Thursday, December 31, 2009

Something to meditate on in the coming year...

2010 is here, and as we enter it, we have been learning a new hymn to teach at church. It provides great ideas for carrying into the new year. May 2010 be a year when we recognize the extent of Christ's Lordship over us and our lives!

The Lord Is King by David Ward and Josiah Conder (1789-1851)

The Lord is King; lift up your voice
O earth, and all you heav’ns rejoice;
From world to world the joy will ring,
The Lord omnipotent is King.

Rejoice, the Lord is King,
Rejoice, His praises sing,
From earth and heav’n His glories ring
For He is our King!

The Lord is King; who then will dare
Resist His will, distrust His care,
Or murmur at His wise decrees,
Or doubt His royal promises.

The Lord is King, child of the dust,
The judge of all the earth is just;
His holiness crowns all His ways,
Let every creature shout His praise.

The Lord is King; the Three in One,
The Father, Spirit, and the Son.
We lift our voices now in song;
To Him alone all praise belongs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Poem


There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost---how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wife's tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Miscellany

Hunting for a little peace during this busy holiday season? Read what one friend has to say about peace here. Or read some reflections about the Prince of Peace here. If you're struggling with the whole idea of peace, get some perspective on defiance here. And for an interesting take on Christmas from an interesting source, look here.

And whatever you read today, Gentle Reader, remember to spare some time to contemplate what Christmas means. Tonight Dave and I will sing the following lyrics at our Christmas eve service. Contemplate with us that being's source begins to be:

Glory Be to God Bob Kauflin

Glory be to God on high
Let peace on earth descend
God comes down before our eyes
To Bethlehem
God invisible appears
Endless ages wrapped in years
He has come who cannot change
And Jesus is His name

Emptied of His majesty
He comes in human form
Being’s source begins to be
And God is born
All our griefs He’ll gladly share
All our sins He’ll fully bear
He will cover our disgrace
And suffer in our place

Let the joyful news ring out
The Prince of Peace proclaim
Lift your heart and voice to shout
Immanuel’s name
God has kept His promises
What a work of grace this is
Son of Mary, chosen One
The Lamb of God has come

Hosanna, hosanna
The Lamb of God has come
Hosanna, hosanna
He is the promised One

Glory be to God on high
Let peace on earth descend
God comes down before our eyes
To Bethlehem

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections on a mighty child...

I love reflecting on Jesus at all times, but especially at Christmas. There is something so amazing about the implications of the incarnation that I never tire of thinking about it!

This morning I read an article by Anthiny Esolen (who is fast becoming one of my favorite authors, and making me think seriously about subscribing to Touchstone Magazine...) it is a different reflection on Christ and childlikeness. I recommend it to you in its entirety, Gentle Reader. But here is one of my favorite little parts, just to whet your appetite:

...At which he heaved a sigh and said to us, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Rumpling the hair of one of the runny-nosed, he added, “Let them come, for the kingdom of heaven is peopled with citizens like these.” And he looked us in the eye. “As for you, unless you become like a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I thought he was just using a figure of speech. That was the way out—or in. You can drive a camel through a figure of speech. So I never gave his saying a lot of thought...

~Anthony Esolen, "A Mighty Child", Touchstone Magazine, December 2005

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas poem

Nativity by John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Midweek Miscellany

I read a very convicting article today, written by a young Chritian woman who has had four abortions. Her thoughts and reflections are moving. The fact that she needs to speak to the place where there is the most silence, and she idetifies that as the church, is more than heart-breaking! (Thanks to TB) I found A. Kern's short words on climategate interesting and logical, and this article from the NY Times a cross between horrifying and ridiculous. (Al Mohler has a helpful take on this issue here.) I found these salient points about modesty from Time, of all places, helpful. And while we're looking at culture, did you read these powerful reflections from Anthony Esolen?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas funnies

Yesterday, my pastor performed the piece shown here at our annual "'Round the Table Carol Sing." It is a fun "family" time, singing carols and songs fo the season, and several people offering performances and readings. Well, this song had us all in stitches.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Manhattan Declaration Hubbub

Have you read the Manhattan Declaration, Gentle Readers? There is a lot of hubbub about it on Evnagelical blogs. If you haven't read it, you can access it here. It's not very long, and I encourage you to read it.

