Wednesday, May 31

Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery,[1] into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Works;[2] but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Grace.[3]
  1. I Thess. 5:9
    For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ...
  2. Gal. 3:10, 12
    For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

    ...But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

  3. Titus 3:4-7
    But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    Gal. 3:21
    Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

    Rom. 3:20-22
    For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction...
Question 30, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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Tuesday, May 30

Christian Carnival Reminder

Entries for the Christian Carnival are due by tonight (May 30) at midnight EST. Submit your entry to ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. Include
  • The name of your blog
  • The URL of your blog
  • The title of your post
  • The URL of your post
  • A short description of the post
  • The trackback link if you have one
Then look for your entry in tomorrow's (May 31) carnival at Parableman.

You'll find more complete information on the Christian Carnival here.

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Quiz: Jesus Christ

How much do you know about the person and work of Jesus Christ? Take this little quiz to find out. Answers will be posted on Thursday. Update: Answers are now posted.


Choose the answer that best completes the statement.

1. Christ is
  • a. the surname of a man who lived 2000 years ago, whose given name was Jesus.
  • b. a title referring to Jesus's position and work as Messiah.
  • c. a Greek word meaning annointed one.
  • d. both a and c above
  • e. both b and c above.
  • f. none of the above.
2. The historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church affirm that Jesus Christ was
  • a. created by God the Father, and so of a similar nature to the Father.
  • b. a very great man, but an ordinary human imbued with supernatural powers by God.
  • c. of the very same nature as God the Father, and not created, but eternally co-existent with the Father.
  • d. one of the three ways the one person of God manifests himself.
  • e. both c and d above.
  • f. none of the above.
3. As a human being, Jesus
  • a. had a real physical body and a true human nature.
  • b. had two natures: a divine one and a human one.
  • c. was restricted in time and space.
  • d. was without sin.
  • e. both a and d above.
  • f. all of the above.
4. Jesus was sinless
  • a. so that his perfect obedience could supply the righteousness we need to be saved.
  • b. merely to be a perfect example for us to follow.
  • c. even though he was tempted by sinful desires.
  • d. because he was spared the same sort of temptations we experience.
  • e. both a and c above.
  • f. none of the above.
5. The doctrine that Jesus was born of a virgin
  • a. means that Christ was generated by his mother Mary alone.
  • b. was the result of a miraculous work by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • c. is not taught in the Bible.
  • d. was formulated by Constantine, and forced on the church for political reasons.
  • e. both a and b above.
  • f. none of the above.
6. That Christ is the mediator
  • a. is agreed upon by the Father and the Son in eternity.
  • b. means that his work is to reconcile human beings to God.
  • c. required that Christ become incarnate.
  • d. means that those who believe have access to God through him.
  • e. a, b, and d above.
  • f. all of the above.

Previous theological quizzes:

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Monday, May 29

Round the Sphere Again

Christian Carnival
ApologeticsTheology
Church History
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Sunday, May 28

Sunday's Hymn: Musical Theme

A bonus two for one Sunday: Two more musically themed hymns from Charles Wesley, posted together because they are sung to the same tune.
Rejoice, the Lord is King

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!
(Listen.)

And another hymn, written specifically as a children's hymn, and sometimes sung to Darwall's 148th as well:

Young Men and Maidens, Raise

Young men and maidens, raise
Your tuneful voices high;
Old men and children, praise
The Lord of earth and sky;
Him Three in One and One in Three,
Extol to all eternity.

The universal King
Let all the world proclaim;
Let every creature sing
His attributes and Name!
Him Three in One and One in Three,
Extol to all eternity.

In His great Name alone
All excellencies meet,
Who sits upon the throne,
And shall forever sit;
Him Three in One and One in Three,
Extol to all eternity.

Glory to God belongs;
Glory to God be given,
Above the noblest songs
Of all in earth or heaven!
Him Three in One and One in Three,
Extol to all eternity.

Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted this Sunday:If you've posted a hymn or worship song, etc this Sunday, why not let me know in the comments below and I'll add your post to the list above?
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Saturday, May 27

Pop Quiz

You Are Coke
A true original and classic, you represent the best of everything you can offer. Just the right amount of sweet, just the right amount of energy... you're the life of the party.

Your best soda match: Mountain Dew

Stay away from:Dr Pepper



HT: Ian's Messy Desk, which has a can of Diet Coke on it.

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Friday, May 26

This Is Where We Are Right Now

Where are you right now?

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Thursday, May 25

What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?

The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell fire forever.[1]
  1. II Thess. 1:9
    They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might...

    Mark 9:43-48
    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

    Luke 16:24
    And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
Question 29, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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Wednesday, May 24

The Lesser Yellowlegs Encore


The recent post with the photo of a lesser yellowlegs turned out to be quite popular, so I've invited the species back for an encore performance.

In this photo, the little bird shows us that he's not just a one-trick pony. Not only does he teeter in tree tops, he high steps through marshes. Truly a shorebird of many talents.

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'Tis So Sweet

One of the cornerstones of the reformation is sole fide, the truth that our salvation comes to us through faith alone. Salvation being through faith is so central to the gospel that Paul can call the gospel "the word of faith" as a sort of shorthand for everything that is included in the gospel. At the same time, Paul sets faith up as the antithesis of works--"by faith" means "not based on works"--and that's where the sole part of sole fide comes in. We don't merit salvation by what we do; but rather, we recieve it by faith "apart from the works of the law", or by faith alone.

