Thursday, December 25, 2008

We went with Blue on the Christmas Tree This Year

I still claim there are two ways to decorate a Christmas Tree. 1) The family heirloom tree, decorated with treasured ornaments from Christmases past. 2) The theme tree, decorated with a premise or color scheme. Our family generally does the latter. Themes from years past include: white lights with gold ornaments; red wooden snowflakes; a purple light tree; oversized red balls; silver and white. This year we decided on blue and white lights with blue balls and silver snowflakes picked up on K-Martclearance last year. Dad did the lights, Lincoln put the star on top and helped place balls on the tree, Liberty helped place the balls (she could reach) in the middle of the living room, and Mom correctly adjusted the ornaments.
Blue is not your traditional Christmas color, the tradition limited to red and green and maybe gold, (Gold and it’s cousin frankincense are technically Epiphany colors) leaving blue out in the cold. I did run across this in William Sandys’ 1833 book Christmas carols, Ancient and Modern. It’s the only mention of anything blue in this book of 100 carols:

The fire with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table's oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar's-head frowned on high,
Crested with hays and rosemary.

This carol celebrates the Boar’s Head Feast. Little did you know that this feast is probably the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. I knew little of the feast as well until I pulled it up on Wikipedia and found that the festival dated back to the 1300’s. Lords and servants alike, gather together to feast and tell the story of the Nativity. The height of the evening being when the dining guests watched the boar’s head marched through the hall. Oh to be present in the fire-lit hall on Christmas Eve when the blue-coated serving-man triumphantly brings in the roasted boar and everyone cheers! What a celebration!
Although we may have a Blue Christmas without you, Christmas should still be a feast. At Christmas we gather one and all to celebrate Life and Light. We experience first hand the goodness of God. His Son is given, born in a manger that we might:
Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed are they who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8
The Christ-Child enjoyed every meal and song and color of life, because the Son of God took refuge in His Father in Heaven in all things. We pray that God shows you His goodness this Christmas as you take refuge in Him.
May your taste and see the goodness of God the Father.
May you be blessed by every carol and meal, may you enjoy the fellowship of family and friends, and may you learn to love all the colors of Christmas.
We take refuge in the Lord, we relish in the Gift he has given, and we are thankful for all that God has in store for you and for us now and in the year to come.
To you and yours at your feast,
Caput apri defero,Reddens laudes Domino!
Benjamin & Kristl, Lincoln, Liberty

Friday, December 05, 2008

Light of the World

There are lights at Christmas for two reasons. The first is that Jesus speaks of himself as the "light of the world" because only he reveals/reflects God the Father.

There are lights at Christmas for a second reason. It is night. Christmas comes at the darkest season of the year (apologies to those of you living in Australia). Jesus is not only the light of the world but a light that shines in darkness. It is a wonder and mystery and to his eternal glory that the Father chooses to give us light at all.

John has this great comment at his recounting of Jesus' betrayal. Right after Judas leaves the last supper John says, "and it was night." The deeds done dirt cheap are done in the darkness, but the Christ then responds with his own commentary on the betrayal:
When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
The glory of God shines in and through the Only Begotten. He is Light. The light of the Father. The light that penetrates our darkness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Everything Biblical Hebrew

Here is the best introduction to Hebrew Script that I have found: Omniglot
(more on Hebrew script than you wanted to know)

Best Learning Site: Hebrew for Christians
(a little too heavy on all the messianic Judaism stuff, but each of the twelve or so sections under Grammar is divided up into individual lessons, like 9 lessons just on nouns alone.)

A little clunky but... you can find Thirty One Hebrew Lessons here:
Biblia Hebraica

Here is Chapter-by-Chapter mp3 readings of the Hebrew Bible:
Mechon Mamre and here: Academy of Ancient Languages

Which you can listen to and follow along with these Hebrew-English rendition of the Hebrew Bible:
Mechon Mamre

Tyler Williams, the OT / Hebrew professor at Taylor University College, Edmonton, Alberta. (my alma mater) website: Biblical-Studies.Ca Biblical-Studies Blog

