Friday, April 30

How I Spent My Day

First day of shirt sleeve weather. Need I say more?


So Shall We Ever Be With The Lord

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV)

We look forward to being reunited with our loved ones who are asleep in Jesus, and that is part of our hope. This is a happy addition to (or perhaps even just a really wonderful byproduct of) our truest hope: being always, forever with the Lord. We will see Him face to face, and we will know Him as we are known by Him. Being with our Savior is the centerpiece of our hope, and what draws us to look toward the future with confident expectation of the mysterious and wonderful things in store for us.

One of the results of the trials of our lives, and I suppose the highest purpose for them, is that we begin to be able to say along with the psalmist:
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25, 26)

Trials make our hope more hopeful. It is through trials that our hope grows into something more steadfast and more tangible, because it through trials that hope becomes more and more centered on what is most real, but as yet unseen to us: the impossible-to-break promise of the One we have come to desire most, Who pledges to us that we shall be forever with Him.

Blogging the Bard

I have been at this for over three months now, and I haven't mentioned Robert Service, the "Bard of the Yukon". Is his the best possible sort of verse? Probably not (Is it disloyal of me to admit that?), but my adolescent sons always enjoyed reading his poetry, and that's nothing to sneeze at.
The Men That Don't Fit In

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

---Robert Service

Thursday, April 29

A Decent Little Cottage is Good Enough for Me

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on and extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.

The past three years of my life have been very difficult ones. Up until then, things had been going along quite happily: twenty-six years of a loving marriage, four bright and healthy children, a lively household in a cheerful home, an always adequate income--too many good things for me to list. I knew I was unusually blest, even when I took my many blessings for granted.

All that began to change just about three years ago, and for the past three years my life seems to be made up of many difficult things strung together with the occasional short reprieve of something close to normalcy in between. There is much joy, too; but it is joy in sorrows. I can always feel the strong and gentle hand that leads me; but that hand is not leading me out of trials, but straight through them.

I won't list all my burdens for you. Some are big, like illnesses and deaths and accidents. Others are smaller, like taking what used to be the responsibilities of two people onto one set of shoulders, like doing tasks I've never had to do before and that I'm not particularly good at, tasks I must take on for a reason that always reminds me that my heart has been ripped open. The grief is the biggest one of all--that tightly knotted bundle of what feels like terror, but is really grief, that often lodges itself right beneath my diaphragm while I am sleeping. During the day, it unwraps itself and falls away, only to collect itself in its wadded little package again sometime during the night.

This week it's little things again: canceling planned activities because I don't see well enough to drive right now; not being able to take my daily dog walks because my eyes are too sensitive to the springtime sun even with sunglasses. Little things, but things that take away what seemed more and more like a return to the normal life. Things were righting themselves, only to be knocked down again.

So I am being built into a palace, but if the master builder were to ask for my input on the blueprint right now, I think I'd suggest we downscale to a decent little cottage instead.

Wednesday, April 28

Let's Talk Bison Hunting

I hope that if you've read this blog a bit, you already know that I think the Yukon is an interesting place to live, a one-and-only sort of place. Things like the annual bison hunt that takes place every year in the public elementary school my son attended are one of the reasons I love living here. Every year in March, all the grade 7 students travel 150 miles out in the bush to Aishihik Lake for a week long bison hunt.

This involves learning how to camp in the winter, passing the Hunter Education and Ethics Development course, learning how to skin and butcher the bison, and putting on a bison feast for the whole school community. The students are taught that wild animals are here for us to use as needed, but that no useable part of any animal killed ought to be wasted, so not only is all the meat used, but the hide is made into mitts.

Two winters ago was when my son went on the hunt, and if you asked him today what was the most exciting thing he's ever done, I'm sure the bison hunt would be his answer. Whenever we're in the mood to annoy him, we can call it a "buffalo hunt", and that is always good for an exasperated lecture on the difference between bison and buffalo. (Buffalo, as any halfwit knows, live in Africa!)

Here's another unique thing about the Yukon. Before the bison feast in celebration of my son's and his classmate's successful hunt, this man, one of the local native elders, was asked to say grace. His prayer went something like this, "Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for all your gifts to us. Thank you for sending us your son, Jesus. Thank you for all the children who went on the hunt. Thank you for keeping them safe as they travelled. Thank you for keeping them warm when it was 40 below zero. Thank you for helping them on the hunt and for providing the bison for them. Thank you that we can all gather here together to eat from the meat you have provided for us. In Jesus' name, Amen."

It's Christian Carnival Time Again

The Christian Carnival is up at Fringe Blog. I just went through and read any articles I hadn't already read. The quality of the posts included this week seems unusually good, so why not browse through all of the entrants?

Here are a couple of interesting posts to get you started on your carnival stroll. Crazy Gator (a blog I hadn't ever visited) writes a bit about why we continue to sin after we are saved. You will find this one that gives evidence for Christianity from the Bible by Parablemania interesting if you like logical arguments. (I do!)

I'm Back

Well, sort of, anyway....

My eyesight isn't normal yet, but it's improving, and I can see the computer screen now without straining. I had a scratch in the vision field of one eye, which explains why it wasn't working well, but there's no real explanation for why the other one up and quit on me. Perhaps it didn't like working alone. All the really nasty explanations for sudden loss of sight have been ruled out and I am thankful for that. Thank you to all of you who prayed for me.

Monday, April 26

Woe is Me

I've got some sort of nasty virus and it's affected my vision. I saw my doctor today, and she wants me to see the eye doctor tomorrow as she was stumped by what's going on. Until these things get worked out, I probably won't be posting much. I'd appreciate any prayer on my behalf.

Sunday, April 25

Sunday Morning Hymn and Sermon

The Church's One Foundation
The Church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o'er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

'Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master's hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

Words by Samuel John Stone
Music by Samuel Wesley, grandson of Charles Wesley.


Today's sermon is not really a whole sermon, but an excerpt from a sermon by George Whitefield, a British evangelist who was instrumental in the First Great Awakening. The excerpt is called How to Listen to a Sermon. Here are the 6 suggestions, which are each explained in more detail in the piece:
1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty.

2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God.

3. Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister.

4. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think.

5. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered.

6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon...

Saturday, April 24

Saturday's Light Fare

The Cruiser Comes Out

Here's what the landcruiser my son is restoring in the garage is looking like now. It's mostly all done except for putting on the rest of the body pieces which are still with Harold the oh-so-good-but-oh-so-slow classic car painter. And yes, that is snow in the yard. Such is spring in the Yukon.

