Friday, March 30

I've Packed Up

and moved. Come see me at my new place.

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Thursday, March 29

Redemption: From What Are Sinners Delivered?

In the last post in this series, redemption was defined as release or deliverance by the payment of a price. New Testament redemption, of course, is the deliverance that comes through the work of Christ, with Christ acting the redeemer and his death being the price paid. Redemption is a way of looking at what Christ accomplished on the cross that brings into focus one aspect of the condition of sinners—they are in bondage. The bondage of sinners can be viewed in at least three ways: they are in bondage to the power of sin; they are in bondage to Satan; and they are in bondage to the legal ramifications of their sin.

Bondage to the Power of Sin
Jesus tells us in John 8 that "everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin." There is something about sin that keeps sinners in it's grip. Sin has it's source our constitution (or our make up) and we are powerless to change this. It's the redemption that comes in Christ Jesus that releases us from our captivity to our natural born sinfulness.
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.) (Romans 6:5-7 NET)
In the "old man"–our natural born state—we are dominated or enslaved by sin, but union with Christ in his death frees us from that domination. Christ's death is redemption from the power of sin.

Redemption, when seen as freedom from bondage to sin, has an "already, not yet" aspect to it. There is a sense in which believers have already been freed from the captivity of sin, and yet another sense in which this redemption from sin is not completed until our glorification, which Paul calls "the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23)." Full and final redemption from everything that came to us as a result of having been born in slavery to sin comes only at the final resurrection.

Bondage to Satan
This is very similar to the idea directly above—that sinners are enslaved by sin. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that a spirit ruled by Satan "is now energizing the sons of disobedience. . . . (NET)" In 2 Timothy 2, Paul says that people are held captive to do Satan's will.

God, on the basis of redemption in Christ, transfers people from Satan's dominion to Christ's own kingdom.
He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13,14 NET)
Then, in Hebrews 2, Christ's death is said to
destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.
The destruction of the devil by Christ releases those held in slavery, so it's through Satan's destruction that sinners are redeemed from their bondage to him.

It isn’t, then, because of a payment to Satan that we are redeemed from bondage, and that’s a point to keep in mind when thinking about redemption as release from bondage to Satan. There is already a precedent for this, for when God redeemed his people from their slavery in Egypt, he didn’t make a ransom payment to Pharoah. What Pharoah received was crushing judgment at the hand of God, and that judgment brought about the release of the Israelites. Christ’s redemption of sinners from the power of Satan is set against this backdrop, and we should think of it as something similar. Christ redeems sinners by his triumphant victory over Satan. If, after reading that we are redeemed from bondage to the devil, you have a picture in your mind of God and Satan side by side making a deal for the release of captive sinners, you should erase that picture immediately and replace it with one of Christ crushing Satan.

Bondage to the Legal Ramifications of Sin
Sinners are condemned to death because of their sin, and Christ's death redeems them from this death sentence. The background for the practice of redeeming someone condemned to death is found in the Old Testament law:
But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, and he did not take the necessary precautions, and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. If a ransom is set for him, then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. (Exodus 21:30 NET)
In this case, the man who owned the habitually goring ox is under a sentence of death for his negligence, but a ransom could be paid instead and he could go free.

The thought of ransom from a legal condemnation is found most noticeably in Galatians 3:13, where it says that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”; and Colossians 2:14, where we read that “Christ canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us.” However, anywhere that redemption is set in the context of forgiveness of sin or justification, it is redemption from the legal results of sin that is the focus. In addition, when we look at redemption as deliverance from the legal condemnation of our sin, the ransoming work is directed toward God, since it’s his justice, after all, that has condemned us. So in a passage like 1 Timothy 2:6, which connects Christ’s work as ransom payment with his mediatorial work representing human beings to God, there, too, it is probably redemption of the life of someone sentenced to death that is presented.1

Summary
When we look at the condition of sinners in the light of Christ’s work as redemption, our attention should be directed to their slavery to sin and Satan, and their legal sentence of death.


1Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, page 194.

Sources
Paul: An Outline of His Theology, Herman Ridderbos.
The Atonement: It's Meaning and Significance, Leon Morris.
The Atonement, John Murray.

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Wednesday, March 28

Purposes of Christ's Death: Hebrews 2:14-15

This is another reposting of a piece from the Purposes of Christ's Death series that I began shortly after I started blogging. You can find the other reposts from this series by clicking on the purposes of Christ's death label at the end of this post.

Today's purpose statement comes from Hebrews 2:14-15:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death. (NET)
The purpose statement in this verse is actually a purpose statement for Christ's incarnation, but the purpose of the incarnation as given is so that Christ could accomplish something through his death. Christ became human just like we are "so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death." Christ had to be just like us and live our sort of life in order to represent us as our high priest and offer himself to God in our place (See verse 17.).

