random thoughts on creativity

For those who follow my creative pursuits and would like some inspiration, I've updated my small section of the sidebar to the right (scroll down a bit). There's quite a variety there.

There's been a flurry of crafting-related discussions in our congregation lately. This has generated some random thoughts in my head, feel free to comment to help develop them further. Here's what my radar has picked up:

-the need to create: I've heard so many ladies express a desire to make things, even if they don't know how or ever get around to it. Baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, decorating... I believe it is the fact that we are made in the image of a Creator which compels us to follow suit and create objects ourselves. Beautiful objects, tasty objects. Nobody is satisfied with a half-baked loaf of bread that didn't rise all the way, or playing a music piece that doesn't keep time. People desire excellence in what is created.

-Creating brings folks together: this transcends age. When one of my kids starts drawing or making something, the others naturally join in with ideas or their own contributions. Adults do the same thing. Blogs, online communities, real-life knitting groups, etc. have sprung up all over the place. The sharing of ideas edifies each other, a created object is only complete when given/shared with someone else.

This makes me think about the creation of the world. 5 days of making trees, water, sky, & critters, but it wasn't complete until man was formed. God shares his creation with Adam, gives it to him even, then makes woman so he can continue sharing with his own kind on earth. They encourage and spur each other onto more creativity.

Whatever you create today, make sure to share it with someone else. Look for the mutual edification, then praise the Creator for being made in His image.


Covenant families

“All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— 12 that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today."

Deuteronomy 29:10-12

Clear evidence that God establishes His covenant with His people (Israel, here; the Church, in Christ) and the families among His people, not just individuals.

What Grace Does

"Grace is the mother of holiness, not the apologist for sin."

CH Spurgeon - Morning and Evening, January 25


Our New President, and Abortion

This one takes a while to load, with a slow connection, but it's worth the wait.
Or try going here.

Why not contemporary Christian music?

Modern Worship and Madison Avenue

Almost a year ago I attended a pastors's conference where it was asserted that the problem with modern worship music was neither it's newness nor the instruments used to accompany the singing of God's people. Rather, it was asserted, the primary problem with modern worship music was it's striking similarity to the jingles produced by the advertisement gurus on Madison Avenue. After watching the video below, I realized that Tim Hawkins most likely reached the same conclusion, not theologically or philosophically, but rather, just musically. Enjoy/Weep.

He just went on looking at Aslan

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Chapter 13 - Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time

Edmund is miserable, and the witch thinks killing him will foil Aslan's plans. Of course, death is precisely what Aslan will UNDO, according to plan. She has no idea.

She considers killing him "a little thing," and calls him an it. When he is rescued he hears and receives kindness. In these subtle ways Lewis describes the antithesis between good and evil, as between kindness and cruelty.

The witch escapes with her life - she would rather lose Edmund and save her skin.

Edmund in the morning is "with Aslan," and "it was a conversation which Edmund never forgot." We learn about forgiveness and love covering past wrongs: "there is no need to talk to him about what is past."

The witch claims her title as Queen and an audience with Aslan, neither of which she deserves, as Beaver points out: "Of all the cheek." Yet Aslan condescends to her, in order to defeat her, as God does in granting Satan an audience with Him. As He limited Satan's power over Job, Aslan knows the witch's power in her wand and forbids it. The leopards go off to escort her. This council of good with evil looks suspect, without faith. What does light have to do with darkness, after all? It is strange to see such different faces so close together. But Peter shows faith in spades: "It'll be all right. He wouldn't send them if it weren't."

The witch cannot look Aslan in the eyes, yet, having lost Edmund by force, claims him by law. She is the accuser (Zech 3:1-5). Next comes some of the best few phrases in all these chronicles of Narnia, describing how we ought to respond to accusations, having been forgiven: "Edmund had got past thinking about himself... He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn't seem to matter what the Witch said." Aslan points out that "his offense was not against [her]." So she then questions His justice. "Have you forgotten the deep Magic?" Magic here is synonymous with Law, or order of things. She is quoting Rom 6:23 to Him, calling for blood and death, for Edmund's sin. She knows Aslan won't work against this law, by force or trickery. She has Him checkmated, she thinks. But her one claim to power - death - is just what Aslan will undo.