It sounds simple enough doesn't it? But it's a simple concept that proves elusive, for way down deep, we don't want to believe that we can do nothing to merit our own salvation. We say salvation is by faith alone, and then we wonder if we have enough, or good enough, or strong enough faith to be saved. And when we do this, we're treating faith as if it's just another work, in contrast to works of the law; rather than something that contrasts with the whole idea of works. We are treating faith as just the right way--or only possible way--to merit our salvation; and thinking of our faith as the grounds of our salvation, rather than simply the vehicle through which the whole of our salvation comes to us.

But sole fide does not stand alone. Sole fide is always and forever linked with solus Christus, which means it's Christ's work alone that saves us. It's his work that is enough (or good enough or strong enough), and not our faith. Faith is not something we produce in order to be saved; but rather, it's an acknowledgment that we can produce nothing at all that counts, and that Christ produced everything we need: that his work alone is the grounds of our salvation.

I can't be trusted, even to have faith that's good enough, but Christ can be trusted because he was perfectly obedient even to death on the cross on my behalf, and he lives forever to make intercession for me and keep me in the palm of his hand. It's not about me and my faith, but about him and his trustworthiness, his obedience, and his strength.

The real question is not "Is my faith strong enough?" but "Is his work perfect?"
Cross posted at Theologica.

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Tuesday, May 23

A Dog Story with a Happy Ending


Yesterday, youngest son took some great photos of the dog swimming and retrieving during the fishing trip to Kathleen River, so I've updated this post, originally from July of 2004, with a new photo and a few other tweaks.

Somewhere in those first few seconds of instinctive paddling, she discovered that she likes swimming. Maybe she loves swimming.
This week we discovered that our dog is a retriever. Of course, we knew when we bought her that her official title included the word, but she failed to live up to the promise of her name. She thought fetching was boring after a toss or two, but what she hated most of all was going into water any deeper than her knees.

Every summer before this, we have tried to coax her to swim with us. She knew it looked like fun, and she really wanted to be out there with the gang, so she would make a half-hearted attempt to join us, but as soon as the water touched her belly, she would turn around again and slink back to the shore. We tried gentle coaxing with sticks, throwing them out into the water for her to retrieve, but she was already an unenthusiatic fetcher, so she had no qualms about leaving a stick floating if fetching it required more than a little shallow wading.

Once the boys took turns carrying her out with them into deep water and then letting her go. She proved that she was a strong and competent swimmer, as long as the swimming was straight toward the shoreline. As soon as she reached the beach, she'd slink off to the bushes, crouching low, hoping to remain out of sight so she could avoid that happening again.

Friday night, the youngest son and I took her for a walk on the Miles Canyon trail. When we got to the little pool along the edge the river that is good for swimming, my son tossed a stick just a few feet from the bank. I'm sure it looked like a simple enough fetch to the dog, so she jumped quite willingly into the river after the stick. What she didn't know is that the bank drops off steeply in that place, and there is no wading. Once you're in, it's swim or die. Somewhere in those first few seconds of instinctive paddling, she discovered that she likes swimming. Maybe she loves swimming. Out she swam to the stick, and then round and back to the bank. Again and again, round and round, eager for more when we grew tired.


Last night we took her with us to Long Lake. She ran down ahead of us to the beach, and then out into the water to try to retrieve what she thought was a stick but turned out to be the branch of a dead tree lying just under the surface of the water. There were three of us, and we tossed sticks until we all grew tired.

After we stopped tossing, she jumped in to swim out and greet some canoers paddling by. We had to call her back before she got close to them, since nothing makes paddlers more nervous than an enthusiastic dog swimming toward them. I take that back. An eagerly swimming grizzly might be worse.

Yep, after three summers coaxing, we suddenly have a retriever.
For those of you who love viewing the Yukon outdoors, a few more photos of yesterday's fishing trip can be seen here, here and here, or you can just peruse all the photos at A. Stark Photo, which is oldest son's photo site.

Update: Read about yesterday's fishing and photography adventures here and here.


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Christian Carnival Reminder

Entries for the Christian Carnival are due by tonight (May 23) at midnight EST. Submit your entry to ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. Include
  • The name of your blog
  • The URL of your blog
  • The title of your post
  • The URL of your post
  • A short description of the post
  • The trackback link if you have one
Then look for your entry in tomorrow's (May 24) carnival at ChristWeb.

You'll find more complete information on the Christian Carnival here.

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Monday, May 22

Book Review: Feminine Appeal

Seven Virtues of A Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney

Feminine Appeal is based around what Carolyn Mahaney calls the seven feminine virtues listed for us in Titus 2:3-5:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Each of the positive characteristics listed in these verses--loving one's husband, loving one's children, being self-controlled, being pure, working at home, being kind, and being submissive to one's husband--is given a chapter of it's own to discuss ways to cultivate that characteristic. I'd say that this little book is one of the ways Carolyn Mahaney carries out the command in the first part of the quoted passage: that older women teach younger women how to behave in a way that promotes the gospel by showing how it transforms lives.

