Saturday, July 30, 2022


Following the death in battle of Saul, king of Israel, David (1085-1015 BC) is first anointed king of Judah (1055) then, seven years later (1047), king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4-5). After David and his men take Jerusalem, he makes it the capital of the united kingdom of Judah and Israel. “David went on and became great, for Yahweh, God of Hosts, was with him” (v. 10).

Vulcan, false god of technology, bullies, bribes, and deceives us into building cities as our greatest monuments to him. Against Vulcan, David seeks to introduce a different element into Jerusalem. He seeks to devote the city to Yahweh by building in it a house (temple) for the Ark of the Covenant (ch. 6). The prophet Nathan, however, tells David that Yahweh does not desire this. Instead, Yahweh will build a house (dynasty) for David that will endure forever (ch. 7).


Yahweh yields to the demand of his people and has Samuel, prophet and last judge, anoint Saul of Benjamin as Israel’s first human king (1 Samuel, chs. 9-10). Previously, both Yahweh and Israel had understood him to be Israel’s king.

Initially, Yahweh is with Saul. When the Ammonites threaten to gouge out the eyes of every Israelite in Jabesh-Gilead, Yahweh inspires Saul and the people of Israel to defeat the Ammonites (ch. 11).

Friday, July 29, 2022

Dry Bones

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And…behold, they were very dry…Then he said to me, “Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:1-2, 11a; English Standard Version, here and following).

In “Faucet Theology” (July 28, 2022), we spoke of God’s silence today throughout the churches of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Of course, when God is not speaking his life-giving words to us, we get the situation revealed by God through Ezekiel: our reduction to dry bones.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Faucet Theology

When we want water, we go into the kitchen, turn on the faucet, and water comes out of the spout. When we have all we want for the moment, we turn off the faucet. When we want more, we repeat this same simple procedure.

Faucet theology works in an analogous way. When we want the Holy Spirit, we turn on the faucet of prayer and expect all the Spirit we want. When we are satisfied for the moment, we ignore the Spirit, as we do the water in the pipes, until we want more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

On Identifying with Others

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:25, English Standard Version).

Once, while teaching in a foreign country, I met a woman who needed to improve her English for work but couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. She happened to be an enthusiastic participant in a church I wanted to learn more about. We made a deal: I would go to church with her on Sundays; afterward, she would explain to me in English what had happened and answer any questions I might have.

Freedom from Self-centered Indulgence

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, English Standard Version, here and following).

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul speaks of our freedom in Christ as freedom from self-centered indulgence. He begins with examples of this freedom as refraining from self-indulgent evil. He speaks against factions (chapters 1-4), sexual immorality (5-7), and eating in the banquet halls of temples (8-10).

Paul then speaks of freedom in Christ even as voluntarily refraining from a self-indulgent insistence on rights which are good. He begins by rhetorically asking the Corinthians, Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? (9:1a). They rightly provided material support to other apostles, such as Peter (v. 5), when visited by them. Paul points out that he and Barnabas, in contrast, never claimed that right. His reason: they freely chose to endure hardship rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (v. 12).

Saturday, July 9, 2022


7 Thus he showed me: and behold, my lord was standing beside a wall [built with] a plumb line and in his hand was a plumb line.

8 Yahweh said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A plumb line.” My lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. Never again will I pass over him.”

9 And they will be devastated—the high places of Isaac;
and the sanctuaries of Israel—they will be laid waste;
and I will rise up against the House of Jeroboam with the sword”
(Amos 7:7-9, my translation).

By all ordinary appearances, in 750 BC the northern Kingdom of Israel was doing well. Spontaneous worship of Olympian gods was going well on the high places, mandatory worship of Yahweh was proceeding methodically at the sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan, the economy was buzzing, and relations with political neighbors were peaceful.

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Importance of Being Tender

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Jesus first told us that we were blessed, highly favored and truly joyful, in our response to his call to be poor in spirit; that is, to find our place with him on the margins of society (Matthew 5:3). He then gave us his blessing for seeing the suffering of others on the margins and refusing any longer to ignore, deny, or justify it (v. 4). Today he invites us to enjoy with him the blessing of meekness, gentleness, humility, tenderness (5).

Lviv in Context (4): Language

Indo-European is understood to be the root language of almost all the languages spoken by Europeans today. It developed into ten major branches. Those important to understand the linguistic context of Lviv, our microcosm, include Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Hellenic, and Italic.

Balto-Slavic eventually branched into Baltic and Slavic languages. 

Slavic developed in three directions: East, West, and South. Old East Slavic was the language spoken by Daniel of Halych, founder of Lviv in the mid-1200s, and by his descendants into the 1300s. Later it evolved into today’s Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Joyful Mourning

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

If we remember that blessed means both highly favored by God and truly joyful in response, then this blessing is a bit of a paradox. How can we mourn and be joyful at the same time? 

