Saturday, July 31

A Round Up of Fun Stuff for Saturday

We certainly can't let a Saturday go by without a cute pet picture, can we?

Cat on a Black Shingle Roof

Leroy suns himself where he can spy on those coming to the front door. Yes, those are Christmas lights you see. Put up Christmas lights is item #1 on my Christmas to-do list for this year, and I've already got that one scratched off. It is such a joy to be so organized.

And here are a couple more fun things:

For fun with a serious point, but fun nonetheless--you might want to check out Charlie of Another Think's post explaining how iron works in the blood. If only my doctor would explain things like this, life would be just a bit more entertaining.

For those of you who didn't do the round of the BlogSwaps yesterday, and who enjoy a bit of irreverent humor, go check out Ochuck's send up of things purpose driven at Spy Journal. It's called The Purpose Driven Wife.

And now, I'm off to ponder whether I have just broken my promise never to write about anything purpose driven. Yes, I think I have. As punishment I am not allowing myself to use the lawnmower for the rest of the weekend.

[Update: I had a quiz on here earlier, but the link wasn't working, so I deleted it. But it just wouldn't be right to have a Saturday without some sort of silly quiz, so how about How Blonde Are You?

Congrats!!! You're a true-blue blonde. Sometimes you
can be a real ditz/goof but hey, that's why
everyone loves being around you.

How BLONDE are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

There, now I can rest easy!]

Friday, July 30

BlogSwap 3: Open Assignment

As promised, today is the third BlogSwap, so we have a new and exciting guest blogger, Doug McHone of CoffeeSwirls. Why don't you consider participating in the next BlogSwap? And feel free to comment on Doug's post.
Well, since Tim has decided to give us an open assignment in this week's BlogSwap, I've decided to show my ornery side by rebutting one of his posts, namely the post entitled, "Raising Holy Hands." In this post, Tim ponders the raising of hands during singing in a worship service. He doesn't dispute it, he just questions the Biblical nature of it.

Allow me to share an excerpt here with you:
I thought about trying it, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that there was no way I could do it without it being very artificial. Though others may not have noticed this, I knew that I would be so self-conscious of what I was doing that it could not be a real act of worship.

He then asks a few questions.

  1. Why do you want to raise your hands during music? What does it mean to you?

  2. When? When do you raise your hands? The Bible tells men to raise their hands in prayer. Are you able to raise your hands during prayer or only when the music is playing?

  3. Where is the Scriptural proof that we are given license to do so? As a Reformed Protestant I always hold the Bible as the plumb line. If it does not line up with Scripture I can't support it.

Let me pause here to say that I am not a hand-raiser. That is due to my upbringing more than anything. I wasn't taught that it was an empty, outward act or anything. I just wasn't exposed to it growing up. The first time I saw it in a church my family visited, I wondered if the people had some sort of question and were trying to get the music leader's attention, much like school. I realized after a song or two that this was not some attempt to pose a question, and the obvious reason of worship entered my thoughts, so I tried it.

Much like Tim's thought, it did feel artificial to me. I raised my hands briefly in a song because someone else near me was doing so and I self-consciously lowered them, wondering how that action would enhance someone else's worship experience. The service progressed and I never raised the topic with my father.

But what seems uncomfortable to one may not seem uncomfortable to another. Let me share a later church service that caused most of my family extreme discomfort, and even led my grandfather to walk out. The service was held in the gym of the Salvation Army's Camp Mokan, near Kansas City. I don't know who approved the use of the facilities for this church, but I had the impression that my Uncle (who was the camp administrator) knew about the nature of their services and attended there from time to time.

It has been 15-20 years past when this happened, so forgive me if the only memories I have of the experience are the bizarre ones, but they did much more than raise their hands when they sang. There were ladies kicking off their heels and dancing in the aisles. No kidding! They would congregate in small groups, join hands, and dance in a circle with much laughter and merriment. I was astonished!

My grandfather, who was a Mennonite minister, walked out around that time, and in retrospect, I wish I had joined him. My parents were rather strict about me going to church when I was young, and it was mandatory that I suffer through the rest of the display and on to the sermon, which I don't recall. Something tells me it was likely a lot of theologically unsound fluff, but who's to say?

But what if there was some membrane-thin layer of correctness to this practice? What if Psalm 149:3 approves of this practice? I searched around Google for a bit and ultimately ran across a site that tries to promote dancing to the Lord as a way to enhance your worship of Him. Before you get to enraged at my boldness here, let me say that I believe this practice is not one that people engage in to garner the favor of God, but of man. On that site, it says that you don't need any special qualifications or skills to dance for God, but training is helpful somehow. Huh?

Sauntering in circles to the amusement of church members and the indignation of my grandfather is not something that I believe is glorifying to God, but back to the matter at hand. (Play on words there) What about the raising of hands as you sing? Is it allowable, based on Biblical accounts of what should and should not be contained within a church service?

Tim pointed out a verse that shows that that we are given license to raise our hands during prayer, but it is not mentioned for other situations:
1 Timothy 2:8 (NKJV): I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting

I contend that the raising of hands is perfectly allowable during singing as long as you feel led to do so by God. It needs to be a spontaneous act rather than a premeditated showing of your outward faith for others. Furthermore, hand-raising should only be done in such a way that it would not pose a distraction to others and is appropriate only if the song is offered up to God as a prayer. To give a Biblical reference, I offer to you this verse:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV): Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Now I know you didn't see any mention of singing in there, but you did see the commandment (that is, the revealed will of God) to pray without ceasing. Many of the Psalms in the Bible are wonderful examples of prayer, so are many hymns sung in churches throughout the world. I have been deeply moved as I sing "Amazing Grace" and even offered it as a prayer during a church service. I haven't raised my hands to it, but it is my prayer of thanks and adoration to the Lord as I sing it. Otherwise, I'm just making noise.

If it is more than a song, and includes the characteristics of a prayer that moves my heart, doesn't that qualify it for the license to raise my hands, if I feel so led, based on 1 Timothy 2:8?

I believe so.
CoffeeSwirls is the minty fresh blog of Doug McHone, which snaps back wash after wash! Join me as I continually search for my joy on the path of least resistance.

My entry will be posted on On The Door Step.

To view the rest of this week's entries, click here.

Would you like to BlogSwap? For more information visit


Thursday, July 29

David Brainerd's Blog

I lied. David Brainerd didn't really have a blog. He had a diary, which I guess is pretty much the equivalent of a blog for someone who lived 250+ years ago. His diaries are an honest and often fascinating account of what he did and how he felt as a young missionary to the American Indians, and they give us a glimpse of what it would have been like to live the life of a travelling missionary in the 1700's.

Some entries are short, like this one from June 27, 1945:

June 27. Visited and preached to the Indians again. Their number now amounted to about forty persons. Their solemnity and attention still continued; and a considerable concern for their souls became very apparent among sundry of them.

Some are longer and more involved, and give us an idea what Brainerd was thinking and feeling as he went about his work, like this entry for July 21, 1745:

Lord's day, July 21. Preached to the Indians first, then to a number of white people present, and in the afternoon to the Indians again.--Divine truth seemed to make very considerable impressions upon several of them, and caused the tears to flow freely.--Afterwards I baptized my interpreter and his wife, who were the first I baptized among the Indians.

They are both persons of some experimental knowledge in religion; have both been awakened to a solemn concern for their souls; have to appearance been brought to a sense of their misery and undoneness in themselves; have both appeared to be comforted with divine consolations; and it is apparent both have passed a great, and I cannot but hope a saving, change.

It may perhaps be satisfactory and agreeable that I should give some brief relation of the man's exercise and experience since he has been with me, especially seeing he is employed as my interpreter to others.--When I first employed him in this business in the beginning of summer, 1744, he was well fitted for his work in regard of his acquaintance with the Indian and English language, as well as with the manners of both nations; and in regard of his desire that the Indians should conform to the customs and manners of the English, and especially to their manner of living. But he seemed to have little or no impression of religion upon his mind, and in that respect was very unfit for his work, being incapable of understanding and communicating to others many things of importance; so that I laboured under great disadvantages in addressing the Indians, for want of his having an experimental, as well as more doctrinal, acquaintance with divine truths; and, at times, my spirits sunk and were much discouraged under this difficulty, especially when I observed that divine truths made little or no impressions upon his mind for many weeks together.

