Saturday, April 30

Blogster Baby!

Yes, the Reynoso family has been blessed with a new itty bitty one. Her name's Elayna, and there are pictures here.

Faith Stories: The Bravery of Stonewall Jackson

  • Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me....That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.

  • On his death bed:
    I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go.

  • Last words:
    Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees . . .
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    Friday, April 29

    More on Theology for Girls

  • At Reflections of the Times, Carla responds to a commenter who said she was out of order for discussing doctrinal issues. Go Carla!

  • Kim of The Upward Call composes a poem about The Woman of Theology.

  • Okay girls, we can order our matching t-shirts with this message on the front here.

    Unfortunately, they don't come in pink.

    Theology is the science of living blessedly forever.

    I must say! I quite like that.

    Time for me to go. The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals. (A Samuel Davies quote scarfed from another t-shirt at A Puritan's Mind.)

    [Update: There's an even more appropriate t-shirt for me among A Puritan's Mind's offerings. Can you spot it?]
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    Faith Stories: Ron Stewart Explores His Path My Path, Part 1 and Part 2.

    Thursday, April 28

    Playing Tag

    It's a game that's been going round the sphere. If you're tagged, then you play the game by answering on your blog. I've been tagged by Miss Violet.

    Here's the scoop on how to play: I pick 5 occupations out of the list below and complete the "what if" statements . Then I'm supposed to tag 3 other people to post their answers on their blog, but I think I'll let you tell me you want to be tagged first. Then I'll tag you and post links to your answers when you're done. Okay?

    The "questions": If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician... If I could be a doctor... If I could be a painter... If I could be a gardener... If I could be a missionary... If I could be a chef... If I could be an architect... If I could be a linguist... If I could be a psychologist... If I could be a librarian... If I could be an athlete... If I could be a lawyer... If I could be an inn-keeper... If I could be an athlete... If I could be a professor... If I could be a writer... If I could be a llama-rider... If I could be a bonnie pirate... If I could be an astronaut... If I could be a world famous blogger... If I could be a justice on any one court in the world... If I could be married to any current famous political figure...

    Here you go. My answers:

  • If I could be an architect I'd design little craftsman style bungalows. I can't imagine a better sort of home for reading, can you?

    I did want to be an architect for a while, and I spent quite a bit of time as a child drawing house plans. House plans and maps.

    Of course, that I'd design craftman bungalows if I were an architect tells you why I never became one. An architect needs to be "visionary", Scott McClare tells me. Innovation is the name of the game, so it's hardly the sort of occupation for someone whose middle name is "old fogey". Or for someone whose Meyers-Briggs type description is "guardian of time-honored tradition".

  • If I could be an athlete I'd play basketball. In a league that has no rule against travelling. And as long as we're asking for impossible things, I'd like to be 18 inches taller as well so I could do slam dunks.

  • If I could be a farmer I'd be a fruit farmer. Someplace where I could grow them all--apples and oranges and plums and peaches and cherries..... I'd hire other people to do the actual work, mind you. My job would be to walk out to the orchard and pick a piece of fresh fruit whenever I felt like eating one.

    This is why you'll never hear me complain about Adam being my federal head. I know I couldn't do any better than he did.

  • If I could be a librarian. I'd like this job, I think. A "guardian of time-honored tradition" ought to be good at this one, right?

    I can't promise I wouldn't get a sudden urge to arrange the books by color though--reds with reds, and blues with blues. Wouldn't the shelves look much tidier that way?

  • If I could be a professor, I'd have the absent minded part down pat already. Maybe I'd team teach "Theology for Girls" with Kim.

    [Update: Laurie posts a link to The Bungalow Company in the comments--a page with house plans for bungalow lovers.

    Bungalow is such a good word, don't you think? I first learned it reading Nancy Drew. You can learn a lot from that girl.

    Update 2: Terry Pruitt has been tagged.]
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    Escarpment Stairway

    There's been a big improvement on the trail I take when I walk to and from downtown. They've built a stairway on the clay cliffs.

    This is a big improvement over the old path down the cliff, especially in the winter when going down often involved holding on to saplings for dear life or sliding down on one's backside.

    The only problem with the new stairway is that many dogs refuse to use the metal grate stairs. I have to let mine off leash and she runs down on the outside of the railing, pausing at each landing to peek through the railings to make sure I'm still there with her. We met another golden today who was scared to do either--use the stairs or leave her owner and run along the side. When we came, she was happy enough to follow my dog down the side and the problem was solved.

    Want to see what the trail looked like last year without the stairs? Check out the fifth photo in this post.

    Round the Sphere Again

  • The 67th Christian Carnival is up at Wittenburg Gate. Dory got it up for us on the fly when the planned host was unable to.

  • The Fifteenth Vox Apologia is up. The subject: How can God allow sin? I'd like to have tackled this one myself, but I've been too busy. My short answer: If the creator, sustainer God is good, all-powerful and all-knowing, and sin is present in that creation, then sin must serve a good purpose.

  • A hat tip to A Physicist's Perspective for pointing me to this post on one of my favorite subjects: Punctuation. It discusses that hot button issue of whether to include commas and periods within quotation marks even when that punctuation doesn't belong to the quotation. I'll admit I waffle on this one, and you'll find examples that go either way here on the blog. My logical, systematic self prefers to put the punctuation outside the quotation mark, while the conforming-to-custom self wants to do what everyone else does--put the period or comma inside the quotation. I think I'll go with my logical self from now on and just pretend I'm British.

  • Kim posts on one more subject I love: Why women ought to learn theology.

  • Tim Challies on yet another of my pet issues in a post titled Songs of Procrastination. I'll give you a little clue: They aren't hymns.

  • I saw the first crocuses of the year on my walk this afternoon. I didn't have my camera along, but not to worry--they look the same as last year. They're up a little earlier, though, aren't they?
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    Wednesday, April 27

    Who Designed It?

    In northern Minnesota, on Highway 2 between Bemidji and Grand Rapids, there's a little town called Bena. There are only 140-or-so people who live there, and the highway through town has not yet been twinned like it has been almost everywhere else it goes. If you drove through this town on the highway, you might see a couple of children on rattletrap bicycles riding no-handed along the shoulder.

    If you needed gas, you'd have to get it here at this gas station. If you needed bait for fishing, you'd find it here, too.

    Can you look at this photo of Bena's old Standard Oil station and tell me who the architect was?

    Even if you think you know no architects, you've still probably heard of this one. If you are up on architectural things, you may look at the photo of Bena's station and think it looks a bit like something designed by a certain famous 20th century architect, but you've read in all the books that the only gas station he ever designed is the one pictured on the right. Ignore the experts and go with your gut.

    It's his forgotten gas station. Out in the middle of nowhere. I rode by it over and over growing up, and never knew what it was.

    Still have no idea who the architect is? Go here to find out.

    For more pictures of his buildings and homes, go here.

    [Update: The Phillips 66 station in Cloquet is on the market for $725,000. It's your big chance to own something on the National Register of Historic Places.

    And how about this new one designed by him going up in Buffalo, NY? No gas pumps, though.

    For the gas station enthusiast (and who isn't?): Here's a whole page devoted to interesting gas stations.]

    Tuesday, April 26

    Faith Stories: The Obedient Faith of Abraham

    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore....

