Monday, May 31

Our Soldier

Keith Stark
January 7, 1950--January 15, 2003
Husband, Father, Brother, Teacher


For Memorial Day....

...a poem that most Canadian children know by heart (at least mine do):
In Flander's Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 9

Today, it is the purpose statement in that most familiar of all verses that we will examine, along with the purpose statement in the verse following it:
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. (John 3:16, 17 NET)

The purpose statement in the verse 16 is obvious--"so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life". God sent his unique Son into the world so that all who believe on the Son will have eternal life instead of the condemnation that is due them on account of their sin. And this is the way God loved the world--He provided a way, through the death of His own Son, for all people who believe to be taken out from under the sentence of condemnation that they are already standing under (see verse 18), and given eternal life instead.

Verse 17 tells us two things: something that was not God's purpose in sending His Son, and something that was His purpose. He did not send His Son to condemn the world. Judgment of the world is not Christ's purpose, at least not in this first advent. Instead, He came with another purpose: He came as Saviour of the world. He saves the world by providing the means for all believers to have eternal life rather than condemnation.

Christ's death was intended so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life instead of condemnation, and the world will be saved in this way.

Sunday, May 30

Sunday Morning Hymn

All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name

All hail the power of Jesus' Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre, and as they tune it, fall
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye morning stars of light, Who fixed this floating ball;
Now hail the strength of Israel's might, and crown Him Lord of all.
Now hail the strength of Israel's might, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call;
Extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel's chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

Hail Him, ye heirs of David's line, Whom David Lord did call,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget the wormwood and the gall,
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every tribe and every tongue before Him prostrate fall
And shout in universal song the crown'd Lord of all.
And shout in universal song the crown'd Lord of all.

John Rippon added this verse in 1787:

O that, with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!

Words by Edward Perronet, 1726-1792.
Music by Oliver Holden, 1765-1844. (Listen)

Saturday, May 29

A Little Fun for Saturday

Via Ian:

gi joe
You're GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip!!
Don't forget though, no matter how manly you
think you are, you're still just a doll. God
Bless America.

What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Seems I still might have a bit of a gender problem with these quiz things.)

Via Parablemania:

Which one is your strongest Multiple Intelligence?


Thinks in pictures. Has a good sense of object placement and fitting in 2D or 3D space. Artistic.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.


Friday, May 28

A Blogback on KJVonlyism

I stumbled across Nicene Theology today, a blog I don't think I'd ever visited before. Anyway, Darren has started a feature on his blog called Blogback. When he does a substantial post, he puts a set of questions at the end that are possible jumping off points for other bloggers to post on. So far, I can't see that anyone has participated, so I thought I might blog a little on some of the questions relating to one of his posts on KJVOnlyism. This is a subject that I've dealt with a bit on the forums at the Baptist Board. I've met just about every variation of KJVO there, and I've also known some in real life. So here is the first question Darren asks:

Knowing the history of the KJV, why do you think some people refuse to read more contemporary translations?

KJV onlyism (and for the record, I don't mean KJV preferred here, but the belief that all other versions but the KJV are corruptions of God's word) is maintained by preserving a set of double standards by which to judge the different translations. The same standards used to judge the other translations are never used to judge the KJV. So, while any other translation can be judged on the basis of its history, the history of the KJV is irrelevant. The only standard with which one may judge the KJV is "Is it the KJV?" How the KJV came about, what the translators thought they were doing, is of no significance because it is the KJV, God's perfectly preserved work in the English language.

So why do some people hold so firmly to this belief, even when most, if push comes to shove, will admit that there is no scripture that tells us that the KJV is God's perfectly preserved word in the English language? It seems to me that they have a need to believe that every single word they are reading in their English Bible is exactly the word God intended--that we have an English translation that is inspired in exactly the same way that the original was. The idea that even one word might not be exactly the best translation, or that some of the words in the copied text might have been added (or subtracted) by a copyist, would shake their faith. They have already made up their minds about the way they think God ought to have preserved his word, and it would be difficult for them to keep trusting in a God who may have done things differently than the way they think would be the best way.

Next question:

If, as Christians, we believe that the Bible was inspired in the original writing, and perhaps even in the editing and canonization process, is it reasonable to also believe that one particular translation may be inspired by the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?

Well, first of all, the word inspired is a translation of a word that means "out-breathed by God". Paul tells us that the "writings" are God-breathed-out. How this process works, none of us really knows, but it does seem to be a process that could be applicable to text or speech. I don't know exactly what is meant by the term "editing process", but if the editing that the original writers did to their writings before they finished their product is what is meant by the term, then I do believe this would be part of the "God-breathed-out" process. I don't, however, see how "God-breathed-outness" could apply to the canonization process. I do believe that the Spirit guided the process of canonization so that we can be confident that the final product of canonization contains the "God-breathed" writings, but it would be a different sort of process, and so I don't think we can used the word "inspiration" in the way it is used scripturally to describe that process.

So, is it reasonable to believe that one particular translation may be inspired by the Holy Spirit? I suppose, in a sense, it is reasonable. If God had chosen to do things that way, then He certainly could have. If He did, however, then He did it without ever telling us that this was the way He would work. And He did it against the pattern of multiple translations approved as scripture that we see in the scripture itself, for Jesus himself read from translations of the Hebrew scripture that seem to be translated from a text that is not the same one our own Old Testament is translated from. So someone who believes that any particular translation is inspired by God in the same way the original text was, believes this on the basis of no scriptural evidence, and against what evidence it is that we do have.

Next question:

In what way may we speak of our English Bibles as "inspired?"

Some people use the term "derived inspiration", but I really don't like that term. It is the original writings that were "God-breathed-out." What we have are translations of copies of copies of the inspired original writings.

Some of us may wish that God had preserved His word differently. But He chose to preserve it in a multitude of manuscripts, none exactly the same. That multitude of manuscripts means we can recreate something pretty close to the text of the original writings. And we have a multitude of translations, too, which together help us come to a better understanding of the sense of the original writings in the original languages.

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 8

The text for today's look at one of the explicit statements in scripture concerning the purposes of Christ's death is Galatians 4:4,5:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (NASB)

I had planned to include these verses together with the one from Hebrews that we looked at yesterday, since it is so similar. If you remember, yesterday's scripture had to do with Christ's "redemption of the transgressions that were {committed} under the first covenant, [so that] those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." Since inheritance and sonship are such related things, these statements are really quite similar. Yesterday's post was long enough as it was, however, and I really wanted to look just a little bit at some of the unique things in this passage, so I decided to give it it's own post.

The purpose statement in this text is "so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Once again you have Christ's death redeeming people from something that comes along with being under the Law, or the Old Covenant. The phrase "when the fullness of time came" lets us know that in this text we are looking at things in a historical context. The verses before this one tells us that under the law, people were like minor children, and being a child was a sort of bondage because a child had to remain under supervision. But at the right historical time Christ came and bought people out from under the guardianship of the law, and gave them a position as fulfledged adopted adult sons with legal rights to an inheritance. It seems that when the word adoption is used here in this context, it refers to this legal right of sonship.

And if we read the verses following, we see that because we are sons, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into [our] hearts, crying, "Abba, Father'!" Because of the Spirit within us, we approach God as our own father in the same way Christ did. We are no longer like minor children or slaves, but adopted sons, "and if a son, then an heir." Since in the historical cultural setting, inheritance came through sonship, I like to think that, in Christ, we are all--both men and women--sons of God.

One of the purposes of Christ's death is so that we would be adopted sons of God.

Old Fogeys of the World Unite!

