Sunday, October 31

God's Grace

God's grace is in many ways similar to his mercy and his love, since it too has it's source in the goodness of God. Specifically, however, grace refers to the kindness of God toward the undeserving. God's mercy has as its focus our helplessness or our suffering, but God's grace focuses on our unworthiness.

Grace, as scripturally defined, is set in complete opposition to works or merit. Statements that put receiving something because of God's grace as wholly contrary to receiving something because of works abound in scripture, but perhaps the clearest is in Roman 11:4, where Paul, speaking of God's choice of a remnant out of the nation Israel, says that if this choice "is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (ESV)" Something that comes to us from God's grace cannot come as a result of our works or our merit, for if it did, it would go against the very definition of grace used by Paul. Grace would no longer be true grace if it was in any way meted out based upon our good actions. To the extent that something is "of works" it cannot be "of grace," and if our salvation is "all of grace", then it is "none of works".

Our God is the "God of all grace." He is characteristically giving toward those who do not merit his favour, and every favour that we receive has its source in the God of all grace. His grace is eternal, for it has been given to those who are saved before time began (2 Timothy 1:9 ESV). From this same verse in 2nd Timothy, we also learn that grace is sovereignly and freely exercised by God, given "not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace." We don't call it out from him, but he extends it as it suits his purpose and because he is gracious. He is gracious to whom he will be gracious (Exodus 33:19).

God's grace is abundant, and it never runs out. The amount of God's grace is always greater than the depth of our sin. Paul tells us that grace multiplied where sin increased (Romans 5:20). We can be confident that it is always sufficient for us.

God's grace extends to all humankind--sustaining life, withholding judgment, and restraining sin; but it is particularly bestowed on those who are being saved, for redemption through Christ is the crowning work of God's grace. From start to finish, salvation is a work of grace. It is out of God's grace that he calls, regenerates, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies his own. Those who are God's children can know that all of God's actions toward them are gracious actions, because even the difficult things God allows them to endure come to them with a gracious purpose: to produce the fruit of righteousness within them (Hebrews 12:10,11). Those who are being saved are God's workmanship--his recreated people--and that all of what they become is a result of God's work rather than their own work demonstrates the surpassing wealth of God's grace (Ephesians 2:7-10).

It is in this work of salvation that we see God's grace in all of its glory; we are saved "to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. (Ephesians 1:6)" God highly values his attribute of grace, for glorifying his grace--showing how abundantly rich it is--is an overarching purpose of the whole of redemptive history. God saves in order to reveal and to glorify the wonderfully abundant wealth of His characteristic grace.

The better we understand God's grace to us, the more thankful we will be, and the less pride we can have in our accomplishments. We are being spared what we justly deserved, and are freely receiving something we are entirely unworthy of, simply because our God is a gracious God and he has purposed to save us. We are receiving the greatest gift of all; the greatest gift ever given has been lavished upon us by our infinitely gracious heavenly Father. Any of our good acts are not products of our own intrinsic goodness, but of God's gracious creative work within us. There is no room for boasting from those who have seen God's grace.

Because we are thankful, and because we love the one who gave so freely to us, we need to be imitators of him. We need to graciously forgive the wrongs done to us and the debts owed to us, because we have been graciously forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32). We are to do good and lend to others even when we know we will never receive anything in return (not even thanks) for our generousity.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. (Luke 6:35 NET)
We, of all people, should be the most free with our giving, for we are to be the sort who not only give to those who give back to us in return, but also to those who mistreat us, or who use us merely for their own gain.

How difficult that is! Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves from being used and abused. When we have some inkling, however, of what we have been given--of the grace we have received from the God of all grace--how can we be stingy in the grace and forgiveness we extend to others? God prepared the works beforehand, and we have been graciously created in Christ Jesus to do them.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!—and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 NET)

Grace, ’tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to mine ear;
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.

Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

Grace led my roving feet
To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet,
While pressing on to God.

Grace taught my soul to pray
And made mine eyes o’erflow;
’Twas grace which kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.

Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.

O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine
May all my powers to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.

---Philip Doddridge and Augustus Toplady

This is the last in the series on God's attributes.

For Reformation Sunday

Today is the anniversary of the day of Luther's 95 Theses. You knew the hymn I'd chose would be this one, didn't you?
A Mighty Fortress

A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.

---Martin Luther.

The featured sermon is one from Martin Luther, too. It's titled, On Faith and Coming to Christ, and the True Bread of Heaven, and takes it's text from John 6:44-55:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Speaking of the term "bread of heaven", Luther says this:
The living bread, of which the Lord here speaks, is Christ himself, of whom we partake. If in our hearts we lay hold of only a morsel of this bread, we shall have forever enough and can never be separated from God. The partaking of this bread is nothing but faith in Christ our Lord, that he is, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:30, "made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." He who eats of this food lives forever. Therefore, the Lord says, immediately following this Gospel lesson, where the Jews strove among themselves about this discourse of his: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

The bread from heaven the fathers ate in the wilderness, as Christ says here, was powerless to keep them from dying; but this bread makes immortal. If we believe on Christ, death cannot harm us; yea, it is no longer death. The Lord utters the same truth in another passage when he says to the Jews: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my Word, he shall never see death" (John 8:51). Here he speaks definitely of the Word of faith, and of the Gospel.

But one may say, as did the Jews, who took offense at these words of the Lord: The saints, nevertheless, died, and Abraham and the prophets likewise died. We reply to this: The death of Christians is only a sleep, as the Scriptures everywhere call it. A Christian neither tastes nor sees death; that is, he is never conscious of any death; for this Saviour, Christ Jesus, in whom he believes, has destroyed death so that he no longer needs to taste it and pay its penalty. Death is to the Christians only a transition of life, yea, a door to life: as Christ says in John 5:24: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my Word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life., and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life."

Therefore, a Christian life is a life of bliss and joy. Christ's yoke is easy and sweet; the reason it seems to us galling and heavy is that the Father has not yet drawn us. and so we have no pleasure in it, neither does this Gospel lesson minister comfort to us. If we, however, rightly appropriated the words of Christ, they would be of much greater comfort to us. By faith we partake of this bread that has come down from heaven, Christ the Lord, when we believe on him as our Saviour and Redeemer.

In this light I now remind you that these words are not to be misconstrued and made to refer to the Sacrament of the Altar; whoever so interprets them does violence to this Gospel text. There is not a letter in it that refers to the Lord's Supper. Why should Christ here have in mind that Sacrament when it was not yet instituted? The whole chapter from which this Gospel is taken speaks of nothing but the spiritual food, namely, faith. When the people followed the Lord merely hoping again to eat and drink, as the Lord himself charges them with doing, he took the figure from the temporal food they sought, and speaks throughout the entire chapter of a spiritual food. He says: "The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life." Thereby he shows that he feeds them with the object of inducing them to believe on him, and that as they partook of the temporal food, so should they also partake of the spiritual. On this subject we will say more at some other time.

Now let us here notice that the Lord approaches us so lovingly and graciously, and offers us himself--his flesh and blood--in such gentle words that it should in all reason move the heart to believe on him; to believe that this bread, his flesh and blood, born of the Virgin Mary, was given because he had to pay the penalty of death and suffer in our stead the torments of hell, and, besides, to suffer the guilt of sins he never committed, as if they were his own. This he did willingly and received us as brethren and sisters. If we believe this we do the will of the heavenly Father, which is nothing else than that we believe on the Son. Christ says, just before our text: "This is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (I John 6:40).

