4.29.2006

Wright, Borg, RCA connections

Substituting Norm Kansfield for Marcus Borg, and RCA for Anglican, in this article will take one a long way down the right reformation road for the RCA. One step was taken at 2005 General Synod. More are needed.

4.25.2006

Whiten Up!

I've been using this "recipe" a lot lately to whiten up and brighten up our clothes. It's great for making the sparkly whiteness come back. With child number four on the way, I've been getting out the onesies and found this to be a great way to remove years-old spit up stains (and other stains!). Even tried it on a few colored clothes and found they did not bleach out.

White Clothes Cleaner
1/4 cup bleach
1 cup Cascade dishwashing detergent
1 gallon hot water

Mix well in plastic tub (I use my dishpan). Soak clothes for 30 minutes then wash the usual way in the washing machine.

-Sara

All in Interpretation

There is an interpretation of the standards [confessions] going on, saying, "it doesn't matter what the Westminster divines intended, the church may interpret the standards according to its own positions. And thus each presbytery [classis] or even session [consistory] can determine what the standards mean for them. Now, that's the height of relativism.... Once you start treating the standards in such a fashion, that leads to anarchy and lawlessness."

Joseph Pipa

4.24.2006

Christians in politics

Great article (whole magazine, really) here, by Marvin Olasky
(pretty big pdf file - Olasky is page 30).

It's a pretty good case for Christians needing tolerance in politics to be effective.

Spirit and Word

I just read Acts 10, where Peter is told to eat unclean food and go to a Gentile's house. It raised an interesting question, and I'm going to play "Judaism's advocate" with you for a minute. This is the most reasonable Jewish objection I've heard to Christianity, from people like Jacob Neusner. It goes like this:

God's Spirit would not reveal truth to His followers contrary to the written Word He inspired. Yet the New Testament claims that parts of the Old Testament are no longer legit - most clearly the unclean foods (Leviticus 11:2, 47; Mark 7:15-19; Acts 10:14).

If the Spirit DID do this, what basis do we have for arguing today that God won't reveal to an individual something contrary to God's Word?

I've got my own answer, but we need some activity around here in the comments again, so I'm being provocative - have at it!

4.22.2006

Michigan Education Requirements

Just read an article here about the new graduation requirements signed into law in our state by Gov. Granholm. Previous to this, the state only required a civics class, allowing local school boards to set their own requirements. Here's the new list of what students will have to complete starting 2011:

4 years math
4 years English
3 years science
3 years social studies
1 year PE
1 year arts
some online experience
2 credits in foreign language will be phased in by 2016.

I'm not sure what students were studying that differs so greatly from this, but many are bemoaning the fact that these tougher requirements will increase the drop out rate.

The quote below from Gov. Granholm shows what the government's goal of education truly is:

"We need to have a work force that is skilled in math, in science, in
technology," the governor said. "The link between education and the economy has
never been stronger. ... We expect great things from our young people, and we
are giving you the tools to succeed."


So much for nobler purposes of education - once again it boils down to the mighty dollar, and how can the next generation be trained to produce more (and also be trained at the same time to consume more - cf. soda company presence in schools, incentives from computer companies for buying their products, etc)

And the kicker is that Michigan is being hailed as the model for the rest of the nation!!

- Sara

4.20.2006

Turn it off; read a book



Finished this little book in under 3 days. Fastest I've read a book in a while. There is a very recent interview with Ray Bradbury (21st century, I think) which included this bit from him:

"The whole problem of TV and movies today is summed up for me by the movie Moulin Rouge. ... It has 4,560 half-second clips in it. The camera never stops and holds still. So it clicks off your thinking; you can't think when you have things bombarding you like that. The average TV commercial of 60 seconds has 120 half-second clips in it, or one-third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking."

A classis overture to the RCA...

