Wednesday, August 31

What Could I Say

that hasn't already been said?

From the blogroll:

  • Katrina's Devastations and Emergency Morality from Siris.

  • shocking from promptings. Violet's daughter has a friend who has been staying in the Superdome.

  • Cindy of Notes in the Keys of Life tells us that today is a day of prayer for the residents of New Orleans.

  • "New Orleans is Lost" from Magic Statistics.

  • It all makes Marla thankful for every moment of life.

  • George Grant says Katrina is an opportunity for the local church to show Good Samaritan faith.

    [Update: See the Disaster Relief Roll over there in the sidebar? I got the code for it here at Blogotional. John also has info about tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 1) being Hurricane Katrina: Blog For Relief Day.]

    [Update 2: Wrestling with the question "Why?":
    [Update 3, September 1:
  • The Brokeness of Nature: A Sad Reminder from Mark D. Roberts, whose suggested relief organization is Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

  • Staving Off Death With Stories from J. Mark Bertrand, who suggests giving to The Red Cross or PCA's Mission to North America Disaster Response.

  • Starving for Spiritual Food, Too... from Fallible]

    Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6: 36 ESV)
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    Tuesday, August 30

    Favorite Things: Autograph Book

    March 1, 1926
    Bemidji Minn
    7th hour

    Dear Nora:

    Haven't much to say. But please remember in old "Commerce and Industry" class when Mrs. Harrol used to holler at me.

    Your pal,
    Dorothy I.

    Bemidji, Minn.,
    March 2 - 1926

    Hey Smith: --

    This isn't like the others started but, o well--
    pigs are pigs and hogs are hogs
    and I am just

    Ella Waldon


    Dear Nora,

    Money is scarce,
    Boys are plenty.
    Don't get married
    Until you're twenty.

    Grace Irish

    Excerpts from an autograph book that was a 10¢ estate sale purchase.

    Disaster Relief

    Here is a list of charitable organizations for those seeking to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Do you know of others to add to the list?

    [Update: Monika posts a link to the Amerian Red Cross.]

    Monday, August 29

    Christian Carnival Reminder

    From Diane Roberts:
    It's that time again......submission time for the Aug. 31 Christian Carnival.

    This week I will be hosting it at my blog, Crossroads.

    If you wish to enter a post, make sure it is one that is dated past Aug. 23. In your entry, include the following information:

    The name of your blog
    The URL address of your blog
    The name of your post entry
    The URL address of your post entry
    A short description of the post entry

    Send your submission to:

    Send it in by midnight EST Tuesday, Aug. 30.

    Sunday, August 28

    Sunday's Hymn: Reader's Choice

    Brandon's favorite hymn is Battle Hymn of the Republic. I considered posting it along with a quote from Stonewall Jackson or something like that in order to give equal attention to believers on both sides in the American Civil War, but that turned out to be more work than I'm up for, so I've gone with one of Brandon's other suggestions, a hymn he calls an "old reliable". This one was also one of my husband's favorite hymns.
    The Old Rugged Cross

    On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suffering and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.

    So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
    Till my trophies at last I lay down;
    I will cling to the old rugged cross,
    And exchange it some day for a crown.

    O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.

    In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.

    To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He'll call me some day to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I'll share.

    This hymn's author is George Bennard, who was an evangelist in the U.S. and Canada.

    We've come to the end of the long list of Reader's Choice hymns. Do you have another hymn you'd like to see featured here on Sunday? Make your suggestions in the comments.

    Friday, August 26

    Three Books of Enduring Influence

    Here are three book that have continued to influence my thinking long after I read them for the first time. This is an off the top of my head list, so don't read too much into the particular order or the exclusion of any book from this list.