In my post explaining the things I promise not to write about on this blog, I said I was an old fogey. I have proof, too, in case you are a doubting Thomas. See down at the bottom of the white box on the sidebar of my main page. Yes, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test. See my results? The description of my personality type contains these words: "Guardian of time-honored institutions. Dependable." That is, of course, psychobabble for "very stodgy old fogey."

Anyway, David of Jollyblogger fame, admitted in the comment section of that post that he is an old fogey, too. That got me thinking, and I thought, "I bet a lot of the readers of this blog are old fogeys."

So, if you are an old fogey, please leave a comment affirming that you are. If you are a closet old fogey, now is the time to come out of the closet.

If you are not an old fogey, now is your chance to do what you love most by proving a guardian of time-honored institutions wrong. Just leave a comment saying that you are not an old fogey, and if there are enough of you innovative, free-wheeling, laugh in the face of all that's truly important types, you will succeed in your endeavor.

C'mon guys, let's hear it for old fogeys!

Update on my Vision Problem

If you remember, about a month ago I got sick with something or other, and at the same time I had a real problem with my vision. I had another appointment with the eye doctor on Wednesday, and my vision is back to normal, only a slight prescription change from these glasses I got several years ago.

Exactly what was going on with my eyes shall forever remain a mystery, I guess. I'm just really, really thankful that everything returned to normal.

Thursday, May 27

Let There Be Light

I thought it might be time for another check of the sunrise and sunset hours, since before you know it, it will be the summer solstice. Here you go, the sunrise and sunset times for today: Sunrise--4:49 AM PDT; Sunset--11:07 PM PDT.

Two weeks ago, I posted this pic taken at 10:15 PM. Tonight I took this one at 11:15 PM.

So there you go. The scoop on the daylight hours at the end of May in the land of the midnight sun.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

--from The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 7

The purpose statement we will look at in this post is found in Hebrews 9:15:
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were {committed} under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (NASB)
This verse is similar to the text we looked at in the post on Galatians 3:13 and 14, and I considered grouping the two texts together, but I think there are a couple of new things added in this one, and so it is worthy of it's own post.

So let's look first at what the purpose statement is in this verse. Of course, when we see the phrase "For this reason," we automatically think this must be pointing out a purpose statement, but there is a real possibility that this phrase is looking backward rather than forward, and shows the connection between this verse and the one before it. It is likely that it carries with it the idea of "because of this"--because of the death of Christ mentioned in the previous verse, Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. Both the NET Bible and the ESV translate it to show this connection. There is still a purpose statement here, though, and it's this: so that...those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Christ is the mediator of a new covenant through His death so that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Christ, through his death, mediates a new covenant. This doesn't mean that he mediates in the way we commonly think of mediation--where a compromise is worked out between two parties. There is no compromise here. Rather the term "mediator" points to Christ's function as the one who works out a new relationship between the two parties based on his establishment of a new covenant.

We see in chapter 8 of Hebrews that there was a problem with the old covenant--not with God fulfilling His side of the bargain, but with the people under the covenant fulfilling theirs. As we saw in our look at Galatians 3: 13 and 14, the old covenant included a promise of blessing to the people under the covenant if they kept the terms of the covenant, and a curse to the people if they broke the terms of the covenant. It would have served as a way to bring God and his people together if the people had kept their side of the deal, but they didn't. Covenant breaking was a universal problem for them, and the covenant served as a barrier between them and God, instead of a way for them to stay in relationship to Him.

So God established a new covenant, a covenant cut by the blood of Christ. The transgressions that occurred under the old covenant are taken care of-- and people are in this way bought out (or redeemed) from under the curse for breaking the old covenant. And because of this, those whom God calls may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The new covenant is to "those who are called". You'll notice that God, under this new covenant, takes the initiative on both sides of the agreement. He, of course, fulfills His side of the deal--giving the promised eternal inheritance, but He also calls those on the other side out of their sin.

The word may that we see in this statement of purpose is not necessarily making this a statement of mere possibility, as if those who are called may or may not, depending on other factors, receive the promise of eternal inheritance. It is an expression of purpose or expectation. The first part of the statement--the calling--helps to accomplish the second part--the promise of inheritance. Let me put it in terms of something simpler. If I say, "I'm going grocery shopping so that we may have supper tonight", you would understand that to mean that my buying food for the family is for the purpose of their eating supper, and it is a part of ensuring that they will be fed. So God not only fulfills His side of this new covenant, but by His calling--His divine initiative--ensures that our side is fulfilled as well.

Another purpose for Christ's death is so that those who are called will receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Wednesday, May 26

A Couple of Responses

Mr. Standfast has written a couple things lately that I've wanted to make responses to, but I've been too busy with other things to do so. So I thought I'd forego the Purposes of Christ's Death post for today, and respond to his posts instead.

First of all, he's listed his most influential books, and in it he challenges his regular readers to do the same. I'm going to do that here, although my list won't be as well thought out as his. And I'm not going to do the lovely Amazon links as I'm feeling just too lazy right now.

From my younger, formative years:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I can't even do justice to how important this book was to me. I read it at fourteen--my first adult book. I was an avid reader as a child, and before I picked up this book I had read just about every juvenile fiction book that interested me in the slightest bit in every library I frequented. From this book I learned that there was a whole world of adult classics for me to read. It also aroused an interest in European history, and I went on to read anything I could get my hands on about the French Revolution, and then I branched out from there into other things, including the Reformation. It also helped form my worldview in ways I'd like to go into sometime, but this is just supposed to be a quick post, so I'll leave that hanging for now.

Asimov on Numbers by Isaac Asimov. This book is a series of fascinating essays on all sorts of interesting math and number subjects. I had always been good at math, but this book sparked my love for mathmatics. Its the reason I started out as a math major, rather than journalism or English or history. (This changed to an education major with a math concentration after my first two children were born.) My children can tell you what a certified math geek I am. I often sat with them at the table and did their algebra problems right along with them just for the fun of it. I insisted that they understand the why of what they were doing, that they know what properties they were using, something that math programs (here at least) seem to ignore.

The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis. These books did a lot to clarify for me how God worked in our world.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. This one showed me that my faith was a reasonable one.

I should probably be adding a Francis Shaeffer book or two in this section, too, because I know that as a group, they really did influence my thinking, but I'm having trouble remembering exactly which ones and why.

In my older, already half-baked years:

In Understanding Be Men by T. C. Hammond. I got this one as a handbook for a Sunday School class on doctrine. It's a rather short little thing, nothing too indepth, but a good overview of Christian theology. It really started my interest in things theological, and as you can tell if you read this blog, this has not been just a passing interest.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer. I read this one over every few years. I always learn new things, and I know it has had a deep influence on how I think about God.

There are others that I've read more recently that I've really liked, but it's hard to assess their influence at this point. If I write another list in a few years, maybe they'll be on it.

So, there's my list of influential books. Now onto the other matter. Bob has also mentioned the description of my blog that you'll find right underneath my blog title, particularly the list of things I promise not to write about: the American presidential race, the war in Iraq, or anything "Purpose Driven". I've never explained why I'm not writing about those things, so I thought I might do that.

On the "Purpose Driven" matter. I've been a bit of an old fogey since the day I was born. I don't do fads. Well, I did once. It was called Late Great Planet Earth. Need I say more? If a book's been around 15 years or more, I might consider reading it. Fortunately for me--stodgy sort that I am--I live up here where many of these Christian fads tend to come later, and I can learn from the rest of the civilized world's mistakes.

To the political issues I'm avoiding. I used to be a bit of a political junkie. I lost interest. In the real moral issues, I stand firm. In the rest of the stuff, I just don't care all that much. I am aware that living in Canada for 30 years has changed my political views, and the direction of that change isn't to the right. It has also made me aware of how much our political views are shaped by the culture we live in. So I mostly keep my mouth shut (or my fingers still) on these issues.

