Thursday, September 30

The Cremation of Sam McGee

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.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
Where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam
'Round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold
Seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
That he'd "sooner live in hell".

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way
Over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
It stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze
Till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one
To whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight
In our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead
Were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he,
"I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you
Won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no;
Then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold
Till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread
Of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair,
You'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed,
So I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn;
But God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day
Of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all
That was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death,
And I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid,
Because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you
To cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,
And the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb,
In my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight,
While the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows --
O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay
Seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent
And the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad,
But I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing,
And it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge,
And a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice
It was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit,
And I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry,
"Is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor,
And I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around,
And I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared --
Such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal,
And I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like
To hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled,
And the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled
Down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak
Went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow
I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about
Ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said:
"I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; . . .
Then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
In the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
And he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear
You'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
It's the first time I've been warm."

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.

Poem by Robert Service, bard of the Yukon.

Illustration is The Cremation of Sam McGee by artist and former Yukoner Ted Harrison.

Living the Theology

Of course, the whole point of studying the nature God like I've been doing in order to write all those attributes of God posts is that by knowing some truths about him, I can live in relation to him in a way that is more right--that I can know God in a way that works out in the way I live. In the post on God's truthfulness I wrote this:
Those of us who have come to know him--who are his people--need to be real and true as our heavenly Father is real and true. We are being remade into the image of the one who spoke us into existence, so we need to call a spade a spade, and this is particularly important when it comes to our own selves and our own lives. God's people are not people of pretense, but of genuineness. Hypocrisy is everywhere condemned in scripture because it is directly opposed to what God is, and so it is directly opposed to what we ought to be......God's new people are truthful people, people who are being made into the image of the one who created them by his spoken word--by "calling them out of darkness and into his marvelous light."
So that's what I'm doing in this post: I'm calling a spade a spade. Not about someone else (so you all can breathe easy!), but about myself. In the post on God's goodness I wrote this:
Remember too, that when we are his, every single circumstance is a good gift, and an undeserved good gift, so God's people need to be the sort of people who give thanks in all circumstances.
I absolutely believe this is true. How can I not believe it, when it is there in black and white in the text of Romans? And yet, when responding to a question on that post, I wrote this in regards to the difficulties in my life over the past few years:
I'm getting to the point where I think I might be able to say (and mean it) that I wouldn't change anything if I could.
Notice how I had to couch that: "I'm getting to the point...I think...I might be able". And I still could barely write it. The truth is that I believe it sometimes and sometimes I don't--or at least sometimes I believe it a whole lot less enthusiastically than others. Life can be tough, and it's really hard to not think that an easier life would be a better one. That easy is good and suffering is not is a hard notion for me to let go. Deep down in there, I want to hold onto it with every fibre of my being, partly, at least, because if I acknowledge the true gift suffering can be, I just might receive more of it.

Let me talk about my husband for a little bit. He had a very difficult childhood and younger life. (I hope I won't be stepping on the toes of any of my readers when I say this.) I won't go into details, because he wouldn't have wanted that, except to say that his younger life was really tough. In the last few years of his life, though--and this is before he became ill--he had come to the point where he could say quite firmly that he wouldn't change anything at all about his childhood circumstances. He saw that all those hard things put together were part of what had made him who he was, and that some of the useful skills he had came directly from those difficulties, and without the hard parts, he wouldn't have seen those good fruits.

He spent a lot of his time as a teacher working with students with behavior problems. One of the most common remarks by fellow teachers to me about him since his death has been that when it came to difficult students, no one was better at working with them than he was. He was good because he knew, and he knew because he had experienced. His hard times produced good fruit; and as he matured in this life, he began to understand that and embrace his life history as a good gift from a good heavely Father.

I'm not there yet. At least I'm not there in any sort of solid way.

Wednesday, September 29

Perverse Book List

From Jen, a list of books that have been removed from library shelves somewhere or other at some time or other for some reason or other. Just so you can see how really naughty I am, I've put all the ones I've read in bold and all the ones I own in italics. (I'm a children's literature buff--in case you haven't figured that out already--so most of the ones I've read or I own are children's books.)
  • Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  • Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling--My youngest read the first one of these. Wasn't interested enough to carry on with them.
  • Forever by Judy Blume
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson--Only a nincomdoodle would want this book kept off the shelves.
  • Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor--Haven't read the whole series, but at least one.
  • Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  • Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine--I've never made it through a whole one of these. They are just too boring! But I've tried, so I'm counting it.
  • A Day No Pigs Would Dieby Robert Newton Peck
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Sex by Madonna
  • Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson--This is a great book, a wonderful book. I'm not sure if I've reviewed it here or not, but read this one to your children. Tell them it's been banned. It might peak their interest.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle--Another great book. It seems that nincomdoodles abound.
  • Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  • In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak--Naked baby alert!
  • The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  • Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry--We own a few Anastasia books. I assumed they were boring and never got round to reading any.
  • The Goats by Brock Cole
  • Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  • Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  • We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  • Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George--Another one recommended by me.
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton--Didn't we all read this in eighth grade?
  • The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  • Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  • Deenie by Judy Blume--Oops. A Judy Blume book I missed.
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  • The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  • Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  • Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  • Cujo by Stephen King
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  • Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  • What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  • Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  • Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  • Fade by Robert Cormier
  • Guess What? by Mem Fox
  • The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding--Read it, hated it.
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  • Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  • Jack by A.M. Homes
  • Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  • Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  • On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  • Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  • Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  • The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain--Loved this one as a child, especially because it had a Becky in it.
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  • Private Parts by Howard Stern
  • Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  • Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  • Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  • The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  • Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  • How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  • View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  • The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  • Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


This week's Christian Carnival is up at IntolerantElle. Go read and I'll meet you there.

Tuesday, September 28

God's Goodness

Looking at various descriptions on God's attributes, I find that the term "goodness" in relation to the character of God is used in two ways. Some who write on his attributes use it to describe the uprightness of God--that everything about him is perfectly pure and morally right. I have already done a piece on this aspect of God's character, and I called it God's righteousness. More commonly, however, this term is used to describe God's benevolent nature--his generosity--and this is the way I'm going to used it here.

God is by nature a giving God. He gives to his creation and sustains it out of his goodness. He provides all that is needed for all he has made.

The Lord is good to all,
and has compassion on all he has made.
The Lord supports all who fall,
and lifts up all who are bent over....
Everything looks to you in anticipation,
and you provide them with food on a regular basis.
You open your hand,
and fill every living thing with the food they desire.
(Psalm 145:9,10,15,16 NET)

God's love, mercy, and grace have their source in God's goodness, and sometimes those words are used more or less synonymously with general benevolency, but often they have meanings that are more specific, and I'm planning to consider each of them separately later in this series on God's attributes. In scripture, these terms are most frequently used in relation to God's benevolency in the particular gift of redemption, although this is not always the case. For instance, in Matthew 5:44, God's general providence for both "the evil and the good" is tied to his love.

