The Finish Line

The end is in sight. The final push is on. After a week’s “break” for Easter (which in realty wasn’t too much of a break, but I didn’t have any class readings), classes are back to their present realty. There are only a few weeks left in the semester, and that gravity is setting in on me. In a little over a week, my final paper for Spiritual Transformation is due. It’s supposed to be 10-15 pages. I’m going to try and crank it out this Saturday, but that’s a lot of writing for me to do in one day. I messed up this week, and should’ve started this past Saturday to give me two weeks to write. Alas, it is what it is. I’ve been a part time student now, for what, I think this is year four. I’ve not been late on anything yet, and haven’t asked for an extension from any professor, and I’m not going to start now (I don’t think).

My Bible reading this morning was in Nehemiah. As I was reading about enemies, wall building, swords and armor, I couldn’t help but think a little of the movies the family has been watching recently–The Lord of the Rings. It feels like much of the landscapes and costumes and what not could be lifted right out of the movie and placed (in my mind) in the time of Nehemiah. And then I thought “Hey, this might make a good movie! It’s got enemies, intrigue, planned battles where the secret leaks out and the battle is foiled, swords, a valiant hero, and all that stuff.” Hollywood, are you listening?

Easter Week Break

This week is supposed to be Easter week break for school. There are no assigned readings for either of my classes. That’s good. Blogging might be a touch slow, as no readings means nothing for me to reflect on.

Well, I can reflect on my Bible reading. I just finished 2nd Chronicles a few days ago, and started Ezra. One thing I’d like to come back to at some point is Hezekiah. There are two interesting things I caught in reading the account of his reign. One of them I had already picked up on in other times through the Bible, and one was new to me. In chapter 30 of 2nd Chronicles, Hezekiah celebrates the Passover. In so doing, he breaks a few of the prescribed statutes of holding the Passover. One, he does it on the “wrong” day. The Law does make an allowance for people who are unclean or traveling on the proper day of Passover to eat the meal a month later. Hezekiah celebrates the Passover on the later day. Perhaps he’s made a judgement that the entire nation is unclean, and therefore celebrating on the make-up day is permissible for everyone. 2nd Chronicles 30:18-20 describes ceremonially unclean Israelites eating the Passover, and Hezekiah intercedes for the to the Lord. So in this narrative there’s unclean people eating the Passover on the wrong (arguably) day.

Now look back a chapter. I had missed this one. In chapter 29, Hezekiah rededicates the temple from his father’s detestable worship practices. In 29:33 we see an instance where the Levites (who are dedicated to serving in the temple but who are not priests) are helping offer the sacrifices as there are too few ceremonially clean priests to get the work done. So those who are not supposed to be flaying the sacrifices to God are in fact doing just that.

I think it’s interesting that in back to back chapters of the Bible, one of the greatest kings of Israel’s history is documented as being a little fast and loose with God’s commandments. And yet the text seems to indicate God is pleased with the overall attitude of the worshipers. There’s an argument to be made that the Holy God has laid out statutes and ordinances of how He is to be worshiped. There is a reverence that needs to be in place. Yet here there seems to be some allowance, some mercy, on those who don’t get it quite right, yet their heart is in the right place. I think there’s more that can be fleshed out here. There’s some sermon work or Sunday School lesson study that I’d like to do on this passage some day.

The Wind

Yesterday morning (actually all day) was cool and drizzly and depressing here in #downtownspruceheadamerica. It was raining hard enough that I cut Deuteronomy’s walk short. Today, it wasn’t raining as hard, but the wind sure was blowing! I decided we’d take our long walk route, and walk the neighborhood and see if there was any damage or some-such exciting thing to see.

As we crested the hill in the boatyard, I could hear the wind howling through the channel from Hall’s Point out towards Slins Island. The wind was coming right through there, the trees creaking and cracking, the hardware on the lines clanging against the masts of the boats, something metallic fell over with an almost bell-like “bong.” I almost pulled out my phone in an effort to record the sound of the power of the wind. Instead, I prayed in glory to God for His awesome power, and was reminded of one of my favorite passages from Job. This section is where God–seemingly with great sarcasm–asks Job some questions. It’s a great section to read if you ever struggle with pride (as I do).

Where is the way where light dwelleth?
and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof,
and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?
Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born?
or because the number of thy days is great?
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?
or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
Which I have reserved against the time of trouble,
against the day of battle and war?
By what way is the light parted,
which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters,
or a way for the lightning of thunder;
To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is;
on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground;
and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?
Hath the rain a father?
or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
Out of whose womb came the ice?
and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

Job 38:19 and following, KJV

I Need Some Slep

For the past three days, 4:30am has come awfully early. I’ve not wanted to get out of bed. This semester I’ve been getting up extra early to get reading done. With two classes, both of which demand a lot of reading, I’ve found I really needed to “make extra time” in my day to get it all done. In the evening, I’m toast. I go to bed at 8pm. If I’m going to do any reading, it really needs to be in the morning.