The Cat Wants Out

Meet Leroy. Spring is beckoning. He's supposed to be an indoor cat on account of the coyotes who think that pets make tasty meals, but he escapes whenever he can. Shortly after this picture was taken, the window screen lay in the backyard beneath the window, and Leroy was chasing birds again.

Friday, April 23

The Effective Call, Or How People Come To Seek God

Yesterday, in response to a question from Mr. Standfast, we looked at God's command that people seek Him and considered it in light of the pronouncements in scripture that there are none who seek God. Here's how that post concluded:

All this, of course, brings us to an impasse: a God who can command nothing less, and people who persistently (or intransigently might be a better word) refuse to submit to that command. We know, of course, that there is a solution to this impasse, for we know from the testimony of scripture and our own experience that there are people who find God (or who are found by Him).

Today I want to look a bit at how the God who requires that people worship Him (and seeking Him out or turning toward Him being the first step in giving Him His rightful due), and people who choose to turn their backs on what they know of Him are brought together. What we have come to is the stalemate of Romans 3: a God who can justly require no less, and the whole human race that consistently falls short of those requirements (Romans 3:23). Any reconciliation of that problem in our actual experience--and our actual experience is where I want to focus this piece--is, of course, grounded in the means of reconciliation accomplished in Christ Jesus. God can be justly reconciled to people who have refused to seek Him through the propitiatory work of Christ on the cross (Romans 3:25, 26).

How is it then, that people who are of a mind set that is hostile to God, and out of that hostility refuse to submit to God's commands (Romans 8:7) come to willingly belong to Him? How is it that people who dislike the knowledge of God so much that they traded it for something they know, deep down, is a lie (Romans 1:25), come to be His sons and daughters who cry out to Him, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14, 15)? Well, if you're really looking up those verse in Romans 8, you probably already can see that the solution to our problem has something to do with the work of the Spirit. It is through the Spirit that we are brought into our relationship as adopted sons and daughters who can have the confidence of a child who knows that their father wants only good things for them and that he can always be approached in the boldest of ways. We come into this relationship of trust toward God rather than animosity through the work of the Spirit.

Calvinists (as Tim has reminded us) like to call this work of the Spirit the inner call, the inner call being the work of the Spirit that is successful at bringing people to Christ, or the work that causes people who are existing in a state of hostility toward God to seek Him out and embrace Him. This is distinguished then from what is called the outer call, the call of the gospel that goes out worldwide to all people, the call that encompasses those commands to seek God, a call that is always rejected unless it is accompanied by that inner work of the Spirit that turns people who are, as a result of the fall, naturally hostile toward God and His outer call to them, into people who see the value in the gospel and who embrace God and the call of the gospel.

We can see this always successful call here in Romans 8, too. Verse 30 tells us that there is a sort of call that always leads to justification:

....whom He called, these He also justified.... (NKJV)

The grammar leaves no room for this sort of call to be unsuccessful. Every person called in this way is justified by God, and since we know that we are not justified unless we believe, we know that everyone who is called in this way is successfully brought to faith. Those who receive this effective call come to embrace God and the gospel through faith.

We can also find this successful call in 1 Corinthians 1: 23-24.

....but we preach Christ crucified....

Here you have the message of the gospel going out to everyone--Jews and Gentiles alike. There are two responses to this message calling people to the crucified Christ. Most reject it: the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness...

The Jewish people, by and large, saw the message of the gospel as offensive, and the Greeks, in general, thought it made no sense. But rejection is not the whole story:

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

There are some who welcome the message of the gospel because instead of being offended by it, or thinking it silly, they see that it really is a message of power and wisdom--the way to know God and overcome evil. And what is it that distinguishes this group of Jew and Greeks who welcome the preaching of Christ crucified from those who reject it? It's the call--the successful one. Those called in this way see the message of the gospel differently than those who reject it. They understand what it is worth to them--that these are the very words of life, rather than offensive rubbish.

It is through this inner work of the Spirit, this effective inner call, that we discern the value of the gospel, that we are turned from those who are at enmity with God into those who willingly receive Him and the message of the gospel. That's why Paul can say in his summary statement at the end of chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians that it is "of God" (or out of God's work) that we are in Christ Jesus. It is through the effective work of the Spirit within us that we were changed from the sort who reject God and His message to the sort who see the true value in the gospel and in coming to the God Who made us. In other words, we do not put ourselves into Christ Jesus through faith, but we are brought into Christ Jesus through faith--faith that comes about through God's work within us, calling us successfully to Him.

God solved the problem of the impasse between God and man, first of all by sending Christ to die, and then, on the grounds of that effective work of Christ, seeking men and women and enlightening them to the truth and value of the gospel, so that they turn from their natural hostility to God and come to worship and love Him. So we can join Paul in saying, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord ."

Thursday, April 22

First It Was the Clergyman Thing, and Now This!

I'm having a crisis. An identity crisis. A gender identity crisis. Not only am I not the pretty little princess I want to be, but according to the Gender Genie, my writing is MALE!

Saw this really cool link at the Thinklings. Tried it out with a couple of blog posts. Overwhelmingly manly, says the Genie. Looked for my more chatty, feminine blogposts. Still a guy, according to Mr. (or is it Ms.?) Know-It-All Genie of Gender. Tried changing the genre of my writing to nonfiction, thinking that might help me out. That only made me even more mannish.

Hurrrrumpppph! Waaaaaah! I wanna be a princess! I wanna be a girl!

(Yes, that's me throwing a hissy fit. Pretty good at it, aren't I?)

[Updated to add: The Genie pronounced this post male as well:
Female Score: 245
Male Score: 384

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Apparently, even my hissy fits aren't girly...]

Considering the Command to Seek the Lord

Yesterday, I posted this piece on the phrase from scripture, "No one seeks God". I guess the point of the whole post was one seeks God.

In the comment section of that piece, Mr. Standfast (aka Bob) has asked a good question in regards to that conclusion, and that's the subject of this post today. Here's Bob's question:
How does this jibe with passages like 1Chron 16:10 & 22:19, Psalms 22:26, 27:4, 105:4 and numerous other passages that command us to "seek the Lord." I've sometimes wondered about this but have not come to any definite conclusion.

