Pictures

If you would like to see pictures of the Elorah Hope Long experience click here.

Here’s a preview:

Elorah After Bath

Proud Daddyo:

P1000423

Alethea and Ethan were both excited:

P1000438

Tekoa was not impressed:

P1000447

Elorah Hope Long:

P1000459

Elorah is Here!

It’s too bad this is our last kid, because I am getting really good at this stuff! And Elisa didn’t do a bad job either!! Okay, she did a great job!

Elisa started pushing at 5:20 and Elorah greeted the world at exactly 5:45. She weighs 7 pounds, 3 oz and has a full head of jet black hair! Since all of the other three kids had either blond or light brown hair this was a surprise.

Nana was glad to be here since she’s been in Florida for the other three, and with the exception of Tekoa, who was born in October, Alethea, Ethan and Elorah were all born while it was snowing! Big flakes today, very beautiful and we were blessed with a room that has a great view.

Over all, a huge blessing and Praise the Father for His wondrous watchcare!

Oh, and she is 20 & 1/8th inches.

Having A Baby

Well, I’m sitting at the hospital waiting for Elisa to progress beyond 5 cm. Which means we are halfway there. The epidural with our first 3 kids was no problem, but this time her spinal cord was bumped, and Elisa’s reaction was not pleasant for her.

But, we’re beyond that now, and beside the head and neck ache, it is not so bad. If I had to guess I would think that Elorah will be born sometime between 5:00 and 6:00. We’ll see if having 3 kids previous to this means I can guess well or not…

Elisa was napping and now is being interviewed by the new nurse, so I’m sneaking in some email (and this post).

Talk to ya’ll later.

Irresistible Revolution

Well the title is accurate; I’ve resisted reading this book for several months, just because it is so popular with a lot of people I know.  Sigh.  Yes, I know; I’m incorrigible.  But anyway, last night it proved irresistible, and I’m now half way through (only because my wife intervened and made me stop reading and go to bed…probably because every other page I was saying, “Listen to this!”, so as long as I was up reading, she wasn’t going to get any sleep either).

So what am I here to say?  Stop everything you’re doing and go get yourself a copy of Irresistible Revolution by Shane Clairborne.  Don’t order it from Amazon.com unless you’re willing to pay for overnight shipping.  Nope, go get in the car, drive to whatever your favorite local bookstore is, and pick yourself up a copy today.  Yes. Go. Now. The blog will be here waiting when you finish the book.

Later, I’ll come back and edit this post to be a full-fledged book review.

The Kingdom Now

I believe that when Yeshua said “the Kingdom is at hand,” He meant at least two things.

  1. It is coming quickly. This refers to the coming Kingdom which will not be established until Messiah’s return to rule and reign over the Earth. Of course, “quickly” is a relative term since quickly to Yeshua hasn’t happened in over 2000 years. But I suppose if one has eternally existed (or at least since before the creation of the world) that 2000 years can accurately be considered “quickly.”
  2. It is here now. By the Yeshua meant the first fruits realization of the future kingdom that would be evidenced in the lives of those here and now (and then) who acknowledged Yeshua as Lord and King.

This has been sort of a recurring theme for me because I view understanding this reality as being so important for impacting the way we live out what we supposedly believe. Also because I believe this concept of a first fruits of eternity in the lives of believers here and now is an integral part of the concept of tikkun olam.

In their book, The Insider, Jim Peterson and Mike Shamy expand on what I’m trying to describe:

“But we know the kingdom is among us whenever we see people, motivated by Christ’s rule in their hearts, showing mercy instead of judgment, speaking the truth instead of spinning it, giving grace instead of seeking revenge, serving people instead of using them.”

“When we see things such as these happening, we know that God’s rule is established. For now, it is in people’s hearts and we see only its signs. These “sightings” are previews of the day when “every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Many will bow in defeat, others in celebration!”

The Nitty Gritty

Why do you believe what you believe? Is it because of proofs and theorems, white papers and historical data?

