Tuesday, 15 September 2015

SSD Really Speeds Up Logos 6

I just recently upgraded my X60 Tablet by replacing its hard drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD).  The difference is a drive based on a rotating storage platter and a drive based on memory chips with no moving parts. 

The Kingston v300 SSDNow drive came with a USB drive enclosure, so the SSD could be plugged into the tablet via a USB port.  I used a freeware program called Macrium to clone the HDD to the SSD.  It took a while but it was otherwise uneventful. 

Then it was just a matter of removing the HDD, detaching the rubber cushions and caddy, and fitting the cushions and caddy to the SSD.  After slipping it back into its railed slot, the tablet booted up without missing a beat.  The difference in speed was immediate.  The Tablet ran at a much lower temperature too.

The improvement in responsiveness for Logos 6 was dramatic.  Well worth the effort.  For all those using Logos 6 on older hardware and finding the sluggish experience quite frustrating, I recommend the upgrade.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Parasha Reading Plan for 5776

I put together this reading plan (Lectionary) for Logos 6 for 5776 which covers the Hebrew Year from 2015-16 in the Gregorian Calendar.

The Parasha reading system is observed by many orthodox Jews across the world and takes readers through the Pentateuch in one year.  Christians have adapted the system to include the NT.  These adaptations are also included in this lectionary. 

Logos 6 imports .docx files as personal books.  The Lectionary is in this format.  Import the document as type "Lectionary" rather than the default type "Monograph." 

Once the lectionary has been built, it can be added to the Logos Start Page (see above). 

You can download it here.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Ephesians 2:15: Is the law abolished?

We are currently doing a bible study on Ephesians through our church.

Ephesians 2:14–16 (ESV) says:
14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,

16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Nearly every commentary I reviewed, followed the view that the law had been abolished.  Really?  How does this reconcile with Jesus' position in Matthew 5:17 (ESV):
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Or that Jesus calls those that do not know him as "lawless" in Matthew 7:23 (ESV):
23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Or that James the Righteous says to Paul that there is a vicious rumour that Paul is teaching all to forsake the law.  In order to dispel this myth, James has hatched a plan for Paul to go up to the temple and to pay for the sacrifices on behalf of two Nazirites. 

Paul accepts the plan but is recognized along the way.  A riot ensues and he never gets there.  Ultimately he is arrested, appeals to Caesar and ends up in Rome, where he writes this Epistle.

Thomas Lancaster says that most translations are flawed. He offers the following alternate translation:
 "for He Himself in our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity..."
The KJV places a similar emphasis on enmity rather than on the law itself.

Lancaster writes: 
How does the Torah cause enmity between Jew and Gentile?  We have already seen how the Oral Law, the rabbinic interpretation of Torah, excluded Gentiles.  The Greek word for "regulations" speaks specifically to those man-made contrivances, not to the actual Torah.  According to those Oral commandments and regulations, one needed to make a formal conversion to Judaism before participating in Israel.  The dividing wall of the Temple is itself an architectural innovation based on rabbinic interpretations.  in first century Jerusalem, the dividing wall of hostility was more than just a metaphor. 

But the written Torah actually sets up parameters for participation in Israel, such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, and abstaining from adultery.  Those are all commandments and ordinances found in Torah. 

Observance of the commandments and ordinances is compulsory for Israelites because the Torah is Israel’s covenant with God.  The Gentiles, however, as strangers to the covenants of promise, are oblivious of these laws.  The result is a sharp distinction between Jew and Gentile.  Add to that the first century theological supposition that Torah was only for Jews, and it created a very distinct and clear line of separation between Jew and Gentile. 

There is enmity engendered by the Torah between Israelite and Gentile, and the enmity is this:  Israel is God’s chosen and redeemed people, and the Gentiles are not.  Israel is in covenant with the Father and the Gentiles are not.  Every command and ordinance given to Israel marked out the parameters of who Israel was and who Israel was not.  The Torah determined who was in and who was out. 

The enmity that Messiah abolished is this separation between Jew and Gentile.  It is abolished in the sense that Messiah has brought Gentile believers into Israel.  He seats them at the table with Israel and invites them to be partakers in the New Covenant with Israel.  As Gentiles brought into covenant through Messiah begin to engage in the commandments and ordinances along with Israel, theline of distinction, the dividing wall of hostility vanishes.  The enmity between Jewish and Gentile believers caused by commandments and ordinances, is abolished in Messiah’s flesh.  How so?  Because Messiah brings the Gentiles into the fold of Israel. 

