Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gerbils Again

I think we must have gotten some modern Industrial Strength Gerbils. When I was a young lass, my parents bought me a set of gerbils and one of the first Habitrail gerbil cages that were produced. They were cool cages that you could add all kinds of attachements on to so the gerbils could run through them and keep entertained. This cage kept all the gerbils, through successive generations, nicely contained.

Now, I don't know if the strength of the plastic on cages is now inferior, or if we have a new breed of genetically modified gerbils with the strength of ten inserted in their genes, but the girls' gerbils ate through their cage in not one, but FIVE different places.

I was out with all the children the other day and my husband found Suki puss crouched down outside the girls' bedroom door. He opened the door to find bands of marauding gerbils busily eating through electrical cords and other paraphanalia. He quickly scooped up a disappointed cat and incarcerated her in the bathroom and then quickly turned to meet the onslaught of gerbils, who, he swears, came at him in waves.

It took a while, but with great skill and dexerity he managed to corral them all in a box. The girls came home and transferred them to a large, tall plastic bucket for the night because they had already made serious inroads on the box. Because the gerbils chewed through the small fan that they use for "white noise" while sleeping, Bethany moved the gerbils into the bathroom (which had been vacated by the cat by this time) so they wouldn't be disturbed by all the chewing and scratching, and in the process managed to become thoroughly bit. The resulting shriek sent me rocketing skyward like a startled pheasant and I erupted from my bedroom to see who was being murdered and why. A quick glance told all, and with infinite kindness and mercy, I told Bethany to stop bleeding on my carpet and threatened to skin all the gerbils with a blunt knife before feeding them to the cat.

The gerbils were settled for the night with a large board across the top to keep them contained. In the morning, we went about our duties and the gerbils were left in the bucket. Unfortunately for them, the bucket was soon sitting in a pool of glorious morning sunshine. While sunshine on our shoulders generally makes us humans happy, it had the unhappy effect of turning the bucket with the board on it into a sort of mini-gerbil sauna. My oldest son happened to go by the bucket and decided to check on the gerbils, since they were unnaturally silent, and found them all laying on their sides, wet with sweat. The insides of the bucket were coated in condensation and the aroma of wood chips rose to meet his nostrils. However, the health benefits of sauna seemed to do them good once they got a bit of fresh air and they were up and at it very shortly afterwards, trying to eat and scratch their way out of the bucket with renewed vigor.

My husband is far more understanding and patient than I am when it comes to gerbils turning my house into a giant litter box. However he has to live with me. Next evening he comes home with a spacious GLASS aquarium for the gerbils. Sadly, the children wouldn't let me fill it with water before putting the gerbils in; but you can't have everything.

The gerbils are now installed in their new digs and are busily engaged in trying to find a purchase on the glass for gnawing or else in digging their way through. Me? I make faces at them through it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Historical Perspectives

I love reading history, especially through biographies. When I read about the personalities involved in a particular era of history, I find it much easier to remember what actually happened than if I tried to recall a list of dates and events. Right now I am reading a biography of James I of England and VI of Scotland, called James I: The Fool as King by Otto Scott He does a very nice job in setting the stage for the conflict between Church and State that resulted in the need for the Solemn League and Covenant and the writing of the Westminster Confession of Faith which directly attacked and undermined James' doctrine of Divine Right of Kings.

Otto Scott does something in this book which is refreshing to me -- he destroys the mystique around Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I of England. Instead of being figures of romance, Mary is presented as a foolish, conniving adulterous and murderous woman who was responsible for the death of her first husband. Elizabeth is portrayed as a vain, vaccillating pragmatist whose glory came, not from her wisdom, but depended more on the happy Providences of God which she was quick to claim the honor for.

After the Second Reformation in Scotland, the land fell back into unfaithfulness to her Covenants and so the judgement of God fell upon that land in the form of Jacobite rebellions and the clearing of the Highlands among other things. The hand of the Lord has been heavy on Scotland since that time, but like James Renwick, I believe that the Covenants will again be the means of blessing Scotland again.

I not only like to read history, but I also enjoy watching it. In the last few weeks there has been a very interesting history of the Medici family on PBS. The Medici's were from Florence, Italy, and some of them became famous as corrupt Popes. It was the Medici popes who were in power when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in Wittenburg and it was the Medici's who were the sponsors of artists like Michelangelo. Another infamous family member was Catherine de Medici, who was mother to kings of France, and one of the architects of the slaughter of French Reformed Christians during the St. Bartholomew's day massacre.

" For 20 years, Catherine[aka "Madame Serpent" -- CG] is the pawn of powerful men. Daughter of a playboy who dies of syphilis, she is orphaned at birth and raised by illegitimate cousins and papal uncles. She is threatened during the siege of Florence, and finally handed to her new husband, the future King of France.

Humiliated by her husband's older mistress, Diane, and despised as an Italian “shopkeeper’s daughter“, Catherine spends a decade trying to conceive. In desperation, she ends up having to ask her husband's mistress for help - and finally gives birth to 10 children, including four sons.

When her husband is killed in a hunting accident, Catherine takes control and rules France by proxy through her sickly, deranged and deviant sons. But she can't control the religious tensions sweeping the country, and starts the blackest event of French history - the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.