Aslan privately proposes a plan, the witch accepts even more triumphantly with "fierce joy," "renounc[ing] the claim on your brother's blood." She doubts His word, which is blasphemy, just as Edmund did early on: "how do I know?" There are limit's to God's condescension, like when we start questioning God's integrity as if He were "a man, that He should lie" (Num 23:19). The witch, rightly fearful of Aslan's roar, runs for her life.



I seem to be on a roll for stumbling across crazy knitting objects. Apparently a new trend is emerging on the streets around the world: Yarnbombing. Guerilla knitters secretly stitch their wool creations to all kinds of public fixtures, often under the cover of night - streetlights, garden sheds, busses. Yup, even busses have cozes now.

photo: BNPS

Read more about this trend here. The gal interviewed shares my name and age... I assure you it is NOT me undercover!

His Great Unchanging Eyes

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Chapter 12 - Peter's First Battle

The beavers and children are also walking through the thaw, but delighting in it instead of angry, like the witch. They figure out what the witch knew for sure: Spring means Aslan is at work (giving life), undoing "the witch's schemes" (1 John 3:8). They are tired, but the healthy, tingly tired of having done a good day's work, as they ought to have done.

They come to the Stone Table, something ancient, obviously from another age. It represents the Law of God, written in stone (Ex 34:1; 2 Cor 3:7). Aslan is "good and terrible at the same time." They can't look him straight in the face (2 Cor 3:7 again!). Peter is the spokesman for the disciples, and takes responsibility before Aslan for anything he has done wrong.

Lucy comes closest to Aslan's heart, seeing His sadness at what is to come, and asking first about saving Edmund. Can anything be done? "All shall be done. But it may be harder than you think."

Aslan shows Peter the castle where he will be king, and then he has to earn that crown: "let the Prince win his spurs!" He kills the wolf that threatens the sheep. He does it regardless of his feeling sick. Then we learn that "kissing and crying" are all right in Narnia, especially after brushes with death like that. Aslan knights Peter. "Never forget to wipe your sword."

I am NOT a Puritan? Huh.

JI Packer says in his first lecture on the Puritans (find the whole course free at Itunes U.!), that their initial protests against the established Church of England were against the use of:

1. the wedding ring  (too sacramental)
2. kneeling to receive the Lord's Supper (too much like worshiping the elements)
3. the white robe for the minister (too priestly)
4. marking a cross on the forehead of one baptized (too ritual)

I endorse the first; would allow, though not prefer, the second; would allow and do the third; and am ambivalent on the fourth.

The rationale was that the church shouldn't insist its congregations do what the Scripture doesn't require. Well, right, the church shouldn't require it, binding the conscience, but what if church teaching and practice actually does conform to Scriptural principles even if such things are not required explicitly in Scripture?

Of course, many other distinctives of Puritans I hold, so I don't give up the title completely... more on those another time, perhaps.

Kitchen Cotton Keeps Time

The knitting world is getting more and more creative - we have long gone past toilet paper covers and cardigans. I've seen knitted food, knitted body parts, even a knitted dissected frog complete with removeable organs. Now this.

A knitted clock cover! I love the cables as numbers! This was designed by gnr8 and can be found for sale here for over $400.

I know the price of cotton yarn, and I think I could cook this up for nearly 1/100th the cost. Reverse engineering this would be a priceless fun time - something to do while hubby reads the "Institutes" aloud at night. I'm sure Idelette did the same thing while Jean was writing.

Fun Shakespeare

Pretty fun spoof of "Who's on first?"
Have to wait until about 1:20 for it to get started...


Illustrating Dad's Sermons

The daughter captures each of the 3 temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness. The focus is not on the participants, but on the setting of each scene. This shows the weight of each temptation.
The son has a much more, ahem, well-armed version of Jesus facing Satan. Note the many-spiked swords and shields. Jesus is on the left, marked by the cross in the upper left, and Satan and his minions on the right as marked by the lightning in the upper right corner and many sharp pointy teeth.. I was going to try to get rid of the sermon text from the background, but decided it belonged with the artwork, kind of an altered-medium sort of work. Note also how Jesus is advancing while Satan just stands and (hopelessly) defends. It doesn't show in the above scan, but the paper itself shows many signs of struggle and battle with its many wrinkles and abuse from the artist.
We do our best artwork during Dad's sermons, it seems.

