Sunday, December 31

Sunday's Hymn: For the New Year

May the Mind of Christ My Savior

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

---Kate B. Wilkinson (Listen.)

I've used this as the New Year's hymn before, but I like it, so I'm using it again. It reminds us that in order to keep our resolutions, we depend on our union with Christ's resurrected life and the life in the Spirit that comes from it. Yep, the same Spirit that introduced us to life as new creation keeps on working within us, producing the "good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them." (Ephesians 2:10 NET)
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted today:
Have you posted a hymn for Sunday and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by emailing me at the address in the sidebar, and I'll add your post to the list.

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Saturday, December 30

Saturday's Old Photo

Over the Christmas holidays, oldest daughter visited us from Vancouver for the first time in a year and a half, although we've made trips out to see her. Last Thursday, the day she left, was her thirtieth birthday.

In this old photo, she is two years old. The photo is taken in the early spring, after the snow melted, but before the leaves sprouted. The road, I think, is the road to Carcross. That road is a lovely paved road now, but it used to be gravel most of the way, and more narrow and windy, so back then, even a trip to Carcross was a bit of an adventure.

We used to go to Carcross regularly to have ice cream in the Caribou Hotel and see the parrots in the lobby. The famous parrot, Polly, had died by then, but the hotel owner had replaced Polly with several other parrots. None of them had Polly's ability to speak--perhaps a good thing, since Polly, I'm told, had a rather shocking sailor sort of vocabulary--so we had to be satisfied with a lot of very loud screeching.

But enough of Carcross, and Polly and the Caribou Hotel*, and more of oldest daughter. She's sitting still in that photo, but that's not how she usually was. Or is. She's a whirlwind of activity, except when she's reading. Always has been, and probably always will be.

As a side line to her regular job, she designs, sews, and sells clothing. She also developed her own selective bleaching process to decorate the things she makes or ready made items. She sewed and bleached up a storm while she was here, making Christmas gifts for everyone she knows. Thankfully, she's better at cleaning up her messes than she used to be (and better at taking the precautions to protect everything around her work space), but while she's deep in the creative process, there is extreme chaos.

She also loves to cook, and often made the supper meal for us. And yes, she makes chaos in the kitchen, too, but her food is so tasty that I don't mind, even if I'm the one who has to clean up.

She couldn't believe she was turning thirty, and I can't believe I have a thirty year old daughter, but I do. I wish she lived closer so she could visit more often, but she's a city girl at heart--a doer, not a contemplator, and she needs the activity of the city.

*Although they all have very interesting histories, including a sinking ship and a gruesome murder. You'll find little snippets of those stories in the linked article.



Friday, December 29

Fifty Percent of a Post

I know I said I'd resume regular blogging today, but I spent all morning catching up on my blog reading. And Tim Challies told me to wait until at least Monday, anyway.

My traffic fell by about fifty percent during my season of very spotty blogging, which is about the same amount that Tim's traffic fell, and he posted regularly. You do the math. Why would I post something substantial when you're all busy eating leftover goodies, shopping the clearance aisles, and putting away the decorations?

Thursday, December 28

Short and to the Point

The company left this afternoon. Expect regular blogging to resume tomorrow.

Best Christmas gift in this house? The laser pointer for the cat. We daren't speak the words "laser pointer" lest Leroy come running from whence he lies napping.

Sunday, December 24

Sunday's Hymn: Fourth Sunday of Advent

A hymn that captures a little of the wonder of the incarnation.
In Stature Grows the Heaven Child

In stature grows the heavenly Child,
With death before His eyes;
A Lamb unblemished, meek and mild,
Prepared for sacrifice.

The Son of God His glory hides
With parents mean and poor;
And He Who made the heaven abides
In dwelling place obscure.

Those mighty hands that stay the sky
No earthly toil refuse;
And He Who set the stars on high
An humble trade pursues.

He before Whom the angels stand,
At Whose behest they fly,
Now yields himself to man’s command,
And lay His glory by.

Jesu, the virgin’s holy Son,
We praise Thee and adore,
Who art with God the Father One,
And Spirit evermore.

---Jean de San­teüil (Listen.)
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted today:
Have you posted a hymn for Sunday and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by emailing me at the address in the sidebar, and I'll add your post to the list.