He indeed behaved soberly after I employed him, (although before he had been a hard drinker,) and seemed honestly engaged as far as he was capable in the performance of his work; and especially he appeared very desirous that the Indians should renounce their heathenish notions and practices, and conform to the customs of the christian world. But still he seemed to have no concern about his own soul, till he had been with me a considerable time.

Near the latter end of July, 1744, I preached to an assembly of white people, with more freedom and fervency than I could possibly address the Indians with, without their having first attained a greater measure of doctrinal knowledge. At this time he was present, and was somewhat awakened to a concern for his soul; so that the next day he discoursed freely with me about his spiritual concerns, and gave me an opportunity to use further endeavours to fasten the impressions of his perishing state upon his mind: and I could plainly perceive for some time after this, that he addressed the Indians with more concern and fervency than he had formerly done.

But these impressions seemed quickly to decline, and he remained in a great measure careless and secure, until some time late in the fall of the year following, at which time he fell into a weak and languishing state of body, and continued much disordered for several weeks together. At this season divine truth took hold of him, and made deep impressions upon his mind. He was brought under great concern for his soul, and his exercise was not now transient and unsteady, but constant and abiding, so that his mind was burdened from day to day; and it was now his great inquiry, "What he should do to be saved?" His spiritual trouble prevailed, till at length his sleep, in a measure, departed from him, and he had little rest day or night; but walked about under a great pressure of mind, (for he was still able to walk,) and appeared like another man to his neighbours, who could not but observe his behaviour with wonder.

After he had been some time under this exercise, while he was striving to obtain mercy, he says, there seemed to be an impassable mountain before him. He was pressing towards heaven, as he thought, but "his way was hedged up with thorns, that he could not stir an inch further." He looked this way and that way, but could find no way at all. He thought, if he could but make his way through these thorns and briers, and climb up the first steep pitch of the mountain, that then there might be hope for him; but no way or means could he find to accomplish this. Here he laboured for a time, but all in vain; he saw it was impossible, he says, for him ever to help himself through this insupportable difficulty. He felt it signified nothing, "it signified just nothing at all for him to strive and struggle any more." And here, he says, he gave over striving, and felt that it was a gone case with him, as to his own power, and that all his attempts were, and for ever would be, vain and fruitless. And yet was more calm and composed under this view of things, than he had been while striving to help himself.

While he was giving me this account of his exercise, I was not without fears that what he related was but the working of his own imagination, and not the effect of any divine illumination of mind. But before I had time to discover my fears, he added, that at this time he felt himself in a miserable and perishing condition; that he saw plainly what he had been doing all his days, and that he had never done one good thing, as he expressed it. He knew, he said, he was not guilty of some wicked actions that he knew some others guilty of. He had not been used to steal, quarrel, and murder; the latter of which vices are common among the Indians. He likewise knew that he had done many things that were right; he had been kind to his neighbours, &c. But still his cry was, "that he had never done one good thing." I knew, said he, that I had not been so bad as some others in some things, and that I had done many things which folks call good; but all this did me no good now, I saw that "all was bad, and that I never had done one good thing;"--meaning that he had never done any thing from a right principle, and with a right view, though he had done many things that were materially good and right. And now I thought, said he, that I must sink down to hell, that there was no hope for me, "because I never could do any thing that was good;" and if God let me alone never so long, and I should try never so much, still I should do nothing but what is bad, &c.

This further account of his exercise satisfied me that it was not the mere working of his imagination, since he appeared so evidently to die to himself, and to be divorced from a dependence upon his own righteousness, and good deeds, which mankind in a fallen state are so much attached to, and inclined to hope for salvation upon.

There was one thing more in his view of things at this time that was very remarkable. He not only saw, he says, what a miserable state he himself was in, but he likewise saw the world around him, in general, were in the same perishing circumstances, notwithstanding the profession many of them made of Christianity, and the hope they entertained of obtaining everlasting happiness. And this he saw clearly, "as if he was now awaked out of sleep, or had a cloud taken from before his eyes." He saw that the life he had lived was the way to eternal death, that he was now on the brink of endless misery: and when he looked round, he saw multitudes of others who had lived the same life with himself, persons who had no more goodness than he, and yet dreamed that they were safe enough, as he had formerly done. He was fully persuaded by their conversation and behaviour, that they had never felt their sin and misery, as he now felt his.

After he had been for some time in this condition, sensible of the impossibility of his helping himself by any thing he could do, or of being delivered by any created arm, so that he "had given up all for lost," as to his own attempts, and was become more calm and composed; then, he says, it was borne in upon his mind as if it had been audibly spoken to him, "There is hope, there is hope." Whereupon his soul seemed to rest and be in some measure satisfied, though he had no considerable joy.

He cannot here remember distinctly any views he had of Christ, or give any clear account of his soul's acceptance of him, which makes his experience appear the more doubtful, and renders it less satisfactory to himself and others, than it might be, if he could remember distinctly the apprehensions and actings of his mind at this season.--But these exercises of soul were attended and followed with a very great change in the man, so that it might justly be said, he was become another man, if not a new man. His conversation and deportment were much altered, and even the careless world could not but admire what had befallen him to make so great a change in his temper, discourse, and behaviour.--And especially there was a surprising alteration in his public performances. He now addressed the Indians with admirable fervency, and scarce knew when to leave off: and sometimes when I had concluded my discourse, and was returning homeward, he would tarry behind to repeat and inculcate what had been spoken.

His change is abiding, and his life, so far as I know, unblemished to this day, though it is now more than six months since he experienced this change; in which space of time he has been as much exposed to strong drink, as possible, in divers places where it has been moving free as water; and yet has never, that I know of, discovered any hankering desire after it.--He seems to have a very considerable experience of spiritual exercise, and discourses feelingly of the conflicts and consolations of a real Christian. His heart echoes to the soul-humbling doctrines of grace, and he never appears better pleased than when he hears of the absolute sovereignty of God, and the salvation of sinners in a way of mere free grace. He has likewise of late had more satisfaction respecting, his own state, has been much enlivened and assisted in his work, so that he has been a great comfort to me.

And upon a view and strict observation of his serious and savoury conversation, his christian temper, and unblemished behaviour for so considerable a time, as well as his experience I have given an account of, I think that I have reason to hope that he is "created anew in Christ Jesus to good works."--His name is Moses Tinda Tautamy; he is about fifty years of age, and is pretty well acquainted with the pagan notions and customs of his countrymen, and so is the better able now to expose them. He has, I am persuaded, already been, and I trust will yet be, a blessing to the other Indians.

You can read more from David Brainerd's journals here, or read a short biography here.

Tomorrow... the third BlogSwap day, so once again, there will be an entry by a guest poster here. Stop by to see who it is and what they have to say.

I've read all the comments and there are some good ones that need a response, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow, too. The Haloscan commenting system is misbehaving for me right now.


My kids are big snickerdoodle fans. They will choose this simple but perfect cookie over any other kind every time. Just in case I should ever be the wife of a presidential candidate, I have already chosen this cookie recipe as my entry to the presidential wifey cookie contest.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat butter or margarine for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar along with the baking soda and cream of tartar, beating till combined. Then beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Cool on wire rack.

Yield: 3 dozen

My notes: If you make them slightly bigger, like I did, you will have the amount on the platter in the picture, plus the 3 or 4 that were scarfed immediately. Where the recipe says chill, I don't. (Chilling is not a skill I possess.) Skipping the chilling doesn't seem to hurt the cookies in any way, and they're not hard to make into balls without it, either.

Wednesday, July 28

More on Open Theism and Gods Infinity

I found a paper on the subject, The Implications of God's Infinity on "Open" Theism, from the Conservative Theological Journal, written by Steve Lewis, . He makes some of the same points I do, but makes them better, and makes many more points, so if you are interested in more and better on the subject, you'll find this interesting.