The prophet Isaiah provides a vivid illustration of this principle.  He declares tha the stranger who keeps the Sabbath and holds fast to God’s covenant will be received in the innermost courts of the temple.  His sacrifices will be received on the altar and the temple will be a house of prayer for Gentiles from every nation (Isaiah 56:7).  It was probably this very passage that Paul had in mind as he wrote of Messiah abolishing the dividing wall.  For the dividing wall, which would forbid the Gentile from entering the temple to offer sacrifice, is completely absent in Isaiah’s messianic age prophecy:  Isaiah 56:6-7.

Therefore the Ephesians passage (2:11-15), is not a contradiction of the Master’s words in Matthew 5:17 (“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah…), nor is it a textual justification to sin and sin boldly.  Instead, it shows us how Gentiles are able to retain their Gentile identity while at the same time being regarded as part of Israel, living out the law of Israel.
Because the enmity has been abolished, Gentiles need not find a genetic justification for keeping the laws and ordinances of Torah nor must they make a formal conversion to Judaism.  The enmity of distinction has been removed; the laws and ordinances of Torah are open to Gentiles.  The dividing wall has been removed.  Gentiles are free to move from the metaphoric Court of the Gentiles into the metaphoric Court of Israel.  They are given free access to the Torah life that identifies Israel:  they are given access to the House of God.

Thomas Lancaster, "The Mystery of the Gospel", pp 181-183.
 Perhaps his comments throws light on Paul's "Israel of God" from his epistle to the Galatians.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Robert Fisk: The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East

After nearly a year and a half, I've finally finished reading this 1,286 page tome (not counting endnotes, a bibliography and index. It is an interesting and must read for those interested in Middle Eastern affairs. Fisk writes from decades of experience as a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper, The Independent. Written in 2005, this book is a retrospective on his work and tries to makes sense of the many conflicts that he has witnessed. His frustration and disgust regarding the many injustices he perceives is palpable. Depending on one's perspective, his judgements can seem understandable or harsh. After reading the last page, and reflecting on the whole book, it seems to me that Fisk's anger stems from a naivety born from a set of flawed beliefs: 1 A western view that all the responsibilities one bears in life are individual in nature that the "sins" of a nation or the leaders of a nation, should not be carried on the shoulders of its citizens. Thus he does little to hold despots such as the Ottomans, Saddam Hussein, the Taleban and Arafat responsible for the suffering of their peoples. 2 The international competition for the world's resources is in some way distasteful and should be avoided. Thus foreign investment in Middle Eastern lands is an illegal capture of an indigenous people's resources. He pays no attention to the fact that that they might have willingly sold those rights to foreigners in return for benefits they would not otherwise have enjoyed. Often these benefits were siphoned off into personal bank accounts rather than distributed for the good of their societies. He does not sufficiently lay the blame for indigenous poverty on indigenous corruption and graft. 3 In war, "civilians" should never die. Any death of a civilian is an injustice. This is a corollary of Belief 1. The belief ignores the reality of war. To Fisk, the fact that Western manufactured arms should result in the deaths of civilians is a grave injustice. He urges that Western arms manufacturers should somehow prevent their clients from using them in a way that results in civilian deaths. His focus is on the West and only the West in this regard. He doesn't try to lobby Chinese, Eastern European, North Korean or Russian manufacturers. 4 In peace, justice should be perfect. Therefore ideas such as modus vivendi have no place in Fisk's world. For him, the creation of Israel itself is an injustice. He cannot see the linkage between the method being, albeit flawed, continuation of the more successful Greek-Turkish and Muslim-Hindu conflicts. In the latter two cases, significant displacement of peoples was accepted as a necessary step toward a lasting peace. He accepts these instances of peace making without question, even though generations of familial history must be broken in order to bring it to pass. The creation of Israel is an attempt to create a safe homeland for an ethnic group that had suffered from considerable prejudice that spanned many nations. Its creation meant the displacement of people so that millions more could live. The current Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a direct result of a flawed nation state creation process that resulted in the creation of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. For Fisk, the fact that Israel's security fence has clearly curtailed the suicide bomber campaign of the early 2000's matters not. He just sees a tool for entrenching Israel's encroachment on Arab lands. 5 World Peace would be achieved if the West would stop interfering in the Middle East and somehow let them get on with their own lives: a form of Apartheid. At a religious level: The Muslim doctrine of Dawah means they will never leave the West alone. Furthermore, the West's liberal lifestyle, means that Muslim adherents will always see the West as a source of moral decay which must be expunged as an affront to Allah. The Christian doctrine of Mission carries the same mandate to actively promulgate the Gospel in Middle Eastern societies. To me: 1. The injustices of the Middle East should be laid at the feet of Arab and Persian leadership. It is their corruption and thirst for power that has led to their own enrichment, the emergence of an elite and the impoverishment and subjugation of their own peoples. Fisk's criticism is heavily biased against the West. 2. The West's desire to trade and to purchase resources for economic development is fair. It is only unjust when the West steps outside the normal bounds of international law. Examples of unjust behaviour should include using armed force to secure resources or to bend the will of an indigenous people to trade or obtain advantageous trading terms. 3. The roots of the Iraqi War of 2003 stem from Hussein's use of biological and chemical weapons on his own people, and his attempts to establish a viable nuclear weapons program. Hussein underestimated the amount of hysteria this could generate in the West. It may be that the Shia and Sunni portions of Iraqi society might be required in order to create a sustainable peace. There is no doubt that there are many tragedies that have resulted from the geo-political games that have been played in the Middle East. Fisk has seen many tragic events first hand. In this, I totally agree with Fisk that these tragic events are due to many injustices. However we differ on our analysis of what these injustices are and the events and motives that led to these events.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gordon Fee argues against Torah Observance

