Saturday, October 19, 2013

the death of Christ: the supreme act of injustice

When people complain about the Reformed/Biblical doctrine of election and its supposed unfairness to "millions" of unelected people who go to hell, ask them to ponder the "fairness" in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Creator and Sustainer of the world and universe, whom angels worship and creation rejoices over, becoming a man, subjected to innumerable wicked people and countless evil, disgusting thoughts about Him, voluntarily yet in perfect obedience to God's purpose and plan being whipped, mocked, beaten and crucified for sinful, wretched people.
When they are done pondering that supreme act of injustice, then let us talk about the perceived unfairness of God sending some to hell for their unrepentant filthy perversions of His image-bearing gift.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

The doctrine of election is the only reason anyone ever repents and believes. Without the doctrine of election, there is no hope for sinners.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

elbowing livers

Reasons to read Wodehouse #893
I had to come away because the family were shooting me off to Harrogate to chaperone my Uncle George, whose liver had been giving him the elbow again. ~Very Good, Jeeves!, P.G. Wodehouse

Previously quoted lines here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

revealed in the Bible

Over and over, during the time that Seth and I have been reading through Joshua, Judges, and now 1 Samuel, God's role as the central character in the narratives has been clear.  He acts to accomplish His purpose and the human agents are His following His script, to borrow an analogy from Doug Wilson in his book Easy Chairs, Hard Words which I have previously posted about here.

In Easy Chairs, Hard Words, Martin the elder pastor, in speaking to the younger pastor, has just compared God's actions as analogous to those of Shakespeare creating the character of Macbeth and causing him to act in the way that Shakespeare wrote for him to act.  I'll pick up with Martin explaining possible objections to this viewpoint and the younger pastor responding.
Whenever I use the analogy of a play, people object and say that we are greater than mere fictional characters. But the same objection can be leveled against the biblical analogy of the Potter and His pots.  We are more than mere pots. And Paul agrees with this, even while he is using the analogy. But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Paul declares that we are fashioned according to the will of the Potter, and in the same breath, he blames those pots who think otherwise. He clearly assigns personal responsibility to pots. And the analogy remains a good one.
"You are saying that because God's resources are infinitely greater than Shakespeare's, He has the power to write history and create characters who have true freedom." 
"Yes...without having His creatures write the play."
"I don't get it."
Martin laughed, and leaned forward. "Neither do I."
"Now I don't get that. If you don't get it, why do you believe it?"
"Because I was told to. This is not truth presented to me by some explorer or scientist. It was revealed in the Bible. If it had not been, I would not believe it. God does not demand that I understand Him, or understand all His relations to His creatures. And I don't understand Him."
"But you do believe Him...?"
Martin smiled, "I do believe Him." 

And that's what it comes down to.  Do I accept the teaching that Scripture provides of how God interacts with His creatures, or do I only allow for that which makes sense to me or seems "fair"?
I choose to accept the teaching of Scripture.
Here are just some of the verses (some will just be the pertinent phrases)that have caught my attention while we have read through these Old Testament books:

Joshua 10:8,10
The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel...

Joshua 21:44
The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them.

Joshua 23:3,5,9-10,15
You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you.
The LORD your God himself will drive them out of your way. He will push them out before you...
The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routs a thousand because the LORD your God fights for you, just as He promised.
But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until He has destroyed you from this good land He has given you.

Joshua 24: 2-13 is Joshua recounting the words of God to the people of Israel where each verse begins with "I", as in God doing all the things recounted, beginning with making Israel a nation out of Abraham.

Judges 1:2,4
The LORD answered, "Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands."
When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands...

Judges 2: 3
Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.

Judges 4:9
"Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman."

Judges 7:22
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

Judges 13:1
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so that the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

Judges 14:3b,4
But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines, for at that time they were ruling over Israel.

neighborly goodwill intentions

This change to a kindlier feeling was shown in various ways. The odour of Christmas cooking being on the wind, it was the season when superfluous pork and black puddings are suggestive of charity in well-to-so families, and Silas's misfortune had brought him uppermost in the memory of housekeepers like Mrs. Osgood. Mr. Crackenthorp, too, while he admonished Silas that his money had probably been taken from him because he thought too much of it, and never came to church, enforced the doctrine by a present of pigs' pettitoes[trotters], well calculated to dissipate unfounded prejudices against the clerical character. Neighbours, who had nothing but verbal consolation to give, showed a disposition not only to greet Silas, and discuss his misfortune at some length when they encountered him in the village; but also to take the trouble of calling at his cottage, and getting him to repeat all the details on the very spot; and then they would try to cheer him by saying, 'Well, Master Marner, you're no worse off nor other poor folks, after all; and if you was to be crippled, the parish 'ud give you a 'lowance.'
I suppose one reason why we are seldom able to comfort our neighbours with our words is, that our goodwill gets adulterated, in spite of ourselves, before it can pass our lips. We can send black puddings and pettitoes without giving them a flavour of our own egoism; but language is a stream that is almost sure to smack of a mingled soil.
~ Silas Marner, George Eliot

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

river morning

It was the geese that kept company in the early morning fog and when that burned off in the bright sunshine, the ducks took a turn paddling around in the chilly water.  Feathers and oil make all the difference.

Friday, October 04, 2013

goodbye summer, hello fall

The weeks of lessons have whizzed by and the scenery has changed outside. Summer is behind us and in its place the autumn colors and climate now bring beauty and enjoyment. I try to look for ways to create beauty and goodness to counter the long days of necessary lesson routines and constant homemaking chores. Sometimes some of my ideas remain just ideas and other times, they just show up in my backyard waiting to be photographed. I have found inspiration for keeping a journal of pressed plants and botanicals from here. I have preserved some lovely shiny acorns following these directions.

The pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are from Susan who used to blog at High Desert Home and My Summer Notebook. I copied the recipe down before she took her blogs down and although I do not follow the recipe exactly, I will post it below and you can make your own changes if you like.  My garden is still full of celery, yellow zucchinis, a few yellow bean plants(the bunny has gotten to many of them), herbs, sunsugar tomatoes, rainbow carrots, and cucumbers.  This is the first year I've had trouble with a bunny and I plan on it being the last, even if he is cute.

We celebrated the last day of summer and first day of fall with a whole roasted chicken, my favorite rice pilaf concoction and broccoli. It felt like a true Thanksgiving harvest meal for me as the civic holiday feels more contrived. Even Shane's dinner prayer rang more true for me than how we pray at a typical Thanksgiving meal. Something about celebrating the harvest and the change of seasons right when they are happening feels more genuine and meaningful and fills my heart with gratitude for all that God has blessed our family with. His goodness never ceases, but far too often my conscious thankfulness does. And the more I garden and pay attention to the details of Creation, the more thankful and awestruck I become.  Even a rough day at home can be smoothed over by a blue-jay or chipmunk hopping onto our back step looking for some corn.  God's creatures remind me of how He cares for them and how much more He cares for us.

* Susan's Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins *: (the following are her words, not mine)

2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. all-spice
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. bran flakes
6 oz. chocolate chips (we almost double this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together first 9 (dry) ingredients on list and set aside.

In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs til foamy; add pumpkin, oil, and cereal. Mix well. Add sifted flour mixture, stirring only til combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon evenly in greased muffin tins (or use papers to line).

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (we never bake this long, usually only baking for 22 to 24 minutes; depends on your oven, I guess). Cool completely on rack before removing from pan.

Yield: 18 muffins