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:: Sunday, March 06, 2005 ::

M Squared T Has Moved

Yes, folks, M Squared T has moved.

The new location is:

Kindly update your links!

After much deliberation and planning, we have decided to move to our own domain to expand the functionality of the site. In doing so, we are moving from blogger to WordPress.

This page will redirect in 10 seconds.

:: Matt 3/06/2005 06:00:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::
:: Friday, March 04, 2005 ::
Successful Return

My trip to Warren, OH to find housing was immensely successful. I found a great house in a nice neighborhood in southeast Warren, within about a 1/2 mile of the church. It's an 1800 ft^2, two-story house, built in 1925 and very well-maintained: all original (refinished) hardwood floors and woodwork, built-in cabinets and a fireplace. It's 3 beds, 2 baths. It'll be a great place to live!

Thanks be to God!

:: Matt 3/04/2005 11:27:00 AM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::
Apostellein - To Send Out

Sunday morning, before I left for Ohio, I was given the opportunity to say a few words to the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Champaign at Savoy. I thanked everyone for their support and guidance through the years as I grew up in the faith there.

As the service finished, the pastor brought me to the front of the sanctuary and prayed a "sending out" prayer, asking for anointing and joy in ministry. I feel downright "commissioned" and sent out from the congregation to do the work of ministry as I have been called to do.

Thank you, First Baptist Champaign!

:: Matt 3/04/2005 11:19:00 AM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::
:: Sunday, February 27, 2005 ::
Out of Town

I'm going to be out of town this week looking for housing in Ohio. Please pray that I find something suitable. I'll post when I return.

:: Matt 2/27/2005 09:35:00 AM :: permalink :: comments (3) ::
:: Saturday, February 26, 2005 ::
I broke my fast

This post could also be titled, "The Continuing Adventures of the TNIV Controversy."

After a period of about 2 1/2 years (about 2 years of that during Seminary), I made my first foray into a Christian Bookstore today. Actually, I went to two. I went because I was looking for some music we'd been doing in church for years on CD so I could play it for some of the folks at First Baptist Warren in the near future.

I couldn't find it at Best Buy (my first attempt for music), and I didn't have time for iTunes and burning the CD, etc. So I went to the Christian bookstore that was just down the parking lot from the Best Buy. I went in, and their music selection was really picked over. I mean, about half the shelves were bare. Others were thinly stocked. I found two of the four CDs I was looking for there. The clerk was only semi-helpful.

I decided that I also wanted to pick up a TNIV today while I was out running errands and read through it to decide if I wanted to use it regularly. After hunting around the "Bibles" section for a while, I finally gave up and went to the checkout counter. There were two clerks there, one working with a mom and 5-year old to get in-store credit for a non-existent VeggieTales item. The other clerk finished up with her customer and closed the aisle. I waited for about 15 minutes for the in-store credit to work, and the other clerk came back.

"Can I help you find something?" she asked. I said I was ready to make my purchases. She started walking away. So then I said that I was looking for a TNIV, did they have any? The busy clerk sort of startled and looked at me, then at the other clerk. I felt like she backed away just a bit. The other clerk said, "I don't think we have that one, we don't carry it here." I said, "Oh, that's too bad." She said, "I'll check with my manager." She got on the phone and came back out.

"We won't be carrying it, because it's too controversial. There's a letter that's posted in the office as to why - something about inclusive language." I said, "That's too bad, I think people need to read it to find out what the fuss is all about." She said, "I agree, but it's not my call." Then she went back into the office. Presently she emerged with a publisher's bound page proof of the TNIV New Testament. She said, "We were given these as samples to give out to people, you can have it if you want."

"Thanks," I said. She started to walk away again, but then thought better of it and said, "well, I guess I could ring you up."

She did, and I left.

I drove all the way to the other side of town, still looking for a couple of CDs, and now, more than ever, interested in tracking down a TNIV. I went into the other Christian bookstore's music section, discovering it to be kind of empty but not as picked-over looking as the other. I still couldn't find what I was looking for, so I went and asked the clerk at the counter. She looked it up - on the complicated text-driven IBM cash register/computer. She found it and we both scoured the shelf in that section until I found one of the two CDs. I gave up on the other one.

