Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book: The Methuselah Project: A Novel

What do you do with someone who does not age, and would only die under certain specific conditions? What would that life be like? These are the bigger questions found in Rick Barry’s The Methuselah Project: A Novel. (The “A Novel” part is necessary because there is already, apparently, another book with The Methuselah Project as its title. I digress.)

Barry’s not writing philosophy, though, so you experience those questions in the narrative of the life of a man. A man who simply had his duty set before him, and then it all went wrong. That man is Roger Greene.

This is a fairly straight forward science fiction/thriller novel. Is the science plausible? Possibly, though Barry is vague enough on the science that you realize it’s fictional. Then you have the thriller elements as Greene approaches the new world he lives in.

I was surprised at the smaller number of fish-out-of-water moments for Greene. The focus was more on the survival/action of the moment. Which is a fine focus. It just wasn’t quite what I expected.

In the current Marvel-dominated media world, the comparisons between The Methuselah Project and Captain America can’t be ignored. Barry has enough differences, though, to separate the two. The first being Greene’s forced involvement, the work of a classic mad scientist, compared to Rogers’ voluntary work. Other items will be clear to the reader.

I have no qualms recommending this as a sci-fi thriller to you, my readers. This includes a willingness to hand off my copy to youth readers like my children. There are some heavy plot moments, but all are handled with a respect for many people’s preference not to have all of the details of love or death.

I like it. It’s a good diversionary read, though wondering “what’s next?” is the way this one leaves you…

I did receive a free copy in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fight the Shrink! Hebrews 10

In Summary:

Hebrews goes on, speaking of our need for one sacrifice, and one sacrifice only. Through the course of Hebrews 10, the author returns to the shortfalls of annual animal sacrifices. First by highlighting that the conscience isn’t really salved by such sacrifices, and then moving on to showing where God Himself expressed that animals aren’t good enough for Him.

Instead, our intrepid author (who continues to be Apollos. Or Luke. Or Barnabas.) brings the Psalms back and focuses on the supremacy of Christ. Which, despite Hebrews having some excellent things to say about faith and obedience, really is the focus of the book as a whole. The supremacy of Christ to all to other gods, revelations, or sacrifices, and therefore our only viable option is to place our obedient faith in Jesus.

This is reinforced by the “new and living way” to enter the presence of God (Hebrews 10:20,) which is through Jesus. Prior to this, the apparent way into the presence of God was through a pile of bodies, wracked by the carnage of death and in turmoil as regarding whether or not the sacrifices were sufficient. We go through the perfect way, the One who not only died but arose, showing that His sacrifice fulfilled all of the need. We need not, therefore, flee in terror from the presence of God. Neither do we fear assembling with God’s people, for there exists no risk that their sacrifices were insufficient and that we would be swept away in the judgment of another.

In Focus:

Let us turn, wholeheartedly, to Hebrews 10:39. The NASB renders it as “we are not of those who shrink back,” which is probably the better way to bring this into English. It could be rendered as “we are not the shrinking back ones,” and the same would apply to “those who have faith” as being “we are ones of faith.” The main use, outside of the Bible, of the term that “those who shrink back” seems to be of military reserve forces. Not like our “reserves” that are called up in crisis but the ones who are “held back” in the battle plan, just in case they were needed.

They still got to march in the victory parade when all was said and done, though. Without any actual taking of the risks—just by being there but being “held back.” Sometimes, it was a sound military strategy to “hold back” a few troops, but the author of Hebrews is not talking about a logical and reasonable plan. He’s addressing those who would volunteer to be held back.

In Practice:

Which, practically speaking, would have been an act of cowardice in most cases. The typical legionnaire was expected to face the enemy and fight. He had trained for warfare. His unit counted on him, his brethren in arms counted on his presence. It was not an optional involvement. He was necessary. Those who were physically unable to participate in the battle were not put into the reserve, they were put in the infirmary. Those are a different matter.

Here are those who hear the trumpet call to assemble and face the enemy, and instead volunteer to catch up later. Or to be fresh and rested when it’s all said and done. These are the people who are glad to see the church on Sunday, but have no interest in engaging a lost and dying world in between church events. After all, theirs is the calm assurance of heaven and being in the victory parade. No sense in getting hurt before then, right?

Except then we don’t really do much good. Stop holding back and get to walking in obedience. Our Supreme Sacrifice is also our Supreme Battle Commander. Let us follow, though all is dark around us. Fight the urge to shrink. Stand firm.

In Nerdiness:

The information I’m working on comes from the Annals of Tacitus, and so I might be off the deep end. But I think there’s something to the overall idea of what ὑποστολῆς refers to in this case. At least the mental image that would have been drawn.

I find it interesting that Hebrews 10:23-36 seems to suggest that remembering prior suffering is our encouragement in current suffering. As in, don’t think you get to go through bad stuff once and then never again. It keeps coming back.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sermon Recap for October 4

Apologies for the hum on the video. It’s not the camera. It’s the way the sound system was set up. I have fixed it. I will be telling the sound guys to leave it alone, because it is now fixed. The evening is just flat unwatchable. The morning’s not much better.

Morning Sermon: John 4:1-6 “The Needs of Jesus” (audio)

Evening Sermon: Exodus Part II, Tabernacle and the Passover (audio)