    By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,  of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”  He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:8-14, 17-19 ESV)

    Through the eyes of faith, Abraham saw God's promises of provision to come as real and substantial, and "greeted [those promises] from afar." He knew that the important promise from God--the real deal--was not the promise of a physical land, but "a better country, that is, a heavenly one." It was God's city Abraham longed for, and he trusted God to provide it, even though he could only see it in the distance with his eyes of faith.

    And so God is not ashamed to be called Abraham's God.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    This Week's Christian Carnival Entry Info

    This week's Christian Carvnival will be held at Revenge of Mr. Dumpling. You can send your submissions to:

    ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com

    The deadline for submissions is Tuesday (tonight) at midnight Eastern Standard Time. Include this information in your email:

    The name of your blog.
    A link to your blog's home page
    The title of your post.
    The URL to your post.
    A short description of your post.

    Could you use more information about the Christian Carnival and what sort of post you can enter? You'll find answers here.

    Monday, April 25

    His Workmanship, Part 2

    Commentary on verses 4-5 of Ephesians 2, in which we find out that we have been recreated ex nihilo by fiat.
    But  God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved... (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)
    In the first part of the examination of Ephesians 2:1-10, we looked at verses 1-3, where we find a description of the condition of the person that is dead in sin. Throughout the verses, we find reminders that this condition is a universal one. The believers that Paul was writing to were once dead in trespasses and sin, and the rest of mankind remains that way. People who are in this condition stand opposed to God because they want to be, and also because they are under the dominion of Satan who works within them to keep them opposed to God. It's a helpless state, and it seems a hopeless one, too.

    Except it's not hopeless for us, because there is Someone who has intervened for us:

  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us. It is God who intervenes for us in our hopeless situation, and his action comes from the greatness of his love for us, and out of the richness of his mercy. God's love is the primary cause of his action, love from a personal God for a particular person. Mercy is a more general thing, for mercy regards a pitiable situation; but love is personal, focusing on us as individual persons: God "loved me and gave himself for me." It was because God loved us so greatly that his mercy was so rich toward us.

  • Even when we were dead in our trespasses. Out of his love for us, God acts in this merciful way while we are still in the condition described in verses 1-3: living according to the way of the world, following our evil leader, with disobedience still one of our defining qualities.

    The description of the sort of people we were when God extended his love to us doesn't make us sound even slightly worthy of love or mercy. There is nothing positive in the description to draw his love toward us--no extenuating circumstances to call out his mercy. While we may be helpless, we certainly aren't innocently helpless, but rather, we find ourselves in the exact condition that our obstinate disobedience deserves. Not only is our condition deserved by us, but we are not uncomfortable in it. We may be in a miserable situation, but we don't percieve our circumstances that way. We need help, but haven't yet discovered that. This is how we are when God, because of who he is rather than who we are, initiates action to help us.

    Ex Nihilo Cowboy.
    There's a whole park of
    these something from
    nothing sculptures in the
    state of Washington.
  • Made us alive together with Christ. Made us alive contrasts with dead in sin. What God does can rightly be called a resurrection. Toward the end of this passage Paul calls this being "created in Christ Jesus", and it would be another ex nihilo creation. The same sort of creative work that took place when God said, "Let light shine out of darkness," happens when God shines "in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV). God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (Romans 4:17 ESV)" when he takes our nothingness (dead in sin) and recreates us (makes us alive together with Christ).

    The condition we were in makes resurrection or creation the only solution to our problem. What's wrong can't simply be patched up a little and we're made good as new. Starting over from scratch is required: new life, new creation, re-birth, resurrection.

    And this recreation is be done "in Christ". It is Christ's death and resurrection that makes this recreative act of God possible. His death and resurrection is the grounds for our resurrection. His new life, received by him as a reward for his obedience, is transferred by the Spirit from him to all those who belong to him. Those who are included with Christ in his death and resurrection die to their sins in his death and are raised to new life in his resurrection.

  • By grace you have been saved. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the preceding passage, isn't it? We receive something entirely undeserved. We offered nothing; God gave it all. Out of love, through his mercy, grounded in Christ's work, and not because of anything we had within us to call any of those things forth. What we were calling for from God as children of wrath was the expression of God's wrath against our sin. Yet God, in his grace, through Christ's work, called forth something else for us: new life from death, new creation from ruin. By grace we have been saved.

    Stay tuned for more in part 3.
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    Sunday, April 24

    Sunday's Hymn: And Can It Be That I Should Gain

    Chosen for us by Kevin, and seconded by Chris and Ian McKenzie (and me). Kevin likes it because it tells the whole salvation story. I suppose you could call it the big Faith Story.

    "It is best sung with all its verses, which is the way I grew up singing it," Kevin writes. I hope this is all the verses. It's all the verses listed at Cyber Hymnal, anyway. (My favorite verse is the fourth one.) You can find a choir version with lots of verses to listen to on this page.

    And Can It Be That I Should Gain

    And can it be that I should gain
    An interest in the Savior's blood?
    Died He for me, who caused His pain--
    For me, who Him to death pursued?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

    'Tis mystery all: th'Immortal dies:
    Who can explore His strange design?
    In vain the firstborn seraph tries
    To sound the depths of love divine.
    'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
    Let angel minds inquire no more.
    'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
    Let angel minds inquire no more.

    He left His Father's throne above
    So free, so infinite His grace--
    Emptied Himself of all but love,
    And bled for Adam's helpless race:
    'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
    For O my God, it found out me!
    'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
    For O my God, it found out me!

    Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
    Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray--
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
    My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
    My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

    Still the small inward voice I hear,
    That whispers all my sins forgiven;
    Still the atoning blood is near,
    That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
    I feel the life His wounds impart;
    I feel the Savior in my heart.
    I feel the life His wounds impart;
    I feel the Savior in my heart.

    No condemnation now I dread;
    Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
    Alive in Him, my living Head,
    And clothed in righteousness divine,
    Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
    And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
    Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
    And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

    --Charles Wesley

    You can choose a hymn to be featured here on Sunday, too.

    Saturday, April 23

    Favorite Hymns: Do You Have One?

    I've been featuring a hymn here every Sunday morning for over a year now. Now it's your turn to choose one. Post your favorite hymn in the comments and I'll feature it on an upcoming Sunday, giving you credit for the choice, of course.

    I've decided that it doesn't matter whether I've used it before. I'll use it again, anyway. A good hymn never grows tiresome, right?

    The only requirement is that the hymn be old enough to not be copyrighted. If you are unsure--and some of the hymns we think are old are really not that old--you can look it up at The Cyber Hymnal.

    If you want to say something about why you like the hymn, please do.

    Clear the Ditch!

    There've been a couple of smart aleck commenters, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Especially if it reminds me of the story of my first driving lesson.

    During my teen years we lived in a small town in northern Minnesota--eight square blocks, maybe, with a house or two per block. My dad was the pastor of a little church there. Almost all the churchgoers were dairy farmers, and during the summer after I finished eighth grade, I worked occasionally turning hay bales for my best friend's dad. They were round bales, about 65 pounds each, lined up in rows, and my friend and I would walk through the fields, grabbing each bale with a big hook and turning it over end to end so the underneath side would be exposed to the sunlight to dry.

    A few pennies a bale, my friend's dad paid us, but we were fast--we'd invented aerobic bale turning--so I made a lot more money than I did babysitting, which was the other source of income available for me. We were just a little vain (What 14 year old girl isn't?), so we turned bales in the summer sun in shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals, with lots of suntan lotion, in order to avoid the dreaded "farmer's tan". After an hour of bale turning, we had arms and legs full of nasty red scratches, but we were evenly tan, so we were happy.

