Churchill and World War II

I decided to give this a rest for a while. It's way too detailed, but still worth it for the gold nuggets that come out occasionally, like this one...

I'm up to Hitler invading Russia. The adamantly anti-Communist Churchill knows he must ally with Stalin, and is perfectly willing to do it. As he told his personal aide:

"I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

A bit of hyperbole, and doesn't stand up to moral scrutiny, but what a line!

Churchill then broadcast a speech, including this gem:

"We have but one aim and one single, irrevocable purpose. We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi regime. From this nothing will turn us - nothing. We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until, with God's help, we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its people from his yoke. Any man or state who fights on against Nazidom will have our aid. Any man or state who marches with Hitler is our foe..."

Words like those deserve to be kept somewhere other than buried in an obscure 6 volume work.

And by the way, doesn't it sound remotely like the Bush doctrine against terrorism today? Hmmm...

Advent and the Septuagint, part 8

Fascinating, researching OT links on Luke 1:78.

The Dayspring (NKJV), or rising sun (NIV), is the Greek word anatole. Same word used to name the Messiah "Branch" in Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12. And the glory of Yahweh that rises upon you, in Isaiah 60:1-2? Anatole. This is Jesus: the rising sun bringing light to a dark world; the branch that springs up with life and nourishment (Isa 11:1; 60:19-22).

It doesn't come through in the English very well - just a loose connection of risings and comings up.

Now I have another good example for why some people (ministers, hopefully?) need to know and use Hebrew and Greek.

Historical sidenote: I'm pretty sure that one word for the modern country Turkey, Anatolia, comes from the same roots, although I'd have to research that one some more...

Advent sermon

Here's the conclusion to an upcoming sermon from Luke 1:59-80 (especially vss 74-79).

John has come. Jesus is coming soon. Serve the Lord without fear, knowing the Messiah will take care of all enemies of peace, within ourselves and out there. Worship Him with joy. Worship with amazement, remembering that the victory began with a baby in a manger. In all the bustle, don’t lose sight of the knowledge of salvation, the forgiveness of your sins. That was the whole point of all of this. To forget that, to take our rescue from sin lightly or disregard it, is to kick over the manger; it’s worse than trying to take down the public nativity scene. No, instead come as the shepherds and wise men did and offer him yourself. Cling to the manger, the cross and the empty tomb, for there is your peace. Worship Him in hope of the fulfilled peace yet to come.



Excellent work. An obvious classic. But the saints immemorial didn't need me to tell them that.

Acts 20:28, 20 is the theme, Paul's exhortation to the Ephesian elders:

"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepher the church of God.... I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly from house to house..."

Preaching is more than just 30 minutes on a Sunday. The minister's work is more than that day's work. Pastors must seek out occasions to preach the Gospel to the congregation one-on-one, preferably "house to house." To convert those you thought already were, to better know the congregation, so you will know how to preach on Sunday, and for myriad other reasons.

Relativism redux

Some good Doug Wilson lines from catch-up reading on his blog -

On homosexuality and worldly philosophy:
"When it comes to issues like homosexuality, give me a Nigerian bishop who has read his Bible instead of a former English teacher turned pastor who has read his Derrida. Any day."

On postmodernism:
"My point is that we are in a situation that is almost exactly comparable to what Machen faced in the early part of the twentieth century. Christianity and Liberalism represented two different faiths. The fact that Liberalism used a bunch of the same words as the orthodox did not exonerate anybody; the point of using the same words was to deceive and lead people astray. Which it did, by the truckload.... the Church has been here before. If the devil were a football coach, and that old liberalism play flattened our left tackle, what do you think he would do? He would run the play again. And that is exactly what he is doing in this emergent foolishness, and it appears that our left tackle has not really learned anything since then. Our left tackle is still a pencil neck.

"Reading the emergents is like reading people who apologize for taking up space and breathing; they reject certainty about the truth, and make certain clear teachings of Scripture murky (the wrath of God, homosexuality, idolatry). Assuming we pay them the dignity of actually reading their books, examining what they have to say, and taking it at face value, I have to conclude that their sorry approach to "knowing" cannot be separated from 'knowing Christ...'