    1. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
    2. Knowing God, J. I. Packer
    3. Paul: An Outline of His Theology, Herman Ridderbos

    Added Lists:

    From The Sinner
    1. Practical Christianity, Arthur Pink
    2. The Marrow of Modern Divinity, Thomas Boston (I think this is right. If Thomas Boston is not the author, someone please enlighten me.)
      [Update: The Sinner has enlightend me:
      I haven't looked at your blog for almost a week. I noticed that you tenatively put Thomas Boston as the author of The Marrow. Boston was greatly influenced by the book and was embroiled in a controversy because of it, but it predates him. The author is unknown, although some attribute it to a man named Edward Fischer. Boston did write a set of notes that accompany most modern editions of The Marrow, so maybe that is where you got his name.]
    3. A Crook in the Lot, Thomas Boston

    From Darren
    1. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    2. Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster
    3. Church Dogmatics II.2, Karl Barth

    From Kim in ON
    1. The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul
    2. No Place for Truth, David F. Wells
    3. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt

    From jmark
    1. Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul
    2. The Cross He Bore, F.S. Leahy
    3. Questioning Evangelism, Randy Newman

    Mick Porter post his list on his blog, Unveiled Face.

    From Kim in IL
    1. Knowing God, J. I. Packer
    2. The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul
    3. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer

    From Violet
    1. My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
    2. Confessions of an Organized Housewife, Deniece Schofield
    3. Mistress Pat, L. M. Montgomery

    From Paula
    1. The Shaping of a Christian Family, Elisabeth Elliot
    2. My Utmost for His Highes, Oswald Chambers
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

    Sherry gives her list at Semicolon.

    From Bill Lueg
    1. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
    2. Knowing God, J. I. Packer
    3. Desiring God, John Piper

    From ChrisK
    1. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    2. A Cry in the Wilderness, Keith Green,
    3. Christianity in Crisis, Hank Hanegraf

    From David Fisher
    1. By Searching,Isobel Kuhn
    2. The Knowledge of the Holy , A. W. Tozer
    3. How God Answers Prayer, George Muller

    From William Meisheid
    1. Knowing God, J.I. Packer
    2. Know Scripture, R.C. Sproul
    3. The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis
    4. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, James W. Sire (Yes, he's pushing the boundaries, adding that fourth one!)

    Monika posts her list at Monika's Message.

    Catez's list is here at Allthings2all.

    From Sven
    1. The Crucified God, Jürgen Moltmann
    2. Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
    3. My Dear Child, Colin Urquhart

    From Cathy
    1. Surprised by Joy,C.S. Lewis
    2. The Pleasures of God, John Piper
    3. Letting Go, F. de la Mothe Fenelon

    [While we're at it, let's make this another cooperative list. What are three books, other than the Bible itself, that you've read and that have continued to influence you? Feel free to repeat books already included in someone else's list, but don't include books you've only read for the first time recently (like last month), even though you think they've changed how you think.

    There are a couple of ways you can add to the list. If you want to post your list on your own blog, leave a link in the comments or trackback this post and I'll move your link up to the body of the post. You can also list your three influential books in the comments to this post and I'll move your list up into the post.

    By Faith These All

    This is the seventh post in a series from Hebrews 11. You'll find all the posts done so far in this series listed here.

    The verses in Hebrews 11 that come right before the section we look at in this post are about Abraham's faith, and the verses right after it are about Abraham's faith as well, but in this section, the writer takes a little time out to summarize what's been said so far.
    These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 NET)

    "These all", of course, is all the "people of old" discussed in the chapter so far. Common to all these people of faith is that when they died, they had not yet received the things promised to them. They had received a partial fulfillment of God's promises, but there were things God had promised them that were yet to come when they died.

    Take Abraham as an example. In chapter 6 of Hebrews it tells us that because Abraham persevered, he "obtained what was promised." Having a son was a fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, but it was just the first step in the promise that God would make him "into a great nation." I'm sure that Isaac's miraculous conception and birth strengthened Abraham's faith in the rest of God's promise, but the biggest part of God's promise--that God would make a great nation of him and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him--had not yet come and was obviously very far off in the future when Abraham died.

    It would have been the same with all the people listed in this chapter. They'd seen enough of God's work to know that he would do as he'd said, but much of what God had promised them remained uncompleted when they died. They died in faith, still convinced of things they did not see.