"The Zeeland Classis overtures the [Reformed Church in America] General Synod of 2006 in Pella, Iowa, to rescind the action of its decision in General Synod 2005, “to immediately begin an honest and intentional denomination-wide dialogue on homosexuality” and that the General Synod of 2006 reaffirm previous General Synod decisions and statements from 1978 and 1995 that scripture teaches that homosexual behavior is sin, and further, that General Synod call all Classes and Consistories to exercise scriptural discipline, according to the Book of Church Order, in the case of those who teach and preach any doctrine contrary to scripture."

March 21, 2006

4.19.2006

Socksploration

I've been knitting and unknitting a lot of socks lately. I guess being pregnant has deterred me from doing any clothing-type of knitting. Here's my exploits:

1) Started "Hedera" socks with an egyptian cotton yarn on size 1 dpns. Love the lace pattern; it's so easy to memorize. I'm in the middle of the heel flap of sock #1 and hope to finish the sock this weekend. The yarn color I chose is called Mystic Beige, which reminds me of grandma's knee high stockings. The lace pattern is jazzy enough to make this antique color more up to date.





2) Falling Leaves socks, uh, rather sock, has been frogged. (That means I pulled it all apart - you know, "rip it, rip it"). The variegated yarn was obscuring the lace pattern, and I'm not a fan of the Sockotta yarn. Perhaps I'll try the infamous "Jaywalker" sock in this yarn instead...


3) Baby Lily socks - this was an attempt at stash reduction and using up oddments of yarn. I found out that I had enough Magic Stripe yarn left to make 1.5 socks. Most babies come equipped with more feet than that. I'm giving this project up.

4) Flip flop socks. I found this funky pattern for a socklette with cut-off toes and a division between the big toe and other toes to allow for thongs. Wierd enough I had to try it. Imagine a knitted wristband crossed with fingerless mittens. Interesting, maybe someday if I got a pedicure while it was snowing I would wear these, otherwise a completely foolish pattern and waste of time. And I only had enough yarn left to make one sock again! Know of any Dufflepuds running around?

To read, or not to read

One reader-friend wrote me, pointing out that I don't want people to read DaVinci, but that I like the theme of Fahrenheit 451, which is freedom to read. What gives?

Well, I do want people to be free from government restriction to read what they want, even if it's bad. But I want people to want to read edifying stuff, not stuff that will lead them away from the truth about Jesus.

Who wants to think?



Out on a limb here, but this is one of my favorite books.

Along the lines of 1984 or Brave New World, it's about a futuristic, totalitarian society, which looks very much like our country today. Books are burned as a matter of policy, people invest thousands into home entertainment systems, don't WANT to read or think, teenagers kill each other for entertainment, there is no meaningful interaction between people, only with the predictable and inane "wall TV."

That's just a taste - very good food for thought. I think it describes our society very well, even now already.

Fact or fiction



Ok, so I never thought I'd get interested, but we were at the local public library last night on other business, and on impulse I checked if there were any copies available. Only the large print edition - everything else (a lot) was checked out. So I took it. It's on my desk. I haven't gotten past page 1. Let me explain.

First there's a title page, then that Library of Congress, copyright page. At the top of that page is this: "This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, event or locales, is entirely coincidental." Oh, really? Next comes the author's acknowledgements, another title page, then - before the prologue - a page with the word FACT in big bold letters at the top. Two paragraphs follow: "The Priory of Sion - a European secret society founded in 1099..."; and then, "The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that..."

What am I supposed to believe? Confusing, even before page 1.

I may read it for cultural literacy reasons, if I find the time, but I'll take the whole thing as fiction. And if I don't get to it, at least I kept someone else from reading this copy for a while.

Prayer from the Valley

Open my ear to grasp quickly your Spirit's voice,
and delightfully run after his beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to your wounds,
and there cease to tremble at all alarms....

I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
but your cross has brought me near,
has softened my heart,
has made me your Father's child
has admitted me to your family
has made me joint-heir with yourself.

- Valley of Vision, pg 102.

4.18.2006

History catch up

After a busy Resurrection weekend, I'm catching up on things, including the "This Day in History" sidebar. Feel free to post any comments on them in any unrelated post in the main column...

4.15.2006

The Cross

Great words on the meaning of the cross, here.