I always come to this sort of book with a bit of apprehenshion, because there are a couple of concerns I have about "how to live" books in general. I'm happy to be able to say that Carolyn Mahaney's managed to walk the tight-rope and avoid these possible weaknesses for the most part.

One concern I have is that the real life examples given in a book of this kind will set such high standards that they will be discouraging rather than encouraging to women who are young and inexperienced. I've always had a bit of a compulsive streak, and I read some books when I was younger that ended up being more of a hindrance than a help because deep down, I felt like I ought to be copying perfectly every example in the book, so I was not satisfied with what was good enough or with what worked best in my situation. That's the reason I'm glad I had at least a couple of real-life mentors, in addition to the books I read, because real-life mentors sometimes have dust bunnies under the kitchen table and children who misbehave, and seeing that helps the perfectionist sort--like me--avoid unrealistic expectations. While Carolyn Mahaney uses herself and her own life as examples throughout the book, she wisely lets us see some of her dust bunnies, reminding us through her choice of examples that these are characteristics that we will spend a lifetime developing, and that none of us shows these characteristics perfectly all the time.

The other fear I have with books like this is that we'll be given firm rules where scripture gives us only general principles. All women are different, with different talents, interests, and circumstances; and the virtues given us in Titus 2 can be lived out in many different ways that take into consideration our particular talents, interests, and circumstances. That's why I like that Carolyn Mahaney used example from various women in various circumstances throughout this book so that the reader can see different ways the principles can be carried out in individual women's lives.

Feminine Appeal gets my recommendation as a book that will be helpful for both young women looking to live out their faith in their lives, and for older women who want to take up the challenge to provide both good teaching and good example to younger women.

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Sunday, May 21

Sunday's Hymn: Musical Theme

In all its nineteen versed glory (I would love to sing verses 17 and 18 congregationally sometime!), from someone considered by many to be the greatest hymn writer of all time:
O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
Christ your Head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

Awake from guilty nature’s sleep,
And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep,
And wash the Aethiop white.

Harlots and publicans and thieves
In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew
In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you;
For me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.
--Charles Wesley
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted this Sunday:
  • Joy to the World at Ian's Messy Desk (You'll have to go over to Ian's to see why he's chosen to post this hymn by Isaac Watts in May, and no, it's not because it goes with my musical theme.)
  • Day by Day at Chez Kneel (This lovely Swedish hymn was introduced in English by the Swedish nightingale, Jenny Lind. Go read why this hymn has special meaning for Neil Shay.)
  • I Know Whom I Have Believed at New Lumps. This hymn was my husband's favorite one, and was sung at his memorial service; and you won't see the bit of serendipity in that unless you actually clicked through on all the links above.
If you've posted a hymn or worship song, etc this Sunday, why not let me know in the comments below and I'll add your post to the list above?
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Saturday, May 20

What are the punishments of sin in this world?

The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind,[1] a reprobate sense,[2] strong delusions,[3] hardness of heart,[4] horror of conscience,[5] and vile affections;[6] or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes,[7] and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments;[8] together with death itself.[9]
  1. Eph. 4:18
    They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
  2. Rom. 1:28
    And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
  3. II Thess. 2:11
    Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false...
  4. Rom. 2:5
    But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
  5. Isa. 33:14
    The sinners in Zion are afraid;
    trembling has seized the godless:
    "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
    Gen. 4:13
    Cain said to the Lord , "My punishment is greater than I can bear..."
    Matt. 27:4
    ...saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself."
  6. Rom. 1:26
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature...
  7. Gen. 3:17
    And to Adam he said,

    "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
    of which I commanded you,
    'You shall not eat of it,'
    cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life..."

  8. Deut. 28:15-18
    "But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock."
  9. Rom. 6:21, 23
    But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death....For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Question 28, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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Friday, May 19

Round the Sphere Again

Christian Carnival

Theology

Biblical Archeology
  • You heard that the ossuary of James was a certain fake because the patina showed that the inscription was a modern forgery? Well, perhaps things aren't quite as certain as they seemed. Here's a summary of a report done by Professor Wolfgang E. Krumbein, of Oldenburg University, Germany, that disagrees with the earlier reports by Tel Aviv University Professor Yuval Goren and his colleague Avner Ayalon, which Professor Krumbein arrives at it's conclusion based on
    a series of errors, biases, mistaken premises, use of inappropriate methodology, mistaken geochemistry, defective error control, reliance on unconfirmed data, disregard of information (such as the cleaning and preservation actions performed [on the ossuary], and the use of a comparative isotope methodology despite the fact that the [James ossuary] inscription fail[s] to meet the cumulative prerequisite conditions for such tests and comparisons.
    HT: Real Clear Theology Blog

Questions
  • So what name for girls has "made the fastest climb among all names in more than a century"? Terry Pruitt has the answer, and if you don't already know this, you'll never guess.

  • Have you ever puzzled over the meaning of the letters and numbers on a vanity plate? There's a whole blog devoted to finding the true meaning of various Puzzle Plates.

  • Is rebecca deal an indian name? Believe it or not, that is one of the searches that brought someone to this site this week.
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Thursday, May 18

Work Site


My internet connection was kaput this afternoon, so no blogging today, but a lovely little hike instead. Life is good.
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Wednesday, May 17

Calling All Bird Experts


What sort of bird it this? It makes a loud high pitched screech. You can click for a really big view.