I'm going to assume that there is no question as to whether the conclusion of my post yesterday is correct. I am assuming that there actually is no one who seeks God. I am also assuming that God does genuinely call (or command) people to seek Him. Bob has given the references (There are more, too!), and you can look them up if you doubt that this is so. Given these two truths then, the question becomes: why does God command something that no person actually does?

So let's start at the beginning. Let's look at where the commands of the Lord--all of them, including the one to seek the Lord--originate. Did God just sort of make them up in a moment of whimsy, or are they founded in something? I'm going to suggest that the commands are not just an arbitrary set of rules, which could then be changed if God decided to change them, but that they reflect the very constant character of God.

For instance, we know that God is truth. Truth is one of the aspects of His character. It is impossible for God to lie because His character--in this specific case, his truthfulness--is constant. The only right thing for Him to do is to also demand truthfulness from us, His creatures made in His image. He could not be consistent with His righteous character and ask any less from us.

It is similar for the command to seek God. God is holy. It's an aspect of His character; in fact, it's His overarching attribute. The only right response for a creature to that is to seek out that holy God and worship Him and serve Him only. God cannot, because He is righteous and always does what it right, command anything less of us than that. That we are all now fallen and out of that fallenness consistently refuse to do what is commanded of us doesn't make the commandment less right; and God, as the righteous truth teller that He is, must still demand that we seek Him and worship and serve Him.

So God commands us to seek Him because it really is what we ought to be doing. It is a piece of truth that He as the ultimate truth teller keeps on telling us. That we, on our own at least, as fallen beings always choose to do differently doesn't change our obligation to seek the One Who deserves our worship. Consistent failure doesn't mean the standards should be lowered, for the standards can't be lowered and still be righteous standards that reflect a righteous God with a constant character.

All this, of course, brings us to an impasse: a God who can command nothing less, and people who persistently (or intransigently might be a better word) refuse to submit to that command. We know, of course, that there is a solution to this impasse, for we know from the testimony of scripture and our own experience that there are people who find God (or who are found by Him). Let's look at the solution to that impasse tomorrow, by examining the "inner call" and the "outer call", as suggested by Tim, also in the comment section of the same post.

I hope that at least gets a bit at what you were asking, Bob. Let me know if it doesn't. Or if you disagree, have something to add, etc. I love these sorts of discussions, so don't be afraid to offend, because it's unlikely I'd be offended.

Wednesday, April 21

Democrats Working to Get Expat Americans Living in the Yukon to Vote

I've lived here as an ex-pat American since 1976, and up until now, I have never been urged to vote in the American election. But there's a first time for everything.

Campaign to toss out Bush active in Yukon
Members of the U.S. Democratic Party are urging Americans living in the Yukon to get out and vote in that country's upcoming presidential election.

The Democrats are working to dethrone George W. Bush, and members of the Democrats Abroad organization say a Democratic victory could come from Americans living outside the U.S..

About six million Americans live abroad, and the Democrat organization has offices in 37 countries, including local chapters across Canada.

One of those groups is in Yukon.

With the last presidential election only won by several hundred contested votes, Democrats are gearing up for a new run at the White House. Part of that drive is a worldwide voter-registration campaign.

The Yukon has been identified as home to a significant number of expatriate Americans.

Hmmm....I wonder what it all means. Why now? Why us? There are only 30 some thousand people in the whole territory. There aren't that many Americans who are eligible to vote.

(And for those of you who come here for respite from all the political commentary on the presidential election, I promise this is as close as I will get to discussing it.)

Whole Lotta Seekin' Goin' On?

In Romans 3, Paul quotes from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, and in that quotation is the statement, "There is none who seeks for God". Now, if you live in the world, you know that there is great deal of what appears to be seeking God out there. A whole lot of people seem to be looking for someone or something to bring meaning to their lives. If we look back through time, we can see all the various historical religions of the different people groups, and it seems that throughout history, people in general have been seeking to understand their Creator. So isn't this statement from scripture found in Psalms and then repeated by Paul counterintuitive? Doesn't common sense tell us that there are and always have been many people who are seeking God?

Well, yes, the statement is counterintuitive. Paul doesn't quote that statement out of the blue, though. He quotes it as part of a nice little summary of the argument that he's made in chapters 1 and 2 of Romans. So what does Paul say previous to this that would support the statement that "There is none who seeks for God"?

What Paul tells us is this: there has indeed been a whole lot of what looks like God-seeking happening throughout history, but it never has been genuine God seeking. Instead of God-seeking, it's really a fancy sort of God avoidance. Romans 1:19, 20 NET:

....because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made...

Everyone knows some things about God from what God reveals about himself through creation itself. They can look at creation and see that it has to originate in something totally other than what they are, something that is completely outside of creation. They can know from the witness of creation that the something-that-created is eternal, for it had to exist outside of this temporal world in order to be the cause of it. They can see the extreme power the Creator had to have. These things can be known about God without any real seeking activity. It is something Paul calls "plain" (or clear) to all people.

Besides knowing something about who God is, all people know something about what their response to him ought to be:

although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks.... (v 21 NET)

People know, deep down, anyway, that their response to the God they can know something about through creation ought to be thanks for their very own lives, and for all the provisions that come to them through creation; and that this Creator God, being so wholly other than they are, ought to be worshipped. Is this how they respond to Him, though? Nope, for they all, to a person, choose not to honor him as God or give Him thanks. Instead they

exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. (v 23 NET)

If people exchanged the glory of the immortal God, that means they had it in their grasp at some time. The true God they understood in some way they traded for something else: man-made replicas of other created things. Of course, all this scurrying about making idols looks an awful lot like God seeking, but according to Paul (and God) it is not:

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (v 25 NET)

Instead of being God-seeking activity, it's purposefully trading what truth of God they already have from the witness of creation for something that they like more: the worship of the creation itself. They prefer to worship things more like themselves than the Wholly Other God Who Is.

What looks to us like God seeking is really, underneath it all, God avoidance. It's saying, "I don't really like doing what I know I ought to do, so I'll do all this other stuff that I'm more comfortable with instead." It's part of a process of fooling one's own self ("...they claimed to be wise, but became fools..."), and it's effective at that deception. It's all fancy footwork by people--and this has included every single one of us--who don't like to hold onto their knowledge of God and what they owe to him, but want to be able to believe they are responding as they ought to be to the spiritual questions that we all face when we look out at the universe.

So David and Paul can rightly make the bold statement that "No one seeks God" in spite of how counterintuitive it seems, because they understood exactly what all that looks-like-God-seeking really is at it's core--a way to avoid facing the Creator God Who Is.

