On the 7th Day of Christmas...

...my True Love gave to me, 7 swans a-swimming...
representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

An unrelated, lesser-known Christmas song:
See here for the sheet music and digital sound

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart

New year; new plan

Happy new year, 7 hours early.

Do you have a plan for reading through Scripture comprehensively?

Here is a website that can help you, if you're looking. I used the chronological in 1 year plan, New King James version, in 2007.

For 2008, I'm reading the English Standard Version. I just put together my own plan, which includes 2 or 3 elements: (1) alternate between a Psalm a day for 5 days, then a Proverb. (2) I MAY go heavy on the Gospels this year, reading 4 chapters a day, which gets you through all 4 in a month. If I do, (3) I will also read 2 pages per day (if not the Gospel thing, then 2.5 pages per diem) from the rest, book by book, to cover it all. I am big on "covering it all," to get a good grasp of the whole of Scripture, knowing the pitfall of reading just to "get through" instead of to hear from God. That danger does not warrant avoiding such plans, in my mind.


On the sixth day of Christmas...

... my True Love gave to me: 6 geese a-laying....

representing the six days of creation.
And yes, it was six. Exodus 20:11 should settle any doubts for the Bible-believing Christian...

An unrelated, lesser-known Christmas song:

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
1. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love1

2. Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

3. In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

4. Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

5. Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance;
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love's dance. Chorus

6. The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

7. For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance:
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold!
The same is he shall lead the dance. Chorus

8. Before Pilate the Jews me brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance. Chorus

9. Then on the cross4 hanged I was,
Where a spear my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

10. Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love's deliverance,
And rose again on the third day,
Up to my true love and the dance. Chorus

11. Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance. Chorus

Here is a video performance of the song


On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

...my True Love gave to me, 5 golden rings...

representing the first 5 books of the Bible, the Torah, the Pentateuch.

An unrelated Christmas song...

God bless the master of this house
1. God bless the master of this house, and all that are therein
And to begin this Christmastide with mirth now let us sing

The Savior of all people upon this time was born
Who did from death deliver us, when we were left forlorn.

2. Then let us all most merry be, and sing with cheerful voice,
For we have good occasion now this time for to rejoice.

3. Then sing with voices cheerfully, for Christ this time was born,
Who did from death deliver us when we were left forlorn.

Very Funny 12 Days of Christmas rendition!


On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

...my True Love gave to me, 4 calling birds...

representing the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Interesting side note on this one. The original was "four colly birds," not calling birds. Colly is old English for black - blackbirds.

An unrelated Christmas song
A Virgin Unspotted - click to play music

1. A Virgin unspotted, the prophet foretold,
Should bring forth a Savior, which now we behold.
To be our Redeemer from death, hell and sin,
Which Adam's transgression had wrapped us in.

Then let us be merry, put sorrow away,
Christ Jesus, our Savior, was born on this day.

2. At Bethlehem city in Jewry, it was
That Joseph and Mary together did pass,
Alt for to be taxed with many one more,
Great Cesar commanded the same should be so. Chorus

3. But when they had entered the city so fair,
A number of people so mighty was there,
That Joseph and Mary, whose substance was small,
Could find in the inn there no lodging at all. Chorus

4. Then were they constrained in a stable to lie,
Where horses and asses they used for to tie:
Their lodging so simple they took it no scorn,
But against the next morning our Saviour was born. Chorus

5. The King of all Kings to this world being brought,
Small store of fine linen to wrap Him was sought,
But when she had swaddled her young Son so sweet,
Within an ox manger she laid Him to sleep. Chorus

6. Then God sent an angel from Heaven so high,
To certain poor shepherds in fields where they lie,
And bade them no Longer in sorrow to stay,
Because that our Saviour was born on this day. Chorus

7. Then presently after the shepherds did spy
Vast numbers of Angels to stand in the sky;
They joyfully talk and sweetly did sing,
To God be all glory, our heavenly King. Chorus

8. To teach us humility all this was done,
And learn we from thence haughty pride for to shun:
A manger His cradle who came from above,
The great God of mercy, of peace, and of love. Chorus


On the Third Day of Christmas...

...my True Love gave to me, 3 french hens...

representing faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

An unrelated song for the 3rd day of Christmas:
The Babe of Bethlehem - click for music

Ye nations all, on ye I call, come hear this declaration,
And don't refuse this glorious news of Jesus and salvation.
To royal Jews came first the news of Christ, the great Messiah,
As 'twas foretold by prophets old, Isaiah, Jeremiah.

To Abraham the promise came and to his seed forever,
A light to shine in Isaac's line, by Scripture we discover;
Hail promised morn the Savior's born, the glorious Mediator.
God's blessed Word made flesh and blood, assumed the human nature.


On the Second Day of Christmas...