"Postmodernists don't necessarily deny the factuality of Christ's resurrection. They deny, in effect, the factuality of anything. What does it mean to assert the factuality of Christ's resurrection in a world without factuality? And does postmodernism give us a world without factuality? A bunch of them, the hard postmodernists, believe that it does. The soft postmodernists want to salvage something objective "out there," but I believe, given their assumptions, they cannot do it for very long. Emergents have more in common with the soft pomos than the hard pomos but this is simply because they are trying to make the sale to conservative evangelicals."


OT and Advent, part 7

Daniel 9:20-24.

Gabriel shows up in the Bible two times.

1) He comes to Daniel as he prays for Israel, as an answer to that prayer, and tells him it will be 490 years before it is completely answered.

2) He comes to Zacharias as he prays for Israel, as an answer to that prayer, and tells him 460 of the 490 years are up, it's almost time, and you'll have a son who will get Israel ready for the end.

Sidenote - lots of intepretations on the Daniel 9, 70 weeks/sevens, I realize. I think I go with the literal one, in this case. It fits very well with the dates.

Advent and my own, personal (ministerial) conviction, part 6

Ryle again, on John being filled with the Spirit and turning hearts (Luke 1:15-16):

"The character of a really great and successful minister... is one who will 'turn hearts,' - turn them from ignorance to knowledge, from carelessness to thoughtfulness, from sin to God.... Without such men, learning, titles, endowments, and splendid buildings, will keep no Church alive. Souls will not be saved, good will not be done, Christ will not be glorified, except by men full of the Holy Ghost."

Federal Vision and Advent

Federal Vision?

JC Ryle, in his Luke commentary, on Zach and Liz's righteousness (Lk 1:6):

"It matters little whether we interpret this 'righteousness' as that which is imputed to all believers for thier justification, or that which is wrought inwardly in believers by the operation of the Holy Ghost, for their sanctification. The two sorts of righteousness are never disjoined. There are none justified who are not sanctified, and there are none sanctified who are not justified."

OT and Advent, part 5

Luke 1:20: "You shall be mute and not able to speak."

To use Yoda's great line: There is another.

There was another who was mute and unable to speak, by God's decree. Ezekiel.

Ezek 3:26 - God makes Ezekiel mute, because God doesn't want him to prophesy to the rebellious house of Israel. Then in 24:27, on the day the city and temple of Jerusalem are razed to the ground, Ezekiel is given his voice again.

There is another.

Zacharias finds his voice when he names John (Luke 1:64), the forerunner of the one who said: Tear down this temple and I'll build it again in 3 days.

When the temple came down, the voice came back. When the temple veil was torn, it was done. And God foretold it through Ezekiel's and Zacharias' mute-ness.

OT and Advent, part 4

Zach and Liz (Luke 1:5) were old and well advanced in years (1:7). So was another couple from long ago: Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18:11). Sarah laughed when she heard the promise: can I bear a child at my age? Zach is also skeptical, and for the same reason (1:18).

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed" (Rom 4:18) this promise, and so did Zach, since he named him John, against the custom.

As it was through Isaac that Abraham's offspring is reckoned, so it is through John that Abraham's Offspring (Gal 3:16) is reckoned (John 1:29-36).

OT and Advent, part 3

Only 2 Bible characters were set apart from the womb as Nazaritish (no wine and keep ritually clean): Samson and John the Baptizer. Although Samson was arguably the most successful of the judges in restoring the kingdom to Israel, he failed to complete it. Now John comes, least in the kingdom coming. He will not fail.

As Samson came before Samuel the prophet, who anointed Israel's king David, so John comes before the anointing of Jesus, Israel's new David.

Talmud and Advent, part 2

Gabriel tells Zach that his son John can't drink wine or strong drink (Luke 1:15).

This may or may not make John a Nazarite (Numbers 6:3), but I found Lightfoot amusing here:

"There was, as the doctors [Jewish scribes] call it, 'the wine of command (yayin mitzvah)' which they were bound by precept to drink. Such was 'that wine of the tithes,' Deut. 12:17-18, that was commanded to be drunk at Jerusalem, and the cup of wine to be drunk at the Passover. What must the Nazarite do in this case? If he drink, he violates the command of his order; if he do not drink, he breaks the command about tithes and the laws of his fathers. [Jewish scribes quote]: 'Let Elijah untie this knot then he comes.' "

So John came fasting and ranting and they didn't accept him. Jesus came eating and drinking with sinners and they called Him a glutton and drunkard (Matt 11:19). Turns out, you can't win, with some people.