    Furthermore, the communion they had with the God who had promised them these things caused them to see themselves as foreigners on the earth. They never quite belonged in their worldly surroundings because they longed for something more: a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Their longing wasn't for an earthly place; it was a longing to be with God. The writer tells us that they could have returned to the land they'd left, if an earthly place to belong to was what they wanted, but that wasn't it. They sought God, and because he's what they wanted, they aspired to a heavenly land.

    As a result of this sort of trust in God's faithfulness to fulfill his promises, and their continued longing to be with God above anything else, "God is not ashamed to be called their God." What a statement that is! God called himself "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", and yet, when read these men's stories, we can see that they were not perfect men, and were not always men of the strongest faith, but because they sought God and believed he would fulfill his promises to them God identifies himself with them.

    And the heavenly land they longed for? It's already built.
    But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel's does. (Hebrews 12: 22-24 NET)
    It has come through Christ. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant and his blood brings people right into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19). That's the purpose of the whole gospel story: Jesus died to "bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18)."

    When God promised Abraham that through him all the families would be blessed, it's this that he's referring to: Jew and Gentile would both be reconciled to God through the cross. What these faithful "people of old" longed for most--the heavenly country where people can be in the presence of God--had not yet come, but God was bringing it about through them, and they died in faith, trusting that he would fulfill his promises to them.

    Thursday, August 25

    Round the Sphere Again

    A couple of goodies I've read in the couple of days since I returned from holidays.

  • Al Mohler comments on Richard Louv's new book, Last Child in the Woods, in Have Children Forgotten How to Play Outdoors?
    In this book, Richard Louv is articulating what many of us have been thinking. I recognize that my own boyhood is far removed from that of my son. It seems as if the world has been drastically changed. I grew up in neighborhoods that were typically suburban. Nevertheless, the woods were always nearby. For me, the "woods" included untamed tracts of land that were awaiting future suburban development. Nevertheless, this land was filled with trees, swamps, creeks, snakes, crawdads, and all the creeping and crawling things that used to call boys out into the woods.
    I've seen a difference between how my oldest children grew up and how my youngest one has. My oldest three roamed the neighbourhood and the nearby bush from time they were quite young, catching frogs, picking berries, making snow forts. It was something all children did as a matter of course. And they played outside for some of every single day unless it was too cold, and too cold was somewhere down around 25 below.

    By the time youngest son came around, there were too many people who had moved in from the city, too many stories of faraway children snatched, and the sort of neighbourhood roaming that the older children did was no longer allowed by most parents. All we're doing, I suppose, is trying to keep our children completely safe, but we rob them of something they need - a familiarity with the natural world, one of the wonderful gifts created for us to enjoy. More from Al Mohler:
    This is our Father's world, and we would do well to receive this world and enjoy it, while giving praise and glory to God for the beauty and bounty it contains. We understand that nature is not an end to itself, and we affirm that the creation exists as the theater of God's glory for the drama of redemption. All this should help Christians to remember that we honor God most faithfully when we receive His good gifts most gratefully.

    Christians should take the lead in reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from machines. Taking the kids for a long walk in the woods would be a great start.
    Is what's on the T.V. or computer screen more real to your children than the natural world?

  • Kim of The Upward Call shares the story of how she came to Christ. It's not finished yet, but here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
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    Wednesday, August 24

    Things I Learned

    about Daughter #2 and Son #1 when I returned from my trip.
    1. They keep a very tidy house. It's messy now--strewn with things we brought back with us and folded laundry, but it was a lovely sight when we walked in the door with our suitcases.
    2. They can keep flowers and a garden thriving. Pets too.
    3. They remember to get the garbage out on garbage day.
    4. They like to barbecue. There was no charcoal or lighter fluid remaining and I bought them both right before I left.
    5. They don't know how to judge whether cauliflower is ready to pick, so we'll be eating overripe cauliflower with every meal for a while.
    6. They don't shop for food or toilet paper, and they'd rather not use my car than buy gas for it.

