Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, September 29

Today: 2 Corinthians, chapter 11.
I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little. What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly. For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold (I speak in foolishness) I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.
Corinth was (and is) in Greece; the Corinthians were Greeks, at least the majority of them. How's that for saying the obvious? But where I'm going is this: the Greeks were proud (with considerable justification) of being the pre-eminent philosophers and mathematicians of their world. As far as it goes, that's a good thing; I'm certainly not here to disparage learning or the life of the mind. Still, because something is good doesn't necessarily mean that it's the highest good. Paul is finding fault with the Corinthians here because they are quick to follow erroneous teachers, provided that they have the appearance of wisdom (verses 4-6: For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.). The believer is to cultivate his or her mind, pursuing excellence in this way as in all others. But, as somebody said (sorry, I'm feeling too lazy to try to look it up), "the purpose of having an open mind is to close it -- on the truth." Our understanding of the truth of the gospel, and of its applications to what we see, hear, and do, are always to be open to refinement and correction; however, such refinements and corrections must be consistent with the written word of God in the scriptures (" ... the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" -- Jude 3).

In the remainder of the chapter, Paul seems to be dealing -- somewhat sarcastically -- with what I assume was some criticism of him among the Corinthian believers, based on his lack of dazzle, perhaps, as an orator and generally charismatic figure. What jumps out at me here is the nature of wqhat Paul presents as his important credentials or decorations: labors, beatings, imprisonments, whippings, stonings, hunger, thirst, cold, exposure, and so forth. Again, it's the inversion of the "natural" order of things that is the signature of true Christianity: the last being first, the first being last, the greatest as servants of the least, the innocent dying so that the guilty might live. All thought of getting what I deserve is to be dumped, and quickly. I won't get what I deserve -- God be praised!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Do They Bother?

The Peace Laureate Administration must be short on ways to occupy its collective time. Why are they expending any effort toward making a legal figleaf for themselves? Last time they wanted to simply inhale the entire internet, emails, etc., didn't they Just Do It?

I'm sure that Carnivore or Omnivore or the successor beast, by whatever name, is still munching up absolutely everything related to telecommunications. And will continue to do so, regardless of what laws or regulations they do or do not imprint on toilet paper. Who cares? Just assume they're listening. And that they're stupid. Both are, I think, very good bets.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little Colbert Rapport

Ordinarily, I have very little use for Mr. Colbert. Like his fraternal twin on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, he's one of the many snarky proggies who can't bring themselves to condemn Peace Laureate Obama for continuing the warmongering and corporate harlotry of the Bush administrations without even the slightest breach of continuity. Pretentious partisan hacks, in other words. Still, I regard it as a good thing that Stevie C. "testified" in character before a sorry collection of Congressional buffoons last week. Some say Stevie's performance was an affront to the dignity of our great national legislature. Obviously, that's not true; what can possibly constitute an offense to a dignity that doesn't exist? This was just a matter of one clown performing for others. This is like Jesse "the Body" Ventura being elected to a state governorship: it shows, for those with eyes to see, how idiotic our governance really is. Hooray, say I, for all such demonstrations.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Heartland Speaks

This is about a week old now, but I think the subject matter is pretty nearly timeless. At least, it's certainly applicable to any time in the past decade or so. And Elkhart, Indiana is only about seventy-five miles from where I'm typing this.
ELKHART, IND. - The Afghan war began more than half a lifetime ago for the teenagers in Adam Meyers's world history class. Some of his students think the terrorist attack that prompted the war was an airplane accident. To them, al-Qaeda remains a mystery, the Taliban an enigma.

The American battle for Afghanistan? "It doesn't register," Meyers said.

"We should just end it. Bring the troops home," said Ashley Ivory, 17, who thinks the war is doing nothing to stop terrorists. "They're just sneaking in here while we're over there. We don't have enough eyes."