Tuesday, April 20

What's Up With This?

Okay, so I usually just ignore these "Which are you?" quizzes, but Princess Bride IS my favourite movie of all time (I can more or less recite the whole thing by heart.), so I gave in and took the quiz.

The Clergyman

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

I was hoping for Princess Buttercup, considering my recent coronation. Being Mark Knopfler would have pleased me as well. But the clergyman/pope guy?

---Link through Patriot Paradox

A Stroll Through the Roll

Most of my blogging time has been eaten up with dentistry this morning (You may now address me as Princess Rebecca, if you wish, for I have been crowned.), so I thought I might just highlight a few goodies from my blogroll today. First of all, I am finally getting around to adding two blogs that I read almost daily, but haven't yet added to the roll (Shame on me!). is one of those blogs that always makes me think, and he’s a fellow Canadian to boot! Check out the post today on the value of objectivity when reading and studying scripture.

I read The Great Separation especially for the news about the persecution of believers around the world. I live too blissfully unaware of these sorts of things, and that's something I'm trying to change.

Now for a couple of plugs for series type posts from two others already on the roll. Mr. Standfast is doing a series on C.D. F. Moule's The Meaning of Hope that is well worth reading.

Imago Veritatis has a series on Spirit mindedness from The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded by John Owens. Every one of these articles makes me want to know God more. I’ve linked the first post and you can link the rest of the series from there.

There you have it. Read them instead of me today!

Monday, April 19

A Short Defense of Believer's Baptism: Why I Love Presbies, But Can't Be One

As a Baptist with Calvinistic leanings (Okay, so I am more than just leaning. I have fallen and I can't get up!), I have much in common with my Presbyterian and other Reformed brethren. We agree on things much more than we disagree, but we do disagree on exactly who ought to be baptised. I thought it might be fun to write just a bit of an explanation for why I think baptism is for believers only, using Hebrews 8:7-13 as the foundation of my piece. What I'm going to do is work my way through the passage verse by verse, quoting the verse first, and then commenting on it. So here we go.

For if that first {covenant} had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH..." (Hebrews 8:7,8 NASB)

There was a problem with the first covenant, so God has cut a second and better one in Christ. The problem with the first covenant, as we will see in the next verse, is not really with the covenant itself, but with the covenant people fulfilling their side of the covenant:


The people as a group had agreed to do what what was commanded of them under the first covenant (Exodus 24:3-7), but they didnt' (actually, they couldn't) keep their promise. By and large, they were an unfaithful bunch. They didn't continue in the covenant, but went their own way. This is the problem that God is solving by effecting a new covenant, and here's His solution to that problem:


God solves the unfaithful people problem by making an inward change in the people within the covenant. God's commands are not just an external document to them, they are somehow marked within them. Their hearts and minds are changed, so that they know what they need to do, and they desire to do it. While circumcision was the mark of God's people under the old covenant, the mark of His people under the new covenant is a mark upon the heart and in the mind. Circumcision in the old is replaced in the new by circumcision of the heart. The result is this:


Every person under the new covenant knows the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest. This individual intimate knowledge comes as a result of the changed heart and mind that is the mark of the new covenant. Everyone under the new covenant is forgiven by God.

When He said, "A new {covenant,}" He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. (v. 13 NASB)

The old covenant is gone, and we are now under the new one in which God's people are marked by a changed heart.

I would sum up the argument I'm making this way: God's people under the old covenant were marked by circumcision. Circumcision is the sign of the old covenant. God's people under the new covenant are marked by circumcision of the heart. Circumcision of the heart is the sign of the new covenant. Baptism doesn't replace circumcision; circumcision of the heart does. Baptism is an outward indication of the inward change (the circumcision of the heart) that marks God's people.

Under the old covenant, then, it was physical birth that formed the people of God, and circumcision shortly after that physical birth was the identifying sign. Under the new covenant, it's spiritual rebirth that forms God's people, and baptism shortly after that spiritual rebirth is the identifying sign.

Sunday, April 18

Sunday Morning with John Newton

We all know John Newton as the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, but he wrote many other hymns and was also a longtime minister who had volumes of his sermons printed. Here is what his epitaph at St. Mary Woolnoth said:

Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour
restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.
He ministered,
Near sixteen years in Olney, in Bucks,
And twenty-eight years in this Church.

Another of John Newton's hymns is How Sweet The Name of Jesus Sounds:

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

His sermon titled Labouring and Heavy Laden Sinners Promised Rest is based on the text from Matthew 11:28 which reads, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Here is an excerpt:
These, therefore, convinced, striving, and tempted souls, are the persons to whom Jesus says, "Come to me, and I will give you rest." The purport of this gracious invitation we are to consider hereafter. In the meantime rejoice in this, Jesus has foreseen your cases, and provided accordingly. He says, Come; that is, believe, as he himself expounds it: "He that cometh unto me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst." I proceed to consider:

II. What it is to come to Christ. I have observed in general, that it appears to have the same signification with believing in him. But, that we may understand it more clearly, let us inquire:

How those to whom he personally spoke these words, in all probability understood them?....

1. It does not appear that those to whom our Lord spoke in person were so much perplexed as many are now, to know what coming or believing should mean; he seems to have been understood both by friends and enemies. Many questioned his authority and right to exact a dependence on himself; but they seemed to be at no difficulty about his meaning. It certainly implied more than a mere bodily coming into his presence. He was surrounded, and even followed by multitudes, who never came to him in the sense of his invitation. To such, while standing about him, he complained, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life." Therefore, if we consult what is written of those who came to Jesus for relief, and obtained it, we may conclude that coming to him implies,

First. A persuasion of his power, and of their own need of his help. They knew that they wanted relief, and conceived of him as an extraordinary person empowered and able to succor them. This persuasion of Christ's sufficiency and willingness was then, as it is now, afforded in different degrees. The centurion spoke with full assurance: "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. The leper more dubiously: "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Another, in still fainter language: "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." The faith of this last was, as the man himself acknowledged, mixed with much unbelief and fear; yet Jesus did not despise the day of small things: he pardoned his suspicions, confirmed his fluctuating mind, granted him his request; and his case is recorded as an instance of how graciously he accepts and cherishes the feeblest effects of true faith: "He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."