Your Winter Has Been Destroyed

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Chapter 11 - Aslan is Nearer

Serving sin, Satan, and evil is always "disappointing," as Edmund now finds out. The witch has used him, and now he is excess baggage, except as a hostage. Only to keep him from fainting does she give him any sustenance. With Edmund right next to her, she tells her wolves to seek and kill the beavers and children, whether at the beavers' house or on their way to the Stone Table. Wonder what Edmund thought in that moment. The weather providentially prevents their tracking the children down. Lewis does this in Esther style, pointing it out by not mentioning any divine intervention.

We see more of the witch's true nature when she comes across a party, provisioned by Father Christmas. Why "all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?" She has it all backwards. The party is a right enjoyment of the good things God gives. But she will misuse such things to serve her interests.

When she turns them to stone, Edmund "for the first time in this story, felt sorry for someone besides himself." It is so much easier to see the effects of sin and evil in others, than to see it in ourselves.

Aslan's thaw begins, resulting in the witch's cruelty, even to her animals. Lewis' love for nature is obvious as he describes the thaw: celandines, crocuses, black prickly branches, patches of green, birds' music, laburnums. The dwarf realizes what it means: "your winter has been destroyed... this is Aslan's doing." The witch will not hear His name. She, like Satan, is in denial; she wants nothing to do with the One with whom we all must deal.


Just Like Men

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Chapter 10 - the Spell begins to break

Mrs Beaver shows her quality and sense in preparing the group before rushing out the door. No craven fear before an evil power stronger than her, she still knows the power of the unexpected. There is an echo of the Lord of the Rings there.

Lewis details the long walk, not overlooking the need for hard physical work in fighting evil.
Mr Beaver continues his politically incorrect ways, giving the children some kind of scotch in the hiding place to help them sleep.

Father Christmas returns to Narnia. Lewis seems to enjoy importing mythological characters from our world into reality in Narnia. He always makes them subordinate to Aslan, and shows their goodness in parallel with the enemy. Both the witch and Father Christmas have sleighs, reindeer, and bells.) He also gives them depth, where in our stories they can be shallow. Santa is fat and jolly for us, but here "He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn." Solemn gladness is a theme throughout Lewis' thought. The Church today has LOST it, and badly needs it back.

He gives presents, which turns him into a sort of parallel with the Holy Spirit, who gives us gifts (1 Cor 12:7ff). The beavers get gifts related to their home; the children for battle, though only Peter for close combat, for "battles are ugly when women fight."

Father Christmas is also like the angel that gives Elijah rest and food in his flight from Jezebel (1 Kings 19). He gives a small feast. But the men examine Peter's sword. Lewis puts the wonder of Christmas right next to the down-to-earth sense of the beavers. "Don't stand talking there till the tea's got cold. Just like men." "Time to be moving on now."

NT Wright and John Piper on Justification

This is an interview with Wright about his new book, where he responds to Piper's critique of Wright's view on justification. Very interesting interview. I think there are points to be gleaned from both sides of this debate.

Some excerpts, Wright speaking:

"the version of the ‘new perspective’ which I embrace and expound (there are as many quite different versions of the so-called NP as there are expositors of it) is not at all inimical to the real concerns, including personal salvation, substitutionary atonement, and so forth, of the ‘traditionalists’. I hope, too, it will send the next generation of thoughtful Christians back to Scripture itself, not to this or that tradition."

"I understand Paul’s doctrine of justification to be of those who are ‘in Christ’, whereas Piper and others don’t make that a central element in justification itself. Conversely, for Piper the center of justification is the ‘imputation’ of ‘the righteousness of Christ’, seen in terms of ‘righteousness’ as a kind of moral achievement earned by Jesus and then reckoned to those who believe. I believe that this is an attempt to say something close to what Paul actually says in Romans 6, namely that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is ‘reckoned’ to those who are ‘in him’. Putting it the way Piper (and one part of the Reformation tradition) puts it is a pointer to something which is truly there in Paul, but one which gives off misleading signals as well."


