Main Entry: vine
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Old French vigne, from Latin vinea vine, vineyard, from feminine of vineus of wine, from vinum wine -- more at WINE
1 : GRAPE 2
2 a : a plant whose stem requires support and which climbs by tendrils or twining or creeps along the ground; also : the stem of such a plant b : any of various sprawling herbaceous plants (as a tomato or potato) that lack specialized adaptations for climbing
from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
john's classic statement on the concept is in John 15:1-5
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
what does that look like?
scripture seems to indicate it involves:
.... choosing an extreme belief in Jesus.
see John 6:47 with 6:54a. i see "eating jesus' flesh and drinking his blood" in 6:54 as indicating the radical nature of this belief. see also 1 John 2:23,24, 1 John 4:15, and 2 John 9. Thankfully, this faith is not just dependent on our own strength. We know that God is the one who authors and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12:2)
...choosing to bask in the love that God has for us.
see John 15:9 and 1 John 4:16
Also consider the enormity of what Paul writes in his letter to the church @ Ephesus
[Paul prays that the Ephesians] "may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (3:18,19)
Paul stretches to the limits of language in his effort to capture with words the transpropositional love of God. And don't miss that he connects our being filled with God directly with our consciousness of God loving us. And just as we saw that we cannot believe in God unless God authors our faith, so also here we see that God is the one who gives us the ability to even mentally grasp his love because Paul prays for it
...choosing to love others
see John 15:10-12, 1 John 2:3-7, and 1 John 4:12,13. And just as God authors our faith, just as God gives us the ability to begin to wrap our brains around how much he loves us, so also God enables us to love others, for love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
there are, of course, myriad implications from all this regarding the ways that we cultivate abiding in Jesus. but there's one big implication: it's not just by trying harder. our choice is not one just of extra effort or new activity. our choice is one of extreme dependence - to throw ourselves upon Him because He's the One who gives us faith, He's the One who helps us accept the mind-boggling extent of his love for us, and He's the One who works in us to love others.
He saves us from the smallness of a life sucked in upon itself.
This is adapted from an earlier article that was part of the In the Foxhole series.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Main Entry: vine
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Background, reflection, and fall out from Harold Camping's prediction that Saturday 21 May 2011 would bring massive earthquakes, the rapture, and the beginning of Earth's end:
- "How Harold Camping Marketed the Rapture"
- RC Sproul Outlines the Major Christian Biblical Theories about the End of the World
- Hour of the Apocalypse passes quietly, believers confused and philosophical
- "Believers reactions mixed to unfulfilled doomsday"
- Tom Evans, Family Radio board member and spokesman, indicates that the board of Family Radio will need to have a "serious meeting" with Camping.
- Harold Camping's daughter reports her dad's self-confessed "bewilderment." In this same article, Evans also advises that he's moving his family back to California next week.
- Ed Stetzer, a contributing editor for Christianity Today, provides reflection on the proper attitude of Christians as they wait for Christ's return.
- Followers of Camping deal with the disappointment.
- Christian Leader calls on Camping to Repent
- CNN interviews Family Radio Spokesperson
Posted by Stephen at 7/07/2011 11:24:00 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I'll be the enjoying the best of both worlds when on the road. The ESV Study Bible is too large to carry along while traveling. So I'll be carrying along my new Thinline NIV and accessing the ESV Study Bible Online!
Posted by Stephen at 6/12/2011 06:02:00 PM
Saturday, June 11, 2011
So I've decided to embark on a new Bible Reading Project and plan to do most of my reading in the new NIV that's just been published. I don't think I've ever read all of the OT Prophets in one fell swoop, so I'm planning to read them in chronological order (I haven't decided whose chronological scheme I'm going to use yet). But to provide background, I'm going to read all the relevant OT history first. I began reading a few days ago with 1 Kings 12, just after Solomon dies and the when the Kingdom is divided into Israel and Judah. I'll either begin reading the first Prophets as I get to the first one chronlogically, or I might read all the history first and then begin with the Prophets - haven't decided yet. To help with background, I'm going to simultaneously work through FF Bruce's Israel & the Nations, which was revised by the London School of Theology's David F Payne in 1997. Bruce's work won't reflect more recent scholarship, but he's articulate, succinct, reliable, and will provide a very solid overview of the other nations with which Israel interacted through her pre-Messianic history.