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Friday, December 22

Christmas Hath A Darkness

Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

---Christina Rossetti

Illustration by Gustave Dore.

Wednesday, December 20

How did Christ humble himself in his death?

Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas,[1] forsaken by his disciples,[2] scorned and rejected by the world,[3] condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors;[4] having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath,[5] he laid down his life an offering for sin,[6] enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.[7]
  1. Matt. 27:4
    saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”
    Matt. 26:56
    "But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him and fled.
  2. Isa. 53:2-3
    For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
    he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
    He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
    and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  3. Matt. 27:26-50
    Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

    Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

    As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

    Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

    John 19:34
    But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
  4. Luke 22:44
    And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

    Matt. 27:46
    And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  5. Isa. 53:10
    Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
    when his soul makes an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
    the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
  6. Phil. 2:8
    And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

    Heb. 12:2
    . . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Gal. 3:13
    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”. . . .

Question 49, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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I have incoming email, but no outgoing email. I've received some email in the past 24 hours that I'd like to respond to, but I can't. So if you're expecting email from me, rest assured that I will respond when I can, and I'm not ignoring you.

Expect blogging to be spotty until the 28th or so. Once the company leaves, things will return to normal.

Monday, December 18

A Post In Which I Give a Sunday Blog Traffic Tip, But That's Not Really The Point

Have you heard people say that the traffic on blogs drops on the weekends? Saturday is slower at this blog, but Sunday is often one of the days of the week with the most visitors. People, it seems, come specifically for the Sunday hymn. Posting the hymn and collecting the links to other posted hymns is a small thing--a cut and paste job that takes no time and not a lot of thought. But apparently, people are hungry for hymns, so it's a little task with a big pay-off.

Many of the people who write appreciative comments and emails are about the Sunday hymn are a lot younger than me, and some of the hymns I think of as common hymns are unfamiliar to them. I find that a little sad. Don't take this to mean that I think there's no value in singing the more recently written songs. I do, and I think a few of them are very good. (And there are several I'd like to see sifted out by the sands of time, and sooner rather than later!) But the hymns of the faith are our rich heritage, and people are poorer when they are unfamiliar with them.

So sing some recent songs and throw in a few hymns too. That way your children won't be stuck discovering the beauty of hymns from the blogosphere.*

Related link:
*I can't believe I actually used that word. Quick! Someone shoot me!

Sunday, December 17

Sunday's Hymn: Third Sunday of Advent

Yesterday Michael Haykin of Historia ecclesiastica featured Christina Rossetti, the poet who wrote these words, in one of his Eminent Christian posts. There you'll find a brief biographical sketch and an exposition of the words to this carol.
In The Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Listen to the music by Harold Darke.

A year and a half ago, I gave Christina Rossetti her own month on the blog. Here a quick links to a few more of her poems: Another Spring, No, Thank You John, and one of her nursery rhymes, What Are Heavy?
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted today:
Have you posted a hymn for Sunday and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by emailing me at the address in the sidebar, and I'll add your post to the list.

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Friday, December 15

Introducing Aurora B.

The photo of the northern lights on the right is not from yesterday, but from a photo oldest son took while caribou hunting up the Dempster Highway in November*. Here are a few photos of last evening's Whitehorse dancing light show from TamaraLyn.

Yes, they were spectacular. You may have seen them, too, since last night's aurora ballet, caused by a recent geomagnetic storm, appeared as far south as Arizona. Stay tuned to the sky channel for possible upcoming light shows:
Sunspot 930 unleashed an X1.5 category flare on Dec. 14th, and the blast may have hurled a new coronal mass ejection toward Earth.
If so, expect a whole new spectacle from Aurora to start tomorrow night.

Update: This latest coronal mass ejection
won't cause such a widespread display. The incoming cloud was launched yesterday by an X1-explosion above sunspot 930. The blast was not squarely Earth-directed, so the CME's impact will be a glancing one. Nevertheless, sky watchers should remain alert for auroras when the CME arrives on Dec. 16th.
*The light show photographed by oldest son in November probably resulted from this solar flare.

In the Fullness of Time

This is a reading I wrote and read for last year's church choir Christmas program. If I remember right, it was followed by the singing of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. I posted this here last December, too, but when things get busy, I'm not above recycling.

