Thursday, March 31

Prayer: Links and a Quote

Old Woman Praying,
by Nicholas Maes

  • Rustling Leaves posts My Prayer Today, from William Boyd Carpenter.

  • TulipGirl quotes Morning Prayer II.

  • From The Upward Call: First, begin with praise.

  • A final thought from C. S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm to end the month:
    Prayer is irksome. Any excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a cross-word puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us.

    And we know that we are not alone in this. The fact that prayers are constantly set as penances tells its own tale.

    The odd thing is that this reluctance to pray is not confined to periods of dryness. When yesterday's prayers were full of comfort and exaltation, to-day's will still be felt as, in some degree, a burden.

    Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is that it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever'. And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?
    Lewis goes on to explain that prayer is like other duties--the duty exists to be transcended:
    Here is the paradox of Christianity.... I must say my prayers today whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets.

    ....I am therefore not deeply worried by the fact that prayer is at present a duty, and even an irksome one. This is humiliating. It is frustrating. It is terribly time-wasting--the worse one is at praying, the longer one's prayers take. But we are still only at school.... And even now--how can I weaken the words enough, how speak at all without exaggeration?--we have what seem rich moments.
  • |

    Round the Sphere Again

  • Once again, it's Christian Carnival time. This week's carnival can be found at Weapons of Mass Distraction.

  • Don't miss this week's New Christian Blog Showcase, either. And while you're over there, thank Nick Queen for providing this important service to new Christian bloggers.

  • Added as an update: All you poets (You know who you are!), why not enter the 2nd Poetry Carnival? Details for submissions are found here at Siris, where the carnival will be hosted.

  • Mission Safari has several compelling posts:
    1. Check out this chart showing the changes in life expectancy in certain African nations over the past decade or so. Quite sobering.
    2. Goodwill? shows us how our best intentions to help can have unintended negative consequences.
    3. Treatment Guidlines is a follow-up to the previous post. It discusses what things we might need to consider in order to be wise in our approach to helping people and nations.

  • I hope that Terri Shiavo's passing will not end the discussions about how someone in her condition ought to be treated. Check out these posts for reasoned thoughts on the issues brought to our attention by Terri, who has, in her death and in her life, served us by causing us to grapple with these things.
    1. From Christianity Today, an interview with Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity president John Kilner, who tells us that our intention should be to support and maintain life instead of intending someone's death. This link comes via Marla Swoffer.
    2. From The Doctor Is In, Thoughts on a Life's End:
      The persistent vegetative state is very different from that in which the underlying disease is terminal or life-threatening, and poses a very difficult situation. The patient is physiologically alive, requiring no assisted ventilation or cardiac or vascular support to continue living -- in other words, their underlying disease will not kill them....

      The problem I have with stopping food and water is the great risk of crossing a very dangerous boundary. If we define life only by our mental state, rather than as a union of mental, physical, and the relationships of ourselves to other and of others to us, it seems dangerously easy to move this boundary based on a subjective judgment about which specific mental capabilities constitute a meaningful life.
      He discusses what is the ethical way to treat someone like Terri when they DO have a life threatening illness, and the ethical issues involved in the treatment of someone who IS in the process of dying, too, so you'll want to click on the link to read the whole piece.

  • And how can I not link to this from Violet? (Although, according to some, my page shows pink to them. I just hope it's a light pink!)

  • Another update: Go see Ian's photos of Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit, and more.

  • The award for most intriguing search query of the week goes to "cussedest definition". So were they looking for a definition of the word cussedest, or just searching for any old cantankerous definition? (The word cussedest can indeed be found here--thanks to the Yukon's own bard--in this post.)

    Runners up in this award category included "jesus hell apostles creed calvinist", which I find curious simply because of the word "calvinist" in there, and "video clip of oil flowing anoint". (I'd like to see that video clip, too, although I'm not going to spend time searching for it.)

    The search query that led to the most interesting find is "5% canadian tire money". Looking back through the results the searcher got with that query, I found this: a whole forum for discussing Canadian Tire Money, where you can ask your pressing Canadian Tire Money questions, like "What happened to the $2 denominations?"
  • |

    Wednesday, March 30

    Pro-Refuge Demonstration

    I hope to get back to posting on the issues surrounding oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge as soon as I get some uninterrupted time to work on it. Right now, we're still on spring holidays, and I've got a bit of a bug to boot.

    Meanwhile, here's a photo from the demonstration held in front of the Yukon legislature over the lunch hour today. The occasion for the demonstration was the visit of several Alaskan polititions to the legislature. If I had to guess how many demonstrators there were, I'd say 100 or so.

    Some of the slogans on the signs are "120,000 caribou can't be wrong" and "No refuge? No railway!" This last slogan is suggesting, I suppose, that the Canadian government ought to use the Alaskan desire for a railway through Canada down to the lower 48 as a bargaining chip to prevent drilling in ANWR.

    The person standing in the truck bed is Larry Bagnell, Yukon's member of parliament, who is addressing the crowd. The speaker I would have liked to hear was Don Russell, Porcupine caribou biologist, who I know in real life as minor soccer coach and father of my son's friend, but I had other places I needed to be, so I couldn't wait around for his turn on the truck bed.

    I can tell you this: I'm not overly fond of people with placards, whether I support their cause or not. In general, I think signs with slogans work against reasoned dialogue.

    Tuesday, March 29

    Bitter Greens and Garden Beetles

    When oldest daughter was two or three, she loved to eat salads, especially salads made with Grandpa's homegrown lettuce. But once, after there'd been a heat wave and the lettuce had taken on a bit of a strong taste, she took a bite of her salad and pushed her bowl away. "This lettuce," she said, "tastes like ladybug pee."

    Two of us have been sick today with floating heads and brains that don't work well. Feel free to amuse us by sharing your kids' interesting sayings.

    [Update: Make sure you check out the comments for more pip-squeak funnies. Then head over to read this doozy at Mission Safari.]

    Prayer: Prayer Changes People's Wills

    ...[D]on't neglect the amazing influence you have in the world for good through prayer. By prayer God calls us to join him in shaping history. By prayer we are to influence the wills of presidents and kings and senators and governors and mayors (1 Timothy 2:1-2). By prayer we are to influence the wills of professors and writers and entertainers and editors and pastors and elders and missionaries. By prayer we are to influence the wills of our friends and our enemies. We are to influence the wills of our children by prayer, and our husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and neighbors and colleagues and fellow students.

    The amount of transforming good you can do by prayer is incalculable. Don't neglect this great work God has put into your hands. ....[L]et's use both our instruments to win people over to Christ. Let's work to change people's minds with truth and people's wills with prayer.

    ---John Piper, from Prayer Changes People's Wills.

    Important Notice on Christian Carnival Deadline

    Blogger is misbehaving again today, so I can't edit the post below this one.

    I've got the deadline for submissions to the Christian Carnival wrong in the post below this one. The deadline is 7PM EST. That means there's not much time left, so you'll need to get right on it.

    Thanks to Parableman for the correction.