The views of the students and the community around them echo a growing national skepticism about U.S. involvement in a distant war that will soon enter its 10th year and register its 1,270th U.S. casualty. A majority of Americans say the war has not been worth its cost, an opinion voiced frequently in Elkhart, a hard-luck town that sees the conflict through the lens of loss and economic hardship.
Skepticism about US involvement in a distant war? So far, so good. Maybe there's hope. Or, reading on ... maybe not.
Views in Elkhart tend toward exasperation, a collective throwing-up of hands, rather than the competing emotions of anger and pride over the Iraq war at its combustible peak. Even people who think U.S. troops should keep fighting tend to say so in reluctant tones.

"We're stuck. I just wish we could pull out, but we can't," said Becky Cole, an office manager having a drink recently at the Bulldog, a restaurant in east Elkhart. "The one thing I hate about it is we've been there nine years."

On the next stool, her friend Richard Meyers, a plant manager who lost his job in a downsizing four months ago, was drinking what he called a poor man's martini - Miller Lite with four olives. He was more blunt.

"We send our kids over there and bring them back in body bags. The answer? Japan," Meyers said, suggesting that the United States should drop a nuclear bomb. "The longer we're over there, the more we're going to pay."
I'll give Ms. Cole the benefit of the doubt, in that I'm not sure whom she means by "we." If she means ordinary subjects of the Empire, such as herself or me, that's true; we definitely can't get The Troops out of Afghanistan, nor any other segment of the Empire. If she means our national leadership, my question is: why not? Of course they could. They just don't want to. As for Mr. Meyers, I don't suppose it occurs to him that he's given a rather incomplete picture of the process: we send "kids" to Afghanistan, where some are installed in body bags, and some kill lots of the swarthy natives and don't trouble about body bags. Some, indeed, form gangs and hunt the wogs for sport and trophy body parts. Others -- the lucky ones, for sure -- merely repair some trucks or cook some meals, and eventually return in one piece, more or less. Since the natives aren't real to Mr. Meyers, it's easy for him to prescribe a nuclear remedy for the problem that their existence seems to pose for we Americans, who are the crown and center of the universe. To which I can say only: may he choke on his poor man's martini.

It doesn't get better:
From the front door of his secondhand shop down the street, Don Fisher watches the comings and goings at the Shoecrafts' home. He was fond of Justin and considers Blue Shoecraft a real friend. But he has not stopped by.

"I need to go down and hug him, and I just can't bring myself to do it," Fisher said. "Because I know that when I do, I'm going to cry, too."

Fisher is an Army veteran who voted twice for George W. Bush and backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over Obama. Although polls show stronger support for the war among Republicans than Democrats, Fisher says he always considered the Afghan war unwinnable. The billions in taxpayer dollars should be spent on "people who are sleeping under bridges or living out of food banks," he said.

Yet he is torn between withdrawing now and fighting toward some sort of equilibrium.

"We've been there too long, way too long. I just think it's a useless war," said Fisher, a soldier from 1958 to 1967. "But we can't really pull out now, because the other nations would think we're cowards."
Difficult to think of an adequate reply to that. It's a shame we can't call a pre-action briefing for the next few hundred Afghan women and children who are going to be ripped into bloody pieces by American high explosives. We could explain to them why they have to die: because otherwise, America's global public image (as ferocious and merciless warriors) might suffer. I'm sure they'd understand the necessity.

But Mr. Fisher's just a man. Maybe if we hear from a gentle, nurturing woman, we can be encouraged. Here we go:
Sue Glaser is among those who think the war must be fought and fought hard, for the safety of the United States and the future of women in Afghanistan. A retired furniture designer, Glaser feels "sick about the boys," but says she believes a military pullout ahead of Obama's 2011 timetable would amount to surrender.

"We should go in with both barrels and see if we can win it. We've got to get the Taliban out of there," Glaser said. "If we let them get away with it, our children are going to be fighting them."
Don't you just love the way people can use metaphors to avoid actually saying what they mean? "Go in with both barrels." What does that really mean? The only thing it can mean is kill. Kill more. Kill lots more. Where we once murdered one, murder ten. Or a hundred. Maybe a thousand. Otherwise, "our children are going to be fighting them." Well, don't worry, Ms. Glaser, your children will indeed be fighting them. Please don't pretend to be distressed at the idea. You wouldn't have it any other way.