"...the ultimate contrast in Galatians is not between "works" and "faith", but between life under Torah and life by the Spirit. Life under Torah means to come under the very curse from which Christ has set us free; moreover life under Torah does not lead to righteousness, either in terms of relationship with God or in terms of godly behaviour. Only the Spirit, who appropriates the righteousness secured through Christ's death and resurrection, can bring life and effect righteousness of the real kind. So having begun by the Spirit, the Galatians are urged to finish by the Spirit. And this, not only because here alone is the way of life in Christ, but also because here alone is God's own antidote to the life of the flesh. Christ's death provided both freedom from Torah observance and crucifixion with regard to the former way of life; the Spirit appropriates this freedom in such a way that the believer neither lives under the slavery of the law nor makes provision for the indulgence of the flesh. But to "finish" by the Spirit means to walk by the Spirit; it means, in the final words of the argument, to sow to the Spirit by doing (lit. "working"!) what is good to all people, especially those of one's own family in Christ."

-- Fee, Gordon (2007). Pentecostal Commentary on Galatians. Pages 242-243.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Grace is not an irresistible force

"Grace is not an irresistible force, it is God's unmerited favour and what you choose to do with it, is entirely your own choice."
David Pawson, Unlocking the Bible

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Clive Wearing: A Communion Message

In November, I was rostered for Communion duty for the first time.  This was the Homily I gave:

Welcome, this is now the time where we share communion, and if you are visiting our church, then please feel free to join in or to pass the elements on, whatever you feel most comfortable doing.  If you have your bibles with you let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.

Jesus says “Do this in remembrance of me.”   A few moments later he stresses the importance of this thought by repeating it: “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

You may have had this passage brought to your attention many times. Today I’d like you to focus on these words in particular:   “In remembrance of me…”

Or to put it into less formal words, Jesus is saying “Remember me.”

I’d like to introduce you to Clive Wearing. Clive was an acclaimed musicologist, conductor, tenor and keyboardist.  By the time he was 47, he was at the height of his powers, an acknowledged expert in 14th Century to 18th Century European music and he was in charge of music for BBC Radio 3.   But in that year, his brain was attacked by a virus and now it cannot form new memories.  

He can only remember 30 seconds at a time. Every 30 seconds his brain reboots.  So every 30 seconds, he “wakes up” with no memory of the previous 30 seconds. As part of his therapy he was encouraged to keep a diary. You can see his entries next to his photograph. His entries repeatedly say, things like “I’m now awake,” or “I’m really awake”. But the previous entries are crossed out, because he has no memory of how they got there so he discounts them.

For Clive Wearing, with no memory, he is forever in the present, with no past and no way to plan a future.

And now we return to what Jesus said: “Remember me.” But in saying, “Remember me,” what memories is he referring to?

Let's read Jeremiah 29:11.

And unlike Brian Wearing, who without memories, can never make plans or have hope for the future, our memories of Jesus,  the sacrifice of his body for our sins, the shedding of His blood that cleanses us from sin, the memory of his interactions with him over the years, months, weeks, even in the last few hours or minutes, encourage us and give us hope for the future.  

But its possible that all this may seem very abstract and distant for you. Perhaps the idea of God talking to you or acting in your life and influencing your circumstances seems remote and far removed from your everyday experience,  then I encourage you to read on in this passage from Jeremiah: Jeremiah 29:12-14.

So you see, whether you are walking closely with God or if He seems remote and far away from you, Communion has something for us all.

And now we return to what Jesus said: “Remember me.”

May the servers come forward please

So let’s pray:

    “Blessed be you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who gives us the fruit of the vine, bread from the earth, and Jesus to be the true vine,

When we read Jesus’ words, “Remember me,” and as we eat this bread and wine, we remember,

we remember, His sacrifice for us  that redeemed us from our sins,

we remember, the things you have said, done and continue to do in our own lives,

we remember, the hope for the future that these memories bring,

we remember your invitation to seek you with all that we are,

and we remember, your promise that you will be found by us.

Thanks to my dear friend Anne Askey for the inspiration for this message.