Every Thumb's Width

The River of Knowledge

I came across this pic in an article about keeping a digital commonplace book and wanted to save/share it here. At our school we talk about how We stand downstream in the river of Western civilization, and the Omnibus curriculum is one attempt to swim in waters.

The river of knowledge is as broad and fertile as the Nile, which is to say, full of nuggets of excrement, viral diseases, and the occasional crocodile. We don’t want most of this stuff to stick….

But the valuable concepts, ideas, and stories that drift our way are worth retaining. If we want to get compound interest on our knowledge, we have to stop all these precious ideas from draining straight back out the holes in our colander-brains.

How to Get Compound Interest on Your Ideas, Richard Meadows

There’s junk and treasure in the river. I thought the image above was worth collecting.

The End of Many Books

The ONE Thing

by Garry Keller with Jay Papasan

A friend recommended this to me and, even though I’ve probably read too many books about productivity and time management and such, it still had some good reminders.

Good reminders included: Don’t play the part of victim, take responsibility and make your own choices. Pay attention to physical energy as a resource, and employ it at the right time. Schedule appointments to do the important work; block time on the calendar for the priority. Consider leverage, how smaller dominos/decisions can knock down larger ones if in the right sequence and gaining speed.

I would not recommend this book for a young person who probably can’t, maybe even shouldn’t, know what they are good for yet. “Sunk cost” bias is real, and wrong. A lot can be learned from trying different things, even failing at things, if the goal is maturity rather than speed.

Related, mastery and deliberate practice, which Keller promotes, do not relate equally in every area. This is an important distinction made in Range that really should be considered. Speaking of Range, it would be a much better book for young people, and the old(er) people who feel like they’re too late (for whatever).

All that said, the work of evaluating the ONE question is better than just drifting into regret. “What’s the ONE Thing I can do / such that by doing it / everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

3 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

Falling or Rising

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for her purification and their first-born offerings, they met a man named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he saw Israel’s Consolation, the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:25-26). Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the one, and took Him in his arms as he praised God. Then he told Mary,

Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is opposed…so that thoughts for many hearts will be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35)

The incarnation divided between those who rejected Him and those who received Him (and most of His own did not receive Him, John 1:11). That means not everyone is welcome at His table. But He invites all those who believe in Him to come.

From the earliest days God revealed hearts. It’s why many hated Jesus. It is only by the gracious work of the Spirit that we have come to Him. He opened our eyes to know that we need a Savior from our sin. He gave us hearts of flesh that sensed the distance that our sin took us away from Him. God, in Christ, divided the world, and by His great kindness delivered us to be built on the Cornerstone.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Blessed Bible Reading

The very first word in the hymnbook of the Old Testament is the word blessed: “Blessed is the man…” (Psalm 1:1).

The immediately following lines do not describe this man’s blessedness but rather his chosen source of information and direction. He does not spend time listening to sinners and scoffers. He doesn’t hang with them or identify with them on social media. Instead he delights in and mediates on the law of the Lord. He marinates his mind in God’s Word.

The blessing, more accurately, blessings plural, are found in the following verse.

He is like a tree
Planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The blessings of God are at least stability and fruitfulness. The blessed man’s roots are established and he is not easily moved by the wind. His source of life is abundant so he is not threatened by the heat. He bears fruit when it is time.

To be #blessed is not to be driven by fads or driven by fear or driven to doubt by the wicked chaff. Blessing grows out of our chosen meditation.

With the new calendar year about to start, why not consider a Bible reading plan to provoke systemic meditation? I know a lot of you are reading the #ToTheWord plan, which is great, and that starts and stops following the school year schedule. But if you don’t have another, you could try my favorite: the Discipleship Journal plan, with four readings twenty-five days a month, from four different parts of the Bible.

Whatever you choose, put yourself in the right place to be blessed by the Lord.

Every Thumb's Width


For whatever reasons, and I think by God’s grace there are probably many, the Christians I spend most of my time with are not trying to be woke. My impression is that many of them don’t even know that being woke is a thing, to pursue or to avoid. Yet I do read about it, have watched a pretty poignant documentary about its effects on business, and like many of the worst parts in our culture at large, have concerns about how the squeaky wheel demands to be praised.

Take for instance this article about “woke interlopers” (which sounds like a bad band name) who are “transforming” Christian higher education. It lists a number of (so-called) Christian colleges/universities that are working hard, apparently, to play the placating game. If only it were a game, not a power grab. By woke rules, there must be acceptance of the message (no matter how irrational) and acknowledgement of wrong (no matter how unprovable). Maybe there will even be the making of an Office of Diversity.

Our early, little, local higher ed effort doesn’t have these problems and may the Lord protect us from ever promoting such envious wokedness.

The End of Many Books

Life after Google

by George Gilder

George Gilder is a character. He is much more curious and smart than me, and this is a benefit to me in reading him. I’ve already benefited from a book of his about economics and one about marriage.

This book is about technology, especially related to data and the internet, and the trajectory against centralized servers, as modeled mainly by Google.

I’m glad I read this, but even now I’m still not sure if Gilder has canceled his Google account and has gone all in on the blockchain, let alone if he’s transferred his funds to bitcoin (or another of the cryptocurrencies). Though there may be other books (and videos) that explain the math that (supposedly) protects the chain, Gilder explains some of the philosophy and value created by it.

4 of 5 stars

The End of Many Books

Watership Down

by Richard Adams

I read this final “curse” from this post a few months ago:

“May all of your rabbits die, and may you be unable to sell the hutch.”

I thought that sounded good, but I had no idea what the hutch part was all about. Ha!

