Monday, February 28, 2005

Objective and Subjective Aspects of Faith

Yesterday's sermon was on the story of the woman with an issue of blood for over 12 years. It was never a point made in the sermon, but one of the things that struck me about the passage itself (Mark 5:25-34 for inquiring minds) was the two-fold nature of her faith. First, it was objective in nature, based on knowledge that she had about Christ. She must have known something about Him for her to think that even touching His garments would be efficacious to her healing. Thus her faith came by hearing of the Word and caused her to take action.

Secondly, her faith had a subjective aspect to it. "Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction."

What this all brought to mind was the extremes that Christianity sometimes goes to. On the subjective extreme you have charismatic Christians who seem to focus on the subjective feelings and experiences that they have in order to confirm to themselves and others that they are in Christ, and often contrary to or in disregard of the objective standard of God's Word which tells us how we are to govern ourselves and what to expect of the Christian life. On the other end of the objective extreme, you have churches, like some of the reformed churches, who suffer from a dead orthodoxy which is correct in doctrine, but lifeless when it comes to the subjective aspect of it.

There is a fine tension that must be held between the subjective and the objective in order for Christian living to be experienced in a healthy way. It is neither solely one or the other. We must have the objective, but we must not forget that a doctrine like assurance of salvation is based on our subjective experience. Our foundation is to be built on nothing less than truth, but faith without works is dead.

In churches where doctrine has a high and honored place, the temptation or blindness we can easily fall into is one of self-satisfaction that our doctrinal ducks are all in a row. We must be diligently on our guard that our purity in doctrine and worship doesn't blind us to or make us complacent about the practical outworkings of that doctrine. People should be drawn to the truth, but they should also be drawn to the ways it manifests itself in the subjective realm.

This is my new grandson, Rogan. He's almost three weeks in this photo. Cute isn't he? Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sub-Cultures, Christian or Otherwise

Samantha posted a wonderful post today on her blog that really resonated with me. You should go there are read it.

Sometimes I think one of the reasons that there can be difficulties between brothers and sisters in the Church is because we may be tempted to think that our own particular subculture is the standard for holiness and visible Christian living. Thus, people who prefer the short hair, clean cut, suited men and women with dresses only/jumpers, long hair in a bun may have difficulty understanding how someone who prefers Birkenstocks, hemp jewelry, and bohemian clothing could still be a Christian and look like that.

The differences extend beyond superficial looks to personality types, parenting styles, and even ethnic backgrounds. These sort of things challenge our spiritual maturity because it is far harder to accept the brothers and sisters who differ from us in their style of doing things than it is to accept those who are just like us.

As a matter of interest, it isn't just the upright, clean-cut folks who have a problem with judgementalism and prejudice. One of the reality shows that I watch with some regularity is Wife Swap. It is really eye opening to see how judgemental and nasty some of the laid back bohemian types are when confronted with a more orderly manner of doing things.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Untitled and Disjointed Thoughts on Christian Life

I just spent an hour browsing amongst the blogs of various women, some of whom I know personally, some I have never met before, but whose links were posted on the blogs of those that I know. There are a lot of intelligent women out there with thoughtful things to say. Some of them make me feel like a mental midget with a soul a mile wide and an inch deep.

I truly admire women who aspire to be Proverbs 31 women and who love their husbands, children, and homes. They work diligently in their callings and homeschool creatively. They are the unsung heroines of the nations who will one day be the "older women" that so many of them feel are lacking in the church at large.

If I ever end up being an "older woman" it will likely be an accident. I feel so deficient in so many areas that it seems like it would be the height of arrogance, not to mention self-deception to say that I aspire to be one. I saw a slogan once that nicely expressed what my life is most likely to be: "It could be that your main purpose in life is to serve as an example of what not to do."

One of the things that I greatly appreciate in others is transparency. I like being able to relate to other humans who are human and I like being human with them. But not everyone appreciates this. It is sad, really. One of the greatest ironies of Christian life is that those with whom we are like-minded in important areas like the Faith are often people with whom we have no other thing in common. Sometimes trying to be open and honest in that sort of situation is an invitation to be criticized, rebuked, and reproached.

I had a conversation with another mother the other day who was sharing some of her struggles with her small children. I had just had a battle royal with some unnamed teens complete with high drama on their part, and , I am proud to say, a total lack of drama on my part, much to their disappointment. However, as I shared a bit of what she might have to look forward to, I was aware of a definite change in body language and facial expression that came over her. I wanted to ask, "Ok, what's going on with you?" but knew it would be no use. I also knew what was more than likely going through her head. "My kids will NEVER act like that !" Transparency didn't get me very far with her, at least not now. I am an inept mother in the eyes of many. But maybe in the future when she is experiencing trials with hormonal teens she will remember that if anyone could relate to her, it might be me.

People who are outside the church like to complain that those who are in it are often hypocrites. This is certainly true. Sometimes the hypocrisy is just straight sin, and sometimes it is an unintentional side effect of trying not to get squashed by others' size 12 boots. The church is composed of all kinds of people in various stages of growth spiritually. Some of them have achieved a remarkable level of maturity, others think they have achieved it, and some know they don't have it. There are those with less maturity and a view of life "the way it's s'posed to be" who have little to no tolerance of anything that is less perfect than their picture. And so, in an effort to a) avoid stumbling them before reality sets in, and b) a desire for self-preservation, we will often hide our true struggles from each other so that we don't get broadsided by those with all the answers.

One of my own personal paradoxes is that the less sure I feel about having all the answers, and the more I realize my own innate helplessness, the more the Lord seems to grow my faith. Life isn't the way I imagined it would be when I was younger. I have not achieved the level of success, or else success looks a lot different than what I expected it would. Sanctification has not manifested as an increasing sense of "arriving," but instead as a need every moment of the day to say, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner."

I'm not even sure how to measure success any more. Just Somebody, get me across the Finish Line even if its in last place.
Samantha's Interview of Me

Ok, I got to choose the questions from a list she provided, so here goes:

- Has your theology changed over the years?

Most definitely. I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren assemblies/Gospel Hall, which are a sort of inconsistent Arminian type of church. I then migrated to a Fellowship Baptist church and was converted to Calvinism by a Sunday School teacher. Following quickly on the heels of that, I got involved with the Christian Reconstruction movement, and snuck into the Reformed Faith through that particular side door. I am now a communicant member of a Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian church in the Reformed Presbytery of North America (General Meeting). It feels like I am home, theologically speaking.

- What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved the "Anne" books by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I still have the original set of paperbacks that an aunt gave me as a gift one Christmas. They are old friends and never fail to take me back to a happier, gentler time of my life.

- What is your best quality? Your worst?

This is kind of a difficult one for me to answer because I could choose from a variety of things that I value/dislike equally.

I am a giving sort of person and think that being generous with my time, talents, and abilities is one of my better aspects that is balanced by the sense that you can't give everything away to everyone because some people need to work for and pay for what you have in order for it to be of any value to them.

One of my worst qualities is my quick temper. I sometimes find it easy to take offense with others, but thankfully have learned better self control and am less likely to shoot my mouth off than I was in years before. Things would likely go more smoothly in my home if I could get a grip on this one besetting sin.

- Do you plan your meals or choose what sounds good that day?

It depends on how organized I am any given day or week. I like to be organized about it to the extent that my grocery shopping is based on a definite menu for the coming week, but it doesn't always happen that way.

If I happen to have a client booked for the day, I try to get preliminary food preparation done ahead of time, or else make something that fixes up fast like a main course salad. Other days I may be more loosey goosey, but still have a general idea of what I will be making. The best days are when I make sufficient quantities of something that will do for two meals, thus eliminating any thinking I have to do about food on the next day.

- If you could distill your philosophy of life down to one paragraph, what would you say?

My philosophy of life has changed over the years. When I was young and full of zeal, but not according to knowledge, I was much more hardline, cut and dried, black and white, and obnoxious about it. God's providences and life have a way of smacking you around and knocking a lot of youthful pomposity out of one.

Now I would describe my philosophy of life as one of standing firm in the things that are of a morally unalterable nature and praying that I would have the wisdom to recognize and give latitude to the areas of life that are morally indifferent and live and let live in them. Do as you would be done by and give people the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.

If YOU want to be interviewed:

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).

3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. (If you don't have a blog, let this inspire you to begin one!!)

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Your Brain is 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Super Nanny

I have to admit that I enjoy watching Super Nanny. It is quite amazing to see how quickly she takes a family with tyrannical toddlers and turns it into a haven of peace and good living just by implementing a schedule, sensible rules, and firm, consistent discipline. A lot of parents think they are to be their children's friends and that they must win their good behavior by catering to them instead of being their authority.

I just wish they would show Super Nanny working with teens.