Posted by Stephen at 6/11/2011 03:25:00 PM
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
This afternoon I was flying from Boston to Baltimore after a couple of days with one of my clients and I was reading Psalm 37 in my little English Standard Version (ESV) NT with Psalms and Proverbs. While reading I came across
"Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness."
I also thought, "Who says 'befriend' anymore, anyway?"
On my flight I was reading the ESV because I really like the translation and have read it for a long time. I'm old enough that I grew up on the King James Version (KJV) and the ESV stands in that translation tradition, being based on the Revised Standard Version which, itself, was based on the KJV. So when I read the ESV, it feels, well, KJVesque. Plus, my favorite study bible, hands down, is the ESV Study Bible (see my thoughts on that Bible here in a piece I did a few years ago for Leadership Network).
Posted by Stephen at 6/08/2011 06:59:00 PM
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, April 30, 2010
I've mentioned this passage to two people in a week:
Malcolm Muggeridge led an interesting life. He was the British journalist who popularized Mother Teresa in his Something Beautiful for God. He was a journalist in England for the Manchester Guardian. He was with the British intelligence unit serving as an operative during WWII with MI5. He went on to become an editor of the famous British satirical journal Punch. I believe he became a Catholic while in his 70’s.
In this passage, Muggeridge notes how, counterintuitively, an appreciation and perspective on our eternal destiny increases the value we place on our temporal surroundings.
How can I ever explain to those who insist that we must believe in the world to love it that it is because I disbelieve in the world that I love every breath I take, look forward with ever-greater delight to the coming of each spring, rejoice ever more in the companionship of my fellow-humans, to no single one of whom – searching my heart – do I wish ill, and from no single one of whom do I wish to separate myself, in word or thought or deed, or in the prospect of some other existence beyond the ticking of the clocks, the vista of the hills, the bounds and dimensions of our earthly hopes and desires? To accept this world as a destination rather than a staging-post, and the experience of living in it as expressing life’s full significance, would seem to me to reduce life to something too banal and trivial to be taken seriously or held in esteem.
In other words, the Christian proposition that he that loves his life in this world shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall see it projected and glorified into eternity, is for living, not for dying. After all, it was a St Francis who truly loved the world he so gaily abjured, as his enchanting prayers and canticles convey; not a Pere Goriot who so cherished its commodities. It is misers and Don Juans who moan; spendthrifts and saints are always laughing.
All I can claim to have learnt from the years I have spent in this world is that the only happiness is love, which is attained by giving, not receiving; and that the world itself only becomes the dear and habitable dwelling place it is when we who inhabit it know we are migrants, due when the time comes to fly away to other more commodious skies. "
from Chronicles of Wasted Time
Posted by Stephen at 4/30/2010 02:54:00 PM
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
This is a post I've considered posting many times.
Today Shane Claiborne wrote on Sojourners' website:
"So all that to say, I find the “emerging church” language, at least the Emergent™ brand, utterly unhelpful. So I will not spend much energy, beyond this note, to try and defend, or for that matter destroy, what seems to me little more than a brand name for a product no one can identify. There are many great things that have come out of the “emerging church” discussions and communities. "
I found a lot of resonances with Shane's post and I like the positive tone with which he ended that comment. It's not my purpose here to depreciate the entire emerging church conversation past and/or present.
For myself, I used to be excited by the emerging church. I was in one for 12 years; I pastored in one with one of the founders of the emerging church and had a wonderful experience while employed there. I've written a lot of articles and posted a lot of posts on the emerging church.
I'm just not sure what the term means anymore, having spilled a good bit of ink myself over its exact definition.
A number of months ago, I quietly took "emerging church" off of my blog's subtitle. I'm pretty sure no one noticed.
Everything I've written I still believe. I still love Jesus; I still try to follow Him. I still love Christ's church. I still intend to labor in Kingdom. My life, in fact, only has significance to the degree it's Christocentric.