Update: My bird expert friend Judy has identified the mystery bird as a Lesser Yellowlegs. (If you click on the Lesser Yellowlegs link, you can hear the high pitched sound it makes.) According to Judy, who, by the way, is at species number 342 on her life bird sighting list,
It's a shore bird but enjoys making a lot of noise while teetering at the top of trees. It is one of the prime food sources for the Peregine Falcon which, after a thrilling come-back, are somewhat on the decline. One theory is that the Yellowlegs are being poisoned by insecticides from farmers clearing coffee fields in Central America.
So there you go. A little bit about the this bird, and the Peregrine Falcon, to boot. And yes, if there are Lesser Yellowlegs, then there have to be Greater Yellowlegs with whom they can compare legs.

Rey, who is a city boy and has never seen a bird, found this post and the comments very funny. That reminded me of my youngest daughter, who first saw a goat when she was 3 years old or so. She couldn't stop giggling. I'm not sure if it was because she found the goat ridiculous looking, or if the giggling was from nervousness because she found it frightening.

And when she could manage to get a word or two out between the giggles, she kept saying, "A moose! Hee hee...a moose!"

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Road Trip

This is another oldie (May, 2004) reformatted and edited.
....today the sun is shining. This morning, I'm longing for another road trip.

When the weather gets nice in the spring, I always get a hankering to pop the Eagles into the CD player in my car and hit the road for a long road trip. Not a five hundred mile a day, find your reserved hotel room, swim in the pool, then have supper sort of road trip; but the real thing, when you drive from sunrise until midnight, eat sandwiches from the cooler, sleep in the car, and don't shower for three days. I'm not sure why I like this sort of trip. It means you arrive at your destination looking like a mess and ready to sleep for 24 hours. It means you get where you're going with a trunk full of dirty laundry and no clean clothes left in your suitcase. But there's something about being connected to nothing but what's inside your own vehicle that brings a refreshing reprieve from everything else.

I've been on many of these hard driving road trips. This was the kind of trip our family took when I was a child. We rarely slept in the car, but each day we pushed for as many miles as possible. When I first got married, we were two students living on one income from the GI bill, but we loved to travel, so we traveled as cheaply as possible. Out west, up north, all in a little dark green Porsche my husband had bought before we met. It was good on gas, but small for sleeping.

Once we found ourselves in the middle of Kansas with a wall of tornadoes behind us and $5.00 left to make it back to northern Minnesota, so we just kept driving. By the time we ran low on gas in southern Minnesota, we had outrun the tornadoes, so we put enough gas in the tank to make it home and spent the $2.00 left over on two-egg breakfasts and coffee in a truckstop.
...the baby in the middle of the seat in the cab, bouncing along the highway...

When the children were born, things changed. The Porsche was sold and we had a series of other vehicles. It was with our first child that we made the big road trip up the Alaska highway for a job that was waiting. Everything we owned under a tarp in the back of the pickup, and the baby in the middle of the seat in the cab, bouncing along the highway that was really only a trail in the wilderness.

After that, there were the yearly trips down the highway in the summer to see the grandmas and the grandpa, and the aunts and uncles and cousins. From the pickup, to a jimmy, to suburbans, as the family grew larger.

We became experts at keeping kids entertained for hours with raucous songs and imaginative stories and made-up games. We taught them all the songs of our youth--campfire songs and military songs and sailing songs and hymns and choruses. We told them stories of our childhoods. We played "I Spy with My Little Eye". Our children absorbed a good chunk of their cultural heritage on our long road trips.

There was the year that the oldest daughter learned that sing-songing the word "pitiful" over and over again would cause her younger brother to whimper and pout in the most delicious way. And the trip when my youngest daughter learned that chanting, "Get me out!" didn't mean she could get out of the car seat, but it did mean that everyone in the car would join her in her chanting, and that was almost as good.

...a warm supper cooked on the camp stove, by a lake or river if we could...

We would stop for a warm supper cooked on the camp stove, by a lake or river if we could, so the kids and dad could skip rocks while supper was cooking. After supper was finished, it was back into the vehicle again for a few more hours of traveling, until it was time to stop and spread the cushions for sleeping in the back of the suburban. If it rained, we were all filthy, because every outhouse trip meant tracking Alaska highway mud back into the vehicle.

My husband hated getting gas before the gauge read empty, and slight miscalculations would have us running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. This meant Daddy had to take rides from strangers into the nearest town to get gas to bring back while the rest of us waited in the car.

Once we were stopped by a posse of locals with rifles drawn, searching for the hitchhiker who had just held up the Muncho Lake gas station at knifepoint. We remembered passing him 60 miles or so before Muncho Lake, where he had been trying to hitch a ride out in the wilderness. My husband, who was scared of no one and always willing to help, had decided to pass this man without stopping because he didn't like the way he looked.

Last summer we took another road trip--the first one without my husband. It was just the two boys and the dog and I, down the highway to Edmonton. We were carrying my husband's ashes in a small wooden box in the trunk so we could bury him in the family plot in his hometown in central Minnesota. You would think it would have been a sad trip, or at least a bittersweet one, but it wasn't. We listened to Hank Williams, and Dire Straits, and Orff, and The Messiah, and the Montreal Jubilation Choir. We read trashy gossip magazines, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and did math problems and crossword puzzles. We counted how many cars of various colors we saw.