Talmud and Advent, part 1

Lightfoot's New Testament commentary using Jewish sources is fascinating. A couple doosies follow. (How do you spell "doozy"?)

In Luke 1, Zacharias burns incense in the temple while the people wait outside, praying silently. After all the busy-ness of other temple service - sweeping out altar ashes, laying on new wood, etc. - the other priests would withdraw, while the one chosen by lot would go right up to the Holy of Holies, by the altar of incense, and burn the incense. Outside, they would pray silently, which was unusual, since they usually spoke their prayers in a normal voice. An angel shows up, saying the prayers are heard, and "Elijah" will be born to Zach and Liz.

Now fast forward to Revelation 8. Sure enough, an angel standing by the altar with a censer is given incense to burn, the prayers of the saints. And while he does that, there is silence (verses 1-3).

Then the angel throws fire down to the earth. Huh. Who called fire down from heaven? You guessed it. Elijah. He proclaims judgment on the earth, just as the following 7 trumpets bring judgment on the earth, in Rev 8-9.


Christmastime Begins!

It may be Thanksgiving Day, but all this blowing and snowing has us in the mood for Christmas! (Nothing like below zero wind chills and white outs to kill any feelings of thankfulness.) So, having one party postponed due to weather conditions, we declared the start of "Christmastime" in the Hemmeke household. At 6:00 pm when Steve's watch alarm went off ("new day!") the kids got to FINALLY play with their nativity sets that have been stashed away for a year. Christmas tunes danced out of the CD player, and our book on the Pilgrims was cast aside by the kids. So much for Squanto!

The thought behind "Christmastime" is to deflate all the excitement and expectations that can build up into a big pressure cooker for December 25. One snow storm or sickness and that pot can burst! We still recognize the 25th as "the day", but extending the Christmas celebration to include Advent and Epiphany spreads out the pressure to create a "perfect" day.

So what's in store for this month+ long celebration? We'll be celebrating Advent with devotions based around Jesse Tree felt magnets (engineered by yours truly to withstand a 1 year old and not pose a choking hazard!). Each of the 25 magnets represents part of Christ's geneology, starting with God and the creation of Adam to Mary/Joseph and Jesus. The only drawback to this is that I only have made 13 magnets during the past 2 years. Time to get cracking and complete the set!

Grace and I will attend her cousin's dance performance retelling the Christmas story through song and movement. Grace loves anything ballet/Angelina Ballerina/music, so we're pumped to attend.

Owen is excited to saw down his first Christmas tree (previous two of his life were delivered to our home). He plans on bringing his plastic hacksaw to help Dad. And of course we'll have a special tree decorating night where I put "my" ornaments on the top half of the tree and the kids put theirs *anywhere* on the bottom half. Each year I give them an ornament to represent the past year of their lives. I'm kind of a stickler about my Christmas trees.... I don't let them hang all the ornaments on one branch. And I can't get enough lights. Am I crazy, or does anyone else out there think 700 lights is the bare minimum for a 6' tree? Steve and I have a wonderful system worked out when it comes to the tree: he sets it up in the base, I decorate it, and we "ooh" and "ahh" at it together. :)

Plans are still in the works for Christmas day (we have NO GET TOGETHERS PLANNED!) and I'm still dreaming up something for Epiphany to do with the 12 Days of Christmas. But not the cheesy song version. Oh no, I must be creative. If you have any ideas, let me know!

And of course, Steve's 30th birthday is in December, so I can't miss that!


Book crazy

Due to lack of self-discipline, I've gone bonkers starting several new books, while also currently reading Baxter (very good). See sidebar for more...

Pharisees and Me

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 11/20/2005

"The Pharisees are the principal bad guys in the New Testament, and they are caricatured as such by the Lord Jesus Himself. But we frequently miss the spiritual lessons involved because we don’t understand polemical satire and caricature. We look at the portrait Jesus draws and we take it with a wooden literalism, and we therefore see the Pharisees as orcs and Nazis, and we think their temptations are not ours. But the Pharisees are not as bad as we think (they are not cartoon villains), and contemporary evangelicalism is therefore in far worse shape than we think. Almost all the condemnations that apply to them apply to us as well.

