Poor?

two year oldAs each of our children came along, we watched them each go through the different stages of development. One of the stages, which they hit at about 2 years of age, we called the “Me do!” stage. They wanted to do everything themselves, even if they weren’t able to yet. They also did a lot of repetitive and sometime annoying things at this stage; we figured they did some of these things just because they could, because there seemed no other good or observable reason.

In this way and many others our children with their stages and quirks made us wonder about ourselves as children of God and what He has to put up with from us. We realized that we all pretty much just start the “Me do!” thing at age two. As we get older, though we don’t seek to get our way in the same manner that a two-year-old does, we too often are still just as willful—sometimes even more so.

This is one of the things that makes it hard for people to become Christians, and that makes it hard to follow God once we are a Christians. We are used to seeking and finding how to get our own way. Then along comes Jesus!

Often because we’ve heard of something repeatedly or are completely familiar with its existence, we think we also know all about it.

Everyone who is a Christian has heard of the Sermon on the Mount. Though we have heard of it, has it ever made any difference in our lives? Or helped us to deal with the very real challenges of life? Or are we going on our merry—or sometimes not so merry—but still ever willful way?

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most powerful sermons ever preached. Only because the One who was teaching was Emmanuel, “God with us” in HUMAN form. But with power! –And wisdom– And eternal perspective…

We know with our intellects that God is the answer to every question and in every circumstance, but how does this spiritual reality translate to help us in this visceral world we are also a part of?

We are continuing on our merry way, then (by the grace of God) life happens, we find ourselves adrift on the ocean. Suddenly we are seeing things in a whole different light. We are in new terrain—often scary terrain: terminal illness, life-changing accidents, loss of income, the devastation of war or terrorism, our own or others hurtful choices, and on and on.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3 NIV). If you look up the word ‘poor,’ its meaning goes beyond not having what everyone else has, or continually struggling to get by day to day. This word as it was meant signified abject poverty, or being in a position of total reliance on someone else for one’s bare survival.

What did Jesus mean by poor? Do we think he meant those without money? (see Isaiah 51:1). Who is poor? Compared to God, all of us are wretched! What did Jesus mean by poor in SPIRIT? Do we acknowledge our poverty before God and our dependence on Him and what Jesus did for us? Is our attitude one of letting God be God, or are we still in the “Me do!” mode, trying to be our own God or someone else’s? How REAL do the words of Jesus get for us? Is it “Thy will be done”? or “Me do!”?

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Technology!

Codex GigasThe codex was possibly as much of an advancement of the written word in its time, as the printing press was later during the Middle ages. What is a codex? The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition), definition is as follows: “A codex (from the Latin caudex for “trunk of a tree” or block of wood, book; plural codices) is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials, with hand-written content.”

Today I am posting two videos by Princeton’s Anthony Grafton. In one He describes the phenomena at the root of books and book making–the transition from scrolls to codices. In the other video he discusses the development of book printing.

I hope these videos will help you see the “old” or what is past, with new eyes and help you learn somethings you didn’t already know about the technology behind books.

First, before watching the videos, did you know that the codex was the first form of what we now call a book? Before the codex, scrolls and wax tablets were the media used for recording or keeping written information–before that, stone tablets. Scrolls, not to mention stone tablets, were bulky, heavy, and could not hold nearly as much information as a codex could. Wax tablets were not for keeping information long-term.

 The invention and use of the codex revolutionized the ability to share, transfer, and store knowledge and information.  Besides the invention and use of paper and the invention of the printing press, the codex was probably the most important technological advancement in the development of written media.
In codex form, both sides of the paper, parchment, papyrus, vellum, etc.., could be used for writing. Written material could be much more easily referenced and found. Professor Grafton notes other advantages in the video below as well.

“Published on Sep 5, 2013. Great moments in media history! Princeton University’s Anthony Grafton on the shift from the scroll to the modern codex back in the 2nd to 4th century – in INT’s ENLIGHTENMENT MINUTES. The origins of modern communication (before YouTube!)!” (found on YouTube).
The printing press changed the world in a major way. We cannot know the full extent of the impact of this invention. Anthony Graft shares some interesting facts about some of the initial challenges publishing entailed. He also challenges the advances that have been made in regard to the web, asserting that in no way do they reflect the full potential of that media.

 “Published on Sep 8, 2013. A history timeline for major changes in media – Anthony Grafton in INT’s ENLIGHTENMENT MINUTES. Princeton University professor Tony Grafton explores the history of major changes in media and communication – and parallels in history to our own video age” (found on YouTube).

What will be the next invention or use that will bring the written word forward in ways equal in its time to the codex and the printing press? Is the web such an invention? Do you agree with Professor Grafton that “We are very far from having leaped to a point where design on the world wide web…really exploits the possibilities of the new medium and shows us more of the things that it can do”? (taken from the first video above).

I agree with Professor Grafton. Beside and beyond that, I believe the possibilities are endless.

Easy Basics

Easy BasicsWhen my husband Bruce and I first got married neither one of us knew how to cook – nor bake. Some friends gave us Sunset’s “Easy Basics” cookbook as a wedding gift. It was one of the most helpful and appropriate gifts we received; it has been well used and loved. Once a week or so, we would choose a recipe to make together. The recipes from the “Easy Basics” book always turned out well and tasted great. We came to count on this book for fairly easy yet always good recipes. Some of our family’s enduring favorites have come from it and are still part of our family traditions and so are connected with some of our fondest memories.

The Apple Pie Bruce still makes from this book has become a staple in our home for Thanksgiving and sometimes is still requested for birthdays or other events. Another winner, which will by itself draw our children back home for a visit, is the Lasagne Belmonte; Bruce just has to threaten to make it, and “they will come” (he still actually follows the recipe—something I have wandered away from faithfully doing over the years). The waffle recipe is another that is often requested for birthdays or family gatherings when breakfast is involved.

Related to “Easy Basics,” Bruce and I have been asked by different people during our 31 ½ years of marriage what our “recipe” has been for staying together as a couple. We could say the above recipe book helped, and for sure, it would be part of the many ingredients which have worked together to hold us together, but I don’t think that’s what people are asking.

What are our “basics” for a marriage that lasts? What are the reliable fundamentals that have given us good results?

Before I tell you, I will warn you, what has helped us are truly “Easy Basics.’” Sometimes, for some reason, we want more complicated or sophisticated answers or solutions to our problems or for our life situations. But complicated is how things get when we don’t follow the “easy basics.” And in reality, seeking complicated or sophisticated answers is one of many ways of avoiding responsibility.

Here are our “easy basics”:

First is a total commitment to God – which means getting to know Him better through Jesus, not loving anything or anyone more than Him, seeking to follow Him in wholehearted trust demonstrated by faithful (sometimes inconvenient) obedience to His Word through His loving and Holy Spirit. This is the one solid foundation upon which all other relationships can be built, and the foundation, when lacking, which will result in one relational disaster after another.

The second “easy basic” is commitment to the relationships and life that God has given or allowed us to have. It is intentionality in seeking to know and apply God’s Word in our daily relationships and activities (through prayer!). It is not giving up on each other when each is undeserving—which we always are. It is tough love—learning and holding ourselves and one another to the responsibilities which our lives entail as given by God, not generally according our own or other’s expectations—but according to God, as revealed in His Word, Jesus, and in the book that testifies of Him, the Bible. It is encouraging one other to magnify (or live out) the gifts God has given each of us individually for the benefit of human kind. It is pulling together to learn more of God and His ways and then practicing what we learn as we go along, together. In other words, it is being committed to helping each other do the first thing.

About these “easy basics,” Jesus summed it up when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).