In Edmonton, we picked up my oldest daughter. We had planned to stay overnight there, but we arrived in the early evening, and the kids couldn't bear to waste those good nighttime driving hours, so we quickly gathered her stuff and hit the road again. They had all learned their travelling lessons well.

On the morning of the graveside service, we left my parent's house in a two car convoy--the boys with Grandpa in his car, and the girls with me in mine, still carrying the ashes in the wooden box in the trunk. Down the highway by Walker and Hackensack and Pine River and Pequot Lakes, through Crosby to the funeral home where I picked up the triangularly folded vet's coffin flag, and then on to the cemetery. Already gathered were the relatives and the friends, and the vets from the legion in their ceremonial uniforms with their saluting rifles. So we buried my husband and my children's father with a prayer and the taps and the rifle salute.

My husband would have liked that we carried his ashes down the highway in the trunk. And that we sang songs and argued and discussed and played games and drove until midnight. That when the border guard asked if we were carrying anything with us that we were leaving behind in the States, someone piped up, "Yes, my dad's ashes." We called that "playing the death card." Whatever you call it, it's a sure way to get a speedy send-through at the border, and my husband would have approved.

Another fall and winter have passed, and today the sun is shining. This morning, I'm longing for another road trip.

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Tuesday, May 16

Same Subject, Different Blogger

Jeremy Pierce has weighed in on the question of subordinationism: Are Complementarians Subordinationists ?

Jeremy mentions something that I think I pointed out in passing in one of my posts below, but I want to draw your attention to again. For some reason, egalitarians consider those who hold to a differentiation in roles within the Trinity to be subordinationists, even though, traditionally, that's not how subordinationism has been defined. The term subordinationism has always been reserved for the belief that the persons of the Trinity are not equal, which is is not something that those who hold to functional or economic subordination believe.
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Christian Carnival Reminder

Entries for the Christian Carnival are due by tonight (May 16) at midnight EST. Submit your entry to ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. Include
  • The name of your blog
  • The URL of your blog
  • The title of your post
  • The URL of your post
  • A short description of the post
  • The trackback link if you have one
Then look for your entry in tomorrow's (May 17) carnival at Pursuing Holiness.

You'll find more complete information on the Christian Carnival here.

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Functional Subordination Again

Here's how I responded to Ilona's commments in the discussion on the Trinity at Intellectuelle today. Ilona's remarks are in italics; mine are not.
Gregory of Nyssa, of the Cappadocian Fathers: "[action] starts off from the Father as from a spring; it is effected by the Son, and by the power of the Spirit it completes its grace. All providence, care, and attention of all ... and the preservation of what exists, ... is one and not three." Whose discourse on this gives a sense of how the roles of the Godhead interact.

This expresses roles, but not dominance; rather mutuality of roles. It isn't command and obey, it is how the Godhead works in union.


Gregory of Nyssa’s quote seems to me to be exactly the historical Christian view of the trinity, which is not subordinationism, which has always been considered heresy; but what has been called functional subordination, which affirms distinction of roles within the trinity. The Father directs, the Son acts as the agent, working what the Father has started by his decree, and the Spirit assist both the Father and the Son.

And I don’t see dominance either, but rather directing by the Father, and willing effecting of the Father’s will by the Son. It’s not mutuality of roles, because the roles are different. The persons of the Godhead do different things, but there is is unity of purpose, and that’s the way they work in union.

Immediately such verses as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" come to my mind. This appeared to have been agreed upon within the Godhead

I would agree that it was agreed upon (I wouldn’t think the Son ever disagreed with the Father), but nonetheless, scripture uses the word “send” for the role the Father plays in the incarnation, and the sending by the Father had to occur before the actual incarnation itself, and the Son agreeing to come as sent by the Father had to occur before the incarnation itself. In fact, I would argue that these different roles were part of the pact made in eternity before creation itself--that Christ was foreordained as "the sent one" before the time began, which means that God existed as the sender, and Christ existed as "the sent one" in eternity.

In order to come into the earth on His mission, the Son had to empty Himself, this is the submission,

I think emptying himself refers not to the whole of the Son's submission (although he emptied himself as part of his submission), but particularly to Christ voluntarily giving up the glory, rights, perogative, etc that was due him as diety to come in human form.

and I think it comes from the mutual desire in the Godhead to fulfill a particular goal that God decided upon.

I don’t disagree with this.

I don't think this proves an eternal type of subordination, although I see the temptation to read back into God's Person from this.

I don’t think it’s just a temptation to read back. I think it has to do with the immutability (or eternality) of God. The way the persons of the trinity relate to each other can't change. The relationship between them is an eternally unchanging relationship.

I think we see those roles in creation as well, BTW. We have God the Father creating the world through Christ’s agency (Hebrews 1:2). God the Father speaks the words of creation that bring everything into existence, but the work of creation is done by the Son.

And it is the Father who appointed the Son heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2 again). The Son has authority, but he has the authority as appointed by the Father.

There is a mutuality of giving glory. Although here I would say, wouldn't it be Christ's great desire to give all as a gift to His Father, and isn't the Father's stated desire to give all to the Son? And doesn't the Holy Spirit delight in glorifying Christ, who glorifies the Father?