    Bible Version Poll Results

    Here are the final results from the poll on Bible version usage that was in the sidebar. The question was What Bible version do you use most often?
    1. English Standard Version, 32 votes, 20.5%
    2. New International Version, 30 votes, 19.2%
    3. New American Standard Version, 27 votes, 17.3%
    4. King James Version, 22 votes, 14.1%
    5. New King James Version, 18 votes, 11.5%
    6. New Revised Standard Version, 7 votes, 4.5%
    7. New Living Translation, 4 votes, 2.6%
    8. The Message, 4 votes, 2.6%
    9. Other, 4 votes, 2.6%
    10. Revised Standard Version, 3 votes, 1.9%
    11. Contemporary English Version, 3 votes, 1.9%
    12. Today's New International Version, 2 votes, 1.3%

    Total votes - 156

    My answer? I use the New American Standard Version most often. I've used it almost exclusively for over 30 years.

    How about you? What version do you use most? Why?

    I'm Back....

    ....but snowed under.

    Youngest son and I returned last night from a trip to Minnesota. The hamper is full of laundry, the garden is full of ripe cauliflower, and there are 169 unread messages in my email.

    Monday, August 8

    Christian Carnival Reminder

    ...only back for a second...

    Tomorrow night (August 9) at midnight EST is the deadline for this week's Christian Carnival entries. Send your submission to the Christian Carnival email addy: ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. In your email include

  • the name of your blog
  • the URL of your blog
  • the title of your post
  • the URL of your post
  • a short description of your post

    (You can also include your trackback URL, which the host can use to track you back if they want. No promises, though.)

    Then expect to see your submission posted in Wednesday's (August 10) Christian Carnival at the outer....

    You can find more detailed participation instructions here.
  • |

    It's Summer Break

    at this blog. I don't expect that I'll be posting at all for a couple of weeks.

    That's sounds a little mysterious, doesn't it? Don't worry, it's all good. I'll fill in all the details later. This is a public blog and I live in a small place, so sometimes a little discretion is in order.

    If you need a reading fix from a Yukoner, go read Scott. Despite all that posting of things Scottish, he really does live here.

    Book Review: Praying Backwards

    Transforming Your Prayer Life by Praying in Jesus' Name by Bryan Chapell, reviewed as part of a program at The Diet of Bookworms.

    If I'd seen this book in a bookstore and read only the title, I'd have passed it by without a second glance. I hate gimmicks, associating them with shallowness, and this title sure sounds gimmicky to me. There is a reason for the title. Praying Backwards is all about praying in Jesus' name--you know, that little phrase that we like to tack on to the end or our prayers as an afterthought--and what praying in Jesus' name really means.

    It's a devotional sort of book, but devotional in the best sense. This book's got substance, not only encouraging and instructing us to pray boldly and persistently, for instance, but giving us the biblical reasons that we ought to. I'm not going to say that this book transformed my prayer life--my prayer life was transformed more in the circumstances of my husband's illness and death--but it reminded me of many of the things I learned about praying in those difficult times.

    And I needed the reminder. Depending on God for everything is something that comes naturally when times are tough, but when things get better we once again begin to fool ourselves into thinking that have just a little control over our own lives, and that robs our prayer life of the richness of total dependence on God. When times are tough, we are not afraid to say, "Lord, have your will, no matter what it is", but when things run smoothly again, that's a much more difficult prayer to say and mean.

    I wish I hadn't been reading this book with a deadline. I would have read one chapter a day, or even one chapter a week, so I could concentrate on putting each principle into practice before I moved on. It's a book that would be better savoured than skimmed, and I'm going to try to reread it more carefully later as I have more time.

    The feature I appreciated most in Praying Backwards is the written prayer at the end of each chapter--a prayer that puts the chapter's key thought into the words of a prayer. Each one was moving to read and moving to pray. The feature I liked least was that title. I'm afraid it will put off the sort of people who would be drawn by the substance of the book, and those who would be attracted to the cuteness of the title might not be willing to do the hard work of reading it or putting its principles into practice.

