Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Our Christmas Letter 2014

At Christmas 2014
This is a rambling account of our year. Please feel free to stop reading at any point. There were pictures in the .pdf version. Ask me and I'll send you that version as well.

On January 4, the day the family left after a wonderful Christmas time together here in Coupeville, we were in the airport ready to leave for San Jose del Cabo, when we noticed a hemorrhage in Michele’s eye. Checking it out, we discovered that it might be serious, and so took the shuttle back to the Island and had an emergency appointment with an ophthalmologist. Canceled the Mexico trip. Eventually, we found the cause, no surgery needed, the bleeding stopped, and eventually the floaters became less visible.

Michele kept busy all year working as a volunteer with the Lighthouse Environmental Project, accountant for Habitat for Humanity, tax preparer for the AARP free tax prep service, and at our local food bank, Gifts from the Heart, where she is the treasurer and distribution helper.

Tom continued all year to teach the Gospel of John to a growing (now 25-30), ecumenical group, and Greek to four fearless senior adults. He also serves at two churches (Episcopal and Lutheran) in a variety of roles (worship leading, committee chairing, teaching) and serves on the Boards of
Whidbey Island Theological Studies (WITS) and Whidbey Island Community Education. He also had a couple of dysplastic nevi removed from his back with more to come.

We hosted a Super Bowl Party in early February, and with a lot of shouting, beer, and snacks, we celebrated the Seattle Seahawks win. Not sure about their fate this year, but there is still hope.

Amy and Tom finished their translation of Sophronius’ Life of Mary of Egypt, which will appear eventually in a book Amy is writing on this saint who lived from about A.D. 344-421. Tom is also co-writing a book on “Strife in the New Testament” with a friend who is a professional conflict mediator and fellow Presbyterian pastor.

We saw about ten Mariners games this year, including the 3-game series with Detroit in May-June. We missed the playoffs by one game, which will be easily made up for by the acquisition of Nelson Cruz, right? I am not talking about the George Fox fantasy baseball league, where I dwell so close to the cellar perennially that there is mold on my bat and glove.

Jason, Helen, Nina (8), and Nathaniel (5.5) visited us for a week in April, and we spent a week with them and the rest of the family in July at their beach house in Rockport, Mass. Hiking, boating,

and relaxing. Helen also ran her first marathon this year! We are all very proud of her. Jason works for Merck as a VP for “scientific informatics.” 

In March we spent a week at Eagle Crest, and we are planning to do the same this year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. That celebration will be extended in the fall, God willing, during a three-week trip to Venice, Italy, cruising the Mediterranean and to Assisi.

Michele spent a week in Michigan in April with her Mom and sisters, who live north and east of Grand Rapids in Remus. We will both go there this summer as well. Jane is 94 and doing well.

We just got back after Thanksgiving from a short week with Sarah and Matt at their new house in Roseville, MN. It is near Sarah’s teaching at St. Thomas University (psychology dept.). Matt commutes several days to Rochester, MN, where he works for the Mayo Clinic designing new software for patient/staff interface. Basenjis Ruby and Momo were glad to see us too.

Grandson Sam (13) came out here for a few days of fishing and crabbing this summer. He caught his first salmon. We shipped it back on dry ice to Colorado, where he also had a thriving crepe business in Leadville. His crepe cart pulled in up to $200 a day! Peter’s new business, crafting models of the CO mountains (and other spots), is going well. Amy continues to be an associate editor for The Christian Century magazine, but doesn’t have to travel to Chicago monthly anymore. She travels too for speaking at and attending writing and spirituality conferences.

Our friends from college days and beyond, Dennis and Sharon Eicher came for a few days in August, and we have stopped in at their place in MN the past two Thanksgivings. In October we went to Kauai with our friends Dwight and Judy Smith. We really enjoyed exploring this beautiful Hawaiian island.

It has been an eventful year. If anything, we feel that it has been too busy, but for us that is way better than the opposite. We both like to stay active in service and enjoying with thanksgiving the lives we have been given.

Grace and peace at this joyful Christmas season, 
Tom and Michele Johnson 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE - rev. 9/11/14

GENERAL:

*ADLER, MORTIMER, HOW TO READ A BOOK
*BENNIS, WARREN, ON BECOMING A LEADER
*COVEY, STEPHEN, THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE

THEOLOGICAL:

BONHOEFFER, DIETRICH, LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON
*BRUNNER, EMIL, THE WRITINGS OF, ESP. TRUTH AS ENCOUNTER
CALVIN, JOHN, INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
LADD, GEORGE E., A THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
*LEWIS, C.S., THE WRITINGS OF, ESP. SURPRISED BY JOY 
LUTHER, MARTIN, THREE TREATISES
NIEBUHR, H. RICHARD, CHRIST AND CULTURE
PINNOCK, CLARK, THE OPENNESS OF GOD
STOTT, JOHN R.W., BASIC CHRISTIANITY
TALBOTT, THOMAS, THE INESCAPABLE LOVE OF GOD
TILLICH, PAUL, THE WRITINGS OF

PHILOSOPHICAL:

BUBER, MARTIN, I AND THOU
CARNELL, E.J., A PHILOSOPHY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
COPLESTON, FREDERICK, A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
HOLMES, ARTHUR, ALL TRUTH IS GOD’S TRUTH
*PIRSIG, ROBERT, ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE

DEVOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL CLASSICS:

*BIBLE INCLUDING THE APOCRYPHA, THE
*BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER
DE MELLO, ANTHONY, AWARENESS
*JULIAN OF NORWICH, THE SHOWINGS, OR REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE
KEATING, THOMAS, OPEN HEART, OPEN MIND
KELLY, THOMAS R., A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION
*LAWRENCE, BROTHER, THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
NOUWEN, THE WRITINGS OF HENRI, ESP. THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON
*PENNINGTON, BASIL, CENTERING PRAYER
ROHR, RICHARD, (MOSTLY HIS DAILY BLOGS)
SMITH, THE WRITINGS OF HANNAH WHITALL
WHISTON, CHARLES, PRAY

PSYCHOLOGICALLY ORIENTED:

CARNEGIE, DALE, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
*DYER, THE WRITINGS OF WAYNE, ESP. THE LATER ONES
FOWLER, JAMES, THE STAGES OF FAITH
FRANKL, VIKTOR, MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING
PECK, M. SCOTT, FURTHER ALONG THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
*PECK, M. SCOTT, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
ROGERS, CARL, ON BECOMING A PERSON
*TOLLE, ECKHART, THE POWER OF NOW

FICTION:

BERRY, WENDELL, THE NOVELS, ESP. JAYBER CROW
*LEWIS, C.S., THE NARNIA CHRONICLES AND THE SPACE TRILOGY
TOLKIEN, J.R.R., THE HOBBIT AND THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Why Learn New Testament Greek?

                      REASONS FOR LEARNING NEW TESTAMENT GREEK
         
There are many reasons for learning New Testament or Koine Greek. Some people just don't have anything better to do with their time. Bored of TV sports, reality and game shows, and video games, they say to themselves, "Gee, I think I'll learn Greek." Now, I will grant you that this doesn't happen very often, and some of these people are institutionalized. The Nielsen ratings for New Testament Greek are also pretty low compared to Monday Night Football and Wheel of Fortune, the last time I checked.
         
Other people learn New Testament Greek in order to speak it conversationally. They are usually very disappointed to discover that it is a dead language. It used to be pretty popular around the time of Jesus. But now, not even Greeks speak it anymore, and New Testament Greeks are all dead. 
         
The friends and relatives of people who have learned New Testament Greek are amazed to find that Greek students often just stare at them blankly when they are asked to “say something in Greek.” This occasional problem can be solved, however, if the Greek student will memorize some simple sentence or phrase, such as, ᾽Εγώ ἑλλενίζω, σύ ἰδιώτε!, which translated means, “I am speaking Greek, you idiot!” (It may be better to leave the phrase untranslated.)                           .
         
We move closer to discovering the real reasons why people learn New Testament Greek if we observe the unusually high correlation between people who learn Koine Greek and people who go into some Christian ministry. When Americans were asked in a recent Gallup poll, "Do you know Koine Greek?," over 50% of those responding affirmatively were Christian ministers. The majority of the others were seminary drop-outs. Here are the complete results:
         
GALLUP: Do you know Koine Greek?
              
ALL RESPONDENTS:

NO: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . .  20.0%
YES:  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1%
WHAT IS KOINE GREEK?: . . . . . . .79.9%
         
AFFIRMATIVE RESPONDENTS' LIFE STATUS:
         
     Christian minister:                         51%
     Seminary dropout:                         29%    
     Retirees with nothing better to do: 10%  
     TV Evangelist:                                 5%                     
     Life burnout:                                    5%
         
These results are significant. They show that if you learn New Testament (Koine) Greek, you will be in the elite, not 1%, but in THE ELITEST .1%. Further, there are undoubtedly strong correlations between those in this group and their spiritual depth and heavenly reward. (The data is not yet available for these correlations.)


In short, these are the main reasons to learn New Testament Greek.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Instead of T.U.L.I.P.

In a recent Koinonia blog (http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/05/tulip-is-so-20th-century-proof-is-a-modern-framework-of-dort-and-gods-irresistible-grace.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29), Pastor Jeremy Bouwma, cited, but did not recommend, a revision of the traditional Calvinist T.U.L.I.P called P.R.O.O.F. If this stuff interests you, check out the link above.

Let me offer my alternative to both of these, a version that emphasizes God's grace:

Instead of Total Depravity
     1. Sin - it affects all aspects of our humanity. We cannot turn to God without God’s saving GRACE.

Instead of Unconditional Election
     2. Salvation - it is entirely by God’s GRACE that we are saved and come to know God. We do not merit or earn salvation.

Instead of Limited Atonement
     3. Sacrifice - God in GRACE and mercy accepts the the death of Christ as a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and for all humanity.

Instead of Irresistible Grace
     4. Spirit - by God’s GRACE, the Holy Spirit creates in us the desire and moves us to accept God’s forgiving love in Christ.

Instead of Perseverance of Saints
     5. Steadfastness - God’s GRACE holds us fast and will never let us go. We will be loved and kept secure in Christ unto the end.