In eternity past, prior to his first creative command, God had a plan for the history of his creation. At the very centre of his plan was His own Son, foreordained to redeem humankind from the ruinous results of sin. That God’s own Son would come as Redeemer was at the heart of God’s purposeful will--the plan that he invariably works in all things to accomplish. It was a glorious plan, but a plan not yet revealed, and a plan not yet unfolded in history.

Piece by piece God’s word revealed his purpose, and piece by piece his command brought it to pass. We have a hint of God’s redemptive plan in the curse of the serpent: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The plan is there, too, in God’s promise to Abraham: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Piece by piece God’s word revealed his purpose, and piece by piece his command brought it to pass: In Noah, in Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, in Moses and the children of Israel, in the giving of the Law--a law that held people captive rather than freeing them. These all were pieces of the plan, showing the need for deliverance and pointing forward toward the Deliverer to come.

Piece by piece God’s word revealed his purpose, and piece by piece his command brought it to pass: In the prophets of old who spoke, not according to their own will, but according to God’s plan, carried along by the disclosing work of the Holy Spirit, and moved by him to record those prophecies for us. God’s perfect plan raised up Isaiah, who prophesied of a virgin who will conceive a son whose name will be “God is with us.” God’s Spirit set Jeremiah apart from his mother’s womb to be a prophet to the nations, to reveal the coming new covenant when God’s law would be written on his people’s hearts. These prophets, too, were pieces of the plan, teaching God's people to expect the day when their Redeemer would come.

Piece by piece God’s word revealed his purpose, and piece by piece his command brought it to pass: Until the right time according to his purposeful plan, until the counsel of his will called for the fulfillment of his promise, until it was the perfect time for everything to change.

The captives longed for their freedom. All things were in place. It was the fullness of time.

Wednesday, December 13

And Shall We Then No Voices Lift?

How kind is heaven to man! If here
One sinner doth amend
Straight there is joy, and every sphere
In music doth contend;
And shall we then no voices lift?
Are mercy, and salvation
Not worth our thanks? Is life a gift
Of no more acceptation?
Shall He that did come down from thence,
And here for us was slain,
Shall He be now cast off? No sense
Of all His woes remain?
Can neither Love, nor sufferings bind?
Are we all stone, and earth?
Neither His bloody passions mind,
Nor one day bless His birth?
Alas, my God! Thy birth now here
Must not be numbered in the year.

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) with the poem Christ's Nativity by Henry Vaughan (1621-95).

Tuesday, December 12

Round the Sphere Again


Indulge Me
  • Checking over the referrals on my sitemeter, I find several from the University of Winnipeg's online teaching-learning thingamajiggy. (Sorry for using such technical jargon.) The referrals are to this post. Unfortunately, I'd have to be able to log in to see what that's all about, so I remain mystified and curious.
  • Youngest son had a basketball tourney last weekend. His team did very well, beating even the team from Juneau and coming in first in the tournament, even though they'd only been practicing for a week, since volleyball didn't wrap up until the previous weekend. Winning this tournament is a big deal. Teams from Alaska tend to be very good, and teams from the Yukon, well, not quite so much. (We're Canadian, after all!) But here's where things gets even stranger: As a result of their good showing, his team's been invited down to Juneau for a tournament shortly after Christmas, and the school inviting them will pay their way! Alaskan schools, it seems, have money to pay to have teams come to their tournaments. It's the oil profits at work, I guess.

Monday, December 11

Thinking About Faith Alone and Christ Alone, Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series of posts considering the relationship between sole fide and solus Christus. The first post in this series considered what it means that Christ's work is the grounds for our salvation, and that faith is the means by which we receive salvation. The second post looked at the unique suitability of faith as the instrument through which the benefits of Christ's work is received. Next up, in the third post, we looked at one incorrect way of thinking about faith's role in the process of salvation that moved faith out of the realm of means only and right over into the realm of grounds for salvation. In this post, I'm going to look at another statement I saw recently that also makes faith out to be grounds, instead of just the means, of salvation.

What's that statement? Here you go: The only unforgivable sin is unbelief.

You've probably heard someone say that; perhaps you've even said it yourself. This is another of those statements that is often said without much thought. I understand the point that is usually being made: unbelief that persists until the end of life will certainly result in condemnation, and absolutely anyone who truly believes will be forgiven all their sins. That's a good point to make, but this statement is not the way to make it, because it leads to a conclusion that those who make the statement probably aren't considering.