God as truly good is the source of everything that is good:
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. (James 1:17 NET)
Everything good we have, and everything good that exists, comes from the heavenly Father. All that sustains our life and gives us true joy in life is given to us by God. Even when we receive good things through the benevolent acts of others, we are receiving from God's goodness, for none of us can give except from what we have already received as a good gift from our good Father.

In addition to being the source of all goodness, God is unchangingly and necessarily good. There is not even the slightest suggestion of instability or inconsistency in his goodness. He will never bring undue harm to anyone. At the same time, he is also freely good, meaning that he is good because it gives him pleasure to treat his creatures benevolently. Psalm 104 tells us that all of God provisions for human beings and all other creatures are part of God finding "pleasure in the living things he has made (v. 31)."

That God is good doesn't mean that every person receives equally from God's goodness. Some receive more generously of certain good gifts than others, and that doesn't negate his goodness. The parable in Matthew 20 suggests that as long as God does no one wrong, he can be more generous to some than others while remaining true to his goodness:
"Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (v. 15 NET)
Those who belong to him receive more of his goodness than those who are not his, for every single life circumstance works toward a good end in the lives of those who love him (Romans 8:28). For those who love God, even life's difficulties are good gifts given for good purposes.

The truest picture of God's goodness can be seen when this aspect of his nature is viewed in the context of the other facets of who he is. He is good in accordance with his righteousness, and because he is righteous, he must be harsh when harshness is the right response.
Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God--harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you... (Romans 11:22 NET)
He is never good toward us in a way that goes against what is right, and so he is never good in a way that overlooks sin:
The Lord , the Lord the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6,7 NET)
Out of his goodness, he is long-suffering toward us as sinners, slow to be harsh toward our sin, but in the end, our sin must be dealt with, and God's severity expressed against it.

God's goodness has a benevolent purpose that goes beyond just providing for our well-being in this temporal world, for it is designed with the generous intent of saving us from this rightful harshness of God toward sin. It is intended to work something of eternal consequence within us. Romans 2:4:
Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? (NET)
One of the kind purposes of God's goodness toward humankind is to turn human beings from their sin toward faith in the good God.

When we consider the goodness of God, one of the things we want to be certain of is that we have responded to that goodness with repentance. Not having an attitude of repentance shows contempt for God's goodness, and for God himself, and leads directly to " the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! (Romans 2:5 NET)." Considering God's goodness alongside his wrath against sin ought to bring us to God with the open hand of true repentant faith.

Let's be sure, as well, that we are appreciative of all the good things God has done for us. He is the source of everything good that we have, and he gives to us because he is good, not because we have a right to what we are given. Remember too, that when we are his, every single circumstance is a good gift, and an undeserved good gift, so God's people need to be the sort of people who give thanks in all circumstances.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love,
and for the amazing things he has done for people!
For he has satisfied those who thirst,
and those who hunger he has filled with food.

(Psalm 107:8,9)


40 Days of Doctrine?

Help Darren out. What can you add to his list?

(This post was blogged using the BlogThis! feature. Check it out if you're a Blogger blogger. It makes posting links quick and easy.)

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

--Christina Rossetti again.

When we drove in the driveway after church on Sunday, I pointed out to the sons that the leaves on the tree pictured here had not begun to turn yellow yet. Yesterday a big wind came up and I stood at the kitchen window and watched all the leaves blow from it in less than 10 minutes, revealing a nice little nest I hadn't seen before.

The wind kept up for the rest of the afternoon and throughout much of the night, uprooting many trees around town and knocking out power. So we had a quiet evening here with no T.V. or computer. That means that I'm behind on my attributes of God post for this week, but I am still aiming to post it this afternoon some time.

It means that youngest son is ahead on his homework. Yep, the words I heard from his mouth were these: "I guess as long as there's no cable, I might as well do homework."

Monday, September 27

Who Shall Deliver Me?

God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run ! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys

Myself, arch-traitor to myself ;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me
Break off the yoke and set me free.

by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Read another Christina Rossetti poem at TulipGirl.

Sunday, September 26

Are You a Joiner?

You'll notice the new League of Reformed Bloggers blog roll on the side bar, and there's an aggregator, too. If you think you might be interested in joining up, here are all the details, courtesy of the jolly one.

Check out the new Evangelical blog roll on the sidebar, too. The aggregator for that is here and details about joining are here. This one is through the good work of ChristWeb.

This Weeks Christian Carnival

From IntolerantElle:
This coming Wednesday September 29 is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at 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. Then, do the following:

Email me at

and provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post

Cutoff date is Tuesday September 28 at Midnight Eastern.

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and join the Christian Carnival mailing list....
Hey there friend! Contribute and join the list.

Sunday's Hymn and Sermon: God's Truth

From William Cowper:
Holy Lord God! I Love Thy Truth
Holy Lord God! I love Thy truth,
Nor dare Thy least commandment slight;
Yet pierced by sin, the serpent's tooth,
I mourn the anguish of the bite.

But though the poison lurks within,
Hope bids me still with patience wait;
Till death shall set me free from sin,
Free from the only thing I hate.

Had I a throne above the rest,
Where angels and archangels dwell;
One sin, unslain, within my breast,
Would make that Heav'n as dark as hell.

The prisoner, sent to breathe fresh air,
And blessed with liberty again,
Would mourn, were he condemned to wear
One link of all his former chain.

But O! no foe invades the bliss,
When glory crowns the Christian's head;
One view of Jesus as He is,
Will strike all sin forever dead.

Today's featured sermon is from Octavious Winslow, and is titled The Preciousness of God's Word. From the sermon:
Now, God's Word is truth. He who is emphatically " the Truth," because He is essential truth, and the substance of revealed truth, has affirmed this in His sublime and memorable prayer--properly the Lord's Prayer--"Your Word is truth." Pursue this thought for a moment. There would seem to exist a necessity that it should be so, since it is the Word of the God of truth, partaking of the nature of that God whose truth it is. All that emanates from God must be a transcript, in some degree, of what He is. It is faintly so in the works of nature; yet more clearly so in the kingdom of providence: perfectly so in the empire of grace. The great truth, then, to which these three witnesses testify is this, "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." (Deut. xxxii. 4.) It follows then, as clearly as any conclusion can from premise, that His Word is true--eternally, essentially, immortally true. True in the Savior it reveals--in the salvation it declares--in the doctrines it expounds--in the precepts it enforces--in the promises it speaks--in the hopes it unveilsand in the threatenings it denounces. "YOUR WORD is TRUTH."