The purpose of this representative death is to defeat the devil. The text describes the devil as "the one who holds the power of death". It was Satan's influence that introduced death into creation, and he continues to work within the sphere of death, bringing about as much death as God allows. Christ's death nullifies Satan's deathly power, so that those who belong to Christ are freed from their subjection to Satan. They no longer are forced to live their lives in fear of death because, through Christ and his work, they have freedom from Satan's power and the hope of eternal life.

Another purpose of Christ's death is to take the power of death away from the devil and, in this way, set people free from their fear of death.

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Tuesday, March 27

How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?

We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured,[1] by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.[2]
  1. John 1:11-12
    He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . . .
  2. Titus 3:5-6
    . . . he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . .
Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 58

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Monday, March 26

Redemption: What Does It Mean?

What do you think of when you hear the word redemption? Mostly, I'd say, we think of it as a religious word, although sometimes someone might speak of redeeming a coupon or a bond, but even that is no longer such a common way to speak. My mother may have redeemed her coupons and bonds; I use my coupons and cash in my bonds. Used in the religious sense, my dictionary gives redemption as a synonym for salvation; yet while those words may be general synonyms, used biblically, they're not exact synonyms. Redemption is salvation, for sure, but it's salvation—or deliverance—in a particular way.

Christians who lived when the New Testament was written would have understood the more precise meaning of the redemption words, since for them, these were not necessarily religious words, but words that were part of their everyday language and experience. For the Greeks, the redemption words were used, first of all, for the buying back of prisoners of war by paying a ransom for them, but they were also used for other ways of freeing people. When a slave was set free, for instance, the redemption words could be used even when no money was exchanged.

The early Christian writers, with their Jewish backgrounds, would have been acquainted with the way the idea of redemption was used in the Old Testament, so it's probably a safe bet to say that the Old Testament usage of the words coloured the meaning they gave to the word more than the specific Greek cultural usage. When they read the Septuagint, they would find the Greek redemption words used to translate certain Hebrew words whenever the idea of releasing something by the payment of a price was present.

This idea of payment might not be obvious every time the redemption words are used in the Old Testament, because sometimes the words are used metaphorically. For instance, God is said to have redeemed the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. Now I've read the story, and nowhere do I see that Pharoah received money or any other benefit from God in exchange for the Israelites' freedom. It wasn't really a business transaction, was it?

Yet, as Leon Morris points out, there are some intriguing phrases that often accompany the idea of God's redemption of the Israelites that shows that while this might not be a redemption exchange, it still carried the idea of payment. God is said to redeem his people "with an outstretched arm" (Exodus 6:6) and "with your arm" (Psalm 77:15). It is God's might or power that's in mind here, and God exerts his power on behalf of his people.
. . .[B]ecause he loves his people he puts forth his power. He saves them at cost. It is this that gives the use of the redemption terminology its point. . . . The term may be used metaphorically but the metaphor retains its point. The idea of price-paying is not out of mind.1
You might say that God expended his power to free the Israelites from slavery, just as long as you don't understand this to mean that God had less power after their redemption than before.

Against the backdrop of the Old Testament, early Christian writers and readers would have understood that redemption and all the associated words had to do with being released by the payment of a price. It wasn't simply deliverance in general, but deliverance that came about at cost to the one redeeming.

Now that we've done a little defining of the biblical term redemption in this post, the plan is to move on in the next to consider from what it is that redemption delivers, and how it is that people are redeemed.

1
The Atonement: It's Meaning and Significance, Leon Morris, page 114.

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Everything's Coming Up Irish: A Blessing

Ellen of The Happy Wonderer has posted an Irish blessing for a new home. Here are a couple of definitions to help you as you read the blessing:
  • kith: friends and acquaintances
  • kin: relatives, either by blood or marriage
There are only a few days of March left, so if you have an idea for an Irish themed post, it's now or never. Once you've posted your bit o' Irish, send me the link and I'll link to your post before the end of the month.

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Sunday, March 25

Sunday's Hymn: Irish Hymn Writers

Last week I posted a hymn translated by Cecil Alexander, so this week I've decided to post one she wrote herself. Since it's not long until Easter, I chose one that's an Easter hymn.

He is Risen

Said the angel, “He is risen!”
Tell it out with joyful voice:
He has burst His three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice:
Death is conquered, we are free,
Christ has won the victory.

Come, ye sad and fearful hearted,
With glad smile and radiant brow!
Death’s long shadows have departed;
All our woes are over now,
Due to passion that He bore—
Sin and pain can vex no more.

Come, with high and holy hymning,
Chant our Lord’s triumphant day;
Not one darksome cloud is dimming
Yonder glorious morning ray,
Breaking over the purple east:
Brighter far our Easter feast.

He is risen, He is risen!
He has opened Heaven’s gate:
We are free from sin’s dark prison,
Risen to a holier state;
And a brighter Easter beam
On our longing eyes shall stream.

The tune by Joachim Neander might be familiar to you. You can hear it here.


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, March 24

Saturday's Old Photo

Monday is oldest son's birthday, so shouldn't today's old photo be one of him? This picture was taken sometime in the spring after he turned two.