4.13.2006

Prisoner Exchange in the War on Terror?

Amazing, the parallels in trials between Muslims and Christians. The Muslims treat the Afghan Christian convert on trial as mentally unfit for conviction, now the lawyers for Moussaoui plan on treating him the same way. This is revealing. Neither side understands the viewpoint of the other very well. To get a better picture of terrorists' view of the ongoing war, see here, where Moussaoui suggests a prisoner exchange: him for Americans held by Muslims in the Middle East.

I think this book grasps the conflict the best of any I've read...

It's a battle for the right to apply a worldview, to legislate a morality. Muslims assume they can apply their worldview of Shari'a law to the west; some take God's judgment of the infidel west into their own hands. The West assumes it can legislate its morality of social contract and rule of law to Muslims. (They assumed this correctly of the Japanese 60 years ago: the West won the transformation of Japan, and their public way of life lost the day.) The West's assumptions and assertions toward Islam, we should note, doesn't include applying Christianity to the Muslim world, but applying secular liberalism there. There is little reciprocity between Islam and Christianity in this war, although Muslims over there usually assume there is.

This is not a war on terror, but a war of worldviews. What are your assumptions about it?

Controversy and Kuyper

"In each [pastorate to which Abraham Kuyper] went, he became progressively more concerned about the state in which he found the church. The church was filled, he found, with doctrinal laxity, indeed with unbelief itself, and with a lack of discipline. And Kuyper came to conclude... we must rebuild or move out. He said, we cannot compromise with unbelief in the Church forever. And Kuyper set about then faithfully to reform the Church from the inside. He worked at seeing orthodoxy built up, and discipline re-established."

Lecture on Kuyper by Robert Godfrey

In 1866 he left the state church after it suspended his consistory for requiring for membership a profession of belief in Jesus according to the Scriptures.

Controversy

"There is a difference between tolerable and intolerable differences in the church.... I don't know of anybody that has studied that in a careful way, based on Biblical principle.... Usually what happens is we fly by the seat of our pants. We just assume that anything we become passionate about has to become a test of orthodoxy in the Church. But think about Romans 14; think about what Scripture says when it condemns a contentious spirit and commands gentleness.

"There are some matters that really are matters of life and death in the church. In the PCUSA there are now controversies over whether church members should be expected to follow biblical standards in sexual fidelity and chastity, and the ordination of homosexuals, and over whether Jesus is the only Lord and Savior.... The outrageous fact is that such issues can even be debated within the church....The confessing church movement in the PCUSA and other similar movements in other denominations, these Christians are fighting a courageous battle, and they deserve the prayers and the encouragement and the help of all Reformed believers."

John Frame
2004 lecture

4.12.2006

DaVinci Code and NT Wright

Al Mohler points to NT Wright's criticism of Dan Brown. A very good lecture/essay by Wright on the book and phenomenon, explaining why it's so popular and what's wrong with it.

4.11.2006

New Nephew!


Here's our new nephew, Kyle, born Sunday April 9. Isn't he a doll?

Blizzard's Over

I finished crocheting the Blizzard scarf last night. It's approx. 12x58", long enough to wear as a stole. Easy to crochet with impressive results. I will have my photo shoot of the FO this afternoon.

Now I need to finish the Falling Leaf socks I started in January! I'm so glad I'm not an octopus...

Check out these cool socks just published at Knitty - they're sure to make it on my needles sometime soon! What color should I make them? (And no, I don't have swank shoes like that. Probably not too safe for a preggo to wear!)

4.07.2006

The Paideia of God

"It is very easy - and very wrong - to say that Christians should study 'just the Bible' or just the 'Bible languages' of Greek and Hebrew. The error is analogous to saying we should not use teachers (or commentaries) to help us understand the text of Scripture. The thinking goes that we should go to the Bible ourselves 'without uninspired teachers.' But if we do go to the Bible alone, we soon discover that the Bible requires us to have uninspired teachers. In the same way, if we study the Bible and Greek and Hebrew in isolation, we will bew very ill-equipped to understand the Scriptures. The Bible is not 'The Book That Fell From the Sky.' The Scriptures assume we know something of the surrounding context. If we do not, then our ignorance is not all ameliorated because we cultivated that ignorance in the name of a high view of Scripture. Saying that we have a view of the authority and inspiration is insufficient. Because the surrounding context of the New Testament was classical paganism, every Christian should know something of it, and every minister of the Gospel should know a great deal about it." - pg 139-40.