Phew! I feel better now. Everything thats been swirling around inside my head is now out and I can move on.

The Christian Carnival is Here!

You will find it at Parablemania. It looks like there is a whole lot of really interesting reading there.

If you're here looking for my post featured there, here is a link to it. The permalinks seem to work within my own blog, but not if you are trying to enter the blog from the permalink. I hope Blogger gets this all worked out. It's all very annoying--sometimes the links work and sometimes they don't.

Tuesday, May 25

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 6

This is part of a series of posts examining the statements of purpose scripture gives to us regarding the death of Christ. The text we are examining in this post is Ephesians 2:14-16:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both {groups into} one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
The purpose statement here is "so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity." Christ's death was intended to bring two hostile groups together, and to reconcile them to each other and to God.

I suppose the first thing we need to do is determine who the two groups referred to here are. The context tells us that these are the Jewish people and the Gentiles.
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," {which is} performed in the flesh by human hands-- {remember} that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (vs. 11-13)
The terms Gentiles, Uncircumcision, separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, without God in the world, and formerly...far off all refer to all those who were not part of the nation Israel (or the Jews, or the Circumcision performed in the flesh by human hands).

The covenant--or the law of commandments--served as a line of demarcation between the two groups, and was a source of enmity (or hostility), because it excluded those who did not come under the umbrella of the nation Israel. Christ's death, however, took away the hostility between the two groups by what the NASB calls "abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances". I don't think this can be interpreted to mean that the Law of commandments is abolished, but rather that the dividing effects of the law (the enmity) is nullified in Christ's death. The new covenant established in Christ's blood includes all those of faith, both Jew and Gentile. There is no longer a demarcation line based on national allegiance.

So, because of this abolition of the hostility between the Jews and all other people, the two groups can be joined together to make "one new man". This one new man is a new sort of corporate entity made up of all those--from the Jews and from the Gentiles--who are in Christ. Joining both Jews and Gentiles as one corporate group united in Christ establishes peace between the two formerly hostile groups.

Through the cross both groups are also reconciled "in one body" to God. The meaning of in one body is a bit unclear. It could mean the same thing that is meant when is says that the two groups are made into one new man, or it could mean that they are both united together with Christ's one body in His death. The context, really, could be used to support either one of these options. In either case, the point is that the groups are reconciled to each other, and also reconciled to God through Christ's death on the cross.

Now, just a little side note on the term "barrier of the dividing wall" in verse 14. Many commentators take this to be an allusion to the wall separating the Gentiles from the inner courts of the temple in Jerusalem. Leon Morris, however, in The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance says that "It would be too much to say that Paul is writing about this wall." Whether this exclusionary wall is what Paul is referring to or not, that there was such a wall tells us something about the deep division between Jew and Gentile under the ordinances of the law.

One of the purposes of Christ's death was to break down the division of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles, to reconcile them to each other, gathering them into one unified entity, and also to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God himself.

What We Did On Our Victoria Day Holiday

....or more accurately, what my sons did on their Victoria Day holiday.

It rained yesterday afternoon, so no golfing, but the guys did manage to get a new wheel on the tiller and the tilling finished up. Here the younger son is tilling the used-to-be sandbox so we can turn it into a wildflower garden, rather than the weed patch it has become. He sowed the wildflower seeds, too, and watered everything down, so now if I can just remember to keep everything moist, in a month and a half or so we may have flowers instead of weeds.


Monday, May 24

This is Victoria Day...

....the day we Canadians celebrate the Queen's birthday. We will celebrate by either golfing or finishing up the gardening work we still have to do, and then we'll have a little barbecue this evening. To those of you slaving away today at your regular work, I say "nanny, nanny, boo-boo." You can return the favor next Monday, if you want.

Let me remind you, too, that this Wednesday is the Christian Carnival:
This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at Parablemania.

For those who haven't noticed, this is a new address since the last time Parablemania hosted the Carnival.

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.

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 Jeremy 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 by 9 PM EST
Why not enter something?

Sunday, May 23

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 5

In this look at the explicit purpose statements for Christ's death that are found in scripture, let's consider Galations 3:13, 14:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. (NET)
The purpose statement found here for Christ's death--or for Christ becoming a curse for us--is "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith."

What exactly does it mean when it refers to the blessing of Abraham? We can find the answer in the text just prior to these verses:
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, "All the nations will be blessed in you." (v. 8)
God promised Abraham that through his lineage blessing would come to the Gentiles. Verse 14 tells us that this promise to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed in him was really the promise of the coming of the Spirit to those of faith.

The law, which contained promised blessing to those who kept it, also contained a curse for all those who didn't fully keep it, and so it became a universal curse upon mankind, for there was no one--except Christ himself, of course--who fulfilled properly. All human beings, both Jew and Gentile, find themselves with a curse hanging over them because of their disobedience to what the law commands. Christ came, and in His death on the cross, bore that curse of the law that we earned for ourselves by not keeping the law.

This is one of the clearest references to the substitutionary nature of what Christ accomplished in His death. He became a curse for us; He took what we had coming to us. This text calls this vicarious bearing of our curse an act of redemption--the paying of a price for us.

These two verses are set within a context of Paul's contrasting the Spirit over against the law. Those in Christ Jesus, both Jew and Gentile, receive the blessing promised in those words to Abraham--that all nations would be blessed in him, which Paul tells us is the promise of the Spirit by faith--instead of the curse of the law that is rightfully theirs.

In these verses we see that one of the purposes of Christ's death was the fulfilling of the promise to Abraham that the nations would be blessed in him, and this promise was fulfilled in the coming of the Spirit through faith, and this coming of the Spirit is grounded in Christ's bearing of the law's curse in our place.

Sunday Morning Hymn

A hymn of our eternal hope:
It Is Well With My Soul
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Words by Horatio Gates Spafford
Music by Philip Paul Bliss

This has become another of my most loved hymns. It was written after Spafford's four young daughters were killed when the ship in which they were crossing the Atlantic collided with another ship . You can read the whole story here:
.... this hymn reveals a person who had been graced by God to mourn without bitterness, to sorrow without anger, to trust without resentment, to rest in the peace of Christ which surpasses every man's understanding (Phil. 4:6). The remarkable faith exhibited by the author of this hymn is the same precious faith allotted to all the believers (2 Peter 1:1) which enables them to believe steadfastly as the author did, that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Saturday, May 22

Some Fun Stuff for Saturday

On Saturdays we concentrate on fun stuff here. And really, what could be more fun than blogging? If you've ever thought about starting to blog, Tim has a new site up called BlogBasics that gives you everything you need to know to start on your blogging adventure.

This is our May long weekend here in Canada, when we all do our big gardening projects or take our first camping trip. Monday is Victoria Day, and here is a site devoted to Victoria Day and all the fun things that go along with it.

For more fun stuff, Hal of The Great Separation links to a list of some of the more amusing Bible printing errors.

And finally, I just discovered a new blog done by a couple from my town, Lynn and Lawrie Stewart, who are blogging their way through a six month trip across Canada and back. The blog contains beautiful pictures and a diary of all the things they see and do.

Friday, May 21

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 4

This is the fourth in our series examining the explicit purpose statements regarding Christ's death that we find in scripture. Today's purpose statement comes from Hebrews 2:14, 15:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death. (NET)
The purpose statement in this verse is actually a purpose statement for Christ's incarnation. Christ became human just like we are "so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death." He had to live the same sort of life we do in the same sort of body in order to represent us as our high priest (see verse 17), and offer himself to God in our place.