Friday, February 18, 2005

How To Talk When You Can't Speak ~ Communicating with Unconscious Minds.

By Clive Thompson

Posted Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005, at 3:33 PM PT

This week, Neurology published an unsettling study of two brain-damaged men who are "minimally conscious"—able to breathe on their own but otherwise generally unresponsive. When neuroscientists scanned the patients' brains as they played audiotapes of loved ones, the activity was strikingly normal. The visual cortex of one of the men even lit up in a way that suggested he was visualizing the stories that his relatives told. One of the researchers told the New York Times that they've repeated the experiment on seven more patients and found the same results.

If the study holds water, we may need to rethink how we treat the estimated 300,000 Americans who are regarded as unreachable. The good news is that there are ways to communicate with some patients who seem completely unconscious. Spying into the brains of the unresponsive—as well as the "locked in," patients who are fully conscious but paralyzed by diseases such as ALS—can create a vehicle for them to talk. This conceit is at the heart of brain-computer interfacing, a booming field in which scientists are crafting tools that translate mental activity into keystrokes, mouse movements, and even robotic control.

Now for the bad news: Brain-damaged, "minimally conscious" patients like the ones in the Neurology study may be so impaired that they're unable to communicate with the outside world. Neurologists can usually figure out for sure if the mind of a locked-in patient is functioning well; the challenge is in setting it free. Doctors have a harder time figuring out the mental state of brain-damaged patients, especially if they can't open their eyes. Since most of the brain interfaces that are in development require the subject's eyes to be open wide, a patient whose eyes are shut—at least for now—is pretty much rendered mute.

One promising technique for unlocking the thoughts of paralyzed patients is to hook them up to electroencephalograms. EEGs read the electrical impulses caused by brain activity, including the "P300 wave," something like an involuntary "aha" response. When you're looking at a set of items and see something you suddenly recognize, your brain automatically kicks out an electrical spike 300 milliseconds later. You don't have to think about it; it just happens.

Psychologists Lawrence Farwell and Emanuel Donchin have turned this response into a rudimentary typing machine. The patient gets hooked up to an EEG, then looks at a computer screen that shows a six-by-six grid of the letters of the alphabet. When he focuses on a certain letter, the computer begins highlighting each column. As the column containing the chosen letter comes up, the subject's brain spits out a P300 "aha" response. When the computer repeats the same thing with the rows and gets another "aha," it gets the X and Y coordinates for the correct letter. Using this technique, people with ALS can "type" about four letters per minute. Best of all, because the "aha" response happens automatically, they don't have to learn any new skills.
Other scientists have developed techniques to train subjects to signal the outside world by actively changing their brain activity. The German researcher Niels Birbaumer, who was profiled in The New Yorker in January 2003, has trained two locked-in patients in meditation techniques that let them control "slow voltage changes" in their cortexes. This meditation allowed Birbaumer's students to manipulate a pointer on a computer screen to pick out letters by a process of elimination. After weeks of training, one patient with ALS wrote a 78-word message in 16 hours, about two characters per minute. Birbaumer speeds this up a bit by using predictive technology that auto-completes a word after a few letters—precisely the same thing that helps you type more quickly on your phone.

None of this is quite touch-typing, but in a networked, gadget-strewn world it's not necessary to spell out entire words. Even a simple yes/no command can turn a light switch on or off. At the Georgia State University BrainLab, Melody Moore is working on "neural prosthetics" that could control everyday devices like lights and heating or help a patient pilot a wheelchair. And for those who want to explore the world outside the home, Moore is also developing a brain-controlled Web browser.

At this point, brain-computer interfaces have only been tested on a small number of patients. They also face huge barriers functioning outside a lab: Try to use an EEG machine in your living room, and it will probably catch interference from your television and stereo. What's more, these brain-interface tools are mentally tiring. If a patient hasn't used his brain for a long time, they might just be too taxing: Many doctors theorize that the brain's responses can atrophy like those of an unused muscle.

If these devices ever do become ready for prime time, they'll introduce some fascinating moral and legal shifts. The ongoing battle over the life and death of the supposedly brain-dead Terri Schiavo would play out quite differently if Schiavo herself could signal her desires, or even if we knew just a bit more about her mental state. The impact on politics could be even greater. How would President Bush react to a petition in favor of stem-cell research that's written and signed by 10,000 locked-in Americans?

Special thanks to Brendan Allison of the Georgia State University BrainLab, Emanuel Donchin of the University of South Florida, Jonathan Wolpaw of the Wadsworth Center, and Joy Hirsch of Columbia University.
Is it Ok.... hate spammers? Lately I have been getting a lot of spam in my comments from poker players and drug dealers and I hates 'em! I would delete their comments if I could, but alas, my comments are not hosted by blogger and the gal who helped this html illiterate has disappeared into cyber air. I don't know if it is possible to run two comments systems side by side or how to delete the old system so I could reinstall the new one. Anyone have any ideas?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.
You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Things that Make a Housewife's Heart go Pitterpat

Sometimes you really do find something that is almost too good to be true, but then turns out to be really as good as it is represented. Today I found one of those things: a non-toxic cleaner that kids can eat with safety, but yet will clean just about anything including grease, ink stains, crayons, markers, etc.

I was busy minding my own business at Costco today, just getting groceries for the tribe when I was attracted to a demonstration booth. This guy was demonstrating a sort of white substance that looks like shortening in a large tub. It is made from some kind of a seaweed, and a little dab will do ya. One tablespoon melted and added to a gallon of water makes a solution that is good for cleaning windows, counters, and light cleaning. It costs 25 cents at that dilution. For heavy-duty cleaning, like carpets, linoleum, wood floors, shower stalls, hard water stains, etc, you melt 2/3 cup in a gallon of water and can dilute it down further. You can use it straight on ovens and eliminate the toxic oven cleaners and still keep your hands from being tortured by harsh chemicals. In fact, you can use it on your hands straight before digging in the garden and it won't hurt your hands while keeping them from getting that ground in look that can last for days.

It is non-allergenic, leaves no residue, keeps the mirrors from fogging in the shower, and its uses are only limited by your own imagination. The price was fairly reasonable too: $49 for a very large tub that will likely last me for a good six months or more, if I use it for everything recommended.

Things that work and are economical make me feel extremely virtuous. Excuse me while I go and polish my halo with it....
Stress and the Broken Heart

I enjoy reading articles like the one that follows, and which I got off of Medscape, because it is a wonderful illustration and validation of a contention that I have held for some time: emotions can greatly impact your health, and the better you can manage them, the better your health will be.

This shouldn't surprise Christians who take God's Word at face value. God tells us that a merry heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Constant negative thoughts, bitterness, railing at God's providences and lack of contentment with our lot in life will show up in our biology as ill health and even be a cause of death. Unfortunately, many Christians have been taken captive by the materialistic and darwinian presuppositions that afflict western medicine and fundamentally deny the integrated nature of the brain/body connection that God gave us in how they treat their bodies or practice medicine. There is a lot of helpful information in eastern forms of medicine that are more wholistic and recognize the soulish aspects of health IF (and this is a big if) a person is able to sort out the religious pantheistic notions from what is actually in existence.

Probably one of the most effective things that I do in my private practice as a kinesionics practitioner is to help clear people of stress. They feel the results immediately, and it isn't unusual for me to have people fall asleep on my table as I am working on them. I had a new family use my services this week and they were all amazed at how fast and effectively they lost their stress using the non-invasive and simple techniques that I use. (I can't really describe what I do here but one form of therapy that is easily successful for all can be found at this website. Just download the free manuals and follow directions.)

I'll explain some of the theory behind this so you can understand something of how it works.

Our bodies produce electricity. This electricity is measurable through things like EEG's and ECG's. The power transmission lines of the body were discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago, and the things we call accupuncture points act like little amplifiers that boost the power of the electrical transmissions along the power grid. This power grid is tied directly into the nervous system, and it is in a direct current form of electricity, such as you find in batteries with the negative and positive poles at each end.

Now the nervous system is divided into two halves: the sympathetic, and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system is responsible for what we call our fight or flight response and the parasympathetic system is the more chilled-out side responsible for relaxation, digestion, and other building functions. Because of the stresses of modern living, our sympathetic system gets turned on far more than it needs to be, and it stays on resulting in what is experienced as chronic stress. This has the same effect on the body as trying to drive your car by stepping on the gas and brakes at the same time -- the wear and tear is incredible.

When we experience various stresses, whether an emotional stress like a hurtful comment, a trauma, such as in an accident, or some other negative providence, it has the potential of "shorting out" the electrical system for that specific event. Most phobias, for instance, which are specific fears that have been generalized to cover more than is necessary for safety's sake, are the result of these shorts in the electrical system. They have the effect of keeping a person "stuck" in that state of fear or anxiety until such time as the short is cleared out.