What makes a sin forgivable? What provides the grounds for any sin to be forgiven? Yep, that's the solus Christus thing again: the grounds for forgiveness of sin exist in Christ's work. Any sin covered by Christ's death is a forgivable sin. If unbelief is unforgivable, then Christ's death didn't cover the sin of unbelief. If unbelief is the only unforgivable sin, then unbelief is the only type of sin not covered by Christ's death.

If that is so, then how is the past sin of unbelief covered for any believer? Why is that sin not counted against a believer? Do we somehow make up for our past unbelief by our present belief? If you take the statement "the only unforgivable sin is unbelief" at face value, I'm afraid this is where it leads: the past sin of unbelief is forgiven on the grounds of present belief.

That makes faith not simply the instrument of salvation, but grounds for it as well. It isn't the sole grounds for salvation, since Christ's work is the grounds for the forgiveness of all other sins but unbelief; but it is grounds for salvation along with Christ's work. Taken to its logical conclusion, the idea that unbelief is the only unforgivable sin makes our faith the partial grounds for salvation. And of course, grounds are nothing more or less than the merit or demerit upon which something is obtained, so this idea makes faith a work by which, together with Christ's work, salvation is merited.

I have a couple more statements about faith's role in the process of salvation that I want to inspect when I can get to them, but things are getting busy. I'll post on them sometime, but don't wait with baited breath.



Sunday, December 10

Sunday's Hymn: Second Sunday of Advent

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

---From the Liturgy of St. James, 4th century. Listen to it sung from Center for Church Music.

Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted today:
Have you posted a hymn for Sunday and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by emailing me at the address in the sidebar, and I'll add your post to the list.

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Saturday, December 9

Saturday's Old Photo

This is a photo of youngest son with his dad. Next Thursday, that babe in arms turns seventeen. At the time of this photo, he was around seven months old, and though he's probably perfectly average in size, he'd be the smallest of my babies by a long shot. Now he's the tallest person in the family and still growing.

He's grown to be the sort of young man his dad would be proud of. He shares his father's wiry athleticism and team-playing attitude. He expects a lot of himself, he's thankful for everything that others do for him, and he's not afraid to express his thanks. Not to mention that he's trustworthy. If I gave too many details, he's be embarrassed--actually, I've probably already embarrassed him--so I'll leave it at that.

Even in this baby photo, you can see how much he looks like his dad. He still does. Check it out for yourself in the photo below, taken last spring.



Friday, December 8

Recipe Roundup Update Wrap Up

If you only checked the Christmas Recipe Roundup once shortly after it was posted, you might want to check it out again. Links to several recipes have been added since. Perchance there is someone looking for a good old fashioned Christmas pudding recipe, I ought to mention that the updates include a recipe described as the best traditional Christmas pudding ever.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who participated. There was more participation than I anticipated, and it was so much fun, I might do it again next year, if I'm still blogging then.

See How He Which Fills All Space Doth Lie!

Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, with an excerpt from John Donne's Nativity.

Thursday, December 7

How did Christ humble himself in his life?

Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law,[1] which he perfectly fulfilled;[2] and by conflicting with the indignities of the world,[3] temptations of Satan,[4] and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.[5]
  1. Gal. 4:4
    But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law . . . .

  2. Matt. 5:17
    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

    Rom. 5:19
    For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
  3. Psa. 22:6
    But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

    Heb. 12:2-3
    . . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

  4. Matt. 4:1-12
    Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

    “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

    Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

    “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


    “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

    Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

    “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

    Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

    Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.
  5. Luke 4:13
    And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
  6. Heb. 2:17-18
    Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

    Heb. 4:15
    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

    Isa. 52:13-14
    Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
    As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind. . . .

Question 48, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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Wednesday, December 6

Christmas Recipe Roundup

Welcome to this year's Christmas Recipe Roundup, and thank you to everyone who participated. I've divided the recipes into categories, starting (why not?) with dessert.


Given Grace contributes a recipe for Aunt Anne's Tortoni, which is either a sweet salad or a dessert, and a family favourite.

I've posted a recipe for Cranberry Apple Pie--an easy way to give an apple pie a festive red colour for Christmas. And it tastes yummy, too.