The purpose of this representative death is to defeat of the devil. The text describes the devil as "the one who holds the power of death". Of course, the ultimate power of death belongs to God, and Satan works only within the boundaries permitted him, but his power is always for death and never for life. He was the one who introduced death into creation. Christ's death on the cross, then, means that the devil's power of death over those who are identified with Christ is nullified. They are set free from living their lives in fear of death, because through Christ they have the hope of eternal life.

Another purpose of Christ's death is to take the power of death away from the devil, and in this way to set people free from their fear of death.

Thursday, May 20

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 3

We'll look at two portions of scripture today, since the purpose statements in each of these texts are very similar.
He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. (Titus 2:14 NET)
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NET)
The purpose statement in the first verse is "to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good," and in the second text it is "to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless." Since I'm presenting these two statements as similar, I am making the assumption that the church and a people who are truly his are roughly equivalent in meaning. If you disagree, then you'll just have to see these two statements as expressing to different purposes.

Each statement, then, says that a purpose of Christ's death is have a group of people who are pure or spotless. In the first verse, these people are called "a people who are truly his." The idea here is ownership of something special. These people belong to him, and are a special possession. In the second bit of scripture, the group of people are called "the church", and you can see the idea of treasured possession here as well because the church is likened to Christ's bride, something He loved in the same way that husbands are encouraged to love their wives, and something that He was willing to "give himself" to obtain.

In the first statement it is said that Christ's death was "to set us free." This literally means "to release when a ransom is paid". Christ's death--his giving himself on our behalf (or perhaps huper in this case means in our place)--causes His people to be released from sin. It also purifies them. I would take this purification to be that of the sanctifying process, although some might argue that. These purified people who belong to him are then identified by their zealousness for good works.

In the second statement, Christ is also described as having given Himself. He gives Himself on behalf of the church, in order to sanctify her, and then, when she is completely sanctified, He presents her to Himself in all of the glorious purity that has been worked in her based on His own death for her. He takes as His own the bride He has already given himself for--given to make her suitable to belong to Him.

One purpose for Christ's death, then, is for Him to have a sanctified people (the church) for Himself.

Now It's Time for the Lupines

The pasque flowers are already going to seed....

and now the lupines are blooming.

The dog and I discovered all of these important things when we took our Thursday afternoon walk down by the river on the Millenium Trail.


Wednesday, May 19

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 2

Well, it was a busy day, so I didn't have much time for blogging, but since I said I'd be doing one of these per day, I figured I'd take one of the less complex purpose statements given for Christ's death and look at it tonight. I chose 1 Peter 3:18:
Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh. (NET)
There are lots of not-so-clear things in the verses after this one, but this particular verse is pretty straight forward. The purpose statement given here for Christ's being put to death--or Christ's suffering for sins--is "to bring you to God." This, of course, is pointing to the reconciliation that Christ's death brings, not so much God's reconcilitation toward human beings--although that would be necessary in order for Him to reach out to bring people to himself--but the reconciliation of human beings toward God. People who are naturally hostile toward God (Romans 8), are brought to God because of Christ's suffering for sin.

The just One suffers in place of the unjust ones, and on the basis of what is accomplished by that vicarious suffering, the sin that stands between God and sinners is taken out of the way, and God can now reach out to cause them to be reconciled to himself. This reconciling work is done by the Spirit (Romans 8, again).

Another purpose for Christ's death is to bring people to God.

It's Wednesday, So It Must Be Christian Carnival Time

Yep, the tents are set up at Back of the Envelope. I'm heading over there right now to see what's going on. Why don't you come with me?

[Update: I'm back! I had a really good time because the posts entered this week seem particularly thoughtful. I'll highlight a couple that are from blogs that are relatively new to me: Kingdom Come has a post on sensuality, and Proverbial Wife has one on how much we can know about God and how we know it.]

Tuesday, May 18

Purposes of Christ's Death

Over the weekend I was going through some papers I had filed away looking for some notes I took while doing my first inductive Bible study a few years ago. I had thought I might post a few them as a demonstration of one way to do inductive Bible study. I couldn't find them, but I did find a chart I made a while ago from all the passages of scripture that mention Christ's death and what it accomplished. That gave me an idea for a series of posts that I'm going to try to do over the next while.

I thought I might look at the purpose statements that some verses that mention Christ's death have in them--you know, statements that includes the words, "so that" or "for this reason" or "to this end" or similar wording. I'll take one verse per day, or perhaps a couple if their purpose statements are similar, and look just at what that statement of purpose means.

I'm going to start with Romans 3:24 and 25:
....whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)

There are two purpose statements here. They are similar, but stated slightly differently: "This was to show God's righteousness" and "It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." These both say that one of the purposes of Christ's death was to demonstrate God's righteousness in some way. The word translated just in the second statement could also just as well be translated "righteous", so the last part of that purpose statement is reinforcing the first--Christ's propitiatory death means that God can be righteous and at the same time, count as righteous the person of faith.

So how does Christ's death show God's righteousness (or that God is just)? The problem, as the verse lays it out, is that passing over previously committed sins out of His forbearance in some way calls into question the righteousness of God. The former sins that are being referred to here are the sins God passed over in the times before Christ's death. It seems that it would be just as unrighteous (or unjust) for God as Judge to simply shove a wrongdoing under the rug as it would be for Him to condemn the innocent.

Christ's propitiatory death, then, somehow makes God's forbearance in previous times right. It means that sin was never just shoved under the rug, but that there was a righteous way for it to be overlooked, and this righteous way was the means of propitiation that now comes through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross--a way to take care of the righteous wrath of God against sin, a way that is recieved through faith. So, because of Christ's propitiatory death, God can withhold His righteous wrath against sin and count those of faith righteous, and still be completely righteous Himself. Christ's death absorbs the righteous judgment of God that is made necessary by human sin, and in this way demonstrates to all people that God is still righteous even when He mercifully forgives sin and counts sinners as righteous.

Showing us God's righteousness (or justice) is one of the purposes of Christ's death.


I have gone back to the Haloscan commenting system. It was nice to have a system that showed the comments on the individual post page, but I still didn't like the Blogger system much, and I missed trackback.

This means that if you left a comment here on the new Blogger system, it doesn't show any more, although I still have all the comments. I'm sorry about that.

[Update: I moved all the comments under the Blogger system over to the Haloscan. (There weren't that many.) I hope those of you who had commented won't mind. It means the date and time will be different, but everything else should be the same.]

Monday, May 17

Line Drying

Of all the household tasks, this is the one that brings me the most satisfaction.

Clean and bright, like flags in the wind, all in order, sheets with sheets, big towels, then smaller ones, and finally the wash cloths. No perfumed fabric softener can compare with the smell of laundry freshly dried in the pristine Yukon air. Our house is on an old Canadian Air Force base, and each house once had a grey painted wooden stoop to reach the clothesline on pulleys that ran from the front of the house to a big iron T-post at the edge of the street. There are a few of us that still use them, but more and more they are disappearing as the electric clothes dryer permanently takes their place, and children will grow up never smelling fresh air dried clothing.

Don't Forget.... enter something in the upcoming Christian Carnival. Here are the details:
This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted
at Back of the Envelope.

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.

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 Donald 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 by 8 PM EST

A Few Thoughts on Prayer

I had planned to write something on a different topic this morning, but reading Mr. Standfast's post today with my first-thing-I-do cup of coffee made me start thinking about the subject of prayer, so I'm posting something I've been thinking of posting on that subject instead.

Have you noticed that in the beginning of many of the epistles he writes, Paul has a little section like this one from the first chapter of Philippians?
I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for you all because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God's grace together with me. For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 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 1:3-11 NET)
Paul tells the Philippian believers that they are included in his prayers, but he tells them a little more than that. He tells them that his prayers include both thanks for certain things about them, and requests made on their behalf. In the case of the Philippians, he is thankful for their participation in the gospel, probably refering specifically to their willingness to give sacrificially to support Paul when he was in need, both now on the occasion of Paul's imprisonment, and previously when Paul had been in need during his missionary work (See chapter 4:10-19); and he is thankful that God began working in them, and is continuing to work in them, and that He will keep on working in them.