"He thought more and more how he hated"

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Chapter 9 - In the Witch's House

Edmund didn't enjoy God's good creation, because he wanted his sinful delights instead. He also becomes irrationally selfish, taking offense at being snubbed when he wasn't being snubbed. He feels horror at Aslan's mention, as the witch does, where the others feel delight. He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), though, knowing the witch is bad but convincing himself otherwise.

The road is hard for the foolish. At nightfall, snowing, then windy, with no coat, he makes his way to the witch, feeding his discomfort with more resentment of Peter - "just as if all this had been Peter's fault."

Fear seizes the foolish. He dreaded Aslan's mention, but seeing the witch's house brings no comfort. Instead it brings more fear when he sees his first stone statue. This gives way to mockery, but he "didn't really get any fun out of jeering at it." Attempts at mirth fall flat for the fool.

With the witch and the wolf and the dwarf, it is all cold cruelty, no kindness. Once she has her information from Edmund she "no longer attend[ed] to him." Sin and evil are mercilessly mercenary and utilitarian. She uses people to get her way. The beavers use things to enjoy people and serve the King.


Job's argument with his friends is about God's justice.

Job: "God is not doing justice in my life right now."
Job's friends: "God is doing justice in your life right now."

There is a strand of what some call Zen Calvinism that emphasizes total depravity without empathy for what anyone is going through. No matter what your trouble, it is always less than you deserve, they say. This is true in one sense, but the message of Job seems to deny it in another sense. God WILL do justice in your life, as you "deserve" in Christ. He will seat you at His Table, free from all ill. But until that day, God does not execute justice in perfect accord with His revealed will. He does this for His own reasons (Rom 2:4; Heb 12:5-7, 11). He has set up the world so that generally we are blessed when we obey Him, and cursed when we disobey Him, but it doesn't always happen this way. We can't conclude when blessed, that we must be obeying; that when afflicted we are necessarily disobeying.


"Course He isn't safe. But He's good"

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Chapter 8

Mr Beaver relates that Tumnus was taken north, which means to the witch. She lives in northern Narnia, and north is the "death direction" in Scripture, too (Leviticus 1:11; Jeremiah 1:14-15). She turns hearts to stone (Ezekiel 36:26).

The wise beavers know the witch is stronger than them, but that Aslan is stronger than the witch. He is the King. "It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus." "The quickest way you can help him is by going to meet Aslan."
"Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing
Were not the right man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing."
They have Isaiah-like prophecies of his advent, bringing joy and chasing sorrow away. Aslan is a lion (of the tribe of Judah?), which means "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

Peter is a faithful Adam, showing us how to relate to God: he may be frightened to meet him because of who Aslan is and who Peter is, but he is longing to meet him anyway.

Even though they can do nothing without Aslan, that doesn't mean they do nothing at all. Adam's flesh and bone must sit on the throne. Beaver assumes things are coming to the end, but they aren't, just as many followers of Jesus may have thought the kingdom would be consummated by Him at His first Advent.

The witch is not human, but half giant, half Jinn. Lewis mentions Adam's first wife, Lilith. I know little about this myth, so pass over it for now with a curiousity-furrowed brow. Anyway, the witch pretends to be human, always a bad sign - Messianic imposters, false Christs.

They notice Edmund is gone, and Mr Beaver shows his wisdom further. He could tell Edmund was on her side almost by looking at him: "something about their eyes." Only Aslan can help them. Knowing the tenacity of the witch to capture them, they haven't a moment to lose before running to Him.


A Table in the Presence of My Enemies

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Chapter 7 - A Day with the Beavers

The beaver is far more aware of the danger of evil than the children are, yet. At the beginning of this chapter he wants them quiet and further in. At the very end he is glad it is snowing so the enemy can't track them.

Edmund continues to resist following the beaver, with his demand for absolute certainty: "how do we KNOW?" The beaver has Tumnus' handkerchief, which will satisfy the question for the normal person, but not one bewitched by Turkish Delight.

The separation is made vastly more acute by the mention of Aslan. He "has enormous meaning," without their even knowing about Him. Edmund is horrified. Peter is brave and adventurous. Susan feels a delightful smell or sound. Lucy has the joy of holidays. The 3 now willingly follow Mr Beaver. At his dam, the children see the smoke and think of dinner; but even though Edmund wants food, too, he instead notices the two hills and valley the witch pointed him toward before. While sin tempts you with physical delights, it always keeps you from fully enjoying or receiving them.