    Christian Carnival Entry Info for this Week

    I'm late, I'm late....

    To enter this week's Christian Carnival, to be held at Weapons of Mass Distraction send your submission to The deadline is 12:00 Midnight EST. More entry info can be found here.

    Monday, March 28

    Prayer: Meeting God

    Great God, in public and private, in sanctuary and home, may my life be steeped in prayer, filled with the spirit of grace and supplication, each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood. Help me, defend me, until from praying ground I pass to the realm of unceasing praise. Urged by my need, invited by Thy promises, called by Thy Spirit, I enter Thy presence, worshipping Thee with godly fear, awed by Thy majesty, greatness, glory, but encouraged by Thy love.

    I am all poverty as well as all guilt, having nothing of my own with which to repay Thee, but I bring Jesus to Thee in the arms of faith, pleading His righteousness to offset my iniquities, rejoicing that He will weigh down the scales for me, and satisfy thy justice. I bless Thee that great sin draws out great grace, that, although the lest sin deserves infinite punishment because done against an infinite God, yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible, there Thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep. Bless me by revealing to me more of His saving merits, by causing Thy goodness to pass before me, by speaking peace to my contrite heart; strengthen me to give Thee no rest untiI Christ shall reign supreme within me in every thought, word, and deed, in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world, works by love, fastens me to Thee, and ever clings to the cross.

    ---From Puritan Prayers.

    Spring Fever

    ...has taken over here at the blog.

    If anything shows up weird in your browser, let me know.

    Sunday, March 27

    For Easter Sunday Morning

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

    (Matthew 28:4-7 ESV*)

    Thine Be the Glory

    Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
    Endless is the victory, Thou o'er death hast won;
    Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
    Kept the folded grave clothes where Thy body lay.

    Thine be the glory, risen conqu'ring Son,
    Endless is the vict'ry, Thou o'er death hast won.

    Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
    Lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
    Let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
    For her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

    No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life;
    Life is naught without Thee; aid us in our strife;
    Make us more than conqu'rors, through Thy deathless love:
    Bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.

    ---Edmund L. Budry. [Listen]

    *English Standard Version Bible.

    Saturday, March 26

    Happy Birthday Andrew!

    Always the watcher, the dreamer, the thinker. Sometimes we'd wonder if he was normal, because he sat and watched and thought so much in those first years. It turns out he was just figuring things out, building the systems, before he acted. No learning by trial and error for this boy.

    From a conversation as he put his gum boots on to leave for kindergarten when he was five:

    Andrew: "How many minutes before the bus comes?"
    Me: "About four."
    Andrew: "That's 240 seconds."
    Me: "Andrew! How did you know that?"
    Andrew: "Well, I know that two minutes is 120 seconds, and 2+2=4, 100+100=200, and 20+20=40."

    Yep, always working to understand the systems. This meant no mechanical toy lasted more than a couple of days with him. He couldn't help but take a hammer and screwdriver to it to find out how its insides worked.

    When he was in grade two, my husband scavenged an old chainsaw at the dump for him to take apart. He spent hours in the basement with that chainsaw, taking it apart and putting it back together. His journal from grade two reads something like this on almost every page:

    I went to the dump with my dad. It was really really fun. I got a chainsaw. I am so happy. I have my very own chainsaw. I love my chainsaw. It is really really really really neat.

    Much better, he was, at understanding the systems than creative writing.

    Happy Golden Birthday, Andrew.
    Twenty six on the twenty-sixth.


    What the Resurrection Means for Believers

    This is another reworking of a post from last Easter season.

    He is risen!
    He is risen indeed!

    Throughout the Epistles of the New Testament, we find the idea of the believer being identified with Christ and receiving personal benefits from that identification with him. Believers are in some way included with Christ in His death and resurrection, and that inclusion with Christ changes things for us. What exactly does being united with Christ in His resurrection do for us?

  • Christ's resurrection means that we can be certain that we will be resurrected after we die:
    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corithians 15:20-23 NET)
    In the same way that being included with Adam brought us mortality, belonging to Christ assures us that we will rise again after we die. Christ's present resurrected life is a promise to those of us who belong to Him that we will one day be brought with Him into that completely resurrected existence. The first sheaf of the harvest has already been offered*, and the rest of the fruit will follow on the day Christ returns.

    His resurrection included the resurrection of his body, and so ours will be a resurrection of the body, too. The sort of body that Christ had when he walked the earth after His resurrection, and the sort of body with which He ascended and now rules from heaven, is the same sort of body that we will have when we are raised at His coming. Paul answers the question as to what type of body the resurrected one will be by telling us that the earthly body that dies and is buried is like a seed which grows up into something much more glorious than the seed that was planted (1 Corinthians 15:35ff).
    It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living person"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15: 42-49 NET)
    Our resurrected body will be a reproduction of the one the "man of heaven" has. Just as our identification with Adam brought us perishable bodies, our identification with Christ in his resurrected life will bring us imperishable bodies. The mortal will become immortal, and we can sing along with Paul and Isaiah:
    Death has been swallowed up in victory .
    Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
    This is the hope we have. We will be raised in incorruptible bodies to live forever with the One who takes us with Him in His resurrection.

  • Christ's resurrection changes things for us right now in the life we live as believers. The resurrected life that comes into its consummation at our glorification when we receive our resurrected bodies is already within us, although it is not yet fully realized.
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you are saved! and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.. (Ephesians 2:4-6 NET)
    We have been made alive together with Christ, so a new sort of life has begun within us--a recreated life:
    Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:4,5 NET)
    Our new life is grounded in our association with Christ's resurrection. Because we are "in Christ", we are new creation. We have begun to live in the realm of the resurrection, where sin has no dominion: the old things have passed away, and the new things have come. The changed life we have--the life in the Spirit--comes to us through our inclusion with the risen Christ.

    We are called to live according to this new reality; we are called "to bear the image of the man of heaven".
    Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth.... (Colossians 3:1-5a NET)
    We are urged to put aside the things we loved and the passions we followed as the old sort of person we were, for now we have been clothed with the new person--one "that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it (Colossians 3:10)." We must clothe ourselves in the power of the resurrection and live according to the fruit the Spirit produces within us.

    As men and women of the new life, we need to "present [ourselves] to God as those who are alive from the dead and [our] members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness (Romans 6:13 NET)." We can do this knowing that there is no reason for sin to defeat us, for we are simply working out the victory over sin that has already become reality in Christ's resurrection, a victory that will come to its complete consummation when we are raised with Him when He comes again.

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

    *See Leviticus 23 for a full explanation of the firstfruits.

    [Part 1 is What the Resurrection Proves to the World.
  • |

    Wondrous Sight for Men and Angels!

    Wondrous sight for men and angels!
    Wonders, wonders without end!
    He who made, preserves, sustains us,
    He our Ruler and our Friend,
    Here lies cradled in the manger,
    Finds no resting-place on earth,
    Yet the shining hosts of glory
    Throng to worship at his birth.