A great little book, my only concern was its disconnectedness within itself, and from the typical reader.

Within itself, this book is a collection of essays, loosely based on education. Yet the subjects vary from school dress codes to an analysis of the seminary system of training ministers to understanding math theologically.

Disconnect from the reader: Wilson assumes a lot that the typical Christian reader might not agree with. He starts out at step 5, when those most likely to pick up the book are at step 2. That said, it can be an effective rhetorical tool in writing to assume the argument you're asserting and make the case as you go. Still, he might lose people early on in saying this about ADD:

"Do we really believe that this epidemic of learning disabilities is the result of our superior ability to diagnose problems? Do we think we are better at educating our children than previous generations... which were able to impart near universal literacy? If we really think so, then perhaps we have the learning disability. Consider the fact that our 'better classroom discipline through chemistry' approach has become necessary at just the point in history when parents and teachers en masse have abandoned the biblical view of the nature and necessity of discipline. Consider the fact that the 'medical problems' associated with reading problems have soared at just the point in our history when educators have abandoned... teaching literacy through phonics. Consider the fact that we have adopted the medical model for just about everything that afflicts us at just the time when we as a culture have rejected the importance of personal responsibility and accountability for anything."

I don't disagree with Wilson. But it's an awful lot for people to absorb radical zingers like this every fourth page of such a short and scattered book. We get a brief for 5-point Calvinism in 8 pages, an argument for school uniforms in another chapter, a case against seminaries in another. My favorite was a critique of the naturalistic scientists at Calvin College, my alma mater, through their book, Science Held Hostage.

Anyway, I do recommend the book if you have an interest in culture and education from a Christian, Protestant and Reformed point of view.

Author: Doug Wilson
Publisher: Canon Press, 1999

4.05.2006

What was Noah thinking?!

This is the first year I've ever had spring bulbs blossom - so far about a dozen golden crocuses have cheered me and the kids each morning when we look out our front windows. The hyacinths are showing promising growth and will likely blossom in the next 10 days or so. Tulips are on their way. I love flowers, especially these cute little yellow ones. It's like growing sunshine.

Apparently Mr. Bunny likes little yellow flowers as well. Yup, he ate all but two of my crocuses! Noah could've left rabbits off the ark with no consequential ecological damage. There are plenty of other small varmits for larger predators to eat.

Living in a neighborhood prevents one from dealing with such problems as they should - Clint Eastwood style. So we headed to the store for chemical warfare weapons. I was looking for something with a name like "Liquid Bullets" or "RIP Rabbits." Death in a can, extra-strength. Steve pointed out a product called "Havaheart." He doesn't really understand the level this battle has escalated to (last spring the evil furballs PICKED CLEAN my entire garden, leaving green sticks in neat rows). The best we could come up with was a repellent called Liquid Fence. I'll let you know if it works. I would much prefer to wake up in the morning and find carcasses instead of tracks. By the way, isn't angora yarn made of rabbit fur??

If anyone else has had problems with rabbits eating their greens, please let me know how to save my flowers and future garden. I'm almost ready to buy a large dog (you have to know me to appreciate the extreme nature of that statement!).

Knitted FO eye candy

Here are the long awaited pictures of my most recent knitting projects:

Limbo socks - free pattern from www.alltangledup.com

yarn: Moda Dea "Sassy Stripes", color "crush", 100% acrylic, 2 skeins (with leftovers for kids/toddler socks)
needles: US size 3 (3.25mm) dpns
size: fits my women's US 10 feet!
began: Feb. 16, 2006
completed: Feb. 25, 2006
recipient: Mrs. Valentine (hence the colorway chosen)

notes: easy beginner level sock with garter rib; yarn is too thick and cushy to fit nicely into shoes, but makes great slipper socks! Notice how I even got the stripes to match from foot to foot?!