    Sometimes my dad helped my friend's dad with haying, too. He'd grown up on a farm, and he enjoyed using his farming muscles now and then. One afternoon, my dad and I were heading back home after a morning of farm work and a fried chicken lunch. The road the farm was on was a narrow gravel one--more than one lane wide, but less than two--and it was the last farm on the road, so there was never much traffic, maybe only a handful of vehicles over a whole day. It seemed like a good place for my first driving experience, and we stopped on the road to switch places so I could drive.

    Everything went fine for the first couple hundred yards. Then the semi came barrelling from the other direction. My dad, who is always calm, told me to pull over to the side and stop. Easy enough, if you know where the brake is, but I didn't. I hadn't had occasion to use it before, and I certainly couldn't find it with that big truck coming straight at me.

    So I drove to the side of the road and just kept on going straight into the ditch. And since I still hadn't found the brake, I kept right on going along in the ditch. Once the truck had passed, I drove back up out of the ditch onto the road again and on we went. My dad--I told you he stays calm--thought the whole thing was hilarious, and he spent the rest of my first driving lesson snickering in the passenger seat.

    I'm working on teaching my fourth kid to drive. None of them has ever done anything quite like that while I'm supervising. It's a good thing, too, because I wouldn't have been snickering.

    And if you think that's bad, guess what? That's not the worst thing I did during driving lessons with my dad. I'll save that for a story called Clear the Snowbank!

    Friday, April 22

    Clear the Roads!

    Youngest son has his learner's permit. He took his written test this afternoon.

    He's already been out driving twice. Well, not really. "Out driving" makes it sound like we went somewhere, which isn't quite the case. My car is a standard. You get the picture.

    Instead of blogging something new today, I spent time editing part 1 of His Workmanship, which I posted in roughish draftish form yesterday.

    Thursday, April 21

    ESV Bible Blog

    Yes, the English Standard Version Bible has it's own blog. I sent them a question, and got a response back saying they would blog the answer to my question. If and when they do, I'll let you know.

    Any guesses as to what I might have asked?

    His Workmanship, Part 1

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  

    But  God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

    This is my favorite passage in the whole Bible. I've blogged about it before, and now I'm doing it again. You can blame Rey, if you want.

    The passage begins with a paragraph describing the original condition of all human beings--verses 1-3--and it's that paragraph we'll examine in this post. Every person living is either like this right now, or they have been like this in the past. Let's look at the phrases that describe this condition one by one to see what they can tell us.

  • Dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked. There is disagreement on exactly what it means to be dead in trespasses and sins. It's a figure of speech, so it's not meant to be taken literally, but it is meant to communicate something definite about our condition. Considering that both of the figures most commonly used to describe the natural human condition--death and slavery--are conditions from which people can do nothing to extricate themselves, I suspect its the helplessness of the condition that is meant to be communicated by the word "dead".

    Contextual support for understanding this to be a helpless condition can be found in the initial positive act described in this passage--one done by God, who is "rich in mercy". Mercy, as defined biblically, is given out in response to neediness or helplessness. Doing mercy is helping those who find themselves powerless to help themselves. Deadness, then, puts us in an utterly helpless situation that requires outside intervention to extricate us, since we are unable to initiate anything to help ourselves.

    The rest of the paragraph gives us more detailed description of this dead in sin condition.

  • Following the course of this world. Following (or walking, as some versions have translated) describes a way of living, the way one's life is conducted. The way we were living was according to the way of the world, the world being the fallen world--or what Paul calls "the present evil age" in Galatians 1:3. We were not trying to buck the trend, or to walk a different path, but we were right at home living according to this worldly realm that stands in opposition to God.

    The Pied Piper of Hamlin.
    This passage always makes me
    think of this story.
  • Following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Well, we can all guess who this guy is. It's Satan, of course, the one who rules over the "present evil age", and he exerts his rule by working within those who are sons of disobedience. The sons of disobedience are under the control of a bad ruler, a ruler who has ruled us all at one time.

    And just to make matters worse, sons of disobedience is an idiom that means "people characterized by disobedience." In other words, sons of disobedience aren't just people who act disobediently because they are following the wrong ruler, but they are people who are by their own character--their makeup--disobedient. What they do arises from the sort of people they are.

    This makes for two big strikes against "sons of disobedience." You might call it a double whammy: they are disobeying God willingly out of their disobedient nature; but at the same time, they are being ruled or controlled from within by the leader of the forces opposed to God.

  • Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. Once again, Paul reminds us that this condition has been true of all of us. We all, as sons of disobedience, lived in and carried out our passions and desires. Colossians 3:5-8 tells us more specifically what sorts of lusts those fleshly ones are:
    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
    All the nasty things you might expect, including covetousness, which Paul defines as idolatry, since covetousness--at it's core--is putting the desire for other things above the desire to serve God. Following the desires of one's flesh stands in direct opposition to loving and serving God.

  • And were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Along with one last reminder of the universality of this condition, we are told that the condition includes being "by nature children of wrath." Children of wrath is another idiom, probably meaning "destined for wrath"--the wrath being, of course, the expression of the justice of God against sin. We are children of wrath by nature, so it's not only what we do that puts us in line for God's wrath, but what we are innately.

    It sounds pretty dire, doesn't it? Someone in this condition is doing what comes naturally to them, so they feel like everything's fine, and yet doing what comes naturally puts them under the just wrath of God. In addition, they are being ruled by Satan, the power who stands firmly against God, and he is working within them to keep them disobedient to God. He is keeping them in his control, even though they may not be aware of it, since what he desires for them to do is also what they want to do.

    Willing captivity is a good description of those who are dead in sin. They are under the dominion of a wicked ruler, and we shouldn't discount the power that wicked ruler has; but they are also quite agreeable to his rule. The piper holds them captive, yet they dance with pleasure.

    The news gets better as we go on, but that'll have to wait until Part 2.
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    Wednesday, April 20

    Citizenship Test and More

    I took my citizenship test today. Now, assuming I passed it, all that's left for me to do is take the citizenship oath and I'm a Canadian citizen. But there's a catch. (Isn't there always?) They have the dates for the oath cermony tentatively set for June or July. However, right now they aren't certain they can get a judge to do the ceremony, since they really need to have a few new judges appointed to replace the ones who've left. That should be a simple enough thing to get done, but with an election possibility hanging over the government's head, new judge appointments might be put off until after the election.

    That puts a crimp in my travel planning for the summer, since in order to return to Canada I need to either be a citizen or have a permanent resident card, which I don't have because I opted to apply for citizenship instead.

    Youngest son has the flu. Nasty stuff, it is, involving just about every system a body has. I think he might be starting to get better though, since he's gone from the sweet and pitiful I-just-want-to-be-left-alone stage to the constantly complaining about the various symptoms stage. That can only be a good sign, right?

    Round the Sphere Again

  • The 66th Christian Carnival is now up at Pseudo-Polymath. The entries are organized to parallel an order of worship. The post I entered is in the Communion section.

  • Have you checked out the poetry carnival at Siris yet? Here it is.

  • Junk mail, according to Jared, just gets trickier and trickier. Check out the photos and see what you think.

  • Catez of Allthings2all is doing a series reviewing the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, a book I've been thinking I ought to read. Here's Part 1. [Update, April 21: Part 2 is now posted.]