    When thick cloud lies over Sinai,
    And the trumpet's note rings high,
    In Christ the Word I'll pass the barrier,
    Climb, and feast, nor fear to die;
    For in him all fullness dwelleth,
    Fullness to restore our loss;
    He stood forth and made atonement
    Through his offering on the cross.

    He between a pair of robbers
    Hung, our Making-good to be;
    He gave power to nerve and muscle
    When they nailed him to the tree;
    He, his Father's law exalting,
    Paid our debt and quenched our flame;
    Righteousness, in fiery splendour,
    Freely pardons in his name.

    See, my soul, where our Peace-maker,
    King of kings, was lowly laid,
    He, creation's life and movement,
    Of the grave a tenant made,
    Yet on souls fresh life bestowing;
    Angels view it with amaze;
    God in flesh with us adoring;
    Heaven's full chorus shouts his praise.

    Thanks for ever, thanks ten thousand,
    While I've breath, all thanks and praise
    To the God who all his wonders
    For my worship here displays,
    In my nature tried and tempted
    Like the meanest of our race,
    Man - a weak and helpless infant,
    God - of matchless power and grace.

    Gone this body of corruption,
    'Mid the fiery hosts on high,
    Gazing deep into the wonders
    Wrought of old on Calvary,
    God, the Invisible, beholding,
    Him who lives, yet once was slain,
    Clasped in close eternal union
    And communion I'll remain.

    There, new-fashioned in his likeness,
    Veils and fancies done away,
    To the Name by God exalted
    Highest homage I shall pay.
    There, communing in the secret
    Seen in those deep wounds he bore,
    I shall kiss the Son for ever,
    Turning from him nevermore.

    ---Hymn XXII, by Ann Griffiths

    Friday, March 25

    What the Resurrection Proves to the World

    This is a reworking of something I posted last year during the Easter season.

    He is risen!
    He is risen indeed!

    While Christ's resurrection has special significance for those who believe in him--those who are united to the resurrected Christ through faith--it also carries a message about Christ for everyone, believer and unbeliever alike.

  • During Jesus' earthly ministry and obedience to death, people had seen his humility, his weakness, but with the resurrection a new phase of Christ's human existence has dawned. With the resurrection, Jesus is shown to be the Son-of-God-in-power. Paul tells us that Christ was
    ...descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord... (Romans 1:3,4 ESV)

  • The resurrection is proof that Jesus is the fulfillment of David's prophesy of the resurrection of the Messiah--that he is the long awaited Promised One. It is because Christ was raised that we can "know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ". From Peter at Pentecost:
    Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
    "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
    Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2: 29-36 ESV)

  • Christ's resurrection is evidence to all people everywhere that he is the one whom God has appointed as Judge-of-all. We know he will judge us because he has been raised, and the proper response to the surety of this promise of judgment is repentance. As Paul says to the people of Athens:
    The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31 ESV)

    The resurrected Christ who stands before us is not just another prophet or teacher, and not just a humble servant, but the one whom God has shown to be the very Lord of All--the Son-of-God-in-power--by his resurrection from the dead. He can stand in judgment over every single person because he has a right to judge, for he has been appointed to this role by the Father, who proved to all the rightness of Christ's judgment by raising him from the dead.

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

    [Part 2 is What the Resurrection Means for Believers.]
  • |

    O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

    O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
    Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
    How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
    How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

    What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
    Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
    Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
    Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

    Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
    Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
    How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
    How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

    Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
    From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
    Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
    Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

    My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
    For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
    I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
    Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

    What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
    For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
    O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
    Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

    My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
    Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
    Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
    Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

    Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
    O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
    When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
    Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

    The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
    When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
    O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
    Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

    My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
    Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
    When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
    But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

    Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
    Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
    Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
    My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

    ---Bernard of Clairvaux (Listen.)

    Thursday, March 24

    He was a Man of Honour

    More on the Red Lake school shootings, since that's what most of those coming onto the blog today are looking for.
    A security guard who survived the shootings at Red Lake High School described a frenzied scramble to warn students and credited a fellow security guard with saving lives at the cost of his own.

    In an interview Wednesday, surviving guard LeeAnn Grant said co-worker Derrick Brun ignored her pleas to run and instead rose from his desk to confront Jeff Weise, the 16-year-old shooter.

    "Derrick saved my life," Grant said. "He didn't even look scared. He didn't look worried. He knew what he was going to do."
    Read the rest from the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune.

    [Here's guest book for leaving messages of sympathy for the Red Lake Reservation shooting victims.

    Cody Thunder, one of the surviving shooting victims describes his experience.

    He was a Blogger

    From Jeff Weise, the alleged shooter in the Red Lake school shootings, who then killed himself:
    I think it takes a lot of courage to accept death. It takes courage to turn the gun on yourself, takes courage to face death. Knowing you're going to die and actually following through takes heart. I don't care who you are.
    Describing his life:
    My mom used to abuse me a lot when I was little. She used to drink excessively, too. She would tell me I was a mistake, and she would say so many things that it's hard to ... think of them without crying.
    From the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune.

    Prayer: Jesus' Prayer in John 17

    When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said,

    "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you--just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. Now this is eternal life--that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created.

    "I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. Now they understand that everythingyou have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

    "I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them.

    "I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me. Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction, so that the scripture could be fulfilled.But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experiencemy joy completed in themselves.

    "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.

    "Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart.

    "I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one--I in them and you in me--that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.

    "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, even if the world does not know you, I know you, and these men know that you sent me. I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them."

    From the NET Bible, available as a free download at

    In a serendipitous coordination of posting, Kim posts thoughts on this passage today.

    Wednesday, March 23

    Prayer: A Prayer at Communion

    Dear Lord and Savior, we come to your table in faith, for you have told us, "As often as you do this, do it in memory of Me." Help us to celebrate this remembrance of death and resurrection in the very best way we know how. Do then, we pray Thee, overshadow us with Thy very breathing Presence. Breathe on us, 0 Breath of God; quicken and heal and purify and cleanse. Strengthen and perfect that which is wanting in us. Bless the strangers and the friends who happen to be within our gates today. Dear Lord, make them sense that they have found a home among us as we worship, and to realize that they are just as much "owners" here as we are; for it is the Lord's house and the Lord's table-it is not ours. We are all guests and children in the household-all of us! And we pray that we may love Thee acceptably, for we would not wound Thee again! Thou didst love us with such poured-out love that not even the blood in Thy veins was dear enough to Thee-we were dearer than that blood! All of this we ask in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

    --A. W. Tozer

    Christian Carnival 62

    Find all 51 submissions here at A Nutt's View. Make sure you click on the link to the audio at the start.

    Tuesday, March 22

    Prayer: Some Links

    Violet has her new link for this week's prayer thots up at promptings.

    Kim writes (and quotes) on the Paradoxes of prayer. Kim quotes from Romans 8:26, 27, a passage I wrote something on last year: The One Who Sorts It Out.

    Red Lake School Shootings

    This all took place really close to my old stomping grounds, and it's all very shocking to me. I recognize some of the common surnames. Here is a list of those killed and wounded.