So as she was working on looking up another song for me, I asked the other clerk about the TNIV. I said, "I'm looking for something that seems a bit contoversial, so no offense, but do you carry the TNIV?"

"Of course," she said, and helped me find it. I picked up the little pocket-size one. We went back to the counter. The other clerk hadn't found the song I was looking for: it's a new version of "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go" played in a swingin' 2/2 meter with mandolin and guitar. We talked about how I didn't just want to pick up a CD of recycled hymns because the arrangements had the potential to be so awful. We all got a good laugh over that one.

Then I said, "I don't know why this TNIV is so contoversial - it seems like it works well in the campus ministry context, by avoiding the gender questions so much where it's unnecessary." Both clerks agreed with me, shaking their heads along with me.

They were friendly.

I don't think I'll be back to a Christian Bookstore for a while. Amazon.com works for most of the stuff I need (books and music, at least), and CM Almy has a decent website for the rest. I could end up being a full-time solo pastor at a traditional-ish church and not have to venture into a Christian bookstore for a really long time, if I plan ahead.

:: Matt 2/26/2005 11:30:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (1) ::
:: Friday, February 25, 2005 ::
George Verwer Speaks Out

This evening I attended All-Campus Worship, an event put on by the University of Illinois Evangelical Christian Union. ACW is a gathering of over 20 evangelical campus ministries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign held once a semester in the University's largest auditorium, the Foellinger Auditorium.

As usual, it was a powerful two-and-a-half hour event, with music, prayer, an offering, and a speaker. This semester's speaker was George Verwer of Operation Mobilization.

Verwer spoke on Luke 10:25 - 37, known as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He argued that we have seven different kinds of people that are on the side of the road; as believers in Jesus Christ, as his followers, we are called to care for these.

The seven are as follows:

1. Children at Risk: when war, famine, abuse and other sorts of tragedy hit, the children get hit the hardest. As believers in Jesus Christ we are called to care for children at risk all over the world.

2. Abused Women: One third of American women have been abused; globally (according to Verwer, could someone check this out?) that rate is dramatically higher. One of those ways is Female Circumcision - which, apart from being morally reprehensible, causes the death of many due to poor surgical practices globally. Of course there are many other ways women are abused: another he mentioned was women globally who receive HIV/AIDS through their philandering husbands.

3. Globally Poor: We as Americans do not understand poverty. Verwer encouraged the 2000+ college students to go visit third-world slums - only then would they be able to comprehend the level of poverty at which vast numbers of people live. Moreover, he joins the Liberation Theologians in stating that the Bible has a bias toward the poor, but that the developed world does not. We must be willing to adjust our national policies to deal with that issue.

4. HIV/AIDS: Having traveled extensively in Africa, he says that as big as we think the AIDS Crisis is, it's at least 5 - 10 times larger than any of us can fathom. We are called as believers to work in AIDS prevention globally.

5. Persons Without Pure Water: Lack of pure water causes many preventable diseases and disorders. We are called to respond to help bring safe water to every human being on this planet.

6. Aborted Babies: As believers we are called to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. We are called to speak up for the widows and the fatherless, the orphans, the children. We are called to lovingly deal with the abortion issue to stop the meaningless slaughter of millions of children worldwide. Once again, not just an American problem.

7. Planet Earth: God created our world, and called it "good." We are called to care for our environment, to cease our overconsumption of resources, to develop environmentally sustainable life habits - all these things will promote life in the world, something God is genuinely interested in.

This was a powerful message. It is rare for me to hear these seven issues discussed by the same person with a singular goal in mind: that believers in Jesus Christ should act upon all of these together. These are the "moral values" that we Americans must deal with - not just one or two off of the list. I hope that we are all able to hear this message: Christ cares about these things; if we do not care about them we deny Christ.

Kyrie Eleison!

:: Matt 2/25/2005 11:31:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::
:: Thursday, February 24, 2005 ::
Illini 28 - 0

I received a great gift last night: Dinner at The Ribeye and a ticket to the #1 ranked Illinois Men's Basketball game at the Assembly Hall.

The Illini blew out Northwestern by 36 points and received a share of the Big 10 title for their effort.

The atmosphere was electric: at one point early in the 2nd half, "the wave" went around the whole arena 4 times! Since this was probably my last home game in a while, I did some touristy stuff: recording the halftime stuff on my camera phone and buying a "100 years" sweatshirt. It was cool!