As divine truth, then, it is most precious to the believer who has staked his all of future and eternal happiness upon its veracity. Let your faith, beloved reader, have more close dealing with the truth of God's Word. Whatever gloomy and untoward providences may gather their shadows around your path, hold fast your confidence in the truth of God's Word. You shall find mutability in everything but this. God will vary His providences, but cannot alter His Word. "Forever, 0 Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven." Heaven, with its resplendent glory and surpassing wonder--earth, with its countless myriads of beings, its beauty, and its history, shall be a thing of yesterday, not a vestige remaining to tell of its existence, its grandeur, and its greatness; but "the Word of the Lord shall endure forever."
The Bible, as God's revealed truth to us, gives us all that we need most:
As men of this world merely, as creatures of time, more especially as the proprietors of immortality, you have a thousand-fold deeper interest in the Bible than in any other, or all other books. It is just as important that you who have the opportunity should become acquainted with the Scriptures, and believe, and love, and obey them, as it is that you should be saved. This Book offers to you that which most you need, that which is infinitely more to you than all other things, glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. We cannot but look upon the prevailing indifference with which the Word of God is regarded, as one of the evils over which we are loudly called to mourn.

You send the Bible to the ignorant and destitute, you carry it to every cottage and waft it to every country, and thanks to God that you do so. But to what extent is it studied in your churches, read in your families, taught to your children? There is no surer evidence of living without God in the world than living without intimate communion with the Bible. Who that does not mean to remain in impenetrable obduracy, who that does not form the deliberate resolve to close every avenue to the divine influence, that is not prepared to plunge the dagger of the second death into his own bosom; can live in the neglect of these Scriptures of God? And if you believe them, and understand them, will you refuse them the submission of your heart and your everlasting obedience? Do you accredit the stupendous truths contained in this volume, and shall they awaken no deep interest, and urge you to no solemn preparation for your last account? There is not one among those who will not prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. What can we add more to this searching, solemn appeal to you who are living in a wilful neglect of that Book which tells you of life in this world, and out of which you will be judged in the world which is to come? Disbelieve, or neglect the Word of God, and you reject the only chart to eternity.

Saturday, September 25

Saturday's Silly Quiz


What herb are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via TulipGirl.

Friday, September 24

The Heavens Declare

The heavens declare God’s glory;

the sky displays his handiwork.

Day after day it speaks out;

night after night it reveals his greatness.

There is no actual speech or word,

nor is its voice literally heard.

Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;

its words carry to the distant horizon.

(Psalm 19:1-4 NET)


Roughing It in the Bush

(I'd thought of calling my blog by that title, but unfortunately someone named Susanna swiped the title right out from under me.)

Domestic Excellence and Specialty Housekeeping has chosen pictures to represent all of the blogs on his/her/their blogroll. Here's mine.

See, there I am, roughing it. I'd like to think that my camping spot would be just a tad tidier, but I've taken a good look around at the parts of the house behind my desk and decided that it might not be. And I've been known to play solitaire while hand-sewing.

While we're on the subject, have you read Susanna Moodie's book Roughing it in the Bush? If you haven't, and you're interested in the history of private life, or the history of women's lives, or the history of Canada, or if you just like stories from everyday life, you'll probably enjoy Susanna's accounts of her family's experiences homesteading in the Canadian wilderness in the middle of the nineteenth century. Susanna was a woman of great faith and courage, and pretty good writer and poet to boot. Would you like to read a little sample? From the chapter, Brian, the Still-Hunter:
It was the early day. I was alone in the old shanty, preparing breakfast, and now and then stirring the cradle with my foot, when a tall, thin, middle-aged man, walked into the house, followed by two large, strong dogs.

Placing the rifle he had carried on his shoulder in a corner of the room, he advanced to the hearth, and without speaking, or seemingly looking at me, lighted his pipe, and commenced smoking. The dogs, after growling and snapping at the cat, who had not given the strangers a very courteous reception, sat down on the hearth-stone on either side of their taciturn master, eyeing him from time to time, as if long habit had made them understand all his motions. There was a great contrast between the dogs. The one was a brindled bulldog of the largest size; the other a staghound, tawny, deep-chested and strong-limbed. I regarded the man and his hairy companions with silent curiosity.

Here's her poem about this man:
O'er memory's glass I see his shadow flit,
Though he was gathered to the silent dust
Long years ago. A strange and wayward man,
That shunn'd companionship, and lived apart;
The leafy covert of the dark brown woods,
The gleamy lakes, hid in their gloomy depths,
Whose still, deep waters never knew the stroke
Of cleaving oar, or echoed to the sound
Of social life, contained for him the sum
Of human happiness. With dog and gun,
Day after day he track'd the nimble deer
Through all the tangled mazed of the forest.
I once checked out a book from the libarary that was full of of photographs taken in victorian Saskatchewan by Susanna's grandaughter (I think). I can't find it at Amazon, so I can't link to it, nor can I give you the author's name. The most fascinating photos in the whole book were the ones taken inside her own home. It was very, very messy.

Thursday, September 23

Afternoon Hike

And he changeth the times and the seasons....


Wheels and Air Filters

When my oldest son was 16 or so, he bought himself a car for $400. He didn't have a license yet, so the most he ever did with it was run it in the driveway so that he could sit in it when he wanted to get away from the rest of his moronic family in the middle of the winter. It turned out that the car had problems that meant it was really only good for parting out, and so my husband helped him sell almost enough pieces to recover his initial investment.

Then they towed the rest to the dump, all except for a set of almost brand new tires. So last summer when one of his friends had a birthday, Andrew gave him the tires and rims as a birthday present. This friend drives the same model car, but it had tires that had seen a lot of better days, and he was thrilled to have the almost new ones. The only problem was that he didn't know how to change the wheels.

So one day the friend brought his car over and Andrew changed the wheels for him. A car load of Andrew's other friends showed up to watch. The five friends sat on the grass in the sun and watched as he rolled out the tires, jacked up the car, and changed the tires one by one. They were so impressed that they took photos. It turns out that none of them would have known how to change the wheels either.

Andrew gets calls for help when their mowers need air filters changed. These are smart young men, decent young men, but they know how to do nothing when it comes to these sorts of practical things--the sorts of things that keep all our conveniences running from day to day. I have no doubt that their dads know how to do these jobs, but they don't.

My girls' friends may not know how to sew much, or can, but they can do the basic practical things around a house. (I take that back a bit. My oldest daughter did have one friend who baked her Rice Krispy squares. They all thought that was hilarious, though, because they didn't understand how someone could not know better than that.) A few of those girls could probably even change the air filter on their mower.

So many parents push academics as a priority for their children because a strong academic education is seen as the ticket to good jobs, but if all young men are like my son's friends, then maybe the real ticket to a secure income is learning how to change air filters in lawn mowers.

Favorite Posts

This morning I spent some time updating the favorite posts in the sidebar, adding links to all eighteen of the posts on the purposes of Christ's death.

Wednesday, September 22

36th Christian Carnival

It's up at Neophyte Pundit. Some recommended reads:

"At first I saw a person..." from Abiding I liked this one because what she describes here is a particular weakness of mine. My so-called (by me!) wit can have a nasty streak. Mostly I censor it; sometimes I don't. But what am I doing thinking those sorts of things in the first place?