He'd been crying before this photo was taken. Can you see the glisten of tears in his eyes? He hadn't wanted to sit by himself away from the rest of his family. As long as he was close to his sister or a parent, he was a sedate child who didn't require a lot of attention, but he did not do well off by himself until he was older.

He was a watcher first, and then a doer. No trial and error learning for this boy. He did a lot of sitting and watching older children play—he was not the sort of toddler who required chasing—and then one day he'd get up and do whatever it was he'd been watching the older kids do. When he was eighteen months old, he hopped on his older sister's trike for the first time and pedaled off slowly, which was his normal speed for everything, but without any struggle to coordinate the pedaling.

He was never one to flit from one activity to another. The summer he was four, his goal was to catch a grasshopper. For hours at a time, for days that turned into weeks, he sneaked around the greenbelt behind our home, crouched over Hamburgler style, cupped hands turned downward and outstretched, stalking the elusive locust. He never did catch one, but t*The pursuit kept him busy for almost the whole summer.

He turns 28 on Monday. He still can hyperfocus when he decides he wants to accomplish something, but thankfully, his goals have changed over the years.

*Update: I've been corrected by the locust chaser himself, who says, "I'm pretty sure I caught some." If he did, he didn't show them to me.

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Everything's Coming Up Irish: A Legend

I'm so glad other people are contributing to the Irish theme, because, although I still have a few ideas for Irish posts, my mind's been on other things, like spring cleaning, a post on redemption that has taken way more work than I imagined, and the top secret project mentioned earlier.

So let me point you to The Upward Call, where Kim posts the story of the birth of Cú Chulainn. I love legends, but I don't know the Irish ones, so this story is all new to me.

I hope to have the Saturday's Old Photo post up later today; that is, if I can turn my attention to it. I've been sidetracked over the past couple of days by the redemption post, mainly with distilling all the material down to something that has the length and simplicity of a blog post, and juggling posts, jobs, or clovers is not one of my strengths.

Why don't you help me out and post something Irish for the Everything's Coming Up Irish theme? If you leave me your link in the comments or email it to me, I'll link to it, and be forever grateful.

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Friday, March 23

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Ulysses is Omnitemporal

but in a different way, says missmellifluous, who contributes to our Irish theme by posting part of an essay she wrote on aesthetics and the transcendence of time through art.

I love someone who can kill two birds with one stone.

Why don't you contribute something to this month's Everything's Coming Up Irish theme? Post anything Irishish, and send me the link and I'll link back. No blog? No problem. Put your contribution in the comments to this post and I'll post it before the end of the month.

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Thursday, March 22

A Question of Time

[See update below.]

I've been busy on other projects, one to be unveiled soon, so I haven't had much time to blog. I do have a question for you, though.

What does the word omnitemporal mean? How does it differ from eternal? How does it differ from atemporal?

And who made up that word, anyway? It's not in my spell check, so is it a real word?

Here's one explanation for omnitemporal that's been given: It means "in all times at the same time". I thought time was a succession of moments. How can something be in all of a succession at one point in the succession? Isn't that contradictory?

And yes, that's more than one question. If all times can be at one time, then several questions can be one question. Right?

Help!

Update: Brandon explains some views of God's knowledge in a comment, and helps me identify where the so-called omnitemporal view fits. I found Brandon's explanation fascinating. Perhaps you will, too.

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Wednesday, March 21

What benefits hath Christ procured by his mediation?

Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption,[1] with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.[2]
  1. Heb. 9:12
    . . . he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
  2. II Cor. 1:20
    For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
Question 57, Westminster Larger Catechism

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Tuesday, March 20

Everything's Coming Up Irish: A Yeats Poem

The lovely MissM has posted a poem by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats at the new and improved Regaining Paradise.

Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Hypercalvinists

You thought they were an extinct bird, didn't you? Nope, they may be rare, but they exist, and the Baptist Board seems to have more than their fair share of them. Right now, I'm in a discussion with someone who doesn't believe in duty-faith. In other words, this person doesn't believe that the non-elect have a duty to believe, which is one of the classic hypercalvinistic beliefs.

Because they are rarish birds, the temptation is to ignore them. The problem in this case is that this hypercalvinist claims to be a Calvinist. Spurgeon, says he, is a "weak Calvinist", while he's the real sort. So there his posts stand, confirming all the suspicions about Calvinism that many noncalvinists already have, and it'd be a mistake to leave him unchallenged.

You don't know what hypercalvinists are? They come in different breeds, but here are two common signs of a true hypercalvinist:
  • The denial that people have a duty to believe before they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and enabled to believe. This comes from the idea that God can't hold people responsible to do what they are unable to do. In this case, the argument is that the gospel calls people to believe that Christ died specifically for their sins, and since Christ only died for the elect, if people in general have a duty to believe the gospel, they are being held responsible to believe something that is a lie. Therefore, God cannot hold people responsible for not believing the gospel, since the gospel isn't true for them anyway.
  • Based on the previous point, hypercalvinists deny that there is a universal call or offer in the gospel.
So that's where I was for a while this afternoon. There are some discussions I can take part in without much thought, because I know the various arguments inside, outside, upside down. This isn't one of those. I've never done this before and I've already made a couple of mistakes, but you are welcome to check things out anyway. I figure it'll be a learning experience.