It is now evident that whoever has faith in this bread of heaven--in Christ, in this flesh and blood, of which he here speaks that it is given to him and that it is his--he also accepts it as his own, and has already done the will of God and eaten of this heavenly manna; as Augustine says: What do you prepare for your mouth? Only believe, and you have already eaten.

The whole New Testament treats of this spiritual supper, and especially does John here. The Sacrament of the Altar is a testament and confirmation of this true supper, with which we should strengthen our faith and be assured that this body and this blood, which we receive in the Sacrament has rescued us from sin and death, the devil, hell and all misery. Concerning this I have spoken and written more on other occasions.

What is the proof by which one may know that this heavenly bread is his and that he is invited to such a spiritual supper? He needs only to look at his own heart. If he finds it so disposed that it is softened and cheered by God's promises and is firm in the conviction that it may appropriate this bread of life, then he may be assured that he is one of the invited; for as one believes, even so is it done unto him. >From that moment on, he loves his neighbor and helps him as his brother; he rescues him, gives to him, loans to him and does nothing for him but that which he would desire his neighbor to do for himself. All this is attributable to the fact that Christ's kindness to him has leavened his heart with sweetness and love, so that he has pleasure and joy in serving his neighbor; yea, he is even in misery if he has no one to whom to show kindness. Besides all this, he is gently and humbly disposed toward everybody; he does not highly esteem the transient pomps of the world; he accepts everyone as he is, speaks evil of no one, interprets all things for the best where he sees things are not going right. When his neighbors are lacking in faith, in love, in life, then he prays for them, and he is heartily sorry when anyone gives offense to God or to his neighbor. To sum up all, with him the root and sap are good, for he is grafted into a rich and fruitful vine, in Christ; therefore, such fruits must come forth.

But if one has not faith and is not taught of God--if he never eats of this bread from heaven--he surely never brings forth these fruits. For where such fruits are not produced, there is certainly no true faith. St. Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 1:10 that we should make our calling unto salvation sure by good works; there he is really speaking of the works of love, of serving one's neighbor and treating him as one's own flesh and blood. This is sufficient on this Gospel. Let us pray for God's grace.

Saturday, October 30

Saturday's Pet Picture

It's been a while since we've had a pet photo. Well, here you are, then.

These two like each other quite a bit. They had just been nuzzling heads before the photo was taken, but apparently they don't want that sort of thing broadcast to the world, so they took a casual acquaintance only pose for the camera.

Charlie, the cat, is 10 years old. She had to get used to the new pup in the house when she was already 7, but she's adjusted pretty well. What she hasn't adjusted to is Leroy, the other cat. It would help if Leroy would be just a smidge less obnoxious.

Friday, October 29

Christian Soldier

Tim is an officer in the U.S. Navy and a doctor. He is currently in Iraq and in this post he writes a bit about treating Iraqi civilians.

His is an interesting blog. Check it out.

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Solutions to Yesterday's Puzzles

If you're not ready for the answers, stop reading now!

Find all the sets of 3 factors of 72. Here they are: (1, 2, 36), (1, 3, 24), (1, 4, 18), (1, 6, 12), (1, 8, 9), (2, 2, 18), (2, 3, 12), (2, 4, 9), (2, 6, 6), (3, 3, 8), (3, 4, 6), and the highly improbable but theoretically possible (1,1, 72).

Since the guest does this and still needs one more piece of information, you know that there is more than one set of numbers that totals the guest's house number. So you can eliminate all sets that have unique totals. This leaves you with (2,6,6) and (3,3,8) which both total 14.

The hosts ice cream flavor clue tells you that there is one oldest child. That eliminates the set (2,6,6) and leaves only (3,3,8). The oldest child, then, is 8.

Now, on to the mind reading puzzle. If do the initial math problem often enough (adding the two digits of a two digit number and subtracting their total from the number itself), you will notice a pattern--the result is always a multiple of 9. If you look at the number chart on the game, all the multiples of 9 always have an identical symbol, and that's the symbol that shows up when the game "reads your mind." That particular symbol changes each time the game is reset.

[Update: Scott McClare (a.k.a The Crusty Curmudgeon, f.k.a The P of U, has posted in the comments the mathmatical proof that when you add the two digits of a two digit number and subtact their total from the number itself you get a multiple of 9, namely the product of 9 and the tens digit.]

Thursday, October 28

For The Love of Math

Since so many of you shared my love of maps, I thought maybe I'd find some math chums as well. Here's a little math problem I shamelessly stole from a thread at the Baptist Board:
At a party you overhear another guest asking the age of the host's 3 children. The host gives the following information to the guest:
  • Each child's age is given as a whole number.
  • The product of their ages is 72.
  • The sum of their ages is equal to the inquiring guest's house number.
After thinking for a bit, the inquiring guest is forced to ask the host for additional information. The host responds, "My oldest child likes strawberry ice cream."

How old is the oldest child?

If you find that one too simple (or too hard!), you might try this one that I posted when this blog was just beginning.

Wednesday, October 27

Two Good Things

Okay, so they weren't my first choice, but since it couldn't be the Twins, I was rooting for the Red Sox.

It wasn't the most sizzling series ever, but I'm happy:
  1. The Sox won!
  2. The curse story can die.

A Few More Thoughts on the KJVO Doctrinal Statement

If you haven't read this post, you'll probably be lost on this one. This post contains just a few more thoughts on the doctinal statement quoted in that post. They really don't effect the argument of that post too much, but since I can't stop thinking about them, I thought I'd post them in hopes they'd go away!

Here's the whole statement I'm considering:
We believe the Holy Scriptures, composed of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, are the verbally inspired Word and Revelation of God. The Bible is inerrant, infallible-God-breathed. The initial miracle of divine inspiration of the original autographs also extends to the divine preservation of a pure text to this day. We have, therefore, the very Word of God preserved through the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus. In the English language, the only Bible translated from the aforementioned texts is the King James Version. (Link.)

I think I have begun to see how the people who wrote this statement can claim to believe in "sola scriptura" and adhere to the statement we have here. I don't think they are right, or that their argument is not fallacious, but I think I see in a clearer way how they got where they have arrived. Here's what I've come to suspect.

I think they think that that middle statement--"The initial miracle of divine inspiration of the original autographs also extends to the divine preservation of a pure text to this day"--is a scriptural one because they interpret (wrongly in my opinion) the statement that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" to mean that anything they call scripture today is inspired by God in the same way the original autographs were, since "all scripture" is given by inspirition. So every step along the way to the present King James Version (the only version they would call scripture) you had God's inspirational work. In their thinking, that is what the scripture plainly teaches, so they are not going beyond the Bible as rule of faith and practice when they make this statement.

And then the "therefore" in the next sentence begins to make a little more sense. If the scripture is "inspirationally preserved" infallibly and inerrently in the KJV, then the texts from which the KJV "inspirationally derives" must also be "the very Word of God" (KJV-speak for pure and inerrent, or word perfect).

Of course, the whole argument depends on their particular definition of the King James Version as the only true scripture in the English language--a definition that is hard to maintain in the face of the historical fact that the words of "word perfect" King James Version of scripture have undergone revisions throughout history. It's also a definition that goes beyond what we are told in scripture. But it's this assumed definition that the whole argument stands or falls on--this assumed definition taken together with that one statement of scripture that "all scripture is given by inspiration".

It's a really nice example of a circular argument. The definition of scripture is assumed to be the King James Version only, and that definition is used as part of the proof that the King James Version is the only true representation of the pure texts of scripture.

Anyway, I've done this up rather quickly, mostly just to see what you think. So, what think ye?