Secondly. An actual application. This evidenced their faith to be right. They did not sit content with having heard of him, but improved it: they went to him, told him their cases, and implored his compassion. Their faith prevailed against all discouragements. In vain the multitude charged them to hold their peace; knowing that he only was able to relieve them, they cried so much the more a great deal. Even when he seemed to discover a great reserve, they still waited, and knew not how to depart without an answer. Nor could a sense of unworthiness, fear, or shame, keep them back, when once they had a strong persuasion of his power to save.

Thirdly. When he was sought to as a soul-physician, as was the case with many, whose bodily diseases he healed, and with others who were not sick, those who came to him continued with him, and became his followers. They depended on him for salvation, received him as their Lord and Master, professed an obedience to his precepts, accepted a share in his reproach, and renounced everything that was inconsistent with his will. Some had a more express and open call to this, as Matthew, who was sitting at the receipt of customs, regardless of Jesus, till he passed by him, and said, "Follow me." That word accompanied with the power of his love, won his heart, and diverted him from the worldly pursuits in an instant. Others were more secretly drawn by his Spirit and providence, as Nathanael, and the weeping penitent who silently washed his feet with her tears; and this was the design and effect of many of their bodily and family afflictions. The man who was brought to be healed of the palsy, received the forgiveness of his sins; and the ruler who first came to Jesus with no other view than to obtain the life of his son, obtained much more than he asked or expected. The Lord afforded such an affecting sense of his power and goodness upon that occasion, that he from thenceforth believed, with all his house.

Saturday, April 17

A Bit of Fun for Saturday

I was going to share some of my daughter's bookmarks for games she likes to play, but it seems the boys have been tormenting her, replacing all her bookmarks with ones like, The Wonderful World of Poodles and Learn to Polka. Ahhh, boys! So how about this instead?
The King's Breakfast

The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told
The Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."
The Alderney
Said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said, "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very

The Queen said
And went to
His Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer,
And butter for his bread."

The Queen took
The butter
And brought it to
His Majesty;
The King said,
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down the banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

--AA Milne

Test your Pooh knowledge with the Winnie the Pooh quiz.

Friday, April 16

Down by the Riverside

I suppose if you've never been here, you might think we have the worst weather in the world in the north, but that's really not right. I think we have more perfect weather than just about anywhere I've been. Of course, if you think the phrase "perfect winter day" is oxymoronic, you probably wouldn't agree with me.

Today was the best sort of spring day--bright, warm, with a light breeze.

The ice is melting from the sides of the river. (It never really freezes over completely in town because the water runs too fast.) Yesterday when we--the dog and I--were walking, I heard what sounded like a bomb going off, but it was just a large ice shelf breaking off from the shore and crashing into the river.

Any day now, the kayakers will be back testing their skills in their kayak amusement park, and we will stop and sit on the bench for a while to watch them negotiate their little rapids.

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;

Psalm 65:9a


An Occasion to Celebrate

From CBC News:
Iraqi kidnappers released Canadian hostage Fadi Fadel, taking him to the offices of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr....

Fadel, a 33-year-old Montreal man, was abducted on April 7 while working for the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based non-governmental organization.

Still held hostage in Iraq:
One American civilian abducted April 16.
One Danish civilian abducted April 16.
Two Japanese journalists abducted April 15.
Three Italian security guards abducted April 12.
Seven American contract workers seized April 9.
Palestinian Israeli aid worker Nabil George Razuq taken on April 8.

Sorry for the Mess...

....on here earlier this morning. Blogger was behaving stupidly, but it seems to have smartened up now.

What to Do with a Reluctant Reader

What do I mean by reluctant reader? A reluctant reader is a child who has reached 10 or 12 years old, who can read, but doesn't enjoy reading on their own, a child who almost never picks up a book to read for pleasure. (And yes, Warren, even severe readaholics can produce reluctant readers! Two out of four of mine would have fallen into this category.) Here are a few tips gleaned from our experience:

1. Take advantage of the times your child is held captive. Keep good books for children in the bathroom. Stack a few by their bed and make reading the only activity allowed after bedtime. Unless your child is prone to carsickness, take lots of books on a long car ride. Never, ever actually draw attention to these books, or suggest that they try reading one of them.

2. Notice what sorts of T.V. programs your child likes most. Do they like drama, or are they more drawn to documentaries and science shows? It's my personal opinion that many reluctant readers are "just the facts" sort of people, and they may prefer nonfiction books. Try leaving biographies, nature books, science books, books of math puzzles, books on W.W.II, sports books, joke books, books about foreign countries, or collection-of-facts type books like almanacs scattered about the house. If you can't resist pushing novels, make them factually based novels.

Don't worry that their reading material is too lightweight. Lightweight is good; dumbed down is not. Your purpose at this point is not to make them well-read, but simply to get them to see that books can be fun and interesting, and that reading doesn't have to be a chore.

3. Have quiet time at your home and insist that everyone--dad, too--is included. After the supper dishes are done is a good time. Only quiet activities are allowed--drawing, homework, paying bills, reading, etc. Half an hour is long enough, but you can try a longer time period if you think you can manage it. Chances are that at some point your reluctant reader will run out of other quiet entertaining things to do and will open a book.

4. Keep on reading to your child. Never stop doing this. Ask your child to read out loud to you once in a while. Ask them to read a page or a paragraph from the book you are reading to them. Try reading a bit of a really engaging book to them--like a chapter or two, just enough to get them really interested--and then be too busy to read to them for a few days and see if they will try to finish on their own.

The all-time best novel for reluctant readers is Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. It's easy to read, and I've never met a kid that didn't like it. Read a chapter or two to them and see if they don't finish it! Other Scott O'Dell books are good, too, but introduce these other books after they've been hooked by Island of the Blue Dolphins.

5. Tidiness may be a virtue, but being too tidy doesn't promote reading. A reluctant reader does not love reading enough to go get out a book that has been put away. Lots of books everywhere is a good thing when it comes to getting kids to read.

6. Buy books at garage sales and thrift stores and used book stores. If you pay new price for a book, it's going to eat at you when it doesn't get read, and that pressure to have the book read is counterproductive when you are dealing with reluctant readers.

If you have more ideas, feel free to add them in the comments.

Thursday, April 15



MY words and thoughts do both express this notion,
That LIFE hath with the sun a double motion.
The first IS straight, and our diurnal friend :
The other HID, and doth obliquely bend.
One life is wrapt IN flesh, and tends to earth ;
The other winds t'wards HIM whose happy birth
Taught me to live here so THAT still one eye
Should aim and shoot at that which IS on high -
Quitting with daily labour all MY pleasure,
To gain at harvest an eternal TREASURE.