Obsessed with the prophecies of Nostradamus, whom she pursues around France, Catherine is told that no heir of her sons will rule France. The idea terrifies her.

A true godfather, Catherine rules her court through the whispers of her “flying squadron“ - ladies who use their bodies to get information. She’s certainly not afraid to get her hands dirty. "

For amusement, I took the Medici quiz they offered to see which of the Medici's I most resembled. I am...


It must be tough to be you: good at sports, ladies desire you, guys want to be you, - you're smart as a whip with the Midas touch. You live a charmed life. Everyone around you benefits from your largesse, friends and family alike share in your good fortune. You never back away from a just fight and stand up for what's right every time. We want to hate you but can't, you're Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Heh heh...

If I had no family responsibilities and could devote myself solely to being a professional student, one of the subjects I would immerse myself in would be history.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Counter Culture

I guess I tend to blog in blocks. Some days I have nothing to say, and other days I can't seem to shut up. Anyhoo....

Today's outpouring is directed towards the counter-culture idea of encouraging young people, or at least allowing young people, to marry and raise a family. A few weeks ago after church I raised the idea of allowing young teens to marry with some of the ladies and I am not sure how it was received. Probably not enthusiastically, especially when we silently considered some of the foolishness and antics some of the young people we know have been getting up to. How could we expect these young people, who are stuck in the "it's all about me" stage of life to be responsible wives and husbands, never mind being parents?

Right now these young people are stuck in the no-man's-land of adolescence where they are frowned upon if they act in a childish manner, but aren't yet considered capable of being adults and doing adult things. Somehow our culture has raised the bar of adulthood and left a gap that leaves teens at the mercy of their hormones and the worst elements of our culture with a lot of time on their hands and often the money for absorbing and experiencing it. Education has been stretched out to cover the years between childhood and adulthood, but the covering is pretty thin if you ask me. It used to be that people could enter college and university in their early teens instead of waiting until they were in their late teens or early 20's.

In an earlier post I mentioned the instability that many young people go through as they make the transition from believing things that mom and dad believed, to the point where they begin to either reject or take ownership of these same beliefs. Is much of this instability caused by this long gap of almost meaningless existence? I don't know. I do know this: if you are busy working to make ends meet, or raising babies and keeping house, you don't have a lot of time for angst unless you are exceptionally self-centered.

I know one girl who could have benefitted from an early marriage. Two girls, actually. They are my oldest daughters. And actually one of them married within days of turning 18. She told me not that long ago that this was one of the best things she could have done, and I believe her. When Trista was only 15, she was fully capable of running and managing a household. She was one of my right hands, especially when I was recovering from childbirth. I had trained my daughters from an early age to cook, make bread from scratch (including grinding the flour), clean house, and they had lots of experience with babies and small children. This made them pretty capable beings at an early age. If their father and I had been in a different frame of mind and if the prevailing culture didn't consider it irresponsible and oppressive to marry off young teens, they could have been settled in their own homes, minding their own husbands and children. A lot of problems would have been eliminated or avoided.

Are a lot of teens ready for this important step? Not if we continue raising them with the expectation that they have to live through the frustration of adolescence. I suspect that if our expectations were that people should marry younger, we would do a lot more intensive training and teaching than we do now, and they would actually be ready. How we are going to get to that point is a puzzle to me. Not only does the general culture need to change, but so does much of Christian culture. Perhaps we shouldn't be "tsk tsking" when we hear of some young thing of 16 or 17 being engaged and getting ready to marry. It is as though we think that "it is better to marry than to burn" only applies after the worst of the hormonal storm and drive is over. Instead, maybe we ought to be congratulating young people and doing what we can to assist and support them in this desire to take on the mantle of responsibility and find a lawful outlet for all that drive and energy.

As usual, some of my ideas for blogging are sparked by the reading Carmon's blog, or articles that she recommended. Thanks, Carmon.

Big Screen Jesus

I guess I am not the only one with serious reservations.
Signs of Divine Displeasure

We Christians sometimes joke that if some questionable activity of ours was truly sinful, then God would strike us with lightening from heaven. But what in the world do we say to someone who actually was struck by lightening while doing a sinful deed, and yet continued doing that deed?

You know I got struck by lightning.

You got struck by lightning?
Oh, yeah. We were shooting the Sermon on the Mount. About four seconds before it happened it was quiet, and then it was like someone slapped my ears. I had seven or eight seconds of, like, a pink, fuzzy color, and people started screaming. They said I had fire on the left side of my head and light around my body. All I can tell you is that I looked like I went to Don King's hairstylist.

Did it occur to you that if you're playing Christ and you get struck by lightning, maybe
[Laughs, then, as if speaking to God:] "Didn't like that take, huh?"

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Curse of God

If I was in any doubt that homosexuality is having more and more of an influence on our culture, then a recent trip to my local Costco was able to lay that to rest. One of the books for sale is called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and it is a fashion guide put together by a group of homosexual men to help bring sartorial elegance to the neanderthal looks of heterosexual men. I had a look through the book, and I don't think I will be buying it for my man. I prefer his jeans and plaid shirts to the decadent elegance of queers. It looks like they are trying to get men to dress more like queers and less like men.