In a related note, someone else in another Baptist Board conversation is arguing that God is the author of sin, and this time it isn't just a terminology thing. This man believes that God causes people to sin in exactly the same way that he causes people to do good: God is ". . . the Agent, or Actor of Sin, or the Doer of a wicked thing", to quote Jonathan Edwards. I'd comment in that one, too, but I can only handle one thread at a time.

Related post: The Authoring of Sin

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Monday, March 19

Purposes of Christ's Death: Titus 2:14 and Ephesians 5: 25-27

This is another reposting of a piece from the Purposes of Christ's Death series that I began shortly after I started blogging. You can find the other reposts from this series by clicking on the purposes of Christ's death label at the end of this post.

This post looks at two portions of scripture at once, because the purpose statements in each of these texts are similar.
He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. (Titus 2:14 NET)
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NET)
The purpose statement in the first verse is "to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good"; and in the second text it is "to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless."

Since I'm concluding these two purpose statements are similar, you can see that I'm making the assumption that the church and a people who are truly his are roughly equivalent in meaning. Each statement, then, says that a purpose of Christ's death is have a group of people who are pure or spotless. In the first verse, these people are called "a people who are truly his." The idea is ownership. These are people who belong to Christ; they are his treasured possession. In the second text, the group of people are called "the church", and you can see the idea of treasured possession here, as well, because the church is likened to Christ's bride—something He loved in the same way that husbands are encouraged to love their wives, and something that He was willing to give himself to obtain.

In Titus 2:14 it is said that Christ's death was "to set us free." This literally means "to release when a ransom is paid". Christ's death, or his giving himself for us, is intended as a ransom payment whereby His people are released from sin, and also as the basis upon which they are purified. I would take this purification to be that of the sanctifying process, although some might argue that. These purified people who belong to him are then identified by their zealousness for good works. To obtain for himself a purified people, then, is the purpose of Christ's death given to us in this verse.

In the second statement, Christ is also described as having given Himself. He gives Himself on behalf of the church, in order to sanctify her; and then, when she is completely sanctified, He presents her to Himself in all of the glorious purity that has been worked in her based on His own death for her. According to these verses, possessing a purified church is a purpose of Christ's death.

One purpose for Christ's death, then, is for Him to possess a purified people.

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Sunday, March 18

Sunday's Hymn: Irish Hymn Writers

What other hymn could I choose for the Sunday after St. Patrick's Day? These words are translated from the Gaelic poem by the Irish hymn writer Cecil Alexander.

St. Patrick's Breastplate (or St. Patrick's Lorica)


I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
---(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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Saturday, March 17

Saturday's Old Photo

This is a photo of my father at his home in Tribune, Kansas, when he was a baby. My mother's notes on the back say he was eight months old and the year was 1927. Yes, that's a dress he has on. Back then, in the days of cloth diapers and no plastic pants, little boys wore dresses until they were potty trained.

I have a white baby dress worn by my father hanging up in my bedroom. I don't think it's this dress, because the sleeves seem different on this one.

That looks like a little mission style (or arts and crafts) rocker he's sitting in. If you know about old furniture, you're welcome to correct me. And someone else will have to tell us about the car in the background, too. Furniture and automobile experts are welcome to click on the photo for closer inspection.

I love that my dad is more interested in whatever it is he is holding in his hand than he is in the person holding the camera. Do you suppose they were trying to get him to look up and he was ignoring them?

Within a few months of this photo, my dad's father died after his appendix ruptured, leaving my grandmother a very young widow with two sons, aged 3 and 1. There's more to that story, but I'll save that for another day with another photo.

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Everything's Coming Up Irish: St. Patrick's Day Round Up

On the life and faith of St. Patrick
Irish hymn, blessings and poems
Irish recipes
Miscellaneous things Irish
I'll continue to update throughout the day, so give me your links to St. Patrick's Day posts, please.

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Friday, March 16

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Preparing for the Big Day


Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. Are you ready?

The Galway Piper

Every person in the nation
Or of great or humble station

Holds in highest estimation

Piping Tim of Galway

Loudly he can play or low

He can move you fast or slow

Touch your hearts or stir your toe

Piping Tim of Galway


When the wedding bells are ringing

His the breath to lead the singing

Then in jigs the folks go swinging

What a splendid piper

He will blow from eve to mourn

Counting sleep a thing of scorn

Old is he but not outworn

Know you such a piper?