On the subject of a temporal God's relation to space, He writes:
If God is temporal, then He is not infinite with respect to time. If God is not infinite with respect to time then He cannot be infinite with respect to space either, because "according to the dominant contemporary scientific understanding, both time and space are correlative. It is the space-time universe. There is no time without space and no space without time. If so, then the logical consequence of affirming that God is temporal would be to assert that he is also spatial. This falls right into the lap of process theology, which [open] theists claim to reject." If God is not infinite with respect to the space-time universe, then He is not infinite at all. This leads to the conclusion that God is a finite being; He is like us, only "bigger" somehow.
That last statement is an important one. No matter how you cut it, if God is "in time", then He is no longer an infinite God, but just a really, really big God. No matter how big the really, really, big is, it's a a huge downgrade from infinite--a downgrade not only in "amount", but in type, and God becomes no longer other than we are, but like us.

Makes me think of those Romans 1 verses:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.... (NKJV)
Lewis thinks the open theist's confusion arises from confusing God's actions with His attributes:
Many of the "openness" arguments for God's temporality involve their denial that a timeless being has the ability to act in time; they say that a God who acts in time must be in time. This assumption, however, confuses God's actions with His attributes. God has the attribute of infinity, and yet His actions occur in the temporal universe. The open theists seem to have no trouble believing that the infinite God created the universe ex nihilo, but does not this involve His acting in time without being a creature Himself? Why should an infinite God who can act in His created space-time universe be required to be temporal?
Interesting stuff.

Yes, It's The Christian Carnival

It's up and ready for reading at The Fringe.

I sent off an email entry yesterday, but I'm not there in the carnival. My connection was misbehaving for a big portion of the afternoon, so my email must have been lost in the shuffle. That'll make this the first carnival since March, I think, that I'm not entered in. [Update: I'm a knucklehead! I am there after all, just didn't see it.]

Anyway, go over to this week's Voyage of the Dawn Treader themed Christian Carnival for some good reading.

Tuesday, July 27

God's Infinity and Open Theism

Yesterday, in a look at another one of God's attributes, I wrote a little piece on what it means that God is infinite. As I study each of these attributes, I can't help but think about whether or not an attribute can be held to in an open theistic system. I've already posted why I think that an open theist can't hold to God's simplicity or His independence--or at least why they can't hold to them in the way that they have been historically explained. Now I want to look at God's infinity, and whether that can exist within the open theist system.

I'm really just giving my own thoughts here--I can't find anything done by anyone else considering God's attributes individually to see how the God held to by the open theist must be different than the God of historical Christianity. So anything I write here is very preliminary, and I'm open to your thoughts, corrections, or additions. Please!

You may wonder what my purpose is in doing this. Part of the reason is just because I find this sort of thing fun, but there's a more serious issue here, too. I think there is a tendency for some to just look at open theism as a little variation of Christian thought, something not worth arguing over. I'm hoping to show that it is really way more than that. It is a system of thought that is at it's very core--in it's doctrine of God--extremely different from historical Christianity, and the God of open theism to is so different from the God of historical Christianity that it is difficult (for me, anyway) to see the two as the same God at all.

So let's consider a God who doesn't know the future choices of free men, and see if that God can be the infinite God of historical Christianity. An open theist will claim that God is infinite, but can a God who fits in their system really be infinite?

Some open theists will say that God's ignorance of the future is a voluntary ignorance. He could know it, but He chooses not to in order to be able to relate to His creatures within time. By this, I'm thinking they hope to avoid the problem of a God who learns. As far as I can see it, though, either God knows something, or He doesn't. If his voluntary ignorance of future choices is real ignorance--meaning that he has no knowledge of that choice and His choice to be ignorant of that choice is unchangeable, so that He couldn't bring it to mind if He chose to--then even though that ignorance is voluntary, he is learning in exactly the same way that he would be learning if it were impossible for Him to know something before that event actually happened.

Of course, I suppose someone could hold that His ignorance is just a choosing to overlook sort of ignorance, an ignorance that allows Him to relate to us as if He doesn't know, even though He really does know, but I find that idea just plain foolishness. If God knows, then He knows, and what He knows is taken into consideration in His actions. If He doesn't use the info He has, then He's not all that wise, is He?

Then there are those who believe that God doesn't know the future because the future is unknowable to Him. God doesn't know our future choices because He can't know them, because time is something that exists outside of creation, and thus outside of God. (I know, I know. This is a goofy idea, and if space is part of creation, then so is time, but let's give this to them for the sake of argument.) One problem that I see with this idea (besides the space/time separation thing), is that if time is something that has always existed, in the same way that God has always existed, then you have two gods, really: the god of time, and another god--the creator god--who is subject to time.

But whatever the scheme you use to come up with a God whose knowledge of the future is limited, you still have a God whose knowledge is limited in some way. One of His attributes--His knowledge--is not infinite. There are things He doesn't know. He may possibly know an infinite number of things, but remember that God's infinity doesn't only mean that His attributes are unlimited in quantity, but unlimited in quality. This means that his attributes are both unmeasurable and complete. They cannot be added to. If God only begins to know our choices at the point in time that we make them, then God's knowledge can be added to. It is never complete, at least as long as time exists. There is a boundary to God's knowledge, and that boundary is just after the always advancing point of the present.

I suppose we might also be able to make an argument that a God subject to time would also be subject to space, since time and space are so interrelated. If God is in time, isn't He also in space, and then isn't He also not infinite in regards to space?

So, what say ye? What do you think? What can you add? What do you disagree with? Where is my thinking silly?

Monday, July 26

Christian Carnival Business

From Nick Queen:

I hate to say this, but when i moved to a new server I somehow did not save the mailing list correctly. Therefore I deleted the entire list, and I am trying to fix it. If the past hosts could perhaps help me by sending me the email addresses of past participants so I can fix the list it would be appreciated. Also if people will help me out by linking to the sign-up screen it would REALLY HELP ME!

Here is the link:
Go and sign-up again. Also take note of this info on the Christian Carnival for this week:
This coming Wednesday (7-28) the Christian Carnival will be hosted at Fringe. If
you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up a
few readers. Please send only one post dated since the last Christian
Carnival. (7-19 or
after) Then, do the following:

email Jeremiah Lewis at

Please put "Christian Carnival" in the subject line so I don't delete it
accidentally. Please provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Short description of the post

The cut off is Tuesday July 27 at 11PM Eastern Daylight Time.

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and
join the Christian Carnival mailing list at
So get busy and enter something!


God's Infinity

That God is infinite means that He is not limited in any way. There is no way to measure any of His characteristics, for all of His attributes are without bounds.

Because God is infinite, He is also incomprehensible. Psalm 145:3 tells us that God's "greatness is unsearchable," which means we will never be able to fully grasp all of what He is. We may understand some of what He is, but we can never come close to wrapping pea brains around his infinite greatness.

That God's attributes are infinite really just means that God himself—his nature—is infinite. As finite creatures, we can only begin to grasp this by separately considering the unlimited nature of the various attributes. So we look at God's infinity in relation to time and call it God's eternity, in relation to space and call it His immanence and transcendence. We call His infinite knowledge omniscience, and his infinite ability omnipotence. By looking at each of these separately, what it means that our God is wholly infinite becomes just a little bit clearer for us.

In thinking of God's infinity in relationship to all of His attributes, we need to go beyond just thinking about them as boundless amounts of a certain characteristic, but also to think of them as unlimited in quality. All of God's attributes belong to him in perfection and without defect. His goodness, for instance, is not only boundless in quantity, filling the earth and beyond, but it is also of boundless quality. As with all his other attributes, God's goodness is perfect. It cannot be added to or improved upon; it is always expressed flawlessly.

What does God's infinity mean to us? It means, for one thing, that God is completely other. There is no one else like Him and no one to compare Him to. He is so different from what we are that we can only grasp bits of what He is. We can never hold him in our minds in a complete way. The right response to Someone so far beyond what we are and what we know can only be awe and worship.