The EFT website that I linked to above and on my sidebar is a technique that is effective in clearing out these electrical shorts by stimulating the various meridian lines and it forms one of a type of "energy" therapies that are available. I use EFT with my clients as a sort of stop-gap measure between visits because it helps them to keep their stress levels down if they use it as things arise. My other methods are more effective of clearing out a number of issues at the same time and to a deeper level than EFT, but at least the EFT can help a person cope.

Once a "short circuit" has been cleared from the electrical/nervous system, the intensity level of emotional stress disappears. It is a joyful thing to see people totally amazed at how something that had been bothering them intensely, or even holding them back from doing important things, suddenly melts into thin air and no longer affects them.

Anyhow, here is the article I promised:

Feb. 9, 2004 — Emotional stress can precipitate severe but reversible left ventricular dysfunction caused by an exaggerated sympathetic response, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The potentially lethal consequences of emotional stress are deeply rooted in folk wisdom, as reflected by phrases such as 'scared to death' and 'a broken heart,'" write Ilan S. Wittstein, MD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues. "In the past decade, cardiac contractile abnormalities and heart failure have been reported after acute emotional stress, but the mechanism remains unknown."

Using coronary angiography and serial echocardiography, the authors evaluated 19 patients presenting with left ventricular dysfunction after sudden emotional stress. Five patients underwent endomyocardial biopsy, and plasma catecholamine levels in 13 patients with stress-related myocardial dysfunction were compared with those in seven patients with Killip class III myocardial infarction.

Median age of patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy was 63 years, and 95% were women. Presenting symptoms included chest pain, pulmonary edema, and cardiogenic shock, and most patients had diffuse T-wave inversion and a prolonged QT interval. Although 17 patients had mildly elevated serum troponin I levels, angiography revealed clinically significant coronary disease in only one of 19 patients.

On admission, all patients had severe left ventricular dysfunction (median ejection fraction, 0.20; interquartile range, 0.15-0.30), which resolved rapidly (ejection fraction at two to four weeks, 0.60; interquartile range, 0.55-0.65; P < .001). Endomyocardial biopsy revealed mononuclear infiltrates and contraction-band necrosis.

At presentation, patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy had markedly higher plasma catecholamine levels than did those with Killip class III myocardial infarction (median epinephrine level, 1,264 pg/mL [interquartile range, 916-1,374] vs 376 pg/mL [interquartile range, 275-476]; norepinephrine level, 2,284 pg/mL [interquartile range, 1,709-2,910] vs 1,100 pg/mL [interquartile range, 914-1,320]; and dopamine level, 111 pg/mL [interquartile range, 106-146] vs 61 pg/mL [interquartile range, 46-77]; P < .005 for all comparisons).

Study limitations are those inherent in any small, observational case series, as well as inability to prove a causal relationship between sympathetic activation and stress cardiomyopathy.
"Emotional stress can precipitate severe, reversible left ventricular dysfunction in patients without coronary disease," the authors write. "Exaggerated sympathetic stimulation is probably central to the cause of this syndrome."

Because patients with stress cardiomyopathy typically present with clinical features resembling those of acute myocardial infarction, the authors recommend coronary angiography in most cases.

The Bernard A. and Rebecca S. Bernard Foundation partly supported this study, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation partly supported four of the authors.

N Engl J Med. 2005;352:539-548
The Brain Test
What Your Brain Says About How You Think and Learn

Cheryl, you are Balanced-brained

That means you are able to draw on the strengths of both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, depending upon a given situation. When you need to explain a complicated process to someone, or plan a detailed vacation, the left hemisphere of your brain, which is responsible for your ability to solve problems logically, might kick in. But if you were critiquing an art opening or coming up with an original way to file papers, the right side of your brain, which is responsible for noticing subtle details in things, might take over.

While many people have clearly dominant left- or right-brained tendencies, you are able to draw on skills from both hemispheres of your brain. This rare combination makes you a very creative and flexible thinker.

The down side to being balanced-brained is that you may sometimes feel paralyzed by indecision when the two hemispheres of your brain are competing to solve a problem in their own unique ways.

Take the test here.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Eye Was Satisfied, But The Heart Was Still Empty

Ecclesiastes 2:7-11
Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church,
Albany NY
Rev. Greg L. Price

The eyes of a man, woman, or child can take in a lot of sights which they would consider to be very desirable. Every day people cast their eyes upon many desirable things in this life: new cars, fashionable clothing, sumptuous food, interesting books, beautiful houses, high-speed computers etc. But with most of them, the mere seeing these items will definitely not lead to receiving these items. They simply lack the resources, so they must learn to live within their means. Because most people simply cannot receive everything that they see, they may be tempted to question at times whether this or that would, in fact, bring them the joy and satisfaction they feel they are missing in life. “If only I could have ______ (you fill in the blank), I would be filled with such joy and satisfaction.” What is it that you can see with your eyes that you believe would bring that lasting joy if you only had it?

Dear ones, Solomon has written the inspired book of Ecclesiastes in order to correct such wrong thinking. For whatever his eye saw and his heart desired he grabbed it. He had no lack of resources that hindered him from getting whatever he saw and desired. If satisfying the eye of man could bring a person an enduring happiness, Solomon should have enjoyed more happiness than any person that ever lived, for he was rich beyond imagination. Yet, the faithful testimony of Solomon who did not refuse his eye anything it desired was that everything his eye desired was utterly incapable of bringing him closer to true joy and contentment. You and I will never (in this life) be able to receive all that our eyes behold and desire. But we do not need to be able to do so in order to know that we will end up just as empty as when we began, for God has told us this will be the case through one (namely, Solomon) who did receive all that his eyes saw and heart desired.

How self-destructive we are when we allow our eyes and desires to lead us into such sins of envy, covetousness, and discontentment. We become utterly miserable. We hate our lives. We hate others who enjoy their lives. In the state of discontentment, we want to be miserable and want to make everyone around us as miserable as we are. This, I submit, is self-destructive. By our actions we (in effect) spit on God’s blessings, treating the many mercies of God as if they were raw sewage. It is a grievous sin against the goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and love of our holy God who has blessed us with so much. Let us repent even now where we sit ofsuch sins at the mercy seat of our Savior.

As we consider our text today, let us note the following:

(I) Solomon Sought For Joy In Wealth(Ecclesiastes 2:7,8);

(II) Solomon Sought For Joy In Music (Ecclesiastes 2:8);

(III) Solomon’s Search For Joy Was Empty (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).

I. Solomon Sought For Joy In Wealth (Ecclesiastes2:7,8).

A. So far in Ecclesiastes chapter 2, Solomon has personally sought for a lasting joy and contentment in mirth and laughter (verses 1-2), in wine and food(verse 3), in various building projects (verses 4-6),and yet Solomon’s search continues for that peace that passes all understanding.

B. Solomon next increased his wealth greatly in order that he might bring his tedious and exhausting search to an end--but to no avail. There were only endless days and nights in which he continued to find joy had eluded him again and again and again. There are three areas wherein Solomon specifically enlarged his wealth.

1. The FIRST area where in Solomon enlarged his wealth in order to find an enduring joy was in multiplying SERVANTS unto himself (both male and female servants). The excessive number of servants engaged by a ruler of that part of the world was an indication of his great wealth. For servants had to be supported and provided for by their masters. So the more servants meant the more wealth on the part of the master that owned them. Servants were part of the household and were cared for accordingly. Note that Solomon says he had servants that were born in his house and were, therefore, considered members of his household. These servants born in his house were literally called “sons of my house” in Ecclesiastes2:7 (servants bought or born into the house of the priest were entitled even to eat the holy food of the altar as a family member which no one else was permitted to eat according to Leviticus 22:10,11). These servants were not trash to Solomon, but like“sons” of his household for whom he faithfully provided. Solomon says concerning these servants and maidens, “I GOT FOR ME servants and maidens.” TheHebrew word for “got” also means “buy.” In fact, this very Hebrew word is used by the Lord in regard to buying a bondservant in Exodus 21:2. Did Solomon sin in buying servants? Was it contrary to God’s Law to own another human being? Of course, no one can own another person’s soul or conscience, for God alone is lord of the conscience. But we shall see that a master may own the body of a bondservant (as it relates to the bondservant’s work). The Scripture, in fact, distinguishes between a bondservant that was owned and a hired servant that was not owned(Leviticus 22:10,11). In some cases it was NOT contrary to God’s Law to own servants, but in one notable case it was contrary to God’s Law to do so.

a. IT WAS NOT CONTRARY TO GOD’S LAW TO OWN SERVANTS IN THE FOLLOWING CASES (NOR DO I BELIEVE IT WOULD BE UNLAWFUL TO DO SO IN THE PRESENT AGE). For the cause of servitude in each of these cases yet remains in all nations.

