugar
Yes, the title says it all. (Credit where credit is due: I learned this particular delight from my Father)
1. Take one slice of bread (brown or white or rye or whatever is fine, but I do not recommend any of the more 'crunchy' varieties of bread that include actual pieces of grain or nut) and cover it with a layer of brown sugar (thickness can be varied as desired).
2. Now take whipping cream and slowly pour it over the entire piece of bread until you have covered all the sugar and have a little swimming pool surrounding your slice.
3. Eat and enjoy (mmm, so good).



Cookie Soup
You know how its so delicious to dip cookies in milk? Why not just dump em right in?
1. Take as many of your favorite kind of cookie as you want (must be a cookie that goes will in/with milk) and crumble them into a bowl (the size of your cookie pieces can vary according to taste; I prefer a mixture, some big and some small).
2. Now fill the bowl full of milk exactly like you would a bowl of cereal.
3. Add toppings of your desire (I like chocolate or caramel syrup).
4. Eat and enjoy (you know its going to be good if the milk is completely brown!)






Catching Up

Well, its been a while since I posted. I'm quite a bit behind on reviewing books now, as lack of time to write does not mean I am not reading. One has to keep one's priorities straight after all :)

Let's see; I went on a youth pastors retreat organized by the Alliance district. That was a lot of fun, but I won't bore you with the details. I would only pass on this: Know how you recharge, and keep first things first. For me, the retreat hit all of my major 'recharge buttons' (time alone, beautiful creation, competitive games, and interesting learning), so good times.

I'm skipping lots of stuff, but then my parents came to visit for my graduation (which was this last Monday, and felt great). That same night there was an attempted break-in at our house. I'll tell that story in more detail (based on the assumption that while you might not be interested in a youth pastors retreat, most people want to hear crime stories):

Basically I wasn't asleep yet (thank God) and heard some banging from downstairs. When I looked out our window, which is directly above our kitchen, I saw a man leaving our backyard. My thoughts were: a. drunk and at the wrong house. b. vandal. c. robber. But, with nothing more than two bangs and a guy leaving our backyard I wasn't sure what to do. I went downstairs and there I found that he was across the street watching our house, and that the kitchen window screen had been removed and placed on the ground. That was enough for me; I called the police. They were very nearby and apprehended the man within minutes, and I got to stay up half the night (got home after 3am) giving a statement and doing a photo line up and such. I think we were pretty lucky. Apparently this guy has a history of robbing houses, and if I hand't been awake at the time I don't think I would have figured out what was going on.

And that was just the start of a very busy week. Next week I am heading to the Regent Pastor's Conference, and I am very excited about that, but attending at this time means I had one week to do 2 weeks worth of work, including preaching tomorrow. I think I've got everything under control, but if, while I am preaching tomorrow, I get my sermon confused with my Sunday School lesson, or an upcoming bible study, or our apologetics night for teens..... well, I apologize in advance :)

The last thing to say is that I haven't fallen behind on book reviews only because I have been busy. That's part of whats going on, but not the whole story. The rest of it is that I have been trying to review, and having a great deal of difficulty reviewing, Show Them No Mercy. The problem is this: The question the book is based on interests me a great deal but the book itself, and the approaches/answers given by each of the four authors, troubled me. So, to give you a preview, I didn't like the book and will not be recommending it to anyone. Still, I will probably have a couple posts on the subject, hopefully soon.