...my true Love gave to me, 2 turtledoves...

representing the 2 testaments of Scripture, Old and New

Unrelated next song...
Lord of the Dance - (click for music)

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

It's Still Christmas...

Inspired by this article, we've decided to extend our celebration of Christmas for the traditional 12 days, ending on Epiphany, January 6. For the next 12 days, we will be posting a lesser known Christmas carol, and the meaning of each gift from the 12 days of Christmas song. We are giving one smaller gift to each other each of the 12 days, singing the 12 days of Christmas as we go.

The lastest history talk here is a good description of advent, Christmas and Epiphany, and sound argument that these holidays, and even the 12 Days song, were founded with godly original intentions, but perverted over time to become excuses for immorality, much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans today. Recovering a godly celebration does not compromise with paganism or add to Scripture, but helps us remember the great works God has done.

Epiphany means shine upon, appearance, revealing, or manifestation. It was an early celebration of Christ's birth and appearing to us. Dec 25 developed as an alternate date for the same purpose in the west.

Now, if only we could keep the pine needles on the tree until Epiphany...


Merry Christmas! The first day...

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

This line refers to God the Father, the true love, giving gifts to believers...

A partridge in a pear tree

The gift of His Son, Jesus Christ

Okay, so this one is familiar - the rest will be less so...

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


Ooh La La

My daughter and I strive to be feminine and ladylike, so we wear skirts. Not all the time, because some days require a good pair of jeans with the knees blown out. Of course, my daughter loves the "twirly" skirts - a best skirts can get parallel to the ground while spinning on her toes. This leaves some modesty issues to be visited.

And then I saw the Skirty. Think 1930's underpinnings meets 1980's biker shorts. It's cute & girly. It's functional. It's fun.

Check out Rebecca Merkle's site, then take another look at the dresses the girls are wearing. They're beautiful and made by Mrs. Merkle as well. Can't wait until she starts selling those, too!


Scripture for the day

Hebrews 1:1-3

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...


Scripture of the day

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Baptism, mom and apple pie...

"None of this [Federal Vision stuff] threatens sola fide in the slightest because to maintain that faith is the sole instrument in justification does not deny that God uses other secondary instruments, always subsidiary to the primary instrument, which is faith alone. Those other subordinate instruments would include, but not be limited to, preaching, Gideon Bibles, tracts in the laundromat, billboards, sermon tapes, baptism, godly mothers, and so on."

Doug Wilson

Celebrating Christmas

R.C. Sproul, Jr.


Shooting at the Peacemakers

by R.C. Sproul Jr.

Whenever there is an issue, one will usually find two issues. You believe, for instance, that it is immodest for a woman to wear pants. I believe, enlightened knight that I am, that it is not necessarily immodest. That’s an issue of disagreement. While it is certainly possible that it could go the other way, odds are that the second issue would work out this way. You believe it a grave problem that I don’t hold your view on women and pants. I, on the other hand, am profoundly indifferent to your view, quite content for you to go on holding it. Now we have a second disagreement. We differ on the relative importance of the issue we differ on.

Shrewd politicians have learned how to use this to their advantage. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you believe the federal government ought to spend more money on education. I, on the other hand, believe that no civil governments ought to spend any money on education. If you want to make progress, what do you do? Do you come after dangerous fanatics like me? No. You instead get after people between us, and charge them with failing to sufficiently condemn me. You accuse those who want the level of federal spending to remain constant of being soft on loonies like me. Why would you risk alienating those who are closer to you? To get them to move closer still. As you denounce them, they in turn will feel the need to prove their bona fides on the issue. Before this assault, my loony views were a matter of indifference to these “moderates.” Now it is something they must loudly denounce, lest they get painted by you with my brush.

The strategy, of course, works for politicians of all kinds. It works in office politics. It works in family politics. And it works in church politics. It isn’t enough to disagree with theory A anymore. In order to avoid being tainted you have to stand up and declare theory A to be the very spawn of Satan. In some circles, for instance, it isn’t enough to believe in the five points of Calvinism. You must, in order to keep your Reformed credentials, believe that those who deny any of the five points of Calvinism go straight to hell when they die.

The world is full of issues, some of them subtle, all requiring wisdom. But the greatest wisdom is always needed for the second issue. The hard question is the proportion question. It is better, in the end, to enjoy the company of those who are wrong on a given issue, than those with whom we agree on the issue, but turn it into a matter of life and death. Give me a peaceful Arminian any day over a fire-breathing Calvinist. Give me, on the other hand, a fire-breathing Calvinist any day over those Machiavellians who push their agenda by shooting at the peacemakers.

Federal Vision motivation

by Douglas Wilson

The reason we talk this way [Federal Vision-y] is because some among the Reformed have set up the Confessions as a Procrustean bed for Bible verses. Verses are stretched or lopped off in order to fit their idea of the system. This is a denial of a central tenet of the Reformed system, which is sola Scriptura. A sterling example of this...