"What are the marks of a Pharisee? In Scripture, there are four basic marks. The first is contempt for others (Luke 18:9). The Pharisee loves to feel superior, loves to look down his nose. The second is superficial views of the need for forgiveness (Luke 7:47). The one who is forgiven little, loves little. The third is an overblown and heightened sense of fairness and unfairness (Luke 15:11-32; Matt. 20:1-16). The Pharisee loves to glance sideways at what is being done for others, or is being done by others. And the fourth is an unteachable spirit (Matt. 21:33-46). When confronted with the undeniable sinfulness of what he is doing, the Pharisee chooses to brazen it out, to argue the point, to make it a matter of "interpretation."

"When Jesus painted His caricature of them, He did so in a way that enabled us to see what was going on. And because it was two thousand years ago, we can see it—in them.

"We do not widen our phylacteries; we have floppy Bibles with ribbons in them. We do not offer lengthy prayers in the synagogues; we do in the churches. We do not look at the woman caught in adultery with contempt; we look at the immodestly-dressed college girl with contempt. And in a basic display of a censorious and religious bookkeeping system, our hearts (and sometimes our mouths) are full of phrases that rhyme with 'that’s not fair!' May God deliver us."

East Asia allies doubt U.S. could win war with China

Officials from Australia, South Korea and Japan have been telling us for months that we would "lose any war with China."

Much of the story comes from Tokyo's governor. Three reasons were given:

1. We respect human life - they don't. "[USA] has a civic society that must adhere to the value of respecting lives." Implying China does not, proven by their brutal one-child policy. This is the same issue we are facing with terrorists.

2. There's just too many of them! What do you do when millions of soldiers come at you?

3. They judge partly on how Iraq is going. Is this legit? I think so. Some might be tempted to think it's completely different because of the insurgents who hate America so. Well, don't you think the same would be true in China? Does the "why do they hate us?" line only apply to terrorists, and not to dyed-in-the-wool Chinese Communists, who are cozying up to us economically? I see no reason for this naivete: "China must like us; we've got this great economy they're feeding off of." Please. Same nonsense we thought about the middle east before 9-11.

Objection:Given economic influence, won't China evolve into a stable democracy with free elections? The Tokyo governor: "I believe such predictions are totally wrong." He advocates economic containment, instead. I wonder if he isn't right. Why would we want to feed this Communist beast? I suppose it makes sense to avoid another Cold War, and actually have relations with our enemies. But we need to remember they are enemies. They brutally suppress - with arrest, torture, and death - Christians who speak against Communism. They wouldn't release our soldiers when they were downed.

The biggest obstacle to remembering the hostile nature of China appears to be American businessmen in an economy that will do anything to cut costs. It seems China is gaining all of our technology as we bring it there, and we're just getting cheap labor in return. No wonder they're catching up with us economically and militarily. To save a few bucks back at home, we give away the store in Beijing. For this to make sense, we have to assume they're a benign non-entity. Then we justify it by naively pleading that they'll become like us through trade.

Meanwhile, Japan and other Asian allies are starting to beef up their OWN militaries, no longer comfortable relying on the good ol' US of A...


Household despot

Part of being a housewife is taking dominion of the home - read Nancy Wilson on that. So I've been thinking about my little kingdom, with it's 3 short subjects and the king I am responsible to. Everything that happens under my watch is a decision I make - either to do or not to do something. So if something goes undone, it's not just passively ignoring or procrastinating, but a choice to NOT do that chore. OK, I confess there are lots of things that I choose not to do, like ironing, that come back to bite me in the bud.

That said, a wife needs to be careful about how she manages her dominion. She may be the queen bee after all, but the queen still answers to the king (her husband). So how her home is run and managed can be a good picture of her relationship with her heavenly Lord, Jesus. Is the decorating really swank but it's essentially a pig pen once you peel back the pretty veneer? Or is there a humble yet beautiful atmosphere that permeates throughout the home? What really matters? The people in it or the fab dinner or Pottery Barn trappings?

Need I place Martha Stewart before us as an example? Great looking rooms, gourmet meals, but she landed her butt in jail because of a less-than-stellar moral code (and came out wearing a poncho!!)

I encourage all wives and future-wives to spend some time thinking about the relationship between home upkeep and atmosphere with their personal relationship with Christ. The external is a branch off from the inner heart. I'm not saying that our homes need to be spartanly decorated with plain white walls and serve bread and broth for supper. On the contrary, because we are Christians our homes should reflect the beauty and magnificence of our King. And should bless others. Our kids are blessed at dinner time whenever we light candles. They think candles mean we're having a feast, even if it's grilled cheese sandwiches.

