Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CEB bible review

CEB bible coverLike most Student Bibles, this edition of the Common English Bible translation of the OT and NT scriptures is supposed to be mainly for teens and very young adults, but nothing in the features that include a literary and historical intro to each book, quick facts, wrestlings with, articles by the "diverse group of biblical scholars" would exclude any competent readers of any age, though with a few exceptions, I'd guess about ten years old would be the lower limit. Section descriptions and chapter numbers in red (ruby, as in rubrics, maybe? Good ecclesiastical color, also the color of the pentecostal reign of the Holy Spirit) help to visually demarcate where you are and what you're reading next. Besides National Geographic-sourced maps at the end that alone almost are worth acquiring the bible, there's even a map index! At the back of the book we also get an article index along with where to find well-known and lesser-known bible passages.

Over the past couple decades I've enjoyed discovering and exploring newer translations and versions of the OT and NT scriptures. The Common English BIble has more literary color and style than others I could name, specifically the Contemporary English Version – CEV – and Good News Translation – GNT. I've referenced the CEB quite a few times in my lesson preparation (yay for internet saturation and ascendancy!), but haven't spent sufficient time to give it a more thorough theological assessment, though I imagine and trust it doesn't carry the burden of conservative evangelicalism that the New International Version – NIV – does, especially in its New Testament. CEB logoNot surprisingly, I checked online and their claim of diverse contributors is very true, with Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and more Conservative Evangelicals adding up to an ecumenical group. Did I mention students and youth ministers? They also formed part of the total team.

Although the type is fairly small, it still is readable in good light. This isn't exactly high quality India Paper, but it's thin enough that the close to 2,000 pages of these scriptures are compact enough to tote around in a backpack without causing undue stress on your actual back. Ideally I'd like wider margins so I could make my own notes, and I haven't yet done any highlighting or underlining—which I'll be doing with colored pencils rather than markers. To sum it all up, I'm delighted and joy-filled to have this new bible.

my amazon review: ecumenical and resourceful

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday 27 Sept

75 year anniversary celebration at church and a stroll along Westwood Blvd back to Wilshire

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Doubt

Five minute Friday shifts from last week's easy-to-write about "celebrate" to this week's single word prompt of doubt. As usual, Kate Motaung hosts; as always, we write unedited for five minutes.


"Do not doubt; only trust." Mark 5:35

In the world where the new testament scriptures originated, trust and faith was the expected response to the grace and favor someone might give you. We know from the scriptures – especially from the apostle Paul – that the ability to receive and respond to God's grace, to God's favor, the ability to trust, to lead a life of faithful response, witness, and testimony is in itself a gift of grace. Scripture and the Church testify first of God's grace and God's faithfulness–not nearly as much of human faithfulness. So why do so many of us get hyped up with the the excitement of it's all going to be fine, discover themselves actually living and responding with joy and excitement, and a scant few minutes later, become overwhelmed with doubts? Doubt that God or anyone else truly cares; doubt that I'm any good, that the world or the church – or the world of the church –has a place for me. A calling to me.

It seems to be a major aspect of what we sometimes call the human condition: despite grace, finding ourselves again in creaturely brokenness and bondage and doubt, yet at the same time still redeemed by grace to walk in trust. Left to our own devices and everyday druthers, we can see little other than the negative side of situations and other people, the negative inside our own selves. We tend to choose not life but death.

* * * * * end of 5 minutes * * * * *

Seems to me the reformer Martin Luther had something to say about that.

In Mark 5:36 that opened my free write, the Greek in what we commonly translate as "do not doubt," actually is "do not fear, only trust."