These next two posts are complementary, or at least that's the way I see them. Parableman posts Repent and Believe, which I wanted to link yesterday, but I suspected it might be his carnival entry, so I waited. He seems to share my opinion on those two words: that the two are mostly used more or less interchangeably in the New Testament. Read his post and see if you agree. Then, Jollyblogger reminds us that it's all of grace, including our sanctification, in Still Trying to Get the Gospel.

Reasons Why writes
Why is it that we tend to personalize our reading of the text rather then looking for the meaning the author intended? And why, even though we get a vague nagging sensation when someone does it, do we so readily accept any interpretation of scripture that begins "Well, to me this means..."?
and then answers his own questions in A Matter of Meaning. Good stuff.

Last, Ray Pritchard has an article titled Telling the Truth About Yourself that fleshes out one of the applications of God's truthfulness from my entry in the carnival.

Tuesday, September 21

God's Truthfulness

The Lord is the only true God.
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
(Jeremiah 10:10 NET)

Our God is the only true God. He is not a false god, or an imaginary god, but the one God who is truly real. He is the one God who lives and is everlastingly alive as the only completely true God ruling over all that is. He is rock solid reality: always there, always active, never less aware or less active.

He is so rock solidly real that this same perfect reality extends to the words he speaks. He created everything that is by speaking it into being. God commanded it to be and it was. Everything that exists--except for the absolutely Real One himself--came into existence not from other things already in existence, but because God called it all into existence from nothingness. (Hebrews 11:3) What continues to be remains only because God still speaks it. (Hebrews 1:3) Everything we see, smell, hear, touch, taste--everything material or tangible--is only there for us to know because God himself and his spoken word are absolutely true. And what is yet to happen will happen only because God has spoken it into being:

For I am God, and there is no other;
{I am} God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, 'My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
(Isaiah 46:9-11)

Everything that is and everything that will be derives all of its existence from the true word of the only true One. He is the intangible reality upholding our tangible reality; the One more real than what is material, for the material derives its reality from him. He is the true and real unseen behind all that is seen.

That God is true also means that he is everything that a diety must be. There is nothing more that he ought to be or will come to be. He is always, ever, fully and completely everything that God must be. He is the absolute Absolute.

God is true, so everything he says about himself and shows about himself corresponds exactly to what he really is. We can be absolutely certain of some things about God because he has declared some things about who he is, and his spoken word about himself can be trusted to be completely true to what he is. Because God is true, God can be known by us: never completely known, but truly known.

The absolute truthfulness of his communication to us also extends to the laws or commands he give us. His laws and commands for human beings are stable and permanent because he is always fully true. What they demand of us corresponds perfectly with what a true human being ought to be. We can learn from them the absolute truth of what we were made to be.

His promises and warnings are also completely reliable because what he speaks as the only truthful One always comes to be. God's faithfulness comes directly from his attribute of truth. God is true; therefore he can be trusted. Our hope is a certain hope because "he who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23)." Proverbs 30:5 tells us that "every word of God is purified", meaning that there is no impurity or falsity in it, and so "he is like a shield for those who take refuge in him." The security that can be found in God is there because his word is true.

Knowing this only true and real God is the key to everything: the source of eternal life itself.
Now this is eternal life--that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. (John 17:3 NET)
And he can be truly known, because as the only truthful One, he declares himself to us, both through creation and through his written word. We have ways to know the only true God--the perfectly real one--through the true declarations he has made.

Those of us who have come to know him--who are his people--need to be real and true as our heavenly Father is real and true. We are being remade into the image of the one who spoke us into existence, so we need to call a spade a spade, and this is particularly important when it comes to our own selves and our own lives. God's people are not people of pretense, but of genuineness. Hypocrisy is everywhere condemned in scripture because it is directly opposed to what God is, and so it is directly opposed to what we ought to be.
Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. (Colossians 3:9,10 NET)
God's new people are truthful people, people who are being made into the image of the one who created them by his spoken word--by "calling them out of darkness and into his marvelous light."

We can also take comfort in the certainty that we will indeed become one of the truthful ones, because he who calls us "is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this"--that is, he will make us "completely holy" and "entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NET)." It's a promise from the only true God, who declares the end from the beginning; who truly speaks and truly brings it to pass.

The Really Big News

The Twins cinched the AL central last night. We're happy, and looking forward to the post season when we'll actually be able to watch the games.

And Whitehorse's own driving doggy merits a mention on CNN SI.

Monday, September 20

Christian Carnival Notice

This coming Wednesday September 22 is the next Christian Carnival, and will behosted at Neophyte Pundit.  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. Then, do the following:

email Eric Jay 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 September 21 at Midnight Pacific.

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and join the Christian Carnival mailing list here.


More Books to Read Aloud

Way back at the middle of August, I posted a piece on one good book to read out loud to children and promised that this would be the first of a series. I haven't returned to that subject until today, mostly because my book sorting got pushed to the backburner by other more pressing things.

Today, I'm getting back to that job, and I've found two more books to add to the list of good read aloud books. The first is The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. I remember reading this book when I was young, and it was an older book then, but my girls liked it, too. (And it really is a book for girls mostly.)

It's a chapter book, but it's a short one: only 78 pages, and half of that space is taken up with pictures. It can be read quite easily in only one or two sittings, and is most suitable for girls 9-11 or so.

It's the story of a young immigrant girl from Poland and how she is treated by the girls in her class at school, not seen through the immigrant girl's eyes, but the eyes of someone who watched and sometimes participated a little in the teasing she endured. Wanda Petronski
didn't have any friends. She came to school alone and went home alone. She always wore a faded blue dress that didn't hang right. It was clean, but it looked as if it had never been ironed properly. She didn't have any friends, but a lot of girls talked to her. They waited for her under the maple tree on the corner of Oliver Street. Or they surrounded her in the school yard as she stood watching some little girls play hopscotch on the worn hard ground.

"Wanda," Peggy would say in her most curteous voice, as though she were talking to Miss Mason or to the principal perhaps. "Wanda," she'd day, giving one of her friends a nudge, "tell us. How many dresses did you say you had hanging up in your closet?"

"A hundred," said Wanda.

"A hundred!" exclaimed all the girls incredulously, and the little girls would stop playing hopscotch and listen.

"Yeah, a hundred, all lined up..."
Wanda is teased like this daily. It's only after Wanda moves away that the girls begin to feel guilty for how they've treated her, thinking that it was their teasing that drove her family to move. It's only then that they learn that maybe Wanda hadn't really been lying about the hundred dresses--"all lined up."

This is a "lesson" book that teaches without being teachy. If you're a girl, or you've been a girl, you've probably partipated in this sort of girlish cruelty, even if only as an onlooker afraid of the repercussions of going against the group, so the message is a universal one, and one that sticks because the story that carries it is so compelling.