The Dutch contribution to Thanksgiving

Courtesy of World Magazine and the Wall Street Journal:

The story begins "on Jan. 24, 1597..., the Battle of Turnhout, in which Prince Maurice of Orange defeated the Spanish occupiers of a town in what is now the Netherlands. It appears likely that Dutch Protestants--who were forbidden from practicing their religion under the Catholic King Philip II of Spain--celebrated the victory by borrowing the familiar folk melody and giving it new words. Hence "Wilt heden nu treden" or, loosely translated, "We gather together"--a phrase that itself connoted a heretofore forbidden act: Dutch Protestants joining together in worship."

"It's tantalizing to think that the English Pilgrims--in exile in Holland, the only place in Europe where they could worship freely--might have been familiar with "Wilt heden nu treden." There's no record that they were, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. Some of them spoke Dutch, attended Dutch churches and even became Dutch citizens."


Worship and the world

More good stuff here, by a pastor friend. Sections quoted below...

"In the midst of a hostile, even persecuting pagan environment, the early Christian leaders made it difficult to join the church. The catechumenate was a three year long process, involving much prayer, fasting, instruction, memorization, and mortification of desire. The disorientation Protestants feel upon worshipping in a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church is a reflection of just how out of sync we are with the idea of the Church as a body of believers set apart and called out of the world. We are taught to grow the church by blurring the boundary between it and the world. The first Christians grew their churches by doing the exact opposite: by highlighting the differences between the new life and the old."

"You are told by "experts" to change: change the music, the worship, and the outreach. Stop catering to the old, and go after the young. Be hip, be cool, be casual, be entertaining, be happy, be whatever you have to be to get those people into your pews."

Good comment made on the post, too: "if the Spirit is alive-and-well among your people, and if they are truly welcoming of others (as sisters and brothers to whom they can minister, not just "fresh meet" or income sources), then you can reach new folks. AND there's a lot you can do to be user-friendly without abandoning or dumbing-down the tradition."

Pride and love

Good words by RC Sproul, Jr., taking the abstract sin of pride down to its recognizeable form in ourselves: how we think about ourselves and others.


To talk, or not to talk

Received a letter from a local RCA church consistory (leadership board) today expressing "deep concern over the proposed 'continued dialogue' within the denomination over the next three years regarding the issue of homosexuality,... finding it very disturbing that the RCA seems to be unable to 'once and for all' take a firm stand on the issue," and "call[ing] for an end to further dialogue."

Hm. I'm 95% there. I'm disturbed, holding the same position as the authors, having the same concern that the desire for dialogue really DOES reveal an inability to take a stand with the Scriptures against worldly trends of tolerance for sin (in some quarters of the RCA, not all).

But to cut off dialogue? That's what the RCA did with this issue for the last 7 years or so and look where it got us - divided and isolated camps in one pressure cooker waiting to blow.

I recently called for us to take a quick, decisive stand on this issue, just like this letter does, but I don't see a need to end dialogue. Perhaps taking a stand does that tacitly, and we need to accept that kind of fallout in order to live out the truth we've been stating for 20 years. But we shouldn't shut dialogue down, explicitly. Just make the decision graciously and deal with those who remain graciously and according to the decision taken. Those who leave will have condemned themselves.

Part of the difference of opinion here is in what the church should be. Should we reflect:
a. Jesus' parable of the weeds growing with the wheat until harvest, not trying to pull up the weeds until it's time?
b. Paul's call to remove the leaven from among us in 1 Corinthians 5?

I believe it is the latter, because the former is a discussion between God and His angels, the latter option is Paul the Apostle with a direct command for the church (John does the same to other churches in Rev 2-3, so it's not a church-specific thing, either).

If this is the case, then those who slander people trying to be faithful with labels like "witch-hunt" had better be ready to apply that label to Paul and John as well.
"I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel... [who] misleads My servants into sexual immorality" (Rev 2:20). As the corporate Body of Christ living together, tolerance of sin and people promoting sin is wicked. Never mind that in Rev 2 God then says He will deal with the problem; He first rebukes the CHURCH for not having dealt with it already.


It's looking like Narnia outside today - a few inches of snow and big, puffy white flakes continue to fall. Beautiful, but thank God it's not always winter and never Cristmas.