This evening I listened to about half the songs in my YT worship play list; it includes Kent Henry's gently rocking "No Condemnation," with text from Romans 8:1:

There is therefore now no condemnation
For those who are in Christ Jesus
For the law of the Spirit of life,
in Christ Jesus, will set you free
From the law of sin and death

BTW, because I've gone through my blog and hopefully deleted all YT links because they come and go so unpredictably, I'm not linking to the song, but it's easy to find.

glorify thy name 5 minute friday icon

season of creation: eucharistic prayer

Season of Creation 1B, Earth Sunday Season of Creation 2B, Humanity Sunday Season of Creation 3B, Sky Sunday Season of Creation 4B, Mountain Sunday

Although I wrote this season of creation eucharistic prayer for RCL year A, it would be fine for any time that especially emphasizes gifts from the heart of the earth or the agricultural cycle. I truly didn't think to post it earlier, but here it is for this coming Mountain Sunday—for more general use, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Season of Creation 4B: Mountain Sunday

Season of Creation 4B, Mountain SundayPsalm 48:1-11

1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God,
in the mountain of his holiness.

2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.

4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.

5 They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.

6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts,
in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.

9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth:
thy right hand is full of righteousness.

11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.


Friday, September 18, 2015

1st things 5

On RevGalBlogPals Julie hosts Friday 5 for the first time today with a First Things Edition. Earlier today I played Five Minute Friday, and I want Julie to get a good turnout, so here's my Friday Five.
Detroit metro airport

photo of Detroit Metro Airport with legal reuse rights from Wikimedia Commons

1. Can you remember the first time you travelled a long way to meet someone special?

My clearest related memory is flying solo as a passenger to DTW (Detroit Metro) to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I was 12 or 13 years old, and I've even talked about it a few times in a few blog posts.

2. Share a memory of a first visit to a new country, state or place that was unexpected or unusual.

The change of pace and general milieu as soon as I cross the international border from southern California into northern Mexico always thrills me. It's slightly less marked between Arizona and Mexico, but still fun, exciting, and adventuresome. I'll also mention that despite life in USA and Canada generally having a sense of sameness, each state and province still has its own distinct and distinctive feel and way of being who they are and how they are.

3. What is the first thing you do on waking each day? Is it always the same?

Still the same! Quickly recollecting what client design I need to do that day, checking emails and orders online, anticipating breakfast and doing breakfast! Yay!

4. Have you met up with other RevGals? Maybe at an event?

No, not yet, but I've talked on the phone with one ring member a few times, and private emailed a couple of others. Closely related, I've met in real life several friends I first got to know online.

5. Is this your first Friday Five? If not, can you remember the first time you played?

Yes, I clearly recall my very first ever Friday 5, very long ago and soon after I joined up with the RGBP blog ring. It even still resides on my blog: Christmas Music.

Thanks, Julie!

Five Minute Friday: Celebrate!

Let's celebrate for this week's Five Minute Friday on Kate Motaung's page!!!!! As usual, we get to write unedited for five minutes.


Again this week, the one-word prompt led to a second musical prompt from the soundtrack of my life—Kool & the Gang singing about a Celebration, reminding us to Celebrate!

Very recently I've been getting to celebrate the amazing, wondrous surprise of resurrection. We think, we insist we know the rest of the story, but new life always surprises us. Earlier this week we got to celebrate the gift of rain. California has been experiencing severe drought for too long, and waking up to the sound of rain in the middle of the night was a major festival of life. Water Is Life.

celebrate 01What else to celebrate? The hope of a future for each one of us, a future for this planet. Come Sunday morning, we'll celebrate Eucharist again, we'll celebrate a feast of thanksgiving, reconciliation, and redemption on behalf of the whole entire world. We'll celebrate the redemption and reconciliation of all creation. Something to celebrate? Yes, but possible only if we live as stewards of creation.

Celebrate? The energy in this neighborhood. The immense ethnic, class, culinary, style, etc. diversity in this particular part of the city. The energy and excitement of the whole entire city. Celebrate? New people connections. Celebrate? I'm illustrating this post with not one but two of the celebrate designs I made a long time ago and digitized more recently. celebrate 02

What else to celebrate? My work as a graphic designer that God gradually and close to surreptitiously brought back into my life. Celebrate? Now that I'm starting to get some things (people, situations, opportunities) reasonably to replace some of what I've lost, I'm finally able to start acknowledging those losses instead of rationalizing them away with elaborate explanations.