The Declaration is being hailed by the likes of Charles Colson. There are many signatories on there that I respect. As Ligon Duncan has said, in signing with Catholic and Anglican priests, the signatories see themselves standing as co-beligerants against a rising attack on the dignity of human life. But, as R. C. Sproul has said, the document seems to miss the main point of the transformative power of the gospel, and casts a very wide net in its definition of Christianity.

There has been some thought-provoking discussion of the whole topic at Pyromaniacs. I am not sure what I believe. But good discussion is happening, I think. May God use it, and all things, for His glory.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Snow Day Miscellany

Today is a snow day here in LA (the LA in New Mexico, that is.) I love the enforced spontaneity of everyone home bound for an unexpected day! And in the lightness of that moment, here are some odd and quirky things I've been saving for you, Gentle Readers.

In the unexpected category, would you believe that Al Mohler blogged about cooking? And as always, his thoughts were edifying. And how about a few words in praise of the cliche? For you film buffs out there, here is an interesting site which is a treasure trove of early films and clips. And speaking of treasures, have you heard about this find?

In the "You've GOT to be kidding" category, this product would make me laugh it it didn't make me feel ill, while this blog made me laugh out loud.

And every day is better with Calvin and Hobbes. Check out a recent favorite here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Poem for a snowy night

Psalm 67 by Anthony Esolen (original post here)

May God cause His face to shine upon you

I am a passenger on a train,
Alone, in a full car at night,
And I feel the carriage's stress and strain,
And peer into the windowpane

And see there in the blanching light
The heads of other travelers.
No doubt they are doing what seems right,
Shading their eyes from anyone's sight,

And if they are laden with many years,
Or young, and full of a yearning heart,
Or blank, or idle, or welling with tears,
Or quick as a signal that disappears,

I cannot tell, from my world apart.
But I think if only I could say --
Or if someone else could make a start,
Or, what surpasses human art,

Lean to me in the simplest way
To whisper, "Friend, you are not alone,"
Ah, then the carriage would shine like day!
And emptiness would flee away.

For once in my travels a light shone,
A countenance I could not retain,
But he watches us as the wheels roll on,
The One I love, and the only One.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sabbath Semtiments

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, from the Liturgy of St. James, trans. by Gerard Moultrie

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Lord is King!

I am learning a new song, and I love the words. The contemporary setting is by David Ward at Reformed Worship. Give it a listen-- it will lift your hearts, Gentle Reader!

The Lord is King; lift up your voice
O earth, and all you heav’ns rejoice;
From world to world the joy will ring,
The Lord omnipotent is King.

Rejoice, the Lord is King,
Rejoice, His praises sing,
From earth and heav’n His glories ring
For He is our King!

The Lord is King; who then will dare
Resist His will, distrust His care,
Or murmur at His wise decrees,
Or doubt His royal promises.

The Lord is King, child of the dust,
The judge of all the earth is just;
His holiness crowns all His ways,
Let every creature shout His praise.

The Lord is King; the Three in One,
The Father, Spirit, and the Son.
We lift our voices now in song;
To Him alone all praise belongs.
The Lord is King; lift up thy voice
O earth, and all ye heav’ns rejoice;
From world to world the joy shall ring,
The Lord is King; who then shall dare
Holy and true are all His ways,
Let every creature speak His praise.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Climbing above what we are...

Political ideals of equality, Lewis said, may be necessary. But he, like Aristotle before him, drew the valuable distinction between the "education which democrats like" and "the education which will preserve democracy." For close up they face the world differently. One allows us to recline and feel good about ourselves; the other quickens us, out of a sense of our innate unfitness and incompleteness, to climb above what we are and rise to that which we might become.
~T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p.154

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Follow Him more fully...

“Let us cleave to Christ more closely, love Him more heartily, live to Him more thoroughly, copy Him more exactly, confess Him more boldly, follow Him more fully.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Practical Religion, “Sickness”, 373

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reading List 2008

You may have noticed, Gentle Readers, that I keep a list of books read in the side bar. I have decided it is getting too long, so I am going to make a permanent listing here at around this time each year. So below you will find the books I read in 2008. ANd a list will appear after the first of the year with all the books from 2009. That will keep my side bar more manageable. And I can't just delete them. There is something so satisfying about having a list of ideas accomplished.