---George Herbert

The First Item on My Christmas List

Well, I've found the Lego I do want. Thanks to Ian for pointing it out.

Wednesday, April 14

Thinking Out Loud...Or What is a Proper Purpose for a Christian Blog?

Michelle, the student who surveyed Christian bloggers, has begun posting some of her results. Here are some of the results regarding non-Christian readership of Christian blogs:

17% (20/115) said no, they do not have any non-Christian readers. 28% (32/115) said they did not know or have no idea as to whether or not any of their regular readers are Christian . Three out of the 115 respondents said the majority of their regular readers are non-Christians. Six out of the 115 respondents said half of their regular readers are non-Christians.

Of the 55% of respondents who stated they have regular non-Christian readers, approximately 35% had only 1 or 2 non-Christian readers, and approximately 35% had less than one-quarter non-Christian readers.

This has started a bit of discussion in the blogworld over what is seen as the insulation of Christian blogging given the data that points to most readers of most Christian blogs being fellowbelievers. You can read some of the discussion from Messy Christian, LivingRoom, and Bene Diction here, here (and yes, I know this link's not working--I'm hoping it will work later), and here

I suppose that whether you think this result is cause for concern depends a bit on what you think the prime purpose of Christian blogging is. So, what ought to be the prime purpose of Christian blogging? I'm going to suggest that the main purpose of Christian blogging, because it is an extension of the church (and by this I mean, in particular, the universal church), ought to be the same as the main purpose of the church. What then, is the purpose of the church?

I believe the main purpose of the church as a whole is the building up of the church as a whole, and this building up is accomplished in two ways: by bringing more people into the church, and by strengthening those who are already there. We might expect the Christian blogworld, then, if it is working as it ought to be, to be doing both of these things.

I'm not sure, though, that we can expect every blog to be working toward both of these goals. Just as we see the diversity of the purposes of gifts of the Spirit as distributed among believers, shouldn't we see a diversity of purposes in the world of Christian blogging? Shouldn't there be those who are blogging primarily to engage the culture around them, and also those who are blogging primarily as encouragment for growth within those who are already of the faith.

This last category is mostly where I see my blog fitting into the picture. As I grow in faith through my own study, I hope to share something with my fellow-travelers in this growth journey. My prayer for the readers of my blog is similar to Paul's prayer for the church at Philippi:

And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 NET)

With this as my purpose, I'm not particularly concerned, nor surprised, that I have only a few nonbelieving (and even in this I am presuming) readers. Why would I expect anything else?

I have one more thought as well. Blogging, it would seem to me, is much more suited to the second way of building the church--through the stengthening of believers--than the first--bringing more people into the church. Most of you who read here don't know me from the man in the moon, really. If you are already a believer, you can check what I write against what the scripture says and judge for yourself whether what I write has any value. If you are not already a believer, how are you going to judge what I write? For all you know, I could be the biggest fraud on the face of the earth. The proof is in the pudding, and you have no access to the pudding, for you can't really know my life and see how I live it. Why would you trust my message?

These are all just rough thoughts thrown together on the fly, and I welcome all discussion. What say ye?

Check out the Christian Carnival

The Christian Carnival for this week is up now here at Check out the articles featured for this week.

Here are a couple of Carnival entries by people on my blogroll:

Mr. Standfast writes about knowledge and its proper use using Proverbs 12:23 as a starting point, and Parablemania has a thoughtful piece on intermarriage between a believer and a nonbeliever.

Tuesday, April 13

I Was Wrong

I know you are almost as shocked to read those words as I am, but there you have it! A couple of months ago, in this post I wrote this:
Before my husband died of cancer, one of my daughters asked me, "Why would God allow someone like Dad to get something like this?" I could not give her the reason why, and I fully accept that I may never be able to give her an answer--at least in this life. God has not appointed me to his privy counsel, so I do not have access to the answers to questions like that.

I was wrong to say that I don't have access to the answers to questions like that. I have access to one answer, and no, it didn’t involve my appointment to an exclusive committee. It required only a careful reading of the document we've all been given.

It's not the whole answer, but it's part of it, and it's an important part of the whole:

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28,29)

Every single thing that happens to me is accomplishing a good purpose: it is working out my predestined conformity to the image of the Son. All things work together for good purposes because through all circumstances I am being remolded into someone who can be a sister to my Saviour. The trials of this life (and the not-so-difficult things, too) are creating a family resemblance in all of us who are God's own.

So, how would I reword my answer to my daughter's question? I would say something like this, "God has allowed Dad to get sick partly because He is reworking us all--you, me, and Dad, too--into the sort of people He wants us to be. The process is a difficult one, but we know the outcome is a good one: we will become more like the perfect first-born Son."

Christian Carnival Entrance Deadline

From the e-mail:

This coming Wednesday [that's tomorrow] is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at the God Blog. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process, or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

Read on to find out more!

To enter is simple. First your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Then do the following:

email them at

Provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the Post

Cut off date is Tuesday [today] by 8 PM EST

If you are reading this and are not a part of the Christian Carnival mailing list please visit the following link and join up:

Monday, April 12

The Millenium Trail on Easter Monday

Creek Bed

The Pup

Spring is unfolding, and soon it will be time to get the bikes out and rake the yard and plant the garden. But for now, we are waiting. For the snow to go, for the mud to dry, for the ice to melt.

You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.


I Want To Be a Follower

I want to be a follower again.
I want someone else to set the boundary,
Someone else to give permission.
If only I could say, “Go ask your father!”
I want to be a follower again.


Sunday, April 11

For Easter Sunday Morning

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you. (Matthew 28:4-7 ESV)
He is risen!
He is risen indeed

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun's eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection day, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Words by Charles Wesley

Saturday, April 10

Why My Bookshelves are Always Messy

Because I answered "yes" to 19 of these questions:

Self-Test for Literature Abuse: How many of these apply to you?