Is there more? Getting ready to celebrate on Sunday 27 September the 75 year, three quarters of a century anniversary of the church I've been attending since I came into town.

A couple seconds ago the clock passed the four minute mark, but I'll call it time to conclude this (almost) Five Minute Friday with one of my old fave sayings I've illustrated at least a couple of times:

Celebrate the City! Where the Mind sees more than the Eye.
With Kool & the Gang:

Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let's celebrate)

There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We're gonna celebrate your party with you

Come on now, celebration
Let's all celebrate and have a good time
We gonna celebrate and have a good time

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Season of Creation 3B: Sky Sunday

Season of Creation 3B, Sky SundayPsalm 19:1-6

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Adam Hamilton: The Call

The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul by Adam Hamilton on Amazon

the call book coverI always enjoy Pastor Hamilton's practical scholarship and his attention to contextualizing scripture into our own life and mission! The Call rollicks and frolics along with the energy and excitement of the NT book of Acts, and that's fitting, since a lot of the information we have about Saul (Jewish name) / Paul (Roman name) of Tarsus comes from the narrative in Luke's Acts.

Pastor Adam knows the texts extremely well; he's also getting to know the terrain and layout of the biblical Holy Land. As we journey with Paul and his companions, Hamilton observes what was going on in politics, in Jewish circles, in Christian hangouts, "among the" Greek and Roman gods and culture back at that time and suggests real-life present day applications for each of us in our churches and in the surrounding communities. The book places Paul's life, ministry, and letters in the times and places when and where he grew up, learned, taught, talked, and walked; this New Covenant of grace is not entirely different from the Old one, but it's about Trusting Jesus rather than Trusting Torah.

In the Protestant world in which many of us live (and move, and have our being), Paul is our most prominent theologian; we think we know him mostly for his Christology (on pages 72-74 we get a very shorthand version of the saving person and work of Jesus the Christ), yet in The Call Hamilton reminds us it is the work and reign of the Pentecostal Spirit of Life that inspired and enabled Paul /Saul; the Spirit of Life that raised Jesus from the dead in turn brings us to living faith in Jesus. As Martin Luther famously said in his Small Catechism: "I cannot by my own effort or understanding know Jesus my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith, just as the HS calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Church..." In his Acts of the Apostles the gospel-writer Luke brings us most of what we know about the chronology and events in Paul's life; in fact, the Spirit is prominent throughout Luke and Acts. (Pneumatology is the branch of theology that emphasizes the person and work of the HS.)

The six chapters of The Call describe God's call to the Apostle Paul along with a parallel call to each of us: Follow Christ; Go; Suffer; Love; Give, and be Faithful. Adam Hamilton includes a few anecdotes and incidents from his own life, mostly in ways that encourage us to discover similarities in our own. The hardbound book is a comfortable size to hold and heft, printed in easily readable type, and includes B&W maps and photographs. However, I seriously wish the book had been edited to omit and change at least most – if not all – of the too many sentences written in the passive voice.

Hamilton believes Galatians is Paul's earliest undisputed epistle ... time for me to check that out.

my amazon review: Paul and Jesus; Paul and the Church

falling in love 5

falling in love Friday 5 on Rev Gal Blog Pals.

Marie hosts today and asks us, For today’s Friday Five, tell us about your favorite fall things.

1. What's your favorite fall food?

Too too many to list or even to remember all at once! I especially love the bounty of root veggies we get in the fall, but I happened to have a picture of Apple Pie from the town of Julian, the Apple Capital of California, so apple pie's my choice for today.

apple pie

2. What’s your favorite item of clothing that you get to pull out in the fall?

Fave fall clothes have to be sweaters, followed closely by corduroy anything.

3. What’s your favorite fall scene in nature? (Pictures encouraged!)

autumn treeWe don't have a lot of foliage variations here in southern California, but I've lived in New England and in the Intermountain West, when glorious colors help take the edge off winter moving in for a duration. Based on my experiences in those there parts of the country, I've included a couple of my own takes on autumn hues.