It also means that the aspects of his character that He shares with us will never run out. John tells us, "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." Because God is infinite, His fullness is of the never ending sort. There is always more for us. The grace we receive is exchanged for more grace, in a never ending cycle of grace upon grace. We should be confident in (and extremely thankful for!) God's never-to-end, never-to-run out, always-more-in-abundance fullness.

I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

(Psalm 145:1-3 NKJV)


Sunday, July 25

Horatius Bonar Sunday

Two things from the pen of the Scottish preacher, Horatius Bonar.
Here O My Lord, I See Thee Face To Face

Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;
Here faith can touch and handle things unseen;
Here would I grasp with firmer hand Thy grace,
And all my weariness upon Thee lean.

Here would I feed upon the Bread of God;
Here drink with Thee the royal wine of heav'n;
Here would I lay aside each earthly load;
Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiv'n.

I have no help but Thine; nor do I need
Another arm save Thine to lean upon;
It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
My strength is in Thy might, Thy might alone.

This is the hour of banquet and of song;
This is the heav'nly table spread for me;
Here let me feast, and, feasting, still prolong
The brief bright hour of fellowship with Thee.

Too soon we rise; the symbols disappear;
The feast, though not the love, is past and gone;
The bread and wine remove, but Thou art here,
Nearer than ever still our Shield and Sun.

Feast after feast thus comes and passes by,
Yet passing, points to the glad feast above,
Giving sweet foretastes of the festal joy,
The Lamb's great bridal-feast of bliss and love.
From what I suspect is one of the many tracts Horatius Bonar penned rather than a sermon, Man's Dislike of a Present God.
"They say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of your ways." Job 21:14

Yet they say to God, "Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways." Job 21:14

The men who speak thus are not atheists. They do not say there is no God. They may be scoffers, blasphemers, ungodly, but they are not atheists. They whom Job describes are worldly men. The world, with its riches, its possessions, its pleasures, its friendships, is their all. They have nothing beyond it, and they do not wish anything beyond it. They are satisfied. They love the world, and are resolved to make the best of it that they can. When anything comes in between it and them, or threatens to prevent their enjoying it, such as pain, or sickness, or death, they thrust it away. They do not ask whether the intervention by God may not, after all, be true and important; it mars their enjoyment of the world, and so must not be for a moment entertained.

In our text we have WORLDLINESS VERSUS GOD. For it is worldliness that is here speaking out. It is not man contending against man because of injury or encroachment, it is not man protesting against pain, or mortality, or life's brevity, it is man protesting against God. God seems to him as a dark shadow overclouding all his joy. How is this?
Thus the age tries to get rid of God. It does so, because it dreads Him; it has no relish for Him; His presence is a gloomy shadow; His nearness would interfere with all worldly schemes and pleasures. Therefore men say, "Depart." The old Pagans never said to Jupiter, Depart; for they looked on him as in sympathy with their sins, and lusts, and pleasure. But to the living and true God men say, "Depart", because they feel that they cannot have both Him and their sins. They cannot clothe Him with the robes of their own worldliness.

He has not departed. In love He lingers, seeking to bless. He knows the blank His departure makes, and that nothing can fill it. Therefore He lingers; yearning over the sons of men; entreating them to take Him for their portion and all.

Saturday, July 24

I'm Writing Today Off

Today was one of those days that's best just forgotten. The GM (that's the grief monster, for you who are uninitiated) has been hanging around here lately, threatening to jump up and grab me and hold me tight and not let me go. I woke up this morning at 5:45, which for me is way too early, with the tight knot of anxiety that has become my on and off again companion.

My youngest son chose to sleep rather than accompany me garage saling as we had planned. I find it really difficult to do the garage sale circuit alone, but worse to skip the sales altogether. So I had a blue sale day, and nothing looked particularly interesting, probably more due to my mood than the quality of the sales.

Last week when younger son and I went garage saling, we saw a dirt bike that would have been perfect for him to ride around, but since I know nothing about dirt bikes, I had to take the man's phone number so we could look at it again with oldest son. The first chance oldest son had to see the bike was today, but when I called, the dirt bike had been sold.

For some reason, even though I kept saying that we were just looking at the bike, that I wasn't even sure I wanted him to have one yet, he had already counted on owning that bike. He had already dreamed about spending the next few weeks tinkering on it in the garage, and now he is at a loss for ways to entertain himself. He spent the afternoon moping, complaining that unicycling and bicycling were just not fun anymore, and that we've done nothing special this summer.

This last complaint is true. We have almost always gone on some sort of trip during the summer holidays, but for various reasons, this summer we didn't. The boys usually do quite a bit of golfing, too, but this summer oldest son has mostly been busy in the garage finishing that landcruiser restoration project.

We (youngest son and I) are also facing up to the fact that both oldest son and youngest daughter are planning to spend the next school year away from us. Daughter has her ticket already booked for August 10th, which is in only a couple of weeks. Oldest son will wait until mid-September, and then he plans to go down to Vancouver to work as a glazier on a few movie sets.

And then the bread maker broke. I bought it less than a month ago, and we have really enjoyed it, baking at least two loaves every day. Today it stopped having enough oomph to mix or knead the dough. That shouldn't be much of a problem--I ought to be able to just take the stupid thing back--but the queen of organization cannot find the receipt. There are only a couple of places it could be, and it's not there.

I read these things over and they seem pretty stinkin' trivial. But they're not trivial, not when you're already fighting to stay out of the grasp of the GM. All these small things just bring into sharper focus how much in our lives is not right. How much is not what it was. We have a new normal, and mostly that new normal feels alright, but today it doesn't.

At least now I know that these GM visits don't last forever, and just have to be endured. I know too, that they are coming less and less often. But they still come. I suppose they will come forever. From now on out, I will have write-off days.

A Couple of Quizzes

Yep, in my never ending quest for self-knowledge, there is no more useful tool than the internet quiz.

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Are you Addicted to the Internet?

47% (41% - 60%)
You seem to have a healthy balance in your life when it comes to the internet and life away from the computer. You know enough to do what you want online without looking like an idiot (most of the time). You even have your own Yahoo club or online journal! But you enjoy seeing your friends and going out to enjoy life away from your computer.

The Are you Addicted to the Internet? Quiz at Quiz Me!


Friday, July 23

God's Attributes and Open Theism

In case you haven't noticed, I seem to be working on a bit of a series on God's attributes. I didn't plan it that way, but that seems to be where things are going. And here's one thing that has struck me during my study. Did you ever notice how many of God's attributes--His natural (or incommunicable) ones, anyway--have to be understood by an open theist in a way that is different from the traditional understanding of those attributes?

We all know that an open theist takes a different view of God's omniscience. They claim to still believe in it, but that it simply means that God knows everything that is knowable, and the free choices of free agents aren't knowable until those choices actually occur in time. So what it means for God to be omniscient is different for an open thiest than it is for someone with a more traditional view of God.

(Of course, an open theist is going to argue with the word traditional in that last sentence, but I think their claims about the Greek philosophers and the church fathers, and what's traditional or not are pretty much poppycock. Hmmm...maybe I will go into that more sometime. No, probably not. It sounds like way too much work.)

This different view of God's attributes held by an open theist goes beyond how they see His omniscience. Or it must, anyway, according to what I've been thinking. Let's look at the two attributes I've posted pieces on already.

Can an open theist hold to God's simplicity in the same way I laid it out in my piece? Here's what I've been thinking about that. It seems to me that the open theist's embracing of the moral government view of the atonement comes at least partly out of the feeling that if God couldn't just decide to save people in any way whatsoever, then God's freedom is somehow compromised. In their view, having the method of atonement conditioned by God's righteousness is limiting to God. They believe that by making God's wrath something that must be necessarily dealt with in order for God to save sinful men makes God somehow less than He really is. So an open theist would have to disagree--at least a bit--that any action of God must necessarily be conditioned by His attributes. I think what they might say (I'm writing out of my hat here) is that God's will gives rise to His attributes, rather than the other way around--that God's attributes give rise to His will. This last statement--that God acts from His essence--is the more traditional view of God's simplicity.