It doesn't hurt the book that the many illustrations were done by one of my favorite illustrators, Louis Slobodkin.

Next up is The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Yes, it's well-known and well-loved for Miss Potter's darling illustrations and it's perfect size, but it's the language of the story that makes it so good for reading out loud. It's the sort of language that stretches a child, but is also perfectly understandable.
Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.
It's impossible to read "and implored him to exert himself" without giving it the proper expression, and your child will understand exactly what those words mean even if they've never been exposed to implored and exert before.

The next time you read this one, notice how every single word is just what it ought to be.

Biking Adventure

Youngest son's couple hour bike ride out in the Ibex valley with his friend and his friend's father yesterday afternoon turned out to be nearly a 7 hour ride instead, and he didn't return home until close to 11PM last night. They ended up cycling a good portion of the way back in the dark. Oldest son had just set out in the landcruiser to see if he could round them up when they passed him going the other way, back toward our house.

Younger son felt a bit tired, but mostly just really, really hungry. He spent close to an hour eating: a couple sandwiches, a couple granola bars, fruit juice popsicles (who knows how many!), a couple bowls of Cheerios, a peach, and a few carrots. So he didn't get to bed until after midnight, and I doubt that he fell asleep right away after all that excitement.

When I woke him for school this morning, he could barely get out of bed. He toyed with the idea of staying home half the day, but eventually got up and showered and made it out in time for the bus. He was complaining, but secretly pleased with himself, I think.

I wonder how he'll feel when that two hour volleyball practice rolls round this afternoon?

Sunday, September 19

A Sunday to Consider our Leaders

No, not our political leaders, but the great men and women of our Christian heritage: the Christian leaders of the past.
Faith Of Our Fathers
Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children's fate.
If they, like them, could die for thee!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
Mankind shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

--Words by Frederick William Faber

The featured sermon is another one from Frederic Martin of the Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji, MN, called "Consider Their Lives; Imitate Their Faith". The text is Hebrews 13:7-8:
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

From the sermon:
That is a simple instruction, isn't it? We should remember our leaders, think about what they accomplished in life, and then imitate their faith. And why should we do that? Because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Just as the living Christ worked in those who have gone before us and just as he used them to spread his gospel and his glory, so he will do the same in and through us. That's the promise. So God wants us to think about them and the example that they set for us so that we will be encouraged and inspired in our Christian lives.

Remember your leaders. Consider their lives; imitate their faith.

There is an unspoken assumption behind that instruction. That assumption is that we know who the great Christian leaders of the past were. How can you imitate someone about whom you know nothing? The assumption behind that instruction is that you and I know something about the history of God's church.

Of course, many of us don't know much about the history of the church, and what we do know doesn't really sound much like something to be proud of, or something to emulate.
The problem is compounded because what little we do know about church history is mostly negative. How many times have you heard people refer to the terrible things that the church did during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition? In our current cultural climate those two events are often cited in order to clinch the argument that throughout history the Christian church has been a continual source of oppression and cruelty.

How do we respond to an accusation like that? I have three responses to that charge. First, how many people really know much about the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition? Could it be that the accusations about them are the kind of things that grow in horror with each retelling until they almost reach mythic proportions? Before you accept those accusations at full strength, be sure that you know what actually took place in the Crusades and in the Spanish Inquisition. You might just be surprised.

Second, let's readily confess that believers in Christ and the church that bears his name have not always practiced what Jesus teaches. Confession is a Christian discipline and virtue, and we should be more than ready to acknowledge the faults of the Christians who have gone before us and to admit our own failings as well. Every human cause has produced leaders and gathered followers whose zeal has sometime overshadowed wisdom. That's true of every human endeavor, and Christianity has not been immune to such frailty. We must not be reluctant to admit it.

But there is a third thing that we need to do or rather not do. We should not allow the mistakes of the past--as grievous as some of them were--to shame us, intimidate us, and paralyze us as Christians. I strongly believe that the last two thousand years of human history demonstrate the extraordinary good that has come to the world because of the Christian faith. We need to know about that good. You and I need to become acquainted with the great Christians of the past.

We need to consider their lives and imitate their faith.

Read the rest.

And of course, you can consider the life of one the great Christians of the past here.

Saturday, September 18

The Two Beslan Families Again

Tulipgirl gives us a sad update on the story of the two Beslans pastors and their families. The photo is of Russian Ministries workers at the children's graves.

I'm Really Not Sure

...why I got this result, so I took the quiz twice, just to make sure they had the right person. Apparently they did.

Girly Mama 2
You're a girl power mommy! You love to be girly,
but you're no pushover. Your kids are learning
that gender differences don't have to mean
gender inequality. You've taken back pink, and
you don't care who knows it!

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Now I'm off to check my closet to see if I even own anything pink.

Via TulipGirl.

Friday, September 17

It's Done!

For those of you following the Landcruiser restoration project: It's done, and in only a year and a half.

So far it has not proven to be a chick magnet.

The Longing of Autumn

C. S. Lewis writes a bit about the longing for heaven that we sometimes get when we listen to good music, or see great pieces of art. It's that brief glimpse of something more, something wonderfully beyond, that we can touch ever so lightly and fleetingly, but cannot grasp. Something that makes us long for the thrilling perfection that we cannot have. Not yet.

(If I knew where Lewis writes this, I'd quote some of it for you. I know it's there, but I can't find it. If you know where I can find it, please, tell me.)

I've never gotten the feeling while viewing art pieces. It's not that I don't like visual art, just that it hasn't ever given me that feeling. Music has: briefly and rarely, when the mood is right and there are no distractions, and the recording is perfect. A particular recording of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring has done it for me at least twice.

There's a place on the Alaska highway, 700 miles south and east from here, where the road overlooks a vast valley of green untouched wilderness that spans from horizon to horizon. Near the center of the valley is a blue river that runs--in the twisty, turny way that all mountain rivers do--from horizon to horizon, too. Looking down from the edge of the highway into that valley almost always carries me somewhere else for a few seconds, and I want to live there, be there, exist there. Always.

That's the place. The season that makes me long for heaven is autumn. So lovely. So fresh. So full of energy and life, and abundance of harvest, and new beginnings.

And impossible to hold. Every moment to be savoured, for before it's really here, it's already ending.

I long for the joy of eternal autumn. Invigorating mornings, and cold nights, with tantalizing warmth of sunlight in between. Bright red maples that never lose their leaves, but still have a crisp cushion of fallen ones beneath them. Forever harvesting abundant perfect vegetables from the gardens that were never planted.

Have you ever had that longing for heaven? What brings it to you?