4. What’s your favorite thing that happens in the fall? Back to school? Sports season? Something else entirely?

Despite loving summer school and attending a least a class or two whenever possible, I've always enjoyed (make that "LOVED!") back to school with its liturgy of stocking up on stacks of notebooks, papers, pens, journal books, binders, markers, crayons, and folders. Getting some new clothes in current styles and colours; a fresh haircut—sometimes a new hairstyle.

5. And finally, because surely not everyone is as in love as I am, what is your least favorite thing about fall?

As much as I've tried to imagine them as and to do what I can to help make them fertile ground for incubating ideas that will emerge during early spring, the shorter days, longer nights still bother me a lot.

5 minute friday: same

same is today's prompt for Five Minute Friday at Kate Motaung's place— we get to write unedited for five minutes.


Someone said consistency – sameness – is the last refuge of the unimaginative, yet in some places and some settings, a degree of sameness can be helpful and highly functional. For example, although people change all the time, and no one remains exactly the same from moment to moment, I find my own consistency and sameness interacting with people usually serves me and them well. The community on ministry / candidacy committee's only caution on my psychological assessment was that I had "overdeveloped skills in reconciliation, accommodation, and peacemaking." Notice I've even memorized what they said and wrote!? I'm pretty much expert at calming ruffled feathers, helping all involved parties see and appreciate other viewpoints, etc.

Then again, there are ways in which I so wish things in my own life did not continue to be so almost exactly the same. Yet another same type of rejection; the same or very similar responses to my ongoing attempts to volunteer, participate, and contribute. So other people tend to be almost as much the same as I tend to be?

The word same instantly reminded me of one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs:

You love the thunder and you love the rain
You know your hunger like you know your name
I got your number if it's still the same
You can dream
But you can never go back the way you came

In many ways my "number" – my modus operandi, my sense of call that won't quit, my sense of direction – hasn't changed; it's still the same. I never can go back exactly the same way I traveled to get here to where I am today, yet I can return to the dreams, I can recast those dreams, I can reinvent *my* dreams, so they're still the same, yet with more than a hint of different.

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Monday, September 07, 2015

Season of Creation 2B: Humanity Sunday

Season of Creation 2B, Humanity SundayPsalm 8

1 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies,
that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet:

7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!


Thursday, September 03, 2015

five minute friday: yes

Every week Kate Montaung hosts Five Minute Friday: write unedited for five minutes. Our 5-minute sprint for this first Friday of September 2015 is yes.


whenever I hear and consider "yes" I always re-collect Molly Bloom's Soliloquy from James Joyce's Ulysses "and yes I said yes I will yes"

Scripture commands us to let our yes be a simple plain unadorned unqualified single word: yes

(and, of course, whenever we say no, make that no plain and clear and clarion.)

Lately I've been saying a lot of yeses to the city I relocated to at the end of June. To the first housing I had here that was very temporary because in order find somewhere, I decided to go for higher rent than I could afford long-term, and the fourth person on their lease couldn't move in until September. Heaven-made match? Minimally a serendipitous situation. Yes!

Just last night, my first full day where I'm now living and probably will stay through the winter, a big exultant yes to living again in a house full of people who let me be, who are yes to my presence in their lives, just as I affirm YES to their being in my life for this interim time. Finally ... rescued much? YES! Rescued barely in time? YES! And let me tell ya, despite all the problems with this very old, poorly maintained house, the shower is the best I've ever experienced! Yes. It is.

Yes, whether plain and simple or with a boatload of qualifiers, is a useful universal word found in every language on earth. Better and clear than for sure, than positively, than absolutely, than definitely. I love Anglo Saxon single syllable words! Yes and no both are major winners in that category. Sometimes I try to write an expressive paragraph or two or three without a single adjective or adverb. Easy or not? Yes, sometimes. Not really at other times. = no.

This early September Thursday even is a yes for the hope a new geographical location, new people, new churches and revitalized dreams bring. And yes, I said yes, I will trust God—yes!

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