The beavers are gloriously humble and homely. Mrs Beaver says, "So you've come at last! At last! To thnk that ever I should live to see this day!" This is like Simeon and Anna speaking of the Messiah in the temple. 

Lewis well describes the goodness of the physical world. Peter helps Mr Beaver get some fish while the girls help in the kitchen. A healthy appetite and the hard work to satisfy it with a delicious meal come through well - new-caught fish, drained the potatoes, sticky marmalade roll, kettle onto the fire, creamy milk (Mr Beaver stuck to beer), and "there's nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago." Mr Beaver takes his tea and pipe after the beer and "a long sigh of contentment" from all (no scruples here!).  Edmund is absent from all this in writing, though actually there eating. he is hanging back from fellowship, from taking part in this world, because he belongs more and more to another.


But how do we know?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Chapter 6

When they get back to Narnia, Edmund doesn't want to be there anymore: "let's get out, they've gone." It holds no joy for him, now that he is on the wrong side.

Peter shows his character in being quick to apologize, and to explore.

Edmund slips and lets everyone know he lied about not being here before. But he doesn't apologize, choosing rather to resent them all inside.

Lucy takes them to Tumnus, but he's been arrested by the White Witch. Lucy fills them in. Susan wants to go home now, for safety. But Lucy knows loyalty; she is responsible and they have to help him for doing the right thing.
At this point they are kept from pursuing the witch, who they couldn't stop if they tried, but are taken to the beavers providentially.

On the way, Edmund plants doubts in Peter's mind. What if good is evil, and evil is good? How do we KNOW which side is right? But deep down, already when he met the witch he knew she was bad. He has descended to leading his siblings astray out of spite, and self-justification.

Three point sermon?

No problem.

Redhead that rocks my world

What could be sweeter - or more dangerous - than a 6 yr old boy? True to his redheaded nature, he's intense & passionate, whether he's buttering up mom or slaying the dragon (dad). He's a tough guy with a heart of gold. Amazingly, he's survived the first six years of his life without a single trip to the ER. Happy Birthday, bud!



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, chapter 5.

Edmund "was becoming a nastier person every minute," and Peter sees and rebukes him for it. Lucy calls them all beasts, because they don't believe; the beasts in Narnia are more intelligent, because of their faith.

Peter and Susan think Lucy is either going liar or lunatic. They go to Professor Digory Kirke, who gets them to consider the third option: is she telling the truth? ("Why don't they teach logic at these schools?") It would require changing some assumptions about what is possible in this world of ours... I mean, God's. "If things are real, they're there all the time." "Are they?"

And besides, the gospel writers - uh, I mean, Lucy - couldn't have made up the part about the different time in that world.

So instead of torturing Lucy for the truth or a confession, why not mind our own business? This mades things bearable for Lucy.

But providence returns them all to Narnia: "or that some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia."


Turkish Delight

The witch, like Tumnus, knows about Adam. Even the devil believes, and trembles. Yet she claims Narnia as her "dominions." She is capricious and arbitrary, the opposite of Aslan, quick to insult and nearly kills Edmund on the spot. But instead she wins him to her side, applying her magical (spiritual) power to his own sinful desire for Turkish Delight. She also knows the prophecies about 4 humans sitting on 4 thrones restoring Narnia, and asks him about it. So she tempts him further, as Satan did with Adam and later with Jesus, not just with the physical desire for food but with power over Narnia and over his siblings. She drives off laughing and friendly, but her countenance surely turned to dreadful hatred and fear once out of sight. Lucy returns from Tumnus very jolly, while Edmund is sulky and short with her, the after-effects of sinful indulgence in temptation. She tells her view of the witch, and Edmund believes it deep down, but wants more Turkish Delight. So his sin also drives him to prideful disdain, not wanting to admit he is wrong, keeping secrets when he had no need to do so, and lying about how he feels. Indulging sin leads you to do some pretty rotten stuff, and we see more of it in the next chapter. Edmund is becoming like the witch: fearful of and hating the truth, but knowing it deep down, with the tension driving one to malice against all goodness.


Of outsiders and usurpers

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Chapter 3

I started this series three months ago then got distracted. Here are installments one and two.