    Some friends we had when we lived in Thompson, Manitoba left in the middle of the year for teaching jobs at the Red Lake High School. They've long since gone elsewhere, though, finding life and work on the reservation difficult.

    I'm a bit annoyed by those who seem to be jumping to the conclusion that the lack of media attention--in comparison to the minute by minute, all as it unfolds reports with Columbine, I guess--is because those involved are Indian. The reservation is a sovereign nation, and the borders were closed to the media. This made getting pictures for television coverage impossible, and you can't show what you don't have. [Update, March 23 : There are still tight controls by the band on journalists covering the story. I'm not objecting. It might be a wise move.]

    [Update, March 23: The Center for Indian Ministries is a misson outreach associated with the Christian college I attended, the same college where my dad is still teaching one class. They have an outreach on the Red Lake Reservation, including this couple working at this church. I'll be praying that God uses these people to bring the gospel of hope in these tragic circumstances.]

    [Update, March 23: Info on the two most severly injured survivors: Wounded boys fight to survive.]

    Under Our Authority

    I've begun to work on a post (or three) on the issues surrounding drilling for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge. My plan is to take an even-handed look at both sides of the debate--the side supporting oil drilling and the side against it. It's a complicated question, but they always are, aren't they?

    Before I discuss the real issues, however, I've decided to explain what I believe to be humankind's rightful relationship to the earth and it's resources, because that can't help but affect the way I judge the issues. I've tried to base my viewpoint on God's revelation to us in scripture, but this still involves making inferences from things that may not be laid out clearly, so there is room for disagreement. You may not have exactly the same understanding of our human responsibility for the earth that I do, but knowing where I stand should help you come to your own conclusions from from my presentation of the arguments.

    Field dressing a bison
    After the flood, God gave Noah permission--maybe even encouragement--to use living creatures for food, along with the plants that had already been given to humankind to eat in the Garden of Eden. "Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea," God said, "are under your authority. You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (Genesis 9: 2,3 NET)"

    The earth belongs to the Lord, of course, but he's chosen to give human beings rulership over the plants, the animals, and the rest of the earth's resources. God told Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:27), and we inherit that command. The idea of subduing the earth, in context, is that of managing the created order to our advantage, or harnessing it's potential for our continued benefit. We need what the earth has to offer us, and God have given us the authority and the responsibility to use the earth's many gifts as we see fit.

    The Boss of the earth has delegated managerial authority to us. We have the freedom of our status as managers, but also the headache; for along with the freedom to act as we see fit comes the responsibility to act in a way that assures, as much as possible, the continued welfare of the whole system. We are to be rulers but we must be benevolent rulers. It's not an easy job, but one that requires careful attention and wise decision making.

    Thanking the Lord for a safe
    and successful hunting trip
    We needn't be afraid to use what is there for us. From the Old Testament record we can gather that God wanted his people to have everything they needed to subsist and then some, for he provided things for pure enjoyment as well. God gives "wine that makes people feel so good, and so they can have oil to make their faces shine, as well as food that sustains people's lives. (Psalm 104:15 NET)" He created and sustains that creation in order to give to us what we need to live, and also to give us pleasure in our lives. That we would use those gifts and see in them the magnificance of the Provider is one of the ways God intended creation to work, and if we deny ourselves the gifts without good reason, we may be missing out on one of the ways He intends for us to know and understand His generousity.

    At the same time, Psalm 104 gives us a picture of God as provider to all living creatures. The given purpose of the rain that falls on trees is to grow and sustain them so that they in turn will provide places for birds to nest. The high mountain is made for the wild goats, and the cliffs for the rock badgers. There is something wonderful about all the living things God has made and the way He provides for all of them. There is something glorious in the whole working system as he sustains it, for after listing all the ways God provides for his creatures, the Psalmist says:
    May the splendor of the Lord endure!
    May the Lord find pleasure in the living things he has made! (Psalm 104:31)
    All of creation pleases Him, the whole of it shows His splendor, and He values it all.

    Celebrating the successful
    hunt with a community feast
    Disregarding the value that creatures and their environments have simply because they were created by God and were made by Him to work the way they do is devaluing something that is of significance to God. If He values the rocky mountains and the goats that trip there, so should we. The created systems and the creatures within them ought to be preserved as they are as much as possible because God derives pleasure from them.

    It's in balancing these two principles--using and enjoying what is given to us, and valuing the created system and caring for it--that the difficulty comes. This is where we need to be wise and thoughtful as God's delegated caretakers of the earth. We won't always agree on what is the best move, but at least we should take some time to consider the issues carefully before we decide to act in a way that may significantly change things within the created system.

    All photos taken from the Yukon Bison Hunt, a page belonging to my youngest son's former elementary school. Our family was at the feast pictured, and youngest son went on the school bison hunt that year. I've written a bit more about this here.

    Monday, March 21

    How to Enter this Week's Christian Carnival

    From Jim Nutt of A Nutt's View:
    Submissions are now open for Christian Carnival #62 to be hosted at Please send all submissions to The deadline is 23:59 2005-03-22
    More entry info can be found here.

    Spring Break

    Youngest son has no school until the 4th of April. I celebrated by sleeping in until 8:41AM. It's been a long time since I've done anything like that. Even when I have the opportunity to sleep in, I always wake up before the alarm usually goes off. Today I slept right through the radio alarm, although I vaguely remember some of the items in the news.

    So posting on the blog might be more irregular than normal. Son and I have some things planned during his holiday, starting with taking the dog on a long hike and shopping for a harmonica. His friends have all gone someplace or other (one to Europe!), so he's going to need some entertaining.

    Yesterday our front doorknob died, and we had to take some extraordinary measures to get back inside after church. Son proved himself to be a competent doorknob replacer. I learned an important lesson, too: young sons don't like taking instructions on fixing things from their mothers. So I left him to make his own mistakes and took the dog for a walk. When we returned, the doorknob was in and working, and son seemed to be walking a little taller than when I'd left. After supper, when I called his older brother to brag him up a bit, he pretended to be embarrassed, but then took the phone and discussed the intricacies of doorknob installation and other guy stuff for close to an hour.

    We started spring break with a haircut on Friday night. All the bushy curls are gone (he no longer likes to pose for photos), and it's short--buzzed with a #5 on the shears. He's happy; I miss the curls. Did I mention how much he looks like his dad with his hair cut short?

    Sunday, March 20

    Prayer: Evening Praise

    Evening Prayer

    Giver of all, another day is ended and I take my place beneath my great redeemer's cross, where healing streams continually descend, where balm is poured into every wound, where I wash anew in the all-cleansing blood, assured that Thou seest in me no spots of sin. Yet a little while and I shall go to Thy home and be no more seen; help me to gird up the loins of my mind, to quicken my step, to speed as if each moment were my last, that my life be joy, my death glory.

    I thank Thee for the temporal blessings of this world--the refreshing air, the light of the sun, the food that renews strength, the raiment that clothes, the dwelling that shelters, the sleep that gives rest, the starry canopy of night, the summer breeze, the flowers' sweetness, the music of flowing streams, the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends. Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort. My cup runs over. Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies. Thy hand bestows blessings: Thy power averts evil. I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces, the full warmth of faith, the cheering presence of Thy Spirit, the strength of Thy restraining will, Thy spiking of hell's artillery. Blessed be my sovereign Lord!