Shetland Tea Shawl - from "A Gathering of Lace"

yarn: S. Charles "Rittrato" - 8 skeins, black mohair with glitzy rainbow fiber plied in
needles: US size 4
size: unblocked 38" dia. (top), blocked 57" dia. (bottom)
began: end of September 2005
completed: knitted on-and-off until April 1, 2006
recipient: myself

notes: the only way to learn about lace knitting is to dive in! It's really not that hard to do (I managed to listen to the majority of "Don Quixote" while working on this). Blocking completely transforms how lace looks. Next time I'd like to use a blocking substance with either a grid or concentric circles drawn on to make it easier to get things even. I would've liked it a bit bigger to fit my wide wingspan better. Aiming for 60"+ next time...

Nehemiah and Dialogue

A sermon on Nehemiah 4:

"One of the tenets of liberal theology that we need to be careful to stay very far away from is the idea that all differences can be overcome with constructive dialogue... any chasm, no matter how great. This is an expression of a particular religious worldview.

A telltale sign of trouble is when someone says, "These are difficult issues. We need to wrestle with these difficult issues." Now, that's a code word. "Wrestle with difficult issues" means we wrestle with it for a time and then we capitulate and give up.... Nehemiah didn't want to wrestle with the difficult issues that Sanballat was presenting to him. He wanted to build the wall. He wanted to win. He wanted Sanballat - this is another arcane concept - to lose. We can sum up the Scriptures with four words, as you turn the last page of the book: we win - they lose...

This is going to sound haughty and arrogant.... but we don't solve that problem by pretending that everything can be worked out in some negotiated settlement. And Nehemiah doesn't even try.


Doug Wilson - 3/12

4.04.2006

A new look

Wait! Don't leave! It's still us, I just changed the template.
Learned some HTML coding to get it right. What do you think?

My idea was to make it more readable. The white font on dark and light gray sidebar was getting to me...

Friends with Hebrew names

Reading Psalm 118 in Hebrew, I came across the names of 2 friends of mine, within as many verses!

Verse 22: "stone" in Hebrew is Evan. Are you out there, man? Did you know you're the Greek version of Peter (rock or stone, in Greek)? Just don't let Terri tell you you've got rocks in your head.

Verse 24: "rejoice" in Hebrew is Gil. I didn't realize you were Jewish, Gil, but you are always smiling when I see you...

Military History

So yes, I do have my ipod, and it's great. I can listen to just what I want as I'm on my way to and from home, church, errands or pastoral visits.

Here's my favorite podcast so far. Today I learned about the battle with Pompeii that solidified Julius Caesar's power, in 48BC.

In the Name of Love

In honor of April 4 and the coming passion week. See sidebar "This day in history" if you're confused...

"One man come in the name of love
One man come and go.
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love."


-U2

On the Menu

Here's a new recipe I tried out on my guinea pigs - er, family I mean - and got rave reviews. This isn't for those spoiled by bread machines! Makes about 2.5 doz (unless you're like me and make 12 JUMBO rolls). Someone try freezing the bread dough and let me know how that turns out. I've not had a lot of success with that, but they say it can be done.

Top Knot Rolls
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 t. plus 1/2 c. sugar - divided
1 1/4 c. warm water (110-115 deg)
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. butter, divided
5 1/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
  1. Dissolve yeast and 2 t. sugar in warm water. Let stand 5 min.
  2. Add eggs, 1/2 c. butter (melted), 2 c. of flour, salt and remaining 1/2 c. sugar. Beat until smooth.
  3. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 min)
  4. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down dough, divide in half. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  6. On floured surface, roll each half into a 15x8" rectangle. Spread with remaining 1/4 c. butter. Roll up starting with long side. Cut in to 1" slices. Place in greased muffin cups.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 min.
  8. Bake 8-10 min at 375 deg. until golden brown.