I have read fiction when I was depressed or to cheer myself up.
I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
I read rapidly, often "gulping" chapters.
I sometimes read early in the morning or before work.
I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
I often read alone.
I have pretended to watch television while secretly reading.
I keep books or magazines in the bathroom for a "quick nip."
I have denied or "laughed off" criticism of my reading habit.
Heavy reading has caused conflicts with my family or spouse.
I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
I seldom leave my house without a book or magazine.
When travelling, I pack a large bag full of books.
At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I finished a novel.
I become nervous, disoriented, or fearful when I must spend more than 15 minutes without reading matter.
I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
I have sold books to support my reading "habit."
I have daydreamed about becoming a rich & famous writer, or "word-pusher."
I have attempted to check out more library books than is permitted.
Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
I have sometimes passed out or woken groggy or "hung-over" after a night of heavy reading.
I have suffered 'blackouts' or memory loss from a bout of reading.
I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered "yes" to five or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to ten or more indicates a serious reading problem --seek help now! Fifteen or more "yes" responses indicates a severe or chronic "readaholic" personality. Intervention is seldom effective at this stage.
(via Carmon)

And if that's not enough of an excuse for untidy bookshelves, how about this one?


Friday, April 9

A Tribute to Warren and Donna Pett

No, I didn't know them, but I found this tribute by former AIM missionary Cliff Boone to be touching and inspiring. From the tribute:
And so, in God’s sovereignty, Warren & Donna’s time on earth is over. Their blood soaked into the sandy Ugandan soil. They are not grieving now. They are not sorry they sold their farm and followed God. They are waiting now, waiting for the consummation of time and the completion of God's purposes in Uganda and in all the earth.

But you and I are still here. Our time for waiting is later. Now is the time for us to look up to God and say, “Although I believe that there are more qualified people around, Lord, I'm available. Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. What do you want to do with me Lord?

More here and here.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o'er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

---Isaac Watts

For Good Friday, the words to my very favorite hymn. I've explained why I like it here.

Update: Apparently Charles Wesley agreed with me.

Thursday, April 8

What the Resurrection Means for Believers

We've already looked at what the resurrection of Christ means to the world--that it is proof that Christ is the rightful Lord of all. Now, I'd like to look at some passages of scripture that tell us what the resurrection means to those of us who are believers--to those who have been united with Christ through faith in Him. When we read the epistles of the New Testament, we often find the thought of believers being joined with Christ and receiving personal benefits from that union. Believers are in some way included with Christ in His death and resurrection, and that inclusion with Christ changes things for us. What exactly does being counted with Christ in His resurrection do for us?

First of all, Christ's resurrection means that we can be certain that we will be resurrected after we die:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corithians 15:20-23 NET)

In the same way that being included with Adam brought us mortality, belonging to Christ assures us that we will rise again after we die. Christ's present resurrected life is a promise to those of us who belong to Him that we will one day be brought with Him into that resurrected life. The first sheaf of the harvest has already been offered (see Leviticus 23), so the harvest is consecrated and the rest of the fruit will follow on the day Christ returns.

His resurrection was the resurrection of His body, so ours will be a resurrection of the body, too. The sort of body in which Christ walked the earth after His resurrection, and the sort of body with which He ascended and now rules from heaven, is the same sort of body that we will have when we are raised at His coming. Paul answers the question as to what type of body the resurrected one will be by telling us that the earthly body that dies and is buried is like a seed which grows up into something much more glorious than the seed that was planted (1 Corinthians 15:35ff):

It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living person"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15: 42-49 NET)

Our resurrected body will be a reproduction of the one the "man of heaven" has. Just as our union with Adam in his death brought us perishable bodies, our union with Christ in his resurrected life will bring us imperishable bodies. The mortal will become immortal, and we can sing along with Paul and Isaiah:
Death has been swallowed up in victory .

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)

This is the hope we have. We will be raised in incorruptible bodies to live forever with the One who takes us with Him in His resurrection. We can rejoice in this glorious truth, but that is not all that Christ's resurrection means for us. His resurrection changes things for us right now in the life we live as believers. The resurrected life that comes into its fullness at our glorification when we receive our resurrected body, is, in a lesser sense, already within us.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you are saved! and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.. (Ephesians 2:4-6 NET)

We have been made alive together with Christ. A new sort of life has begun within us--a recreated life:

Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:4,5 NET)

Our new life is grounded in our association with Christ's resurrection. Because we are "in Christ", we are new creation. We have begun to live in the realm of the resurrection, where sin has no dominion. The old things have passed away, and the new things have come. The changed life we have--the life in the Spirit--comes to us by way of Christ's resurrection, and our new association in the resurrected life calls us to live according to this new reality. It calls us "to bear the image of the man of heaven".

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth.... (Colossians 3:1-5a NET)

The things we loved and the passions we followed as the old sort of person we were, we are urged to put aside, for now we have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. (Colossians 3:10). We must clothe ourselves in the power of the resurrection and live according to the fruit the Spirit produces within us. As men and women of the new life, we need to present [ourselves] to God as those who are alive from the dead and [our] members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. (Romans 6:13 NET) We can do this knowing that there is no reason for sin to defeat us, for we are working out the victory over sin that is already a reality in Christ's resurrection, a victory that will come to its wonderful consumation when we are raised with Him when He comes again.

Christ's resurrection proves to all that He is Lord, and it is through His resurrection that He becomes Lord in truth to those who belong to Him.

He is risen!
He is risen indeed!


Wednesday, April 7

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

---Christina Rossetti

Christian Carnival

It's up now, thanks to Christ Web. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 6

What The Resurrection Means

I've been spending a little time this week looking at scripture passages dealing with the resurrection, focusing particularly on passages that describe what the resurrection means to us. These passages seem to naturally divide themselves into two categories: the message that the resurrection has for everyone, believer and unbeliever alike; and the meaning it has for those who are joined to Christ through faith. Today I want to look at some verses that tell us what the resurrection shows to everyone--what it proves to the world about Christ.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord... (Romans 1:1-4 ESV)

During Jesus's earthly ministry, people had seen His humility, his weakness; but now, with the resurrection, a new age of Christ's human existence had dawned. The suffering servant, through the resurrection, is declared to all to be the Lord of All.

Look too, at Peter's message in the second chapter of Acts:

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
"The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.
(Acts 2: 29-36 ESV)

The resurrection is evidence that Jesus is the fulfillment of David's prophesy of the resurrection of the Messiah. It is because of the resurrection that people can "know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ". The resurrection is proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the one who rules as Lord.

In another message found in Acts, Paul says to the people of Athens:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31 ESV)

Christ's resurrection is evidence to all people everywhere that He is the one God has appointed to judge them, and the proper response to the surety of this promise of judgment is repentance. We know He will judge us because He is raised.