Thursday, September 16

They Always Get Their Dog

While I was busy watching that all-important hockey game, the local police were busy. Yes, I know I give the impression that everything is perfect here, but there is the occasional blotch on that perfection, and when that happens, we can trust our local RCMP detachment to nab the perpetrater. Tuesday evening a
pedestrian in a Whitehorse suburb was taken aback...when a black dog drove by in a red pickup truck.
So the good citizen did what any good citizen ought to do. He called the cops.
When RCMP arrived, the truck was in the middle of Thompson Road in Granger, blocking traffic. The dog was still behind the wheel.
Police speculate that the dog accidently knocked the truck into gear, and it rolled out down the street.
The RCMP went door-to-door in the neighbourhood and eventually found the owner. He was at a friend's house, watching Canada beat Finland in the World Cup hockey final.

There were no injuries or damages in the incident. Police did not say whether they plan to charge the owner.
Yes, but did they charge the dog for driving without a licence? Read the whole shocking story.

Wednesday, September 15

Christian Carnival XXXV

This weeks entries are interspersed with lines from appropriate poetry by George Herbert, a priest of the Church of England who lived from 1593-1633.

...Give to all something; to a good poore man,
Till thou change names, and be where he began.
(From The Church-porch.)

From CowPi Journal, a reflection on Conditions of Love, examining why we put conditions on our love, and how it interferes with Jesus' call to unconditional love.

From Siris, a post on Spiritual Almsdeeds: a look at the list of traditional spiritual acts of mercy, and why and how to cultivate them in our own lives.

Pawigoview tells us why she believes President Bush has acted as a Good
Samaritan in Kerry's Spin on the Good Samaritan.

Faith makes me any thing, or all
That I beleeve is in the sacred storie:
(From Faith.)

The Crusty Curmudgeon reviews Yann Martel's critically acclaimed novel _Life of Pi_ and examines the theme that faith means believing the "better story" in a post titled A life on the ocean waves.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.
(From The Agonie.)

From the Anchor Hold gives us The seraph serpents and the Cross, a meditation on September 14th's assigned Scripture readings from the Lectionary (Numbers 21:4b-9; Psalm 78; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17) about what we must do if we are to be healed and live.

From The Bible Archive we have Gleanings from John--God's Work and Man's Response, a comparison of John 5 and 9 which kicks off a 2-part series on healing, grace and work.

OF what an easie quick accesse,
My blessed Lord, art thou! how suddenly
May our requests thine eare invade!
(From PRAYER. (II))

Two wonderfully complementary posts on the mystery and power of prayer:

Notes From the Front Lines gives us Prayer, Calvinism and the House Church in Acts 12. (This is a fairly new blog, and a first time entrant in the carnival.)

We also have We Should Do This More Often from Ray Pritchard--Crosswalk Weblog.

Shine like the sunne in every corner: see
Whether thy stock of credit swell, or fall.
(From The Church-porch.)

On learning spiritual lessons:

Thinking about the spiritual lessons one can learn from that heaping generous slice of Americana, Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota is what's behind Even A Drugstore In The Middle Of Nowhere Can Be A Teacher from Belief Seeking Understanding.

A Quaker meeting attender looks at what Jesus means by John 3, living in God-light, and how that plays out in her marriage covenant with her husband and her God in fulcrum of Light from living on both ends - an exploration of best and worst.

WHY do I languish thus, drooping and dull,
As if I were all earth?
O give me quicknesse, that I may with mirth
Praise thee brim-full!

Crossroads learns that more and more scientists are finding big problems with antidepressants, and asks if christian psychologists and the church are listening in More on Antidepressants.

Twice on the day his due is understood;
For all the week thy food so oft he gave thee.
(From The Church-porch.)

ChristWeb asks the question: How should Christians approach shopping on Sundays? (Can you figure out, from the two lines given above, what George Herbert's opinion might be on this subject?)

He that loves Gods abode, and to combine
With saints on earth, shall one day with them shine.
(From The Church-porch.)

Messy Christian answers questions from one of her readers on what the church and Christianity are like in Asia in Questions about the East from the West. And she's looking for more questions, so now's your chance. What do you want to know?

Mark D. Roberts describes his post titled Christian Inclusiveness this way:
Many people argue that the church should be inclusive of all people, even practicing gay and lesbians, because Jesus included everyone. Is this true? This is the first post in a series on Christian Inclusiveness.

But are there cares and businesse with the pleasure?
Echo. Leisure.
Light, joy, and leisure; but shall they persever?
Echo. Ever.
(From Heaven.)

A reflection on the question of "what will truly last for eternity?" with some discussion of the continuities between this earth and the new heavens and new earth in an article called What will last for eternity? by Jollyblogger.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw:...

In Never Forgotten, Beyond The Rim... contemplates the internet and how no piece of information is beyond reach of memory, and how God is like that, but even more so.

Parableman makes a biblical argument for the Trinity based on the three sharing one name in The Name of the Trinity.

For us the windes do blow;
The earth doth rest, heav'n move, and fountains flow.
Nothing we see, but means our good,
As our delight, or as our treasure:
The whole is either our cupboard of food,
Or cabinet of pleasure.
(From MAN.)

Minas Tirith gives us a scriptural defense of the old earth creationism stance in Creationism Part II.

Mark what another sayes: for many are
Full of themselves, and answer their own notion.
Take all into thee; then with equall care
Ballance each dramme of reason, like a potion.
(From The Church-porch.)

All of these have entries have something to do with the media:

Weapon of Mass Distraction hopes to capture your attention with an image of Dan Rather's Nightmare.

On the same subject--bloggers versus the mainstream media--we have David v. Goliath from Neophyte Pundit. (I wonder how long until he can no longer call himself a neophyte?)

View from the Pew highlights an article from the Palm Peach Post that takes a rather cheap shot at conservative Christians in Cheap Shot to the Right.

...thou searchest round
To finde out death, but missest life at hand.
(From VANITIE.) gives us Termination for Love, a rebuke against the modern-day, self-centered concept of aborting babies with potential birth defects. No arguments against this one from me!

For my hearts desire
Unto thine is bent:
I aspire
To a full consent.
(From DISCIPLINE.) the outer...decribes his entry like this:
A reflection of a pastor's sermon on radical transformation of a wholly devoted follower of Christ and what it means on the day after I heard it at church when I am stuck in my little cubicle, bombarded by the stresses, trials and challenges of a "normal" office day at work...

Yet, Lord, restore thine image, heare my call:
And though my hard heart scarce to thee can grone,
Remember that thou once didst write in stone.

Two entries on original sin:

DeoOmnisGloria give us Does Original Sin Really Exist?: an examination of Scripture to determine if original sin exists and what "original sin" is.

Next up, Happy Catholic responds to Digitus, Finger & Co.'s post positing that man is basically evil. She feels the premise was wrong and gives us her reasons for rethinking the idea in Is Man Good or Evil?.

And one entry on sin of another sort:

StarkTruth Stark Raving Mad--with a name like Stark in it twice, the blog's got to be good!--tells us that "Gay" does not describe the "gay lifestyle" due to disease, suicide, unhappyness in What's so gay about it?