In preparing for preaching Mark 7:32-35, I realized ol' Jack (Lewis) may have had this text in mind when having Aslan breathe stone statues back to life. Of course, Genesis 2 as well...



Just finished this one. Fascinating guy, spiritually. He presents his Christian faith to a wide audience in a clear and forthright way. Yes, the U2 rock star has a Christian faith, I think. See below for his own words. He's been married for over 20 years, has 4 kids. He's not a saint - I left out the swear words and the typical Irish drinking kind of stuff he grew up with.

Here are some selections:

Interviewer: are you all believers now?

Bono: Yes. Adam had his own path, and it took him further out into the world. But I would say Adam is, right now, the most spiritually centered of the band... the person who is now the most watchful of the sheep as they stray out of the herd. I do love the image of sheep. You've got to hand it to Jesus. (pg 64)

"The God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship..." (200)

"Religion can be the enemy of God... A list of instructions where there was once conviction... Discipline replacing discipleship." (201)

On meeting the Pope

Bono: He was staring at [my sunglasses]. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Interviewer: Didn't he put them on?

Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. (202)

On the dangers of religious extremism:

"Zealots often have no love for the world. They're just getting throuh it to the next one... But I take Christ at his word: 'On earth as it is in heaven.'" (203)

On grace and Gospel
Bono: At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.... yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that 'As you reap, so will you sow' stuff.... which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

Interviewer: I'd be interested to hear that.

Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge.... I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross.... God says: 'Look, you cretins,... there's mortality as part of your very sinful nature.' The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled... It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven. (204)

On Jesus
"The secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet... along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that.... Christ says: 'No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher.... I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate."' Either Christ was who He said He was - the Messiah - or a complete nutcase... on the level of Charles Manson." (204-5)

On personal life and music
"Unless you have a plumb line, the wall can be built crooked. So I think, for me, that is prayer, and my life worshipping God through music." (137)

On conversion (maybe - my label) and Christmas
"Got home for Christmas... in Dublin.... On Christmas Eve, I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral.... I went for the singing, because I love choral singing.... But I was falling asleep... because it was a bit boring, the service.... It dawned on me for the first time... the Christmas story. The idea that God... would seek to explain [him]self and describe [him]self by becoming a child born in straw poverty.... Love needs to find form... essence has to manifest itself.... Love has to become an action... There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh." (125)

On forgiveness
Bono: "Be silent, and know that I am God." That's a favorite line from the Scriptures. 'Shut up and let Me love you' would be the pop song... If ever I needed to hear a comment, it might be that.

Interviewer: What leaves you speechless?

Bono: [long pause] "Forgiveness" is my answer.

Interviewer: You mean being forgiven?

Bono: yeah.


More "medical" knitting

Wow, I had no idea knitters were so, uh, creative. Not only can you get handknit prostheses for masectomy patients (click here), but the intrepid knitter can create a variety of internal organs. Check out the knit digestive system here or a cute little womb here. And yes, these are all free patterns.

There must be someone on your Christmas list who could use one of these!



Hooked - Sara

Last night we had a "learn to crochet night" at our church. Since I already knew how, I thought I'd go along to help teach others and work on a project of my own. It's been a long time since I held a hook! It was a great night and I managed to produce an entire scarf in one evening for Grace. It's pink (of course) and yellow, made out of TLC Wiggles. I'll never use that yarn again as the "wiggles" that are twisted onto the yarn too often get caught on the hook.

I also found a quick and fun crochet flower pin to whip up: www.modadea.com/patterns/rose.htm
Great way to use up oddments of yarn!

The Shetland Tea Shawl is under way - only (!) about 30 rounds (of 600 sts each) to go and the edging. Perhaps this will be done by Thanksgiving. I doubt it though as one round takes about 30 minutes to complete! I don't even want to figure out how many hours that works out to!

I find myself looking for a "no brainer" project with all this lace I've been doing lately. Dare I cast on another project. You bet! And a friend showed my some luscious yarn that is new to our LYS - perhaps a few new projects are in my future.

One last note: I'm intrigued with knitting for medical purposes, and this goes way beyond the chemo cap.



Putting the brakes on postmodernism

Good post by Doug Wilson here - much of it a critique of Brian McLaren. I'll quote selectively:

"The "neat and tidy" systematicians [to whom postmodernists react allergically] certainly tidy up some things that they ought not to. But neither do they believe that homosexual marriage is a difficult issue that the church has to learn how to "wrestle with." Some things are neat and tidy. If someone comes along and tries to confuse those issues, I assume that there is something deeply disordered in his theology prior to that point.