And if this is so--that open theists sees God's freedom as compromised if God must condition His will to act mercifully by other aspects of His nature--then it's interesting that they would want to preserve God's freedom in this way in regards to His nature, yet have Him voluntarily limiting His freedom to preserve the freedom of His creatures.

Let's move along to God's independence. God, in the view of an open theist, is dependent on knowledge of our choices--and for this He must wait upon our decisions--and on whatever particular choices we make, in order to work out His will. So their view of God's independence cannot be the traditional one either. Can it?

What say ye thinkers? What say ye non-thinkers?

God's Self-Existence


There is inexhaustible meaning wrapped up in that short statement by God to Moses. One of the things it points to is God's independence, or self-existence. He is in a constant state of being, and so has no beginning or end. If God has no beginning or end, then He cannot be dependent on anything outside of Himself for His existence. He must be the one uncaused cause.

Our God "has life in Himself" (John 5:26), and this "from-Himself-ness" extends to all that He is. No one can be God's counselor (Romans 8:34), because He is independent as to His thinking. He is independent, as well, as to what He wills, working "all things after the counsel of His will." (Ephesians 1:11). He also has the power within Himself to work this independent will, doing whatever pleases Him (Psalm 115:3).

That God is self-existent also means that nothing can add anything to Him. Creation adds nothing to God. His glory is revealed in creation, but it does not add to His glory. God has need of nothing from anything outside of Himself, for He is not
served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all life and breath and all things... (Acts 17:25)
This verse from Acts brings up the complete otherness of God's self-existence. He needs nothing from us, but exists wholly of Himself. We, however, depend on Him for everything. We have not even a smidgeon of self-existence. Everything we have and our life itself we derive from God. It all comes from Him. It is in Him that "we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

We are completely dependent, completely derivative; He is completely independent and the only underived being--the One who exists from Himself, the "I AM THAT I AM."

What should our response be to God's self-existence? First of all, we ought to be fully awed at what He is, and His complete otherness from what we are. How can we feel anything but humility before the "I AM"? We also need to acknowledge our utter dependence on Him for absolutely everything, and respond with thankfulness for everything we are and have. And we can have absolute confidence in the stability of our God, and be sure that His promises to us will be kept, for He is not depending on anything outside Himself to fulfill His word.

Thursday, July 22

From Rebecca's Rule Book: The Potty Training Absolutes

I bet you didn't know I have a rule book, did you? Well, I do. It's impossible to raise four kids and not have a rule book to show for it. So, from the page on potty training, I give you these surefire steps.

1. Wait until the child is two and a half. Or two and a halfish. If you live where there are four seasons, wait until the spring/summer/nice weather nearest to the two and a half milestone.

2. Make a trip to buy several pairs of training pants (or just underwear) bearing the likeness of something beloved. (This means something beloved to the trainee.)

3. Don't allow the panties bearing beloved likenesses to be worn yet. However, admiring them is allowed. Tell trainee that these special unmentionables are being saved for that hallmark day when they begin using the toilet (or a tree) like mommy and daddy do.

4. Put the potty chair away. We will be going straight to using more grown up receptacles, like flush toilets. Unless, of course, you have some compelling reason to disregard this rule. Like, "But potty chairs are so cute," or "I really prefer dumping to flushing."

5. Wake up one day and say to yourself, "This is the day." It'll work best if this is a day that is good for staying outdoors, and a day when you can stay home, but you can also opt for a day when you feel up to tolerating puddles indoors.

6. Dress the trainee in the now-beloved-and-much-admired underwear and a t-shirt. Any more clothing is counterproductive.

7. Go outdoors to play. Wait for the first accident. Sympathize with the child over the now wet likeness of something beloved. Help the little one change to a new pair of similarly loved undies, and have them put the old wet ones in the hamper. Mention in passing that if the child feels like they need to pee, they can tell you, and you can help them go in the toilet so the beautiful undies don't get wet.

8. Repeat step 7 as many times as necessary. For as many days as necessary. You will probably be surprised how few times step 7 needs to be repeated.

9. If your child is male, and you have a private yard, feel free to allow the use of a tree or fence post instead of the toilet. This will add to the potty training ease for you, and the fun for him. You can always civilize him later, if necessary. (If you do go this route, may want to mention to the little guy that the parking meters on Main St. are not exactly the same thing as fence posts.)

10. There isn't really a step 10. There IS a money-back guarantee of success. If you follow these rules religiously, and your child still goes to kindergarten in diapers, please write for a refund.

This and That

A few things you might want to check out:

Charlie of Another Think sent me a link to this piece at The Holy Observer. If you are a Calvinist and you have a sense of humour, you might like this one. However, if you are one of the frozen chosen, I suggest you just pass this one by.

From Scott McClare, aka "Ransom" of the Baptist Board, or "Xenu", or The Crusty Curmudgeon, Xenu's King James Only Fallacy Page. Scott describes the site like this:
It occurred to me that, given enough time, I could build a pretty comprehensive list of logical fallacies by drawing on KJV-only sources alone. And, since you are reading this, that means I have already found ten examples--the minimum number I decided beforehand would make a worthwhile Web site. Of course, there are plenty more where those came from, so this site is still a Work in Progress.
J. Mark Bertrand seems to be making up for lost time, posting two thoughtful pieces yesterday. The first is dealing with the postmodernism that Christian high school students face in the public schools and looking at two questions that arise from their experiences. The second is on the "problem" of predestination. A quote to whet your appetite:
If the Bible teaches both predestination and human responsibility, then we should believe them both, whether we can explain the relationship between them or not. Personally, I think the whole predestination vs. free will thing is a false dilemma. It is not as incomprehensible as people try to make it out to be. On the face of it, the so-called dilemma is no more difficult than that of inspiration itself. In fact, as I have argued before, the process of inspiration provides a useful analogy for understanding how God's work and man's work can coincide.
Go read!

Wednesday, July 21

Then There Was One

Best friend Sam found a unicycle at a bike repair place yesterday. So now, instead of taking turns on one, they can unicycle together. Sort of.


It's Wednesday, So It Must Be Carnival Time

Check out the most recent Christian Carnival at Mr. Standfast.

I've already looked through all the contributions, and there's lots of interesting stuff there. Make sure you look at Charlie's post (the Another Think guy) called Are We Spiritual Machines?

Tuesday, July 20

God's Simplicity

I think it was last week, or maybe the week before, that I wrote that I planned to do a piece on God's justice. I'm still planning to do that, but it's been put on the back burner. As part of my study on that subject I got hung up on the simplicity of God.

Most discussions of God's attributes start out with some sort of mention of God's simplicity, although they may call it unity or not label it at all. It sounds like an easy enough idea, doesn't it? The term simple sure makes it sound like it ought to be simple to grasp. Well, it hasn't been a piece of cake for me to understand, and by the way it's laid out in the descriptions of it, it doesn't seem like its all that simple of an idea for anyone.

So here I am writing about it, hoping that as I put the idea of God's simplicity into my own words, I'll understand it a little better. I'm also hoping that you'll read it, and pick at it a bit, and that'll help me out, too.

What does it mean that God is simple? Well, for one thing (Hmmph! Can there be more than one thing in simplicity?), it means God is an indivisible being. There is no composition of parts within Him.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is that God existing as Trinity seems to contradict this. It doesn't really though, because the persons of the Trinity exist as a unity. They are distinct, but not separate. They are not different parts of God, but are all the same essence. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that each of the Persons of the Trinity holds the whole essence of God. We may contemplate them separately, but they are never separate.

The same sort of unity would hold true for God's attributes. There is unity in them. They are not separate, even though they are distinct and so can be considered separately. The are a unified whole, and they are the essence or nature (or very being) of God. The are not just what God does, but what He is as a unified (or perhaps integrated is better) and complete being.

Then, too, all of God's attributes exist completely within Him. He is completely (and perfectly) loving, just, holy, merciful, jealous, wise, etc. And because they all exist together as a unified whole, each one of God's attributes is qualified by every other attribute. He doesn't lay side one of his attributes to express another one, but when any attribute is expressed, it is expressed in a way that is not contradictory to, but rather is qualified by, all of His other attributes.