I’m not sure there’s a mutuality of giving glory, depending, I guess on what you mean by giving glory. I think, for example, that in his role, the Spirit gives glory to the other two, but I have a hard time finding any scripture that reverses things, and has the Father or the Son giving glory to the Spirit. (This is not to say that they three persons aren’t equal in glory, just that the Spirit seems to defer his glory to the other two.)

And I think it’s fairly clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that in the consummation of all things, Christ subjects himself to the Father so that God the Father may be all in all. (Paul is using the name “God” in this passage to refer to the Father, as he usually does, and as the context suggests.) I don’t think you can find anywhere in scripture where the Father subjects himself to the Son, and yet here, at the consummation of all things, when everything is put exactly and forever in order, you have the Son subjecting himself to the Father. He is acknowledging, willingly, the eternal priority of the Father.

And one thing not mentioned by any of us, doesn't God glorify us? Are we not in the process of going from glory to glory? There is alot we are not understanding in this concept of glory. I think it would be a mistake to attribute this to some dominance of the Father over the Son.

Ahhh...but the purpose of our glorification (or our salvation) is to glorify God, in particular his attribute of grace. Our glorification is only a means to an end, the end being the glorification of God. God works it, so he is the only one who gets glory. The boast (or glory) in our recreation is God’s alone because it comes about as a work of his grace. (See Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 1 etc.)

The first question I would put to you in interpreting the creed in the way you do is this:"And what does the Father do?"

The Father wills. The Father decrees. The Father plans. The Father sends. The Father gives.

In the meaning of 'what is a father' and 'what is a son' is the fact that the one comes from the other. If this were the same substance, which it is, does this mean eternal dominance?

I wouldn't use the word dominance. Eternal ultimate authority, yes, but not necessarily dominance, depending I guess, on what you mean by that word.

Can you explain to me what you think it means that the Son comes from the Father? Why do the creeds say that the Father is not from the Son? What does that mean? It can’t refer to origins, since they are both eternal. It can’t refer to substance (or likeness), since they are of the same substance, and have been eternally. It can’t be talking only of the incarnation, since that the Son is from the Father is an eternal thing. What does it mean?

Essentially you are stating the equality, for if someone willingly gives something and does not owe it, they are acting from an equal position.

Yes, exactly. That’s what functional subordination is. Equal essence, equal status, equal value, equal glory, equal power, but different roles. Not inferior roles, either, but subordinate roles. By choice.

I hesitate to use the word “position” because I don’t know what you mean by it. If all you mean by it is status, then I’d agree. If you mean that they have the same “job” or that there is no priority in order within their roles, then I’d disagree.

When transposing this idea to men and women, if women willingly give submission it is something quite different from and inate position of inferiority or as subordinate.

Exactly. And functional subordination doesn’t say that the subordination of Christ to the Father comes from an inate (or characteristic) position of inferiority, either. It is a willing subordination in role among equals.

When we are talking about man/woman relationship of order and rule/subordination are we not discussing the outcome of the fall?

I don’t think so. The roles come out of the order of creation (man was formed first), and before that, out of the order of the Godhead. The man named the woman, showing his authority, before creation the fall. That things turn nasty on us--that husbands dominate or lord it over wives--comes out of the fall. That wives fight for control over their husbands comes out of the fall.

And through Christ, are we not to overcome this disadvantage and go on into renewing our minds with the reality of what we find in the example of Christ?

We certainly should work to overcome the results of the curse. But the particular roles weren’t given in the curse, but before that, and I wouldn’t call the different roles a “disadvantage”, either.

Let me ask you a question in regards to the Trinity as it exists eternally. How are the persons in the trinity differentiated? You’ve explained how you think they are eternally the same, but how are they eternally different?
And yep, it's 11 AM and I'm still in my pajamas. You see why I don't do this sort of thing as much as I used to. I know other people can probably whip these sorts of responses off in no time at all, but it doesn't work that way for me.

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Monday, May 15

Functional Subordination Discussion

I spent my blogging time this morning commenting on this post on the Trinity at Intellectuelle. I don't do this sort of thing very often anymore, mostly because I'd rather pick my own subjects to think and write about. Besides, those sorts of responses take an incredible amount of time, at least for me, and once I'm in the discussion, I feel obligated to continue it, regardless of the time it takes. However, I do think this is an important subject, so I responded.

Here's what I said in response to the challenge to support my claim that Christ is eternally functionally subordinate to the Father:
I'd rather use a more scriptural terms, and say that the Father has authority over the Christ eternally, or that the Son is eternally submitted to the Father, which, to my mind is what [functional] subordination means.

Part of my support for that would come from the fact that Christ is the eternal Son, and the Father is eternally the Father. This speaks not of different origins, because the Godhead is eternal, but of different eternal roles within the Godhead.

Then there are all the statements that say that Christ came to do the Father's will, or that he was sent by the Father, or that God is the head of Christ. Not only was Christ in submission to the Father within the incarnation, but he was sent by the Father, showing prior submission to the will of the Father. His very coming itself was in submission to the authority of the Father.