Following the Road Map

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiates 3:10,11 ESV)

Lately I've been feeling a little directionless. It's not that I don't have things I need to do, and things to keep me busy, just that I don't have a clear picture of where it's all leading me. I know what my main job is: guiding the youngest son into adulthood and providing as secure a home as I can for him.

I wish I had some sort of bigger picture--or maybe a road map--but I don't. I've been buffeted by circumstances, and maybe I'm at a lull now, and maybe I'm not, but since there's no accurate weather forecast, I just don't know. I don't particularly like things that way.

I'm not the spontaneous sort. I pay attention to the weather report, and plan what I'll be wearing a day ahead of time. I write lists of things to do, and persistantly work my way through them. I like feeling like I'm on top of things.

If you've lived long enough, you know that the feeling that we're on top of things is always an illusion, and we're just one unforeseen circumstance away from disruption. That's why I've adopted these two verses from Ecclesiates as my own. Until I feel the need to change them, these are my life's verses. They remind me that every buffet is a beautiful buffet given at God's hand to give me direction--his direction.

There is a plan, a map, a list, and it's more perfectly directional that I can imagine, having eternity as it's scope. But I can't know it. I can only trust it, and do what it demands of me.

Christian Carnival 41

is up at From The Anchor Hold. I was too busy to enter anything, and maybe that's a good thing, since there are over 30 entries without mine. I'll be checking it out later.

(For some reason, Blogger blogs are really slow to load this morning, but they seem to come up if you just wait long enough.)


Tuesday, October 26

Life Goes On

Oldest son is leaving tomorrow for Vancouver. These last couple of days have been very busy for him (and for me) as he gets all sorts of important things done. Today we finally were able transfer ownership of the truck and get it insured in his name. He had it appraised this morning, too, so he'll be able to have it insured for something closer to what it's really worth.

So the first half's been busy, and the afternoon promises to be busy, too. The new stove came in and will be delivered, and the winter tires need to go on the car. This is all to say that while I had hoped to post the final installment in the attributes of God series today--this last one being on God's grace--I'm certain that won't happen. It probably won't happen tomorrow, either, but I'm still aiming for sometime this week.

It will be only young son and me at home for a while. We have gone from a family of 6 down to 2 in under two years. Things are strange, but I suspect it won't be long until youngest daughter joins us again. She is not very happy in Calgary. The problem is not so much Calgary but that she's been a bit spoiled in the jobs she's had here--good jobs with good benefits, and quite a bit of responsibility--and she knows she could come back to them, and that option's starting to look pretty good to her. I'm trying to not say much in the way of encouragment for her to come home. The decision needs to be hers without much influence from me, but we'd be glad to have her back!

Apparently I was too busy to feed the cats this morning....or so they're saying.

Monday, October 25

A Perfect October Morning


In the Name of Efficiency...

...I shall plug two carnivals with one post.
  • From Karen Marie Knapp:
    This coming Wednesday, October 27th, is the next Christian Carnival, which 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 deadline, which was 10/19.

    Then, do the following:

    email Karen Marie at


    and please put "Christian Carnival Submission" in the subject line, so it doesn't get dumped with the spam!

    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 October 26th at 10 pm Central time ---- that's Wednesday 0300 UTC/GMT, for those of you in far places.
    Okay. You know the drill. Contribute, and goad your friends into contributing.

  • From Jollyblogger:
    This is just a reminder that the first installment of Post-Tenebras Lux. the Carnival of the Reformation is coming up. All submissions are due in by this Thursday, October 28 at 6:00pm EST. The Carnival will be posted next Monday, November 1.

    And, another reminder, this is a themed carnival and the theme is Sola Scriptura and each post should be a defense, exegesis, or application of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and should be in line with the statements of the major reformed confessions on Scripture....

    If you haven't submitted and want to, we're still taking submissions till Thursday at 6:00pm. The address again is
    Similar drill to the Christian Carnival, but the post must be related to sola scriptura. You've got three days left, so get cracking!

Two Compelling Northern Stories

Photos never lie, but the real truth is in the stories.

Today is the eighty-sixth anniverary of the the sinking of the Princess Sophia.

She left from Skagway, Alaska, full of passengers from Dawson City and the interior of Alaska travelling outside for the winter. Only four hours into her voyage, she ran aground on Vanderbilt reef in a blinding late October blizzard. For forty hours the ship sat on the reef while unsuccessful attempts were made to rescue the passengers. There was no real panic, though, for the ship was thought to be in no danger of sinking:
Captain F.L. Lockem, of Victoria, a veteran seaman of the northern coast, on the night of the disaster had wirelessed his office here that the ship was hard and fast on the reef with her bottom badly damaged, but she was not taking water and the passengers were normal. It is evident that he believed the Sophia was planted so firmly on the rocks as to be secured from the severity of the storm which continued to rage.

When morning broke on the morning of the 26th of October, nothing but her mast was visible above water. All the passengers and crew had perished--343 in all. One pet dog had managed to swim to shore.

The mysteries remain. Why did Sophia sink? Could the passengers have been rescued if there had been more of a sense of urgency? Some bodies could never be identified, and are buried in unmarked graves in various places, so there's also a little bit unknown regarding the exact identity of the victims of the disaster.

Now, a recent mystery.
This fall, world-renowned bow hunter Bart Schleyer disappeared while out bow hunting for a moose. He was flown in to the largest of the Yukon's Reid Lakes in mid-September, and he wasn't there when the plane returned to pick him up 2 weeks later.

What happened to him and when? Was he really killed by a grizzly or did he die some other way and was just scavenged by the bear? Why weren't there signs of a struggle?

[Update: A link with a few more details. (Not for the squeamish!)
About 60 yards back in the woods from the boat, Schleyer's bow and arrows in a handmade buckskin quiver were leaned up against a tree next to a dry-bag full of gear on which he'd obviously been sitting.

"It still had a cradle in it like he was sitting on it and just got up, like a saddle,'' said David Fritz, a Susitna Valley friend of Schleyer's who has seen photos of the scene taken by the Mounties.

Curtis said the bag was on flat ground adjacent to a thicket of black spruce and willows. To Curtis, an experienced moose hunter, it looked like the sort of place an archer might set up if trying to call a moose into range.

"It was kind of on the edge of it,'' he said. "It was a little more open there. For sure he was calling (moose) from there.''

As the men broadened their search around the bow and the seat, they found a camouflage face mask with blood on it. They decided then it was time to call the Mounties back.

"His face mask had hair and blood on it,'' said Dan Foster, a friend and the Valley taxidermist for whom Schleyer sometimes worked.

On Oct. 3, about a dozen Mounties, Yukon conservation officers and civilian volunteers flew back to the area to begin a grid search. At first, Parker said, they found little but bear and wolf signs -- scat and tracks -- in the area. Then someone spotted a piece of clothing.

"One of our constables saw a ball cap, and that's what tipped them off,'' she said.

Further searching nearby turned up a pair of camouflage pants, a camera, part of a skull and a few bones.

"The bow was standing against a spruce tree,'' Parker said. "From there to where they found the bones, that was about 60 meters away.'']

Sunday, October 24

'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er,
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me,
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood.

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.

I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

---Louisa M. R. Stead


Saturday, October 23

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up - for you the flag is flung - for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths - for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

---Walt Whitman

This was one that my husband began to love in elementary school. Our sons, raised with a different historical heritage, like it well enough, but didn't take to it in the same way.

Friday, October 22

For the Love of Maps

I started liking maps when I was quite young. I can remember poring over gas station road maps before I started school. I liked those phone book city maps, too, and studied them so I could understand where everything was, and learn how to get to the places I wanted go.