When Jesus speaks to us through these words today, he actually disenchants us. He breaks the spell under which we otherwise labor. This spell is cast by the unholy Olympian spirit of our age through their own unscrupulous Olympian media. This spirit entices us to crave happiness, power, and earned righteousness. It drives us to gratify this craving by serving the false Olympian gods of politics, war, technology, sex, money, and consumption. By breaking the spell of that lying spirit, Jesus frees us to affirm his Holy Spirit of truth, freedom, love, and vitality.

Lviv in Context (3): Religion

Let us define civilization as the enduring combination of society and culture, existing in a given area, defined primarily by one religion. This would mean that the organization of a society, its major cultural forms, and its dominant type of individual mentality are informed by, or give expression to, the major religion of a given area. I stress religion as the defining reality of civilization because it is religion which provides the most compelling beliefs, values, norms, goals, and stories. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Breaking the Spell (Matthew 5:3)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). 

When Jesus calls us blessed, his liberating word makes us highly favored and truly joyful. His word also always makes us increasingly marginal. We no longer fit in as well as we did before. That’s because, in speaking to us, Jesus disenchants us. He breaks the spell under which we labored. Unexpectedly we see things in a whole new way.

We live in an Olympian world. Here in the rapidly declining West, the six false Olympian gods appear to be our world’s dominant spiritual reality. The vast majority of people in the Empire, regardless of their other religious affiliations, are devoted primarily to these gods. This is true even of a vast majority of Christians. This Olympian spirit is the spell under which the majority lives.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Tufluvian/Olympian Spectrum: An Experiment in Thought

The spectrum itself: imagine concentric circles around a center
Jesus Christ: the source, center, and goal of all truth, freedom, love, and vitality
Each and every person: 100% Tufluvian personality (image of God)

100% Tufluvian/0% Olympian witness
First circle (closest to center): radiant witness
     First ring: outstanding: Christian (1)
     Second ring: excellent: Non-Christian (2)

Favor and Joy to the Marginal (Matthew 5:3)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Blessed has two meanings. It means being highly favored by God and truly joyful. Jesus tells us we are both when he speaks these words to us today and frees us to be poor in spirit.

The expression, poor in spirit, is given the most diverse interpretations. One way to discern its meaning is by comparing this blessing in Matthew with its parallel in Luke. In Luke, Jesus says, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). The poor would be the marginal. In terms of the six false Olympian gods, the poor would include those lacking in political, military, technological, sexual, monetary, and consumer advantages.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Jesus: Intrinsically Important (John 6:25-35)

A crowd speaks to Jesus about bread. The day before, Jesus miraculously fed over five thousand people with a mere five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-13). They were so happy they wanted to grab him and make him king. He narrowly escaped to a nearby mountain (v. 14). 

We may look for the meaning of life in happiness, power, or religion (Christ’s three temptations, Matthew 4:1-11). In the name of Jupiter, false god of politics, political leaders maintain their power by promising to provide people with the happiness that comes from a full belly with no work. The crowd following Jesus that day was especially pleased because he actually fed them.

Lviv in Context (2): God's Good Creation


We witness to Jesus in a certain context. Many ways exist by which we might describe it. One way is by identifying the country in which we live and by establishing the relationship between where we live and important cities nearby. We did this yesterday for Lviv, our representative city, in “Lviv in Context (1): Geography.”

Another meaningful way of defining context is in terms of God’s good creation: the land, water, and air (habitats) and all the animals and plants (species) that fill them. We witness most clearly to God as creator when we live in ways which respect the integrity of the habitats and species he purposefully created to serve as the context of our tufluvian relationship with him.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Facing Limitations (James 4:13-17)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:13-17, English Standard Version).

We cannot predict the future. We cannot know what will happen a year from now. We cannot even say with certainty what will happen tomorrow. While our knowledge, methods, and existence see quite solid to us, we kid ourselves. God’s existence and nature remain unshakeable. Despite all illusions to the contrary, we are much more like ghosts than rocks and our understanding much more like a bad fairy tale than an accurate description of reality.

Lviv in Context (1): Geography

To witness clearly to Jesus Christ, we want to keep our thoughts and words concrete. We may do so in two ways. One, and most importantly, we may relate how we think and speak to Jesus Christ. Two, we may relate how we think and speak to the other people and creatures in the place where we live.

We will be using the city of Lviv as a microcosm, as a smaller more comprehensible world, to better understand how we might witness more concretely to Jesus Christ there and anywhere else in our larger world. To benefit from using Lviv as a microcosm, we need to know—concretely—where it is. We will do that today by identifying the geographic position of Ukraine as a country and that of Lviv as a city in relation to others cities.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Declaration of Independence (1776)


In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.