The great American economic collapse: it can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, September 22

2 Corinthians, chapter 10:
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ -- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I may not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at all things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself. For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame, for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible." Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present. For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves, but when they measure themselves by themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we shall be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
You can't have a war without an enemy ... so what's the enemy? Paul cites four: fortresses, speculations, lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God, and thoughts. We can tell right away that this isn't a "Sgt. Rock" sort of war the apostle's writing about; it's a fight against misunderstanding, and against not seeing what's really there to see. Hell is happy to provide us with vain philosophies and other mental futilities by which we are blinded, flattered, coarsened, and calloused until our damnation is complete; these must be rejected and left behind as we draw nearer to Him who loves us and will heal us from our wounds -- self-inflicted and otherwise.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Instant Travel

One thing I'll say for the day job: they're about as predictable as a six-month-old kitten on speed. Found out today that I'll be gone tomorrow, probably for the balance of the week. Hence, in all likelihood, no posting.

The pathetic part, to be honest, is that there might not have been any posting anyway. So it goes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is This a Great Country, or What?

On the eve of the Holy Nine-Eleven, the great Koran-burning is on again, off again, on again, off again ... call the jackleg preacherman Terry Jones a clown if you like -- I'll not dispute you -- but he obviously knows how the great American public enjoys being teased. Indeed, it seems to me that he's learned something from noted big-money basketball gladiator Lebron James. Maybe he could get a half-hour special time slot on ESPN (or maybe the 700 Club, more like) for the revelation of his final decision: torch or no torch for Korans? Relocation or not, for the eeee-vill sort-of-near "ground zero" sort-of mosque?

I tell you, I've seldom read so much nonsense at one time. Some say it's wrong to burn a book -- any book. What superstitious, idolatrous twaddle! A book's a collection of paper and ink, not a person; as long as it's my property, I'll burn any book that seems appropriate to me for burning. I've disposed of more than one badly-written novel that way, in campfires. Maybe Preacher Jones thinks (ha!) it's his duty to burn all erroneous religious texts. If so, I have a question for him: do you plan to burn some Talmud? How about some Books-of-Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and whatnot? Got room in the bonfire for the voluminous printed output of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society? Second question (since I'm sure the answer to the first would be "no"): why not?

And then, there's Prexy and his high-ranking uniformed torpedoes; they have the vapors because the Sons of the Prophet will get all angry and kill The Troops on account of Koran-burning, which will make it seem that we're at war with Islam. Well, you know, I'd say the death and destruction that The Troops have rained on hundreds of thousands of them-there Moooslims may already have suggested that to them. When you are, in fact, at war with Islam, the best way to convince them otherwise might be to stop. If you're all worried about The Troops' safety, maybe you could get them out of all the places they're occupying, post haste. Wouldn't take more than a week, if you're really interested. But that's not happening, is it?

We now return you to the bizarre "reality" show that your country has become.

The Word for Friday, Sept. 10

2 Corinthians, chapter 9:
For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I have sent the brethren, that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, that, as I was saying, you may be prepared; lest if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to speak of you) should be put to shame by this confidence.So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, that the same might be ready as a bountiful gift, and not affected by covetousness.

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written,
"He scattered abroad,
He gave to the poor,
His righteousness abides forever."
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
As with many quotations from the Old Testament in the New, this one is an approximation from Paul's memory; Psalm 112, verses 8 and 9, says:
His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.
He has given freely to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted in honor.
The subject of the psalm is the righteous man, the man who fears God, and how God upholds him in everything. This is worth keeping in mind as we read Paul's words here. These words have sometimes been used to suggest that giving to God's work (or, more accurately, to some person who represents his enterprise as "God's work") can be seen as a supernatural investment program, that will make the giver rich, rich, rich! But let's read carefully: " ... God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed ... " (emphasis added). Yes, abundance is promised, but abundance for a purpose: the doing of good deeds. I'd suggest that the nice vacation cottage at the lake, or the super-duper big-screen HDTV, are not what's meant here.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Cheap Gas?

Well, "cheap" is a relative term. Maybe "slower to get more expensive" is closer:
Gasoline demand in U.S. slipped 3.1 percent. Experts predict that several factors have been neglected for over a year and this includes factor such as driving season demands. As per the experts all such issues are being considered now.