    [Others who have reviewed this book include Tim Challies, who says it just may be "life-changing", and David Mobley from A Physicist's Perspective, who has three posts on the book--a positive review, along with a a couple of posts that look more closely at a couple of issues raised in the book: Total Truth and evangelism and Total Truth and the church.]

  • The winner of this week's weird search engine query is "how not to influence others". Yep, there's a person who sets their goals high!
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    Tuesday, April 19

    Faith Stories: John Knox's Dying Words

    When asked what had caused him to sigh and groan in his sleep, he responded:
    In my life I have been often assaulted by Satan, and many times he hath cast in my teeth my sins, to bring me to despair; yet God enabled me to overcome all his temptations: and now that subtile Serpent who never easeth to tempt, hath taken another course, and seeks to preswade me that my labours in the Ministry, and the fidelity I have shewn in that service, hath merited Heaven and immortality: but blessed be God that brought to my mind these Scriptures. What hast thou, that thou hast not received? And, Not I, but the Grace of God in me: with which he is gone away ashamed, and shall no more return. And now I am sure that my Battel is at an end; and that without pain of Body, or trouble of Spirit, I shall shortly change this mortal and miserable Life, with that happy and immortal Life which shall never have an end.
    After those around him had prayed for him, they asked him if he had heard them:
    Would to God you had heard them with such an ear and heart as I have done!

    Lord, Jesus receive my Spirit!
    Then he died, they said, as if he were falling asleep rather than dying.

    ---From The Death of John Knox by Samuel Clarke.

    [Update: Here's a whole web page devoted to John Owen, via SmartChristian Blog.]

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    Only in the Yukon: From the Shipyards Again

    See more here.



    Christian Carnival Entry Info for this Week

    From Dory:
    Mark Olson of Pseudopolymath is ready to accept your submissions for this week's carnival. Please address them to ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com , and include your blog's name and main address, your post's title and URL, a short description of the post, and, if you want a trackback, a trackback URL. (I'm not sure if Mark will be doing trackbacks, but just in case.)
    If you need to review entry guidelines and instructions, see this post
    Deadline is midnight Tuesday, (Eastern US, or GMT minus 5 hours) but the earlier the better!

    Monday, April 18

    What Can We Know About Ourselves?

    Tim Challies has begun a response to this comment by Michael Spencer of Boar's Head Tavern:
    Those who believe in total depravity have more confidence in the possibility of humans having divine knowledge- detailed, down to the footnotes knowledge- than many who don't call themselves Calvinists.

    And he quotes moi.

    Coming Boldly to the Throne

    Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NET)

    Why is it that we can have confidence when we approach God for help? It's because of the unique nature of our high priest. He is the one who has all the characteristics required to give us direct access to God. No one else can fill the bill, for he is the only one perfectly suited for the job. It's his perfect suitablity--his complete ability--that warrants our boldness before God.

    First of all, our high priest has passed through the heavens. He's not in a subordinate area of heaven; rather, he can be found right up there in the highest heaven next to God. As God's own Son, he has a greatness equal to God's, and there is no barrier of inferiority. He is in God's immediate presence, sitting at God's right hand. You might say that he has God's ear in an immediate and direct way that no one else has ever had.

    And that's not all. Not only does our high priest have completely unhindered access to God, but he is also completely one with us in our weakness. He is not representing us before God as one who can only imagine what things are like for us, who can only contemplate from afar what it is to be who we are, but he has been one of us. He came where we are and experienced what we experience. Even his temptations were like ours.

    We can never complain that he doesn't know exactly what it is like for us because things were easier for him. No matter what temptation troubles me or what trial taunts me, he can understand, for he has experienced temptation in a deeper way than I have, because he always stood firm in the face of it. He knows the full force of all the kinds of temptation common to humankind, not just the piddling part that sinners who give way to a temptation know.

    It is these two things that make him the one perfect high priest: he represents us as one of us, and he has direct access to God. It is because of who he is and what he's done that the way to the throne is open for us. Moreover, it is on the grounds of what he's done that the throne is indeed a throne of grace--that what is dispensed there for us is mercy and grace.

    So let us come boldly. If we come hesitantly or timidly, perhaps it is because we don't fully grasp who Jesus the Son of God is and what he has accomplished. If we are apprehensive to draw near, we are ignoring, in a way, some of who Christ is and what he accomplished. It's not bravado that brings us near, for the reasons we can come confidently are strong ones, all centered in Christ and his work. It glorifies Christ when we use freely the access that he, in his uniqueness, has opened for us.

    It's because of the unique nature of our high priest that we ought to hold fast to our confession. The writer of Hebrews is writing, at least in part, to faithful Jews who had moved forward to embrace Christ as the fulfillment of God's promises to them. They were tempted to go back to the old system with its lesser priests and sacrifices, but the writer warns them that to do so would be letting go of their confession of the perfect Priest and Sacrifice. Christ accomplished it all--once for all--something no one else could do in any way. He needs no help from anyone or anything, and to the extent that we do not confidently rest in him and his work alone, we are not holding fast to our confession.

    Holding on to our confession, then, means grasping tightly to the work of the one-of-a-kind perfect human and complete God, and not reaching back for other helps or go-betweens. It means coming boldly to the throne through the one mediator, the one high priest, the one way to God's ear whenever we need help. It means bowing at the Name of the One who became, for a little while, lower than the angels in order that he might bring us directly into God's presence.

    The (NET) Bible is available as a free download at

    Why I Don't Use Spell Check

    I have an editor. Unfortunately, he misses things now and then.

    Sunday, April 17

    Toplady for Sunday

    I've been too busy with other things to put up anything, so I'll send you over to Laurie's for something.

    Saturday, April 16

    Faith Stories: How the Lord Made Me into a Christian

    This piece is by guest blogger Scott Gilbreath. Scott goes to the same church I do, and has graciously allowed me to post this here as one of the faith stories.

    In what follows I am going to tell what the Lord did to me in the spring of 1982 to cause me to follow him. The experience I am about to recount can well be described as a Damascus Road type of experience--an unexpected work of amazing grace. I would not have believed it possible if it hadn't happened to me.

    In the spring of 1982, I was working at the Vancouver regional office of one of the big five banks. In hindsight, I can see that it was an act of God that I had been hired for that job in mid-1981. The bank didn't really knowwhat to do with me: I thought I was being hired to work as an economist, but it turned out they wanted to make me into a banker. They failed, and I quit after working there about 2-1/2 years. They shouldn't have hired me in the first place; but, due to divine intervention, they did.

    At the time, if someone had suggested to me that supernatural intervention was involved, I would have scoffed. I didn't believe in the supernatural; I was a convinced unbeliever. In actual fact, I knew very little about Christianity, but I thought I knew enough. Moreover, I was prejudiced against Christians. According to the opinions I held at that time, Christians were lacking in several important areas of life--strength of will, personal autonomy, intellectual abilities, simple rationality. I was completely wrong, but I had no doubts. I had no idea that, even then, the Lord was directing me to the place where I would see how deeply mistaken I was.

    In the divine plan, the bank hired me because there I met a young man named Gord, who also worked for the bank. And, on the evening of Friday, 30 April, 1982, Gord and I knocked on the door of his sister's apartment and he introduced me to Judy. But we weren't there so I could meet his sister; we were there so I could check out the size and layout of her apartment. The apartment I was living in at the time was in Kitsilano and, although it wasvery nice, I thought it was overpriced. Gord and Judy had apartments in a building in the West End, which had cheaper rents as well as some vacancies. So if I liked one of their units, I could take one in the same building. Gord had a bachelor apartment that was too small for my liking, so he arranged for me to see Judy's one-bedroom apartment.