"I see us [Wilson and postmodernists like McLaren] as standing in completely different places -- and they got to their different place by a different route. The only thing we have in common is the place we are both urging people to leave. I want people to leave the false certainties of modernity for the genuine certainties of Scripture. They want people to leave the false certainties of modernity for a bundle of uncertainties masquerading as humility. The one thing that emergent preachers cannot do (and remain emergent) is thunder the Word. "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hear the word of the Lord, you sons of men . . ." And yet Scripture says that the one who speaks should speak as the very oracles of God. Given their assumed (and unassuming) ethos, they simply cannot do this. Not without ground level repentance.

"When I cash out what that man [McLaren] is saying, I don't mind saying that he is a very real danger to the church.

"[We are] not ashamed of anything in the Bible, straight up, no apologies. He believes and embraces it all.... McLaren challenges the idols of modernity on the basis of nothing more than the current trendy zeitgeist. He is a theological me-tooer, one of our cutting edge chattering classes. So both Leithart and McLaren attack Enlightenment categories. But [we] pack a punch because [we are] standing on something -- the absolute Word of God."


Karl Rove and the peace of the Church

"I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord." Philippians 4:2.

Amazing story about Karl Rove and his political enemies attending the same church. What a disgrace. I don't claim to know who's at fault between these two, but where is the church? Where is Matthew 18:15ff?

John Chrysostom, the 4th century preacher puts it well:
"As it is not to be imagined that the fornicator and the blasphemer can partake of the sacred Table, so it is impossible that he who has an enemy, and bears malice, can enjoy the holy Communion.… I forewarn, and testify, and proclaim this with a voice that all may hear! "Let no one who hath an enemy draw near the sacred Table, or receive the Lord's Body! Let no one who draws near have an enemy! Do you have an enemy? Draw not near! Do you wish to draw near? Be reconciled, and then draw near, and touch the Holy Thing!" .... We are commanded to have only one enemy, the devil. With him never be reconciled! But with a brother, never be at enmity in thy heart." (Homily 20)

Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls

I've started Hebrews, with my system of highlighting verses that have direct word-connections with the Old Testament. 11 references in the first 6 verses!

Hebrews 1:6 wowed me, once again. "Let all God's angels worship Him." The writer is quoting Scripture. Apart from Psalm 97:7 ("Worship Him, all gods/angels"), the best option for what is quoted is Deuteronomy 32:43. There the phrase "let all the angels worship Him" is only found in Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT).

But the context of Deut 32:43 is what gets me. Verse 36: "The Lord will judge His people." Vs 39: "Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal." Verse 43: "He will provide atonement for His land and His people."

And Hebrews, by quoting a phrase from this passage, shows us that it's all about Jesus. There is no god besides Jesus. HE kills and makes alive, wounds and heals, provides atonement.


Weapons of war - Eph 6:10-20

Wise words from Pyromaniac, Phil Johnson:

"Have you noticed how radically different the Bible's war plan is from the conventional wisdom of contemporary evangelicalism?

"Nowadays we see book after book being published on ministry philosophy, church-growth strategy, and Christian leadership—virtually all urging church leaders to compromise, conform, accommodate, adapt, and adopt the language and thinking of the world. Youth Specialties and Zondervan (under Rupert Murdock's shrewd leadership) have built a major industry publishing how-to books that teach young pastors and youth leaders how to suit their style to the latest worldly trends.

"I am frankly weary of all the self-styled experts who are telling pastors and church leaders today that unless they get with the times, tone down their message, adapt their methods to meet the worldly preferences of the current generation, accommodate their message to the postmodern dialectic, bone up on this or that academic fad, or otherwise adopt some fleshly strategy, the church will die or lose the battle for the souls of the next generation.

"We've tried all those strategies for at least three or four generations now, and we're still losing ground. In our mad pursuit of "relevance," has anyone noticed that the church is becoming more and more irrelevant? All this accommodation to the culture is the very thing that makes the church culturally irrelevant.

"We are supposed to be in this world but not of it, remember?"

More here...

And more on the same theme by the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon, further down Pyro's page...


Pastor electrocuted...

Good thing we don't typically do baptism by immersion where I'm from...