Update: Sheena of The Preacher's Wife serves up a traditional British Christmas treat: Mince Pies.

Juanita of Jam and Books adds some Canadian flavour to the feast with a recipe for Butter Tarts.
I was shocked to learn a few years ago that my American friends didn't know what butter tarts were. I still don't really understand how someone could not have had butter tarts but thought I would try to rectify this by posting a recipe.
Another contribution from Jaunita--Dark Fruit Cake. She says,
I know - everyone loves to hate it. But you haven't tasted my mother's fruitcake! Mmm....
Yet More Updating: Sheena links to recipe for the best Christmas Pudding ever.

Cookies and Squares (or Bars)

Ian McKenzie has a food blog, Thought for Food, and he's posted a recipe for Sacher Torte Bites.
They are fairly simple to make, but seem to be an elegant addition to a cookie platter. I always trot out a batch of these at Christmas, for my office mates.
Kim of The Upward Call bakes up Butterhorns.
This is a fantastic, easy recipe, and it's one that my family loves. I have had many other people tell me they like it too.
Rosemary of Seasonings has a recipe for the best gingerbread cookies ever.
If you like a pungent, gingery cookie that is perfect for dunking into coffee or tea, this is it!
Kim of Hiraeth rolls out Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies, which, she says,
are gorgeous, delicious cookies. Rolling them up into pinwheels is a bit tricky but if I can do it, you can too!
Island Sparrow makes Sugar Cookies from an old Purity Cookbook she inherited from her mother, so you might say these cookies, in addition to being scrumptious, have sentimental value.
These sugar cookies are one of our favourite Christmas recipes from this cookbook.I have tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes and I like this one the best.

I posted a recipe for Rosettes, a traditional Norwegian deep fat fried cookie.

Update: Juanita has a recipe for that famous Canadian treat, Nanaimo Bars, which are named for a city on Vancouver Island. I'm with Juanita, and I don't like them very much--they're too rich for my tastes--but many people really, really love them.

And from Juanita, too: Rocky Roads. She says her mother "used to hide them in the freezer. They taste awfully good frozen." I wonder how she knows that?

Annette adds two cookie recipes, one for jam-filled Foundation Cookies, and another for Pepper Nuts.


Carla of Reflections of the Times shares a recipe for Magic Disappearing Christmas Fudge. Not only is this fudge easy to make--ten minutes, she says--but it does a disappearing act, too.
Kim from Hiraeth discovered her Frango Fudge recipe "by happy chance." It's like Marshall Fields legendary Christmas candy, Frangos.


Candyinsierras, who says that "[e]verybody has a standard snack or treat that they present for Christmas" gives us the recipe for one that she makes: Salsa Cheese Spread.

Update: Jane has added her recipe for Candied Dill Pickles in the comments to this post. The only complaint she has with these pickles is that her children "think all pickles should taste this good." Instead of throwing that yummy dill pickle juice away, though, why not hard boil some eggs. let them soak in the pickle juice for 3 days, and you'll have delicious pickled eggs to accompany your Candied Dill Pickles.

Main Dishes

Yet another update: Miss Mellifluous of Regaining Paradise shares her Christmas Lunch recipe, Pancetta and Basil Wrapped Chicken, which she serves "cold, cut into strips with various bean, watermelon, greek and potato salads." She lives in Australia, so a cold Christmas lunch makes perfect sense, but she says
as this dish is meant to be served hot wth a delicious creamy gravy, I thought I would share it with those of you in colder climates. However you choose to serve this dish you can be sure it will be well received because it is scrumdiddlyumptious and dead easy to cook!


These are things that make good Christmas gifts, but of course, you can whip them up for yourself as well.

Violet of Promptings has a recipe for Poppycock, a delicious snack to give away.

Violet also makes a vegetarian antipasto, which she sometimes gives as a gift if it's well sealed. This recipe comes with her family's stamp of approval.

Rosemary of Seasoning has a recipe for Holiday Home Scent, which she promises
will fill your home with the spicy, citrusy scents of Christmas.

. . .This is also a wonderful, inexpensive hostess gift. . . .You may as well include the recipe too, because they'll want it!
So what are you waiting for? Time to head to the kitchen now!