Then he tells them what specific petitions he is making on their behalf. He prays that God will cause their love will grow in discernment so that they can learn to choose the best things and in that way be pure and without offense, and that God will fill them with the good qualities that are produced through association with Christ. As we learn later in the book, despite their faithful support of Paul in the his work trailblazing with the gospel, they seem to have had a bit of a problem having the right attitude toward each other, and this may well be part of what Paul is addressing in these particular requests for them.

So, Paul does three things: he prays for them, he tells them that he prays for them, and he tells them what he is praying for them. Since I first studied this book several years ago, I have tried to follow the example of Paul in this regard, although I haven't been as successful at is as I ought to have been.

We all know we ought to pray for the other believers we know and love, and that responding to our prayers on behalf of others is one of the ways God works in the lives of people, but we forget sometimes to tell them that we are praying for them. Then, of course, they miss the joy that comes from knowing that there are prayers made concerning them, outside of their own thanks and petitions, that are reaching God's ears.

The example from Paul that we are least likely to follow, I think, is telling those we pray for exactly what sorts of things we are saying to God pertaining to them. This is means they may miss out on another way God works. Knowing what sorts of things about us others who know us are thankful for lets us know the areas in which our walk with God is more successful. It also tells us something about the talents and gifts that we have. Knowing what petitions are made for us lets us know what needs others see in us. This gives us confidence that God will be working to meet these needs, and also lets us know the areas that we ought to concentrate on as we "work out our salvation".

As those of you who read here regularly know, my family has been through difficult times in the past few years. You don't know what it meant to hear from people we knew only slightly, or even not at all, who would say or write, "We are praying for you. So is my prayer group at my church." It meant that even when I couldn't muster a prayer, I knew God was still hearing prayers made for us. It meant that we always felt cared for, even when things were at their lowest.

This is one of the areas I'm trying to work on in my own prayer life, because I know from the example of scripture and my own experience how important these three things are: praying for others in their struggles, letting them know we are praying for them, and letting them know what things we are praying concerning them.

Sunday, May 16

Focusing on Daniel...

....with this Sunday's hymn and sermon.

My youngest son was born three weeks early. We hadn't settled our name choices yet, so he went for a few days without a name while we sorted all that out. At the time, the Bible stories my husband was reading to the older children were from the book of Daniel, so they wanted their new brother to be named Daniel. Since my husband and I couldn't come up with another name we both liked, we went with the children's choice.

It's a good thing for a boy to have a name that ties him to a Bible hero. As soon as Daniel could read, I'd often see him reading in his little Bible from the book with his name on it during the sermons on Sunday morning. This children's hymn, written by Philip Bliss for a Sunday school class he taught, was Daniel's favorite song. When I found out that he thought Daniel's band was of the musical kind, I couldn't bear to correct his thinking for fear I'd take away some of the joy it gave him.
Dare to Be a Daniel

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God's command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel's band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

Many mighty men are lost
Daring not to stand,
Who for God had been a host
By joining Daniel's band.

Many giants, great and tall,
Stalking through the land,
Headlong to the earth would fall,
If met by Daniel's band.

Hold the Gospel banner high!
On to vict'ry grand!
Satan and his hosts defy,
And shout for Daniel's band.

The featured sermon is about Daniel's band, too. It was preached by Charles Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on August 3, 1890. It's based on the text from Daniel 10:11, "O Daniel, a man greatly beloved." Spurgeon says that it is a wonderful thing for us to know we are loved by God, for that assurance of God's love works good things within us. Consider Daniel's life:
Because Daniel was greatly beloved of God, he was early tried, and enabled to stand. While he was yet a youth, he was carried into Babylon, and there he refused to eat the king's meat, or to drink the king's wine. He put it to the test whether, if he fed on common pulse, he would not be healthier and better than if he defiled himself with the king's meat. Now, religion does not stand in meat and drink; but let me say, a good deal of irreligion does, and it may become a very important point with some as to what they eat and what they drink. Daniel was early tested, and because he was a man greatly beloved of God, he stood the test. He would not yield even in a small point to that which was evil. Young man, if God greatly loves you, he will give you an early decision, and very likely he will put you to an early test. If you are greatly loved, you will stand firm, even about so small a thing as what you eat and drink, or something that looks less important than that. You will say, "I cannot sin against God. I must stand fast, even in the smallest matter, in keeping the law of the Lord my God." If thou art enabled to do that, thou art a man greatly beloved.

Afterwards, Daniel was greatly envied, but found faultless. He was surrounded by envious enemies, who could not bear that he should be promoted over them, though he deserved all the honour he received. So they met together, and consulted how they would pull him down. They were obliged to make this confession, "We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God." O dear friends, you are greatly beloved is, when your enemies meet to devise some scheme for your overthrow, they cannot say anything against you except what they base upon your religion. If, when they sift you through and through, their eager, evil eyes cannot detect a fault; and they are obliged to fall back upon abusing you for your godliness, calling it hypocrisy, or some other ugly name, you are a man greatly beloved.

Further, Daniel was delivered from great peril. He was cast into the lions' den because he was a man greatly beloved of God. I think I see some shrink back, and I hear them say, "We do not want to go into the lions' den." They are poor creatures, but Daniel was worth putting in the lions' den; there was enough of him to be put there. Some men would be out of place among lions; cats would be more suitable companions for them; indeed. They are such insignificant beings that they would be more at home among mice. Lion's dens would not be at all in their line. They would imitate Solomon's slothful man, and say, "There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets." There is not enough manhood in them to bring them into close quarters with the king of beasts. Even among our hearers there are many poor feeble creatures. A clever man preaches false doctrine, and they say, "Very good. Was it not well put?" Oh, yes! it is all alike good to some of you, who cannot discern between the true and the false; but Daniel could distinguish between good and evil, and therefore he was thrust into the lion's den. It was, however, a den out of which he was delivered. The lions could not eat him, God loved him too well. The Lord preserved Daniel, and he will preserve you, dear friend, if you belong to "Daniel's band." It is one thing to sing:--
"Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;"

but it is quite another thing to be a Daniel, and dare to stand alone, when you are at the mouth of the lions den. If you are like Daniel, you will have no cause for fear even then. If your trial should be like going into a den of lions, if you are a man greatly beloved of God, you will come out again. No lion shall destroy you; you are perfectly safe. The love of God is like a wall of fire round about you.

Once more, Daniel was a man greatly beloved, and therefore he had revelations from God. Do not open your eyes with wonder and say, "I wish that I had all the revelations that Daniel had." Listen to what he says: "I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me;" and again: "As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me; but I kept the matter in my heart." The revelations he received actually made him ill: "I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it." He whom God loves will see things that will astound him; he will see that which will almost kill him; he will that which will make him faint and sick well nigh unto death. When one said, "You cannot see God and live," another answered, "Then let me see him if I die." So those who are greatly beloved say, "Let me see visions of God whatever it may cost me. Let me have communion with him even though it should break my heart, and crush me in the dust. Though it should fill me with sorrow, and make me unfit for my daily business, yet manifest thyself to me, my Lord, as thou dost unto the world!" Even men greatly beloved, when they deal closely with God, have to find out that they are but dust and ashes in his sight. They have to fall down before the presence of his glorious majesty, as the beloved John did when he fell at Christ's feet as dead.