[And what is it about queer men anyhow? Somehow or other, you can usually spot one in a photo or on the street, but I can't decide what, exactly, it is that tells me they are queer. There is just a sensation of something being not quite right at the subconcious level, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. The only thing I can think of it being is a certain something in the eyes or the way they hold their mouths that is different than the way that other men do.]

Then this morning when I opened up my newspaper, I found an article in there on men in skirts who are trying to redefine masculinity.

"Earlier this month, 100 men took to the streets of New York to lobby their right to wear skirts The protesters came from across the country to denounce the "tyranny of trousers" that has enslaved men's fashion since the French Revolution.

"We're not transvestites, homosexuals or cross-dressers," retired schoolteacher David Johnson told the media. "We don't want you to call us Jean or Sally. We are men -- men who want the right to wear a skirt."

Uh huh. :-|

I wonder if they will shave their legs too.

I think Steve Schlissel got it right when he said that homosexuals would not bring the curse of God on our society. They are the curse of God.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Pharmaceutical Fraud

It's no secret that I am as big a skeptic when it comes to pharmaceutical solutions to many health care conditions as many people are when they regard alternative health care. Lest anyone misunderstand me, I am not saying there is not a place for allopathic medicine. If you need your appendix out or have suffered trauma, then get thee to a hospital to get it dealt with, not your local herbalist.

Glaxo-Smith Kline, one of the multi-national pharmaceutical companies, recently admitted that most drugs only work in about 30-50% of the people they are administered to. Part of the reason for this is because most drugs are only tested on men. This leaves out 50% of the human race when you do this. What they find when they do test some of these drugs on women is that the potency of the drug and its effects may change depending on where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle. What could be an effective dose at one part of the cycle may be far too much or too little in another part of the cycle. And then there are all the side effects they cause because drugs exist, not to treat the root cause of disease (which is not caused by a drug deficency -- you don't get cancer because your mom failed to sprinkle chemotherapy drugs on your Cornflakes when you were a child) but to suppress symptoms of disease.

Let's look at the typical way that people with type II diabetes are treated in the medical establishment. People who develop adult-onset diabetes are what is known as insulin resistant. This means they have more than adequate levels of insulin in their systems. In fact, they have too much, so the body, in order to protect itself from all the insulin, starts to shut off the receptors on the cells so that the cells won't be flooded with too much insulin and blood sugar. One of the first areas protected this way is the brain. Now the brain's main fuel is glucose, and if the brain becomes insulin resistant, then the glucose has a harder time making it into the brain to feed it, which helps to explain the brain fog many of these people suffer from.

Now if glucose metabolism is impaired, and the reason it is impaired is because there is too much insulin being produced, then common sense should tell us that we should find ways of reducing the amount of insulin made and restoring insulin sensitivity to the body. This can be done through restricting the things that cause blood sugar, and therefore insulin levels to rise in the body: namely high glycemic carbohydrates. But what does allopathic medicine do? They give you a drug like Glyburide or Metformin.

Glyburide and Metformin work by making your pancreas squeeze out more insulin. Now remember, type II diabetes is caused by too much insulin in the first place. So their solution is to make more insulin. This causes the blood sugar levels to drop because in effect you are taking a battering ram to the cells in the form of even more insulin and forcing the insulin and blood sugar into cells that were already stuffed full of them. Over time this process forces the body's cells to become even less sensitive to insulin and it exhausts the pancreas' ability to make the amounts of insulin required to move blood sugar out of the blood stream and into the cells.

When the diabetic reaches this stage, he is now ready for the next size of battering ram: injected insulin. By this point, not only are his cells stuffed full of sugar and resistant to insulin, now he is coping with rising triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels. The reason for this is because when the blood sugar gets trapped in the blood stream, the body must find a way to dispose of it. It's answer is to take all this excess sugar to the liver and convert it to blood fat. Now, you not only have a stressed pancreas, your liver is working double time too and you have all the conditions in place for giving yourself heart disease.

Doctors look at the blood sugar index on a person who is injecting insulin and is happy because the blood sugar under control, but in reality he is shooting at the wrong target and worsening the health of the person who follows his advice. (Just ask me how I know! -- Someone very close to me is doing this-- with the typical outcome.)

To deal properly with this condition, our goal should be to lower the output of insulin and restore the body's sensitivity to the insulin it naturally makes. The key to this is to change the diet by cutting out anything with sugar or anything the body converts easily to sugar, control the weight, and EXERCISE REGULARLY. This will lead to the elimination, rather than the escalation of drugs. But most people find it easier to just punch a needle in their leg than to actually exercise. [sigh]

But I digress.

The real point of this soap box diatribe was sparked by a recent article in The Province newspaper.

Pharmaceutical companies are deceiving patients and doctors by keeping negative results from drug trials "locked in the filing cabinet," Canada's leading medical journal warns.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal says Health Canada is complicit in this "file-drawer phenomenon" by too often keeping quiet about evidence that questions drug safety and effectiveness....