    ---from Puritan Prayers.

    A Hymn and Sermon for Palm Sunday

    All Glory, Laud, and Honor

    All glory, laud and honor,
    To Thee, Redeemer, King,
    To Whom the lips of children
    Made sweet hosannas ring.

    Thou art the King of Israel,
    Thou David's royal Son,
    Who in the Lord's Name comest,
    The King and Bless'd One.

    The company of angels
    Are praising Thee on High,
    And mortal men and all things
    Created make reply.

    The people of the Hebrews
    With palms before Thee went;
    Our prayer and praise and anthems
    Before Thee we present.

    To Thee, before Thy passion,
    They sang their hymns of praise;
    To Thee, now high exalted,
    Our melody we raise.

    Thou didst accept their praises;
    Accept the prayers we bring,
    Who in all good delightest,
    Thou good and gracious King.

    ---Theodulph of Orleans, circa 820. (Translated into English from the Latin by John M. Neale, 1851.)

    From a sermon by Rev. Bryn McPhail of St. Giles Kingsway Presbyterian Church, Toronto, ON:
    It is not enough for us to simply recognize His authority, but we must lay down the palm branches of our heart for Jesus. Our challenge is to allow Jesus Christ the King, to be our King--that is, we must let Him rule in our hearts.

    Perhaps you have heard the saying, "He marches to the beat of his own drum." Or, perhaps you have heard it said, "So-and-so is a law unto himself." Friends, this should never describe the Christian. The Christian marches to the beat of his Masters' drum. The Christian is to abide by God's law.

    I do not mean to suggest that we regress into some sort of legalism whereby we follow a bunch of rules in order to avoid ridicule or punishment. What I am saying, what I do want to remind you of, is that the One who went to the cross for you also bids you, "Follow Me."

    "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"--we all like to sing that, don't we? Do you remember what Jesus said about what it means to be friends with Him? He says, "You are My friends if you do what I command you" (Jn. 15:14).

    Do you see the connection between Christ's authority and our responsibility? If Jesus is King, then He is also our King. If the authority of Christ extends to all things, it extends also to our lives.

    Friends, the authority of Christ is not something to dread. The authority of Christ allows us to trust in the promise that He is indeed "our refuge and strength; a very present help in times of trouble" (Ps. 46:1).

    The One who bids us, "Follow Me" is a loving Authority. So great is His love for us that He became one of us and paid the penalty for our sin. Surely, this is a God we can entrust our lives to. Amen.
    Read all of Divine Authority Asserted: Matthew 21:1-17.

    Saturday, March 19

    Round the Sphere Again, the Lite Edition


  • Tim of The Irvins give us a list of ways to know we're living in 2005. (Maybe he should add "You change your templates as often as you change your clothes" to the list.)

  • Do you use one of the modern versions based on the critical text? Then you, too, can have your own official Alexandrian Cult membership card. (This probably won't mean much to you unless you've dabbled a bit in the KJVO discussion)

    Download yours here.

    [Update: Scott of Crusty Curmudgeon has given the scoop on the origins of the membership card:
    To give credit where due, the Alexandrian Cult membership card dates back to 1999 and is the creation of [K.] who at the time was one of the admins of the Bible Version Discussion Board. As I recall, somewhere in one thread someone made the remark that with all the Alexandrian Cultists around, they were going to have to start issuing membership cards. So [K.], a graphic designer by profession, designed one.
    There you go. So credit goes to Kristi for this amusing graphic.]

  • I'm thinking of changing the photo on my sidebar to this.

    Just kidding.

    You can have fun making your own portrait here. Via Liquid Paper.

  • Breaking news on junk email front. Here's a promotional email my daughter received from Bell, Canada recently:
    B******, hot phones, cool accessories all for $0!

    We're practically giving them away!
    The fam has spent way too much time analyzing this. Son thinks the phones cost $0.49, which rounds down to $0. Any other theories?

  • The prize for most interesting search query of the week goes to "julia anti-christ image photo picture likeness". What's up with that? Who is Julia? Is she just someone who's photographed an antichrist, or is she an antichrist herself? And why would someone want a likeness of a picture of a photo of an image? Or is is a photo of an image of a likeness of a picture?

    The first runner up is "about my grandfather". I suppose that may not seem all that interesting, but in my twisted overanalytical mind it is. Was the person looking for info about his or her own grandfather? Or did they want to read other people writing about their grandfathers? Or did they have a specific piece in mind--you know--the one titled About My Grandfather?

    And for some reason or other, I've been catapulted back to the top of the list for queries involving death, dying, sympathy cards, etc., so there have been quite a few searches for things like "what to do when someone's dog dies" and "what to write on a sympathy card when you've never met the person." That last one made me wonder (You can probably see where this is going, can't you?) whether it was the person receiving the sympathy card or the one that had died that the querist (Yes, it's a word--look it up!) had never met. Or maybe both?

  • And finally, just what we all need: more internet quiz analysis of my brain.

    Your Brain is 46.67% Female, 53.33% Male

    Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

    You are both sensitive and savvy

    Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

    But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

  • |

    Friday, March 18

    Only in the Yukon: The Neecheah



    Prayer: Longings after God

    My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with Thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like Thee as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for Thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to Thee, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with Thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved. Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring Thee, always humble and resigned to Thy will, more fixed on Thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering.

    ---From Puritan Prayers.

    Thursday, March 17

    Another Soteriological Definition

  • Regeneration. Being born again. It is the act of God giving a person new life. Some other scriptural terms for regeneration are new creation, resurrection, gift of a new heart, gift a new spirit, circumcision of the heart, being begotten again.

    Some places (By no means complete!) that the act of regeneration is mentioned in scripture are
    • 1 Peter 1:3: "By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... "
    • John 3:3-8: "Jesus replied, 'I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.....I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must all be born from above.' The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.'"
    • James 1:18: "By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."
    • John 1:13: "But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children--children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband's decision, but by God."
    • Colossians 2:13: "And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions."
    • 1 John 5:18: "We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him."
  • |

    Prayer: Why and How to Pray for Missionaries

    I don't know about you, but when I pray for missionaries, more often than I like to admit, my prayer goes something like this: "Dear Lord, bless Missionary X in Country Y as they work with People Z." Some of this poor praying comes from laziness--not taking the effort to do better--but it also arises from not knowing what the specific needs might be.