I will make only one more remark upon Daniel's case, and that is this, he stood in his lot. Because he was a man greatly beloved, he had this promise with which to close his marvellous book. "Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." He was a man greatly beloved, but he does not understand all that God has revealed; and he is to go his way, and rest quite satisfied that, whether he understood it or not, it would work him no harm; for when the end came, he would have his place and his portion, and he would be with his Lord for ever. The next time you get studying some prophecy of Scripture, which you cannot make out, do not be troubled; but hear the voice of God saying, "Go thy way. Wait awhile. It will all be plain by-and-by. God is with thee. There remains a rest for thee, a crown that no head but thine can wear, a harp that no fingers but thine can play upon, and thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days."

We, too, are loved by God, and we can join Daniel's band of the courageous ones who stand alone for God:
No man need wish to be born in a time more suitable for heavenly chivalry than this. To stand alone for God in such an evil age as this, is a great honour. I pray that you may be able to avail yourselves of your privileges. How few care to swim against the current! A strong stream is running in opposition to the truth of God. Many say that the Bible is not half inspired. Many are turning away from Christ, refusing to acknowledge his deity, and some blasphemously speak of his precious blood as a thing of the shambles. O sirs! If somebody does not stand out to-day for the cause of God and truth, what is to become of the nominal church and of a guilty world? If you are loyal to Christ, show it now. If you love him, and his infallible Word, prove it now. Then shall you hear him say to you also, "O man greatly beloved, go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." God grant it for Jesus' sake! Amen.

This is a sermon preached almost 114 years ago, but it's application is remarkably suitable for us as well.

Saturday, May 15

Weekly Pet Picture

And some of you thought I was obsessed with cats.....



Friday, May 14

New Life

In the past few days, everything has begun to change here. The branches on the trees have gone from being brown sticks, to having lively green buds and little leaves. The grass is still mostly brown, but there are bursts of new green here and there.

Creation is being called forth to new life by the One who is upholding it by the word of His power. He calls the new spring life out of the winter deadness in a yearly recreative act. It's a little mini-creation, and it reminds me of how he called the world into existence.

It reminds me, too, that those of us who belong to Him were also called into existence.
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV)

He spoke the word, and the light shone in our hearts, and we were raised to new life. We are no longer brown sticks, but lively new green branches. We have been "called out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV)

We have been "begotten again to a living hope," but this new life of living hope is not like the life of the cyclical seasons. It doesn't fade away, because it is being sustained by the power of God. We will continue to grow in this new life, this new hope, this new sort of existence, until our full salvation is revealed at last.

While I'm revelling in this wonderful newness of life in my world and in my own life, may I not forget that the chief purpose in all of this is that I proclaim the excellencies of the One who called me out of the deadness of winter into the newness of spring.

Thursday, May 13

May in the Yukon

This is a very busy time of year for us. We have about a two week window here in May to get all the spring yard and garden work done. Our yard has been power raked and the dead grass has been raked into piles in the front yard. We still have to rake the back yard and do a lot of general cleanup. Then the garden needs to be tilled and planted.

Makes me tired just thinking about it. At least the weather has been cooperating, giving us warm, sunny days, and not snow.

New Look

As you can see, we have a new look around here. I think I'm liking this new blogger. A few bugs still to be worked out, but all in all, a lot better than the old.

Wednesday, May 12

Daylight Hours

We are now into our long daylight season. Today our sunrise was at 5:23 AM PDT, and our sunset will be 10:31 PM PDT. That means our solar noon is somewhere around 2 PM. This is because we are too far west to be in the Pacific time zone, and because of daylight savings time. So our sunset is really two hours later than it should be.

Here's a photo I took from my front porch tonight at 10:15PM, just so you can see how light it is.


This Week's Christian Carnival

It's a busy day for me again, but I'm going to make time for some reading from the entries to the mission themed Christian Carnival that's up at Spare Change. Why don't you take a bit of time to peruse the posts as well?

Tuesday, May 11

The Will of God, part 854

...or so it seems.

Jollyblogger has a new post up on the subject, with links to other posts as well. Check them out, and check out Adrian Warnock's post on this subject too.

I'm not sure I've really got much more to say about God's will, but I might say a little more anyway. Do I believe that God uses special means to let us know His will sometimes? Yes, I absolutely do. I have experienced it, but the circumstances are personal, and so I'll not be sharing them.

I also think that for the most part, He does not use special means to reveal His will to us, The majority of our decisions, both big and small, we make by looking at our circumstances, thinking about what we really want, considering what options are available to us, and choosing the option that seems best to us, keeping in mind, of course, what scripture has to tell us about the matter.

If we really love God, and want most of all to serve Him, then I think we can be fairly confident in the decisions we make. Here's why:

1. Our circumstances are in God's control, down to the tiniest detail.

2. The options that are open to us are in God's control.

3. If we really love God and want to serve Him, then we know that the Spirit is at work within us. That means our wants are also influenced by the Spirit. So is our thinking about what is best.

So we make our decisions carefully, but not timidly, always keeping in mind that what we decide to do will only happen if it is God's sovereign will that it happen.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit." You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, "If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15 NET)

(The other post that you can find here the subject of God's will are this one and this one.)

Monday, May 10

Road Trip

When the weather gets nice in the spring, I always get a hankering to pop the Allman Brothers into the CD player in my car and hit the road for a long road trip. Not a 500 mile a day, find your reserved hotel room, swim in the pool, then have supper sort of road trip; but the real thing, when you drive from sunrise until midnight, eat sandwiches from the cooler, sleep in the car, and don't shower for three days. I'm not sure why I like this sort of trip. It means you arrive at your destination looking like a mess and ready to sleep for 24 hours. It means you get where you're going with a trunk full of dirty laundry and no clean clothes left in your suitcase. But there's something about being connected to nothing but what's inside your own vehicle that brings a refreshing reprieve from everything else.

I've been on many of these hard driving road trips. This was the kind of trip our family took when I was a child. We rarely slept in the car, but we always pushed for as many miles as possible each day. When I first got married, we were two students living on one income from the GI bill, but we loved to travel, so we traveled as cheaply as possible. Out west, up north, all in a little dark green Porsche my husband had bought before we met. It was good on gas, but small for sleeping.

Once we found ourselves in the middle of Kansas with a wall of tornadoes behind us and $5.00 left to make it back to northern Minnesota, so we just kept driving. By the time we ran low on gas in southern Minnesota, we had outrun the tornadoes, so we put enough gas in the tank to make it home and spent the $2.00 left over on two-egg breakfasts and coffee in a truckstop.

When the children were born, things changed. The Porsche was sold and we had a series of other vehicles. It was with our first child that we made the big road trip up the Alaska highway for a job that was waiting. Everything we owned under a tarp in the back of the pickup, and the baby in the middle of the seat in the cab, bouncing along the highway that was really only a trail in the wilderness.

After that, there were the yearly trips down the highway in the summer to see the grandmas and the grandpa, and the aunts and uncles and cousins. From the pickup, to a jimmy, to suburbans, as the family grew larger.

We became experts at keeping kids entertained for hours with raucous songs and imaginative stories and made-up games. We taught them all the songs of our youth--campfire songs and military songs and sailing songs and hymns and choruses. We told them stories of our childhoods. We played "I Spy with My Little Eye". Our children absorbed a good chunk of their cultural heritage on our long road trips.

There was the year that the oldest daughter learned that sing-songing the word "pitiful" over and over again would cause her younger brother to whimper and pout in the most delicious way. And the trip when my youngest daughter learned that chanting, "Get me out!" didn't mean she could get out of the car seat, but it did mean that everyone in the car would join her in her chanting, and that was almost as good.