Ultimately, my answer to that question is “no.” Of course, when I go beyond the bedrock reason for my personal belief system it is nice to know that the historical and archeological data support Christianity, but at the core of what I believe is an inability to account for the empirical data of my life in any other way than a Supreme Being who personally relates to His creation.

This idea has been bouncing around my mind for a week or two in an unformed manner, but then I read a quote by Rudolf Bultmann that caused my thoughts to take solid shape.

If a man must say that he cannot find God in the reality of his own present life, and if he would compensate for this by the thought that God is nevertheless the final cause of all that happens, then his belief in God will be a theoretical speculation or a dogma; and however great the force with which he clings to this belief, it will not be true faith, for faith can be only recognition of the activity of God in his own life.*

This is the reality of my existence. Whatever others may write, say, or do, the evidence of my life is incontrovertible; there is a God and I know Him.

* R. Bultmann, Jesus and the Word. ET Fontana 1958, p 113

Personal Devotions

I will never forget sitting on my bunk in Dorm 4 at a Christian University, getting ready to open up my Quiet Time Diary. I was 21 years old and desperately in need of a connection with and a word from God. Before cracking it open to see where I would be reading that day, I pleaded,

“Dear God, I desperately need to hear from You. I need communication; I need to know what is true, what is right, what to do, what You mean. Please speak to me from Your word.”

The passage that day was somewhere in the Gospel of John, and I heard nothing from above. I recall the despair with which I confronted Him after reading the text over and over again.

“God, it’s just a story; it’s history, but I don’t see any deeper meaning. I don’t hear or see any answers to my questions…. I need to hear from You; what am I to do?! What am I to understand?!”

I didn’t receive an answer for 7 years. Those were 7 arid years of wandering in a spiritual wilderness.

It was marriage that revealed the proper role of personal devotions. The walk of a believer is one of relationship with our Creator. Just like any earthly relationship, the degree to which we feel the reality of that relationship is determined by how much we put into it.

In other words, I have experienced moments of pure relational ecstasy with my wife over the years. However, they were hardly daily events, and they would never have happened if it wasn’t for the many, daily moments of relational “drudgery”, which I invested into our relational bank account.

The amazing thing is those daily talks about seeming nothingness, the daily laying down my desires to honor her, are transformed by the relational highpoints into something much different than “drudgery.” What is the feeling of love after all, other than the sum of many highpoints? Highpoints that are the result of a daily, momentary decision to put the desires of your loved one above your own. And the amazing result is when you discover that putting your loved one above yourself has become your own desire!

When my brother and I were growing up he was a poster boy for proper fiscal behavior. It didn’t matter whether he received $2 or $20, he was going to deposit some of it in his savings account. I, on the other hand, felt it was hardly justified to deposit anything less than $20 or $50, after all it made no discernible difference in my account statement.

Guess who graduated with quite the nice bank account? Hint: it wasn’t me. Daily devotions sometimes prove to be $50 or $100 deposits, and I treasure those moments, but more often they are $ .50 or $1 deposits that eventually add up to a deep, abiding relationship with my God. And the amazing thing is that years later I now delight in $ .25 deposits!

Sometimes I use what I’m studying deeply as personal devotions. Sometimes my study is dry and academic and I simply randomly read the Scriptures for devotional purposes; at other times I follow some sort of plan, like the weekly Torah portion or 2 chapters of the Old Testament and 1 chapter of the New Testament a day. It doesn’t really matter any more; the point is that I find out more about God in His Word to me. Sometimes I find gold nuggets and sometimes I leave puzzled. Either way, the information I’ve gained, re-iterated, or made available for meditative pondering is precious to me…all because I’ve chosen to love God.

Currently I’m studying the weekly Torah portion (among other things) and reading the weekly Gospel portions for devotions. However, I am hesitant to make a hard distinction between devotions and study, because what is the point of Scripture study after all, if it doesn’t relate to our daily walk.

There was a day when I forced myself to stay sitting at the supper table with my wife because it was the right thing to do. Today I look forward to those times. Those moments rarely merit recording in my diary, but I wouldn’t trade them for all the harems in history!