"...It takes $1 billion on average to bring a new drug to market, a huge investment that "puts pressure on companies to suppress results that might slow or extinguish sales," the CMAJ says. But by burying data, drug companies "deceive physicians, their patients and, perhaps, shareholders."

So next time you are faced with the decision to take a drug or find an alternative, maybe it would be a good idea to consult a health "nut" about safer and more effective alterntatives.

Birth of a Hummingbird

Many thanks to Willena for this interesting website. It was interesting (and sad) to learn that hummingbirds have the same Cain and Abel syndrome that eagles display.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Perfect Mother-in-Law

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the book of Ruth. I just find the story there to be so incredibly beautiful. What is especially beautiful is the way a particular mother-in-law in this book displays the true virtues and example that all of us mothers who hope to be an inlaw some day should take to heart.

When my sons and daughters marry, will their spouses cry if I have to leave them behind? Will I display the lovingkindness and winsomeness that Naomi displayed?

For family worship, we are reading through the book of Ruth using Matthew Henry's commentary. Here are a few of his insights that struck chords in my heart:

-- Though there be a reason for our being in bad places, yet, when the reason ceases, we must by no means continue in them. Forced absence from God's ordinances and forced presence with wicked people, are great afflictions; but when the force ceases, and such a situation is continued of choice, then it becomes a great sin.

-- When death comes into a family it ought to be improved for the reforming of what is amiss in the family: when relations are taken away from us we are put upon enquiry whether, in some instance or other, we are not out of the way of our duty, that we may return to it.

--Thus God takes away from us the comforts we stay ourselves too much upon and solace ourselves too much in, here in the land of our sojourning, that we may think more of our home in the other world, and by faith and hope may hasten towards it. Earth is embittered to us, that heaven may be endeared.

--...that Naomi, as became an Israelite, had been very kind an obliging to them and had won their love, in which she is an example to all mothers-in-law, and that Orpah and Ruth had a just sense of her kindness, for they were willing to return it thus far. It was a sign they had dwelt together in unity, though those were dead by whom the relation between them came. Though they retained an affection for the gods of Moab and Naomi was still faithful to the God of Israel, yet that was no hindrance to either side from love and kindness, and all the good offices that the relation required. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are too often at variance and therefore it is more commendable if they live in love; let all who sustain this relation aim at the praise of doing so.

-- Orpah's kiss showed she had an affection for Naomi and was loth to part from her; yet she did not love her well enough to leave her country for her sake. Thus many have a value and affection for Christ, and yet come short of salvation by him, because they cannot find in their hearts to forsake other things for him. They love him and yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better.

-- We must take the Lord for our God. "This God is my God for ever and ever; I have avouched him for mine." When we take God for our God we must take his people for our people in all conditions; though they be a poor despised people, yet, if they be his, they must be ours. Having cast in our lot with them, we must fare as they fare. We must submit to the same yoke and draw in it faithfully, take up the same cross and carry it cheerfully, go where God will have us go, though it should be into banishment, and lodge where he will have us to lodge, though it be in a prison, die where he will have us die, and lay our bones in the graves of the upright, who enter into peace and rest in their beds, though they be but the graves of the common people. We must resolve to contine and persevere, and herein our adherence to Christ must be closer than that of Ruth to Naomi. She resolved that nothing but death should separate them; but we must resolve that death itself shall not separate us from our duty to Christ, and then we may be sure that death itself shall not separate us from our happiness in Christ. We must bind our souls with a bond never to break these pious resolutions, and swear unto the Lord that we will cleave to him. Fast bind, fast find. He that means honestly does not startle at assurances.

And lastly...

-- Those that are unresolved , and go in religious ways without a stedfast mind, tempt the tempter, and stand like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil, and forces him to flee.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Train Up a Child?

This morning I was reading my Matthew Henry commentary on the genology of Christ found in Matthew chapter one. He had this to say of the mixture of saints and sinners found in this pedigree:

"God's Grace is his own, and he gives or withholds it as he pleases."

I wish writers of parenting manuals would give greater heed to this fact. God does desire a holy seed and one of the primary means of doing this is to give children to godly parents. But one would think from the way that some Christian parenting manuals read that the children who do grow up to serve the Lord got that way because the parents followed a particular program and that it is the program and not God's grace on it (or even in spite of it) that did the trick.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

House Despot

I was dismayed yesterday to read a post from a young lady who shall remain nameless. Her post was a long outpouring of teenage angst of not being understood, not being appreciated, and wishing herself dead. Mixed in with this was the determination that she would NOT be merely a housewife or mother. She wanted to be herself! She wanted to be a feminist in order to be able to fulfill her dreams and desires rather than submit herself to raising a bunch of snotty nosed children and cleaning up after some man.

This view, of course, is not a strange one. There is this pervasive idea out there that if one is a keeper at home that this necessarily means that one is unfulfilled and life is an endless round of drudgery like that described above. Running a home with 11 people in it certainly keeps one busy and there is never a lack of things to do. And yes, it can be drudgery at times. Oh but what some of these young ladies can't see and won't see until they are able to experience it is that this calling is really one of the best in the world. Lots of flexibility and creativity is called for in this job, plus there is freedom to exercise it in a way that you won't get if you are working for someone else. Being a house despot is the best job in the world for women, if only they could see it.