We have an example of this idea in scripture. When God is merciful toward sinners, he must be merciful in a way that is consistent with His righteousness. He cannot be merciful in a way that overlooks, or contradicts, His attribute of justice. So when Romans 3:25 and 26 tell us that Christ died in order for God to be able to justly pass over sin, it is pointing out this simplicity of God. God acted mercifully in passing over sin, but that merciful act had to be in accordance with every other attribute of God, including His righteousness, which required a just way for sin to be overlooked. God couldn't act only out of mercy without that mercy being conditioned by His justice.

In the same way, I suppose, God couldn't be just without that justice being conditioned by His mercy. When God expresses His retributive justice, that act of retribution exists upon the backdrop of God's mercy. There has always been a merciful way for sinners to avoid God's retribution through the justice of the cross.

Every activity of God is conditioned by all of his attributes simultaneously, so that even though a particular act may emphasize one of the attributes more than others, it is always done in a way that is consistent with every one of His attributes. This also means that it is not right to single out one attribute as more important than the others.

God's simplicity means, too, that God's attributes are not additions to His real essence, as if God existed and then decided that He would be righteous, good, truth, etc.. God attributes are expressed in His will, but the are not merely what He has willed that He be, but what He is, and always has been, and always will be. This seems to be the idea expressed in that phrase from Genesis, "Shall not the Judge of all earth do right?" Abraham appealed to what God was--the righteous Judge--as the basis for suggesting to God how He must decide to act. This is also suggested in the statement from Hebrews that tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. God didn't just decide to be truthful. He cannot act other than truthfully, because truthfulness is His essence.

That's where I am, and that's pretty much what I understand about the simplicity of God. Have you got anything to add? Any bones to pick? Any clarifications to make?

Monday, July 19

Postural Stability of a Human Riding a Unicycle...

....and Its Emulation by a Robot.

That's the title of a PDF file on my desk top right now. I didn't download it, but I'm pretty sure I know who did. It must be this guy.

Yep, the old unicycle is getting a workout. The $12.50 garage sale wonder is out of the shed again.

The fam's youngest has spent several hours over the past couple of days practicing his unicycle skills. He's pretty good on the down slope of the yard, but has yet to manuever the rise back again.

His dad picked that thing up the summer he was 44, and learned to ride it in a day or two. First across the back yard, and when he had mastered that, he graduated to the street. For a week or so he spent time every day riding up and down the road, to the amusement of all the neighbors, I'm sure. Then he took a nasty fall, and after that he decided that proving that he could do it was enough. Old dogs can learn new tricks, but they don't snap back after a spill like spring chickens do.

Yes, It's Time To Plug The Carnival Again!

It's going to be at Mr. Standfast this week. (Woohoo!) Here's the scoop:
This coming Wednesday, July 21, is the next Christian Carnival, and
will be hosted by Mr. Standfast. 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, you 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 Mr. Standfast 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 12 Midnight EST

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute!
Hello friend! Contribute.

The Good Old Days

Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Ecc. 7:10)

I'm letting you in on one of my pet peeves today. It's the sort of doom and gloom thinking that says, "The world is going to hell in a handbasket! Day by day things get worse. If only we could turn back the clock to the time when kids could roam freely in their neighborhoods, and we didn't have to worry about them, and we could trust our neighbors, and kids actually learned something in school, and 12-year-old girls didn't run around in belly shirts and jeans cut low....and so on, and so on, and so on." It's all silly thinking!

I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I'm not going defend dressing little girls like ladies of the evening. Or dressing mature women that way either. These are not good things. I'm granting that some things are worse now than they were in previous generations, and it's honorable to point those things out and do what we can to change them. Seeing the particular things that are wrong in our own times helps us guard against them, and work to make things better within our own sphere of influence.

What bothers me is "if only" thinking. If only I could transport my whole family back 30, or 50, or 100 years, everything would be so much better. If only my children could have grown up when I grew up, or when my parents grew up, all our problems would be solved.

For one thing, this is a solution that can't happen, so dreaming about it too much is a big waste of time. We are where we are, and we live when we do, and so we deal with whatever particular problems come with that. Moving back in time is not an option for us.

And it wouldn't work if it were possible either. Pick any era--any one at all. They did some things a whole lot better than we do, and they did some things a whole lot worse. Listen to the stories of those you know who lived in those times. Try to see beyond the romantic version of the way things were to the little details that let you know how things really were.

Here's an example from my own life. I went to elementary school in the 60's. It was a good experience for me. I did well. I liked school. I wasn't exposed to students using nasty words, or dressing inappropriately. Most of my teachers were church goers, and the atmosphere of their classrooms reflected that. However, I can think of at least one way that school was worse then than it is now. It was commonly thought--by teachers, and school administrators, and society in general--that it was a good thing to use bullies as a tool to keep order in the classroom and on the playground.

One of my teachers, a Christian man and a dear man, was very open with us, as a class of fifth graders, that discipline-by-bullying was something he believed in, and something he practiced. So he looked the other way when the class smart aleck was knocked around a bit on the playground by the one boy in the class who was bigger than everyone else because he had been held back a year or two. He looked the other way when the class misfit was knocked around too, because being socially inept was just as much something to be knocked out of someone as having a sassy mouth was. This is the way the big bully got approval from the teacher. Not by completing assignments, or sitting quietly, or reading, or actively participating in the classroom, but by punishing the teacher's "problem students" with his fists. This teacher was a teacher of great reputation, and a reputation that was in many ways deserved. He was simply doing what he had been taught in classroom management, and doing something that was looked upon favorably, as a general rule, by society in this era.

I learned several years ago that the "class bully" had spent most of his adult life in prison. He may well have gone there even without the sort of encouragement to assault others that my fifth grade teacher gave him, but the teacher's approval certainly didn't help him, did it? It's better, in that regard, to grow up in an era where bullying is simply ignored, rather than approved. It would be better yet to grow up when bullying is actively stifled in schools.

This is just a little example of one way things were worse in "the former days". Some things were better, and some things were worse. Each era has its own sins, and they are different than ours, but they are still there. And it may look like wisdom to long for the old days, but it is not wisdom.

But don't just take it from me. Even the writer of Ecclesiastes says so, and he's a whole lot wiser than I am.

Sunday, July 18

Isaac Watts Sunday

I learned from Matt Hall that yesterday was Isaac Watt's birthday, so it's only appropriate that we celebrate his contribution to our heritage today with the Sunday morning hymn. (He also was a preacher with volumes of his sermons published, but I couldn't find any, so we'll just go with a hymn this morning.) I've already featured my favorite of his hymns, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, but this one is a close second.
Jesus Shall Reign
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb'rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!

Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.

The scepter well becomes His hands;
All heav'n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.

With power He vindicates the just,
And treads th'oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.

As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav'nly dew on thirsty hills.

The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.

The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.
--Music by John Hatton.
--Words via The Cyber Hymnal.

Saturday, July 17

For The Lego Lovers Among Us

The Spidey movie in Lego.

Hat tip to What in Tarnation?!?!?.

39 Steps

Still more fun stuff for Saturday. From the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, The 39 Steps: A Primer on Story Writing.

Link via J. Mark Bertrand's Notes on Craft blog.

Yet Another Personality Test

For my fellow personality test junkies, another one to try.

Here are my results:
You come to grips more frequently and thoroughly with yourself and your environment than do most people. You detest superficiality; you'd rather be alone than have to suffer through small talk. But your relationships with your friends are highly intensive, which gives you the inner tranquility and harmony that you need in order to feel good. You do not mind being alone for extended periods of time; you rarely become bored.
All in all, it seems pretty accurate, especially the part about never being bored. For some reason, I never get bored, and that's not because I've never done anything that others would think boring.

Don't You Think It's Been Too Long?

We've had no adorable pet pictures lately, have we? Well, I'm fixing that right now.