As a metaphor for spiritual reality, Narnia is not seen by all. There are some who experience and see it and others who don't. When Lucy comes out of the wardrobe and insists to her siblings on her experience, she receives the same mix of reactions that Christians get from outsiders. Peter is patronizing, Susan says she's silly and off her rocker. They all think she is lying. Edmund is especially spiteful and mean about it. For a time, Narnia divides brother against sister.

As always the return to Narnia is providential, and not controlled by the children. Lucy goes off to find Tumnus and when Edmund enters a few moments later she out of shouting range. Edmund meets the witch, who is "beautiful" and "great," but also "proud, cold and stern." There are beings in the world with more power and beauty than humans, whom we are tempted to worship or follow (Scripture teaches against this tendency in Hebrews 1:4 and Colossians 1:16; 2:9-10). Like Satan, the white witch masquerades as an angel of light.

She also passes herself off as Queen of Narnia, but we'll come to that later. For now, the queen wants to know what Edmund is.


The Shack, Redux

Wrote this to a friend just now, who was asking:
I read the Shack last year and had mixed reactions. It moved me, and does draw one into the Trinity in some positive ways. It does some good things with the problem of evil. But it distorts God's attributes according to modern "touchy-feely" ideas too much. Makes God into one big empathizer with us in our suffering, instead of the one who conquers evil. Also interesting God the Father couldn't be a man.

I wouldn't say it's sinful to read it, just be careful of the way a book like this can re-fashion and distort our view of God, even unintentionally, while it claims to be drawing us TO Him.


Dressing for Worship


Pastor David Givler, from Christ Covenant Church in San Antonio, TX, offered some good counsel on the subject of how we should dress for worship. Here is a summary of what he had to offer:

We should ask “casual” worshipers what they would dress for since they don’t dress for church. Typical answers are funerals and weddings. Of course worship on Sunday is about the greatest wedding and the most important funeral, among other things. The things that they are willing to dress for are only derivatives. Why not dress for the real thing?

The worm of conscience gnaws away

Book One - Knowledge of God the Creator
Chapter 3 - The knowledge of God has been naturally implanted in the minds of men
Section 1 - The character of this natural endowment
It's unarguable that we all know of God.
We are self-condemned, because of it.
Even idolatry proves this knowledge: we'd rather lower ourselves to worship others than worship nothing.

Section 2 - Religion is no arbitrary invention
Men didn't invent religion to control the rest. It works too well:
men actually believe in God.
Those who defy God are most afraid of other things (Lev 26:36).
Atheists can't keep up the veneer for long.

Section 3 - Actual godlessness is impossible
We can't remove consciousness of God from our minds.
They laugh at God, but conscience gnaws away inside.
If we stay in this state, we descend to the level of brutes.
Even the pagans knew this (quotes Plato).
What distinguishes man from beast is worship [not just reason!]


Institutes of the Christian Religion

Preface to the reader - 1559
I did not expect the first edition to be so successful.
It was rumored I defected back to Roman Catholicism.
I wrote this to "prepare and instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word" to understandit themselves, and help others to understand it, too.
My commentaries build on the foundation of doctrine you hold in your hands.

Subject matter of the present work - from the 1560 French edition
I translated it into French to help the less learned understand Scripture better.
Evaluate this book according to the Bible.


Belhar Confession

As I left the RCA, the liberal leadership was beginning a push to adopt the Belhar confession. It recently came up in my new circle of colleagues, and the new CREC moderator Jack Phelps offered this analysis:

"The Belhar Confession is of relatively recent origin (1986). It was formulated in South Africa by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (now a component of the URCSA). Recently the PCUSA adopted a resolution urging all its congregations and presbyteries to study the Belhar with a view toward some level of adoption in the future. The specific reason given was that this confession would help the PCUSA further its efforts to combat racisim and promote unity.

"Unfortunately, the Belhar in its particulars makes unity the primary goal of the church and calls upon the church to avoid all actions that will disrupt unity. I don't suppose I need to spell out the horrific problems with such a postion. As you read it, you almost get the sense that it was written specifically to throw open the door to Sodomites. Actually I doubt that was the intent, given its origin, but it certainly would lend itself well to that purpose."