I am very heavy on fiction. That is because it is so easy. I do make myself read some hard fiction, but still. I need to add some other genres in there in the coming year. I do all right with theology. Time to add history and biography at least.

What have you been reading? What do you suggest I add to my long list?

Books read in 2008

The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot (completed 12-08)

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (completed 12-08)

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (completed 11-08)

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God ed. by Justin Taylor and John Piper (completed 10-08)

The Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (Completed 10-16-08)

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J. K. Rowlings (Completed 10-08)

The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot (completed 9-08)

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (completed 9-08)

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (completed 9-08)

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook (Completed 9-08)

Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers (Completed 8-08)

Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card (Completed 8-08)

Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card (Completed 8-08)

Martin Luther in His Own Words (Completed 7-08)

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (complete 6-08)

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie (completed 6-08)

Paradise Lost by John Milton (completed 5-08)

A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (completed 4-08)

The Cross-Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney (completed 4-08)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Miscellany

We enjoyed a lovely holiday in Tucson at Tim and Nikki's, including a trip to San Xavier mission. It is quite lovely, and very elaborate for a very old mission church. I'll post more about my trip here.

My bookmarks are just full of items deserving attention. I don't have time to do them all justice, but here are few things that strike me...

On the global non-warming front, everyone has by now heard about the questionable practices among the global warming gurus. I think this is all going down soon, and when it does, the Nobel committee is going to look ridiculous for giving Al his peace prize over it...

On the "New Atheist" front,I found this article from Christopher Hitchens fascinating. I'm sure the debate between him and Pastor Doug Wilson was also fascinating. Has anyone seen it? And the silliness over Richard Dawkins' latest ad is humorous.

On the absurd policy front, I thought James Kuchiner's comments were excellent here.

On the bizarre front, did you read about the giant jellyfish?

And on the beauty front, how about these stunning photographs of lovely libraries?

And so, Gentle Readers, onward we fly to the end of the year and beyond...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Off and running... Tucson, again, that is. Blog break ahead as we drive to AZ to meet up with both the chillun and their wives for Thanksgiving at Tim and Nikki's house. Be back next week-end. Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle readers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

Glory Be to God on High by Charles Wesley, 1739

Glory be to God on high,
God Whose glory fills the skies;
Peace on earth to man forgiv'n,
Man, the well beloved of Heav'n.

Sovereign Father, heavenly King,
Thee we now presume to sing;
Glad, Thine attributes confess,
Glorious all, and numberless.

Hail, by all Thy works adored!
Hail, the everlasting Lord!
Thee with thankful hearts we prove
God of power, and God of love.

Christ our Lord and God we own,
Christ, the Father's only Son,
Lamb of God for sinners slain,
Savior of offending man.

Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Hear, the world's atonement, Thou!
Jesus, in Thy Name we pray,
Take, O take our sins away!

Powerful Advocate with God,
Justify us by Thy blood;
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Hear, the world's atonement, Thou!

Hear, for Thou, O Christ, alone
Art with God the Father One,
One the Holy Ghost with Thee,
One supreme, eternal Three.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The heart of a 7-year-old boy

In my continuing Tim Hawkins tribute...
This does, from my experience, remind me of the heart of a 7-year-old boy. Women who have never had sons, maybe you won't be able to relate to this. But it made me roar. It's an Emo-Mick Jager-Jack Black mix of a song, and in particular, reminds me of my eldest son, Ben....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tim Hawkins week continues: favorite parodies

Well, I am taken with the idea of sharing these funny bits from Tim Hawkins. Here area couple of my favorite parodies by him. You can see his perfomance dates and check out his merchandise at

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Government Can

OK- so I think this guy is hilarious. Sorry if this is too cheesy for you, Gentle Readers. Maybe I'll make this Tim Hawkins week...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book and movie notes

We are heading out of town tomorrow, and so the blogs will be quiet again for a time. Before we leave, I thought I'd fill you in on what I've been reading and watching...