:: Matt 2/24/2005 12:32:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::
:: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 ::
TNIV, "Inclusive Langugage" and a comment on another's blog

Tim Bednar of E-Church has an interesting post on the relative merits of using the TNIV: a translation that is becoming more well-known for dealing with the masculine pronoun problems of the original NIV.

I think the TNIV could be a translation I use a lot - since I grew up on the NIV. It's one I could memorize and recite without so many of the gender questions being thrust to the forefront when I use it. But I also feel some ambivalence. Here's the comment I dropped on Tim's post.

Good thoughts on the TNIV. I grew up on the NIV, but I used the NRSV extensively in Seminary. As a language nerd, I use Greek a lot now for most stuff in the NT. I can't wait to get my hands on a TNIV - it'll be easier than stumbling to fix the gender questions all the time in public reading of scripture.

I would observe one thing that makes me a bit ambivalent about the inclusive language work: Take Galatians 3:26, ff. The NIV, and a bludgeoningly-literal translation of the Greek say "You are all SONS of God through faith in Christ Jesus... there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus."

Now, the NRSV says "in Christ Jesus you are all CHILDREN of God through faith." Perfectly reasonable inclusive-language translation, and very commendable. Much easier if you want to read it and not have to explain that "sons" means everyone.

But allow me to be the picky scholar for a moment: could it be that by translating "Children" rather than "sons" we have inadvertently dropped some of the radicality of what Paul was saying to his original hearers for the sake of today's hearers?

In Paul's day, only sons (typically) could inherit anything from their father. In this passage (Gal. 3:15 - 4:7), Paul is using an extended inheritance metaphor to describe our relationship to God by faith. By saying to both his male and female listeners that they are all SONS of God he is making the bald-faced declaration that all women have been RAISED to the status of inheritors just like the men. It is a statement of (not merely) equality between men and women but that all women (and for that matter, younger brothers) have the opportunity to receive what only the highest of the hierarchy could hold!

To take it one step further, the Greek for "children" (there are actually several different Greek words that we translate "children" in English) does NOT imply inheritance, only paternity. Of course, such a distinction was profound in the first century. One could (most definately) be one's biological child without sharing in the inheritance.

Perhaps for today, too: instead of being sired by an absentee father who wants us all to get along because we're really all alike, we are being called inheritors of all that God is and has.

All of which gives me pause. I will use the TNIV and NRSV, I speak in terms of "person" and "humankind" rather than "him" and "mankind" in daily speech: I just wonder if by solving one real, important problem, we're causing another.

Further thoughts?

:: Matt 2/22/2005 09:02:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (1) ::
Endgame: Champaign

Am really excited about the new pastoral work I will be doing (i.e., The New Job) at First Baptist Warren (Ohio). I am excited for the opportunity to join the people of Warren in ministry.

But I'm also starting to feel the fear and anxiety join in on the fun. I'm having to leave my hometown - not just the place I've grown up but my family's home town for the last 153 years. even in our transient community of 110 000, I still run in to people I know all the time - people I've known for years, family friends, college friends, neighbors. I know the managers at the grocery store I go to. I knew the waiter at lunch today at the Courier Café. There are streets in this town named after relatives of mine - ancestors, even.

My parents keep telling me that moving away from home (no, I haven't been living with them - they mean away from town) is part of the growing-up process. It's unavoidable, up there with death and taxes. But part of me wants to scream NO NO NO! It doesn't have to be like this!

And then I think, "now what exactly would I do here if I stayed?" I mean, I'm not really entertaining that idea anymore. But really, my training and education means either a) more education (necessarily elsewhere for the caliber of program I want), or b) working as a staff professional in a church. If I want to stay otherwise I have to do something completely different.

But it's also clear that the Call of God has gone out: the invitation that God gives to participate with him in the work of the Kingdom. And for now, this call has brought me into an amazing relationship with people in Warren, Ohio, which I never could have imagined. And they've invited me to lead them in ministry. That's nuts. Good nuts, but nuts. And I want to go. I'm eager to start.

But saying goodbye is so hard!

:: Matt 2/22/2005 08:13:00 PM :: permalink :: comments (0) ::

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