We also have the statements about Christ being finally exalted, and even in them, we have Christ being subject to the Father, or the final glory in Christ's exultation going to the Father: for instance, 1 Corinthians 15: 28, where it says that God will subject everything to Christ, but Christ himself will subject himself to God; and Philippians 2, where the one ultimately glorified when Christ is exalted is God the Father.
In response to the idea that functional subordination is not the historical view of the church:
Historically, in the creeds, you have Christ "eternally begotten" of the Father, and "seated at the right hand" of the Father; The Son being "from the Father alone", but the Father is not "from the Son". In other words, the creeds affirm the full equality of the Son to the Father, but at the same time, they affirm that the son is eternally "from the Father" in that he eternally does the Father's will.
And in response to statements that the distinction between functional and essential subordination is a false one:
And here's how I would explain the difference between functional and essential subordination. The Son's submission to the Father is a willing submission. He chooses to submit himself voluntarily. This submission is not owed to the Father, which if Christ were essentially subordinate, would be the case.
[I don't think I explained this last bit well enough. I meant that Christ submits to the father not as somone who owes submission as someone unequal as a person, or in his diety, but as one who has a different role. Just like a boss is not an authority over his/her employees because he/she is of more worth or value or better or more human than his employees, but because his role gives him authority over them. ]

Update: I'm adding something else here that I thought of while I tidied up this morning. The Son intercedes on our behalf to the Father. We can have confidence because the Father always gives the Son what he asks on our behalf. Nevertheless, this picture of Christ as intercessor (or high priest) makes God the Father the one with priority of authority within the Trinity.

What say ye?

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Sunday, May 14

Weather Payback Theory

Do you believe in it? You know, the principle that any nicer than normal weather must necessarily be followed by weather nastier than normal in order to even the weather score.

Yukoners tend to believe in weather payback. When the summer is hot and sunny, we dread the coming winter, sure that we'll have many weeks of miserable unbroken -40 temps just because we enjoyed the summer so much. It's an idea that the weatherman says is not completely unfounded, since the average temperature doesn't vary much from year to year, and over time, things tend to even out, weather-wise.

Unfortunately, last winter was relatively mild. Than means, of course, that this coming summer is doomed. Or does it?

What if the spring is lousy? Can our summer be saved after a mild winter if it snows 15 inches on Easter and rains all of the month of May? If so, I've been thinking, we may have a beautiful summer inked in on the calendar anyway, because this has been a really ugly spring. Three cheers, I've been saying, for the rotten spring weather.

It turns out, however, that I may have been a bit hasty in my optimistic outlook. While this spring has been rotten, to be sure, it has also been perfectly average. Or so says the weatherman. I've just been spoiled, he says, by a few years of better than average springs, and my perception of what spring in the Yukon should look like is warped.

My summer, it seems, is doomed after all, because according to weather payback theory, an average spring, no matter how ugly, can rescue nothing.
A few more recent posts with northern content:
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Sunday's Hymn: Musical Theme

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Refrain
Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I'll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav'nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.
---Philip Bliss
Other hymns, worship songs, etc. posted this Sunday:If you've posted a hymn or worship song, etc this Sunday, why not let me know in the comments below and I'll add your post to the list above?
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Saturday, May 13

Just Woke Up

Yep. You read that right. When I woke up this morning my clock read 9:39 AM. I don't know the last time slept that late. It's been years, anyway.

In my defense, I did take 1/2 of one of the non-drowsy antihistamines before going to bed. The nasty spring yellow stuff is in the air, and it gives me problems with very itchy rash on my head and neck. No respiritory problems, just rash, but it's the miserably dry and itchy sort.

Now everything is wrong. A kid is already up, and has been for a while, so I have no by-myself morning time. How will I survive the day?

Update: While eating one of the burgers leftover from last night's grill topped with tomato, onion, pickles and ketchup for breakfast (No mustard, by the way. Mustard for breakfast is just wrong, don't you think?), I remembered that I had a doozy of an antihistamine induced dream as well. James White was in my backyard, wearing a kilt and planting a plum tree. Yesterday, I did listen to parts of the Dividing Line, read this post, and discuss planting a fruit tree in the spot where the old greenhouse used to be. Still, how ridiculous! A plum tree would never in a million years survive in the Yukon!
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Friday, May 12

Round the Sphere Again

Where can I find this week's Christian Carnival?
What's new on the missionary blog front?How about the Da Vinci Code? The movie's coming out shortly, you know. What recommended reading is there on that subject?
And Bible study? Or theology?
What about fun? Don't you ever have fun?
  • Once in a blue moon, I've been known to kick up my heels. For instance, I thought it was entertaining to go through this list of best known philosophical sentences at Siris to see which ones I'm familiar with. And yes, I do know it's a nearly two year old post, but I missed it back then.

  • And hey....just keep your eye on the far right lane.
While we're on the subject of fun, were there any good search queries this week?
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Thursday, May 11

Before the Greening, the Lavender

The first real sign of spring's new life in the Yukon is the lavender of the little pasque flowers.* People here most often call them crocuses, but while they do look a little like crocuses, and they come first thing in the spring like crocuses do, they're not really crocuses. It's their early spring flowering that is the reason behind several of the common names for this wildflower, like May Day flower, Easter flower and spring crocus. The word pasque itself, of course, refers to Easter or the passover.