    But if you let the title put you off, you'd be missing a valuable book for any Christian to read. Prayer is another one of those things we probably don't think enough about, and we too easily let our prayers become rote, or even nonexistent, and we lose out on the blessings--confidence, peace, and joy--that come from shaping our prayers to conform to those words we always tack on to the end of them: "In Jesus' name, Amen."

    You'll find more reviews of this book at the Diet of Bookworms.

    Sunday, August 7

    First Presbyterian Church in Skagway, Alaska


    Sunday's Hymn: Reader's Choice

    Glenn loves this hymn by William How, and he thinks it's unfortunate that it is primarily associated with funerals.
    For All the Saints

    For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
    Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
    Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
    Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
    Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    For the Apostles' glorious company,
    Who bearing forth the Cross o'er land and sea,
    Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
    Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
    Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
    Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
    And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    O blest communion, fellowship divine!
    We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
    All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
    Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
    And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
    Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
    And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    The golden evening brightens in the west;
    Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
    Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
    The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
    The King of glory passes on His way.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
    Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
    And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    It paints a wonderful picture of the communion of the saints, doesn't it? Glenn like this one sung to Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

    For good measure, here's a quote from A. W. Tozer in Man the Dwelling Place of God:
    But who is able to complete the roster of the saints? To them we owe a debt of gratitude too great to comprehend: prophet and apostle, martyr and reformer, scholar and translator, hymnist and composer, teacher and evangelist, not to mention ten thousand times ten thousand simple-hearted and anonymous souls who kept the flame of pure religion alive even in those times when the faith of our fathers was burning but dimly all over the world.

    They belong to us, all of them, and we belong to them. They and we and all redeemed men and women of whatever age or clime are included in the universal fellowship of Christ, and together compose 'a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,' who enjoy a common but blessed communion of saints.

    Saturday, August 6

    IPIP-NEO/Political Compass Meme

    The Parableman tagged me in this meme almost a month ago, but I've been a little lax and am only getting around to participating now.

    Overview: This post is a community experiment with two broad purposes. The first is to create publicly accessible data about bloggers' personalities, which may have sociological value in addition to being just plain fun. The second is to track the propagation of this meme through blogspace. Full details and explanation can be found on the original posting:

    Instructions (to join in the experiment):

    1) Take the IPIP-NEO personality test and the Political Compass quiz, if you have not done so already.

    2) Copy to the clipboard that section of this post that is between the double lines, and paste it into your blog editor. (Blogger users may wish to use 'compose' mode to preserve formatting and hyperlinks. Otherwise, be sure to add hyperlinks as necessary.)

    3) Replace the answers in the "survey" section below with your own.

    4) Add your blog information to the "track list", in the form: "Linked title - URL - optional GUID".

    5) Any additional comments should go outside of the double lines, including the (optional) nomination of bloggers you wish to pass this experimental meme on to.

    6) Post it to your blog!


    Age: 50
    Gender: Female
    Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
    Religion: Christian (evangelical)
    Occupation: Retired
    Began blogging: (dd/mm/yy): 01/17/04

    Political Compass results:
    Left/Right: -2.75
    Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.31

    IPIP-NEO results:

    Friendliness 21
    Gregariousness 10
    Assertiveness 4
    Activity Level 29
    Excitement-Seeking 1
    Cheerfulness 71

    Trust 71
    Morality 47
    Altruism 0
    Co-operation 83
    Modesty 35
    Sympathy 7

    Self-Efficacy 73
    Orderliness 67
    Dutifulness 75
    Achievement-Striving 47
    Self-Discipline 78
    Cautiousness 80

    Anxiety 14
    Anger 5
    Depression 5
    Self-Consciousness 68
    Immoderation 40
    Vulnerability 29

    Imagination 55
    Artistic Interests 49
    Emotionality 1
    Adventurousness 0
    Intellect 78
    Liberalism 9

    Track List:
    1. Philosophy, et cetera - - pixnaps97a2
    2. Parableman - - p8r8bl9m8n18
    3. Rebecca Writes -

    I tend to overthink things, so I found the political compass questions really hard to answer. and I don't think my scores are very accurate, either. I really could've used a middle ground option. I never know how to answer the "always" and "never" questions on those things, either, and if they have those words in the statement, I almost never answer strongly agree, because I can usually think of an exception or two.

