This is Either Cool or Tragic

Camaro Purse
Yes, it’s a purse. On my blog. Bear with me here for a minute.
Kim White was lucky to find an entire warehouse full of old unused auto seat fabric and bought the whole lot. Now, she uses it to make cool purses and handbags. Hey, I’m not a girl but what’s not to like about a back made from 1983 Camaro seats (in three color combos)?
The tragedy is that this fabric could have been used to fix up actual Camaro seats. Still, ain’t it cool?
If the Camaro is a bit much, maybe the one below is better. It was scheduled to cushion your fanny while driving your 1974 Plymouth Fury. Then there’s the 1975 Gremlin bag, the 1975 Pacer bag and more.
Fury Bag.jpg
HT: Michael Banovsky at vLane

The Faith of Abraham

Great discussion at church tonight about the nature of Abraham’s faith. I’m not sure how successful I’m going to be in articulating my thoughts but here goes.
The key passage we looked at was from Romans 4:

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:18-21

Was his faith blind or without thought? No, it says he considered, the NIV says he “faced the fact”, that his body was as good as dead. He didn’t put blinders on to his circumstances nor ignore the facts of his surroundings, he faced them head on and chose to believe God instead.
A hint might be found in Genesis 18. God tells Abraham that the sin in Sodom is great and he’s going to destroy it. Abraham stood before the Lord and basically said, “Hold on God. What if …” 50 good folks? 40? 20? 10? He’s interrogating the Lord – humbly – but he’s grilling him. He wants to know what kind of God this is. Is he fair to the righteous when punishing the wicked?
Abraham had been hanging around God for a while, listening to him and following him. I think this is a turning point in their relationship. This is the first time that God let Abraham in on his plans. Sodom is wicked, and this is what I plan to do about it. This was a side of God Abraham hadn’t yet seen. Up until then, it was God saying follow and promising to bless him and Abraham following.
But here, Abraham stands up to God saying what if? And God patiently listens and answers. I think that this added to Abraham’s understanding of who God was.
So, when God promised him many descendants, Abraham looked at the facts. He was old, as good as dead. He was no longer equipped for fathering. But, there was another set of facts, perhaps more elusive or even subjective. That was the fact that God, who was powerful enough to rain fire down on Sodom, had never left him, had never let him down and had demonstrated his justice and fairness.
So, while the plain facts indicated that it was impossible, the facts of faith allowed him to proceed anyway. God had proven himself able to do the miraculous and had proven his trustworthiness. God was true, so his promises could be trusted even when tehy made no sense.
Faith isn’t simply ignoring the facts and believing God, it’s looking beyond the obvious to see the facts of faith. That God is with us, He sent Jesus to rescue us, that he is able to rescue and all those personal ways that we’ve felt his presence and that he has worked in us in ways that we cannot explain. And he has promised to never leave us, that all would work for good if we follow, that he would rescue us and that we would not be tempted beyond what we can bear.
So faith is looking squarely at the Earthly facts but seeing God who is over all, bigger than any circumstances and who already showed us how much He loves us in Jesus. In a way, faith is choosing to see the larger picture, or perhaps more accurately choosing to trust teh one that can see the larger picture that we cannot.

Romans 8:1 – No Condemnation

I had planned on reading much of Romans 8 today, but I stopped on Romans 8:1 and found that I needed to park there for a while. Maybe a long while.
Paul jsut spent the last two chapters explaining that because of Jesus’ death and our participation in it through our baptism, we are free from the law and sin. We are subject to neither anymore, because of Jesus. After establishing those comes the therefore:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Note that he does not say no guilt, oh we are guilty as all get out, but – because of Jesus – there is no condemnation. I’m convinced that I don’t get this. I don’t fully comprehend all that Jesus has accomplished in me. I suspect most of us don’t. No condemnation. Not some, not just a little, none.
I spend far too much of my life wondering what people think of me. It’s somehow ingrained in my being. I wonder if I’ve let you down, if I’ve offended you, in fact, I pretty much assume that, absence of you actually saying that I’ve done good, that I screwed up and you’re mad at or disappointed with me. Silence = condemnation as far as my messed up psyche is concerned. Any negative feeling about anything (the weather, your job, traffic, etc.) – it’s somehow my responsibility.
That’s a whole ‘nother topic, but here, Paul says there is no condemnation for me. God isn’t disappointed, he isn’t checking off the many ways I’ve fallen short, he isn’t considering what punishment might be suitable. He isn’t, as I certainly might, looking for an opportunity to teach me a lesson.