(1) One who was the spoil of a just war(Deuteronomy 21:10). Not just any war, but a just war.

(2) One who was a poor and destitute brother and voluntarily became a bondservant (Leviticus 25:39-46).

(3) One who was a thief that must make restitution for what he has stolen (Exodus 22:2,3).

(4) One who voluntarily became a bondservant due to the benefits he received from his master (Exodus21:5-6).

(5) As we see, poverty was not remedied by the civil government, but by the family. There was no national welfare program to provide for those who were capable of working but fell into bankruptcy. Such a person indentured himself (and perhaps his family as well) until his debt was paid off and he was able to get on his feet (at least for those who were Israelites it was temporary--7 years, Exodus 21:2). Also note, there was no racial servitude in the Scriptures as was sinfully practiced in the UnitedStates at one time. Servitude was not an issue of race in the Bible, but one chiefly of how to care for the poor who needed help.

(6) There is a wonderful application of the law of servitude that is found in Psalm 40:6 where the Lord Jesus comes to do the will of His Father and uses the same language of voluntary servitude that is used in Exodus 21:5,6 as it relates to boring a hole in the ear (see also Hebrews 10:5-7). If all forms of servitude were inherently sinful, such language of servitude used here by the Lord would be inappropriate in any sense (even in a spiritual sense). Because Christ figuratively had His ear bored as a bondservant to persevere in doing the will of God, you are redeemed from being the bondservants of Satan to being the bondservants of God (Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians9:19; Galatians 4:7).

Dear ones, have you voluntarilyoffered your ear to be bored (in a figurative sense) as a token of your love and gratitude to God as your Father who has made you His own heirs and joint heirs with His only begotten Son? What more could the Lord do to show His everlasting love for unworthy sinners like you and me? Let us lay our heads today against the door and voluntarily have our ears (spiritually) bored in love and obedience to our Savior.


(1) One who had been kidnapped or stolen against his will (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). The one exception to this would be in the case of a just war.

(2) In fact, it was a capital crime to kidnap a man and to sell him. Thus, it would also be criminal to knowingly buy one who was kidnapped as well. For it is a crime not to return stolen property whenever you find it. How much more a stolen person made in the image of God (unless one purchased another that was kidnapped so as to set him free). On the basis of this, it should be evident that the form of servitude practiced in the United States wherein people were kidnapped from their own country (Africa) and were sold here was a crime worthy of death.
(3) Dear ones, if to rob a brother of his freedom is a grievous sin and crime, is it not a heinous sin in the sight of God to rob a brother of his good nameby dragging it maliciously through the mud? A person’s name is as precious to him as is his very own life. Even when it is necessary to warn others concerning the sins of professing brethren, it is not necessary to hate the brother, it is not necessary to demonize the brother, it is not necessary to tarnish every area of the brother’s life and character. Love compels us not to destroy our brethren with our words and deeds (even if they have offended us or are walking scandalously). There will never be restoration in love and in the truth with brethren if such sin continues in our thoughts, words, or deeds.

c. You may think you do not have any servants in your house, and in a strict sense, you probably don’t. However, we all have many “servants” in a more broad sense in our house. Think of all the modern conveniences that we have to serve us every day: electric refrigerators instead of ice boxes to preserve food, gas/electric stoves and ovens instead of wood stoves, gas/electric washing machines anddriers instead of the washboard, indoor water and plumbing instead of fetching water from the stream or the outhouse and many other servants, cars and airplanes instead of carriages. Have you considered how blessed you are to have all of these “servants?” Are you taking these “servants” for granted that God has given to you?

2. The SECOND area wherein Solomon enlarged his wealth in order to find an enduring joy was in acquiring great herds of CATTLE (Ecclesiastes 2:7). No doubt Solomon needed an enormous amount of cattle just to feed his enormous household.

3. The THIRD area wherein Solomon enlarged his wealth in order to find a lasting joy and contentment was in gathering SILVER AND GOLD (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Not only could Solomon swim in the amount of silver and gold he possessed if he had wanted to, but he continued to add to his great wealth (by way of tribute or taxes) from the neighboring kingdoms that served him (I Kings 10:27).

a. Dear ones, money is not evil in and of itself. There is nothing wicked with being rich in and of itself. However, God tells us through the apostle Paul that “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”(1 Timothy 6:10). In other words, when we fall in love with money (whether we have it or don’t have it but want it), such covetousness leads us into all manner of sin and temptation (as Paul makes clear in 1Timothy 6:10,17-19). With money comes the temptationto be proud (forgetting that it is God that has blessed us with the riches that He has), the temptation to trust in our riches as that which supplies our own needs (rather than the living God), and the temptation to glory in our power wherein we are tempted to think that the rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to us because we are rich.

b. This is why the wise Agur (in Proverbs 30:7-9) taught us to pray the following prayer: Read it. Agur prays that God would keep him from two extremes: ABJECT POVERTY wherein he is unable to provide even the necessities of life for himself and his family and EXCESSIVE WEALTH wherein he is able to obtain whatever his eyes see and his heart desires. Again, remember that neither extreme is sinful in and of itself. Agur, however, prays for a sufficiency in order that he might avoid the temptations of both extremes (as found in Proverbs 30:9). The inspired words of Paul on the matter of contentment whether we have enough to pay the bills or whether we struggle in not having enough to pay the bills is to the point: ReadPhilippians 4:11,12.

c. Dear ones, most people around the world would consider us in our present circumstances to be wealthy by comparison to what they have. They may think about us who are so unthankful, “How could you not be thankful and happy with all that you have?” Has the Lord allowed you to go hungry? Has the Lord put you out in the streets? Has the Lord stripped you naked of all clothing and protection? He has promised to provide for all your needs (Philippians 4:19) as you cease from worry and trust Him day by day.

d. Do not forget that God graciously supplies us with the riches that we have not only to provide for ourselves and our family, but also to provide for the ministry of the Church in promoting the Kingdom ofChrist (1 Corinthians 9:13,14) and to provide for those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28).

e. Solomon was one who could have (with the snap of a finger) whatever his eyes beheld and whatever his heart desired. And yet this same Solomon tells us that enduring joy is not found in the accumulation of wealth. Dear ones, heed the inspired words of Solomon who had it all when he says, “Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4,5).

II. Solomon Sought For Joy In Music (Ecclesiastes2:8).

A. As I have noted before, Solomon was not a warrior like his father, David. Solomon was at heart an artist. He loved fine art whether in food and beverages, whether in architecture, or whether in music. Solomon gathered to himself the best vocalists that could be found to perform for him. Whatever the style of music that would be most pleasing to the ear and would bring the greatest amount of pleasure, Solomon acquired it. He could afford to have a concert with the best choir and the best musicians to enjoy every day and every night. He made a thorough search to see if a lasting joy could be found in a pursuit of music. No doubt, there was a temporary enjoyment with the finest of music as there was with the finest of food and drink. However, as with a gourmet meal, the enjoyment quickly subsides once one gets up from the table, so with exquisite music, the satisfaction quickly diminishes once the last note sounds. Then there is the silence and the quiet of the night and all that can be heard is the crying out of an empty soul that cannot find a lasting contentment. For life is not wealth. Life is not music. Life is Jesus Christ. And without Christ, one cannot find a lasting joy in either wealth or in music.

B. The two Hebrew words used here in Ecclesiastes 2:8 for “musical instruments” are only used this one time in all of the Old Testament (in fact only this one time in all of Hebrew literature that is presently available). Thus, the meaning of these words is very uncertain. Whatever they mean, we can say this with certainty. These words further describe the phrase they follow: “and the delights of the sons of men.” And these two words are essentially the same word--first in the singular, and second in the plural forms. Thus, if these words refer to musical instruments, the literal meaning would be “a musical instrument and musical instruments.” However, there also exists the possibility according to various Hebrew scholars that these two Hebrew words refer to“a wife, and wives” or to “a concubine and concubines”due to these words being possibly derived from theHebrew word for the “breast of a woman.” In which case, this would only add to Solomon’s experience in order to find true joy and happiness in that he sought for the contentment in life which he was missing in sexual intimacy with many different wives and concubines (which we see was actually the case withSolomon according to 1 Kings 11:1-3).