On my walk this morning (on a beautiful fall day along White Rock Canyon) I made it all the way to Canto 31 of the Inferno section of Dante's Divine Comedy. I am happy to say that four more cantos, and I can leave Hell behind. It's a bit grueling. I'll wait for Purgatory and Paradise before making a final verdict, but I am finding Dante pretty obscure. Perhaps it is my own ignorance that doesn't understand the plethora of ancient allusions. And I am not enjoying the language as I did with, Say, Milton, but that could be a translation problem. I suppose reading Dante in Latin (or was it Italian?) would be a wholly different and more desirable experience. I felt that way when I read a translation of Les Miserables. The story was compelling, but the language was irksome, and that was likely do to the clumsiness of the translation. This is the John Ciardi translation, so let me know, Gentle Readers, if you have opinions on translators...

In my bedtime reading, which always has to be lighter and more friendly, I am enjoying meeting all my old friends in the Fellowship of the Ring. I am happy to say that finally, at something like my third time reading and after several times through audio listening, I did not have to skip over the barrow-wights, which have previously freaked me out. I made it through with barely a blush. And now we are in Rivendell, getting all the history and implications of the One Ring. There is simply little more delightful than a great story, told masterfully!

I continue to pick away at Climbing Parnassus. And it continues to pick away at my educational assumptions.

And recently we have viewed a couple of movies that I thought were worth watching. One was called "A Good Woman" and starred Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson. It is an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde short story, "Lady Windermere's Fan." I thought it was well done, and unexpected (especially since I had not read the story previously.) Dave didn't like it as much as I did, but I thought it was quite good.

Even better than that, however, is the quirky little movie entitled "Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School" This was an unexpected little movie. It revealed human pain and pleasure in subtle ways, and went places I didn't expect it to go. Give it a view.

Both of these movies deal with some mature themes, and would not be good viewing by children younger than mature, older teen years. But they both are very human movies, asking important human questions. I enjoyed them!

TTFN, Gentle Readers. Perhaps I'll write from Tucson, but perhaps I'll not see you again until next week.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The problem of popular democracy

"The popular idea of democracy is animated by a very strong resentment of superiority. It resents the thought of an elite; the thought that there are practical ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience, acheivement and enjoyment, which by nature are open to some and not to all. It deprecates and disallows this thought, and discourages it by every available means. As the popular idea of democracy postulates that there shall be nothing worth enjoying for anybody to enjoy that everybody may not enjoy; a contrary view is at once exposed to all the evils of a dogged, unintelligent, invincibly suspicious resentment."
~Albert Jay Nock, as quoted by T. L. Simmons in Climbing Parnassus, p.153

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

Thanks to CR for posting this, one of my favorite songs!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Improving mental natures...

"...The point of this method [of painstaking exercises in Latin and Greek translation] was to stretch the students' minds, to expand their capacities, to inure them to manipulating, to playing with words and ideas. A literary high culture would have no need to justify this flagrant expenditure of its students' time and effort. These students were novices. They were not learning a trade; they were improving their mental natures."
~T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p.124

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Midweek Miscellany

On the global warming front: Watch where the money is, always with any issue. And in the new industries surrounding all things "green", there is a familiar face...

On the Obama administration front: As a nation we have officially made some murders more worthy of punishment than others. I wonder how my friends whose young daughter was murdered feel about knowing that the man who committed the crime would receive a less severe sentence because it wasn't a gender-issue related crime. This is absurd. Here and here are some excellent commentary on the Hate Crimes bill.

On the family front: Divorce continues to ravage the basic institution of the family. Marriage, as an institution, is ill. And abortion is disproportionally wiping out the black population of our country. (And there is a money trail worth following...)These are things for which we must repent as a society. I can't help but think God is already judging us for such crimes.

On the just plain weird front: But we could be in the UK, where parents can no longer supervise their children on the playground... or we could be in Carl Jung's mind. What a frightening place that had to have been! Does anybody really know what this guy actually believed? It is akin to to the big-name atheists like Dawkins choosing to believe in aliens as the source of life because they hate the God option. And if you think at least your child's geography classroom is safe from the nihilistic mindset of the culture, think again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

Not What My Hands Have Done By Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

1. Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers,
And sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load.

2. Thy work alone, O Christ,
Can ease this weight of sin
Thy blood alone O Lamb of God,
Can give me peace within.
Thy love to me O God,
Not mine, O Lord, to Thee
Can rid me of
This dark unrest,
And set my spirit free!

3. Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine,
No other blood will do,
No strength save that,
Which is divine,
Can bear me safely through.