Labels

Much to the consternation of some of my friends (and the glee of others) I persistently describe myself as a “Calviminian”, and since I don’t want this post to be about those two venerable Christian positions, I’ll leave it to your imagination to decide what I mean by that.

However, and this brings to my point, which is more about what we mean by words we use, as opposed to what others understand when they hear the same labels. I read an anecdote on Prof. John Stackhouse’s blog today that struck me as sort of funny and sort of sad, but definitely as an accurate commentary on the status of language and labels today.

The story went like this:

A Presbyterian scholar had finished a public lecture and a questioner then spoke up: “Are you a Calvinist, then?”

The scholar was about to reply affirmatively, but then wisely asked instead, “Well, what do you mean by ‘Calvinist’?”

“I mean someone who worships a God who enjoys damning babies to hell.”

“O-o-o-kay,” he responded. “Then I’m not a Calvinist. But neither is John Calvin.”

I’d recommend the entire post, as it is a good reflection.

http://stackblog.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/geez-am-i-a-liberal-evangelical/

One Unit Torah Clothing

A good friend of mine has been gifted by God with a considerable talent in the realm of the artistic.  He has opened up a cafepress.com store to put some of his designs on t-shirts and sweatshirts.

I’m wearing one of his designs as I write this, and it has become one of my favorite shirts.  I encourage you to check it out, and start wearing some of your convictions in a visible manner.

A link to his site will remain at the top of my blog page for future reference.  Go visit www.cafepress.com/oneunit and encourage my buddy, Joel, by expressing your support for whichever design strikes your fancy.

As he begins to get feedback in the way of purchases, he plans to take that guidance and expand his selections and eventually open up a full-blown Torah-believer oriented design internet-store.  Keep your eyes open for news of that move on this blog, and in the meantime exert your own influence over his direction.

The Way People Talk

I never cease to be amazed at how differently people express themselves. I’m sitting in a Steak & Shake and three highschool or college girls (I can’t tell anymore, which is a sign that I’m getting old) were just seated in the booth opposite me.

One of the girls asked the others,

“Should I get a milkshake? They’re just so fattening.”

After lots of intervening giggling and negotiations,

“I’ll eat some of your fries if you get fries. What burger are you getting? Hee, hee, hee!

Oh, My-lanta-a-a!”

She proceeded to order a double chocolate fudge milkshake!

Granted, highschool girls are almost another race entirely, but still, it has never in my life occurred to me to ask the people I was dining with what I should order. (Upon further eavesdropping I’m guessing they’re highschoolers, but what do I know.) Nor have I ever hesitated to order a milkshake because it was fattening. …Perhaps I should start…

The reason this struck me is that I’ve been contemplating the complexity of communication today. In several different scenarios I’ve been struck by the discord that was wrought by a failure on the part of the participants to lend one another the benefit of the doubt, let alone to try on the other’s shoes for a moment before replying.

When boiled down to its essence one realizes that this is really an issue of pride. Someone refuses to consider the reality that they may be mistaken, and another party refuses to be always ready to learn something new. Subsequently, we want to force the other party to “cooperate”, rather than humbly consider that the view we brought to this conversation may be in need of revision. Whether minor or significant, one won’t know until further reflection, and this can’t happen unless we’ve engaged in humble dialogue.

Here’s another idea. To some degree you just talk the way you talk; you are who you are. A few weeks ago my freshly 6- year-old daughter asked me what DNA was, and I found myself about to reply with an answer that most certainly would not have shed any light on the topic for her. However, I caught myself, tried to put myself in 6-year-old shoes and tried again. So being myself, I would have answered with another set of words she needed to have explained. Thinking of her, I was able to communicate in a way that had meaning for her, rather than meaning to me.

Perhaps it’s a silly example, and in some ways I’m making light of what in reality is a pretty significant issue. But, hopefully I’ve communicated in a way that may mean something to you.  And, if not, well it’s the exercise that is the first step.