Generally speaking, I was a pretty obedient child, but I did turn my map reading into a couple of adventures that sent my parents out searching for me. Once while walking home from kindergarten, I decided to try walking round that enticing circle of road that rings the central buildings on the Wheaton College Campus, rather than cutting straight through the campus like I had been taught. Of course, that took quite a bit longer, and when I was late arriving home, my parents had to take the car out searching for me. Then, when I was 7 and my sister was 5, I convinced her to accompany me clear across Wheaton to visit some friends of ours. I didn't ask first, knowing the answer would be "no". So we wouldn't be discovered, I took a back way I had memorized from the city map rather than the well-travelled route. I can't remember for sure whether we reached our friends house or not, but we did travel in the right direction and quite a distance from home before we were discovered.

All that practice made me a fairly accomplished map reader, so that by the time I was in first grade, I could help my mom navigate the city by running into phone booths to check the maps for directions when we got lost.

When I started reading chapter books, the books I loved most were books with a map for tracing the story--maps of the Hundred Acre Wood, or Archenland, or Middle Earth. If a book didn't have a map, I would sometimes make one that worked. I drew my own imaginary maps, too, of my own imaginary cities and countries and national parks.

I've never stopped loving maps. I think in maps, and when I think of people, I think of them in their place on a map in my head. That's how I catagorize people, I guess, even people who live two blocks over from me. If someone lives halfway round the world, then I think of them in an area of the globe. If I don't know someone's place, I can't put them in that concerete spot that makes them real to me, so they remain a little like a disembodied spirit in my mind.

So, in celebration of maps, here's a map of my place.

Here's a better one.

This is one of my city, green space and all.

How about one of the Yukon River, carrying the run-off from here clear up and out the west coast of Alaska into the Bering Sea? Here's one of the fresh water drainage of Canada. See! All the southern Yukon drainage goes into the Pacific Ocean, but it doesn't do it the short way--100 miles straight out to the coast--but the long way, 1300 miles (don't quote me!) across Alaska to the Bering Sea.

Or maybe you prefer seeing a map charting all the glaciers and ice fields of Canada.

If you've read this far, but your interests are more political than geographical, here's a map showing the results of last summer's federal election. And if you are one who think the current presidential election is still interesting, how about this? (Ha! You thought it was going to be another one of those state-by-state electoral maps, didn't you? ) Hat tip for this one to The Map Room, the weblog of someone who loves maps even more than I do, and has a whole weblog devoted to them.

And as long as you've come this far, why don't you leave a comment and give me a general idea of your place, so I can pinpoint you on the map in my mind? Don't be afraid to become a real person!

The Sitter and the Butter and the Better Batter Fritter

My little sister's sitter
Got a cutter from the baker,
And she baked a little fritter
From a pat of bitter butter.
First she bought a butter beater
Just to beat the butter better,
And she beat the bit of butter
With the beater that she bought.

Then she cut the bit of butter
With the little butter cutter,
And she baked the beaten butter
In a beaten butter baker.
But the butter was too bitter
And she couldn't eat the fritter
So she set it by the cutter
And the beater that she bought.

And I guess it must have taught her
Not to use such bitter butter,
For she bought a bit of batter
That was sweeter than the butter.
And she cut the sweeter batter
With the cutter, and she beat her
Sweeter batter with a sweeter batter
Beater that she bought.

Then she baked a batter fritter
That was better than the butter
And she ate the better batter fritter
Just like that.

But while the better batter
Fritter sat inside the sitter -
Why, the little bitter fritter
Made of bitter butter bit her,
Bit my little sister's sitter
Till she simply disappeared.

Then my sister came to meet her
But she couldn't see the sitter -
She just saw the bitter butter
Fritter that had gone and et her;
So she ate the butter fritter
With a teaspoonful of jam.

Now my sister has a bitter
Butter fritter sitting in her,
And a sitter in the bitter
Butter fritter, since it ate her,
And a better batter fritter
Sitting in the silly sitter
In the bitter butter fritter
Sitting in my sister's tum.

---Dennis Lee in Alligator Pie



Thursday, October 21

Halfway Down the Stairs

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit:
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top:
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up, and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town:
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere! It's somewhere else instead!"

---A. A. Milne

Wednesday, October 20

Why King James Version Onlyism Denies Sola Scriptura

What I'm hoping to show in this piece is that adherents of KJVOnlyism, while claiming to be faithful to the Bible as the final arbitrator of faith and practice, in reality use something other than scripture as the final arbitrator of faith and practice when it come to the issue of acceptable texts and translations of the scripture. First, let me point out that I'm not dealing in this post with those who prefer to use the King James Version of the Bible, or even those who prefer to use only the King James Version of the Bible, but with the strain of KJV Onlyism that believes that the King James Version of the Bible is the only true word of God in the English language. (This last category is the only catergory that I would describe as KJV Onlyist. The first two I tend to call KJV preferred.)

You can find the doctrinal statement that I'll be referring to here. This particular one was chosen because it's on the internet where everyone reading can access it easily, it's laid out in an organized, easy to read form, and it's position is quite moderate and reasoned as far as KJV only statements of faith go. I've gone straight to the doctrinal statement of this organization (BibleBelievers.Net), because a doctrinal statement is a statement of faith. (And I think if you read this whole doctrinal statement, you'll find that in this particular case, it is also, in part, a statement of practice).

This doctrinal statement does claim that BibleBelievers.Net adheres to sola scriptura. You'll not find the statement under point I, which is the statement on scripture; but rather, in the last item, No. XV: the statement on good works.
The Bible is the believer's absolute Standard of faith and practice, his perfect Counsel. The Word provides him with "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
This means that whatever is set forth as a dogmatic or binding statement of faith (as in a doctrinal statement) needs to be either directly stated in scripture or supported by the statements of scripture. We would expect then, according to this statement of the absolute rule of scripture, that all of the doctrines outlined in this doctrinal statement would be drawn from scripture.

So, let's look at point I, the doctrinal statement pertaining to the scripture, and see if the statements made there are either directly asserted within scripture or supported by scripture. The first part of the statement is affirming the God-breathedness (or divine inspiration) of what the authors of scripture wrote. There is a clear statement in scripture of this, for Paul tells us "all the writings are God-breathed". We can also conclude, as the doctrinal statement also states, that if God himself exhaled the scripture, then the God-breathed writings were "inerrant" and "infallible".

The statement goes on to assert that the same sort of miraculous intervention that "God-breathed" the original writings has also been at work all throughout history preserving a "pure text to this day." Here's where the problems with this statement start. I assume what is meant by this statement is that a word-for-word copy of what was originally put down by the original authors is still in existence, and we have it due to miraculous divine intervention. However, while the scripture tells us a little bit about how the writings of scripture came about--they were exhaled by God, so that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Spirit--it tells us nothing about the method of preservation of the scripture. It might seem reasonable to think that that this would be the way that God would choose to do it--miraculously preserving a perfect word-for-word copy of all the God-breathed writings; but since it is never stated for us that way in scripture, it isn't something those who truly adhere to scripture as the only source of things binding upon a believer should put in their doctrinal statements.

The next statement after this declaration of divine preservation of a pure text is this:
We have, therefore, the very Word of God preserved through the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus.
If you follow the argument being made, the word therefore refers back to the statement about a preserved pure text. This quoted statement is saying, then, that because we have a preserved pure text, the preserved pure text is the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus. The logic is faulty--there's no way the last statement follows necessarily from the first; and in addition, it is going beyond anything we are told in the text of scripture. There is no mention in scripture of texts or text types, and certainly no mention of which compilation of manuscript readings into text form make up a perfectly preserved text. In fact, what evidence scripture does give us--the various quotes of Old Testament scripture in the New Testament--points to more than one text being "scripture". What we have in this doctrinal statement on scripture, then, is one extrabiblical statement combined with another extrabiblical statement, put forward dogmatically as right belief.