I guess I'll be labelled a rascist, hate-filled divider for this by some. I just want a church that is as pure in her sexual practice (1 Cor 6:9-11) as she is unified in her racial reconciliation and life (Rev 7:9). Adopting a confession is not needed to guide the church away from racism, but it sure would create a venue for misapplying the truth of welcoming diversity and reconciliation to those indulging in homosexual practice.


The drippy wife

The following is an excerpt from a weekly newsletter - "View from Virginia" - that I write for our friends and family.

Proverbs 27:15 - A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day
Proverbs 19:13 - the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping

The bible verses about a contentious wife being like a dripping roof have a whole new meaning to me since we came home to some water damage two days before Christmas. While vacuuming up gallons of water I had some time to reflect on dripping water.

The worst part about a dripping roof is not the water damage, that can be repaired easily enough. No, the worst part of a dripping roof (or complaining wife) is that it makes a horrid stench in the home which affects everyone, not just the person under the drip. A bad spiritual aroma in the home, created by a wife with a grouchy attitude or complaining heart, can spread to everyone and foul the air. Only by hacking out the moldy parts and dragging them out the front door and to the curb can the air be cleared. Sometimes the moldy items have personal value and have soured slowly, so we might not notice and are loathe to let them go, even to the point where we deny the stench or don't even smell it. These are the hardest to remove with our own will. Only the professionals can clean up that kind of mess; the professional cleaning team of the Trinity tears out the rot in our hearts and breathes a fresh air into our lives.

January = Craft "Plan-uary"

Instead of being quite random and impulsive about my small amount of free time for crafting, I have a plan! I hope this will help me to get things finished, instead of just started (I am a compulsive project starter; problem solving is much more intriguing to me than carrying out the solution.)

Here's the January goals:

finish Steve's birthday socks (his b-day was a month ago!)
finish Hemlock Ring cardigan (the season for wearing sparkly red garments is nearing an end)

flannel nightgown for daughter
flannel PJs for boys #2 & #3
canvas log carrier
ironing board cover (not very inspiring, but much needed)
baby gift for new hobbit nephew (born on Tolkien's birthday, Jan 3)


Calvin's view of his adversaries

"For what is more consonant with faith than to recognize that we are naked of all virtue, in order to be clothed by God? That we are empty of all good, to be filled by him? That we are slaves of sin, to be freed by him? Blind, to be illumined by him? Lame, to be made straight by him? Weak, to be sustained by him? To take away from us all occasion for glorying, that he alone may stand forth gloriously and we glory in him [cf. I Cor. 1:31; II Cor. 10:17]? When we say these and like things our adversaries interrupt and complain that in this way we shall subvert some blind light of nature, imaginary preparations, free will, and works that merit eternal salvation, even with their supererogations.

"They think it of no concern what belief anyone holds or does not hold regarding God and Christ, if only he submit his mind with implicit faith7 (as they call it) to the judgment of the church. The sight of God's glory defiled with manifest blasphemies does not much trouble them, bprovided no one raises a finger against the primacy of the Apostolic See and against the authority of Holy Mother Church. aWhy, therefore, do they fight with such ferocity and bitterness for the Mass, purgatory, pilgrimages, and trifles of that sort, denying that there can be true godliness without a most explicit faith, so to speak, in such things, even though they prove nothing of them from God's Word?"

from the prefatory address to the King of France, in the Institutes


2009 reading, God willing

Well, after falling behind my Bible reading in October/November, I caught up and finished at 11:59pm last night. Maybe a little petty, but sure better reading about the spotless bride in Rev 21 than watching Bill and Hillary gawk at the ball in NYC.

I'm reading a chronological plan again this year, with a twist: OT and NT at the same time.

Here is my best electronic reading besides the Bible, roughly ordered by best value in my estimation (taking brevity, quality, and frequency into account, mostly). Besides finishing the books in the sidebar and others I'll post, this is what I'll be reading online this year c/o Google Reader. Addresses are included to paste into Reader, if you're interested.

Calvin's Institutes - whole book in a year, daily reading schedule
(See my blog for summaries - calvinreadings.blogspot.com)

George Grant

Doug Wilson

Steve Wilkins

Randy Booth

Tabletalk daily devotionals

Joost Nixon

World Magazine

Peggy Noonan

I win

I'm the first to blog this year! I win.

Yes, I'm for petty competitions. :)