1. We must condemn the polygamous marriages ofSolomon (as well of Abraham, Jacob, David, and all others that practiced it) as being contrary to the original institution of marriage as stated by God in Genesis 2:24 and as being contrary to the precept ofGod in Leviticus 18:18 (the preferred translation is this: “Neither shalt thou take one wife to another”)and 1 Corinthians 7:2. How could David, a man after God’s own heart, fall into the sin of polygamy? Remember that David also fell into the sin of murder and adultery. Likewise, Solomon, the wisest man thatever lived (apart from the Lord Jesus Christ), fell away from the Lord and embarked upon this worldly search to find true joy and contentment. Likewise, the high places were not removed by certain righteous kings (even though they were clearly sinful). The sins of the saints are manifest to us all in order that the amazing grace of God might be more manifest and glorious against the dark backdrop of man’s sin. If Solomon refers in Ecclesiastes 2:8 to the multiplication of wives and concubines as another place that he sought to find lasting joy, he again came up empty. Sexual intimacy is not sinful in a lawful marriage, but sexual intimacy in any context cannot bring lasting joy, satisfaction, or contentment. If it could, Solomon would not have needed to continue to add to his harem.

2. Those of you who are not yet married, do not think for a moment that sexual intimacy will in and of itself bring you the joy that is missing in your life. It is true that Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn with lustful desires (1 Corinthians 7:9). However, if one believes that joy will automatically follow from sexual intimacy, he/she is truly deluded. Sexual intimacy without spiritual intimacy with Christ will only lead to frustration, discontentment, and in some cases to sexual immorality of various kinds. Sexual intimacy can only be enjoyed (as God intended) when it is within a lawful marriage and flows from love for Christ and love for one’s spouse.

III. Solomon’s Search For Joy Was Empty (Ecclesiastes2:9-11).

A. We now come to the same conclusion that Solomon had reached in Chapter One. In Chapter One, Solomon had conducted an investigation into all of the activities of man by way of his own observation of men in general, and he came to this conclusion: Read Ecclesiastes 1:13,14.

Now in Chapter Two, Solomon has conducted an experiential investigation into all the pleasures that his own eye might behold or his own heart might desire, and he came to this conclusion: Read Ecclesiastes 1:11.

All Solomon’s personal experiences were not only VANITY (i.e. a vapor that was momentary and fleeting, that boasted greatly ofbringing joy and satisfaction, but did not deliver what was promised), but all his personal experiences were also VEXATION OF SPIRIT as well. In other words, Solomon was not only left with an emptiness or a nothingness from his search, there was a painful gnawing at his soul which tormented him. As a result, Solomon concludes not only from his observation of men in general, but from his own personal experience of not denying himself any pleasure he beheld or desired that there is “no profit under the sun.” Solomon says in effect, “When you pursue joy in the creation apart from the joy of the Lord, you will find that joy, satisfaction, and contentment are always just out ofyour grasp.”

B. Dear one, do you really think you can search more fully the pleasures the world has to offer than did Solomon? Can you grasp all of the pleasures your eye beholds or your heart desires? Jesus said it so well in Luke 12:15: Read it.

Of what would you say your life consists? Of what would those who know you best say your life consists? Whatever your life consists of, that is your God whom you are serving. Our lives, as Christians, consist of Christ. If our lives consist of anything else, we will not know that enduring joy and contentment that comes from enjoying Christ.

Friday, February 11, 2005

This is One Reason Why We don't Vaccinate Our Children...

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A memo from the drug maker Merck & Co. (MRK) shows that its executives were concerned about high levels of mercury in children's vaccinations nearly eight years before federal health officials disclosed the threat, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Six-month-old children who received shots could get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish, according to the March 1991 obtained by the Times. [Emphasis added. CG]

"When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large," Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, an internationally renowned vaccinologist, wrote to the president of Merck's vaccine division.
The memo came at a time when health authorities were recommending shots for children that contained an anti-bacterial compound called thimerosal, the Times reported. Thimerosal contains mercury and was once used in the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
In 1999, federal health officials warned that routine vaccinations were exposing many infants to high quantities of mercury.

Merck officials declined to discuss the memo with the Times because of pending litigation.
Mercury-laced vaccines have led to more than 4,200 claims in a special federal tribunal by parents who claim their children were harmed as a result. Alleged injuries include autism and other neurodevelopment disorders.

The newspaper obtained the memo from a lawyer who works with parent groups on vaccine safety issues and who said he acquired it from an unidentified whistle-blower.

Thimerosal has been largely removed from pediatric vaccines in recent years.

Separately, Merck faces hundreds of lawsuits over Vioxx, the popular painkiller it introduced in 1999 and pulled off the market in September.

The company, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has been accused in the suits of marketing a drug that caused heart problems and concealing the risks. Merck has denied the allegations.

Please note, thimoserol is still being used in things like the yearly flu vaccine.
1. Your name spelled backwards. lyrehc

.2. Where were your parents from? Mom is from Burnt Church, NB and Dad was born in Dundas I think, but could be wrong.

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? A word document I had uploaded onto my yahoo account and then downloaded onto my laptop as a convenient means of transferring the document from one computer to the other.

4. What's your favorite restaurant? Earl's

5. Last time you swam in a pool? I can' remember swimming. I usually stand at the edge rescuing children from drowning. Doesn't leave much time for swimming

6. Have you ever been in a school play? I had a bit part in the "Sound of Music" as a nun when I was in Grade 10. After that, I stuck to working backstage designing and building the sets and managing the crew who moved it between scenes.

7. How many kids do you want? All that I am given. Used to think only 2 but I surpassed that over 18 years ago

8. Type of music you dislike most? I loathe and despise country music. Southern Gospel annoys me, but I have been known to sit politely through a whole DVD of the Bill Gaither vocal band while being silently relieved that the DVD player became too hot to play another one. Jazz is not a big favorite either. And middle eastern singers always sound like they are whining through their noses.

9. Are you registered to vote? I don't think so. Haven't voted in years for reasons of conscience.

10. Do you have cable? Of what sort? Non television cable, no; rope cable, yes.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? Don't think so.
12. Ever prank call anybody? My conscience is pristine in this regard

13. Ever get a parking ticket? Yes. [hangs head]

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Are you insane? I'm not.

15. Farthest place you ever traveled. Somewhere in Mexico.

16. Do you have a garden? Sometimes

17. What's your favorite comic strip? Cathy. I so identify with her weight issues.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Nope.

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Bath with bubbles, usually at night. I typically fall asleep in it.

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month? Hmmm. I haven't finished a movie all the way to the end in a while. Saw parts of "Troy", and watched parts of "King Arthur" with Clive Owen and Ioan Gryffd, but shut it off before the end because it was so awful. I do better with one hour TV shows like "Lost."

21. Favorite pizza topping? Ham and Pineapple. or Marinara. Had a really good Marinara lately.

22. Chips or popcorn? Neither. I would rather have nachos.

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? I alternate between a raisin red, clear, or taupe-ish pink.

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? Why would a person do that?

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? Isn't beauty a pre-requisite? My features are not regular enough to qualify.

26. Orange Juice or apple? How about grapefruit instead?

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? My sister and I went to Boston Pizza in Moncton, NB with her daughter Emily. I had the taco salad with grilled chicken on it. Yum!

28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Lindt 70% or 85% cocoa mass dark chocolate.

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? Hmmm.... about 12 years ago?

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Last summer. We have an organic farmer who lives close by and sells them at the Farmer's Market.

31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes. I was the "Best All Round Camper" at Camp Berea when I was 13.

32. Are you a good cook? [Blushes and traces coy arabesques in the carpet.] I am usually accounted so.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes, but I prefer to have strong manly men do it for little ole' me.

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Nope.

35. Sprite or 7-up? Sprite tastes moldy to me. Make mine a 7 -Up, or better yet, a ginger ale.

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes. Back in the dark days of waitressing.

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Acetaminophen and some greeting cards.

38. Ever throw up in public? I don't think so. I am more polite than that.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? I already have the love. Hand over the dough.

40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Absolutely. Ever had a baby?

41. Ever call a 1-900 number? Don't they cost money or something?

42. Can ex's be friends? Ex what's? Ex-enemies?

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My daughter Tamara. Actually I lived at the hospital with her while she was in there.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? I think I was probably average when I look at the pictures.

45. What message is on your answering machine? "Hello, you have reached ************. We are not available to take your call at this time, but please leave a message and we'll return your call asap.

46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? I never watch it so I can't answer that one.

47. What was the name of your first pet? I seem to recall having a budgie called, "Pretty." He was blue. I remember finding him dead in the bottom of his cage. I also have vague memories of a goldfish being flushed down the toilet on Emory Street, but I don't know if he was named or not.

48. What is in your purse? Too much. It could be considered a blunt instrument due to weight factors alone.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Read.

50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? My family in both directions up and down the geneological ladder. God has blessed me coming and going through them.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Reflections on Grammy Hannah's Passing
It is not unnatural when a close family member dies to find oneself in a state of reflection, not only on remembering the life of the one who has just passed, but also to think about the inevitable passing of one’s own life.