Lists and links to Teaching Tools and Links can be found Here:
Hebrew Language Teachers' Toolbox and here Bible-Researcher and here is the insane list of Links for everything Hebrew PaleoJudaica

also check out the list of Hebrew Grammars etc. on Google Books
Elements of Hebrew Syntax by an Inductive Method
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar
A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament
The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon
A Lexicon, Hebrew, Chaldee, and English
A Grammar of the Hebrew Language

Old languages and old books are better!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ehud and Jesus

The story of Ehud has always fascinated me. 
ESV, Judges 3:15-26
The people of Israel cried out to the LORD, and the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. And Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his clothes. And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. And when Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. But he himself turned back at the idols near Gilgal and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." And he commanded, "Silence." And all his attendants went out from his presence. And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, "I have a message from God for you." And he arose from his seat. And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out. Then Ehud went out into the porch and closed the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them. When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, "Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber." And they waited till they were embarrassed. But when he still did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them, and there lay their lord dead on the floor. Ehud escaped while they delayed, and he passed beyond the idols and escaped to Seirah.
When Luke comments on Jesus "Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Or when Matthew says that Jesus "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
How are Ehud and Jesus related?
Is all Scripture a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation or are there parts of  Scripture that do not rise to the full level of Christ.? I would like to confirm the latter, but Ehud and the mildew laws and the strange story of Noah getting drunk or of Rehoboam's claim, all tend to push the envelope of being a "testimony to Christ".

Thursday, October 30, 2008


A fellow pastor had made mention in passing that the book of Acts contains examples of people being saved with out being baptized. Curious, when I checked it out all I could find were general descriptions such as:
17: 12 "Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men."
14:1 "There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed."
However _every_ conversion of an individual is _always_ accompanied by a baptism.
  • Acts 1 "John's Baptism" v. "Spirit's Baptism"
  • Acts 2 The Crowd at Pentecost
  • Acts 8 Simon the Sorcerer
  • Acts 8 The Ethiopian Eunuch
  • Acts 9 (& Acts 22) Saul
  • Acts 10 Cornelius
  • Acts 16 Lydia
  • Acts 16 Philippian Jailer & Family
  • Acts 18 Crispus
  • Acts 19 Apollos
  • Acts 19 The Disciples of Ephesus
Even if I have overlooked something (which is likely) the overwhelming evidence seems to point toward baptism being the normal apostolic practice. 
Question: If the evidence from the book of Acts points toward baptism being a normative first response to the converting work of the Holy Spirit, what the Biblical grounds for conversion and baptism to be separated, as is our normative practice today?
Something to chew on.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


The real Christian, enjoying assurance of salvation, has holy boldness but he also has less of self-confidence and more modesty...He is less apt than others to be shaken in faith, but more apt than others to be moved with solemn warnings, and with God's frowns, and with the calamities of others. He has the firmest comfort, but the softest heart. Richer than others, he is the poorest of all in spirit: the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child among them.

What is it that Jonathan Edwards knows about knowing Christ? I would much rather leave the messy task of sorting out the good fish from the bad to Christ. At the end of the day there will be those who, though they say they are, ain't, and those who don't know, who are. Assurance should never rely on any date written in your Bible or statements from another Christian. But assurance stems from a careful examination with fear and trembling of evidences of grace in our life.

Yet, too often, we give less thought to these matters than we do to doing the dishes or feeding the cat. I want to be a real Christian. I want to be moved by the word of God. To find that treasure in the field and then to sell all in my joy.

No, it is not owing to God, nor to any of his revelations, that true saints ever doubt of their state; his revelations are plain and clear, and his rules sufficient for men to determine their own condition by. But, for the most part, it is owing to their own sloth, and giving way to their sinful dispositions. Must God’s institutions and revelations be answerable for all the perplexities men bring on themselves, through their own negligence and unwatchfulness? It is wisely ordered that the saints should escape perplexity in no other way than that of great strictness, diligence, and maintaining the lively, laborious, and self-denying exercises of religion.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Islam and Catholicism

Reuters reports that the Catholic church is conceding their number on seed to Islam.
Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican's newly-released 2008 yearbook of statistics, said Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics 17.4 percent.

This news may get evangelicals talking and may cause concern, but will it result in a change in mission strategy or focus? Will it open up dialogue?