Recipe from www.thatsmyhome.com

Hosanna! For Palm Sunday

Hosanna is not a generic term for praise to God.
Hosanna is not a sentimental worship word.
Hosanna is the Hebrew word(s) for "Save us!"

We find it in Psalm 118:25. It is the key to understanding Palm Sunday from the crowd's view. When they cry "Hosanna to the Son of David!" with Jesus walking past, they aren't praising Him so much as they are begging Him to save them. They think He is the one who can save them, and to that extent they believe in Him for the moment.

I say begging because 4 of the 8 Hebrew words in verse 25 are the same word "Na" or "Ana", which means "Please," or "I beseech you." The next verse, 26, is quoted in all the Triumphal Entry texts in the Gospels:
"Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh."

Hosanna is a word that is screamed, cried and begged out of deep distress, anguish and oppression.

Luther cried hosanna, terrified by a lightning storm, and he became a monk.
Israel cried hosanna, oppressed and enslaved by Egpyt.
Hezekiah cried hosanna, beseiged by Assyrians bent on Jerusalem's demise.
Israel cried hosanna, oppressed by Romans in Jesus' day.

Israel cried hosanna, after Peter's Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:37. They were cut to the heart. Realized their sin, were cut to the heart, and wanted to know how to set things right.

Do you cry hosanna?
Who do you cry to? Your own hard work? Your government? Your prosperous economy?
The word "hosanna" is the verb "save." The name Jesus is the noun "salvation." SAME WORD. We cry to Jesus to save us.

What do you cry out for? What do you need to be saved from? Egypt and Assyria and Rome were all real and political enemies of God's people, but they were just pictures of our real enemy, Satan. He turns the world and even our own bodies and minds against us.

Save us, Lord, from Satan. Save us from temptation - don't let us go there. Save us from taking our sin lightly, from taking your grace for granted. Save us from sitting in pews asking what's in all this for me. Save us from boredom with worship; may we be cut to the heart and repent of our sin. Save us from our own selfishness which robs You of Your glory.

Hosanna, Yahweh!
Hosanna, Son of David, the King of Glory, Jesus our King!
Enter the gates of the city and save us!

A manifesto

We are Evangelical, Reformed, Protestant Christians, and I'd like to describe what each of those means. This is short so won't do it all justice...

Christian: believer/disciple/follower of Jesus, a subject in the Kingdom of heaven where Jesus reigns as King at His Father's right hand and I seek to do my King's bidding. There is one God, who has revealed Himself to us in 3 persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus was sent by His Father and equipped/anointed by the Spirit to live a life acceptable to the Father, something no one had done in all of creation so far, thanks to Adam's first rebellion. Because of this anointing we call Jesus Messiah (anointed), or in Greek, Christ. Jesus was also sent to offer that life to His Father in a cursed death on the cross. In doing this, the Father places upon His Son the sin and guilt of all whom the Father chose to save, and gives to them His Son's righteousness, making it possible for Him to remain holy, not look upon sin, and yet welcome us back to fellowship with Him in grace.

Protestant: leaving the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s, Protestants still protest the abuses and impure teachings of Rome (and Constantinople's Eastern Orthodox Church). We do not say that there was no church during Roman rule in Medieval times; we claim the whole history as our own, good, bad and ugly. The Crusaders are our spiritual ancestors, as are Thomas Aquinas, Gregory of Nyssa, Charlemagne, Bernard of Clairveaux and John Chrysostem. We didn't find the lost Church at the Reformation; we washed it up of some really dirty spots that we could see.

Reformed: the Reformation in Europe produced several branches. Lutherans in Germany, Anglicans in England, Anabaptists and Reformed. No time now for all the theological complexities, but I'm the latter. Anabaptists went too far in rejecting Rome, re-baptizing themselves because they thought Rome's baptisms weren't legit. Calvin and Luther never did this. Anabaptists were very egalitarian (it would be brother Steve, not Reverend or pastor). They tended to emphasize man's free-will more than God's sovereignty, against Luther, Calvin and the Anglicans.