"Contra the statements above, the Standards (and scripture) do not teach that the non-elect are ever united to Christ or saved in any sense because the only way we can be united to Christ is via FAITH and faith is the result of Effectual Calling and Regeneration."....

Here is what Andy has said. No reprobate was ever united to Christ. No reprobate is ever saved in any sense.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away . . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15: 1-2, 6).

"And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Rom. 11:17-22).

Who is the Vine? Who is the Root? Who is part of the Vine here? Who is part of the Root here? Is there any sense in which these branches were ever united to Christ? To ask the question is to answer it, provided you are asking questions of the text, and not of the system.

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe" (1 Tim. 4:10).

Now is this statement true in any sense? At any level?


The Scholars and the Spirit

"Now many modern versions of the Bible cast doubt on the authenticity of the last twelve verses of Mark. Without going into all the arguments, we should at least note why we are not going into all the arguments. The reconstruction of the autographs (the originals) is a task utterly beyond the competence of scientific textual critics. This does not keep them from trying it, but it should keep us from believing them. And further, the issue is not the original text; the issue is the canonical text. The search for "the historical text" parallels the search for the historical Jesus, and is built on the same unbelieving assumptions, and will end in the same dismal swamps of liberalism. We are not supposed to be unearthing the history behind the text. These things actually happened, to be sure, in real time, and in photographable ways, but God did not send cameras. He sent Gospel writers -- the way our gracious God gave these events to us was by means of this text. We should just say thank you."

Douglas Wilson

Home Sweet Home

You know you're a true MICHIGANDER when

"Vacation" means going up north on I-75
You measure distance in hours.
You know several people who have hit a deer more than once
You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.
You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.
You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked
You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them
You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction
You can identify a southern or eastern accent.
Down South to you means Ohio
A brat is something you eat
Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn.
Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost
You have more miles on your snow blower than your car
You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."
You drink pop and bake with soda
Your doctor tells you to drink Vernors and you know it's not medicine.
You can actually drink Vernors without coughing
You know what a Yooper is.
You think owning a Honda is Un-American
You know that UP is a place, not a direction
You know it's possible to live in a thumb
You understand that when visiting Detroit , the best thing to wear is a Kevlar vest
You can make a map of the state with your hands


Narnia, gone bad

In spite of the quote below, Narnia IS a a deeply Christian work.

Not so The Golden Compass, a new movie due out this month. I read about it just now in the Atlantic Monthly (Dec 2007 - "How Hollywood Saved God" - strange title).

The author of the books on which The Golden Compass is based "dismissed the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an 'infantile work...' Narnia got it even worse: 'Morally loathsome,' he called it. 'One of the most ugly and poisonous things I've ever read.' He described his own series as Narnia's moral opposite. 'That's the Christian one,' he told me [author of the essay]. 'And mine is the non-Christian.'"

I'd recommend not seeing the movie, so as not to support him financially. Even if he is just posturing a bit for publicity.

The movie is put out by the same studio as Lord of the Rings and Narnia, and it would certainly be nice if they noticed the sizeable drop in ticket sales for this one, so Hollywood doesn't assume this is just a passing genre craze.


Demi-gods and wine in Narnia

In the middle of the feast Aslan throws, toward the end of Prince Caspian, before the complete restoration (think Communion!),...

"One [of the party] was a youth, dressed only in a fawn-skin, with vine-leaves wreathed in his curly hair. His face would have been almost too pretty for a boy's, if it had not looked so extremely wild. You felt, as Edmund said when he saw him a few days later, 'There's a chap who might do anything - absolutely anything.'... There were a lot of girls with him, as wild as he....

"The man on the donkey, who was old and enormously fat, began calling out at once,
'Refreshments!'.... Everyone began eating, and... you have never tasted such grapes...."

"'I say, Su, I know who they are.'
"The boy with the wild face is Bacchus and the old one on the donkey is Silenus. Don't you remember Mr. Tumnus telling us about them long ago?'
"'Yes, of course. But I say, Lu - '
"'I wouldn't have felt safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we'd met them without Aslan.'
"'I should think not,' said Lucy."

Near the end, when Aslan restores Narnia, he comes to a home in the village of Beruna, with an old woman, sick in bed...

"She was at death's door, but when she opened her eyes and saw the bright, hairy head of the lion staring into her face, she did not scream or faint. She said, 'Oh, Aslan! I knew it was true. I've been waiting for this all my life. Have you come to take me away?'

"'Yes dearest,' said Aslan. 'But not the long journey yet.' And as he spoke, like the flush creeping along the underside of a cloud at sunrise, the color came back to her white face and her eyes grew bright...

"'Here you are, mother,' said Bacchus, dipping a pitcher in the cottage well and handing it to her. But what was in it now was not water but the richest wine [John 2], red as red-currant jelly, smooth as oil, strong as beef, warming as tea, cool as dew."