When he walks the highways pealing

Round his head the birds come wheeling

Tim has carols worth the stealing

Piping Tim of Galway

Thrush and Linnet, finch and lark

To each other twitter "Hark"

Soon they sing from light to dark

Pipings learnt in Galway

---John Renfro Davis


Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Thursday, March 15

Doing Our Job

Yesterday I started a fight. I didn't intend to, but I did. For a second or two, I thought it might be the sort of fight that comes to blows, but thankfully, it didn't reach that point. Perhaps you're thinking that this is going to be a story about a couple of young boys—we all know how quickly they can start tussling with each other—but you would be wrong. Nope, this is a story about two grown men, one a hothead and one a gentleman, at the supermarket checkout.

The biggest local supermarket has been short staffed for a long time. That means there are never enough cashiers for the number of shoppers waiting to check out, and this makes for long lines and long waits to buy food. It's predictable by now, but that only makes it more frustrating rather than less, because shoppers arrive at the store expecting things to go badly.

So yesterday I did a little grocery shopping. The line I waited in was surprisingly short. There was only one grocery cart ahead of me—the one of the man who would prove to be a hothead. He checked through without a hitch, paid for his groceries, and began to bag them.

I was next. However, both sides of the checkout stand were full of groceries—the hothead's groceries on my side, and the gentleman's on the other. Since I had just a few items, and by now there was a long line of carts waiting behind me, I told the young cashier that I'd bag my groceries and put them directly into my cart as he checked them through.

Unfortunately, I missed a loaf of bread, and it went scooting on down the line and touched one of the hothead's grocery items. Instead of being angry with me, he became angry at the checkout boy, and he was just a boy. Hothead began yelling at the cashier, and they were vile things he said--the sorts of words intended to be personally hurtful and threatening, not just words expressing frustration or forming a complaint.

The checkout boy said nothing. I don't think he knew how to respond. I was standing right next to the hothead, and it scared me, and I'll admit that I didn't know how to respond. But the gentleman did respond.

He said something like this: "We're all frustrated. We want to get our groceries and get out of here, just like you. There's no need to take it out on this young man. He's just doing his job. Go ahead and complain to the store manager that there aren't enough check-outs open and so you were rushed through. But it's not his fault, so don't yell at him. And there's no need to use the sort of offensive language you are using."

This is the point where things almost came to blows. This hothead didn't like it much that someone had stood up to him. He actually began to move toward the gentleman, but retreated, grabbed his groceries and stormed out of the store.

The incident stayed with me all of yesterday afternoon. It was upsetting. But it was a whole lot less upsetting because someone had acted to stop the threats and mitigate some of the damage they might cause. The gentleman did a good thing.

There's a purpose for telling you this story. Things like this, some less shocking and some way more so, happen all the time. There's an ugly thread weaving through the tapestry of life in this world, a flawed thread that spoils the beauty of whole cloth. Something's quite wrong with things, and we're constantly reminded of it.

The only complete answer is re-creation of the whole cloth—re-creation of flawed human beings and re-creation of a cursed universe—and re-creation isn't something within our power. But the God who cursed, and who will eventually re-create, is also merciful in the here and now. The God who judged creation with perpetual thorns and thistles and will someday redeem the whole of it with a glorious new creation, also graces it presently with sun and rain. The God who intentionally allows each generation to come into the world as natural born wrongdoers and who will, in the end, create a whole new humanity unmarred by sinfulness, also graciously institutes governments right now for the purpose of restraining wrongdoers and encouraging good conduct. God has judged, but at the same time, he is merciful.

And here's where we come in. We are to be merciful as he is merciful. As we work to alleviate the hurt caused by the curse of sin in the world, we are agents of God's mercy toward a world that's turned against him. As sons and daughters of a merciful Father, it's our job to do what we can to mitigate the damage the ugly thread of sin causes in the tapestry of creation, too.

Yes, it may seem futile, since our effort is never completely successful and sometimes it appears as if it does nothing at all. It's easy to grow discouraged. The hug to the mother who lost her 11 month old son after he endured ten surgeries in ten months is entirely inadequate when compared to the depth of her suffering. Yet, in a way that only those who have been through something like it can understand, that hug can a significant light in the darkness. It's not enough, but it's not nothing, either. And it's our job.

Just as it was Adam's job to till the thorns and thistles in order to eat plants grown in the cursed soil, to sweat in order to eat bread, it's our job to work, sweat, and suffer to restrain as much evil and bring as much good into this fallen world as we can. Of top priority, of course, is the gospel, which is a fuller answer to the cursedness than standing up to bullies or hugging a grieving mother. But the God who sent his Son and commissioned us to make disciples also told us to be merciful as he is merciful, and that includes mitigating the effects of wrongdoing and injustice, and alleviating the suffering caused by the curse of sin.

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Wednesday, March 14

How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?

Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men,[1] shall come again at the last day in great power,[2] and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels,[3] with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God,[4] to judge the world in righteousness.[5]
  1. Acts 3:14-15
    But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
  2. Matt. 24:30
    Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  3. Luke 9:26
    For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

    Matt. 25:31
    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
  4. I Thess. 4:16
    For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
  5. Acts 17:31
    because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
Question 56, Westminster Larger Catechism

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Everything's Coming Up Irish: Names and Greetings

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Tuesday, March 13

Purposes of Christ's Death: 1 Peter 3:18

This is a repost of another of the old posts looking at the purpose statements for Christ's death given to us in scripture. This time, the purpose statement is found in 1 Peter 3:18:
Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh. (NET)
There are lots of not-so-clear things in the verses after this one, but this particular verse is pretty straight forward. The purpose statement given here for Christ's being put to death—or Christ's suffering for sins—is "to bring you to God." This, of course, is pointing to the reconciliation that Christ's death brings.

Reconciliation goes two ways: God is reconciled to human beings, and human beings are reconciled to God. Christ, the just one, suffers in place of the unjust ones (that would be sinners like you and me), and on the basis of what is accomplished by his vicarious suffering, the sin that stands between God and sinners is taken out of the way. Because of Christ death, God can reach out to cause sinners to be reconciled to himself. Sinners can be brought to God because Christ died.

Another purpose for Christ's death is to bring people to God.

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Monday, March 12

Everything's Coming Up Irish: An Irish Name and a Little More History


Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Sunday, March 11

Bookmark this Meme

Kim of Hiraeth has a new business venture, selling custom, handmade bookmarks featuring her beautiful calligraphy. She's introducing her new site with a meme—a book meme, of course.
  • Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
    I like hardback best (who doesn't?), but I read a lot of paperback. They cost less, and they're easier to get.
  • Online purchase or brick and mortar?
    Mostly online. The chance that the bookstore here in town is going to have the book I want in stock is pretty slim.
  • Barnes & Noble or Borders?
    Neither. If I shop in a store, it's at the used book store or Mac's Fireweed Books.
  • Bookmark or dog-ear?
    I use one of these.

  • Mark or not mark?
    I mark them up and doodle in them.
  • Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
    I put them on the shelves by subject or type of book (mostly), but I do make allowance for size, and when I have several books by one author I try to keep them together. In other words, I have my own weird system that I understand, but confuses everyone else.
  • Keep, throw away, or sell?
    I never throw away. If I know I'll never look at it again, I donate it or sell it at a garage sale. The rest, I keep.
  • Read with dustjacket or remove it?
    Read it with the dustjacket.
  • Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?
    I don't read short stories enough to have an opinion on this.
  • Lord of the Rings or Narnia
    Once again, I'm going to avoid answering. I like them both. They're different sorts of books, and they serve different purposes.
  • Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
    I stop reading whenever a crisis arises that requires my attention.
  • “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
    "Once upon a time."
  • Buy or Borrow?
    Buy. If I borrowed it, I'd have to give it back.
  • New or used?
    Used, but in good condition, if I can find it.
  • Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
    All of the above.
  • Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
    Tidy ending. I hate cliffhangers and feel cheated if there is one.
  • Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading?
    Mostly night time, but also whenever I can sneak in a few minutes throughout the day. I love reading in the car while I wait to pick someone up, or reading while I wait for an appointment.
  • Standalone or series?
    Mostly standalone.
  • Favorite series?
    I really haven't read books in series since I was young. The Narnia books or the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, maybe.
  • Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
    I usually read classics, so at least some people have heard of them. They may not have read them, but they've heard of them.
  • Favorite books read last year?
    I read Knowing God again, and that's always a favorite.
  • Favorite book of all time?
    Nothing else compares to the Bible.

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Sunday's Hymn: Irish Hymn Writers

Beneath the Cross

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, "Come."
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.
---Keith and Kristyn Getty

From Kristyn Getty:
A friend from Westminster Seminary inspired us in the thought of how the cross is not just something in our past providing a way for our salvation, nor is it only providing a secure hope for the future in Heaven, but actually it should impact everything we do today. When we come to the cross, we don't just stand there by ourselves—we stand with thousands of people from every tribe and tongue under the same Savior and same grace. Considering how unworthy I am coming to the cross, and finding I am forgiven, how can I then turn and look at others and dishonor them or somehow think I am better than they are?

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, March 10

Saturday's Old Photo

I was going to use another photo, thinking there'd been enough of them featuring me, me, me. But hey! Tomorrow's my birthday, and the word's already out, so if ever there was an appropriate time for one more photo of me as a child, this was it.

I'm guessing I'm four in this photo and that would make the year 1959. The house in the background is the ranch hand's home on my uncle's ranch, the P Lazy P, in Gannet, Idaho. We lived there while my dad helped my uncle with the ranch work and my mother cooked for the crew in the big kitchen of the beautiful log ranch house my uncle built by himself.

I amused myself outdoors while my mother worked indoors. There were always animals around--dogs, kittens, chickens--and people working. Sometimes I helped collect eggs, and sometimes I hung on the outside of the corral and watched the horse training or the calf branding. Another thing that fascinated me was the artesian well right outside the fenced-in yard, which gushed water from a 4 inch pipe and made a little stream that ran out into the field.

