Crepuscular

I finally looked up crepuscular last night. I seem to remember first encountering this word in the name of a radio program I used to listen to when I was in college – probably a jazz program on KCPR or KCBX – that I think was called “Morning Becomes Crepuscular”… But I could easily be imagining that. [9/13/07: I realized last night as I was falling asleep that I was thinking of “Morning Becomes Eclectic”, a syndicated radio show from KCRW. So I still don’t know where I first encountered crepuscular…]

At any rate, when I was looking up some related words (encountered when Jenann and I watched “Caves” from the planet earth series – which looks very cool on our spiffy new LCD TV), I came across crepuscular again, and I finally looked it up.

I initially found this page on Wikipedia, which describes the zoological use of the term. This was interesting enough, since I didn’t know before that there were animals which fell in between the categorizations of diurnal and nocturnal. Furthermore, there are 2 types of crepuscular animals, those who are active at dawn, and those who are active at dusk (see the Wikipedia page for more details).

But just a few minutes ago, I noticed the link at the top of the zoological entry to the page on the atmospheric optical effect, crepuscular rays. I had no idea that there was a name for this effect, something that I’m sure has been enjoyed by every sighted person who has ever walked the earth. I also didn’t know that they are also known as “God’s rays” – though I can see why they are called that.

Have fun with crepuscular!

My new Scripture memory technique

I memorized a lot of verses when I was a kid – my parents encouraged me to do so, I memorized some for Sunday School, and eventually I had to do a lot of memorization when I went to Christian Jr/High School (in El Cajon, CA).

In college and (more so) after, though I have wanted to be disciplined in working on memory verses, more often than not, I haven’t been. Part of the problem has always been the verification process; usually, when I’ve wanted to work on verses, especially in the early stages of learning any given verse or passage, it hasn’t been convenient to get feedback from another person. (I’ve even tried learning verses while riding my bike, “laminating” a small sheet of paper with tape so that I didn’t destroy the ink, much less the paper, with my sweat!)

Several months ago I discovered a new way of working on memory verses which has really worked well for me. I’ve shared the technique with a few people and have had some positive feedback, so I thought I’d share it here:

  1. Cut and paste the passage you want to work on from your favorite online Bible (or Bible software tool) into μsoft Word (or whatever you want to use).
  2. Read it a few times, say it out loud a few times.
  3. Looking at the pasted-in verse or passage, start typing the verse (or first verse of the passage). Do this several times.
  4. Here’s the benefit of this technique: mark (highlight) the original verse (copied in from the source you trust), hit Ctrl-Insert, Ctrl-F, Shift-Insert, and then Enter (in other words, copy the original verse into the clipboard, then initiate a search, paste in from the clipboard, and run the search).

This allows you to verify each and every instance of the verse you typed, down to the punctuation. Why do I care about the punctuation? It helps me think about the structure of the verse or passage: its grammar, nuances, etc. I find this greatly helps me in the process of meditating on the passage I’m working on.

One thing to watch out for: in Word, at least, you can’t search across a paragraph marker (i.e., the result of hitting the Enter key). At least, I haven’t bothered to figure out how to do that. So when you mark the text you want to search on, make sure you only swipe to the last visible character in the verse – a letter or some sort of punctuation mark – and don’t include any blank space.  (This also means that you can’t hit Enter before the end of a verse.  You could, of course, type a passage as a paragraph, but that’s more difficult to type correctly early on, and more difficult to check at any time.)

You should also recite the verses out loud, of course, to aid in the process of committing them to memory – but I’ve found that the process above really helps early on in the process of memorization.

If you find this technique helpful, let me know!

Repentance

There’s one thought I came across in Owen’s Mortification which has kept coming up to me lately, but which I resist — though I understand and acknowledge its truth: that God even grants us repentance — that without His work in our hearts, we would not repent. It’s very obvious in justification – from Romans 8:30 “…whom He called, these He also justified…”; Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life'”; Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”; Titus 2:25-26 “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”; Is 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” and many other texts – salvation is all God’s work. What can a heart of stone do to reach out to to a holy God?