Last night I was reading in the book of Ecclesiastes and I happened upon the following:

A good name is better than
Precious ointment,
And the day of death than the
Day of one’s birth;
Better to go to the house of
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men;
And the living will take it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the
Heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the
House of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in
The house of mirth.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

I don’t like pain, especially emotional pain. Losing a loved one forces me into a state of pain, and yet Solomon declares that this is good for my soul, just as the apostle James tells me to “count it all joy” when I fall into various trials because the end product is completion and maturity.

Death is a rude wake-up call that this life is not all that there is. It is a time when I am forced to remember that I too will make the “great change” one day. When I was young and all my life stretched out before me, it was easy to ignore this. Death only happened to other people and the very old. But as I grow older, I see my contemporaries falling by the wayside, cut down by Death’s sickle in their prime. I know of children born dead, and of those who died soon after birth, young people as well as the old, now dead, and I am forced time and again to face the fact that at some point my turn will come.

It is amazing to me how quickly the wounds close over and life goes on without the people who were once here. How quickly they are forgotten, maybe not by those who were immediately and intimately connected to them, but by everyone else. Over my parents’ fireplace mantle is a portrait of Grammy Hannah’s parents. If it were not for them, my grandmother, my father, I , my children, and my children’s children would not exist. Yet I never knew them and don’t know their life’s story. They have become merely a picture on the wall to me, rather than the living souls they are or once were. My own children only know of Grammy Hannah’s existence from a few memories and photos. One of my children will not even have a picture taken with her.

There is no remembrance of
Former things,
Nor will there be any
Remembrance of things that
Are to come
By those who come after.
Ecclesiastes 1:11

The ease with which we are forgotten would be discouraging to contemplate in relation to even my own life and impact I hope to leave on others but for one thing – God’s covenant mercies. Though the sins of the fathers are passed down to the third and fourth generation of those that hate him, His covenant love extends to thousands of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

How many of us are Christians because God used Christian parents to be a means of grace in our lives? How many of Grammy’s descendants will be one of the Heavenly throng because she was used by the Lord to be a means of grace to her children? And will our own children find us faithful or will we leave behind a legacy of profane and usesless living that no one really profited by in eternal terms, and which proved our own undoing?

I have many memories of Grammy to cherish. I can remember how excited I used to be when very small and it looked like we were headed to her home in Attleboro. I remember her nursing my grandfather through various illnesses and how she took care of him. I remember her helping out her older friend Annie, and hanging out clothes with her on the clothes line on Major Street. Going to Grammy’s to be babysat overnight was always a treat filled with cookies and cereal late at night. Her closet was a mysterious and aromatic cave of Avon cosmetics and I was always thrilled and felt so grown up when I got those tiny lipstick samplers from her. Some of my favorite bathtub toys were from Avon. I can’t think of Avon without thinking of Grammy.

I remember the terrifying trip down Route 9 with Grammy and my sister, where we alternated between hilarity and horror as Grammy took blind corners on the wrong side of the road. Mom was so upset because we were late getting into to town and no doubt wondered if we were dead in a ditch somewhere. Whenever possible, I tried to be the driver after that. Our last trip together came about eight years ago when she was still living with Uncle Irving. I had my old van and eight kids that I had driven across the country with and Grammy and the kids and I spent several days doing one of the things she liked best – bombing around the countryside.

After Grampy died when I was in grade 11, I moved into the basement apartment of my parents’ house with her to keep her company. Sometimes she drove me crazy. I couldn’t do anything remotely wrong without Grammy complaining that my Grampy would likely spring up from the grave to scold me if he knew what I was doing. Other times we laughed like hyenas over jokes she told or silly things we did together. Can I ever forget the night we sat on the kitchen floor, Grammy with her foot up behind her head to show me how she was double jointed?

I think my sense of humor and ability to quip is a direct inheritance from my Dad who got it from Grammy. One story she told me of Uncle Harry has stood me in good stead when dealing with my own teen boys. Uncle Harry was a teen at the time and one day he was feeling his oats and took it into his head to inform his mother that he was stronger than she and could whip her easily. Grammy replied, “Maybe so, but you better not be around when I come to. You have to sleep sometime, you know.”

There are many more things that I could name as remembrances of Grammy, but her main effect on my life has been subtle but all pervading. Can I ever forget sitting between Grammy and Grampy on the Lord’s Day, singing “Hallelujah, What a Savior?” during the Breaking of Bread service at the Good News Chapel in Attleboro? It is the effects of covenant mercy bequeathed me through her and my grandfather that has had lasting and eternal consequences. Because of Grammy and Grampy’s faithfulness my Dad was brought to church and now serves the Lord as a minister. Because of Grammy and Grampy, I was brought to church, and I serve Him too in my role as a wife and mother, though not as faithfully or as well as I ought. Because of Grammy and Grampy, my children are being brought up to know that there is no hope of salvation outside of Christ. I pray that these covenant mercies will be extended to my children’s children through many generations until the Lord returns.

Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words
Of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come
The praises of the LORD,
And his strength and His
Wonderful works that He has

For He established a testimony
In Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which he commanded our fathers,
That they should make them
Known to their children;
That the generation to come
Might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and
Declare them to their
That they may set their hope in
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their
A stubborn and rebellious
A generation that did not set
Its heart aright,
And whose spirit was not
Faithful to God.

Psalm 78:1-8

Yes, Grammy’s death has affected me powerfully. I shall miss her, though the parting is only temporary. As my pastor, Greg Price, pointed out, my tears of sorrow are her shouts of joy and triumph now that she has made her way to our True Home. She will be forgotten and even unknown by many who come after her. But though my children’s children may not know more of her than what they read in a geneology of their family, her effects will be felt through the coming years and generations because of the promises of God.

May I too be found faithful.

Grammy Hannah, Elodie and I Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005


My paternal grandmother was gathered home to the Lord today.

Bertha Bernice (Fisher) Hannah
Born August 28, 1915
Died February 7, 2005
Goodbye, Grammy. We'll meet again.
Pregnant Obsessions

My house is in turmoil.

I think the pregnant condition I am in has affected my brain or activated my deep cleaning gene or something. At any rate, I have been turning out closets, cleaning out drawers and re-organizing and cleaning things in a most thorough way. In short -- I am having fun.

However, my house looks like a tsunami, earthquake, and tornado has hit simultaneously. Unfortunately, things have a tendency to look worse before they look better when you do this sort of thing. This is a bit problematical when you are trying to see clients in the afternoon, and homeschool around the debris. I just get going nicely in digging out a particularly nasty corner of some room then I have to stop and clean things up in a frantic way so that no one turns me in to the public health department.

Schoolwork languishes waiting for correction. (bah! let it languish!) And yet, I can't bring myself to feel guilty about this because I am a professional housewife and doing housework is my work! I have been de-cluttering my office in preparation for removing one of the two desks that is in there. I steamcleaned the carpet this weekend, and cleaned out all the drawers and re-organized them. The top of the desk is dramatically clear of all the upright files that housed things I haven't looked at in a year or more and likely never will. I have a new cart on wheels with lots of drawers that contains my neatly organized herbal remedies and supplements that I use in my practice and it looks so, hmmm, organized and like I know what I am doing. The top of the cart has a large enough space for placing my books and writing my notes and I am just thrilled with it though I wish it was a bit more sturdy in construction. I am toying with the idea of repainting the office this weekend, but think it might be an impossibility looking at my schedule for this week.

In spite of the cleaning frenzy, I am hoping that this coming week will be a little less frenzied than last week was. In addition to the several days of birthing related activities surrounding my most adorable grandson, I ended up doing some business related stuff with Mannatech that lasted late into the evening on Friday and then had to get up really early Saturday morning because one of my younger daughters had fallen out of the pig pen (the literal pig pen in our back yard) and broken her wrist and needed to have it casted. I am still trying to catch up on my rest from all of that.