The Christ we take to the world is not just another prophet or teacher, and not just a humble servant, but the One God has shown to be the very Lord of All by His resurrection from the dead. He can stand in judgment over every single person because He has a right to judge--a right given Him by the Father who proved to all the rightness of Christ's judgment by raising Him from the dead.

The resurrection calls all people to respond by turning from rebellion against Christ to confession of the truth of the resurrection: that He has been made Ruler of All and is declared before all as worthy of worship. It is confirmation to all people that "God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)

He is risen!
He is risen indeed!


Monday, April 5

Just Got Back....

...from taking the dog for a walk down by the river in the slushy April sunshine. I thought maybe you would like to see some photos of the city I live in. Here is a photo album from Phil Hoffman with several pictures, all taken within the city limits. If you looked at the second aerial photo with a magnifying glass, you might be able to see my house just above the airport. The photo of the dam shows you more or less where my dog and I walked. Perhaps these pictures will explain why I don't want to live anywhere else.

Sunday, April 4

Sunday Hymn

My favorite hymn when I was a child, and still one of my favorites:

And Can It Be

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

'Tis mystery all: th'Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father's throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race:
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Words by Charles Wesley

Music by Thomas Cambell

Sunday Sermon

Today’s featured sermon is from American theologian, philosopher, Congregational minister and Great Awakening evangelist, Jonathan Edwards. It’s called Christ’s Agony and it’s text is Luke 22:44:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Here’s part of what Jonathan Edwards says we can learn from the example of Christ’s agonizing prayer in Gethsemane:

Hence we may learn how earnest Christians ought to be in their prayers and endeavours for the salvation of others. Christians are the followers of Christ, and they should follow him in this. We see from what we have heard, how great the labour and travail of Christ's soul was for others' salvation, and what earnest and strong cries to God accompanied his labours. Here he hath set us an example. Herein he hath set an example for ministers, who should as co-workers with Christ travail in birth with them till Christ be found in them. Gal. 4:19. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you." They should be willing to spend and be spent for them. They should not only labour for them, and pray earnestly for them, but should, if occasion required, be ready to suffer for them, and to spend not only their strength, but their blood for them. 2 Cor. 12:15. "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." Here is an example for parents, showing how they ought to labour and cry to God for the spiritual good of their children. You see how Christ laboured and strove and cried to God for the salvation of his spiritual children; and will not you earnestly seek and cry to God for your natural children?

Here is an example for neighbours one towards another how they should seek and cry for the good of one another's souls, for this is the command of Christ, that they should love one another as Christ loved them. John 15:12. Here is an example for us, showing how we should earnestly seek and pray for the spiritual and eternal good of our enemies, for Christ did all this for his enemies, and when some of those enemies were at that very instant plotting his death, and busily contriving to satiate their malice and cruelty, in his most extreme torments, and most ignominious destruction.

Saturday, April 3

How Did They Know?

You're Canada!
People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've got a much better life than they do. In fact, they're probably just jealous. You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others. If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be the perfect person.
Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid


Something Fun...

....for those of us who think the reference section of a library is the very best place of all. With FREELANG.Net you might not need to visit your library for entertainment. My favorite part is the dialectizer, which allows you to change text into several goofy dialects, like redneck or Elmer Fudd. If you go to the Dialectizer page itself, you can type in the URL of any webpage and it translates the text into the dialect of your choosing.

The Raptors are Hopeless....

....but not to worry, home opening for the Twins is Monday. They've been doing really well in the pre-season. Let's hope they continue doing well when it really counts!

Friday, April 2

The Dead Zone

Elena takes a motorcycle tour through the Chernobyl "dead zone" and photographs her journey. Take the time to work your way through the site. The photos are powerfully eerie and haunting, and speak in a way text cannot.

From Dr. G's Blog.

Thursday, April 1

As Yet Unnamed Atonement Theory, The End

In the last part of this series we looked at the last of the proof texts used to support this model of the atonement. Today I’d like to look at a logical problem I see with this model, and then finish up with a look at the reasons I think refuting this theory is important.

If you remember, according to this theory, all sins, except the sin of unbelief, are atoned for in Christ’s death, and the atonement accomplished is applied to every person so that no person has any sin except unbelief still remaining on their account. People are sent to eternal damnation on account of their unbelief alone, for unbelief is the one thing people are judged for.

Of course, this raises a few questions. If unbelief is a sin, why is it not atoned for with all other sins? If it is not atoned for, then how does previous unbelief not continue to be held against those who eventually believe? On what grounds would believers be forgiven for their previous unbelief? What is required logically then, is for unbelief to be the one sin that can be made up for by a change of heart. This means there is a sin that does not require atonement and that is forgiven on grounds other than the death of Christ. Faith (or that change of heart) becomes not just a condition of salvation, but grounds for salvation. The grounds upon which our salvation is based is not just Christ’s death, but Christ’s death plus our faith. I don’t think anyone that I know who promotes this theory would actually come out and say that our faith is grounds for our salvation, but I don’t see how they can escape that logical conclusion.

This leads us up to one of the reasons why I went through all this nitpicking to refute this theory. At its core this theory devalues what was accomplished by Christ alone. In an attempt to make the atonement through Christ’s death less limited by making it accomplished for and applied to every single person rather than just believers, it actually limits what Christ’s death alone accomplishes. It is Christ’s death plus the individual person’s faith together that accomplishes salvation, for there is one sin that the individual alone must take away from his own account by responding in faith toward God.

This theory is not well-developed and relatively new, so we don’t know the conclusions that will come as the theory is developed and the logical inconsistencies are worked out. What may seem like a small error now can only work into larger error as the system is made internally consistent. As I look at it, it seems only a hop, skip and a jump from true universalism. It seems even nearer to the idea that an actual rejection of the gospel message is needed for damnation, for how can someone be damned for not believing in something they have not heard? This last idea seems to be working its way into the theory already, with some saying that faith in the general revelation of creation is adequate for salvation. Either of these ideas can only lead to the devaluation of missions in the church, for there is not much point in taking the gospel to people who can or will be saved without it, and in fact might be better off without a chance to reject it. This is the second reason for my exercise in hairsplitting in this series: Carried to its logical conclusions, it may make the spread of the gospel message less important.

You may see other problems, and if you do, I’d really like it if you’d post them in the comments section. I run into this theory with increasing frequency in discussion boards, so it seems that it is becoming more popular, and it’s something I’d like to be prepared to refute when it comes up.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of this series.)