But in terms of sanctification, I have a harder time with the concept. Owen cites: Acts 5:31 “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” and appears to apply this verse to believers. Well, I can’t argue with that in concept, though perhaps that is stretching the original intention of the verse. But, really, when I look at all of the verses above, how can they not also apply to believers? After all, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world of sin, John 16:8 – and He certainly does that for believers as well. Where would we be without the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Where would we be without His work of sanctification in our lives? Can I do anything in and of myself to kill the least of my sins? No.

So why do I struggle with this? My problem lies in the fact that I don’t want to make use of the fact that God grants me repentance as an excuse to not repent of some future sin. Or as an excuse for not repenting in the past. So with this concept in hand – that it is God who must grant me repentance, it seems like I’m suddenly freed from the responsibility of repenting! But that cannot be; in some mysterious way, like the “moment” of salvation itself, I must agree with God that I’m a wretched sinner saved by grace, and that some sin has come between me and a holy and just God – a sin which nailed a flayed Christ on the cross – and that thought alone should cause me great sorrow and lead me into the repentance God has granted me.

And by His stripes, I am healed.

Our first NOBC book!

The NOBC’s first read is The Heart of the Matter. I’ve wanted to read Graham Greene for some time, so I appreciate this choice.

“Done” with Mortification

I finally finished Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen. A tough read, as I indicated before, and worth a very slow and considered reading – but it is very rewarding. (After it is first very convicting!)

The next book by Owen which I plan to read is Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It is over 4 times the length of Mortification, so that will be quite a challenge! But I anticipate this will actually go somewhat faster since the latter 2/3 of Mortification went much faster than the first 1/3 after I got used to reading him somewhat. We’ll see!

The fool has said in his heart…

I’m working my way through a collection of Spurgeon’s sermons (at least 150-200 of them) on my PDA. In “The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God”, sermon #20 (which you can find here), I ran across this, which I hadn’t heard before:

That passage in the Psalms, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,” is wrongly translated. It should be, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.“ The fool does not say in his heart there is no God, for he knows there is a God; but he says, “No God—I don’t want any; I wish there were none.”

He goes on to say that this proves that the carnal mind is enmity against God – for wishing someone to not be is equivalent to wishing them to be dead.

But what really got my attention was the part about the Psalm 14:1 being mistranslated. I checked all my favorite translations, and they all translate it the same way. So I looked up Spurgeon’s full treatment of the Psalm in The Treasury of David (here), where he indeed gives some more information:

It is not merely the wish of the sinner’s corrupt nature, and the hope of his rebellious heart, but he manages after a fashion to bring himself to assert it, and at certain seasons he thinks that he believes it. It is a solemn reflection that some who worship God with their lips may in their hearts be saying, “no God.” It is worthy of observation that he does not say there is no Jehovah, but there is no Elohim; Deity in the abstract is not so much the object of attack, as the covenant, personal, ruling and governing presence of God in the world. God as ruler, lawgiver, worker, Saviour, is the butt at which the arrows of human wrath are shot. How impotent the malice! How mad the rage which raves and foams against Him in whom we live and move and have our being! How horrible the insanity which leads a man who owes his all to God to cry out, “No God”! How terrible the depravity which makes the whole race adopt this as their hearts desire, “no God!”

All this puts an entirely different complexion on the verse.

Previously, I thought this verse didn’t apply to me. Certainly some verses in Proverbs, describing the fool, have applied to me in the past, but I thought I was in the clear on this one. But if I ask myself if I’ve ever wanted God, in His role as righteous and just judge, to overlook my sin – particularly when I was mired in it at any given time, I’d have to say that I have. How is that different from the fool as described above?

It isn’t.

That’s heavy.

(If there are any Hebrew scholars out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this mistranslation issue.)

My follow-up post: The fool has said in his heart, redux.