    When I walked into Judy's living room, the first thing I saw was a three-foot tall entertainment unit and book shelf on my left. On the wall above the unit I saw a portrait of a man's head and shoulders. The picture had no identification on it but I, an unbeliever, immediately recognised it as a portrait of Jesus. I had never seen a likeness exactly like that one, and I was impressed by its quality; in fact, it was remarkably beautiful. He had long flowing brown hair, a beard, and a soft light from behind that created a subtle halo effect. In his face I saw peacefulness and intelligence and strength of character. But the most striking thing about the picture was his eyes--clear, piercing, grey eyes. The face was so life-like and attractive that I stared right at it.

    Although I admired the beauty of the portrait, I said nothing, because I was also more than a little disappointed to see it. I knew what the presence of that picture on that wall said about the person who lived in the apartment. My suspicions were confirmed when I looked below the picture to the books shelves and saw a Bible and other Christian books. I thought to myself, "That's too bad; she's one of those Christians. And she's quite pretty, too." Too bad, I thought, but that's life. What can you do?

    I looked around the apartment for a few minutes, and then Gord and I left.

    Later that evening, Gord and I returned to his apartment to sit around and talk for a while. I said Gord, "So your sister's a Christian." He replied, "I am too." (I hadn't known Gord for very long.) Then he proceeded to witness to me about Jesus being his Lord and Saviour, but I tuned him right out. I'd heard it all before and I knew what I thought about it. I had no

    In the days that followed, I forgot about Judy and her apartment. (I found an apartment in a building around the corner from where Gord and Judy lived.)

    I forgot all about Judy until a Friday evening a few weeks later. Gord had invited me and about a dozen other people to a hotel lounge where a particular band was playing; the band was made up of some of Gord's friends. Judy was there, and she and I ended up dancing together for a good part of the evening. This caused me to think, "Well, she may be a Christian, but she can still have some fun." And I began to wonder if I should ask her out, even though she was a Christian.

    So I thought about this for a few days and then called her up for a date and she said yes. But there's a little story behind that, which I was told later: God was at work there, too. Judy had only recently become a Christian and didn't want to go out with self-centred yuppies anymore, and so she had decided that she would only accept dates with Christian men. Before I called Judy, I asked Gord if she had a boyfriend and if he knew of any other reason why she might not agree to go out with me. Gord only told me that she didn't have a boyfriend, and then, unbeknownst to me, went and told Judy that I might call her for a date. Judy asked Gord if I was a Christian and Gord said I wasn't and Judy was not impressed. Judy protested to Gord, "You know I'll only go out with Christians now". Gord then recommended me to her with these words: "At least he's not a jerk". Every man that Judy had previously dated was, in Gord's opinion, a jerk. Judy knew this too, hence her resolution to date only Christians. Judy respected her brother's opinion and so, when I called, she agreed to go out to dinner with me.

    So, on the evening of Friday, 4 June, I arrived at Judy's apartment to pick her up and she invited me in for a few minutes. When I entered the living room, right away I noticed that the picture I had seen exactly five weeks earlier was no longer there. In its place was a large mirror. I just thought that for some reason she had decided to move it, although, as far as I could tell, everything else in the apartment was the same as before. In any case, I didn't say anything: I didn't want to take a chance of having a potentially disagreeable discussion about religion before our first date even got started.

    So we went out for dinner and had a really great time. We enjoyed each other's company, had some interesting conversation, and got along very well. We hadn't made any plans for after dinner, but we decided to find somewhere the music was playing and go dancing. After we did that, I took her home and when I asked her to go out with me the following evening, she agreed.

    So the following evening I arrived at Judy's apartment and she again invited me in for a few minutes. We sat down on the couch in the living room and I, feeling that I now knew her well enough to risk a question related to her religious beliefs, asked her what had happened to the picture that was on her living room wall five weeks before. She looked puzzled; she didn't seem to know what I was talking about. I said, "You know, that picture of Jesus that was hanging right there", and I pointed to the wall opposite the couch, right in front of us. She said there had never been a picture on that wall; the mirror hanging there now had always been there.

    At that moment, I began to feel that things were getting strange. My head started spinning. It was a good thing I was sitting on the couch because if I had been standing, I would have had to sit down immediately. I couldn't understand what had happened. That picture had been as real as any physical object. I had stood a foot away from it and stared right at it! It was as real to me as any piece of furniture in her apartment.

    But now Judy said the picture had never existed. She then began to tell me about her faith in Christ, but I wasn't listening to her. Now I hadn't listened to Gord because I chose not to, but I didn't listen to Judy because I could not. My mind was going around in circles: Had I seen something that wasn't there? How could that happen? It just did not make any sense.

    I managed to pull myself together and I said to Judy, "Let's get going." (Or was it, "Let's get out of here.") I suppressed all thought of the picture and we went out to dinner and a movie. We had another wonderful time that evening, and we agreed to meet again the next day. It was Sunday, and we had lunch together and spent the afternoon walking in Stanley Park.

    That evening I was alone in my apartment, trying to think about going back to work the next morning. But now there were no social obligations, no other people around, no distractions--and I could not get my mind off that picture. I had always considered myself a rational person, able to rely on my mental powers. But now it seemed that the most basic mental power--the power of sight--had failed me. I had seen something as clear as day that wasn't really there. How could that happen?

    As I was having a shower, of all things, trying without success to think about anything but that picture, a verse from the Bible came into my mind. This was another strange and remarkable occurrence: I had not read the Bible since childhood; I had not been the least bit interested in the Bible for decades. But there it was--a verse from the Bible: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength". At exactly the same moment that this verse occurred to me, I was convicted of my failure to do what it said. And not just failure to do it, but failure even to try to do it. And also at that exact same moment, I knew why I had seen the portrait of Jesus that wasn't there: because he had caused me to see it. All these things came to me in the same instant and, suddenly, I knew the gospel was true. I knew Jesus is alive and I now believed in him.

    I knew that, even though I had rejected and scorned God all of my life, he came and got me--seized me, really. For some reason--and I have no idea what it was--he wanted me even though I had never wanted him. He showed me that he is God and that he loves me even though I had wanted nothing to do with him. I felt so ashamed. I was as sorrowful as could be; I began weeping uncontrollably.

    Somehow I got out of the shower, but I couldn't stand up. I was crawling on my hands and knees across the floor of my apartment crying my eyes out. This was, to put it mildly, a rather humbling experience. Beyond feeling sorry, I also knew that I had to thank Jesus for being so great and good as to reveal himself to me in this way. After this had gone on for a few minutes, I had the most powerful impulse that I should tell someone what had happened. And not just anyone, but Judy. So I phoned her even though I could hardly speak. Finally, she understood what I was saying. This was a bizarre experience for her too--a man she barely knew, really, phoning her up crying in her ear and trying to tell her that he now believes in Jesus.

    Bizarre though it was, we both knew that God meant us for each other. After that, two days didn't go by that we didn't see each other. We were engaged before the end of July. We found a church home two blocks from our apartments, and we were married there near the end of October. Although not part of our planning, it was six months exactly from the day I saw the face of Jesus on Judy's wall. (Perhaps I should rather say "a face that I took to be that of Jesus". He showed himself to me in a way that I could recognise; I'm not saying that I know for sure what he looks like.)