Taffy With Smelly Work Boots


Friday, July 16

BlogSwap 2: Tough Truths

As I promised yesterday, today is the second BlogSwap day, and so we have a guest blogger discussing the subject of tough truths from the Word. Today's contribution is from Ochuk, whose blog is always an interesting read, especially for old fogeys like me who need to be reminded what younger life was really like. Adam hails, I think, from somewhere near my old stomping grounds, so all you Minnesotans ought to perk up and pay attention.

Why I Am A Calvinist.

What has impacted me the most in my spiritual life is God's grace. I don't know how many times I've ran from God and he has pursued me. I thought God did this with everyone, until a person who believed in Reformation theology told me I was ignorant and my friends were reprobates destined for hell. Greg Boyd's God Of The Possible really impacted me because, naturally, he spoke about God's universal love. As you can imagine, I was shocked to find out about the doctine of election. I moved in with a student of Boyd's and we talked all the time about OV theism. I almost embraced it.

Open Theism, in my opinion is the best refutation of Arminianism because it is perfectly consistent. It posits the true ontological nature of libertarian freedom (i.e. God must know our choices as possibilities, not certainties). At first glance, the biblical texts used to support this notion are convincing. However, when this philosophy of "free-will" theism is applied to other texts of God clearly pre-ordaining things, it becomes confusing. When does God pre-ordain something and when does he leave us our free will? When does God cause evil and when does he leave it be determined by our self-determination? It became impossible to know what was going on in my life. Was it me, or was it God who was in control? There is no way to know. And if God determines someevents, how does he decide what is notdetermined? Certainly God is smart enough to figure that out-- which means he has some kind of pre-ordained blueprint, or plan-- something a thinker like Boyd abhors (he believes in a warfare worldview where anything can happen).

Once I was sure of the nature of reality being pre-ordained (in some way), the chips started to fall. Being an Arminian doesn't help, because God knows everything that is going to happen and is OK with it, therefore everything is pre-ordained (in some way). Another key question that nagged at me was why can't I overcome sin? If love must be chosen (Boyd's main thesis) why can't I choose to love (i.e. God, my neighbor?). I began to have an Augustinian journey, not understanding why I could not overcome my own will.

I spent some time studying the arguments about God's sovereignty in Frame's No Other God and I quickly came to the conclusion that the kind of freedom Open Theists needs for their view of providence is unbiblical and not true. That and Total Depravity overtook my thinking, and I was on my road to becoming a Calvinist. Ta Da!

I am not a strict 5 pointer, but I do believe in all of them. I've only been a Calvinist for 3 months, so I'm not as good at it as most of the people here.

Check out my Blog:

[Would you like to BlogSwap? For more information click visit My own post on Tough Truths is found at CoffeeSwirls. And you can find a list that'll tell you where to find all the participant's posts on this subject right here.]


Thursday, July 15

Tomorrow is the Day

The BlogSwap day that is. So make sure you check in to see what the surprise guest blogger has to say.

You might want to consider participating next time. Click on the link above for details. I think it's lots of fun, and I'll just about guarantee you will, too.

One Little Question for You

Weeding, as anyone who's ever done much of it knows, leaves lots of time for thinking. So I've been doing a bit of thinking--not straightforward, directed thinking, but the mind wandering sort. The sort with not a lot of answers, but lots of questions. I thought I'd let you in on one thing I've been thinking about and solicit your feedback.

Did you ever notice the ending of Peter's sermon at Pentecost? I suppose we might call this an evangelistic message, and the results, of course, tell us it was a successful evangelistic message. But have you ever paid much attention to the actual content of the sermon proper?

Peter spends a bit of the middle of the sermon telling them something like this: God sent the Messiah you were waiting for--yep, that's right, He was here, and the miracles proved it--and you took Him and killed Him. And here is Peter's ending sentence:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:36 ESV)
If I paraphrase that last sentence a bit, he's saying something like, "The Messiah God sent and you crucified is now ruler over all." Or, to paraphrase even more, "You are in deep doo-doo!" That's it. The end of the sermon.

No pretty little carrot of hope dangled in that! The hope comes later. What is amazing is that 3000 of the listeners were "cut to the heart" with that message, and cried out to the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" They understood completely how terrible what they had done was and the deep trouble they were in. And that's where the hope came in, because Peter's answer to their question was this,
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
And of course, you know the rest of the story. So, considering the content of the sermon itself--I'd rather not get into all the usual debates that the few verses following seem to cause--my questions is this:

Should this be a model for us of a good evangelistic message? Why or why not? Even if you think that this sort of sermon would not be appropriate today, is there anything we can learn from it?

Wednesday, July 14

Why I Live Here

Along the Haines Highway


This Baby Just Keeps on Growing

There are 37 entries in the Christian Carnival this week. I remember when I could read all the entries in ten minutes! Go over and read at Anchor Hold.

Tuesday, July 13


I had just finished up responding to the comments I found here this morning, and was all set to whip out a really profound post on God's justice, when my connection went kaput. So, instead of posting a deep and serious post, I ran errands. Everything I needed to do, of course, took longer and turned out to be more complicated than it ought to have been, so my deep thought reserve for the day is all used up, and I can only manage yet another fluff post.

I am--of all things--going to make a CD recommendation. This is what I was listening to as I did my driving today: Screenplaying by Mark Knopfler. This CD contains music from 4 movie sound tracks that Mark has done, including songs from my own favorite movie. So, if you want to hear the castle stormed again (and again), this CD's for you.

This is probably the only CD I own that everyone in the fam likes, so that's really quite an accomplishment. My fourteen year old son's best friend likes the Irish tunes from the movie Cal--that his Dad's Irish probably predisposes him--and my oldest son likes the selections from Local Hero most. (I might have to agree that they are the best stuff, despite my attachment to all things Princess Bride.) There are songs from another movie, too, but my recall button just went on automatic snooze.

Anyway, now I'm off to ponder whether "genius" is too strong a word to use to describe Mark Knopfler. And if People's Natural Gas did any marketing research before they chose that name.

The God's justice post will come whenever it's done. I can't promise much, because the next BlogSwap is coming up Friday, with a deadline of Thursday morning for the entries, and this next one has a deep subject. Tim calls it a "difficult" subject. This means it's not a piece that can be composed in 10 minutes or less like this one was.

Monday, July 12

Just A Really Quick Reminder....

....of the upcoming Christian Carnival.
This coming Wednesday (7-14) is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at From the Anchor Hold. 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, you 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. Secondly please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. (7-7 or after) Then, do the following:

email Karen Marie at

Please put "Christian Carnival submission" in the subject line --- I don't have a good spam filter and don't want to lose any of you to mass spam deletion!

And 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 13 July at 9 p.m. Central Daylight (Chicago time)
So, time to weed through last week's posts and enter one in the Carnival.

True Evangelical Faith

"True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant.
It clothes the naked.
It feeds the hungry.
It comforts the sorrowful.
It shelters the destitute.
It serves those that harm it.
It binds up that which is wounded.
It has become all things to all people."
- Menno Simons


Subduing the Earth

Today my hands look like working man hands. The fingernails are short, but there is a little line of garden dirt that hasn't yet been scrubbed out rimming them. I have been attacking the chickweed in the vegetable garden that sits in the rear portion of my back yard.

I've been told that before we moved in here, the back third of our back yard was used as a corral for horses. The horses were left free to graze in the bush for much of the time, but coralled when they might be needed for riding or packing. There are still a couple of remnants of the wooden corral fencing remaining in the fence system, so I imagine that's true, although we live right in town, on a city street, with neighbors close on either side, and it's hard to imagine what it was like to be living so close to a few fenced-in horses. But things were a little wilder and a little woolier back then, and I suppose any inconvenience would have been chalked up to the fact that this is not downtown Toronto.

That this is not downtown Toronto used to be the excuse for a lot of inconvenience and unpleasantness: gravel streets, roaming dogs, blowing litter, and trashed vehicles left to rot in a parcel of green space. Lately though (and lately, for someone my age, means "in the last 20 years or so"), the general attitude has changed, and I attribute that to the influx of downtowners--from Toronto and Vancouver and various other cities--and now we have dog licensing and mandatory leash laws, and cat licensing and leash laws, a recycling centre and compost pick up. Paved streets, too. Everything a proper city ought to have, we have. But no horses. Not in the city.