4. I bless the Christ of God;
I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart,
I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt,
I bury in His tomb
My unbelief,
And all my fear,
Each lingering shade of gloom.

5. I praise the God of grace,
I trust His truth and might
He calls me His, I call Him mine,
My God, my joy, my light
’Tis He Who saveth me,
And freely pardon gives
I love because
He loveth me,
I live because He lives!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The beauty of grammar

I am no grammar guru, but I have grown in my love and appreciation of grammar over the years. Today I happened upon a thought-provoking post about grammar, which said in part:
Grammar is where God, man, the soul, thinking, knowledge, and the cosmos all come together.

Grammar is based on the link between something that exists and something that applies to something that exists.

You can read the whole, short post, by Andrew Kern, here.

The Creator of the universe chose to reveal Himself to us in language. What a gift! And understanding how language in general, and any one language in particular, works, is to delve into the beauty of the very mind of God.

Now, if I can just oass that along to my composition students...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dante, and other audio adventures

Today as I took my walk, I wandered with Dante through the first 5 circles of Hell. It was sobering stuff as I walked against the wind, the gray sky, and the promise of moisture on its way. It all made a nice back-drop to the poet's travels with Virgil. I know I have mentioned it before, but be sure to check out the free monthly audio offerings here. They also offer a daily podcast of Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, which I have been enjoying.

Today I became aware of a couple of fun podcast sites for history. I have started the series of podcasts by Mike Duncan on the history of Rome here. It's good to be reminded about the ties between Aeneas and Romulus and Remus, to put the Sabine women in their context (and not just in a song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) and to be reminded why Tarquin was a tyrant. We started at the beginning, and are now through the monarchy, and about to embark on the Republic.

A couple of other sites I look forward to exploring are also podcasts about history: the first is the history of the Byzantine Empire, and the second on the Norman Centuries, both by Lars Brownworth.

I love history, but sometimes have a tough time slogging through the books. So this is a great way to bone up on history while cleaning, folding laundry, or walking the wide world!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Support Circe

One of the ministries that has really meant a lot to me over the years is Circe Institute, and its founder, Andrew Kern. If you don't know about Circe, check them out here. And if you want to help, they are offering 7 downloads of talks from their past conferences for ANY DONATION! You heard me-- seven excellent lectures for any donation. Check it out here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sabbath Semtiments

Holy, Holy Holy by Reginald Heber, 1826

1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

God will beat the time for us

It took my breath away In our whole life melody, the music is broken off here and there by rests and we think we have come to the end of time. God sends a time of forced leisure, a time of sickness and disappointed plans and makes a sudden pause in the hymns of our lives and we lament that our voice must be silent and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of our Creator. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the rests. If we look up, God will beat the time for us. -- John Ruskin

Thanks to Julia

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our compassionate God

“Let us remember that the eye of our loving Savior is upon us, morning, noon and night. He will never suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He suffered Himself being tempted.”
“He knows what battles and conflicts are, for He Himself was assaulted by the Prince of this world. Having such a High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.”
~ J.C. Ryle
Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle,
“The Fight”, 171, 172.

Thanks to EK

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A glorious good morning

Enjoy this fun video, Gentle Reader, and rejoice this morning!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Reflections on family: I ran across some interesting family-related items this week. Married to the State is an interesting chronicle of the changes from the state protecting marriage to usurping power over marriage. Micah Watson reports on an interesting piece by Maggie Gallagher about a new marriage index. And the New Yorker discusses the changes in childrens' books, and how it reflects change in the family.

Best title of the week: this goes to Anthony Esolen's blog post at Touchstone Magazine's blog entitled Inhaling and Ingesting Microscopic Chinese Communists. Interesting thoughts, too!

Best photos of the week: Check out these amazing images from the world of medicine.

Nifty product of the week: I'm actually split between two products here. Either it is the Postmodern Apology form, or it's the Grammar Nerd Corrective Label Pack. I really want one of these. I only wish they had included the than/then difference...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sabbath Semtiments

Jesus, Lord of life and glory by James J. Cummins, 1839

Jesus, Lord of life and glory,
bend from heaven thy gracious ear;
while our waiting souls adore thee,
friend of helpless sinners, hear:
by thy mercy,
O deliver us, good Lord.