    In this article, Dr. Will Bruce lists many concerns and needs that missionaries may have in their special situations, and suggests ways to pray for them. Most of them are very specific and personal needs, and yet they are applicable across the board to many different missionaries in their unique circumstances. For instance, one of the things to remember when we pray for missionaries is that the missionary faces loneliness:
    It is easy to succumb to loneliness in a foreign land when we are surrounded by people of another culture and language. This is true of those who are single and those who are married. We all need to know we are loved and accepted. Loneliness is one of the means the devil uses to discourage and depress us and to cause us to engage in disastrous self-pity. But God has supplied a way of escape! His promise in Hebrews 13:5b, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” is as true today as it was when He first gave it. What we need to do is to claim it for ourselves and experience the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our everyday living. Pray that the missionary will experience fellowship with God in new and satisfying ways.
    The article also included a list of specific instructions given on how to pray for missionaries:
  • Be specific, systematic, and steadfast.
  • Agree in prayer with others. Matthew 18:19-20.
  • Practice saturation praying—covering many aspects with many brief requests.
  • Pray as for yourself. Any problem you have, the missionary may also have, but it will be magnified by his situation and circumstances.
  • Pray with the authority you have in Christ, and bind the strong man. Matthew 18:18, Mark 3:27.
  • Try using a passage of Scripture when you are praying for your missionary, such as Ephesians 1:15-23, Colossians 1:9-14, or Ephesians 3:16-21. “Someone has said: ‘Better, far better, do less work, if need be, in order that we may pray more; because work done by the rushing torrent of human energy will not save a single soul: whereas work done in vital and unbroken contact with the living God will tell for all eternity.’ No doubt, we would all heartily agree with this—the trouble, of course, is to actually put it into practice.”
  • Read the whole article and see if it doesn't help make your prayers for missionaries more meaningful.

    Irish Blessing

    May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face.
    And rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

    For a more reverent treatment of this holiday, you'll have to go elsewhere or another place.

    Wednesday, March 16

    Round the Sphere Again

  • Yes, it's Christian Carnival day! This week's carnival is at ChristWeb.

  • This week's new Christian blog showcase, Out of the Wilderness Showcase #5 is up at

  • More from Upward Call on prayer: The Prayer of Tears.

  • From promptings: prayer thots - March 15-21.

  • From Should We Pray For Forgiveness? Read up and join the discussion.

  • John of Blogotional give us a list of bloggers he is praying for today, and I'm on the list!.

  • Rey posts a list of prayer requests.

  • Check out how long the list of new mercies is. And just because it's no longer yesterday doesn't mean you can't keep adding to the list.
  • |

    Tuesday, March 15

    It Was a Shovel

    Even though the city I live in is small, it's a capital, so we have some advantages that come with our capital city status. Things like Marcel Duchamp exhibits, for instance. (Although, really, what else is like a Duchamp exhibit?)

    The piece in the photo is one of Duchamp's shovels. It's not the shovel, the one called Shovel, the one with the helpful explanatory inscription: In Advance of the Broken Arm; but rather, it's one of the Replicas, the Replica, 1964 to be exact. Is it the shovel that was in the exhibit that was here a few years ago? Well, it looks like it, but that doesn't mean it is it, since a shovel is a shovel is a shovel, and Duchamp had several. There was the aforementioned Shovel itself, and at least a few Replicas, distinguished by their dates.

    The various shovels were part of Duchamp's Readymades. Making the Readymades involved displaying something already made--a comb, a hat rack, a bicycle wheel, or whatever suited his fancy.

    He had a series of fountains, too, in his Readymades. Mr. Duchamp, it seems, called a comb a comb, and a hat rack a hat rack, and a shovel a shovel, but he couldn't bring himself to call a urinal by its real name. And of course, no one can actually use his Fountain for its readymade purpose. Even I can tell by looking at it that the results would be disastrous. But who am I to complain? I'm not an artist.

    Can you tell I wasn't overly impressed with the exhibit? Perhaps you think it's only that I didn't understand it--and you would be right about that--but those who think they understand a Duchamp exhibit probably cause Mr. Duchamp to roll over in his grave. Giving the* answer to the question "What does it mean?" misses the point.

    I have shovels. I can think of eight or so, and there might be more. My shovels have meaning. There are few spades--long-handled and short--that I use for gardening. Those spades help produce potatoes and carrots and broccoli and other veggie treasures. The little sandbox shovels sit unused in the shed now, reminders of days that were, when they filled buckets and helped make roads for the Tonka trucks. The snow shovels clear decks and walks and driveways so we can go about our business. And so far, none has been in advance of a broken arm.

    I like my shovels. They don't look like the Readymades, which, you must admit, are nice looking shovels. Nope, my shovels have worn handles with cracks, and the spades are a little rusty, but they do their job, and that's what counts, isn't it?

    I'd like to think Mr. Duchamp's shovels are doing the job he had in mind for them. I suspect, however, that they most often fail. Every time someone comes away from an exhibit of the Readymades believing they understand it, the shovels have failed. Everytime someone enjoys a Readymade exhibit, the shovels have failed again.

    And there's nothing sadder than a shovel that fails to do its job. A fountain that fails isn't a good thing, either.

    *Edited to the from a in response to a justified criticism in the comments.

    Listening Link

    From Matt Hall, a link to a series of lectures given by Donald Carson at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the citation of the Old Testament in the book of Hebrews.

    Prayer: Morning by Morning, New Mercies

    All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.....

    What provisions are you thankful for? What mercies do you see today? This is a place to list them.

  • Here are some things I am thankful for this morning:
    1. Fresh coffee from fresh ground vanilla coffee beans.
    2. My daily constitutional, the beautiful country I walk in, and the weather that's been so good for walking.
    3. My kids. A couple of them have some rather unexpected positive things happening in their lives.
    4. For people who are willing to take the time and effort to affirm the work others do.
    5. Fragrant pears (the little green chinese ones).
    6. That nothing has broken down round this house so far this year.
    7. Youngest son is feeling better today and he's off to school

    How about you? What say ye? (I'm updating to add lists as you comment.)

  • Chris's list:
    1. A daughter who makes coffee for me.
    2. Hope for a good day.

  • Anne's list:
    1. A husband who makes coffee for me>
    2. Living in Hawaii by the ocean, seeing unbelievable beauty everyday.
    3. A husband who is not deployed!
    4. Healthy children who are maturing.
    5. Friends.
  • Other Rebecca's list:
    1. My husband
    2. My church family and the relationships that have formed from it.
    3. The fact that I am able to go on this trip with Nick this week.
    4. Financial provision
    5. Other Christian bloggers
  • Kim:
    1. A husband who doesn't grumble too much when I buy more books than I ought to.
    2. My kids, for overlooking all of my faults.
    3. My friend Jo-Ann, who will talk theology with me.
    4. A car that works pretty well.
    5. The music that emanates from our house whether it's on a CD or from our own hands.
  • Claire:
    1. Has to be my Salvation for without it....
    2. My husband, who is God's ideal gift to me!
    3. My son, who walks with his Lord
    4. Today, lunch with 2 dear friends
  • Rodney Olson:
    1. A beautiful wife who I love more each day.
    2. The two most wonderful kids in the world.
    3. A home that is safe and comfortable.
    4. A job that I enjoy.
    5. Living in Perth, Western Australia.
    6. The supply of all my physical needs each day.
  • e.s.:
    1. The Undeserved Blessings of God in my life.
    2. The gift of my beautiful wife, charming, handsome son, and future (~11 months!) adopted daughter!
    3. The opportunity to teach my 20 wonderful, rascally, 2nd. graders.
    4. The opportunity to share the many thankfuls I have.
  • Rachel:
    1. My Salvation
    2. My husband, dispite all the bumps in the road we are facing.
    3. My children, they make life so much sweeter.
    4. My close friend and neighbor Carole who is helping me with her wisdom and older mother perspective.
    5. My sisters, life would be boring without them.
  • Paula:
    1. being able to eat and
    2. live indoors
    3. friends who would be there if these went away.
  • |