    I'm not going to tag anyone, because I'm lagging so far behind on this meme, but it you want to participate, go right ahead.

    Now There's

    another one.

    This new one is only taking a year off of mainstream life.

    Corner Garage or Shop in Skagway, Alaska


    Friday, August 5

    Rough Draft to Final Copy

    Want to make another cooperative list? What are the most frequent changes you need to make to your work when you edit? I'll start out with my top two, then you can add your most common necessary edits in the comments and I'll add them to the list.
    1. Removing punctuation. There's a reason my official title is Queen of Commas. I use way too many, so step number one in editing anything I write is taking excess commas out.

      Darren adds more in the removing punctuation department:
      Be careful not to use too many exclamation points! If you do, you'll have to just change them to periods later! When everything you write ends in an exclamation point, you don't look enthusiastic! You don't look like you are calling attention to important ideas! You just look like you've never done this before! (This is especially a challenge when writing marketing copy!)

    2. Removing text. Words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs. Not needed? Hit the delete key, pffffft, it's gone! Tighter is better, unless the post is purposefully rambling.

      Kim says she repeats things, so I guess that means she has to remove text, too.
      I tend to repeat myself. I say the same thing several times. I say it in a different way. I think of a better way to say it. I use similar words.

      Paula also has to remove words:
      ....I find on second read, seven words work fine for the twelve I originally used.

    3. Wayne Leman does a typo check. He says his fingers have a mind of their own.
      My spell checker can't catch all my typos because many of them are real words that my fingers know but they are different from the words my brains wants them to type.

      Paula needs a typo check, too.
      I tend to type fast so I end up wtih typos that transpose letters.

    4. Brian has to add missing words.
      I end up thinking ahead and sometimes leave out complete phrases. Problem is, sometimes I even miss it when I proofread.
      Kim is a "missing words" person, too.

    5. Tim doesn't understand apostrophes. Kim tells him the solution is to read the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves

    By Faith Abraham or By Faith Sarah?

    This is the sixth post in a series from Hebrews 11. You'll find all the posts done so far in this series listed here.

    In the previous text from Hebrews 11, it tells us that because of his faith, Abraham left his homeland and lived the rest of his life as someone without an earthly homeland. Now the writer of Hebrews moves on to something else, but the original text is ambiguous as to exactly where he's going. Does he move on to an another example of Abraham's faith, or on to the faith of another person--Abraham's wife, Sarah?

    The translation I've been using so far in this series, the NET Bible, translates as if it this were an additional example of Abraham's faith.
    By faith, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was too old, he received the ability to procreate, because he regarded the one who had given the promise to be trustworthy. So in fact children were fathered by one man—and this one as good as dead—like the number of stars in the sky and like the innumerable grains of sand on the seashore. (Hebrews 11: 11-12 NET)
    However, you'll find that some other versions translate verse 11 as if only Sarah's faith is in view. Here's what the ESV says:
    By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

    Why the uncertainty? It's all because of that little phrase translated "ability to procreate" or "power to conceive" in these translations, which is really "power to deposit semen," so what we've got is something like, "By faith also Sarah [her]self received power for the depositing of seed, even beyond the time of age." You can see where the confusion comes in, can't you? The text seems to be talking about Sarah, but the action taken is exclusive to men.

    Its a bit of a puzzle, solved in a couple of possible ways. Some suggest that the word "seed" should to be taken to mean "descendents" rather than "semen", and then the whole phrase is speaking of the ability to have offspring. That's how we get the translations that say that Sarah recieved "power to conceive" or "strength to conceive seed" (NKJV).