There's one more statement in the paragraph:
In the English language, the only Bible translated from the aforementioned texts is the King James Version.
This statement, besides being an extrabiblical one (I've yet to find the word version in any version of scripture!), is false. There is at least one other translation from these exact texts, one that is actually more faithful to these texts than the King James Version: the New King James Version.

Do you see how this doctrinal statement holds extrabiblical assertions to be authoritative?

Just to be fair, I asked the following question of the KJV onlyists that participate in the forums of the Baptist Board (and I paraphrase here): If you believe the Bible is the absolute rule of faith and practice, how do you support, from the Bible, your belief that only the KJV is the true word of God in English?

I got two answers. The first one was that 400 years of history can't be wrong. This answer is really an appeal to the infallible authority of tradition, rather than scripture; and in an interesting twist, the absolute authority of tradition is a doctrine sola scriptura stands opposed to. The second answer was that those who are faithfully in tune to the Holy Spirit are enlightened by him to this truth. It's an appeal to the final rule of an individual's perceived experience of the Holy Spirit, another of the ideas that sola scriptura stands against. Sola scriptura does not argue, of course, that any individual's true experience of the enlightenment Holy Spirit is wrong, but rather that what any individual feels they have been taught by the Spirit is to be tested against scripture, and can only be held as binding upon others--or put forward dogmatically--if it can be garnered from the scripture.

KJVOnlyists, then, accept extrabiblical standards as bindingly authoritative when it comes to the doctrine of the Bible, and because they do, they cannot truthfully claim that the Bible is their absolute rule of faith and practice.

The Baby

WHERE did you come from baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherub's wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.

--George Macdonald

The Christian Carnival For This Week Is Up

.....right here. Go check it out. The boss of the blog says I'm not allowed to go over there until I get the post on KJVonlyism and sola scriptura posted.

[Update on Thursday, October, 21: I took the morning to go through the Carnival, and made it two-thirds of the way through or so. I hope to finish the rest up when I can. The quality of posts seems especially high this week, and there are 34 of them (I think!). The task of choosing posts to highlight is more than I can manage when there are so many great ones, so I'll not be highlighting any this week. Just go read them and see what I mean. ]

Monday, October 18

A Nautical Ballad

A CAPITAL ship for an ocean trip
Was The Walloping Window-blind --
No gale that blew dismayed her crew
Or troubled the captain's mind.
The man at the wheel was taught to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow,
And it often appeared, when the weather had cleared,
That he'd been in his bunk below.

The boatswain's mate was very sedate,
Yet fond of amusement, too;
And he played hop-scotch with the starboard watch,
While the captain tickled the crew.
And the gunner we had was apparently mad,
For he sat on the after-rail,
And fired salutes with the captain's boots,
In the teeth of the booming gale.

The captain sat in a commodore's hat
And dined, in a royal way,
On toasted pigs and pickles and figs
And gummery bread, each day.
But the cook was Dutch, and behaved as such;
For the food that he gave the crew
Was a number of tons of hot-cross buns,
Chopped up with sugar and glue.

And we all felt ill as mariners will,
On a diet that's cheap and rude;
And we shivered and shook as we dipped the cook
In a tub of his gluesome food.
Then nautical pride we laid aside,
And we cast the vessel ashore
On the Gulliby Isles, where the Poohpooh smiles,
And the Anagazanders roar.

Composed of sand was that favored land,
And trimmed with cinnamon straws;
And pink and blue was the pleasing hue
Of the Tickletoeteaser's claws.
And we sat on the edge of a sandy ledge
And shot at the whistling bee;
And the Binnacle-bats wore water-proof hats
As they danced in the sounding sea.

On rubagub bark, from dawn to dark,
We fed, till we all had grown
Uncommonly shrunk, -- when a Chinese junk
Came by from the torriby zone.
She was stubby and square, but we didn't much care,
And we cheerily put to sea;
And we left the crew of the junk to chew
The bark of the rubagub tree.

--Charles Edward Carryl

Due to the length of the Red Sox/Yankees game yesterday, I had no time to write an introduction to these poetry posts, but here's the deal: I'm going to post a poem per day this week, either a poem that someone in this family has enjoyed as a child or one that I think is especially suitable for children. Yesterday's from Emily Dickinson was one of my husband's favorites, today's was one of mine. (I guess you can tell which one of us was the more sensitive child.) Mostly, they're all just fun, fun, fun!

Christian Carnival Entry Info

From Proverbial Wife:
Next Wednesday (10/20), I will be hosting the Christian Carnival, so if you would like to participate, email me ( -- DO NOT Reply to the list) with: the name and URL of your blog the title and URL of your post a brief summary of your post It needs to be something you've posted since this past Wednesday. For a full calendar of carnival locations or to sign up to host, check out the right sidebar at I'll be out of town this weekend, so if you have any questions, please direct them to Nick at the above site or wait until I return. Thanks, Marla
Time to get cracking and get those entries in.

A Little Bit of Emily

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

--Emily Dickinson

Sunday, October 17

Merciful Sunday

From an unknown writer, a hymn that is a paraphrase of Psalm 57:
O God, Be Merciful to Me

O God, be merciful to me,
My soul for refuge comes to Thee,
Beneath Thy wings I safe will stay,
Until these troubles pass away.
To God Most High shall rise my prayer,
To God Who makes my wants His care,
From Heav'n He will salvation send,
And me from every foe defend.

Great foes and fierce my soul alarm,
Inflamed with rage and strong to harm,
But God, from Heav'n His dwelling place,
Will rescue me with truth and grace.
Be Thou, O God, exalted high,
Yea, far above the starry sky,
And let Thy glory be displayed
O'er all the earth Thy hands have made.

My soul is grieved because my foes
With treacherous plans my way enclose;
But from the snares that they devise
Their own undoing shall arise.
My heart is steadfast, O my King,
My heart is tuned Thy praise to sing;
Awake, my soul, and swell the song,
Let vibrant harp the notes prolong.

Yea, I will early wake and sing,
A thankful hymn to Thee will bring,
For unto Heav'n Thy mercies rise,
Thy truth is lofty as the skies.
Be Thou, O God, exalted high,
Yea, far above the starry sky,
And let Thy glory be displayed
O'er all the earth Thy hands have made.


The featured sermon is from John McArthur, is based on the Luke 6:31-38, and called The Content of Kingdom Love. You'll want to read the whole piece for the story about Nate Saint's grandson and his relationship with the man who killed his grandfather. Here, however, is an excerpt from the section of the sermon dealing with Christ's command to be merciful (verse 36):
Further, in verse 36 Jesus added, "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful." What you're trying to do in the words of Paul is to adorn the doctrine of God. What you're trying to do is manifest your sonship, to demonstrate the life of God is in your soul, that the divine nature is there in you, that the Spirit of God dwells with you, that you are supernatural in your ability to love. And people will say, "He's a son of the Most High."

.....So, as Christ manifested that He was God's Son by His loving His enemies, so you can manifest that you too are a son of God, a child of God, not God incarnate like Christ, but nonetheless a child of God who loves the way God loves....

So when you are kind, positive good toward your enemies, and merciful, withholding judgment, you are like God, therefore you are manifestly sons of the Most High. You manifestly are giving evidence that God is your Father. So until the final day when God's judgment does fall on everybody, God Himself is kind and God Himself is merciful. That's His nature. And if you bear His nature and His name, that is how you need to be as well.