Something else about what the young lady said also reminded me that we mothers who are managing our homes, some of which contain a large number of people, need to remember that while our children should be contributing to doing the chores and helping with the babies, we need to be careful not to unload a lot of our responsibilities onto their shoulders as they get older leaving us to spend untold hours surfing the net, chatting with friends, or talking on the phone. They should be learning from an active example of industry and they should be trained with lots of input from us, pulling alongside them as the more experienced yokefellow.

Having said that, I know a lot of young people, for whom the more they are given, the less thankful and self-centered they become. They complain bitterly and act mightily put upon if they are asked to help with something. Some of their attitudes are almost that we should be paying them for the privilege of raising them. I wish I could say that I am seeing this in only public-schooled pagan children, but the truth is that I have seen this attitude even amongst catechized Reformed and homeschooled children.

There is a natural instability that appears to happen in the early teen years with some children. This is the time when they start to become more self-conscious about what they think and believe. And this is when the questions begin. Do they believe Christianity because it is true, or merely because this is what they were always taught? Boundaries are tested, sometimes with lasting and disastrous results. But many have only minor stumbles, and by the grace of God are able to stand up and continue on in the faith of their fathers.

We should be in much prayer for our young people during these years. We also need to be constantly encouraging them to remember the benefits that God has conferred upon them, totally as the result of His grace and not by their merit.

But I digress....

The real reason I wanted to write this post was so that those of you who do not reac Carmon's blog and who haven't seen this article will go there and read it now.
No Tar or Feathers

Yesterday was a homeschooler skating party at our local Roller Dome. I am happy to say that I survived the ordeal of seeing other homeschoolers that I annoyed and offended with my posts on Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ

It probably helps that I usually only show up to one or two meetings a year, which means that most of the other homeschoolers don't know me by sight. And to be truthful, these ladies are very gracious people who, though annoyed with me for ruffling their ecclesiastical feathers, wouldn't think of plucking any out to stick into tar attached to my skin.

I enjoy the love of others and popularity as much as anyone. I hate making others mad at me or seriously annoyed. And I am, by nature a coward. Any of the times that I have been able to maintain a stiff defense of what I believe the truth to be is because God has enabled me to stand, rather than allowing me to melt into a puddle of non-resistance. Being quiet is easy, but is it faithful? One of the violations of the ninth commandment is being silent when speaking the truth is called for.

Since this movie and its implications are still on my mind, I thought I would expand a bit further on what I am thinking.

The current motivating philosophy of much of the evangelistic methods of mainstream Christianity seems to be pragmatism. Christianity is just another competing interest for modern man, and if we are going to get in there and rescue anyone, we had better be using the best methods that have been proven to work by market research. So you have the Willow Creek and Saddleback churches which design their programs to be "seeker sensitive." Entertainment reigns and offense is eliminated as much as possible. The preaching of the Gospel is condensed to 15 or 20 minutes of sound bites that won't overwhelm the listener and lots of humour, jokes, and anectdotes are thrown in, in order to keep everyone's attention. Some churches use movies to keep their audience with them. And some use the movies as the basis of the sermon. I recently read about one so-called preacher who used the trials of Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor as the basis of three of his sermons.

I don't doubt for a moment that God uses people and things in spite of the lack of purity in them or the corrupt sin nature that exists in all of us. God used the false prophet Balaam, a man hired by Israel's enemies, to call down blessings upon the Israelites despite his intentions to curse them. Though God blessed Israel through this means, we should not presume to think that it is ok for us to ask other false prophets to do the same with the same happy results. We are to govern our lives by God's precepts, not his providences.

Gibson's movie attempts to picture One, who cannot be pictured/ portrayed or impersonated by an actor. Jesus was God and man, two distinct natures in one person; the truth incarnate. Since we are unable to represent him, we are not even to attempt to represent him. Is it a true depiction of one who is truth himself? How do you know?

How have we been commanded to spread the historical event and the signifigance of Christ crucified? Aurally. Orally. Preaching. Reading Scripture. Not visually. Since Christ cannot truly be depicted by man's art of any variety, the same necessarily become a lie and or an idol - a representation of God who cannot be represented. Consider the many so-called pictures of "Jesus" that you have seen over the years. Some portray him as a middle-eastern Jew, some as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon, others as a pansy. The danger we are most liable to falling into is making Christ after our own image. All images that we make, whether on celluloid film or in Sunday School papers or flannelgraphs, detract from the glory of our risen Lord and are nothing but lies. Christ gave us two visual representations of Himself for remembering Him by: baptism and the elements of the Lord's Supper. Let us be content with these.

I do not deny that there may be some who are drawn to the Gospel through this movie. Though God may and often does, sovereignly move upon men's hearts in ways that we don't understand, He has told us how we are to spread the Gospel: through the preaching and hearing of God's Word. What is of greater concern to me is that many more people will be lured into committing the sin of idolatry, which I contend is precisely what a movie or play that tries to portray Christ does. The first commandment tells us which God to worship. The second, tells us how to worship that God. When we insist on introducing things into worship that God has not ordained, or when we insist on actually violating what He specifically commanded us not to do, then in effect we are telling God that His ways are not good enough and that a lot of what man devises (Acts 17:29) needs to be added in order for the Gospel to be effective.