    On the other hand, some take the bit about Sarah to be parenthetical, and that's how the NET gets it's phrasing. The NIV takes the text this ways, too: "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father..." This last option has the gist of the context on it's side. It's Abraham's faith in view before these verses, and Abraham's faith again after, so isn't it most likely that it's Abraham's faith being written about here?

    Then there's the problem of Sarah herself. Did she show faith? In Genesis 18 she laughs in disbelief when she overhears the men telling Abraham that she will have a son. However, Sarah's initial lack of faith doesn't mean she didn't have faith later. Perhaps, if the verse is speaking of Sarah's faith, it points us to Sarah's continued cooperation with Abraham, which would indicate that after her original reaction, she came, in the end, to an attitude of faith.

    Anyway you take it--and I tend to think that it's primarily about Abraham's faith, but in this section, Sarah is included with him--two old geezers had a baby because they considered God who had promised them a son to be trustworthy to keep his promises. And it wasn't just a baby they received, but too many descendents to count--"like the number of stars in the sky and like the innumerable grains of sand on the seashore"--all from one old man "as good as dead."

    Thursday, August 4

    Open Theism and Greek Philosophy

    I've long considered the accusation of open theists that the traditional Christian view of God as immutable with exhaustive foreknowledge comes from the Greek philosophers rather than scripture to be pretty much pure poppycock. Read the Greek philosophers and see if you find anything much like your God there!

    Parableman goes a little farther. He says it's the other way around:
    What didn't occur to me until just now is that the open theists' picture of God really does bear a striking resemblance to some things the Greek philosophers said.
    Go read and see if you think he's on to something.

    The Unfortunate Sugar Incident

    I used up all the sugar we had left in the blueberry pie I made yesterday, so I bought a 10kg bag when I was at the grocery store today. I went to the checkout and started unloading my groceries onto the counter. Five or six items, and then the bag of sugar. The bag of sugar felt strangely light, so I looked down and there was about 1/3 of the sugar in a pile on the floor and on my feet, which were, by the way, wearing sandals. Sure enough, another third was spread out over the rest of the groceries in the cart. And the bag on the counter was slowly emptying what was left onto the belt.

    The clean up crew was called, and a crew was needed. One to clean the counter, one to sweep the floor, one to fetch another bag of sugar, and a couple more just to look on and say, "Oooooohhhh...."

    I'd planned to do other shopping, but I decided to cut things short. Imagine you squeezed a whole bottle of Aunt Jemima's Maple-flavored Syrup on your feet and then let it dry. That's what my feet felt like, and I decided a good foot wash was more important than any remaining shopping I had to do.

    I may never again pick up a bag of sugar without just a twinge of apprehension.

    Round the Sphere Again

  • This week's Christian Carnival is up at Dunmoose the Ageless. I finally got around to entering something again--By Faith Abraham from the Hebrews 11 series. And in case you're wondering, the comment that Paul wrote Hebrews came from the carnival host, not me.

  • Parableman has begun a series taken from his lecture notes from a class he taught on "Theories of Knowledge and Reality". He's provided a list that links to all the posts here.

  • Eddie Esposito, a guest blogger on ProsApologian, has a post on the inevitability of disagreements among Christians, and why disagreement is a good thing. It starts out like this:
    When you find someone who agrees with you on every point of doctrine, polity, and practice you must either be gazing into your bedroom mirror or having fellowship with a politician...

  • Tim of Mission Safari posts about his homesickness. I've linked to this because I'm pretty sure feeling like this at times is common to all missionaries, and those of us who pray for them can keep this in mind.

  • My sons say this really exists and it's quite useful.
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    Wednesday, August 3

    Log Cabin Home in Skagway, Alaska


    At Least They Eat Aphids

    Oldest son went camping in Kluane National Park over the weekend. Hiking up to the top of King's Throne, he stepped in a wasps' nest and was stung 50 times or so. He's okay, but his legs are a little sausage-like.

    So I read him this, thinking it might make him feel better. It didn't.

    Here's a challenge: Try to say "wasps' nest" ten times quickly.