The pictures accompanying this post are from
Carl Larsson, a Swedish water colour painter famous for his paintings of home life at the turn of the 20th century. You can click on the pictures to see a larger view. Candyinsierras has posted some other painting by Carl Larsson at Shook Foil.

Tuesday, December 5


This is an updated and edited version of a recipe I posted previously.

Rosettes are one of those delectable Scandinavian deep fat fried treats that are good enough, taken together with lefse, to make up for that other Norwegian delicacy--lutefisk. Some of my friend's mothers made them for Christmas when I was growing up in Minnesota and I looked forward to Christmas just so I could have some rosettes.

I no longer have friends whose mothers make them, so I have to make them myself. I picked up a rosette iron when I was down in Petersburg, AK (It isn't called Little Norway for nothing!) and I've been making them for Christmas ever since.

Here's how I make them:
  • Whisk 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup whole milk (Don't substitute skim or 2%!) in a small but deep bowl.

  • Add 1 1/2 cups sifted (or at least fluffed up) flour. Mix until the lumps are gone.

  • Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and mix that in well.

  • Pour batter into a loaf pan (a loaf pan works perfectly for dipping two rosette forms at a time), and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

  • Begin heating oil to 350 F (180 C) in pan or deep fat fryer. This year I used a deep fat fryer, but I've used just a large saucepan and candy thermometer, too, and that's not much more difficult than using a deep fat fryer.

  • Line a cookie sheet with a couple of layer of paper towel or brown paper and set it beside the fryer or sauce pan to use for draining the rosettes.

  • When the chilling time is up, remove the batter and heat the rosette iron (see photo of mine) in the oil for a minute. Remove the iron from the oil and allow the excess oil to drip back into the heated oil. Let the iron cool for 20 seconds or so, too, because perfect iron temperature is important. Dip the iron into the batter just far enough for the batter to reach the top of the iron, but not go over it. Expect to use a little trial and error to find out the right amount of time to let the iron cool. If the iron is too hot, the batter cooks in the loaf pan and drops off the iron back into the uncooked batter. If this happens, remove the partially cooked batter from the pan, discard it, and try again. Don't worry if this happens more than once. I have to do a little trial and error every year until I get the hang of things, but after that happens, things move easily and quickly.

  • Carefully transfer the iron from the batter to the hot oil. Fry the rosette in the oil just until the rosette is firm and lightly brown, about 1 minute.

  • Remove iron from oil and gently shake rosette off the iron onto the paper towel. If the rosette sticks to the iron, take a fork and gently remove it. This recipe makes about 3 dozen rosettes.

  • Sprinkle with icing sugar (confectioner's or powdered sugar, depending on where you live) or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Serve.

  • Eat the same day or freeze. If you freeze them, then don't sprinkle the sugar over them. Just place them in an airtight plastic freezer container with paper towel between the layers. Sprinkle the sugar on them when you remove them from the freezer. They will thaw in just a few minutes.
These are really so easy to do. They look like you fussed, but you haven't. My iron does two at a time (see the photo), but when I was learning, I unscrewed the iron form from one side and fried only one rosette at a time.

A Cue Card for George Bush

When potential problems are pointed out to me, I'm always willing to help solve them.






Monday, December 4

Reminding, Quickly

I've busy working on something other than a post for this blog. Think of it as a Christmas gift free for the taking. Anyway, it's not finished yet, and, no, I won't tell you what it is.

I do want to remind you, however, of Wednesday's upcoming Christmas Recipe Roundup. Don't forget, in all the hustle and bustle, to actually post your recipe or recipes, and then actually send me the link.

A few of you are like those people who have all their Christmas shopping done by September, and to you, I say, "Thank you for the links already received."

Sunday, December 3

Sunday's Hymn: Ambrose of Milan

For the first Sunday of Advent, a hymn from Ambrose of Milan.
Now Hail We Our Redeemer

Now hail we our Redeemer,
Eternal Son of God,
Born in the flesh to save us,
And cleanse us in His blood.
The Morning Star ascendeth,
Light to the world He lendeth,
Our Guide in grief and gloom.

A man, of God begotten,
Brought in the age of grace;
Lo, all the earth is radiant
With light, and hope, and peace.
Our prison He demolished,
Death’s power He abolished,
And opened Heaven’s gate.