It's easy to forget that our acts of mercy are not only to be directed toward those who are innocently helpless, who are victims of circumstances they can't control; but rather, if we are to be like our Father, then we must extend those acts of mercy toward those who are our enemies, toward those who are in deep doo-doo through their own foolish action or inaction, and toward those who are suffering just consequences for acts for which they are responsible. This is where it gets difficult, and this is a dividing line between those who are genuine sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, and all the rest. Even those who are not God's true children have hearts that are tugged by the plight of sweet innocent children, and noble old ladies, and families who are hard-working but still struggling; but sons and daughters of a merciful God have hearts that look in kindness upon those who are our intransigently obstinate enemies. If I am a true daughter of my Father, I have no excuse. "But he doesn't deserve my help!" doesn't cut it for someone who has already been shown undeserved mercy .

Look at This!

I've been hanging round a bit in the versions debate section of the Baptist Board. I was there to do a bit of research for my article on KJV onlyism and sola scriptura. It didn't help me much for that, but I did see a link to this: a site with images of every single page--front and back--of a genuine King James 1611 Bible.

Saturday, October 16

The Big Outdoors

It occured to me that I haven't mentioned that nearly all the photos that I post here are taken within the city limits of Whitehorse. There have been a few exceptions, like the photos taken on the trip to Burwash Landing, and ones the boys took on their Tatshenshini rafting trip, but I'm probably not wrong in saying that all the rest have been taken right here in the city. This is a city with a lot of green space.

This photo was taken last Sunday afternoon when I took the dog hiking along the Chadburn Lake ski trails. We're walking along the old tram line from the gold rush days that ran from Canyon city around the river rapids at Miles Canyon. The hike was about 5K (3.5 miles): from the ski trialhead to Canyon City, where there's nothing much left but the sink holes where the buildings used to be and a few trash piles full of rusty cans; then around and across the Chadburn lake road and back to the trailhead again. Five kilometers, and we met only two people: a man in a trenchcoat who spoke with a brogue and loved retreivers; and a young woman dressed in white pants, chatting on her cell phone.

While I was looking around at Canyon City, I heard a splash and the swish of paddling. It seems the retriever loves swimming in the river just for the sake of swimming, and no fetching stick incentive is necessary. It made me nervous, though--the river is cold in October, and still treacherous from the high runoff this year--so I called her back out.

It was when the dog was rolling in the dirt to dry off that we met the girl in white pants. She wasn't fond of retrievers, especially friendly muddy ones. I'll confess that I didn't feel very guilty when the dog shook a few bits of mud onto her. Someone who's the sort to hike along the river in white pants with a cell phone handy needs just a speck or two of of mud to keep her real, don't you think?

Here is the view from a spot halfway back from Canyon City. Everything you see is within the Whitehorse city limits, except for the mountains way in the background. They are just outside the boundary.

There are no excuses, when you live here, for not getting out in the great outdoors for a walk or a run or a bike ride. Some people try to use cold weather as an excuse to stay indoors, but that just makes them look foolish. We all know there is no such thing as bad weather. There's only bad clothing.

Friday, October 15

God's Mercy

God's mercy is another one of his attributes that comes from his goodness, and so it is also closely related to his love and grace. Mercy has to do specifically with God's characteristic attitude toward people who are in trouble. It is God's pity for those who are miserable or suffering or needy, and helpless in their situation; but it includes more than just a feeling of pity, for his mercy has his rescuing power behind it. Out of God's mercy he rescues from difficulty; out of his mercy he saves the powerless; out of his mercy he heals the sick. God's delivering activity toward the oppressed, the afflicted, the poor, and the fatherless are all described as coming from his mercy. Since all of his creation is so dependent upon him, the psalmist can say that "his tender mercies are over all his works (Psalm 145:9)."

Like all of God's attributes, God's mercy in intrinsic to him. He is called "the Father of mercies" and a "God of mercy" (2 Cor. 1:3, Neh. 9:17). His mercy is also abundantly great and boundless, higher than the heavens and filling the earth. Scripture refers to "the multitude of his mercies" (Lam. 3:32) because the acts stemming from this attribute are so numerous.

His mercy is eternal and unchanging. God's mercy is "from everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 103:17) in the same way that God himself is from everlasting to everlasting. His mercies don't cease or fail, because they are new every morning (Lam. 3): constantly fresh and perfect and never fading with age. His mercy endures forever.

It is out of God's constantly enduring mercy that he brought His people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. They were helpless to save themselves, but God saw their desperate situation and redeemed them out of their trouble. From Psalm 136's recounting of God's merciful deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery, we learn one more thing about God's mercy:
To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn,
For His mercy endures forever;
And brought out Israel from among them,
For His mercy endures forever...
It's a bit of a jarring juxtaposition, isn't it? Out of God's mercy He rescued Israel, but the merciful deliverance of his people resulted from an act that was not kind toward the people of Egypt. His act of mercy toward one group of people was at the same time an act of severity toward another group of people. God's mercy, then, like his love and grace, is particular. While his people can count on his mercy never being turned from them, there are times when he is not merciful to some people.

His is sovereign and free in his mercy. The expression of his mercy is never compelled, but he expresses it because he delights in his mercy (Micah 7:18). To show mercy is his own choice according to his own purpose: "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy." That God shows mercy toward us does not depend on our action or our desire, but on "God who has mercy." (Romans 9)

There is a tension in the truths of God's mercy that is important to maintain. While it is true that God is completely free in his acts of mercy, and that he acts mercifully according to his own purpose and as it fits his own plan, it is also true that those who seek his mercy always find it. He is always merciful to the truly repentant. If we confess, he faithfully forgives. We would not be correct in thinking that he is compelled to be merciful to us in response to our repentence--or to presume upon his mercy--but we are correct if we believe that our genuine repentence is always and certainly met with his willing and abundant mercy. (If you are reading this through for a second time, and you don't think you've read this paragraph before, you are probably right. This was added later in one of those after-the-post-but-still-stewing moments. This is one reason why I find these posts so difficult: there's always a big chance I'll leave out something really, really important.)

Although God's mercy is over all his works, delivering us from sin through Christ was the supreme act of God's mercy. It was because of God's tender mercy that Christ was incarnated to be our Savior (Luke 1:78). It was on the basis of God's mercy that he saved us from our state of helpless (and at the same time intransigent!) disobedience (Titus 3:3-5). The ultimate sacrifice of Christ, and all the saving actions of God on my behalf, come because God is "rich in mercy".
By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. (1 Peter 1:3,4 NET)
The surety of our inheritance and the new life we are born again into all come to us by way of God's mercy.

A first step toward understanding the true depth of God's mercy is understanding the depth of our own neediness. We are utterly without hope short of God's merciful activity on our behalf. Is it by recognizing that we come before God bringing nothing but our own sinfulness, just as the publican in the parable brought nothing when he prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 13:18)", that we get some glimpse of the abundant richness of God's mercy.

Because God has been merciful to us, we have reason to be merciful in our actions toward those who are in need. We must "be merciful, just as [our] Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36 NET)." Mercy is one of God's communicable attributes, meaning that he shares it with us and expects it from us. Just as our Father is moved to act by the plight of those in need, so too, those who are his children are motivated by mercy. The poverty of others--both material and spiritual--is our opportunity to be like our Father. Their trouble is our opportunity to help.