Anyhow, I hear the laundry calling my name and I need to get it going and set the kids to work on their schoolwork. Maybe I'll even correct some of it today.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

100 Random Facts about Me or About My Opinion on Things

I was born in Massachusetts to Canadian parents and moved back to Canada in 1974.
I was 19 when I got married.
I married my highschool sweetheart
My honeymoon consisted of an “Around the World Tour” by 18 speed bicycle. It lasted 8 months and we only got as far as North America.
I still have permanent indents in my butt from the bike saddle, which never did conform to my anatomy despite assurances that it would.
I got pregnant so I wouldn’t have to bicycle any more . =:oO
I have a diploma from a technical school in secretarial skills
I have never worked as a secretary.
I have homeschooled all my children from birth.
I hate homeschooling and would rather stick pins in my eyes than teach small children to read.
I have been pregnant 18 times including this one, and so far have 11 children to show for it.
My two youngest children will be younger than my two eldest grandchildren.
Laundry is my favorite chore.
I like doing housework and cleaning and would rather do that than homeschool.
I go for months reading only non-fiction
Dorothy Sayers is my favorite mystery writer, but she didn’t write enough of them to keep me happy indefinitely.
I tolerate dogs.
I adore cats.
Cats adore me because I make a fuss over them in a dignified way and leave them alone when they wish to be left alone.
My favorite stage of babyhood is the one my baby is currently in.
Seven of my children were born in hospitals.
Four of my children were born at home.
My longest labor was six hours.
Shortest labor was 12 minutes.
I caught the baby in the shortest labor by myself since no one could get to me in time.
It was the highlight of my life.
I plan to catch this next baby by myself, but with a midwife at my side just in case.
I have done doula work and love it, but hate the irregular hours.
I am doing kinesionics work and especially love being able to set my own hours.
I like to give more than I like to receive.
Despite the above, I will quickly cut off those who take advantage of this and don’t respect proper boundaries.
I sometimes hold grudges and take a long time to get over them.
This tendency has lessened since I was a kid, probably due to some sanctification kicking in.
I can’t make up my mind about a favorite color, but I tend to like purples, pinks, blues, and greens.
I like Victorian style things as long as someone else is the one exhibiting it. I just can’t bring myself to dress in a Victorian fashion, nor decorate my house like one.
Really feminine frills look weird on me.
Autumn is my favorite time of year.
My new artic fleece sort of sheets are the most luxurious things I have ever experienced on a regular basis and they make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. They are so soft and cuddly and warm.
I love savory foods more than sweets.
I love to cook if someone else cleans up and cleans up really well.
I like experimenting with different cuisines.
Tex Mex is one of my favorite cuisines.
I sometimes eat sandwiches composed of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, avocadoes, sprouts and sliced raw garlic with mayonnaise and a sprinkle of Spike on toasted whole grain bread. Culinary heaven but don’t try to kiss me afterwards!
I don’t like sports.
Exercise is a bore but it makes me feel better when I do it.
I don’t understand the allure of computer, video, Gameboys, or board games.
I am highly sociable, but also need some solitude to do my own thing and think things through.
Solitude is hard to find in a houseful of 10 people.
I was a very awkward and socially backward child.
I am highly kinesthetic and best give and receive love by doing, being done by, and physical expressions like strokes, hugs, kisses, etc.
I have learned to love others through the means they best receive it in, like visual or auditory means.
My favorite class in highschool was art class.
I like being artistic but don’t have the time for it any more.
I’ll be 64 years old when my youngest is 20.
I doubt I’ll ever suffer from being alone.
My favorite coffee treat is a Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappacino
My favorite Starbucks treat is a hot cup of chocolate called “Chantico”
I love Tim Horton’s Cranberry Blueberry Bran Muffins
I used to think I hated Science as a subject until I realized one day that all my intense interests in nutrition and health could be considered a form of love for science.
Since then I have branched out to being interested in electricity, electro-magnetism, quantum physics and biology. I think I must have had lousy science teachers.
My favorite wine is White Zinfandel. But I also really enjoy those cheap wine coolers that Ed introduced me to. I’ll be a cheap drunk if I ever overindulge.
Ed is my Wooly Baa Lamb.
I haven’t a clue what I am going to call this next baby. I have run out of names.
My ambitions are many and mostly center around getting the house finished, the yard landscaped, and a raised container garden made.
Give me neither riches nor poverty. I am quite content with my level of affluence. I don’t own fine china and our plates are durable melamine, but I manage to entertain people heartily in spite of it. I could stand to de-clutter the house a bit though.
I love having lots of people over to visit with. Last summer when I had a houseful of 25 extra people was the best time ever. I had a blast.
Don Aslett is one of my favorite home management teachers through his books.
I have a routine, but it looks like no one else’s. I don’t fit into other people’s molds very well.
I love jewelry, especially causal stuff like hemp necklaces or glass beads.
I don’t read sales flyers because they provoke me to covetousness.
I am allergic to being pregnant. It makes me swell up to twice my normal size.
Thankfully it is not an anaphylactic allergy.
I hate wall to wall carpets. They are dirty and unhygienic, no matter how often you clean and vacuum them. I wish we had opted for tile throughout the house now.
I am a hippy at heart and funky people are the best.
I like to wear clothing made from Indian muslin in the summer when I can find it.
I got frostbite on my feet as a teenager by snow mobiling in un-insulated rubber gum boots. Now my feet get cold easily and they make me feel miserable when they do.
I hate the heat. Anything above 26 degrees celcius makes me feel sick. Twenty-one or twenty two degrees is just about right.
Having grandchildren is far easier on the body than producing your own.
I don’t have favorites with my kids but they think I do.
I am an ice cream fiend. My other favorite dessert is a really good cheesecake.
Dark chocolate that is 85% cocoa mass is the best.
I was once one of the Plymouth Brethren, morphed into a Baptist, went through a Christian Reconstruction stage, and have now settled into being a Reformed Presbyterian Covenanter and am endeavoring to raise my children to be such.
My oldest kids think I am a fanatic.
I own three email lists.
Raising teens is harder than raising toddlers.
I used to know it all when it came to raising kids.
I now know nothing about child training and don’t like to give advice on it.
Some people would think my standards on raising children has slipped from where it used to be when my eldest were little and I was very strict. I happen to think that experience and time has knocked a lot of the nonsense and unrealistic expectations out of me.
I now raise children more for what is right for them and right before God with room that allows them to make mistakes and grow, and less for what others might think of me as a parent if I let them do such and such.
It still hurts though when you know others are judging you as a bad parent.
Self-righteousness reeks.
I have often reeked in the past and still reek at times. Thankfully, the Lord has been knocking the stuffing out of it and I am now proud of how incredibly humble it has made me.
My husband is one of my best friends. I enjoy it most when we have uninterrupted time together to talk about things. He taught me how to listen to people instead of trying to always control and dominate the conversation.
The hardest things I experienced have often been the best opportunities for spiritual growth and character development. The experiences sucked at the time, but now I am glad I had them.
I twitch and can’t sit still when I am really tired.
The Maritime Provinces of Canada are the best place to be in the autumn when the leaves have turned. That is what I imagine Heaven will look like.
I use Malaysian Cherry temporary hair coloring.
I am somewhat vain though I have no real reason for being so.
I am developing chin whiskers with the consistency of barbed wire. Ugh.
I would like to have a wall in the house that doesn’t contain dings or permanent marker on it. Somehow, I think that may be an impossible dream at least for the next five years.
The Anti-Christ

Lately on Carmon's blog, she has been discussing her eschatological views from a postmillenial preterist view point. In the preterist view the Emporer Nero is considered to be the Anti-Christ. However, as one who is an historic postmillenialist, I offer the following information identifying who the Anti-Christ really is. Many thanks to Still Waters Revival Books for supplying the quote. A reading of the History of Protestantism by J. A. Wylie is also instructive in reminding us of the potent and raging persecution that the Papal see took against those Christians who shook off her chains.


The interpretation which has been given in the text of the strongest terms in the apostle's language respecting the antichrist, by understanding them of a virtual, in contradistinction to a formal and avowed assumption of blasphemous prerogatives, is so much in accordance with the general style of prophecy, and so plainly demanded by the connection, that we cannot refrain from expressing our wonder, at finding interpreters of note still pressing the opposite view. Their doing so must be regarded as another instance of that tendency to literalism, which has wrought such confusion in the prophetical field, and which, at particular points, returns upon some, who in general have attained to a correct discernment of the characteristics of prophecy. The practice of describing things by their real, as opposed to their professed or apparent character, is one that peculiarly distinguishes the Apocalyptic imagery. Thus the worldly kingdoms, both in Daniel and the Revelation, are represented as beasts-not th at they actually were, or gave themselves out to be such, but because they pursued a course which partook largely of the bestial nature; they were, one might say, virtual beasts. And the false, seductive power designated Babylon, the mother of harlots an d abominations, we may be sure, was not going to proclaim her own shame by declaring herself to be what those epithets import. Beyond all doubt, she is described according to what she really was, not by what she would profess, to be. In like manner, th e names of blasphemy on the head of the beast indicate a real rather than a professed dishonour to the God of heaven; for open profanity and avowed atheism have, with few exceptions, been studiously avoided by the worldly power. It has almost uniformly striven to associate with its different forms of government, and political aims, the name and sanctions of religion. Even in the more prosaic parts of the Apocalypse we find the same characteristic prevailing-as when it describes the soaring spirit of th e Gnostic teachers, by their knowing the depths of Satan (not those of God, which they themselves rather affected to understand), and designates them by such epithets as Nicolaitans (people-destroyers), followers of Balaam, Jezebels-which they were so far from professing to be, that they laid claim to the highest gifts and the most honourable distinctions. Nor could it be otherwise with the wolves, of whose coming St Paul warned the Ephesian elders (Acts xx.); they were not going, when they appeared, to avow their own wolf-like character, but would, doubtless, aspire to the place of guides and shepherds of the flock. All prophecy, indeed, abounds with examples of this mode of representation; for, speaking as with Divine intuition, it ever delights to pe netrate through showy appearances, and to strip deceivers of their false disguises. Thus the self-deifying pride of the Chaldean conquerors has its representation in the prophet Habakkuk, by their being characterised as successful fishers, sacrificing to their own net (chap. i. 16); and the corruption of degenerate Israel is exhibited with singular boldness by Ezekiel, under the form of their having had an Amorite father and a Hittite mother (chap. xvi. 3); and by Isaiah, under the announcement, as from themselves, that they had made a covenant with death, and come to an agreement with hell (chap. xxviii. 15). By a still bolder figure the prophet Amos calls the tabernacle in the wilderness the tabernacle of their Moloch, because the idolatrous and unsa nctified spirit which still clung to them rendered it practically an idol-tent rather than that of the true God (chap. v. 26). These and many similar representations are obviously designed to set before us the real state and character of the parties desc ribed, though entirely different from the outward profession and appearance. On any other principle it were impossible to render much that is written in prophecy either intelligible in itself, or consistent with the facts of history.