There … is … no … condemnation.

So, why then the long face or furrowed brow? Why, rather, aren’t we dancing in the streets? Giggling with joy, foolish with this understanding? Because we forget who He is and the work He has done. We forget just how marvelous, improbable – no, impossible – and complete this transformation He has made in us is.
We should be doing pirouettes on our desks, dancing in the rain and singing at the top of our lungs.
Stop for a minute and contemplate the weight and the buoyancy of this one little verse, a single sentence, 13 little words:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Let it bring the kind of smile to your face that will make folks wonder what’s gotten into you.
And then tell them.

Date Headings in Action Streams

I’m playing with Action Streams in MT so I can add my activity elsewhere here. It’s rather daunting, unless you just want to use the default settings, so I’m going to try to post tips as I go.
Say you have a feed that is infrequently updated that you want to display on you site using Action Streams. For me, it was my feed. I use to share music that I find interesting, but I don’t do so regularly. Some days I might blip a bunch of songs, then I might go days before the next blip.
The bundled Action Streams feed widget sorts the items by the day of the week. So, you get the subhead of ‘Today‘ and the items posted today, then you’d get ‘Thursday‘ (since today is Friday) and the items from yesterday, then ‘Wednesday‘ and so on until the max number of items is reached.
Well, if you set the number of items too high or if you don’t generate new items that often, you can get multiple instances of ‘Today‘. The reason is, the widget code simply checks to see what day it is today and then looks for any items that have the same day and changes the label to today. So, anything that happened on ‘Friday’, even if it’s 28 weeks ago, gets labeled ‘Today‘.
It’s a little odd to see ‘Today‘ then ‘Monday‘ then ‘Thursday‘ then ‘Today‘ again.
Fortunately, the fix is easy. You just change the date format to look for ‘Month date’ instead. That’s an attribute of the <mt:date> tag. In the Action Streams Widget, it’s <mt:date format="%A">, change that to <mt:date format="%B %d">. You’ll also need to change the <mt:StreamActionDate format="%A"> to <mt:StreamActionDate format="%B %d">.
That’s it. Now, today’s items will still say ‘Today‘, but older items will be labeled by their actual date, ‘May 3‘. If you want the date formatted differently, you can use the various attributes of the <mt:date> tag to generate whatever output you want.

Romans 7 – The Law and Sin

Romans 7:1 – “Or do you not know, brothers … that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?” Review Romans 6 (and Romans 7:4), through Christ we died and rose again. Since we are dead, the law no longer applies to us. Whoa.
Romans 7:4-6 – We were not set free from the law so that we could do whatever we want, we were set free to bear fruit for God. We are designed to bear fruit, without Christ, we bear fruit for death through sin, because of Jesus we can, and should, bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:10-11 – We like to believe that a set of rules will teach us to live and guide us along the way. This is true, to a point. The full reality, however, is that we are ill equipped to follow any set of rules completely. We fail, even at following our own pet peeves, let along the complete law of God. We frequently are offenders at that which we hate in others. So, what the law does ultimately is prove our inadequacies, showing us to be completely and utterly hopeless apart from Christ.
Romans 7:18-19 – “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Anyone else live here? So, if this was Paul’s experience, and we can relate as well, how then should we treat those who fall short as they follow Christ? I’m not talking about the blatant sins of adultery, rape, murder, etc, certainly Paul wasn’t saying that every now and then he falls back into hunting down those who disagree with him, as he had done with Christians. I imagine that he’s talking about character sins – harshness, pride, judgmentalism, anger. Do you know any disciples like that (you’re talking to one)? Do you dismiss them as ungodly, or treat them with love by mixing grace with frank honesty?

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