The Blackfoot Indian called these flowers napi, which translates to "old man" in English. If you look at the photograph above (snapped by my son, by the way), you'll can see why they found this name appropriate. More officially, however, they're called pulsatilla vulgaris, which makes them sound a little naughty, but vulgaris simply means they are the vulgar (or common) form of the pulsatilla family, the family so-named because of the pulsing that these flowers do in the spring wind.

And they aren't called common for nothing. You'll find wild pasque flowers across western North America, from Utah up through Alaska and as far west as Illinois. They prefer prairies as their habitat, and two prairie places--South Dakota and Manitoba--have declared the pasque flower their official flower. Here in the Yukon, you'll find them mostly in clearings of wooded foothills.

Sometimes people try to transplant these little beauties to their home gardens, but more often than not, this doesn't work. These are plants that prefer their soil hard and untilled, and the soil of flowerbeds is just too soft and cushy for them. My neighbor managed to grow a couple of wild pasque flowers in her wildflower garden, although she had to wait several years before her plants flowered. Because they don't grow well in cultivated soil, there is some worry that as more and more land is tilled for farmland in the prairies, the pasque flower may eventually disappear altogether from the grasslands there.

However, since most of the areas where crocuses grow in the Yukon are no good for either farming or building, there's not much chance they'll die out here. The biggest enemy of the Yukon pasque flower is enthusiastic children. Little girls, in particular, can't resist them, and love to pick them to bring home to their mothers by the ice cream bucketsful. At least that's they way things went at our house.

*The green in the photo is the evergreen bearberry plant.

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Mystery Artist Again

Hmmm....no one has even tried guessing who the latest mystery artist is, so I'm posting another of this artist's pieces to give you more to go on.

This one is called Subway Rider in a Staring Duel. You can click on the image for a larger view.

And it's a cartoon. Knowing that might help you.

Update: Once again, Islandsparrow is the first to identify the mystery artist. See her answer in the comments.

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Wednesday, May 10

Another Mystery Artist

Who will be the first to guess whose piece this drawing is? Like all the other mystery artists, this one is done by a well-know children's author-illustrator.

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What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?

The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God,[1] his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath,[2] bond slaves to Satan,[3] and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.[4]
  1. Gen. 3:8, 10, 24
    And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden...

    And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

    ...He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

  2. Eph. 2:2-3
    ...in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

  3. II Tim. 2:26
    ...and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

  4. Gen. 2:17
    ...but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

    Lam. 3:39
    Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?

    Rom. 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Matt. 25:41, 46
    "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels...'
    And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

    Jude 1:7
    ...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Question 27, Westminster Larger Catechism.

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Tuesday, May 9

Only in the Yukon: Still Waiting for Green


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Christian Carnival Reminder

Entries for the Christian Carnival are due by tonight (May 9) at midnight EST. Submit your entry to ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. Include
  • The name of your blog
  • The URL of your blog
  • The title of your post
  • The URL of your post
  • A short description of the post
  • The trackback link if you have one
Then look for your entry in tomorrow's (May 10) carnival at Something Epic.

You'll find more complete information on the Christian Carnival here.

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Book Review: The Message of the New Testament

Promises Kept by Mark Dever.

Do you like expository sermons, or do you associate them with boring explanations of every single phrase in a passage of scripture, with no detail too picayune for a long explanation? I happen to like the sort of expository preaching that moves phrase by phrase, or word by word (There is just nothing so trivial in text that I'm not interested!); but I know some of you are big picture sort of people, and if that's what you are, then The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever contains your kind of expository sermons: Sermons that focus on the main themes--the big picture--of scripture.

There are twenty-eight sermons in this book--one overview of every book of the New Testament, and one introductory sermon overviewing the New Testament as a whole. Each sermon was originally preached by Mark Dever in his church--Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Overview-type sermons are unusual (I haven't heard many, have you?), and I would guess that they are more difficult to prepare than the more usual sort of expository sermon. I can only begin to imagine how much work it was to produce this series of sermons, but I'm glad Mark Dever went to all the trouble. It's a fresh new way of looking at the New Testament and what it is teaching us.

It's a fresh new way of looking at the New Testament...
The main portion of The Message of the New Testament is divided into three sections: The Truth About Jesus, containing the sermons on each of the gospels and Acts; Key Ideas for the Times, containing the sermons on all of Paul's epistles; and Living in the Real World, containing the rest--Hebrews through Revelation. Each sermon contains a main body, concluding applications, a prayer, and then a section of questions for reflection that build and extend upon what could be learned from the sermon.

This is a long book--547 pages--and as you might expect with sermons, the text is dense, although not difficult to understand. I started The Message of the New Testament in January and read some of it almost every day, but only finished it up this week. It's not the kind of book I could skim because I wanted to get every single bit of it, since there was so much to learn.

Don't let that it took me so long to make my way through this book scare you off. It was certainly worth the time and effort. I looked forward to each reading session, even if it was only a few stolen minutes while I waited in the car for my son to finish up one of his activities. If I hadn't recieved the companion to this book--The Message of the Old Testament--in the mail last week, I probably would have been a little sad to finish it up. But as things stand, I've got a new, 800+ page book to start.

And I'd be willing to bet that if you take the time to read it, you'll learn something, too. I might even promise you that.

You'll find The Message of the New Testament available at Monergism books or Amazon.com, and at other online booksellers, too.

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