The violation of this principle in regard to the passages which treat of the antichristian apostacy, by adhering to a mistaken literalism, is the more to be regretted, as it is doing with this portion of the prophetic Scriptures what it has already d one with those which have respect to the promised Messiah-it is altogether destroying in the hands of its abettors their apologetic value. As, with the one class of predictions, Jewish Rabbis find themselves backed by Christian literalists in denying the fulfilment of some of the clearest prophetic intimations in the history of Jesus of Nazareth, so Romish controversialists are sheltering themselves under the wing of Protestant interpreters of the same school, in rebutting the application of the Scriptur al antichrist to Popery. Thus, in a small volume recently published on "The End of the World, or the Second Coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by the Very Rev. John Baptist Pagani," a very adroit use is made of the name of the late Mr Faber. A n astonishment is first expressed that any intelligent person could ever have thought of identifying the Pope of Rome with the antichrist of Scripture, especially that this could be done in so enlightened a country as England; and then a passage from Mr F aber's "Calendar of Prophecy" is quoted to show how a sensible Protestant writer exposes the absurdity of the idea. In the passage referred to the argument is thrown into what is considered both by Mr Faber and by his Catholic admirer a conclusive syllog ism. "I shall throw my argument," Mr Faber says, "into the form of a syllogism, and if any person be able to confute me, I shall be very ready to own myself mistaken. According to St John, he who denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. T he line of the Roman Pontiffs did not deny the Father or the Son; therefore the line of the Roman Pontiffs is not the antichrist." Embracing with satisfaction this triumphant syllogism, Mr Pagani proceeds to give it additional strength by affirming, that so far from denying the Father and the Son, the Roman Pontiffs have always maintained the doctrine of the Trinity against Deists, Sabellians, Unitarians, and other herectics; that they have uniformly held, that Christ has come in the flesh; that they hav e also been remarkably distinguished for their humility, taking for their ordinary title, "unworthy ministers of Christ," "servants of the servants of God," whereas antichrist is to exalt himself above all that is called God. P. 41, sq.

One might go through a considerable portion of prophecy with this sort of syllogism, and ask in vain for any thing in the transactions of real life, that would answer to the terms of the predictions. What, on such a style of interpretation, could b e made of the passages to which we have been adverting? Must we suspend the veracity of one prophet on the question, whether the proud Chaldeans actually hung up a net in some temple and did sacrifice to it? Or that of another, on the similar question, whether the Israelites literally bore about during their long sojourn in the wilderness an idolatrous tabernacle in impious rivalry to that of Jehovah?1 Or must we have credible testimony to the fact, that the great worldly monarchies, as they successi vely arose, did each proclaim their own beast-like and blasphemous character? Or, finally, shall we hold that nothing can verify the description given of the mystic Babylon, which does not set itself openly to establish and avow the prostitution of all r ighteous principle? If such be the kind of expectations, with which we proceed to examine the prophetic word, we may certainly lay our account to meet with few instances of fulfilment; we know not where they are to be found in the past, and are afraid th ey shall in vain be looked for in the future. But surely, if the apostle in his day knew persons in the Christian church, whom he could declare to be the "enemies of the Cross of Christ," even while they were avowedly looking to that cross for salvation, the pontiffs of Rome might justly enough be characterized as denying the Father and the Son, if they should be found claiming prerogatives, and upholding a system of error and delusion, which virtually subvert the revelation given of the Father and the S on in Scripture. Let it just be granted, that in the descriptions of the collective antichrist, the apostles had their eye on the realities, not on the mere appearances of things--no very extravagant postulate surely--then the proper syllogism will stand thus: the antichrist, according to St. John, is he who denies the Father and the Son; but the line of the Roman Pontiffs, by their own blasphemous assumptions, and by their system of legalized falsehood and corruption, utterly opposed to the spirit and d esign of the Gospel, have denied what is revealed of the Father and the Son; therefore the line of the Roman pontiffs is antichrist. This we take to be a truer form of syllogism than Mr. Faber's. But it only meets one fallacy involved in the interpretat ion. There is another in its taking for granted, that the representations in John's epistles are to be regarded as comprehensive of all that was to characterize the spirit and conduct of the antichrist. He merely points to one of the first forms and man ifestations of the evil-that which took shape under the hands of the Gnostic teachers. By and by this was to lead on to others, of which not less distinct intimation was given elsewhere in the New Testament writings. The anti christian spirit was to ass ume different phases, according to the peculiar influences of the time, and the changing fortunes of the church. But they were all to have one thing in common: under a profession of Christianity, there was to be something in doctrine or practice, which i n effect made void the Christian truth and life. This in every form was to be the characteristic of antichristianism as contradistinguished from atheism, heathenism, or undisguised worldliness. And hence, so far from expecting that the Popes, or any oth er embodiments of the antichrist, should formally assume what is predicted of this power, we should rather expect the reverse. We should expect a studious effort to disguise the truth of the case, though such a one as should only impose upon the ignorant or the corrupt. And precisely as the Servant of servants can in lordly arrogance place his foot upon the necks of princes, and claim the ascendency over all earthly power and authority, so under a boastful proclamation of the doctrine of the Trinity, an d the conversion of the Cross into a magic charm, may there by found the most substantial denial of the Father and the Son. In a word, the question is, not what Popery pretends to be, but what it really is; with this alone we have to do in determining i ts relation to the prophetic delineations of Scripture. And when the subject is viewed in this light, he must be strangely blinded or unhappily biassed, who fails to perceive the striking correspondence between the one and the other.

1. Even Hengstenberg has given too much countenance to this utterly groundless and extravagant idea, when, in discoursing upon this passage of Amos in the first volume of his work on the Pentateuch, he thus unfolds the general sense of the announcement: "T he great mass of the people had, for the larger part of the time during their march through the wilderness, given up honouring the Lord by sacrifices, and instead of Jehovah, the God of hosts, had set up a spurious king of heavdn (the Egyptian Pan), whom with the rest of the host of heaven, they honoured with a spurious worship." It is against all probability, that such an openly idolatrous worship, as is here supposed, should have been practised by the mass of the Israelites during their stay in the wil derness. Occasional defections there no doubt were, but we have no reason to think more-at least, nothing approaching to such a regular, systematic, and general idolatry. We are told even of the comparatively smaller and isolated offences of a public na ture-such as the gathering of sticks on the Sabbath, and the blaspheming of God's name-being capitally punished; and can it be imagined that an idol-tabernacle should have been allowed to be carried about, and openly frequented? Assuredly not. It is of the state of the heart, of its still unsanctified and idolatrous spirit, that the prophet speaks; this practically turned Jehovah's tent and worship into the interest of heathenism; in God's sight it belonged to Moloch rather than to himself. When thus viewed, also there is no need, with Hengstenberg, of rendering "your king" instead of "your Moloch;" indeed, to do so rather obscures the meaning. The prophet is seeking to identify the idolatrous spirit of his own day with that of earlier times; they w ere then going after Moloch; and so, says the prophet, you have always been substantially doing. You did so through your forefathers in the wilderness; even then you bore the tabernacle of your Moloch, and sacrificed to strange gods, and the old doom must return upon you. It is, therefore, the later form of idolatry, which is used to characterize the earlier, not (as Hengstenberg would have it) the earlier the later.
The preceding article was excerpted from Appendix "L," Page 367, of Patrick Fairbairn's The Interpretation of Prophecy, 1864 (Recently reprinted by Banner of Truth Publishing)