    So my conversion was in some respects similar to Paul's on the Damascus Road. Not the least of those similarities is the fact that, like Paul, I had no choice. The Lord did not make me any offers; he did not ask me to invite him into my heart. He set me up, and then he barged right in and took over. God simply overruled my former obstinacy and blindness. Considered in human terms, my experience was extremely unpleasant; from a purely human perspective, I would not wish it on anyone. But it was the way God selected to humble me before him, to make me see the truth about myself and my standing before him. If my standing before God were governed by my decisions, I would still be lost in my trespasses and sins. I would never have agreed to believe simply out of my own will.

    I will thank him forever for compelling me to enter his kingdom.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    Whatsoever Things

    Something lovely.

    Saturday's Goofiness

    Certain members of this family spent way to much time with this yesterday. Yes, you can cause your favorite disaster to befall the web pages of your choosing at netdisaster.

    You are welcome to destroy my page, if you'd like. I'll even help you out. Click here to flood my page. Be patient, it can be slow.

    Want to try paint ball? Click here and you can shoot multicolored paint splotches over it. Drag your mouse to aim the gun, and click to shoot.

    Hey! Cut that out! That was my face!

    Blame for this link goes to Mr. Dumpling.

    Friday, April 15

    Faith Stories: Who Am I?

    Can you figure out whose faith story these facts belong to?

  • Both of my parents died when I was young--my mother when I was only 9, and my father 5 years later.

  • I was expelled from Yale right before I would have graduated because I refused to publicly apologize for a rude remark about one of the faculty members that was attributed to me. Later, I changed my mind and tried to make things right, but I was not allowed to return to Yale.

  • I was quite ill for almost all of my adult life.

  • I was offered a pastorate at an established church, but I felt it would not be right for me to "settle down in the ministry where the gospel was preached before."

  • I often grew despondent and stayed that way for fairly long periods of time.

  • I never married because of my illness, although there was someone special whom I admired. Close to the end of my life, when I knew I was dying, I told her, "...if I thought I should not see you, and be happy with you in another world, I could not bear to part with you. But we shall spend a happy eternity together."

  • I died when I was only 29.

  • My gravestone says I was a "faithful and laborious missionary."

  • When all was said and done, there were about 85 converts on my mission field.

  • Were it not for a little book of mine published after my death, I would probably be long forgotten.

  • Robert Murry McCheyne, William Carey and Jim Elliot are among those who have said they were motivated in their service to God through the story of my life.

    Who am I? You can find out here.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.
  • |

    Thursday, April 14

    Homophonic Antonyms

    ....or is it antonymic homophones.

    Paula had a eureka moment in the comments on this post. She points out that raised and razed are both homophones and antonyms.

    Do you know of any other word pairs that would fit the homophonic antonymn category?

    [Update 1: Brandon, who is, it would seem, the reigning King of Nyms, adds erupt and irrupt.

    He adds that there are words that can be their own antonyms, and they have their own label: contronyms or antagonyms. His example? The verb dust, which can mean either "add dust" or "remove dust". Feel free to add words that fall in in that category as well.

    Update 2: Scott Rezsnyak adds cleave to our very short (so far) list of contronyms (aka antagonyms).

    Update 3: Jeremy Pierce gives us a link to a whole page of antagonyms.

    Update 4: Jeremy Pierce adds another contronym: to throw out. To throw something out can mean to remove something or not include it, but it can also be used to refer to putting an idea forward to be included with other ideas for consideration.]

    There's Been Another Addition Today The Ways Christians Can Influence Others. This one was suggested by Martin LaBar of Sun and Shield, who writes in his email that he was a little surprised that this one wasn't on the list already. Go see what it is.

    I'm blaming all of you. It helps makes the oversight a little easier for me to live with.

    Only in the Yukon: The Shipyards

    The Shipyards was a riverfront squatter community in Whitehorse, but the last squatter was moved out just a few years ago, and all but three of the dwellings--those designated as heritage buildings--have been removed. Five years ago (or so) there would have been about twenty shacks or cabins.

    Long ago, this building would have been a store or business of some sort. You can see the storefront facing the street. This photo is taken from the back side, the side along the river bank.



    Faith Stories: Yet More Links

    From Claire Bug: A story of sharing faith.

    Violet of promptings has started a long faith story, posted in parts: elka of the wai wai. If that title doesn't make you want to read it to find out who Elka is and what in the world a wai wai is, then your curiosity gene is mutant. The above link will take you to the introduction of the story, and you can follow the links from there. Right now she's up to part 3.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    Why April Is The Cruelest Month


    Wednesday, April 13

    Round the Sphere Again

  • The 65th Christian Carnival is now up at Another Think with a total of
    64 separate posts. Charlie has divided the posts up according to the various qualities listed as the fruit of the Spirit. Great idea! And he posts from Mexico, so you can soak up a little sun while you visit.

  • And while you're out carnival hopping, make sure you check out this week's New Christian Blog Showcase over at

  • Marla Swoffer is organizing blogrolls based on Meyers-Briggs personality type. A little explanation is here. I am a bit of a Meyers-Brigg sceptic (I suppose you're going to tell me that scepticism goes along with being a ISTJ), but I think it's fun regardless of how much stock I put in it, so I've joined up. Hopefully they won't kick me out because I'm not a true believer.

  • Jollyblogger posted something this morning that I recommend you read: Forgotten Factors in the Downfall of Nations: Sodom.

  • Here's a fascinating photo blog that posts one image a day: [daily dose of imagery]. Made in Canada, too. Hat tip: Comings Communique.

  • This editorial from The Juneau Empire explains why the planned passport regulations announced last week by the U.S. government will hurt ordinary Alaskans.
    If Juneau residents want to participate in the Dustball softball tournament or play at the Frostbite Music Festival in Whitehorse, they would have to make sure they plan for the paperwork well in advance so they don't get left behind by their team or their band.

    Likewise Canadians would be required to carry a passport if they decide to attend the Alaska Folk Festival or visit Haines for its Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. The extra hassle, cost and required planning could mean some people just wouldn't go, and Alaska towns would lose the revenue these visits bring.
    The article also raises the potential problem of Skagway and Haines, Alaska residents who are rushed to Whitehorse for emergency medical treatment, but can't return home without a passport.

    Oldest son thinks the passport regulations will decrease tourist traffic to Alaska as well. He's spent several summers replacing windshields and other glass in the R.V.'s driving the Alaska Highway, and he thinks the average retired couple from Texas will just forego the trip if a passport is required to return to the states from Canada.

    Needless to say, Alaska's congressional delegation is against the plan, thinking the trade-off--the slender chance passport regulations will hinder terrorism against the harm to cross border business--is not a good one for them.

  • Interesting search queries this week:
    1. "Pierre Berton uncircumcised"--I'll not even comment on that.
    2. "road trip with kids AND sleeping"--They didn't find help here, since I know of no good way to accomplish that. You take whatever sleep you can get and try not to fret over how tired you are. And drink gas station coffee, even if you ordinarily never touch the stuff.
    3. I like that this one brought someone to this page: "whole lotta whimsy".

  • I mentioned here earlier that the whereabouts of my oldest son's Sri Lankan World Vision sponsored child was unknown. He got a letter last week telling him that the boy and his family have been located. They are uninjured, but in a refugee camp.