Today I thought “Hey Bill, you graduate this semester! One more month and you can have some more sleep.” That sounds nice.

On the other hand, I like what school has done for my spiritual growth. The discipline of having to read and study has been good for me. I was thinking I might stay on with New England Bible College this fall, simply because it would force me to keep going, keep growing.

But I need some sleep.

Another Drums and Theology Post?

I was listening to an “Ask NT Wright Anything” podcast yesterday, and he mentioned he used only one Bible. In an effort to become really familiar with “the text” he has chosen to use one Bible, and so in that one Bible are all his notes, and that’s the one Bible he uses all the time. A former pastor of mine also had one Bible that he always used. It was falling apart so badly his small group bought him a new Bible. They knew how much he loved his old Bible, so they bought him the exact same kind of Bible that he had–so it was the same Bible, only a new version of it. He didn’t use it; he continued to use the old falling apart Bible.

As a musician, I’ve always wanted to have a relationship with one instrument. I see it a lot with guitar players. Eric Clapton had Blackie, and Eric Johnson has Virginia, Stevie Ray Vaughan had Number 1. Stewart Copeland had his Pearl Jupiter snare that was used on all The Police recordings, and Ringo had his Jazz Festival. I’m not that way. I have a whole bunch of drums, and I use whatever drum fits the music and my mood. A drum I use to record a folk record won’t be the same drum I use to record a funk tune. I pick the drum that’s right for the job. It’s a tool.

I’m the same way with Bible translations. My “study” translation is the New American Standard. My current devotion Bible is the ESV. If I were called to read scripture out loud to a group, I’d probably grab the New Living Bible. It’s a tool, and I pick the right tool for the job.

Still though, I wish I was “a person of one book” (from my Ortberg reading this morning). I wish I was the kind of guy like Mr. Wright or Pastor Jason that had just one Bible. There’s a romance about it. I have one wife, can’t I have just one Bible? 😉

Approval Addiction and the Best Compliment Ever

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted writes “Psychiatrist David Burns notes that it is not another person’s compliment or approval that makes us feel good; rather it is our belief that there is validity to the compliment.”

As a drummer, I’m complimented somewhat regularly with “You’re a regular Gene Krupa” or “Nice job Buddy Rich” or something like that. John and Jane Q. Public know those two drummers, and so when they want to compliment a drummer, those names come up. Those compliments mean nothing to me. I don’t think my drumming is anything like Gene Krupa’s. He is not an influence in how I play. Buddy Rich? I’ve said before that I’m not a good enough drummer to carry his sweaty towels. He was a MONSTER player, but so far above me with his technique that there’s nothing in me that’s remotely sounding of Buddy.

One night I was playing a gig in Camden. It was a private party, a Christmas party I believe. BIG house. We played upstairs. At one point the host said to me “You sound like Shelly Manne.” Now THAT was a compliment. There was VALIDITY to that compliment. Shelly Manne I HAVE studied. Shelly’s name isn’t going to be dropped randomly like Gene or Buddy or Ringo. Obviously this guy knows a thing or two about Jazz and Jazz drumming , and has the ears to know that there is some Shelly Manne in my playing. There are things I do in my playing because of Shelly. He is an actual influence on my playing. And so, because of the credibility of that compliment, I remember it to this day. And it makes me feel good to know that at one point at least someone appreciated my drumming on a deeper level than say the way my Mom loves my drumming.

Not much spirituality in today’s post; it’s mostly about drumming. But hey, let’s praise Him with resounding cymbals. 🙂

I Think He Thinks Meditation is Important

Part of my reading for my spiritual transformation class this week is from Donald Whitney‘s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Chapter 3 is about Bible “intake” for the purpose of godliness. I also had to read about “learning” as a purpose toward godliness.

There are 15 pages about learning as a spiritual discipline. There are about 10 pages of why Bible memorization is important. Then there are 40 pages about the benefits and methods of meditating on God‘s word! He gives 17 different methods (!!!) for meditating on God‘s word.

I think Whitney thinks meditation is pretty important. #understatement

I did appreciate his reclaiming the word “meditation” for Christianity, and not just for some New Age yoga transcendental meditation craziness. He says about Biblical meditation

“The kind of meditation encouraged in the Bible differs from other kinds of meditation in several ways. While some advocate a kind of meditation in which you do your best to empty your mind, Christian meditation involves filling your mind with God and his truth. For some, meditation is an attempt to achieve complete mental passivity, but typical meditation requires constructive mental activity.”