    Monday, March 14

    It's a Showcase

    The long anticipated (by me, anyway!) Science and Christianity Showcase is here. From Catez of Allthings2all:

    I am pleased to present the Science and Christianity Showcase. Contrary to the usual experience of scientists around the globe, this first time experiment has yielded excellent results. Putting this together has been one of my best experiences as a blogger, and it's a privilege to be able to highlight these posts. Some of the contributors are scientists and some are Christians interested in the issue of science and the Christian faith.

    I've read a few of the entries, and so far they are excellent. Go look and see if you don't find some good reading, too.

    Today's Deep Question

    Why can't spammers spell?

    (Okay, I know sometimes the misspelling is on purpose.)

    The subject line of an email spam I got today: congartulation. Yep, that makes me want to read the contents to find out what I've won!

    Prayer: A Few Thoughts on Prayer

    If you've been reading here for a long time, and you think this seems familiar to you, that's because it's a shameless reeditted reposting of something I first posted last spring. Reading the last paragraph in this piece was a bit humbling. If you must know--and I suppose it's only right that I let you in on this--right now I am probably more of a failure at doing the three things listed than I was a year ago.

    Have you noticed that in the beginning of many of the epistles he writes, Paul has a little section like this one from the first chapter of Philippians?
    I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for you all because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God's grace together with me. For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11 NET)
    Paul tells the Philippian believers that they are included in his prayers, but he doesn't stop there. He goes on to tell them that his prayers include both thanks for certain things about them and requests made on their behalf.

    In the case of the Philippians, Paul is thankful for their participation in the gospel. He is probably refering specifically to their willingness to give sacrificially to support Paul when he was in need, both now on the occasion of Paul's imprisonment, and previously when Paul had been in need during his missionary work (See chapter 4:10-19). He is also thankful that God began His work in them, that He is continuing that work, and that He would keep on working in them.

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

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

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

    The part of Paul's example in these verses that we are least likely to follow, it seems, is telling those we pray for what sorts of things we are praying in regards to them. Yet telling those for whom we pray what specific thanks and requests we make can be a true help to them. Knowing what things about us others are thankful for lets us know something about the areas in which our walk with God is more successful. It also tells us something about the talents and gifts that we have been given. Knowing what petitions are made by others for us lets us know what needs they see. This gives us confidence that God will be working to meet these needs, and may also help us see the areas in our lives that we ought to concentrate on as we "work out our salvation".

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

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

    [Read Kim's post The Prayer of Examen. And no, that's not a typo.]

    Sunday, March 13

    This Week's Christian Carnival Entry Info

    From Stephen at ChristWeb.
    This is to remind folks that the next Christian Carnival will be hosted at ChristWeb. Please get your submissions in and I will do my best to have it all up and running Wednesday morning when you wake up. That way you can enjoy them with your morning coffee (or Mt. Dew if
    you are like me).
    Remember the new address to enter the carnival: [ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com].

    Here's what you need to send:
    • The name of your blog and a link to your main site.
    • The title of your post and the URL of the post.
    • A trackback link, if you want a trackback. (Tracking back is optional. Some hosts may oblige you, others may not have the time or ability.)
    • A short (one or two sentence) description of the post. Your description may be edited by the host, but is often used just as it is.
    The deadline for submissions is Tuesday evening at midnight, EST.

    What's Up

  • I've been reminded a few times recently that I should have a way for readers to contact me besides using the comments on the posts, so I've put a new link to click in the sidebar under my photo.

  • Oldest son called yesterday to tell me that he'd received a letter from World Vision about the child he sponsors. The boy lives in Sri Lanka, and the letter said that the boy's village was one of the ones devastated by the tsunami, and that World Vision had been unable to contact anyone in the family since the disaster. That may mean nothing, or it may mean something, but needless to say, it was a little upsetting for my son to receive that letter.

  • Youngest son had a basketball tourney this weekend. He finished up Saturday afternoon (his team came in first), and woke up this morning feeling sluggish, which is to be expected, but in the middle of church this morning he realized that he was more than just tired--he was really SICK. I hope it's not the nasty flu, but I suspect it may be. Tonight was my planned belated birthday dinner, but he had to stay home instead of celebrating with us. He's not moved from the couch all afternoon and evening. I'm hoping no one else gets it, but it never seems to work that way, does it?
  • |

    Prayer: Sunday's Hymn and Sermon

    Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire
    Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
    Uttered, or unexpressed;
    The motion of a hidden fire
    That trembles in the breast.

    Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
    The falling of a tear;
    The upward glancing of an eye
    When none but God is near.

    Prayer is the simplest form of speech
    That infant lips can try;
    Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
    The Majesty on high.

    Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
    The Christian's native air;
    His watchword at the gates of death;
    He enters rest with prayer.

    The saints in prayer appear as one,
    In word, and deed, and mind;
    While with the Father and the Son
    Sweet fellowship they find.

    O Thou, by whom we come to God,
    The Life, the Truth, the Way,
    The path of prayer Thyself hast trod--
    Lord, teach us how to pray.

    ---James Montgomery

    The sermon is one of Charles Spurgeon's, titled Pray, Always Pray. The text is John 16: 26,27:

    At that time you will ask in my name,
    and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
    For the Father himself loves you,
    because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

    On asking for things from God, Spurgeon says:
    To ask anything of God does not require that you must use a set form of words. The children in your family do not read a formal, written request to you when they want any favor from you; they state their need in childish language, you understand them, and grant their request if it is a right and proper one, and compliance with it is within your power. Act in just the same way with your God. We are often far too careful about picking and choosing the phrases that we use in prayer. Do you think that God is pleased with a display of rhetoric, or that he takes notice of your elocution when you come to the throne of grace? It may suit a teacher of English composition to criticize your sentences, but God thinks much more of your desires than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God especially notes the sincerity of your soul. There is no other place where the heart should be so free as before the mercy-seat. There, you can talk out your very soul, for that is the best prayer that you can present. Do not ask for what some tell you that you should ask for, but for that which you feel the need of, that which the Holy Spirit has made you to hunger and to thirst for; you ask for that.