    Tuesday, August 2

    Book Review: Choosing a Bible

    Understanding Bible Translation Differences by Leland Ryken, reviewed as part of a program at The Diet of Bookworms.

    This booklet is a short argument for the superiority of translations of the formal equivalence type, or as Ryken prefers to call them, essentially literal translations, over the dynamic equivalence type. I share Ryken's preference for more formal equivalence in translation, so as a whole I agree with the conclusion he comes to in this book.

    However, I believe that Ryken often overstates his case and his argument is weaker for it. It may be that this overstatement results because only thirty pages are used to make an argument on a subject as complex as translation differences, and as a result the issues are oversimplified so that shades of grey appears to be only black and white.

    For instance, while it may be true that for most people a formal equivalence type of translation is the best choice, there are cases in which I'd recommend the use of one of the better dynamic equivalent translations. When I study a particular Bible passage in depth, for example, I use two dynamic equivalent versions along with several of the more formal equivalent type, and sometimes a dynamic translation will get at what I believe to be the author's intended meaning of a statement in a way that the formal ones can't. Used like that, a dynamic translation is a helpful Bible study tool.

    I've done some work with young people with reading difficulties, too, and I know that there are those who will never reach the point where they can read and comprehend one of the formal equivalent versions of the Bible, and this is another case in which I would have no qualms about recommending the use of the NIV* or even the children's NIV. I'm convinced that more strange teaching is put forward by people who don't have the comprehension skills to understand the text in the more formal translation they're reading than by those whose thought-for-thought translation leads them off in the wrong direction.

    The other difficulty I had with the way Ryken makes his case is that in several instances (and in such a short book, several instances counts for a lot), his examples don't show what he wants them to show, or at least I couldn't see that they did. As a case in point, one of the strengths of formal equivalence translations that Ryken lists is that they preserve "the dignity and beauty of the Bible." This is probably a fair statement, although I might argue that my personally preferred translation, the trusty NASB, is just a little choppy in places. However, the illustrations Ryken has chosen to use to show that the formal translations are more dignified and beautiful than the dynamic equivalent ones aren't particularly convincing.
    In an essentially literal translation you will find the awe-inspiring lead-in, "Truly, truly, I say to you" (ESV), not a translation that has scaled the voltage down to "I tell you the truth" (NIV), or "I tell you for certain" (CEV)....
    I love awe-inspiring phrases as much as anyone (Try messing with the phrase "in the fullness of time" and you'll find that out!), but I don't see much of a drop on the voltmeter in this particular example.

    All that said, it does bother me that so many people think there are no differences of consequence between the various versions and even paraphrases of the Bible. Choosing a Bible is a useful summary of the arguments for the superiority of formal equivalency over dynamic equivalency. Since most people wouldn't take the time to read something more in-depth and thorough on the subject, there are cases where I might recommend this booklet as a useful tool in alerting people to the issues involved when choosing a Bible translation.

    You'll find more reviews of this book at the Diet of Bookworms.

    You can read J. Mark Bertrand for a little more on the tension between reading accessibility and formal accuracy in Bible translation.

    [Update 2: Wayne Leman comments on this subject, too.]

    *Ryken considers the NIV to be a dynamic equivalence translation. I think I agree with him on that, but there are some who disagree with this assessment.

    Update: I've put a Bible version poll in the sidebar. Vote your preference there. The list comes from Choosing a Bible. The first six are translations Ryker would consider essentially literal. The next 4 would be ones he considers dynamic translations. The last one is a paraphrase.

    Christian Carnival Reminder

    Tonight (August 2) at midnight EST is the deadline for this week's Christian Carnival entries. Send your submission to the Christian Carnival email addy: ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. In your email include

  • the name of your blog
  • the URL of your blog
  • the title of your post
  • the URL of your post
  • a short description of your post

    Then expect to see your submission posted in Wednesday's (July 27) Christian Carnival at Dunmoose the Ageless.

    You can find more detailed participation instructions here.
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    Monday, August 1

    Doggie Bliss