Over and over in Scripture, God defines idolatry to be not only the worship of false gods, but also includes the false worship of the true God. When God demands a blood sacrifice, it doesn't do to offer him fruits and vegetables, no matter how sincere the attempt, as Cain found to his dismay. When God forbids us to make any representation of Him, we should heed his words instead of looking to our own sincerity of motives. We should not look to our methods of spreading the Gospel and do a head count as though sheer numbers determine its viability or success. Instead we should be looking at our ways and means and asking ourselves if they are obedient to what God has commanded.

When Saul took the cattle that God had designated for destruction upon the pretext of saving it to sacrifice to Him, his reply through the prophet Samuel was,

"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubborness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."

Somber words. Sincerity in disobedience does not please the Lord.

Giving people the Gospel should not be a constant search for a more and more clever ways that grab the attention in order to "close the deal." And we should not interpret an emotional response or apparently good intentions as evidence of true repentance and faith in Christ.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, "I NEVER knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" Matt. 7:21-23

Prophesying, casting out demons, and doing wonders for Christ's sake are not good enough, according to Christ, if you are not doing the will of the Father.

Is this movie one that is sure to move people to tears and great emotional response? By all accounts this is so. And that is precisely where its danger lies. I greatly fear that there will be many who will be deceived into believing that the fact that many are moved emotionally is the same thing as seeing them saved. Again, let us look at what Scripture says:

"A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop; some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear....

"Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received sseed on good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and porduces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." ( Matt. 13: 3-9; 18-23)

Now in the above portion of Scripture we have four instances of seed being sown, but only one of those plots of ground produced *lasting* fruit. One type didn't even have a chance to sprout, two others sprouted and gave the appearance of conversion, but in the end, they were false professions. These sort of verses should trouble us into looking at our own hearts and asking, "Lord am I one of the deceived who will think I did great things in your Name only to find I was wrong? Am I one of those who has a stony ground or thorns in my heart?" I fear that there are many who warm church pews these days, thinking that they are safe because they had an emotional response to a movie or sermon or because they said, "the sinner's prayer" or answered an altar call.

We are told in Romans 6:1,2 " What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live longer therein?"

Dare we say that the means God instituted are not efficacious or good enough?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Deep Trials Equal Deep Comfort

I have been reading through Morning and Evening, a daily devotional by that wonderful Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon. He has a way of really getting in there between the joints and marrow with his insights on Scripture. The morning devotional for yesterday is certainly true, as I have found in my own experience:

"For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ" -- 2 Corinthians 1:5

"Here is a blessed proportion. The Ruler of Providence bears a pair of scales. In this side He puts His people's trials, and in that He puts their consolations. When the scale of trial is nearly empty, you will always find the scale of consolation in nearly the same condition; and when the scale of trials is full, you will find the scale of consolation just as heavy. When the black clouds gather most, the light is the more brightly revealed to us. When the night lowers and the tempest is coming on, the Heavenly Captain is always closest to His crew. It is a blessed thing, that when we are most cast down, then it is that we are most lifted up by the consolations of the Spirit.

"One reason is, because trials make more room for consolation. Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of trouble digs the resevoir of comfort deeper, and makes more room for consolation. God comes into our heart; He finds it full; He begins to break our comforts and to make it empty; then there is more room for grace. The humbler a man lies, the more comfort he will always have, because he will be more fitted to receive it.

"Another reason why we are often most happy in our troubles, is this: then we have the closest dealings with God. When the barn is full, man can live without God: when the purse is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer. But once take our gourds away, and we want our God; once cleanse the idols out of the house, then we are compelled to honor Jehovah. "Out of the depths have I cried unto you, Oh Lord." There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. Hence they bring us to God and we are happier; for nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies."

The closeness to God one feels almost makes you long for affliction. Almost.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

When you have nothing profound to say...
.... but want to entertain those who visit your blog...

Take tests.

Which Teletubbies character are you?

Which Ringwraith are You?
By Lisa

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Raining on Parades

Some days it seems like all I do is rain on other people's parades. The latest round of rain is due to all the fuss and bother about the new Mel Gibson movie, The Passion.

The second commandment, amongst other things, forbids "the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;"

Deuteronomy 4:15-19. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

Romans 1:21-23, 25. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

The above was sent in response to the raptures of the local homeschool association wrt this movie. So far there have been no responses to what I have said. But I bet you anything I will be persona non grata at the next homeschool event.

Tyrannical Patriarchy and Independent Feminism

With regard to the subject above, it occured to me that both of the above tend to reinforce and feed off of each other. The Fall had extreme effects on the institution of marriage and the relationships involved. Woman was told that her desire would be to her husband, which some have interpreted as meaning that she would try to usurp his position whenever possible. The other side of the coin is that Man, who was designed to rule creation and the home, in his corrupted state often does so very poorly. The extremes go from total abdication of rule to a stifling, controlling tyranny.