But will fuel demand drop? This yet remains to be seen; nonetheless this seems to have many takers and oil fell for the 2nd day based on this speculation. The other factors that have led to the fall in oil demand is the issue that the global economy will be slow in recovering. So whether oil demand will rise remains to be seen.
Ah, yes, those "other factors." The global economy being slow in recovering.

So, what if this turns out to be, well, a little more profound? What if talking about the global economy being slow in recovering is like a paleontologist talking about the dinosaurs as being slow in recovering?

One might reply, "Well, there's always war. All those humvees and APCs and helicopter gunships and so on aren't exactly fuel-sipping hybrids." True enough ... but, if we're too poor to report to our local Wal-marts and buy up the Chinese manufacturing output, the Chinese might not see their way clear to continuing to front Uncle Psycho Sam the necessary scratch to fuel his war machine. Never assume there's always going to be a lender whenever you want to borrow.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story

Click here to see it. If you've got a minute, read the piece; it's not long, and Mrs. Kwiatkowski's always worth reading. If you're in a hurry, just scroll down to the picture.

A picture of what? Well, it's a picture of your country, O Fellow Americanos, in this brave new century. And it's a very concise refutation of the notion that Obama I differs in any significant way from Bush II ... something that blue-jersey and red-jersey players both love to assert. And it's a useful thing to contemplate as quickly-increasing swarms of economic chickens settle in, having returned to their home at sunset.

Go ahead -- have a look.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Waiting For the Denunciations

So, the guy wanted:
A manifesto posted on a Web site registered to a person named James Lee, who gave a post office box in Canada as his address, lists several demands to the Discovery Channel, saying the station "MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet." It lists 11 demands about airing shows that would promote curbing the planet's population growth, finding solutions for global warming and dismantling "the dangerous US world economy."

"All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions," it reads. "In those programs' places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it."
All environmentalists, and all "pro-choice" types, need to immediately denounce the late Mr. Lee's actions and apologize for him. And then, for the next decade or so, I'm probably still going to handwring about those violent crazies in the green, pro-abort movement. Fair's fair.

Operation NewSpeak

As the stomach churns:
In the marble rotunda of Al Faw Palace, one of the lavish former homes of Saddam Hussein that serves as the American military headquarters in Baghdad, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. Ray Odierno sounded the same theme in a made-for-television ceremony to inaugurate Operation New Dawn, as the post-combat phase has been named. The United States, they said, was moving toward an exit after seven years of war but would not abandon the country.
A "made-for-television ceremony?" What other sort of exercise do our supervisors undertake?

So, they say, the war's over. Big whoop. The war's been over for more seven and a half years. The occupation, of course, continues, as it will indefinitely. The force structure has shifted marginally away from regulars and toward mercenaries. Otherwise, what's changed? What's going to change?

Oh, yes, all hail Operation New Dawn. Yowza, yowza.

The Word for Wednesday, September 1

2 Corinthians, chapter 8:
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches in Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Consequently we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. And I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now, finish doing it also; that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality -- at this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality; as it is written, "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack."

But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. And we have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the curches; and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent, because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. Therefore openly before the churches show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.
This isn't the appeal for giving that we modern American churchgoers are accustomed to hearing. The solicitaion is from one church to another; a particular set of people are being asked to give to another particular set of people. I suppose they have not physically met, at least for the most part; but the appeal is personal nonetheless.

We notice also that to give material support to fellow believers is not presented as a painful duty, but rather as a privilege, for which the Macedonian church, poor though it was, actually begged. Not very similar to "Stewardship Emphasis Month," is it? So, too, do we see Titus being positively eager to work among the Corinthians and minister to them. Not very much like working on the church Nominating Committee, hmmmm? One might think that perhaps the Spirit is at work here, among and within all concerned.

Finally, notice the sources of the Macedonians' liberality in giving. Paul cites "their abundance of joy and their deep poverty," which "overflowed in the wealth of their liberality." Their deep poverty is a resource? So it says here, but that's certainly very foreign to the way we think. But then, Christianity often seems to be largely an exercise in turning our habitual thoughts and ways on their heads. It shouldn't be surprising, I guess, but it always is.

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