If we belong to him--if we are being delivered from sin because of God's mercy--we have a reason to be always and forever grateful to our heavenly Father. We should be singing right along with the psalmist, "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever (Psalm 89:1)." Or with Horatio Spafford when he writes in his hymn, It Is Well with My Soul:

....Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

....Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

God's mercy is one of the grounds for our hope. It is out of God's mercy that we are "born again to a living hope," and we

....hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
(Psalm 130:7)

The Lord takes pleasure in those....who hope in His mercy.
(Psalm 147:11)



It's been a strange day, a disorganized day, one of those which-end-is-up days. I shopped for a new stove, and it was more complicated and time-consuming than anticipated. In the end I had to order one and it'll be 3 weeks before it comes in. So I'l be limping along with the old one for a few more weeks.

Anyway, I still plan to post an attributes of God post today--at least it'll still be today my time. I hope.

I'd mentioned that I was going to post on God's mercy and God's grace all in one post. I've changed my mind. It just got to be too complicated and disorganized, sort of like my day so far.

Thursday, October 14

Round the Sphere

A few highlights from my recent journeys round the world of blogs:

Doggie's Breakfast has a few interesting articles on The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann. I have to admit I know nothing about the book, but the posts dealing with arguments made in the book were interesting.

The Dead Man bloggeth a couple on persecution. I will say that I believe that most of us are living in a time and in places where we are not persecuted for our faith in the same way that other believers in other times and places have been (or are being). Some believers find themselves persecuted for doing things we do automatically every week--like attending church. I don't think that just because we aren't persecuted doesn't mean we aren't faithful. If I just confused you with this statement, go read the articles.

Tim of The Irvins asks if God would call someone to preach who couldn't speak.

And saving the best for last, the Parable family is a wee bit larger.

In Local Religious News

The Whitehorse Christian Ministerial Association has voted on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The debate over same sex-marriage has resurfaced in the Yukon, with a split in an organization of the territory's religious leaders....

Recently, most of the members of the Whitehorse Christian Ministerial Association voted that a marriage can still only be between one man and one woman.
The vote was 12-3 in support of the motion, with one member abstaining. As might be expected, this led to the resignation from the association by the Whitehorse United Church minister, Keltie can Binsbergen, who performed the territory's first legal gay marriage ceremony.
One of the ministers voting against the motion was the association's vice president, Whitehorse United Church minister Keltie van Binsbergen....

Her convictions meant she had little choice after the association's vote.

"My response was to resign, because the motion was passed, and it was passed quite resoundingly, the vote was 12-3, with one person abstaining," she says.
The ministerial association will release a statement to the press later.

Read the whole story from CBC North.

[Update: Another article with a little more info.]

Wednesday, October 13

Travelling Sons

Both of my sons are getting ready for trips. The youngest is leaving this afternoon for a weekend volleyball tournament in Calgary. We've been busy with all sorts of things that needed to be taken care of before he goes. He had a big paper that needed to be handed in this morning, so he had to finish that up last night. He did almost all of it himself, but I ended up typing the bibliography for him while he read off the things that needed to go in it. Otherwise, he was going to be up until midnight. He had to fit finish the paper up in between an hour and half volleyball practice and shopping for a complete outfit of dress clothes.

Yes, they are required to wear a dress shirt, dress pants and tie while travelling. It's a school tradition. We assumed he had suitable dress clotes already, until he tried his pants and shirt on after school. Ha! The sleeves on the shirt stopped halfway between his wrists and elbows, and the pants were more like very baggy capris. His tie was one of those boy-sized ties, and suddenly that was too small, too. So off we went to buy a whole new outfit. At 4:15pm, with volleyball practice starting at 5. And you know what? We did it. Found a nice black dress shirt, black pants, red and black and gray striped tie, bought them, and managed to get to volleyball practice early.

I have to pick him up from school at 11:30AM today, and then he'll pack and we'll run him across the highway to the airport. The nice thing about him having a tournament in Calgary is that he'll get to see his sister who is there. He might not care a whole lot that he sees her, but she cares a whole lot that she'll see him. She is homesick and misses her family. And it's nice that he'll have someone cheering him on at some of the games.

Oldest son is working hard to get himself ready to move to Vancouver. He's driving his landcruiser, and he's busy getting things all ready for the big trip down the highway. Today the truck is back at the painters for a bit of touch up. Then he needs to get the truck appraised and insured for whatever it's actually worth. Looking at his list of things to do before he goes, I'm guessing it'll be late next week before he's off.

So that's what's up with the guys. Around here on the blog, I plan for one more post on the attributes of God later this week, and then I think that series will be done. God's grace and mercy are what I have left to do, and I'm thinking I'll do them in one shebang. Then I plan to do something on how King James onlyism denies sola scriptura. I'm hoping I can enter that in the first League of Reformed Bloggers Carnival which is coming up at the first of next month. I also want to do a post highlighting posts from blogs in the blogroll, since I haven't done much linking to others lately. After this afternoon, I should have time for more time consuming posts.

Tuesday, October 12

Christian Carnival Entry Info

Here's from the email from Adrian Warnock:
Nick has let me loose on the Christian carnival this week. Someone needs to explain to me what time I should close down entries as I am on BST at the moment and have never understood how that relates to the way you guys express time!

It would be great to receive posts at with Title of the post, your blog name and the URLS of both.

I would especially love to receive non-political posts!!! (See my post on being bored of the election-......)
Help Adrian out by sending your entries. I'm not sure of the time thing, either, so I suggest you just sent them as soon as possible.

Monday, October 11

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

God, our Maker, doth provide....

These are the ingredients to our Thanksgiving dinner that we either hunted, gathered, or grew in the garden. Starting at the carrots and moving clockwise:
  • Carrots. We had those raw on a vegie tray. We still have a few left in the garden that we are eating fresh. I've also frozen a few cut on the slant for use in stirfries.

  • Potatoes. I tried to use at least one potato of every variety that we grew. We had them cooked in what some people call potato filling--mashed potatoes beaten with egg and garlic and then baked in the oven.

  • Brussel sprouts. We still are harvesting those as well. My sons are not cooked vegetable fans, but they do like cooked brussel sprouts with a little butter on top.

  • Wild cranberries. We have wild cranberries in the bush all around our house, and I pick them every fall. We had those in cranberry muffins.

  • Breast o' grouse. My youngest son shot this grouse with his pellet gun when the guys were out 4-by-4-ing in the landcruiser yesterday afternoon. I roasted this alongside the turkey for about an hour. Very dark, rich, and tasty.

Sunday, October 10

Two Things

....I'm looking forward to:
  • Grandchildren. I don't expect any any time soon, but my brother-in-law who is half a year younger than me (I think that's right!) just emailed to announce the birth of his second grandchild--a little girl this time--and I'm feeling just a smidge jealous. I like kids of all ages, but I love toddlers in particular.

  • The day in November when I can remove the words the American presidential race from the blurb in the heading of my blog. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

For the love that crowns our days...

The Love of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God's love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race--
The saints' and angels' song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

---Frederic Lehman
---Midi file from Rose's Garden.

From David Legge, pastor of The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a sermon on God's love:
As we close I want to leave with you a verse, it's 1 John 4:18, this great book of love - listen to it: 'There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love'. You know the child that gets lost in the supermarket, and it gets into a frenzy and into a panic, and it's distressed looking around, and it feels vulnerable and it feels danger - and that is the way so many people feel today. Our society is wrecked by fear and by anxiety and distress and worry, and even those who belong to the Lord are living like that! And as long as we are willing to live in the world, and to be satisfied standing, trembling, in the arms of chance and this world system - we will fear! If you want to continue to go down a carnal Christian route, if we want to continue to live in our sins without Christ, fear will come to us - and as the word of God says, fear hath torment. And how many people are tormented with fear? The word of God's right you know - clear as a bell! If you fear, you will be tormented - and the only way, my friend today, to deal with your fear is to enter into the secret place of leaning upon the arm of God, leaning upon the arm of the love of God!