O Jesus, grant us mercy,
And grace on us bestow,
To walk by Thine own guidance,
Thy saving truth to know.
For Thee our hearts are yearning,
From worldly pleasures turning
Unto Thy righteousness.

Into Thy hand the Father
Gave all, that we might be
In bonds of faith united,
And dedicate to Thee,
A people through Thy merit
Entitled to inherit
Thy realm eternally.

I've updated last week's hymn post with a link to a choral rendition of Calvin's hymn, I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art. Go listen. It's a lovely hymn.
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted today:
Have you posted a hymn for Sunday and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by emailing me at the address in the sidebar, and I'll add your post to the list.

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Saturday, December 2

Saturday's Old Photo

I promised no more picture of my sister and me for a while, and today, I'm going back on that promise. The point of this photo, however, is not to show you my sister or me, but our horse, and unfortunately, the best photo with our horse in it has the whole family in it with him.

That's my dad on Zero. The corn in the background is growing in our garden behind the parsonage (where my family lived) at Northern Bible Chapel in the little community of Northern, which was 4 miles north of Bemidji, Minnesota. (You saw another photo of my sister and me at Northern a couple of weeks ago.)

We kept our horse corraled or staked on the church property. His job was to keep the grass on the softball field short. At this point, my sister and I didn't ride him much on our own, since he was still a little unpredictable, needing my father's firmer hand to keep him under control. Eventually we got bigger and he got easier to control, and then it was often our chore to exercise him.

My father bought our horse as a mostly unbroken 4-year-old from a man named Tom Duvall. My dad had been searching for a while for a horse to buy. (Horses had once been his passion--he'd been a cowboy, remember--and he thought he missed them; although when he'd had one for a while, I think he realized that his interest in them had waned from what it was.) We had little money, and my dad wanted a quality horse. Minnesota wasn't ranch country, and the horses for sale weren't worth owning, he thought, until he saw Tom Duvall's ad in the paper.

We went to see the horse for sale, and here, finally, was a horse that satisfied my dad quality-wise--a palomino gelding quarter horse--and the price was right, too--$125 dollars, which was something we could swing. I remember that Tom Duvall, who owned the horse (or so he said), talked a lot and pushed for a quick deal. My dad was not one who could be rushed into making a decision, so he took a couple of days, thought things over carefully, and decided this was the horse and the deal for him. My dad paid Tom Duvall, and Zero came home with us.

My dad worked with his horse daily, training him to walk, trot, gallop, stop and turn to voice commands. We'd had him for several months when a man stopped by and introduced himself as Harold Clemenson, a teacher at the local high school. He'd owned a horse, he said, that he'd boarded with a man named Tom Duvall while he was gone on vacation. When he returned from his trip, both Tom and the horse were gone, Tom leaving a trial of unpaid bills and shady dealings behind him. Mr. Clemenson had searched for Tom Duvall, but had eventually given up and resigned himself to the loss of his horse, until that day when he drove by our house and recognized the palomino staked out on the church softball field.

That night, at our kitchen table, Harold Clemenson and my dad made a gentlemen's agreement. Mr. Clemenson could have just taken the horse--Tom Duvall had no right to sell it, and the horse still rightfully belonged to him--but I suppose he recognized that the horse was worth more trained as it was than it had been when he'd had it boarded, and he was not the sort of man to let good work go unrewarded. So that night, Mr. Clemenson and my dad decided to split their losses. My dad paid Mr. Clemenson $62.50, and they signed a bill of sale for the horse. Zero stayed with us and that was that.



Friday, December 1

For the First

Ian has a list of advent calendars found online. My favourite? The advent calendar blog.

[Update: Violet is doing an advent calendar at her blog, too. What a nifty idea!]

Upcoming Christmas Recipe Roundup

Next Wednesday, December 6th, I'd like to post a roundup of your best Christmas recipes. Here's how it'll work. Post a favorite holiday recipe and give me the link before 9AM PST on Wednesday, December 6. Recipes you've posted in previous years are welcome, too, as long as the link still works. Just email me the link to your posted recipe using the contact link on my sidebar or put your link in the comments to this post.

As with any Christmas activity, the more the merrier, so if you'd spread the word of the Christmas Recipe Roundup on your own blog so that as many people as possible know about it, I'd be grateful.