Wild Turkeys on Campus

It's not every day I get an e-mail like this (received last Friday at my school e-mail):
As many of you have noted, there is a group of wild turkeys who have made our campus their home. Recently we have received reports that some of these turkeys are becoming quite aggressive. Campus Safety is researching our options for coping with this situation and will provide a more comprehensive response to the campus community shortly. In the meantime, please use caution encountering the wild turkeys - do not engage them, run after them or provoke them.
One of my friends comments that he deals with problems like these with a 12 gauge shotgun.

Forgiving others and bearing the cross

Forgiveness has been a hot issue for me this past year. We all go through times when we have to deal with this issue, and for some reason it seems to happen all at once at times. Charlene has mentioned to me that she's been learning that part of what it means to follow Christ is to learn, as he did, the cost of taking on yourself the sins of others. That was a new thought to me, and it's not one that you normally hear in our circles. I was surprised to find her thoughts echoed this morning as I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship:
As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-men. The law of Christ, which it is our duty to fulfill, is the bearing of the cross. My brother's burden which I must bear is not only his outward lot, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it in the power of the cross in which I now share. Thus the call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian's duty to bear.
Pretty profound stuff when you think about it - and I am thinking about it.

How cool is Pernell? (a rhetorical question)

Last week I was working on a sermon about how God doesn't just forgive us, he also changes us. I got to thinking how we don't always feel like we're being changed when I came across this post by Pernell:
I Am No Better Than You...I am likely worse. Please keep that in mind as you read my blog. I am a mess. I am arrogant and stupid. I am selfish and pig-headed. I am confident, and yet a total chicken. I am opinionated and rude. I pretend to know stuff, and speak well "on my feet"... but I know very little, I just have the need to sound smart and together and right. I am lazy and forgetful. I am rarely the person I should be, or the person I really want to be, or the person Jesus created me to be. I am a miserable failure in many ways.
I knew that a lot of people would relate to these words. I know I do. Yet in a way I was taking issue with them, saying that even though we feel this way, God does change us. So, I thought this would be a good place to start off and talk about this issue. Pernell was cool enough to give me permission to use it even though he didn't know what I would say. Also, it's a little unfair to pick on someone who sounds a lot like Paul did in Romans 7, which opens a whole other topic of discussion... I got to thinking today: how cool is Pernell to let me do this? He's taught me a lot, and he's involved in some pretty amazing stuff, and he even lets me use and abuse his blog posts. So thanks, Pernell. I take my hat off to you and bow my balding head in thanks.

Three gospels

Dallas Willard talks about three gospels that are being heard today, and contrasts it with a fourth (reported by David Fitch):
Dallas asserted that there are "3 Gospels Heard at the Present" 1.) YOUR SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN and you will be in heaven in the afterlife if you believed that Jesus suffered for your sins 2.) JESUS DIED TO LIBERATE THE OPPRESSED and you can stand with him in that battle. 3.) DO WHAT YOUR CHURCH SAYS and it will see to it you are received by God. Dallas said compare these 3 gospels with the following: 4.) Put your confidence and trust in Jesus and live with him as his disciple now in the present Kingdom of God (Matt 6.33; Rom 8.1-14; Col 1.13; 3. 1-4; John 3.1-8). He said "Salvation is participating now in the life which Jesus is now living on earth - Of course that involves forgiveness and heaven afterward and much more."

Translating the Biblical message

A couple of years ago my brother and I were in England with my Dad. We started to worry about unscrupulous salespeople knocking on his door and taking advantage of his failing mind. So, we went into town to the hardware store and asked for a "No Soliciting" sign, which is what we would post in Canada. The look on the clerk's face told us that we really didn't want a sign that said "No Soliciting". She explained that a sign that said "No Soliciting" would mean "No Prostitutes" - fine as far as it goes, but not quite what we were looking for. She explained that we really wanted a sign that said "No Hawking". It was a good reminder that words mean different things, even if I'm sure what I intended to say. The language issue affects everything, including the way we communicate and understand biblical concepts. Ron Martoia writes:
I had come to recognize that we as Christians used language that other people either did not understand, or that pushed all the wrong buttons with them. As a result, we had little opportunity to have extended conversations about spiritual things with our friends and neighbors.
Ron explains that we ourselves face the language barrier as we read the Bible:
When Jesus spoke, there were details that would be understood easily by his first-century audience, figures of speech and other nuances that they would automatically be familiar with. For us, being removed from the first century by two thousand years, a different language, and a totally different culture, we have a lot of missing pieces to uncover before we can reasonably say that we're getting the whole story. And we have a lot of gaps to fill in before we can say we're even close to being on the same footing as those who heard Jesus' teaching firsthand.
As we get closer to understanding Scripture, our work is not over. We also have the challenging task of translating the Bible's message in a way that others will understand. Ron continues:
Faithfulness to what God has called us to do requires more than our own understanding of the basic message he has for the world. We also have to translate the message into a "language" other people will understand. Effective translation is often quite a bit more complicated than many of us are willing to pause and consider.
As Ron says, this is anything but easy. Instead of abandoning words, we're called to drill down and understand their true meaning, and then find "better and different English words to reflect their original meaning." All of this is to make sure that "the biblical text was accurately translated into our context." Here's the funny thing. We accept - even expect - missionaries to do this. But we find it scary to do this in our own context. I can understand why too. This requires hard thinking, and there are all kinds of ways for us to go off the rails. Pretending that the language gap doesn't exist, though, isn't exactly a great option. Static is a stimulating read on this issue. The publisher's book description says:
Words communicate. Christians often use words to communicate to others; however, these words aren't understood by many of those outside the church. We can be so absorbed in our "christianese" that we don't realize others don't understand the jargon and cannot figure out what it is we mean by what we are saying. Static readers will become aware of what we are saying so we can re-focus our thinking to communicate clearly to those outside the church.
It's a book that's definitely worth reading. I'm also looking forward to another one of Ron's books that is coming out later this year called Yearning: A Starting Point for a New Conversation about Jesus. I still have one more post in the pipeline on Static, as well as a review. You can pre-order Static at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. It's scheduled for release in April.