From the depth of nature's blindness,
from the hardening power of sin,
from all malice and unkindness,
from the pride that lurks within, Refrain

When temptation sorely presses,
in the day of Satan's power,
in our times of deep distresses,
in each dark and trying hour, Refrain

When the world around is smiling,
in the time of wealth and ease,
earthly joys our hearts beguiling,
in the day of health and peace, Refrain

In the weary hours of sickness,
in the times of grief and pain,
when we feel our mortal weakness,
when all human help is vain, Refrain

In the solemn hour of dying,
in the awful judgment day,
may our souls, on thee relying,
find thee still our Rock and Stay; Refrain

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The seasons change

This morning we picked pears, saving about a bushel of the larger ones. The tree was just loaded: so loaded, in fact, that most were tiny, and I just can't see bothering with them. Then, while Dave went to a fall work day at church, I worked on finishing the last of the apples, making about 8 quarts of applesauce, and another 5 quarts or so of apple butter, and saving a few of the best for pies. The fresh fall air is wafting in, the sun shining in the brilliant blue sky, the leaves gone from the ash tree, and a brilliant mixture of colors on pear tree. I love fall, and I love to notice the changing seasons of the year.

Yesterday, we went to the memorial service of a friend. A fellow homeschooler here in town, she died at age 50 after battling lung cancer for two years. Her eight children range in age from 24 down to 7. And the love for her which her dear husband of 25 years holds was palpable and strong. For that family, the seasons of their lives have just changed unalterably. And our lives change, too, as we are reminded of the passage of time. The funerals now are not only of the parents of friends, but of friends and their children.

Sometimes this way of thinking can tempt me to depsair. But that's when I have to focus on God's amazing goodness and gentleness in the midst of these changing seasons. I found this evening's Spurgeon podcast to be a great reminder in the midst of the changing seasons of my life...

"He shall gather the lambs with His arm."
--Isaiah 40:11

Our good Shepherd has in His flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith, but He is impartial in His care for all His sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to Him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with His arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish--He nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; He finds weak minds ready to faint and die--He consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far- reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm! The best of all is, that He does it all Himself personally, not delegating the task of love, but condescending Himself to rescue and preserve His most unworthy servant. How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other, a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought.
~C. H. Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, October 17

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Midweek Miscellany

Trying to come up for air after 10 wonderful days away in the natural beauty of SW Utah and N Arizona, but here are a few interesting tidbits...

A strange take on our culture of death can be found here.

Some unprecedented thoughts coming from our president via Al Mohler, and some related ideas about women in the military.

Some ideas about words from Andrew Kern on literature, and sort of the antithesis of this: a library without books. And a few thoughts on the kindle reader: not sure I'm sold on it yet. I know I'm a Luddite, but I love books: their feel and smell and look and weight! It's hard to imagine not having books-- real books.

Some interesting words on economics from the Intercollegiate Review.

Some explanatory words about these beautiful pictures of clouds.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

There is a God

There Is a God by Wes King

Well, I plan on being here for a long time,
Watching you grow up, and watching you fly away.
I plan on crying at your wedding,
And saying goodbye to my little boys
And hello, nice to meet you, to the men you’ll someday be;
Growing old with your mother and hold her hand all the way,
Falling in love with her every single day.
And should I die before you wake,
There is something I would want to say.

Love life with all your might.
Love peace but be willing to fight.
Love beauty and train your sight.
And nurture your appetite for beauty, goodness and truth.
Be strong and be brave.
Believe and be saved, for there is a God.

Be men of faith and courage: a little crazy, a little bold.
Seek to find your mission. Fear God and fear not men.
And believe me when I tell you—oh, I wish you only joy.
And if you wish to find your life, you must give it away.
And when you die, you will wake in the arms of the One
You pray your soul to take.

Love life with all your might.
Love peace but be willing to fight.
Love beauty and train your sight.
And nuture your appetite for beauty, goodness and truth.
Be strong and be brave.
Believe and be saved, for there is a God.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mid-week miscellany

That is what I call my miscellanious post when I miss posting it on Mondays...getting ready for a trip is playing havoc with my schedule here!

~Fun Photos: Check out the storm photos or the award-winners at one of these sites for inspiration.