This brings me back to the point I was planning to make about those horses before I got sidetracked: the horses coralled where my vegie garden is now must have done a lot of grazing on chickweed, because I have chickweed in spades. No wild grasses or tasty fireweed popping up between the plants, just chickweed. The lady that used to be our neighbor gave me a big yellow plastic bucket--probably 3 times the size of a 3 gallon bucket--and I have filled that with chickweed pulled from the garden 10 times or so, dumping each load into the back ravine. (I probably shouldn't admit this. There's probably a bylaw forbidding it.) Ten buckets full, and I'm still less than half way toward dechicking the whole garden.

I'm trying to get at it before it flowers and goes to seed, but I might be fighting a losing battle, and next year I might have twice as much chickweed, although it's hard to imagine that this would be possible. I'm tempted to go with the strategy behind the parable of the wheat and the tares--leave the tares be, and then harvest them along with the vegies and destroy them. But chickweed isn't a growing alongside sort of weed; it's a choke the life out of everything else sort of weed.

So that's where I'll be this afternoon. Getting dirt under my fingernails and staining my knees. Out in the beautiful sunshine, subduing my portion of the earth.

Sunday, July 11

Wesley Brothers Sunday

Let's celebrate two more of the evangelists of the Great Awakening with contributions by brothers John and Charles Wesley: a hymn by Charles, who is certainly one of the most prolific hymn writers ever--if you want to say he's one of the best, you won't get any argument from me--and a sermon on original sin by John. From the Cyber Hymnal:
O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
'Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord's atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

Awake from guilty nature's sleep,
And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep,
And wash the Aethiop white.

Harlots and publicans and thieves
In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew
In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you;
For me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.
--Music by Carl Gotthelf Glaser.

The featured sermon by John Wesley is titled Original Sin. The text is from Genesis 6:5:
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
What does John Wesley have to say about original sin?
How widely different is this from the fair pictures of human nature which men have drawn in all ages! The writings of many of the ancients abound with gay descriptions of the dignity of man; whom some of them paint as having all virtue and happiness in his composition, or, at least, entirely in his power, without being beholden to any other being; yea, as self-sufficient, able to live on his own stock, and little inferior to God himself....

....Is it any wonder, that these accounts are very readily received by the generality of men? For who is not easily persuaded to think favourably of himself? Accordingly, writers of this kind are most universally read, admired, applauded. And innumerable are the converts they have made, not only in the gay, but the learned world. So that it is now quite unfashionable to talk otherwise, to say any thing to the disparagement of human nature; which is generally allowed, notwithstanding a few infirmities, to be very innocent, and wise, and virtuous!

But, in the mean time, what must we do with our Bibles?--for they will never agree with this. These accounts, however pleasing to flesh and blood, are utterly irreconcilable with the scriptural. The Scripture avers, that "by one man's disobedience all men were constituted sinners;" that "in Adam all died," spiritually died, lost the life and the image of God; that fallen, sinful Adam then "begat a son in his own likeness;"--nor was it possible he should beget him in any other; for "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?"--that consequently we, as well as other men, were by nature "dead in trespasses and sins," "without hope, without God in the world," and therefore "children of wrath;" that every man may say, "I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me;" that "there is no difference," in that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," of that glorious image of God wherein man was originally created. And hence, when "the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, he saw they were all gone out of the way; they were altogether become abominable, there was none righteous, no, not one," none that truly sought after God: Just agreeable this, to what is declared by the Holy Ghost in the words above recited, "God saw," when he looked down from heaven before, "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth;" so great, that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
This doctrine of original sin, according to John Wesley, is what sets us apart from the heathen:
1. I proceed to draw a few inferences from what has been said. And, First, from hence we may learn one grand fundamental difference between Christianity, considered as a system of doctrines, and the most refined Heathenism. Many of the ancient Heathens have largely described the vices of particular men. They have spoken much against their covetousness, or cruelty; their luxury, or prodigality. Some have dared to say that "no man is born without vices of one kind or another." But still as none of them were apprized of the fall of man, so none of them knew of his total corruption. They knew not that all men were empty of all good, and filled with all manner of evil. They were wholly ignorant of the entire depravation of the whole human nature, of every man born into the world, in every faculty of his soul, not so much by those particular vices which reign in particular persons, as by the general flood of Atheism and idolatry, of pride, self-will, and love of the world. This, therefore, is the first grand distinguishing point between Heathenism and Christianity. The one acknowledges that many men are infected with many vices, and even born with a proneness to them; but supposes withal, that in some the natural good much over-balances the evil: The other declares that all men are conceived in sin," and "shapen in wickedness;"--that hence there is in every man a "carnal mind, which is enmity against God, which is not, cannot be, subject to" his "law;" and which so infects the whole soul, that "there dwelleth in" him, "in his flesh," in his natural state, "no good thing;" but "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil," only evil, and that "continually."

2. Hence we may, Secondly, learn, that all who deny this, call it original sin, or by any other title, are put Heathens still, in the fundamental point which differences Heathenism from Christianity. They may, indeed, allow, that men have many vices; that some are born with us; and that, consequently, we are not born altogether so wise or so virtuous as we should be; there being few that will roundly affirm, "We are born with as much propensity to good as to evil, and that every man is, by nature, as virtuous and wise as Adam was at his creation." But here is the shibboleth: Is man by nature filled with all manner of evil? Is he void of all good? Is he wholly fallen? Is his soul totally corrupted? or, to come back to the text, is "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually?" Allow this, and you are so far a Christian. Deny it, and you are but an Heathen still.
The solution to our original sin is the rebirthing work of God:
We may learn from hence, in the Third place, what is the proper nature of religion, of the religion of Jesus Christ. It is therapeia psyches, God's method of healing a soul which is thus diseased. Hereby the great Physician of souls applies medicines to heal this sickness; to restore human nature, totally corrupted in all its faculties. God heals all our Atheism by the knowledge of Himself, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; by giving us faith, a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the things of God,-- in particular, of this important truth, "Christ loved me"--and gave himself for me....

.... Indeed, if man were not thus fallen, there would be no need of all this. There would be no occasion for this work in the heart, this renewal in the spirit of our mind. The superfluity of godliness would then be a more proper expression than the "superfluity of naughtiness." For an outside religion, without any godliness at all, would suffice to all rational intents and purposes. It does, accordingly, suffice, in the judgment of those who deny this corruption of our nature. They make very little more of religion than the famous Mr. Hobbes did of reason. According to him, reason is only "a well-ordered train of words:" According to them, religion is only a well-ordered train of words and actions. And they speak consistently with themselves; for if the inside be not full of wickedness, if this be clean already, what remains, but to "cleanse the outside of the cup?" Outward reformation, if their supposition be just, is indeed the one thing needful.

5. But ye have not so learned the oracles of God. Ye know, that He who seeth what is in man gives a far different account both of nature and grace, of our fall and our recovery. Ye know that the great end of religion is, to renew our hearts in the image of God, to repair that total loss of righteousness and true holiness which we sustained by the sin of our first parent. Ye know that all religion which does not answer this end, all that stops short of this, the renewal of our soul in the image of God, after the likeness of Him that created it, is no other than a poor farce, and a mere mockery of God, to the destruction of our own soul. O beware of all those teachers of lies, who would palm this upon you for Christianity! Regard them not, although they should come unto you with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness; with all smoothness of language, all decency, yea, beauty and elegance of expression, all professions of earnest good will to you, and reverence for the Holy Scriptures. Keep to the plain, old faith, "once delivered to the saints," and delivered by the Spirit of God to our hearts. Know your disease! Know your cure! Ye were born in sin: Therefore, "ye must be born again," born of God. By nature ye are wholly corrupted. By grace ye shall be wholly renewed. In Adam ye all died: In the second Adam, in Christ, ye all are made alive. "You that were dead in sins hath he quickened:" He hath already given you a principle of life, even faith in him who loved you and gave himself for you! Now, "go on from faith to faith," until your whole sickness be healed; and all that "mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!"