It just seems that the term "emerging church" doesn't mean what it used to mean. Or maybe it would be more honest for me to say that the term doesn't mean what I used to hope that it could mean.
When Next Wave turned 10 in January of 2009, the publisher asked me to pen a cover story for that issue. I wrote something of a retrospective on the emerging church. I'll finish this post with the same conclusion I wrote then:
"And so the tenth anniversary of Next-Wave arrives at a critical moment for the emerging church conversation. Theological differences indeed threaten the short-term cohesion and long-term viability of the emerging church and yet in the midst of those differences, many claim some genuine ecclesiological and theological advances that may yet prove to have long term significance.
Fortunately, followers of Jesus Christ are not ultimately reliant on their own brilliance, devices, and stratagems to co-labor with God in His Kingdom. Submitted hearts can call on God for His wisdom and guidance and trust that the Spirit will lead. Human institutions, movements, and conversations come and go. But surely sometimes God chooses the canvas of human efforts to paint beautiful portraits.
Ultimately, of course, the criterion by which the long-term success of the emerging church conversation will be judged will be the degree to which it has precipitated a greater love of God and others."
And with that, I wave goodbye to the emerging church. I have enjoyed the ride. I have been blessed by the ride. I have sometimes been frustrated on the ride. I have many friends still on the ride and I'll celebrate their kingdom victories and continue to call them friends.
But for me the ride's over. Now, I'm just a Jesus-follower.
Posted by Stephen at 4/13/2010 11:00:00 PM
Monday, March 01, 2010
"Alas, A New Kind of Christianity shows us that Brian, though he is now thinking more systemically, has fallen for an old school of thought. I read this book carefully, and I found nothing new. It may be new for Brian, but it's a rehash of ideas that grew into fruition with Adolf von Harnack and now find iterations in folks like Harvey Cox and Marcus Borg. For me, Brian's new kind of Christianity is quite old. And the problem is that it's not old enough."
Posted by Stephen at 3/01/2010 02:30:00 AM
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I had a sobering conversation this AM with one of the members of the work team I led to Louisiana after Katrina. He's just back from serving in Haiti. His team delivered 18 babies though only 14 survived. He said the poorest person in the US is rich even beyond the dreams of the folks with whom his team worked. I was struck by how insignificant many of the concerns we have actually are. We're all fabulously wealthy and we don't even know it. And yet with that wealth, we are responsible. I am responsible. What will I do?
Posted by Stephen at 2/28/2010 12:43:00 PM
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"In my opinion, 2009 marks the year when the emerging church suddenly and decisively ceased to be a radical and controversial movement in global Christianity."
Andrew posts some reflections on the international history of the emerging church conversation.
Posted by Stephen at 12/29/2009 11:24:00 AM
Monday, December 28, 2009
"Why keep up a blog for friends and family? FaceBook is much simpler. Twitter is even faster. Blogs are content-heavy. The other social media sites keep it simple and light. With the turn to other social media, the number of active blogs is on the decline."
Trevin Wax offers some great thoughts on the current state of the blogosphere.
I have noticed this myself.
From 2001 until 2008 I blogged very frequently, often daily. But I've noticed that since I've started using Facebook, my blog posting has declined significantly.
This shifting in the social networking universe makes some sense. While blogging is very easy, starting and maintaining a Facebook presence is even easier. This means that over 350 million people are today on Facebook (more people than reside in the United States and every other country except for India and China) and, as a result, many bloggers are spending more time on Facebook where there are more people who read their comments.
A downside of this, however, is that it's tending toward more superficiality of expression. The driving force of this is the 420 character limit of Facebook status updates (despite the fact that Facebook does offer the Notes option which has no such limit).
The relative potential superficiality of online expression - on blogs or Facebook - is also a function of the declining cost of information. When publishing is expensive, published expression is more carefully considered, created, reviewed, and edited. When publishing is very inexpensive, patient creation and approval is no longer necessary and quality can decline. The brevity of expression can exacerbate this feature of online expression.
Thankfully, online expression is only potentially relative and not necessarily so. Facebook is very popular now. Over time, I believe different social networking venues will feature different levels of considered expression and the desired qualitative level of expression will be more easily found.