The natural tendency of mankind is to push back when pushed. Some men believe that ruling the home means micro-managing every aspect instead of trusting the judgement of their wives. Some women rebel and push back, others submit and sink under the weight of oppression.

Girls who are raised in these sort of homes tend to become feminists in their thinking. One abuse leads to another. Boys raised by feminists tend to become sensitive new age guy pansies or rebel by being stronger than the woman in every way possible.

The remedy for both independent feminism and tyrannical patriarchy can be found in the exposition of the Fifth commandment duties from the Westminster Larger Catechism.

Question 123: Which is the fifth commandment?

Answer: The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee.

Question 124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?

Answer: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

Question 125: Why are superiors styled father and mother?

Answer: Superiors are styled father and mother, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations; and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.

Question 126: What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?

Answer: The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals.

Question 127: What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors.?

Answer: The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

Question 128: What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?

Answer: The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

Question 129: What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?

Answer: It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God has put upon them.

Question 130: What are the sins of superiors?

Answer: The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

Question 131: What are the duties of equals?

Answer: The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each other's gifts and advancement, as their own.

Question 132: What are the sins of equals?

Answer: The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another; and usurping preeminence one over another.

Question 133: What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment, the more to enforce it?

Answer: The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, in these words, That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee, is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God's glory and their own good, to all such as keep this commandment.

Now if only our Christian homes would demonstrate more of the above graces and harmonies and less of the sinfilled nature!

Friday, February 06, 2004

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Homeschool Guru?

I generally only attend maybe one homeschool mother's support group a year. I just have too many other things to do most of the time, so this particular meeting gets cut. When I do show up, I am usually in the uncomfortable position of being the mother with the most children, including adult children, and also the homeschooler with the most experience.

Because of the above, the automatic assumption on the parts of many is that I am some kind of expert in child rearing/discipline and education. At one time, I would have agreed -- when I was much younger and had fewer kids and had just started homeschooling. The hubris and arrogance of young adults is a sight to behold. And the less kids and experience you have, the worse it seems to be.

I just want everyone to know now, I no longer have hard and fast rules about child raising beyond trying to get as much Scripture into their heads as fast as possible and that Dr. Dobson's advice on teens applies to homeschooling as well: Do what works and just get them through it.
Power of Placebo

As I have probably mentioned elsewhere in this blog, the placebo effect is a mysterious, but wonderful phenomena where the body heals itself, based on the expectations of the person being healed (combined with the sovereign power of God of course) rather than through the usual means of a drug or some other healing agent. I have often wondered by doctors don't deliberately try to invoke the power of placebo more often. It is cheap and non-toxic, after all.

The following short article is from the February 2004 issue of Alive magazine, page 18.

"Giant hoax or medical miracle, scientists are one step closer to understanding a long-debated mystery, the power of placebo, which can apparently turn sugar pills into powerful drugs.

"Finnish and Swedish researchers have revealed more about how this mind-body interaction works. A placebo, they reported in the February 2002 issue of Science magazine, activates the same pain control impulses in the same region of the brain as painkillers.

"This noteworthy phenomenon got big coverage after the New England Journal of Medicine reported that arthritis patients who only thought they'd undergone knee surgery experienced benefits similar to real surgery patients.

"Another recent meta-analysis of 96 studies found the effects of anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft can be largely duplicated by placebo (75 per cent).

"While skeptics continue to ponder placebo's successes, many researchers would agree that a patient's beliefs -- particularly the will to live -- play a powerful role in healing."

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Images of Christ

This morning I was reading in the epistle to the Hebrews and one of the things that leapt out of the page at me was that Christ is the "express image" or "exact representation" (as the NIV puts it) of the Father. This put me in mind of other verses in John's Gospel where Christ tells us that if we have seen Him, we have also seen the Father.

This is quite amazing, really. To see Christ is to see the Father, because they are One. If this is so (and it is) then those who make pictures of "Jesus" for Sunday School materials, paintings, book illustrations, etc., should take heed because of their gross violation of the second commandment.

"Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth." Deuteronomy 4:15-18 [NKJV]

Christ didn't leave us without a visible representation for remembering Him by. It is found in the Loaf and the Cup of the Communion Table. With this let us be content.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Cheaper by the Dozen
This past weekend I took in the movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, with my good friend, Milly Vanilly. It was an enjoyable, not terribly deep, movie of life with a large family. Milly comes from a large family and I have a large family, so we had an advantage that most movie goers don't have -- we have lived this chaos.

I learned a long time ago that if you expect a movie version of a book to be faithful to the book, you are in for a big disappointment. Since I didn't have that expectation, I wasn't disappointed.

Several things struck me about this movie. Despite the fact that it was mostly a positive portrayal of life in a large family and the love and loyalty that family members experience for one another, the message that our society views children as largely an encumberance and annoyance to be endured in limited numbers came through loud and clear. Even the couple who had all the children sort of apologized for the fact that they had so many because they lost their head one night after a few too many beer, and a set of twins snuck by before the vasectomy took effect.