Reformed, part 2: the Reformed had a wide influence through John Calvin, who was exiled from Catholic France to Geneva, Switzerland. Ministers from all over Europe who were rejecting Rome were also exiled from their homelands, and many came to Geneva. John Knox of Scotland was one. The Dutch were greatly influenced by Calvin, too. The key teaching was God's sovereignty over all things, including our salvation. Also, the sacraments as more than a symbol of grace, but not a physical, automatic receiving of grace. Also the primacy of the Word and Spirit in worship.

Reformed, part 3: being Reformed makes one confessional. I believe the statements put together during and soon following the Reformation best interpret Scripture, and that such statements are helpful and needed for us to stay on track when reading Scripture. England produced the Westminster Confession and Catechism. The Dutch produced the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dordt. Growing up in a Dutch Reformed denomination, I adhere primarily to the latter. But there is much overlap, indeed virtually no differences, with Westminster. You can find these at the "What we believe" link on the sidebar just under our picture.

Evangelical: emphasizes that the message summarized in the "Christian" paragraph above must be proclaimed to people who don't yet know about it, and that there is a sharp difference between those in the light of Christ and those still in the darkness.

Evangelical, part 2: there is a further distinction here, within Protestantism, especially in the last century (see post below "Holding the Line" for more). Protestants had two different reactions to scientific developments in the last 150 years or so: mainliners accepting and accommodating Christianity to it; evangelicals (fundamentalists?) rejecting it and pointing out Scriptural conflicts with modern scientific assumptions. A key here is the modern scientific study of "Comparative World Religions." Often it results in a soft-pedaling of evangelism and a creeping pluralism: "Well, they've got their own way of making sense of the world..." Evangelicals reject this, believing other religions to be lost in their sins and needing to come to Jesus in faith, believing He is the Christ, and the King who will inherit all the nations when God wraps up this world's history at the end of time.

4.03.2006

Verses for the day

Matthew 16:13-15
[Jesus:] “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight."

Jonah's patriotism

Listening to a sermon, I realized that Jonah was sent to a rising superpower (Assyria-Nineveh), rattling its sabres in Israel's direction. This sheds new light on Jonah's reluctance to go (not excusing it, of course).

China is a rising political power, occasionally rattling sabres with the USA (remember the downed pilots they wouldn't release?). If you knew that in 50 years the Chinese were going to successfully conquer America, would your patriotism get in the way of God sending you to China now? Apparently, Jonah's did.

But the relevance continues: Nineveh repented and experienced widescale revival. China appears to be doing the same. So here's a little mental experiment to test your Kingdom v. kingdoms priorities:

Which would you rather have:
1. A successfully expansionistic China which was becoming increasingly Christian by the decade.
2. A militarily strong USA with political freedom (maybe even spreading democracy), but getting increasingly ungodly and less Christian by the decade.

I'm not saying this is happening or going to happen. I'm checking your desires for earthly kingdoms versus the advance of Christ's Kingdom.

Are you Jonah?

4.02.2006

Shetland Tea Shawl completed!

Last night, I finished knitting the last 2 edging repeats then did my best at grafting (a skill I need to master). After a soak in the bathtub (not me - the shawl!), it was ready to be pinned out (blocked). Steve graciously helped me stretch and pin out the lace circle - it started at 38" in diameter and we s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it out to 57" diameter!! Each one of those 115 points was pulled out and pinned into the carpet. It's not as big as I'd like, because my 5'8" stature could use a little extra to wrap around my long monkey arms. But it'll do. This morning it was dry and oh-so-light and airy! Reminds me of a lace oil slick with the shimmery rainbow yarn plied in with the black mohair.

I'm so happy with this project. Definitely learned a lot about lace knitting, yarn selection, blocking and more. You'll have to wait a few days for me to develop the film so I can post pictures. I'm pretty old-fashioned when it comes to photography and won't easily be convinced to buy a digital camera. After 6 months of knitting one shawl, patience is becoming my middle name!