  • Not really a sphere item, but I'll overlook that: Youngest son just had his first paying gig as a drummer. He helped fill in for the regular drummer at "Guys and Dolls" (the musical) Saturday night. He is now, he says, "a professional drummer." Maybe, but he'll still need a day job.
  • |

    Tuesday, April 12

    Faith Stories: Two More Links

    William Meisheid of Beyond the Rim tells us the story of his conversion and how scripture came to be so important to him.

    Claire Bug tells us the story of a student named Michelle's conversion in Reflecting Back on a New Life.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    How Are You?

    It's a simple question, requiring a short answer, an uncomplicated one, so I say I'm okay. It's not the truth, but it's not a lie, either.

    I'm okay because I muddle through each day, and each day has moments of real accomplishment and true joy.

    I'm not okay because I muddle through each day, and the first moment of every one is an acknowledgement that the knot that's moved in right below my diaphram has returned while I slept. The gnawing thing is always there again--the thing that makes me afraid to move, but more afraid to lie still.

    I call it a thing because if I could reach in, I could touch it there. Maybe I could grab it and pull it out and throw it away. Why would I bother, though? I'm pretty sure it would be back next morning.

    Grief is not as deep as I imagined it would be before I had some of my own, but it lasts longer than I imagined, and lasting longer might be worse than deep. The person who tells you grief is a process is a fool. Grief isn't the flu; it's diabetes. You simply go ahead and rebuild a life around the hole, the knot, that gnawing thing.

    Sometimes it hides for a bit. Sometimes in circumstances when you think it ought to be there, it's gone. And sometimes when you are unsuspiciously pushing your shopping cart down the aisle at Superstore it jumps out to attack you.

    I imagine that it never really leaves. I'm probably right. In the meantime, I've become rather good at muddling, and relishing the moments of real accomplishment and true joy.

    I'm okay. Thank you for asking. I'm sorry if you wanted the short answer, the uncomplicated one.

    Monday, April 11

    Faith Stories: Donna Posts Her Testimony

    From Rustling Leaves: My Testimony.

    [Hat tip: Marla Swoffer.]

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.

    This Week's Christian Carnival Entry Info

    From Charlie Lehardy of Another Think:
    The 65th Christian Carnival is now open for submissions at
    Another Think. Please send your submissions to:

    The deadline for submissions will be Tuesday at midnight Central Daylight Time. (-0500 UTC).

    Please include the following information with your entry email:

    The name of your blog.
    A link to your blog's home page
    The title of your post.
    The URL to your post.
    A short description of your post.

    If you are stumped for a subject to write about, let me suggest a reflection on how you view the significance of Christian missions, either as it has impacted your walk of faith, your church, or as you see it shaping the future of the worldwide Christian church.

    Sunday, April 10

    Sunday's Hymn

    It's been a busy weekend, and I haven't had time to scrounge for a sermon that fits a theme, but I've got a song for you. You can think of this one as my own faith story.

    I Need Thee Every Hour

    I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
    No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.


    I need Thee, O I need Thee;
    Every hour I need Thee;
    O bless me now, my Savior,
    I come to Thee.

    I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
    Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

    I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
    Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

    I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
    And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

    I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
    O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

    ---Annie S. Hawks (Listen.)

    Saturday, April 9

    The Big News that I have been awarded a Warnie Award.

    One of the things Warnie awardees are asked to do is give an acceptance speech. I thought of starting mine out with "Nanny nanny boo boo!" but decided that might be undignified conduct, and not quite the comportment befitting a Warnie winner.

    So what can I say? I'm thrilled to have been included in the great group of Warnie winners past, present, and future.

    My award comes for "persistance in great blogging." I'll acknowledge the persistent part.

    One of the things that keeps me persistently blogging is the participation I get from the people who stop by here to read. It's the feedback, you know, that keeps me thinking, and keeps me posting.

    So if I'm going to thank any human beings during my acceptance speech, I'm going to have to start with all those who give me feedback in the comments, or by email, or phone, or in person. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts about what's posted here.

    And especially, thank you Adrian, for sending this wonderful award my way.

    More info on the Warnie Ward can be found here.

    And check out the blog of my co-winner, Christ Web, who also runs the Evangelical Aggregator.

    Friday, April 8

    Only in the Yukon: Our Own Brand of Fruitcake

    Some people just seem to know how to manipulate the system to get as much attention as possible.

    Sa Tan (formerly know as Brian Goozilla Salmi, and mentioned here for different antics last year) has won a victory in the Yukon Supreme Court. He gets to sue the government and have the court fees waived because he's broke. His complaint?
    He claims the Yukon government offered him a job heading the communications department for the Ministry of Economic Development.

    But Sa Tan admits when he applied for the job he used his old name. He claims when the government found out he'd legally changed that name to Sa Tan, they withdrew the job offer....

    Sa Tan's asking the court to rule that four government employees have defamed him by denying the job offer was ever made. He says they've publicly suggested he's a liar, making it tough for him to get another government job.

    CBC North gives you all the details, including a photo of Sa Tan in an article about his lawsuit from Screwtape's home turf.

    One good thing: At least he dropped Goozilla as a middle name.



    The Ways Christians Can Influence Others

    ....or good ways to advance the cause of Christ.

    Yes, it's another scriptural list. And since I enjoyed all the feedback I got last time I did one of these, I'm doing less work on my own this time, and expecting more work from you. So help me out by adding your own suggestion for items on the list.

    1. By joining together to pray for all people, including those who are in authority over us.
    First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. ....So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute. (1 Timothy 2:1-8 NET)

    2. By serving those in authority over us with respect toward them.
    Those who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters as deserving of full respect. This will prevent the name of God and Christian teaching from being discredited. (1 Timothy 6:1 NET)

    3. By standing up for truth in a gentle and kind way.
    And the Lord's slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devil's trap where they are held captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NET)

    4. By exhibiting the sort of behaviour that ought to accompany sound teaching.
    But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. ....showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:1, 7-8 NET)

    [Additional scripture suggested by Kevin] Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. (I Peter 2:12 NET)

    5. By working to keep our own affairs in order.
    But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you. In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need. (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 NET)

    Update 1 (Yes, I'm adding to my own list.):

    6. By taking advantage of the opportunities our circumstances give us to advance the gospel.
    I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my situation has actually turned out to advance the gospel: The whole imperial guard and everyone else knows that I am in prison for the sake of Christ, and most of the brothers and sisters, having confidence in the Lord because of my imprisonment, now more than ever dare to speak the word fearlessly. ( Philippians 1:12-14 NET)

    Now those who had been scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one but Jews. But there were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene among them who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21 NET)

    [Additional scripture suggested by Stephanie.] In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct. (1 Peter 3:1 NET)

    Update 2 (Suggested by Teem (Cute baby photo alert!):

    7. By working at whatever we do enthusiastically, as to the Lord.
    Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people... (Colossians 3:23 NET)

    Update 3 (Suggested by Mick of Unveiled Face):

    8. By faithfully enduring, through God's power, the trouble/persecution/suffering that comes our way .
    But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body. As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NET)

    Update 4 (Suggested by Kevin):

    9. By focusing on the things that are of true value.
    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 NET)

    Update 5 (Suggested by Martin LaBar of Sun and Shield.)

    10. By loving others.
    I give you a new commandment--to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples--if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

    What can you add? Or argue with (with gentleness, of course)?

    The (NET) Bible is available as a free download at

    Faith Stories: Two Links

  • Violet of promptings posts John Bunyan's own account of his conversion.