My joy, my Life, my Crown!
My heart was meaning all the day,
Somewhat it fain would say,
And still it runneth muttering up and down
With only this, My Joy, my Life, my Crown!

From Viewpoint we have a discussion based on James Sire's book, Universe Next Door, of how Christian existentialism differs from non-existential Christianity.

WHO will give me tears? Come, all ye springs,
Dwell in my head and eyes; come, clouds
and rain;
My grief hath need of all the watery things
That nature hath produced:....
(From GRIEF).

Four September 11th remembrances:

The Great Separation is running a Macromedia Flash movie which Hal created weeks after the event--I Carry This.

Reasons Why shares some thoughts on 9/11, suffering, and the
goodness of God - on the occasion of his daughter's third birthday. You guessed it, the little girl was born on September 11th, 2001, and so he gives us Reflections on 9/11.

My entry this week belongs in this section, too--September 11, 2001: Another Recounting.

Digitus, Finger & Co. shares a homily called What Would The Dead Say?, that he gave at his church one year after the 9/11 attacks.

And finally, remembrance of another sort of grief--the pain a mother of a stillborn child:

Withdraws from Painful Stimuli at My Domestic Church.

Tuesday, September 14

God As Judge

In last week's installment of this series I posted on God's righteousness or his justice. God is righteous (or just) because he is morally pure. His morally perfect character results in all of his thoughts and actions being morally perfect, and one of the morally perfect (and morally necessary) ways God acts is as the perfect Judge of all things. He stands in judgment over everything: discerning the exact truth about every thought and action of all of his creatures, impartially pronouncing the just consequences for all actions, and then executing those judgments (Romans 2:6-11).

In our legal systems, those who make the laws, those who sentence lawbreakers, and those who execute the sentences are all separate, but in God's rule, those three functions are all carried out by one single person: the one and only Righteous Judge of all the earth. First of all, he is the one who has set the moral standards and declared them to us. They are called his precepts, his laws, his commandments, his statutes, his judgments (and there are probably more terms I've forgotten), and they are part of his revelation to us in scripture. And even those people who have had no exposure to God's word know instinctively what sorts of behaviour a righteous Judge would demand of us, for God's righteous demands for human behaviour are written on their hearts and in their consciences (Romans 2:15). This standard of righteousness is not arbitrary, but it is the perfect reflections of God's own holy character. He is morally perfect, and his standard for us demands that we "be holy as he is holy"--that we not fall short of his glory. We can't complain that this standard is an unjust one, for it's very source is in the only perfect justice there is: the justice of God.

He is also the one who determines the rightful sentences for those who don't live up to these moral standards. He is, of course, the only one perfectly suited for this job. He has the wisdom to discern the absolute truth about every situation of lawbreaking, and he knows a lie when he hears it and a cover-up when he sees it. He sees not only the actions taken, but the motives behind the actions. Everything stands in the open before his wisdom and his truth. He also loves what is good, and hates wickedness, so he has a vested interest in seeing right win out over wrong. He can be counted on, then, to never simply overlook wrongdoing: he will always pass the absolutely perfectly deserved (and therefore perfectly just) sentence for all lawbreaking.

The last of the three roles he plays as righteous Judge is that of the one who executes the sentences. He is perfectly suited for this role as well. As the all-powerful one, he has the might to enforce his judgments. There is no one with the wits or power to escape their rightfully determined sentence for breaking the moral standards set by God. This brings us to the aspect of God's activity as Judge that we often prefer not to think or talk about: the outpouring of God's wrath. It's there though, unescapeably clearly evidenced throughout the scripture--God's wrath expressed against sin and sinners as the execution of the righteous sentence for all unrighteousness.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)

Those who love God will want to know all facets of him, even the less comfortable ones, like his just wrath. It something he undeniably wants us to know of him, and he wants us to know how certain his wrath is, for it is an attribute he has used to undergird an oath (Psalm 95:11). It's part of what makes him the absolutely holy God that he is; it is one of his perfections. If God had no wrath against sin, he wouldn't be true to his morally perfect (or righteous) character.

And deep down, we all know that. We wouldn't much like a God who simply overlooked the cruelty of heinous villians: of murderers and rapists and terrorists. We want God to express his wrath against what we feel is true, unequivocable evil, because we know that true justice requires that. What we have more trouble with is God expressing his wrath against the more ordinary sorts of lawbreaking--like our own, and those of people like us. It's easy for us to see that history's more evil men deserve God's wrath for their moral imperfection, but scripture tells us that when it comes to what God requires of us (Remember, he can rightly require no less than that we be "holy as he is holy!"), we all fall on the wrong side of the line. We all fall far short of his righteous requirement; by virtue of our very nature, we are "objects of God's wrath." Some are more abominable than others, and a just God will take this in account, but we are all rightly held in the box labeled "evil doers". What we deserve (what is the absolutely fair and just payment or wages) for being the kind of people we are, is the death that is the result of the expression of God's righteous wrath against sin.

Even when God mercifully spares some from the execution of this rightful sentence for their lawbreaking, he must do it in a just way. That he is morally perfect (or righteous) means that his character places certain parameters around the way he can pardon us. He can't just capriciously decide to overlook sin, but there must be a righteous ground upon which that can be done. This is what Christ's death is all about. It is God's righteous way of pardoning sinners. He displayed Christ publicly as a propitiation (a propitiation is way take care of God's wrath)
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. (Romans 3: 25, 26)
Christ's propitiatory (or wrath appeasing) death proves before all eyes that God is righteous, because even his mercy upon sinners--his forgiveness of sins--is extended in a way that is in accordance with his righteousness. He justifies the faithful in a just way.

So, what should it mean to us that our God is a perfectly just judge? Why does he want us to understand that he has just wrath against sin? For one, it shows us the truly abhorrant nature of our unrighteousness. That the wrath of the only morally perfect One is called out as the absolutely excruciatingly correct--and only correct--response to what we might prefer to excuse as simply petty mistakes or small crimes of little consequence, ought to help us see those sins in a more proper light. That the one who know and sees it all as it is judges us as deserving of his terrible wrath ought to give us a whole lot of pause. It ought to stop our excuse making mouths when we stand before him, and cause us to call desperately for mercy instead.

And it ought to make those of us who have experienced his mercy extremely grateful. We have been spared something we completely and utterly deserved; and the mercy that spared us wasn't an easy mercy, for it required the death of his own Son in order for him to be justly merciful to us. It was costly, and he spared no cost. In return, let's

serve the living and true God,
and .... wait for his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead,
Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(1 Thessalonians 1:9,10 ESV)


Monday, September 13

Trying Out The BlogThis Feature

Some suggested reading imported with Blog This:

God's Guidance and Open Doors from The Crusty Curmudgeon.

A Suggestion on the Good Samaritan and a piece about the difference between occasional causality and exercise of agency, and how it relates to situations like the tragedy at Beslan, both from Siris.