My family continued to go to the ranch in the summer whenever we could. My dad had been a cowboy, so he loved being there during round up, and my mother loved visiting all her relatives who lived nearby. The ranch was only twenty miles from the Sun Valley ski area, and eventually the area became a place for the rich and famous to have a vacation home. It became more and more difficult to keep cattle on the open range, so my uncle sold the ranch to someone with Hollywood connections and he moved further west to the Wallowa area of Oregon.

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Friday, March 9

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Irish Articles of Religion

The Irish Articles of Religion are an important piece in the history of Protestantism in Ireland, and, as we will see, in the history of Protestantism as a whole. These 104 articles were put together by James Ussher, and adopted, as it's introduction says,
by the Archbishops and Bishops
and the rest of the clergy of Ireland.
In the Convocation held at Dublin in the year of our Lord God 1615,
for the avoiding of Diversities of Opinions,
and the establishing of consent touching true Religion.
This document was a rule of public doctrine, and all Irish Protestent ministers were expected to teach in conformity to it. It served this purpose for twenty years, until public opinion turned against its strict Calvinism during the rein of Charles I. In 1635, the Irish Convocation adopted The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, and although it was agreed at the time that both The Thirty-Nine Articles and The Irish Articles would be used, that was the beginning of the end of the use of The Irish Articles as a rule of doctrine.

But that wasn't the end of this historic document's influence. It's generally agreed that The Irish Articles served as the framework for The Westminster Confession of Faith, with the WCF using the general order of The Irish Articles, and retaining some of its language while expanding upon its ideas.

See for yourself. Here's Article 11 of The Irish Articles of Religion:
11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.
If you've spent much time reading The Westminster Confession of Faith, that paragraph probably sounds familiar to you. Chapter 3, Article 1 of the WCF says this:
1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
Let's move on to the next section in The Irish Articles and compare that with Chapter 3, articles 3 and 4 of the WCF.
  • From The Irish Articles:
    12. By the same eternal counsel God hath predestinated some unto life, and reprobated some unto death: of both which there is a certain number, known only to God, which can neither be increased nor diminished.
  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith:
    3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.

    4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.

And you thought those Westminster Divines drew up the WCF all on their own, didn't you?

Unfortunately for James Ussher, he might be remembered more for being the man who dated the creation of the world to 4004 BC than for his role in creating The Irish Articles, or for contributing, through them, to The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Would you like to this month's Everything's Coming Up Irish theme? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Thursday, March 8

Purposes of Christ's Death: Romans 3:24-25

I've been thinking about reposting a series of posts I did way back in 2004 when I first started blogging. It's a series that looks at the scriptural purpose statements given for Christ's death—you know, any statements about Christ's atoning work that include the words "so that" or "for this reason" or "to this end" or something similar.

Since I'm sick today, I thought this might be a good day to start recycling. I'll edit each one up a bit as I repost it.

First up—Romans 3:24 and 25:
....whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
You'll find the purpose statement in this text stated twice, but a little differently:
This was to show God's righteousness . . .
and
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
One of the purposes of Christ's death, according to these verses, was to demonstrate God's righteousness. The word translated just in the second statement could be translated righteous, as well; so the last half of this statement is explaining in more detail the way it is that Christ's propitiatory death shows God to be righteous: It is a way for him remain righteous and, at the same time, count sinners as righteous.

The problem, as the verse lays it out, is that God's passing over previously committed sins could raise doubts about his righteousness. The former sins referred to are the sins that God left unjudged in the time before Christ's death, and it would be unrighteous (or unjust) for God, in his role as judge, to simply shove these wrongdoings under the rug. We usually think of injustice in terms of finding someone guilty for crimes not committed, but it is also unjust to ignore crimes someone has committed. Therefore, there needs to be a right or just way for these sins to be overlooked.

And that's what Christ's death accomplishes; that's one of its purposes. It is the historical event that makes God's forbearance in previous times right. That Christ died means that sin was never simply ignored, but there was a righteous way for it to be passed over, and this righteous way was the means of propitiation that would come through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. It is because of Christ's propitiatory death that God can withhold his righteous wrath against sinners and count them righteous instead; yet still be completely just in everything he does. Christ's death absorbs the retributive wrath of God that is made necessary by human sin, and in this way his death demonstrates to all people that God is righteous even when he mercifully forgives sin and justifies sinners.

Demonstrating that God passed over sin in a way that is righteous or just is one of the purposes of Christ's death.

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Everything's Coming Up Irish: A Song, A Quote, and A Quiz

I'm a little sick—just a cold, but a very annoying cold. I'm in no condition for thoughtful blogging, so I'm grateful to these bloggers who've contributed something Irish for me to link to.

Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Wednesday, March 7

Round the Sphere Again

A collection of links to things I've found interesting recently.

Theology
Unity

Blogging

  • A hat tip to Jollyblogger for pointing me to this list from ProBlogger of 34 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscibe From Your Blog. I don't often remove a subscription to a blog on my blogroll because I read a blog for a while to make sure that I enjoy the content before I put it on the list of blogs I read. The most frequent reason that I take a blog off my blogroll is that the blog is dead: there's never anything new there anymore. Another reason that I might unsubscribe is that there is too much carping, whining, or ranting. I don't mind people speaking out against things, but if the tone gets consistently shrill, I'll stop reading.