~Economic Echoes: If the US had a credit score, what would it look like? See here.

~Climate Change Chaos: This is an interesting take on things...

~Dealing with Death: I ran across a couple interesting meditations on death/dying this week. One is about the recent death of Unitarian minister Forrest Church. The other is photos of tombstones in an Anglican graveyard in Nassau.

~And in the avoidance of death category: How about this reminder of good sanitary precautions during flu season?

~And finally, in the weird video of the week category: Check out the video here. I am at a loss for words...really...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

O Jesus, We Adore Thee by Arthur T. Russell, 1851

O Jesus, we adore Thee,
Upon the cross, our King!
We bow our hearts before Thee,
Thy gracious Name we sing.
That Name hath brought salvation,
That Name in life our stay,
Our peace, our consolation,
When life shall fade away.

Yet doth the world disdain Thee,
Still passing by the cross;
Lord, may our hearts retain Thee;
All else we count but loss.
Ah, Lord, our sins arraigned Thee,
And nailed Thee to the tree;
Our pride, our Lord, disdained Thee;
Yet deign our Hope to be.

O glorious King, we bless Thee,
No longer pass Thee by;
O Jesus, we confess Thee
The Son enthroned on high.
Lord, grant to us remission;
Life through Thy death restore;
Yea, grant us fruition
Of life forevermore.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Young eyes and heart and brain...

LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do--with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and truth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best--young eyes and heart and brain.

~George MacDonald from Diary of an Old Soul

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Right views, wrong views

“He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin…wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.
The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of saving Christianity. Without it, such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are ‘words and names which convey no meaning to the mind.’”
~ J.C. Ryle

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Miscellany

*Economics Item of the week: How about this WSJ article about the lack of effect from the stimulus? So much for having a good reason to ransom future generations.

*Life-issue items of the week: On death before birth, see Al Mohler. On death at the end of life, see this Newsweek article. And for some excellent analysis of the messy side of the sexual revolution, read D'Souza here.

*Healthcare item of the week: Read Andrew's thoughtful post over at the Quiddity blog.

*Silly items of the week: My favorites this week both revolve around popular (and wealthy) novelist Dan Brown. Take your pick here: either you can peruse the 20 all-time worst sentences in Brown's fiction, or you can play around with the Dan Brown plot generator.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

We sang this lovely hymn this morning. We usually sing it at Christmas time, but singing it at another time of year infused it with new life for me!

Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor
Words by Frank Houghton (1894-1972)

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book notes

I am thoroughly enjoying my reread of The Hobbit by Tolkien. I have just the battle of the three armies to go, and then Bilbo will be making his way back home.

I am also enjoying listening to the audio version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation (the first book in his famous sci-fi series). However, I must admit that his agenda is painfully clear, at times evenly blatantly so. I find myself chuckiling out loud as he assures us that the only really honest people are the schietists, and replaces expletives that would normally involve the name of God randomly with the word "Space", as in "Only Space knows...", or "Space! How much more do I have to listen to..." I am enjoying the story despite the obvious worldview vehicles.

Last month, I finished off both Home to Holly Springs and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. They were light, summertime reads, neither great fiction, but both enjoyable and worth the time (each in its own way). They also both suffered from a deplorable amount of overly-convenient resolution, that became almost unbearable by the end. And I threw in My Man Jeeves at the beginning of this month. Everyone needs something as silly as Wodehouse from time to time. It's got to be good for the soul.

I am about a half-hour from finishing off the audio version of Augustine's Confessions. Not only is the man one of the most clever at using figures of speech that I have ever run across, but his prayers, which run with the narrative so seamlessly that you cannot always tell whether he is praying or narrating, are excruciatingly beautiful. Also excruciating at times, though not in the pleasing sense, are his arguments and ponderings about various philosophical ideas. I now know how to understand the quote that Augustine's problem is that he thinks too much. If you need an example, read the chapters that deal with the concept of memory, or the ones contemplating the nature of time. Yikes!

I also continue to chip slowly away at Climbing Parnassus and The Writer's Workshop, though reading for teaching is now taking more of that time, and I'm not getting as much done as I would wish.

And, I am afraid we've been off the wagon on reading Calvin since summer set in. Perhaps, with the coming of dark evenings and quiet schedules, we will resume.