My wife told me it was a reference to Watership Down, a novel about…rabbits. I was intrigued, plus I had been looking for my next fiction book to plod through.

I really enjoyed it, and recommend it, even if you don’t immediately push it to the top of your queue. It’s a good story with an unexpected leader, a strong sacrificer, a troubled oracle, and a ruthless (and virtually unbeatable) tyrant.

4 of 5 stars

Every Thumb's Width

Together 4 Dualism

This article, No Longer Together 4 the Gospel, is a few weeks old. The problem is even older than that.

I’ve traveled with a dozen or so men from our church to a couple T4G conferences. We always had a great time together. It is also true that the Reformed-ish, conservative theological perspective is often very narrow, and I’d agree that it applies to the T4G gist.

I don’t agree with Mr. Sandlin that worldview is more important than theology, but that could be just an apparent disagreement. I’m sure he believes that God’s revelation is the source, and the authority, for shaping weltanschauung. But I would say that the problem is a theology problem. The problem is a misunderstanding of God proper, and especially of God’s interests.

The problem is at least implicitly denying that the Creator-Theos cares about time and space, and behaving as if God changed His mind about all the goods in Genesis 1. It ignores the first great commission to man for relationships (be fruitful and multiply) and responsibilities (fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion) on the earth, here and now (Genesis 1:28). That’s at bottom a Bible-reading issue, a doctrinal issue, not a philosophical one, as if worldview came apart from God’s revelation.

While such a limited worldview could be connected to one’s eschatology, I believe that the theological error leading to the dilution in T4G circles is a form of dualism. All of the headlining T4G speakers act and teach as if what God cares about the most and, therefore, what all of us should care about the most, are “spiritual” things. But, ironically, spiritual fruit is earthy. Spiritual people are husbands and fathers (Ephesians 5:18 then look at the family responsibilities that flow out of the Spirit’s filling), not just pastors and missionaries. Spiritual men serve and lead. They redeem the time (5:15), they don’t only work on their sentences about eternity.

It is the Christian confession that Jesus is Lord. It is the Calvinist who (most consistently) acknowledges that God is sovereign. It is a Kuyperian who grasps that the lordship of Christ applies to the rest of the day after our “quiet time” in the Word, and that the sovereignty of God in science and history and families and businesses and education is more than just a token pointing to heaven’s throne.

T4G does exalt Jesus and does preach the Word. And also they do so with a limited expectation of where the incarnate Word and inspired Word apply. Seek the things that are above with the things of earth.

Anyway, read the original article and let’s work to believe bigger than just defending a “privat(ized) theology limited to soteriology.”

Lord's Day Liturgy

Manger Ministries

The good news of great joy is not that God is satisfied with you, but that He sent a Savior for you. The good news of great joy is not that you have produced enough, finally, for Him to accept you, but that He has accepted you in Christ, with grace and peace to you. Rejoice! Rejoice!

There is a helpful distinction, perhaps even a tension, that is worth maintaining even at the Lord’s Table. Our heavenly Father is pleased with us and still not satisfied. He loves us; in one sense He could not love us more, and in His love, He renews and refines us because we are not yet complete in Christ. He is pleased with us in Christ even as He is pleased to conform us more and more into His Son’s glorious image. There is true peace, even though we have not been made perfect yet.

The meal in front of us bears great similarity to the peace offering in the OT. It was a shared meal that recognized peace between God and men (and those men with each other) based on the sacrifices. The fellowship, the communion, was in God’s pleasure, which didn’t mean that all His purposes were perfected yet.

Consider this alt-view of the angel’s glory shown to the shepherds:

“Fear more, for behold, I bring you true news of great import, that I saw how you treated your wife before you left for work today, and this is the latest in a long line of disappointments to God. He wants you to clean it up.”

That is not evangel. Nor does Luke have any critical word that that the shepherds didn’t all quit their jobs and start a missionary effort under the brand: Manger Ministries.

Were they deserving? Was Mary? Was God satisfied with them? But was God pleased to share His blessings, favor, grace, and peace? Yes! Glory to God in the highest! There’s great joy for all the people in the Savior, Christ the Lord. (And as you have received, so give.)

Lord's Day Liturgy

An Irritated Puddle of Retaliatory Goo

We are well into advent now, rounding third and headed home. Yet because of how the days fall on the calendar this year, the fourth advent Sunday is still six long days from Christmas. A lot of events are done, but there are more on your schedule, especially ones with the people who tend to get on your nerves the most…family. That presents a significant challenge, because with strangers, you can’t predict as well what they’ll argue about, and you may never see them again. With the ones God has chosen for your permanent “neighbors,” you’ve seen the show a thousand times.

In a week of final preparations and feasting, even for a week with siblings at home from school all day every day, Solomon provides some counsel for the prudent.

The vexation of a fool is known at once,
but the prudent ignores an insult.
(Proverbs 12:16)

Vexation refers to the spleen in the pot, foolishness is like the fire that makes the complaints simmer. Vexation is what pets your feathers backward, what puts salt in your tea. It could be about the state of democracy, it could be about the state of dinner. It could be about the commute, it could be about your comment. And because of how the proverb runs, vexation isn’t only generic grumbling in your presence, vexation may be insulting to your person.

I have said much about not being angry or ungrateful, this is about how to absorb it.

But…she’s wrong! But…others will get the wrong impression if I don’t make a public correction! But…you don’t know how insulting my brother has been for years!

The New Testament version goes even further: love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), which Peter uses as prep for the following imperative: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Prudence and love like this are not pushovers, just the opposite. This sort of wisdom and care is unable to be pushed over into an irritated puddle of retaliatory goo.

Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
(Proverbs 19:11)