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How doth Christ make intercession?

Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven,[1] in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth,[2] declaring his will to have it applied to all believers;[3] answering all accusations against them,[4] and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings,[5] access with boldness to the throne of grace,[6] and acceptance of their persons [7] and services.[8]

  1. Heb. 9:12, 24
    . . . he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
  2. Heb. 1:3
    He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . .

  3. John 3:16
    For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
    John 17:9, 20, 24
    I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

    I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word . . .

    Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
  4. Rom. 8:33-34
    Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
  5. Rom. 5:1-2
    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

    I John 2:1-2
    My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
  6. Heb. 4:16
    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  7. Eph. 1:6
    . . .to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
  8. I Peter 2:5
    . . . you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Question 55, Westminster Larger Catechism

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Tuesday, March 6

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Art, History, and a Little Cream in My Coffee

  • Candy of Shook Foil has a whole collection of Irish images and a video of her favorite Irish worship leader.
  • Ellen B. has a bit of Irish history regarding the Isle of Ilona.
  • Last night, my home Bible study group had a bit of a communal birthday party. Five of the less than a dozen people who attend have birthdays during the eight day period from last Sunday to this coming Sunday, and that five includes me. Because it's Irish month on my blog, I got a little bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, which I will be using occasionally to spice up my coffee during this month.

Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I'll post what you've contributed in one of the Irish posts.

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Sunday, March 4

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Poetry and History

I've gone with orange for the border on this post, because included in it is a poem contributed by Kevin—a poem written by his mother, who grew up in the Methodist church in Northern Ireland. I'll let Kevin tell you the story behind it.
My mother wrote this about a year before she passed away. At the time she was attending a class at a day home for seniors. She thought the people in her class did not have a good understanding of St. Patrick, so she wrote a poem.
Here's May Greenshield's poem, written in May of 2003. She passed away, Kevin says, in January of 2004:
When St. Patrick came to Ireland
To set the people free
He used the little Shamrock
To teach them of the love of God
Who was the "One in Three"
Next up, Kim of The Upward Call has posted a little more Irish poetry, along with a little history of the Easter Rebellion.

I just posted a hymn by Thomas Kelly, an Irish hymn writer. I suppose that's Irish poetry, too.

Would you like to join in the Everything's Coming Up Irish fun? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments, like Kevin did with his mother's poem.

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Sunday's Hymn: Irish Hymn Writers

Since the theme for the month is everything Irish, I thought I'd feature hymns by Irish hymn writers. This one's written by Thomas Kelly, an Irish Anglican priest who became one of the Irish dissenters. It was one of my mother's favorite hymns.

Praise The Savior, Ye Who Know Him!

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the Name that charms us,
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever,
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him.

Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving
To Thyself, and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.


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, March 3

Saturday's Old Photo

It's cold out, so this picture seemed appropriate for today's old photo. My sister and I are showing off our brand new parkas in this family picture. We'd just moved to Minnesota that fall, and the coats we'd used back in Illinois weren't appropriate for the colder northern winters, so we'd gone with my mother to J. C. Penney's to buy us each a parka.

These are what we picked out. If I were writing this unprompted by my mother's notes on the back of the photo, I'd tell you that the coats were a lovely shade of blue, and then I'd pat myself on the back for my accurate, detailed memory of my childhood. However, my mother's notes say they were red, and you can trust her on that. That is, I guess, a little warning to us all that while I'm always certain that what I write in these little pieces is factual, I can get my facts wrong.

I remember loving the fuzzy feel of these parkas. I wore mine for a couple of years before I outgrew it, and then my poor sister got my hand-me-down, so she wore the same parka, just different sizes, for four years.

When we moved to Minnesota, we lived in the parsonage at Northern Bible Chapel. The pastor of the church owned his own home, so my dad and mom cleaned the church in exchange for a deal on renting the parsonage. On our first Christmas there, which would have come a month or so after this picture was taken, Mr. Klein, an elderly man from the church who didn't get out much because he couldn't leave his sick wife for long, knocked on the door and delivered a package for each of us girls. He'd bought us little white zippered Bibles—the very first Bibles we owned.

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Friday, March 2

Everything's Coming Up Irish

Have you been wondering what March's theme would be here at Rebecca Writes? I've been so busy with other things that I forgot to introduce it. So here you go!

March on this blog is a celebration of everything Irish: Irish songs, Irish poems, videos of Irish jigs, or anything else with an Irish connection. As always, I need your participation. If you post anything Irish on your blog this month, send me the link and I'll link back to you in one of the Everything's Coming Up Irish posts.

The painting on the right is Mrs Lavery sketching, an oil on canvas by Irish artist Sir John Lavery. John Lavery's wife served as his model on many of his paintings, including the Irish colleen designed by John Lavery for the Series A banknotes printed from 1928 to 1976.

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