    Always ask; your whole life should be spent in asking. When the morning breaks, ask for the mercy needed during the day; and when the day has closed its eyelids, and you go to your bed, ask for the protection and rest that you need during the night. Ask when your voice can be heard only by your God in secret, and ask when your tongue may not be able to move, but only your spirit whispers into the ear of God. Never hesitate to ask because of the greatness of the blessing you desire. The Lord is a great God though you are so little, and he delights to give great things to those who ask him. And don't be reluctant to ask because of your unworthiness. You can never have any worthiness of your own; therefore, if a sense of unworthiness would prevent you from praying right now, then it might always hinder you from praying; yet the Lord commands you to pray, so it must be right for you to pray. Ask when you have fought for something, and cannot win it; ask when you have toiled for it, and cannot gain it, ask and you will have it. Come before your God in all the rags of your sinfulness and conscious unworthiness, and ask, for that is all you have to do. "Ask, and you will receive," is the message that shines out, with heavenly radiance, over the mercy-seat. Read it, and obey it; open your mouth wide, for God will fill it.

    Saturday, March 12

    Prayer: My Grandfather

    This photo was taken some time in the 1960's.

    The Other Salutis Explained

    This term wasn't on my original list of soteriological terms to define, but the idea of this salutis came up in the comments on this post, so I've decided to briefly explain it.

  • Pactum salutis. This term refers to an agreement (or pact, or covenant) made eternally between the persons of the Godhead to save people. The statement that Christ was ordained before the foundation of the world as the One who would redeem people (1 Peter 1) points to a pactum salutis. Most commonly, the pactum salutis is thought of as the equivalent of the covenant of redemption. Some, however, see the pactum salutis as something broader than that, and see the covenant of redemption as part of the pactum salutis. And yes, when we speak of a pactum salutis we are entering the area of the eternal decrees of God: something made certain by a counsel of the persons of the Trinity before creation existed.

    The term is primarily a reformed one, although there are certainly other theological systems that would include a redemption pact made before creation, even though there would be disagreement as to the exact details of what was decided in this eternal counsel of the Godhead. Open theism would be a theological system that would reject a pactum salutis, because an open theistic system sees the presence of sin in creation as something that God couldn't foresee with certainty, and some open theists even maintain that God was surpised when Adam sinned.
  • |

    Friday, March 11

    Prayer: From a Prayer of Charles Spurgeon

    But we cannot leave off our prayer when we have prayed for Thy people, though we have asked large things; we want Thee to look among the thousands and millions round about us who know Thee not. Lord, look on the masses who go nowhere to worship. Have pity upon them; Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Give a desire to hear Thy Word. Send upon the people some desire after their God. O Lord take sinners in hand Thyself. Oh! come and reach obstinate, obdurate minds; let the careless and the frivolous begin to think upon eternal things. May there be an uneasiness of heart, a sticking of the arrows of God in their loins, and may they seek too the great Physician and find healing this very day. Ah! Lord, Thou sayest 'To-day, if ye will hear His voice,' and we take up the echo. Save men to-day, even to-day. Bring them Thy Spirit in power that they may be willing to rest in Christ. Lord hear, forgive, accept and bless, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

    ---The rest of Under the Blood.

    From Allthings2all: Upcoming Science and Christianity Showcase

    I'm a little late in promoting this showcase. I thought I'd already linked to it, but I was mistaken. From Allthings2all:
    I am going to hold a Science and Christianity Showcase here at Allthings2all. What I would like to do is showcase posts by Christians on the general theme of Science and Christianity. These could be posts addressing the topic as a whole, or on one particular aspect of science. The post could be on bioethics, stem cells, scientific discoveries, scientific concerns, medical benefits, a biblical or theological position, the writer's own perspective on science, or how some-one in the profession views science as a Christian.
    The deadline has been moved back to midnight EST on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to reading the entries in this showcase. Science isn't a subject I write on, but I do enjoy reading on it.

    [Here's a link to a post I think should be entered in the science and Christianity showcase: Quantum Weirdness and the Mind of God. Charlie (Another Think) writes:
    Enlightenment Science, full of youthful hubris, claimed that it could unravel the secrets of the universe and prove that "God" was nothing more than a set of mechanical laws governing the passage of day to night and life to death. But God has had the last laugh. As the search for understanding drives us deeper into the foundations of life and the mechanics of the universe, we have discovered awesome complexity, unexpected mystery, and mounting evidence that some Genius might just be the Source of all that we are and see.
    C'mon. You know you want to go read the whole thing!]

    Thursday, March 10

    Sea of Red Serge

    Today was the day of the memorial service for the four constables killed in the line of duty last Thursday.

    From Rex Murphy: A hard and bitter day.
    [This] tragedy is a bitter tribute to the RCMP, but it is a tribute nonetheless to both their competence and their professionalism, that this is the worst thing that has befallen the force in over 120 years. A century and 20 years. That record is exceptional. I dare to guess that there is probably no other armed police service on the planet that has gone so long with such care and success....

    The families of the officers killed must know how broad and deep is the sympathy that the whole country turns on them today. A grief shared is in some sense a grief divided, and while sympathy will not — it cannot — take away the fierce sting of the loss of loved ones and family, it can and does place a little light in a dark moment.

    Prayer: More Links


    One Sure Thing

    I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but youngest daughter never did go back to Calgary after the Christmas holiday. Half an hour before she was supposed to be at the airport, she came down the stairs from her room and announced that she was staying. She'd already phoned the airline and found out that she could get full credit for the cost of her ticket, she'd phoned her roommate in Calgary to find out how she'd feel if youngest daughter didn't return, she'd called her old boss and been promised a new job, and called her Calgary job to quit.

    She'd learned she hates cities. "Everything is so ugly," she said, "and so inconvenient, and the only place to walk is on city streets." I could have told her this before she left, but she wouldn't have seen those things as drawbacks until she'd experienced them. So she's been here since Christmas, working two jobs, and planning to go to school here next year.

    Last night I took a phone call from oldest son in Vancouver. "I'm thinking of coming home," he said. "I hate my job, I hate the city, and last weekend I got a $50 parking ticket when church went a little long. Besides, I've been thinking that...well....Daniel needs a dude."

    I don't know whether he'll come home now or not. I told him to think it over more carefully and not to do anything on a whim. I'm sure of one thing, though: we aren't city folk.

    Prayer: PRAYER. (II)

    Of what an easie quick accesse,
    My blessed Lord, art thou!  how suddenly
    May our requests thine eare invade!
    To shew that state dislikes not easinesse,
    If I but lift mine eyes, my suit is made:
    Thou canst no more not heare, than thou canst die.

    Of what supreme almightie power
    Is thy great arm which spans the east and west,
    And tacks the centre to the sphere!
    By it do all things live their measur’d houre:
    We cannot ask the thing, which is not there,
    Blaming the shallownesse of our request.

    Of what unmeasurable love
    Art thou possest, who, when thou couldst not die,
    Wert fain to take our flesh and curse,
    And for our sakes in person sinne reprove;
    That by destroying that which ty’d thy purse,
    Thou mightst make way for liberalitie!

    Since then these three wait on thy throne,
    Ease, Power, and Love;  I value prayer so,
    That were I to leave all but one,
    Wealth, fame, endowments, vertues, all should go;
    I and deare prayer would together dwell,
    And quickly gain, for each inch lost, an ell.

    ---George Herbert