Oh, isn't it wonderful? A. W. Tozer said this: 'Let a man become convinced that nothing can harm him and instantly for him all fear goes out of universe. The nervous reflex, the natural revulsion, the physical pain may be felt sometimes - but the deep torment of fear is gone forever. God is love, God is sovereign, His love disposes Him to desire our everlasting welfare and His sovereignty enables Him to secure it'. Oh, we learnt, didn't we, that what God wants to do He has the power to do. And today, you see where you sit, if God wants to deliver you from fear that brings torment, He can do it now. Why do we grumble? Why do we become discontent? Why are we resentful when God takes us down a certain path in life and we feel distrustful, fearful, depressed? Maybe our Christian life is becoming lukewarm, informal and half-hearted, and our loyalties are divided - why does that happen? Because we are not resting in the love of God!

Handley Moule was the Bishop of Durham, and there was a colliery disaster. And he went down with his Bible in his hand - as the man of God that he was - to bring some comfort to these people who had been bereaved and were mourning. And he didn't know what he was going to say, he was lost for words, and he opened his Bible - and the Lord opened the Bible - at a particular place where he had a bookmark. And you've seen these bookmarks, on the one side it says 'God is love', and on the other side there was a mass of tangled and coloured threads. And old Handley Moule lifted up that bookmark and showed them the side that was tangled coloured threads, and he said: 'This is the disaster in your life, it doesn't seem you're going to see through it, things you can't understand' - and as he turned it over, he said: 'But behind it all there is a loving God'. Isn't that true?

Saturday, October 9

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.


Friday, October 8

God's Love

In the last post on God's goodness, I mentioned that God's love and God's goodness are closely related. They both have to do with God being one who is by nature a giver. While the term love is sometimes used in scripture in relation to God's general providence--the things he does to sustain creation--it is most often used in relation to redemption, which is the rescuing or saving work of God. In fact, the redemptive work of Christ on the cross is pointed to in scripture as the way it is that God loves:
....God is love..... In this is love:.... that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:8-10)
And again:
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son....(John 3:16 NET)
Redemption is the supreme example of God's love. God is love, so he saves even at great cost, and costly redemption is the way he loves.

Examining this costly redemption proves to us the infinite depth of God's love. He saves sacrificially--giving up his own Son--and that sacrificial giving is done not for those who are in some way giving back to him, or even neutral toward him, but for those who are rejecting him. The kind of love God has is the kind of love that gives sacrificially to those who hate him.
But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us....while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Romans 5:8,10 NET).
God's love is a love that rescues the unlovely and unworthy by giving up something precious in order to do it. It surpasses what we can know fully or understand completely. Mind-boggling love, it is; and immeasurable in the same way that all the other aspects of his character are, for his "love is great to the heavens."

God's love is free. It is not compelled or "called forth" by anything within the object of his love. The reason for God's love is simply that God has a loving character that he expresses.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you.... (Deuteronomy &:7,8 NET)
If you strip this sentence down to the bare bones of what is being said, you get this: "The Lord set his love on you....because the Lord loves you." God's own love is the cause of his own love, and not anything desirable within the objects of his love. It is a free and unforced (or uninfluenced) sovereign love. He loves because He is love.

This idea is particularly difficult for me to wrap my mind around. Love for us is an emotion of response. It is called out in some way by the ones we love, even if it is only their extreme helplessness that influences us. We make a connection of some sort with something about the object of our love first, and love grows out of that connection. We love our children because they were born tugging at our heart strings. The love of God works the other way around. He loves, and so he connects. He loves us, and so he pulls us to him. We love him back only because he loved us first.

We love because he loved us first; but he loves because he loves. Scripture tells me this is so, and I can understand reasonably that it's the only way it could be, for God must necessarily be free and sovereign if he is God. If God was compelled to act by anything outside of his own character, then whatever it was that compelled God to act would be ruling over God. I know this must be so even while I can't imagine how it can be so. It is perfectly right that his love be love that loves the unloveable, and that it be based only within his own loving purpose (1 Timothy 1:9).

Like all his other attributes, God's love is eternal and unchanging. (I'm putting those two things together because it seems that something immutable must necessarily be eternal, and something eternal cannot change.) There are many references in Scripture to the steadfastness or faithfulness of God's love. It also tells us that the Father loves the Son, and if these two are co-eternal, then their love must be eternal. We know, too, that his love for us is eternal, for God lovingly chose us before the foundation of the world. His love for us exists outside of our own existence and has its place in the realm of the eternal.

God's love is also particular: not persnickity particular, but particular in the sense of being selective rather than only being generally diffused. There is a certain sense in which God's love is general toward humankind, for out of his love he provides and sustains us all; but at the same time, there is a sense in which God's love is more definite. God's love was with those within the nation Israel in a way it was not with those in the nations around them.
However, only to your ancestors did he show his loving favor, and he chose you, their descendants, from all peoples--as is apparent today. (Deuteronomy 10:15)
In the New Testament, as well, we see that God has a special sort of love for his own people. He loved his church and gave himself for her. Out of his special love for them, he disciplines those who are his own children, and that we are on the receiving end of God's disciplining love is proof that we are one of his accepted children (Hebrews 12).

God's love flows to us individually. Most often, scripture refers to the objects of God's love as a group--us, or the church, or his people, or the world--but we can also understand that he loves us individually. Those who belong to him can rejoice along with the Apostle Paul that "I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)."

God is the only source of real love, so God's own love is the true source of any love that we have toward others. If we are his--if we belong to the Source of all love--then we will be loving. From 1 John 4: is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
From 1 John 4 we also learn that this love that God's children show to others is a work of God's Spirit within them:
If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit.
God's Spirit resides in those who love one another, and that love to one another is produced by the Spirit of the God of love.

It is also through the Spirit that we come to understand the marvelous nature of the deep, deep love God has for us.
I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19 NET)
The love of Christ surpasses knowledge, but we can know it through the power of the Spirit, who roots us and grounds us in love.

That God loved us is our security. We can rest in the nature this love. If God did not spare the Son he loved because of his love for us, we can know that his love is the sort of love we can count on to give us everything else that we need. God's love for us has already cost him immensely; he will not give up on us now. There is no longer anything or any circumstance that can take God's love from us.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will trouble, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness,
or danger, or sword?
As it is written, "For your sake we encounter death all day long;
we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we have complete victory
through him who loved us!
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor heavenly rulers,
nor things that are present, nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in creation
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:35-39)


Maybe for a Float Plane

But I'm not sure. This is a little makeshift covered dock on Schwatka Lake, down a bit from yesterday's cabin.

Today and Monday are school holidays here because this is our Thanksgiving weekend. We've all been suffering from nasty colds, and so we're a bit lazy on this day off. The boys and pets are still sleeping, and I'm on my second cup of coffee, trying to get just a little nudge to start my day.

God's love post is still planned for today, then it'll be a thanksgiving theme for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, October 7

Schwatka Lake Cabin

Contented in my rugged cot,
Your lordly towers I envy not;
Though rude our clime and coarse our cheer,
True independence greets you here;
Amidst these forests, dark and wild,
Dwells honest labour's hardy child.

Verse from Susanna Moodie's The Back Woodsman., found in her book Roughing It in the Bush.

No Woohooo....

For four and a half hours I watched, and they lost. The series is now at 1-1.

My plans for today include reading the Christian Carnival entries and working a bit on the post I'm doing on God's love.