Sunday, April 06, 2014

First Bloom

Our long winter is over. Spring is finally coming. For this O Lord, we give You thanks.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Images of War

"—I see all the little signs, getting ready in the hospitals &c.—it is dreadful, when one thinks about it—I sometimes think over the sights I have myself seen, the arrival of the wounded after a battle, & the scenes on the field too, & I can hardly believe my own recollection—what an awful thing war is—Mother, it seems not men but a lot of devils & butchers butchering each other—"

Walt Whitman in a letter to his mother dated March 22, 1864

Friday, February 21, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Trinity

"In one sense the doctrine of the Trinity is our admission--as beings created and finite, fallen and flawed--that we simply cannot fully grasp all that God is... ...The doctrine of the Trinity represents a chastened admission that we are unable to master God."

"The doctrine of the Trinity gathers together the richness of the complex Christian understanding of God; it yields a vision of God to which the only appropriate response is adoration and devotion. The doctrine knits together into a coherent whole the Christian doctrines of creation, redemption, and sanctification. By doing so, it sets before us a vision of God who created the world, whose glory can be seen reflected in the wonders of the natural order; a God who redeemed the world, whose love can be seen in the tender face of Christ; and a God who is present now in the lives of believers."

(Allister E. McGrath; "The Doctrine of the Trinity: An Evangelical Reflection"; God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice; Timothy George, Editor; (Baker Academic, 2006)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pilgrims' Hymn - Stephen Paulus

This & That

Thoughts on Retirement: I heartily recommend retirement as long as you do not have to spend it living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass.  Every day is "Saturday" except Sunday, and Monday through Saturday are all "jeans day".  Naps are nice... I recommend them.  Not having to go to work or come home from work in a blizzard is nice too.  A cold snow-bound day at home retired will always beat a day in the office...   Did I mention the naps and sleeping-in in the morning?

The New Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T5i.... My choice from the options for the company retirement gifts.  I'm just getting in to figuring out some of the bells and whistles. 

The Long Winter 2013-2014:  We have had close to record snowfall this year, and some really cold weather. As I write this, I look out the window and we are getting another heavy snowfall.

 The woods behind our house.
                          The spirea bush in its Winter slumber...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Good Reading: Affirming the Apostles Creed

Affirming the Apostles' Creed by J. I. Packer (Crossway, 2008)

Though not an extended exposition of the Apostles' Creed, these reflections by J.I. Packer are very solid, and helpful The chapters are relatively short and are very devotional in writing style. But that devotional aspect does not detract from the solid basic foundational theological truths Packer reflects upon. This devotional design of the book makes it very suitable for personal devotions or as a study guide in a group setting. It would be very suitable to use as an introduction to basic foundational Christian beliefs.

I personally found Packer's discussion of what it means for Christ to be "eternally begotten" by the Father to be very helpful. God the Father and God the Son forever and eternally have had that Father/Son relationship.

Packer's discussion of the more controversial phrase "he descended into hell" was equally helpful. There is a difference in how the New Testament uses the words "hades" and "gehenna". Thus the use of the word "hades" in Acts 2:27 provides an understanding of "the descent into hell" as emphasizing the fullness and completeness of Jesus Christ's experience of death.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an introduction to the Apostles' Creed, and the foundational Biblical truths the Creed teaches.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, January 13, 2014

Have Ye Not Known - Ye Shall Have A Song

The link below will take you to the YouTube page of the video of the National Lutheran Choir performing Randall Thompson's "Have Ye Not Known/Ye Shall Have a Song" based on the texts of Isaiah 40:21 and 30:29. Unfortunately embedding of this video is not allowed, so I can only provide the link. Many years ago we were in the Evangelical Choral Society of Grand Rapids, Michigan and this was one of the pieces we performed. It is very beautiful and I think if you love music at all, you will enjoy this.

National Lutheran Choir: Have Ye Not Known

"Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?" (Isaiah 40:21)

"Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD..." (Isaiah 30:29)

Receiving Christ

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name..." (John 1:12)

The above verse which has been used in some popular Gospel presentations, is that verse used to press upon the the unbeliever's conscience the need to receive Christ. It is phrased several different ways; "Receive Christ as your personal savior." or "Receive Christ as your Lord and savior." among others,

This of course begs several questions. Who is the "Him" we are to receive? also, what does it mean to "receive" Him?

In the context of the verse above, the "Him" is the one who is the Word that was with the Father in verses 1-4, and became flesh and dwelt among (vs 14). It is the "Him" who has been eternally with the Father and eternally begotten of the Father in the relationship of Father and Son.

In this context, the one who is the savior is the one who is Lord. Only He who is Lord can save us. How Savior and Lord became separated in the minds of some, I do not know. II Corinthians 2:17 speaks of those who ""corrupt the Gospel"... The imagery is that of a bartender watering down the wine. What the buyer gets is not the undiluted 100% pure wine they thought they were paying for. We need to be wary in our use of John 1:12 not to water down the meaning of the text as it comes to us in the broader context of John 1.

And what did John have in mind when he used the word "receive" in John 1:12 as quoted above? John 20:30-31 gives us the answer.

"Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

There is much more that could be said on this point, but I will leave that for another time.

~ The Billy Goat ~