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July 1-3, 1863

Those are the dates of the bloody battle of Gettysburg. On Monday night, I had the privilege of sharing my juggling presentation at First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, PA. On the drive home Tuesday, I took a few hours to stop and look around in Gettysburg, which is only about an hour away from Lancaster.

I had no idea how large Gettysburg Battlefield was. There are monuments everywhere. I had never seen so many monuments covering one landscape. It seems that every single regiment that fought in the battle got a monument erected somewhere on the battlefield. The battle claimed some 50,000 casualties, and it started by a chance encounter between the two armies, each in transit.

The most meaningful part of the day for me was reading the text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address near the spot where he actually delivered it. He says that we, the living, cannot consecrate and hallow this ground (the dead already did so). Rather, we the living must forge ahead for the sake of that which these soldiers stood, for they did not die in vain. What did they fight for? A government of the people, for the people, and by the people, all under God.

I was also struck with the thought of the destructiveness of war. 50,000 lives in three days is a lot of carnage (roughly one death every 5 seconds on one battlefield). Something about it does not make sense to me. But what do I know.

Red Pepper Avocado Sandwich


Here is one of my favorite lunches. It is quick, easy, simple, and healthy.

The Red Pepper Avocado Sandwich.

Ingredients (for two sandwiches):
1. 1 Avocado
2. 1/3 Red Pepper
3. pinch of Celtic Sea Salt (to taste)
4. 4 slices of Ezekiel bread (or any kind of sliced bread), toasted

Make two sandwiches, using half an avocado (sliced), 1/6 of a red pepper (chopped), and a pinch of salt for each sandwich. Squeeze the bread slices together tightly to smash the ingredients into the sandwich. It all stays together better that way. Enjoy!

Car Review – 2009 Dodge Nitro

This past weekend, I got to take a 2009 Dodge Nitro from Richmond, VA to St. Louis, MO and back. I rent a lot of vehicles for my job and I thought I would share my personal opinion about some of them in case it helps anyone out there. First of all, I usually get a smaller vehicle, but I took advantage of a “free upgrade” coupon from Budget and enjoyed the larger and more sporty Nitro this time around.

Overview: The Dodge Nitro has an “oversized boxy jeep” look to it. It can be driven in 2WD or 4WD. It seats 5 comfortably (there might even be some hidden seats in the far rear, but I didn’t check).

PROS: Lots of visibility when you check your blind spots. Lots of room. Sporty look. Satellite radio. Comfortable driver’s seat. Feels like a solid and strong vehicle.
CONS: Not the best gas mileage. No radio controls on the steering wheel (I like that feature in a car). Acceleration pick-up seemed to drag a little when I wanted to speed up quickly. My model did not have any driver’s seat adjustments other than the floor latch (for forward/backward) and the recline latch.

I’ll try to do more car reviews in the future. Whether you’re in the market for a car or just curious about new models, I hope this helps.

-Jesse Joyner

Marketing Goofs

If you’re familiar with the inside back-cover of Consumer Reports, then you know about their ongoing column of the humor and irony often found in a company’s attempt at advertising.

For example, I saw a used car dealership ad the other day that boasted, “Brand Spanking Pre-Owned!” vehicles. Now, something about that phrase sounds out of place.

Anyway, above is a photo of a clipping from the Richmond, VA Public Utilities newsletter that comes monthly with my gas bill. They have this little giveaway where you have to look for your utility account number in the newsletter. And if you’re one of the lucky two people with their number hidden in the newsletter. Then you get $25.

The humor here is the stack of bills presented in the image next to the prize explanation. Even if all the other bills (other than the $20) were ones (the smallest bill denomination in our present time), that wad would be way more than $25. So, do you win $25, or what’s in the picture?

The Juggler’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

You are the great Juggler.
From the celestial bodies to our human bodies, you toss and weave every planet and molecule in a pattern of indescribable beauty.
We can manage only a handful of objects in the air at once.
We can manage only a limited amount of schedules, relationships, and responsibilities on this earth.
But you are the eternal, everlasting, all-powerful God, with no limit to your juggling prowess.
May we look to you for all our juggling strength, seeking to emulate the beauty of your patterns in the patterns we make.
We praise you, great Juggler, who is Father, Spirit, and Son – the One True God.

Amen.

Jesse Joyner

According to What Scriptures?

Image: “The Burial of Christ” by Gustave Dore, woodcut (19th Century)

This is the season of Lent, where Christians remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ during the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter. This morning, I read the first recorded Christian creed of the resurrection, which was written by Paul of Tarsus in the middle of the first century in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth: “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Cor 15:3b-4).

This begs a question: Which “Scriptures” attested to this death, burial, and resurrection? Paul grew up as a very devout Jew, and knew his Jewish Scriptures very well, so he is certainly speaking of those sacred texts, which is what Christians today regard as the Old Testament. The New Testament was far from its final form (indeed, some texts were not yet written) as of Paul writing this creed. So Paul is not referring to the death, burial, and resurrection accounts found in the first century biographies of Jesus written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

While the “suffering servant” songs of Isaiah (i.e. Isaiah 53) and Psalm 22 foreshadow the death and suffering of Christ, there is still the question as to which Jewish texts point to the resurrection of Christ. There are few particular passages to which Paul could be referring:

1. Psalm 16:10-11: “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (this is especially interesting when you read Peter’s sermon in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:22-36).

2. Isaiah 53:11: “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (interestingly enough, the phrase “of life” is not found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the phrase “light of life” is not found in the Masoretic Text).

3. Hosea 6:2: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (remarkably, early Jewish rabbinical teachings from the 2nd Century view this passage as referring to resurrection; see also 2 Kings 20:5 for another “third day” restoration).

4. Jonah 1:17: “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (this should be seen as prophetic only as it relates to what Jesus says in Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”).

According to Gordon Fee, the most plausible explanation for Paul claiming that the Jewish Scriptures foreshadow the resurrection of Christ is that “‘on the third day’ was probably seen in terms of the variety of OT texts in which salvation or vindication took place on the third day” (Fee, NICNT: 1 Corinthians, 727f.).

I would like to reference two commentaries that helped in compiling this information: John N. Oswalt’s The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (2003, p. 587) and Gordon D. Fee’s The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians (1987, pp. 727f.).

Spiritual Shots in Richmond

Last night, Sarah and I went to Bottoms Up Pizza in the Shockhoe Slip area of downtown Richmond for something called “Spiritual Shots.” It is a forum for people to discuss matters of faith in a bar setting. Run by a Christian organization, Spiritual Shots features interesting topics each month such as “Suffering”, “Sex”, “Hell”, “Science and the Bible”, etc. The speaker is a local pastor (there are two that usually rotate back and forth) and they get 30 minutes at the mic with the topic. Then, the floor is completely open to questions, challenges, debating, and dialogue. Though many Christians come, there are also people who are not Christians and I’ll just say that sometimes, the discussions get pretty lively. Meanwhile, everyone is treated to complimentary pizza and water (you can purchase drinks and food for yourself at the bar beyond the complimentary stuff). If someone feels uncomfortable asking a question in front of everyone, then they can jot it down on cards provided and turn it in at the end. The speaker will then follow up with those questions via e-mail. The topic last night was about suffering. The issue discussed was the atheist claim that so much injustice and violence has been done in the name of religion. Instead of writing about it here, I’ll let you listen yourself. You can hear some of the messages (not the Q/A afterwards, unfortunately) at the following website: http://www.spiritualshots.com/spiritual_shots.html#audio