In this movie version Dad takes a demanding job in a prestigious coaching position with a college. Mom writes a book and has to promote it on a book tour leaving Dad to manage the house alone. Things were chaotic enough as it was, but with Dad in charge, it rapidly got worse. The main conflict of the story was the question, "Can they do it?" Could a mother of many have a career outside the home and still have a family to come home to? Was a father of many able to hold down a demanding job that required more than typical hours of his time and still be available to his children when needed? In the end, the answer was no. This is pretty realistic. In the end, they chose the less tangible rewards of family life over the approval of the world. (Sorry if I have spoiled the ending for anyone who is intending to see it.)

You really do need a different mind-set and values if you raise a lot of kids. My kids have taught me not to love things any more. This is because things constantly break or get broken. I don't think I have a single intact knick knack in this house. I used to be quite sentimental about my knick knacks and special dishes that may have been gifts to me. Well, I have learned to keep the sentiment that prompted the gift close to my heart even as I sweep up the remains of the gift. I endure clutter a bit better than I used to. I doubt I shall ever completely overcome the neatnick monster that lurks inside of me. It is merely waiting to leap out in all its glory once the last child leaves home. And even then, it will probably be only a modified and fore-shortened leap as I expect I shall have grandchildren all too willing to beat it back in.

In a roundabout way, this sort of reminds me of that puzzling verse in I Timothy 2:15:

"Nevertheless she [a woman] will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."

Some scholars say that this should read, "THE childbearing" meaning it refers to Christ's incarnation. Others say that this means that women are saved in their duties as mothers. I think there is a sense in which both are correct.

Women are saved through the only Son who was born who was and is capable of saving them. But there is a real sense in which the trials, tribulations, and sheer mundane tasks of motherhood have a real way of working out our salvation with fear and trembling in the lives of mothers.

Babies, toddlers, children, and teens have a way of demanding attention and needing care that requires a great deal of self-sacrifice on the parts of mothers if they are to be met at all in a competent way. Women give up their bodies and endure many discomforts during the gestating period. Then there is the pain of labor and delivery, afterpains, breastfeeding discomforts, sleepless nights, teething, dirty diapers, potty training, temper tantrums and childhood illnesses to get through, followed by the awkward hormonal teen years when a challenge to authority is likely to happen. Just when you get them to a stage where they are actually competent enough to be of material help to you, they either decide they don't want to cooperate, or they flee the nest.

Some of the worst pain one endures as a mother has nothing to do with physical trials or lack of sleep. It comes from holding your breath as you watch a child you have loved, taught and prayed for teeter on the edge of moral ruin in the face of your warnings and tears.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? No wonder most of the world doesn't think children are worth the pain.

These petty annoyances (and they are petty in the grand scheme of things) are the means that God uses to strip away the self-centered, naval gazing tendencies in the lives of women. If we react badly to these common occurances, it is only evidence that there is a lot of sanctification that still needs to take place in our lives. We have layer after layer of ego and sinful pride that needs to be ripped off us as painfully as Eustace shed his dragon skin in C.S. Lewis' Narnia chronicle, and very often our children are the means that are used for doing this.

Being a mother is an exercise in humility. It is knowing that despite all the best that medicine has to offer, a child won't survive or get well unless the Great Physician intervenes. It is knowing that each time your children deliver papers on their paper routes could be their last time if they are hit by a careless driver. It is knowing that unless the means of grace are made effectual in their lives, our efforts were in vain. In short, we are completely helpless despite our best attempts and we are driven constantly to the throne of Grace to find mercy in times of need.

Saved in childbearing? You betcha.

Homely Arts

If you do a scan of the centuries, one of the things that sticks out is the fact that the vast majority of the major pieces of art work, admired by the world, are done by men. Sure there are a few outstanding novels or paintings here and there by women, but most of the world's best music, sculpture, books, paintings, etc., were executed by men.


It would be foolish to conclude from this that women are not very creative. One only has to visit a local crafts' fair or think back to some of the things our own mothers did in the home to know that women are not at all without creativity and talent. My own mother did beautiful tole painted tin ware and there is one wooden chest that she painted that I have long coveted (hint, hint, Mom) because of the beautiful picture that decorates it. Mom was and is also a wonderful cook. I learned to like food far too well because of her talents in that direction.

My maternal grandmother made beautiful quilts that are cherished by all her offspring and grandchildren. She also knitted and crocheted up a storm of wearable art work.

A lot of the artwork women engage in belongs to the realm of the transient. It tends to be not only beautiful, but also practical and meant for using. Thus, it gets used up and passes out of existence. Most of it graces our walls, beds, sofas, and backs, but few of them make it into art museums. And so our art forms are more temporal in nature than that produced by men.

Or is it?

Though women may not make a splash in the arts' world of time and men, there is one piece of work that many of them are called to that is eternal in nature. God has given to women the awesome and holy task of being the vessels for His "knitting."

I probably won't be remembered after I am gone for my quilting, crocheting, or calligraphy. But by God's grace, when He makes up His jewels, I hope to have contributed a few to the number through my childbearing.

Little children, little children
Who love the Redeemer
Are the jewels, precious jewels
His loved and His Own

Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning
They shall shine in their beauty
Bright gems for His crown.