  • Kim of The Upward Call gives us the story of Eric Liddell.

    I loved reading these. When I was in elementary school I spent a year or so reading only biographies, and the biography bug has never quite left me.

    Have you posted a Faith Story--someone else's or your own? You'll make my day if you send me the info so I can read it and link to you.
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    Thursday, April 7

    Busy Day I haven't responded to the comments. I hope to get to that later today, but perhaps not until tomorrow.

    Busy day is done, and I was able to respont to the comments. A couple of important items were checked off my list, but I also have a couple of appointments tomorrow. You know, taxes and that sort of thing. My taxes are the complicated sort, and I have about a bazillion pieces of paper with numbers on them that I had to gather together today in preparation for tomorrow's appointment with the tax preparer.

    I also managed to get some work done researching ANWR oil drilling. Surprisingly, there is just not all that much information on the pro-drilling side. There are several pro-drilling sites, but they all repeat exactly the same stuff--which really is just a few paragraphs without any documentation, and what studies I can find (U.S. Government ones, BTW) have estimates of how much oil there is and how many jobs there will be that are so wildly divergent that it's impossible to know anything much at all. If you know of any place I might find information, please let me know. My goal is to be fair minded, but it's a little difficult when I can find only a couple of surface level sources for one side.

    [Update: Cerulean Sanctum considers The To-Do List Christian:
    I don't believe that God created us to live like this, rushing from one thing to another in a mad frenzy of checking things off a list. Yet as much as I have pondered this, I don't have a good solution.

    To tell you the truth, I don't really have a "rat-race" existence as a general rule, and that's by my own choice according to the priorities I've set, and yet I can't entirely shake the feeling that I ought to be getting more things done.]

    Oh Please!

    Say it ain't so.

    There's a reason it's called HIGH noon, you know. Because noon is supposed to be the time the sun is highest in the sky. There's a reason it's called STANDARD time, too. Because it's supposed to be standard, not something we have for a measly three months out twelve.

    Just what we need, decisions that affect us all being made by people who make statements like this:
    "The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use," said Markey...
    Well, in case Markey hasn't noticed, we have the same amount of daylight whether we monkey with our clocks or not. That's determined (Dare I say it!) not by Congress, but by the sun in its course above. (Okay, not really, but it sounds more poetic than "by the turn and the tilt of the earth.")

    Change your office hours, school hours, set your alarm clock for later--whatever you'd like--but don't give me sunrise at 10:30 AM in November. And if the U.S. changes the times they switch to daylight time, Canada will do the same, just to make things less complicated.

    Yep, Saskatchewan and Arizona have it right*, standing firm for all that's right and natural in the face of the idiocy of most of the rest of the civilized world.

    Update: Joey adds Indiana to the list of wise states and provinces. Are there more that I'm unaware of?

    Update 2: Doug says Australia, too. And that made me think of this question: Wouldn't places in the southern hemisphere have daylight savings time exactly opposite of time we northern hemispherites do? Like from October through April?

    Update 3: Daughter says Doug is wrong (sorry Doug!), and that Australians do go on daylight savings time, but just the opposite of the times we do--not exactly the opposite, but one week earlier. She knows this because someone who works with her makes calls to Australia. A couple of weeks ago, there was a 19 hour time difference, and this week, since we'd changed one hour forward, and Australia had changed one hour back--the difference was 21 hours.

    Update 4: I heard it on the radio, so I know it's true: We can add Hawaiians to the list of Daylight Savings Time eschewers. Perhaps Doug meant Hawaii and accidently typed Australia?

    Wednesday, April 6

    Round the Sphere Again

  • This week's
    Christan Carnival can be found at Proverbs Daily.
    New Christian Blog Showcase is at

  • On science:
    A Review of "The Soul of Science" by Pearcey and Thaxton by Jollyblogger.

    Catez of Allthings2all comments on some of the ideas presented in Jollyblogger's review.

  • From A Physicist's Perspective: Total Truth and evangelism. David tells us why he doesn't think that showing people that their world view is inconsistent is always the best method of evangelism.

  • Need a chuckle? Try This Month in Contemporary Christian Music History from The Sacred Sandwich. (Deep question: Is that title oxymoronic? Can anything contemporary have a history?)

  • And just what everyone wants their city to be known for--the highest gas prices in Canada.

  • Like planes? Here are some interesting aviation photos from Murray Lundberg.

  • On the search query front this week: mostly boring, boring, boring.

    Why would someone want more info on the "mythbusters glasses"? Hoping to make a daring fashion statement, perhaps?

    And to the person who came here looking for help in "eliminating dandelions", here's some free gardening advice: any other result to your query will be more helpful than this site. If you don't believe me, come back and look at my yard in July.
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    Tuesday, April 5

    Faith Stories: The Martyrdom of Stephen

    Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. But some men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. Yet they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

    Then they secretly instigated some men to say, "We have heard this man speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." They incited the people, the elders, and the experts in the law; then they approached Stephen, seized him, and brought him before the council. They brought forward false witnesses who said, "This man does not stop saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.

    All who were sitting in the council looked intently at Stephen and saw his face was like the face of an angel. Then the high priest said, "Are these things true?"

    So he replied, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me....You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did! Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become! You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it."*

    When they heard these things, they became furious and ground their teeth at him.

    But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look!" he said. "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

    But they covered their ears, shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent. When they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.

    They continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" When he had said this, he died.

    *Read all of Stephen's response here.

    Scripture quoted from Act: 6: 8-15; 7: 1-2, 51-60 (NET).

    The (NET) Bible is available as a free download at

    Have you posted a story of the outworking of someone's faith? Or perhaps you'd like to recommend a post (or posts) by someone else that fits in the faith stories category. Let me know by email or in the comments.

    The Library

    Have you noticed the new button for The Library in the sidebar? The Library a helpful resource maintained by Chad Dalton--a collection of Biblical commentary from various blogs. Take a peek!

    (I've been busy putting my Purposes of Christ's Death posts in the library.)

    Monday, April 4

    Faith Stories: How B.B. Warfield Kept His Promise

    I'll let Kim of The Upward Call provide today's story of faith. Read and be encouraged.

    Have you posted a story of the outworking of someone's faith? Or perhaps you'd like to recommend a post (or posts) by someone else that fits in the faith stories category. Let me know by email or in the comments.

    How to Enter this Week's Christian Carnival

    This week's carnival will be hosted at Proverbs Daily. The deadline for submissions is 12:00 Midnight EST. To enter, send an email to ChristianCarnival ATT gmail DOTT com with these things:
    • The name of your blog
    • The URL of your blog
    • The title of your post
    • The URL of your post
    • A brief description of your post
    That's all there is to it. If you need more information, like details on what sort of posts are acceptable, go here.

    Why don't you look through your last week's posts and chose something to enter?

    Diet of Bookworms

    There is even more good news over at Tim and his wife have launched a whole new website--The Diet of Bookworms. Here's a short explanation of the site.
    ...this site is a collection of links to discerning reviews of Christian books. It is a resource for Christians to research books and authors. We collect reviews written by discerning readers and link to them from this site. Once our editors have reviewed the book, we generally provide a consensus view of the book.

    So the next time a person says to you, "Have you heard of this book?" you can search for it in our database and find one or more discerning reviews of that book. Similarly, next time you are looking for a good book to read, you can visit this site and find a book that you know will prove edifying.
    Head over there to check it.