The Doctor Is In: Cult of Death or Heart of Man? from The Doctor Is In.

Christian Carnival Info

It's going to be held right here this week. 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. Then, do the following:

email Rebecca 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 night at 12midnight EST.

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and join the Christian Carnival mailing list here.

That's it. Get busy. Enter something.

Sunday, September 12

Sunday Hymn and Sermon: Reflections on God's Righteousness

Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right
Whate'er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path:
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.
My God is true; each morn anew
I'll trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father's care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all.
From the Cyber Hymnal. Words by Samuel Rodigast, translated from the German by Catherine Winkworth.

From Horatious Bonar on the text "Oh, bring the day you promised," from Lamentations 1:21: The Day That Will Right All Wrongs.
We are troubled with the evil that surrounds us. The wicked triumph. The good are few, and their names are cast out as evil. Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse. We are helpless in the midst of all this sin and blasphemy and defiance of God. What, then, is our consolation? That God will bring the day that he has "called;" that man's day and Satan's day shall not last forever, but that God's day is at hand; for he that shall come will come and will not tarry. Having done our utmost to arrest the flood of iniquity, to maintain the cause of God, to lift up a banner for the truth; and feeling that we are wholly impotent against the powers of earth and hell, we call to mind the promise that God has appointed a day for setting all things right, and we fall back on this sure word, comforting ourselves with the thought that the cause is really God's, and not ours, and that He will vindicate it in due time. This enables us to possess our souls in patience.
The reasons why believers should look forward with anticipation to judgment day:






This should encourage us to patiently keep on doing right even when we suffer for it:
Let us then rest in hope. Let us be patient. Let us meekly bear wrongs and reproaches. He that believes does not make haste. This is night; but the morning comes. Let us rejoice in the prospect of it, and do our work regardless of present censure and reproach, anticipating the "well done" of the great Master and Judge. He stands before the door.
Read it all.

Saturday, September 11

September 11, 2001: Another Recounting

I'd spent the night at the hospital, sleeping on the fold out recliner in my husband's hospital room. He was very ill, and I left his side as little as possible, although this was the first night I hadn't gone home overnight. We had been told the Friday before that he had only weeks, or perhaps even days, to live--that the cancer ravaging his body was too far along and moving too quickly for our doctor to hold out much hope in the way of treatment. "The pigs have already been left the barn," he said, "and we are scrambling around afterwards trying to shut the door."

I'd suspected as much for a couple of days before the doc said it, and I'd insisted that the children come home immediately, even though they'd already booked flights home from Vancouver on September 12th. I'd called my dad and asked him to change his plans, too--to come as soon as he could--and as we heard those words from our doctor, my dad was already in the air on his way north.

We'd sat in the hospital room, the two older children and I in chairs and my husband propped in his bed, while the grim verdict was delivered. My daughter was sobbing, and my son sat silently and motionless, while the tears ran unchecked down his cheeks. My husband was curiously calm and aloof, stubbornly avoiding the doctors questions about any resusitation methods he'd want used, and whether he'd want to be artificially fed.

Later he told me that he'd just let the doctor's words go in one ear and out the other, because he knew better. God had spoken to him, he said, in audible words: "This is not your time." (Will you think less of me if I tell you that I thought this was the morphine speaking?) And so he had insisted on having chemotherapy even though there wasn't much hope that it would help him out, and there was a real danger that he would be too sick to withstand it.

That's what he was doing on the early morning of Tuesday, September 11th. He was 18 hours or so into a 48 hour drip of nasty drugs directed at the cancer cells, and I was there with him. The nurse woke us as she came in for the early morning check of his vital signs. "You might want to turn on the T.V." she said. "There's important news. Terrorists have flown airplanes into both towers of the world trade center."

And that's how we started watching the nightmare. We saw almost all of it as it happened, missing only the two planes hitting the trade center. Here we were, in the middle of the biggest crisis of our own lives, watching a nation experience it's own colossal crisis. I already felt as if I were one of the walking dead, and while I was fascinated by the unfolding events, I also felt oddly untouched by them. Just when I had thought things couldn't get worse, they had, but I was at the very bottom anyway, and there were no worse feelings left for me to feel, so I just watched it all, detached from it and diverted by it.

After breakfast, I went home to shower and change clothes, and check on things there. The two youngest were already at school, but my dad was there, feeling, I'm sure, that he'd really rather be back home in the states. My dad and I were getting ready to return to the hospital when the phone rang. It was my youngest daughter's high school friend. "We dropped Brianna off at the hospital," she said. "We tried to bring her home, but the highway past the airport is blocked off."

None of her words made any sense to me, until she explained, "All the schools are dismissed, because there's a hijacked Korean airliner headed for the airport. That's why the highway's closed, too."

Oldest son walked over to youngest son's school to pick him up. We had been watching the national news, but had paid no attention to the local news, so we were probably some of the last ones to know that something was happening right here. We couldn't get back to the hospital (or anywhere else, either), so we walked into the greenbelt area by the house, and climbed up onto a precipice overlooking the airport. Two aquamarine 747's were already there, but one sat off to the side, with emergency vehicles, lights flashing, surrounding it.

These two planes, it turned out, had been headed for Anchorage before the towers were struck. They had been beyond reach of radios and couldn't be warned to turn around. By the time they were approaching Anchorage, the airport had already been closed. There are not many airports in the north with runways long enough to accommodate a 747 that's fully loaded, so these two planes were sent here to the Whitehorse airport. That's several hundred miles farther, for a plane that had already traveled from Korea.

One of the pilots of one of the planes had pushed a panic button. He was low on fuel, but language differences made communication with the plane difficult, and signals got confused, and it was thought that the plane had been hijacked. All the schools and office buildings in town were evacuated so that there would be no full buildings for the hijacked plane to hit, and the highway past the airport closed.

Escorted by American military planes, the airliner landed uneventfully. It took several more hours, however, for a Korean interpreter to be rounded up, and all the mixed signals untangled, and the passengers and crew let off the aircraft. Three hundred Korean passengers, most traveling to New York, found themselves on a runway in the north of Canada instead, surrounded by SWAT teams with rifles drawn, for reasons they didn't understand. It was only after they disembarked that they learned anything about the terrorist attacks on the US. It was then, too, that they would begin to understand that they would not be able to leave here for several days.

A few hours passed before the highway opened up and we could return to the hospital. A strange day, it had been; a tiring day, and a tragic one. But it was also the day that there began to be signs--small ones, almost imperceptible--that my husband's condition was reversing a bit, or at least stabilizing. He was more interested in what was going on around him. He seemed to have a little more strength. After going more than a week without eating, he began to crave burnt toast.

The world was in turmoil around us, and our own lives were in turmoil, too, yet what we felt most was that we were held in the palm of God's hand. We were at the bottom, but underneath us was God's hand. All would be right in the end, for nothing, neither raging cancer cells or wicked terrorists, could stay our good God's almighty arm.