We would stop for a warm supper cooked on the camp stove, by a lake or river if we could, so the kids and dad could skip rocks while supper was cooking. After supper was finished, it was back into the vehicle again for a few more hours of traveling, until it was time to stop and spread the cushions for sleeping in the back of the suburban. If it rained, we were all filthy, because every outhouse trip meant tracking Alaska highway mud back into the vehicle.

My husband hated getting gas before the gauge read empty, and slight miscalculations would have us running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. This meant Daddy had to take rides from strangers into the nearest town to get gas to bring back while the rest of us waited in the car.

Once we were stopped by a posse of locals with rifles drawn, searching for the hitchhiker who had just held up the Muncho Lake gas station at knifepoint. We remembered passing him 60 miles or so before Muncho Lake, where he had been trying to hitch a ride out in the wilderness. My husband, who was scared of no one and always willing to help, had decided to pass this man without stopping because he didn't like the way he looked.

Last summer we took another road trip--the first one without my husband. It was just the two boys and the dog and I, down the highway to Edmonton. We were carrying my husband's ashes in a small wooden box in the trunk so we could bury him in the family plot in his hometown in central Minnesota. You would think it would have been a sad trip, or at least a bittersweet one, but it wasn't. We listened to Hank Williams, and Dire Straits, and Orff, and The Messiah, and the Montreal Jubilation Choir. We read trashy gossip magazines, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and did math problems and crossword puzzles. We counted how many cars of various colors we saw.

In Edmonton, we picked up my oldest daughter. We had planned to stay overnight there, but we arrived in the early evening, and the boys couldn't bear to waste those good nighttime driving hours, so we quickly gathered up their sister and hit the road again. They had all learned their travelling lessons well.

On the morning of the graveside service, we left my parent's house in a two car convoy--the boys with Grandpa in his car, and the girls with me in mine, still carrying the ashes in the wooden box in the trunk. Down the highway by Walker and Hackensack and Pine River and Pequot Lakes, through Crosby to the funeral home where I picked up the triangularly folded vet's coffin flag, and then on to the cemetery. Already gathered were the relatives and the friends, and the vets from the legion in their ceremonial uniforms with their saluting rifles. So we buried my husband and my children's father with a prayer and the taps and the rifle salute.

My husband would have liked that we carried his ashes down the highway in the trunk. And that we sang songs and argued and discussed and played games and drove until midnight. That when the border guard asked if we were carrying anything with us that we were leaving behind in the States, my son piped up, "Yes, my dad's ashes." The boys called that "playing the death card." Whatever you call it, it's a sure way to get a speedy send-through at the border, and my husband would have approved.

Another fall and winter have passed, and today the sun is shining. This morning, I'm longing for another road trip.

Sunday, May 9

Sunday Morning Hymn

Praise the Saviour, Ye Who Know Him

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the Name that charms us,
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever,
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him.

Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving
To Thyself, and still believing,
Till the hour of receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

Words: Thomas Kelly
Music: Traditional German melody.

Saturday, May 8

Sermon for Sunday Morning

I'm hightlighting another sermon by Fred Martin of the Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji, MN again. It's called Preparing for a Long Struggle. As I mentioned earlier when I featured one of his sermon's, Fred Martin has been our pastor twice when we were taking sabbaticals. I chose this sermon for today because Pastor Fred mentions a couple of recent events here in Canada: the new hate propaganda law, and the British Columbia teacher who was suspended for writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper arguing that homosexuality is a condition that should be treated.

The sermon text is from Daniel 7, part of the prophetic section of Daniel. Pastor Fred reminds us that
There is a difference between the fulfillment of a prophecy and the meaning of a prophecy. Please remember that when you read the prophecies of the Bible.  Learn to distinguish between the major message of Bible prophecies and the minor tantalizing details of those prophecies...

The message that we find in Daniel is a message that we find in other prophetic portions of the Bible.  It is a message that God's people need to hear in every age.  God will be victorious, and God's people will be share in his victory.  But there may well be a long struggle before that time comes.  Don't be surprised by it.  Be prepared for a long struggle.

The events that are taking place here in our country, and in other places as well, may be part of the struggle we ought to be expecting. God is victorious in the end, but we need to prepare ourselves for whatever difficulties may lie ahead.
Daniel's prophecy suddenly becomes terribly relevant—not because we've figured out exactly who the beasts in the vision are.  No, it's relevant because God is saying to us today the same thing that he said to his people in Daniel's day.  Get ready!  Don't be surprised at what the future holds.  Be prepared for a long struggle.

Fried Squirrel

We had to have supper late tonight. The electricity was out to the whole neighborhood for a couple of hours right at supper time because a squirrel somehow managed to electrocute himself on the power lines that run through our property, dropping dead right in the middle of the front yard. The little neighbor boy entertained himself during the no T.V. time by buzzing back and forth from his yard to ours to snatch little peeks of the dead squirrel.

After the power repairman had left, my youngest son took the shovel, scooped up the squirrel, took him down in the bush and buried him. He's growing into a man, it seems.

I think dead animal removal is about as good a Mother's Day gift as any.

An Important Part of My Blog Routine

You guessed it! The weekly cat picture.

Leroy at Rest


Helping Google Out

Last night I tried to figure out why this blog seem to be on the first page of Google results for anyone looking for Ole and Lina jokes. Just as I had thought, I have no Ole and Lina jokes here. One absolutely hilarious Norwegian joke, but no Lina in it, just Sven. So, to help Google be a bit more accurate in their results, how about this?
Ole was taking Lina, who was pregnant with twins, to the hospital when his car went out of control and crashed. Upon regaining consciousness, he saw his brother Sven, sitting at his bedside. He asked Sven how Lina was and his brother replied, "Don't vorry, everybody is fine and you have a son and a daughter. But the hospital was in a real hurry to get the birth certificate filed and both you and Lina vere unconscious so I named them for you.

Ole was thinking to himself, "Oh no, vat has he done now?" and said, "Well, what did you name them?"

Sven replied, "I named da little girl Denise."

Ole said, "Ya, dat's a very pretty name! And yust vat did you come up vith for my son?"

Sven smiled and replied, "Denephew."

From Northwoods Humor by Hatchet Creek.

And while we're talking northwoods, Hatchet Creek also has a northwoods knowledge test. I scored respectable 19 out of 20. Which one did I get wrong? I've been living in Canada too long, I guess, and I mistook those big green rubber boots for gum boots.

Friday, May 7

Bits and Pieces, This and That

I'm taking a bit of time this morning to tie things up around here before the weekend hits. For those of you who have taken an interest in the Two Wills of God post, here are a couple of links that go deeper into that subject:

Are There Two Wills in God by John Piper.

Finding God's Will God's Way from In-Depth Studies.


Adding to the blogroll: Jollyblogger and View from the Pew. Its only right that I add them because I have begun reading them almost daily. Warren of View from the Pew has some interesting articles on what exactly is fundamentalism as historically defined, and Jollyblogger has an article that really interested me on translational issues.

I also want to point you to J. Mark Bertrand's article on Church History. It's his May 3rd entry--no permalinks that I can find. Here is a quote to whet your appetite:
If there is anything the modern Church could benefit from today, it is historical perspective. We stand at the end of a long history of God's work in and through His people. Because they were not always perfect, we have sometimes disowned Christian thinkers of the past, or constructed sanitized versions of them. But we of all people should not be surprised to find that our Christian forebears were both sinful and finite, and that they didn't have the "whole" Truth. Indeed, a study of our history might teach us that we ourselves do not possess the whole Truth, or even understand fully what -- or should I say who? -- it is. Isaac Newton had the good grace to attribute his own discoveries to the "shoulders of giants" upon which he stood. In our enthusiasm for our own postmodern achievements, we should be similarly mindful.