Posted by Stephen at 12/28/2009 07:48:00 PM
Sunday, November 29, 2009
After being unavailable for the past three years, I'm very pleased today to be able to announce that the posts of the late Dr. Jon Gold - fully indexed - are again available to the public on the faithmaps discussion group.
In addition, all faithmaps discussion group posts are now available and searchable here.
On 1 September 2006, I posted my last moderator's message to the faithmaps discussion group on yahoogroups. I had decided to shut down the group and had announced that decision on 22 Aug. It was a controversial decision. The group was launched on 16 may 2001 (see the first post here) as an adjunct to the faithmaps.org site. It grew to have over 325 registered members. There were several months where we ran over 1000 emails. It became an online community. It was not a church but church happened on faithmaps. Friendships started on that group. There was, yes, a lot of controversy but that was sort of built into the group's design as there were only two criteria of participation:
1 - an interest in "tools for navigating theology, leadership, discipleship and church
life in postmodernity," and
2 - mutual respect. On the latter, once a month we posted this message which detailed the group's expectations and consequences for disrespect.
But after five years I finally came to the point of realizing that I no longer had time to moderate the group properly and so shut down the group.
But when I did so something happened that I did not plan. Shutting down the group caused the archives to no longer be public. This was not my intention at all. I had wanted our public conversations to remain public for those who were interested in them.
One of our participants was a professional philosopher - Dr. Jon Gold - and I especially wanted his contributions to the group to remain public. He wrote with a vast knowledge and understanding of philosophy and theology combined with deep Christian conviction and so his posts were of particular significance. Making his writings again available to the public has been very important to me as Jon passed away on Friday 23 July 2003. In fact, I viewed Jon's contributions to our online community as so critical that even before he passed I had indexed his posts by subject. That index is available here. I had also gathered in a separate list books that Jon had either recommended in group or to me personally here.
So since 2006, from time to time, I've attempted various things to make the group's archives public. A few days ago, I succeeded.
Posted by Stephen at 11/29/2009 09:41:00 AM
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Matt is the Lead Pastor for The Village Church in Highland Village, TX. Today he had a seizure, fell and hit his head. After being rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that he had a small mass in his frontal lobe. He'll be seeing a neurosurgeon next week.
Please pray for Matt and his family.
Posted by Stephen at 11/26/2009 11:16:00 PM
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"Redeemer’s Sermon Ministry has been faithfully recording, cataloging and reproducing all of our sermons for the past 20 years. To celebrate all 20 years of our history, and to meet the growing demand for our church’s teaching in New York City and around the world, we have created this resource of 150 sermons and lectures covering a broad array of topics, completely free to download and share.
The recordings chosen for the Free Sermon Resource were culled from classic sermon series as well as lectures and seminar addresses delivered to various Redeemer ministry gatherings, and are intended to present to the listener the full scope of teachings they would receive over several years of active involvement at Redeemer."Free sermons are avail here.
Posted by Stephen at 10/22/2009 03:00:00 AM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Posted by Stephen at 10/18/2009 02:05:00 PM
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Author Joseph Myers asks:
"Morality is relative. It is seen as a circumstantial stewardship of good instead of a constant set of settled rules...good or bad...thoughts?"
I definitely believe in moral absolutes (e.g. adultery is always wrong) but there's a particular scenario that I've been thinking about that makes me think sometimes there might be relatives. I would love to hear responses to this:
If I find a Salmon P. Chase $10,000 bill (which has not been printed since 1946) then I think it's morally incumbent on me to make some attempt to find the rare bill's owner.
But if I see a penny on the ground, I think nothing of simply picking it up and walking away.
Posted by Stephen at 8/08/2009 10:22:00 AM
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Please keep Rick Meigs in prayer. I just learned that he was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck that crossed the double-yellow line and then drove off. He is in the hospital in critical condition in Boise, ID. He has two broken rips, a broken arm, two collapsed lungs and a ruptured speen.
Rick blogs at The Blind Beggar and has been a critical voice in the missional church conversation through Friend of Missional, a very important networking and content site in that movement.
Looks like Brother Maynard is doing a good job with updates.
Posted by Stephen at 6/14/2009 02:04:00 PM
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Loraine Boettner's 1932 notice for his The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:
"Any one is at liberty to use material from this book with or without credit. In preparing this book the writer has received help from many sources, some acknowledged and many unacknowledged. He believes the material herein set forth to be a true statement of Scripture teaching, and his desire is to further, not to restrict its use."
Posted by Stephen at 5/25/2009 10:20:00 AM
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
However, yesterday afternoon we (Tony, myself and the rest of our leadership team at NewSpring) all came to the incredibly difficult and painful conclusion that Tony should no longer be a part of the staff at NewSpring Church. It was not a decision that was made in the moment; in fact, lots of prayer and discussion has taken place over the past several months leading up to this…and everyone knows that though it was not an easy choice, it was the right choice.
- read the rest of the announcement from Perry Noble's blog
Posted by Stephen at 4/30/2009 11:19:00 AM
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation -- now at a record rate.The Wall Street Journal just launched an interactive site that documents current circulation and negative events for major newspapers in the United States since 2006.
According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707 [link added].
Meanwhile, online media continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
Twitter, the online service that allows users to post updates on whatever they wish in Wired reports that in that same month, US users doubled to 9.3 million bringing the number of users worldwide to 19 million. Significant growth continues. Web 2.0 Journal estimates that 1.2 million people have joined Twitter since Oprah featured the service on her show on Friday 17 April. Though blogs are far from dead, Twitter is the new blog and extends the popular media trend that combines truncated content with heightened immediacy.
Closely related to the Twittering phenomenon is the growing popularity of Facebook updates. On Wed 8 April, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the online site had crested the 200 million user mark. A significant portion of this growth is now comprised of those over the coveted demographic of the 18-35 set. Carmen Musick of the Kingsport Times News reports, "Between June 2008 and January 2009 the number of Facebook members between the ages of 35 and 54 nearly quadripled - increasing 276 percent- and members older than 55 tripled...."
Only the most anachronistic Luddite would depreciate the enormous benefit that online media brings to the developed world. But, at the same time, this type of growth is coming at a cost:
I am concerned that the ubiquity and immediacy of information can precipitate a loss of perspective.
For example, there used to be a typical news cycle for most journalistic organizations that allowed for reflection when considering the events of the day. This enabled writers and editors to bring perspective into their coverage of news events. The 24-hour news cycle, on the other hand, tends to erase this advantage. Media observers such as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their book Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media Culture note that journalists have gravitated toward "sensationalism, entertainment, and opinion" and have moved away from "verification, proportion, relevance, depth, and quality of interpretation" (see 24-hour news cycle).
Francis McInerney and Sean White, authors of FutureWealth: Investing in the Second Great Wave of Technology, might characterize this trend as another example of how society changes as the cost of information declines.
But I do not believe this trend is permanent.
I do believe that the natural desire for wisdom means that, despite the current upheaval in media, new (or, perhaps, renewed) journalistic voices that balance breaking news with relevant perspective will rise through new media. Sensationalist fare can only satiate the superficial palate.
Until then, those who desire reflective perspective will have to search a little harder for it, listening carefully through the din for the more discerning voices that can still be found.
Analagously, I believe that those of us who participate in online expressions of spiritual community - whether through blogs, twitter, facebook, or what have you - need to be cautious that we don't lapse into religious superficiality. Loving and following God takes time. Deepening spiritual friendship and community takes loads of time. Working through differences of opinion cannot generally be done via blogger or twitter. Nearly by definition, meditation can't be done quickly!
I love online media. I enjoy blogging, facebook, twitter, online community, all of it. But from time to time we need to remind ourselves that this new form of communication is not omnicompetent.
Posted by Stephen at 4/25/2009 02:49:00 PM
Friday, April 24, 2009
Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, Scot McKnight, and the good folks at the Origin Project have relaunched their site as they launch their organization. This is a group I'm very excited about. I see them as working to capture the best of the emerging church conversation while staying tied to Christian orthodoxy through their commitment to the Lausanne Covenant and other historic creeds. You can read more about this new group here.
Posted by Stephen at 4/24/2009 09:03:00 AM