And now a little more from Herman Ridderbos in Paul: An Outline of His Theology on the way sarx or "flesh" is used by Paul (This comes up as a side issue in Jollyblogger's post above.):
"Flesh" does not refer only to the physical, nor merely to human as such, but to the human in its weakness, transitoriness, that Paul elsewhere terms being "of the earth, earthy" (1 Cor. 15:47), and what in Galatians 4 is called "being born of a woman." In Romans 8:3 he speaks of "the likeness of sinful flesh," in which God sent his Son. "Flesh" and "sinful flesh need not coincide. But sin in the nature of the case takes place in the flesh and stamps the human mode of existence as "the sinful flesh." It is in "the likeness" of this that God sent his Son, a phrase with which Paul elsewhere expresses the difference between correspondence and identity (cf. Romans 6:5). Christ came, therefore, in the weak and transitory human state, without sharing in the sin of the human race. It was in that way, in that mode of existence, that he was "known" before his resurrection (2 Cor. 5:16). In this "flesh" he lived and he died, or as it is called: "in the body of his flesh" (Col. 1:22) which expression likewise not only refers to the physical as material organism, but to the whole of Christ's existence as a man subject to transitoriness, dishonor, frailty (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42ff.) (pages 65, 66)

Thursday, May 6

A Sure Sign of Spring

The Pasque Flowers Are Blooming

These are the very first wildflowers to bloom, little bursts of lavender that come before the snow is gone, before anything else has even a hint of new green. In a good year they are everywhere, and when my daughters were little girls they once brought home an ice cream bucket packed full of them. We call them crocuses, even though that's not what they are. First it's the crocuses, and then the forget-me-nots, and then the lupines.

In honor of our spring flowers and of spring in general, another poem from George Herbert.
The Flower

How Fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! ev'n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shrivel'd heart
Could have recover'd greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell,
We say amisse,
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.

O that I once past changing were;
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offring at heav'n, growing and groning thither:
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring-showre,
My sinnes and I joining together;

But while I grow to a straight line;
Still upwards bent, as if heav'n were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone,
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my onely light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can finde and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

Wednesday, May 5

The Christian Carnival Again

It's up at Parablemania. I haven't had time to go through and read anything yet, but I will make sure I do that. Why don't you check it out?

The Two Wills of God

I've been wanting to post on this subject for a while, because I think its related in a way to several of the different discussions around the Christian blog world recently, but I can be a bit obsessive when I post on a subject like this, needing to read what every resource I have says on the subject, dragging out my lexicon and a concordance and commentaries and spending hours to come up with a paragraph or two. Right now I don't have the time for that sort of thing, so I've just not posted anything on the subject, except for that little 3 step thingie I posted yesterday. On a whim, I've decided to post on the subject anyway and just wing it. I am using Blue Letter Bible as my only resource, although I have already read lots of stuff on the subject, and my winging it will automatically pull things from what I have read in the past.

Whenever this subject comes up on discussion boards, at least one person will say the idea of God having two sorts of wills is making things too complicated. God, not being double minded and all that, has only one will and that's the end of the story, case closed, now we can pack up our bags and go home! They are right about one thing. God is not double minded, so whatever particular type of will of His it is that we are discussing, it does not change, because it comes out of the mind and character of a God who does not change.

They are wrong, however, about God only having one type of will. If you look carefully at scripture, you will see that scripture uses the phrase God's will in at least two different ways, and if you listen carefully to conversations you will find that we do, too. Sometimes we are unaware that we are using the term in different ways, and that leads to all sorts of confusion and fuzziness of thinking and what appear to be contradictory statements. Let's look at the two ways we use the term and see if we can clear up some of the confusion.

First, there is what we might call God's moral will. This is also known as his preceptual will or will of command. I'm pretty sure there are other names, but I can't recall them right now. This type of will of God is the way God wants people to behave or what sort of people he wants them to be. All the commands God gives us fall into this category. It is God's will--using this definition--that every single person seek Him out and love Him. The ten commandments and all the other things God tells people they ought to do fall into this category.

Here are a couple of places where the term will of God is used this way:

For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3:35 KJV)

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

This sort of will of God is, as we all know from experience, thwarted right and left every single day. None of us ever carries out God's moral will perfectly, although those of us who have been reborn ought to be carrying it out a little more fully each day; and eventually, when we are glorified, we will carry it out perfectly forevermore. Christ, because he was always obedient to God's commands, was always in compliance to this will. He is the only human being who has never thwarted it.

This is the way I used the term yesterday in my piece on finding God's will. This will of God is what He desires of all of us as to our behaviour and attitude. It's everything He requires of all human beings, and this is the type of will of God that we need to knowingly and actively work to bring about in our own lives.

The second way the term God's will is used in scripture can be called God's sovereign will, or some call it His will of decree or secret will. Sometimes in scripture we also find this called God's purpose, or the counsel of His will, or his predetermined plan. This sort of will is God's plan for the history of creation, the way He has decided that history will unfold. This plan includes both the things God actively brings about and the things He has decided to allow for His own good purposes. Here are a couple of places in scripture that mention this type of will:

And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35 KJV)

Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (Romans 1:10 KJV)

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will... (Ephesians 1:11)

As you can see from these verses, this sort of will of God cannot be thwarted. This will always comes about, for none of us among the wee inhabitants have the power to stay God's hand. Paul assumes that he will make the journey to Rome only if it is God's will (or His plan) that he make it. If the trip turns out to be impossible, then at that point Paul will know that it is not God's plan for him to make the trip.

This sort of will includes both the good and bad acts of human beings. A lot of people have difficulty wrapping their minds around the idea of any immoral acts being included in any category of God's will. Scripture, however, says that they are. There is the example of Christ's crucifixion. The people who crucified Christ were doing an unjust thing, but according to the text, carrying out God's perfect plan at the same time. One of the common verses used to show this is Acts 2:23:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (KJV)

It was God's sovereign will--his determinate counsel--that Christ be crucified and He accomplished it through hands that were acting wickedly. As you can see from this verse, it is possible to be going against God's will in the moral will sense, and at the same time, with the same act, be accomplishing His will in the sovereign will sense. If you need other verses to convince you of this, look at Acts 4:27, 28; or Genesis 50:20.

There is a reason this sovereign sort of will is sometimes called God's secret will. As a general rule, we only know exactly what it is as the events actually occur. In the Romans 1 verse above, Paul wanted to go to Rome. I'm sure he thought God wanted Him to go, and maybe he was fairly convinced that God wanted him to go, but he wasn't certain, because he hadn't gone yet. We may get glimpses of what God's plan is through prophecy, or even perhaps through being particularly in tune with what God may have in store for us, but we can never be completely certain of the whole of it until God unfolds His plan in the making of history. If something occurs, then it is God's will in this sense. Absolutely nothing thwarts this will.

Since this sovereign will is--by and large--secret to us, agonizing over it can be a bit of a futile exercise. It lies in God's realm, and he's the one who brings it to pass. However, we do know exactly what God's moral will is for us, so we can work on fulfilling that, knowing that in every right attitude and action we are fulfilling His will. This type of will of God lies in our realm, and we are responsible to bring it to pass in our lives.

Its a little bit like we are ballerinas. (Or if you're a guy--you're a man in tights.) We do our best to look beautiful and perform each dance move to perfection, and God is the one who makes it all into a ballet. We will fulfill a role in the ballet no matter what, and the ballet goes ahead exactly as it was impeccably composed before the foundation of the earth; yet, if we concentrate on making our hearts right and our moves perfect, we can be assured that the role we play in the already composed story won't be the ugly villian. The Composer/Director tells the story, and we just need to dance our best with what we've got.

(*Some people say there are actually three ways the phrase God's will is used, and they may be right, but the ones discussed here would be the two main ones.)