Thursday, November 30, 2006


I just gotta say here, how did I ever live without Bloglines?

While going through my Sitemeter stats, I noticed that a couple of readers (Nate & Rebecca, I believe), used Bloglines. I finally decided to go through the process of setting it up, and I love it.

There are so many reasons to like it, but chief among them is, I don't have to set up any feeds on my computer's RSS reader. I just log in to Bloglines, and there they are. I have three different computers I use regularly, and so this is a real help. Not to mention how nice it is when I'm away from home.

Also, it comes in handy for those blogs where people don't post very often. You always know when someone posts something new--it's nice not to miss it.

They've also added a "playlists" feature, so you can create groups for your blogs. I have a daily group, and plan on adding a news group, and so on.

The only downside I've seen so far is that it relies on RSS feeds, which menas you can end up missing formatting, and sometimes it does some weird stuff (I think Buggy keeps republishing his blog just so it will drive me crazy).

But all in all, it is a tool I heartily recommend for those who are regular blog readers.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

But You Don't Look Any Different

My son told me today "Daddy, you don't look any different than you did when you were 35." Of course, since my birthday was yesterday, I would hope not.

But, if you were to compare now with, say, my engagement pictures, you'd see several differences--shorter (and whiter) hair, the beard, a few wrinkles, and a few extra pounds, just to name a few.

I think our spiritual life is like that, too. It's hard to measure sanctification on a day-by-day basis; it's only when we look back over time that we can see God working in us to make us more like Him.

Now if I were to look exactly the same as I did 12 years ago (assuming that I'm not Dick Clark), something would be wrong. In the same way, if my life spiritually looks the same as it did back then, I think you would be hard pressed to say that any growth took place. And in fact, I would argue that if no growth is evident, you ought to question whether there was ever a birth.

So as this body slowly deteriorates, I'm reminded of the change that is happening on the inside, and I praise God for that.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16, NIV)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

The interesting thing about Thanksgiving, as someone pointed out to me last year, is that it is inherently a God-honoring holiday. To whom would we be giving thanks, if not to Him? An interesting point, that.

In any case, here is a thanksgiving proclamation made by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. (When I grow up, I hope I have a fraction of this self-educated man's eloquence.) Happy Thanksgiving!

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

July 15, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the army and the navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life, limb, health and liberty incurred by brave, loyal and patriotic citizens. Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His Hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows:

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday the 6th. day of August next, to be observed as a day for National Thanksgiving, Praise and Prayer, and I invite the People of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and in the forms approved by their own consciences, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things he has done in the Nation's behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger, which has produced, and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation, through the paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of Union and fraternal peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

(Obtained from Collected Words of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Worth Repeating

Nate had this to say about my Thanksgiving post, and it was worth repeating...

I also believe a big impetus to thankfulness--paradoxically according to the world's wisdom--is generosity with one's earthly resources. Our nature is to demand the physical blessings we believe we deserve. Hard to be grateful when you don't feel as if you have everything you're supposed to have.

We won't be thankful people until our hearts urge us to hasten our steps to Beulah Land. Our expectations then will be so fixed on eternity that we'll feel a little surprised--albeit pleasantly--when God blesses us with temporal comforts and luxuries. That's where thankfulness begins: with a heart that expects nothing, and so rejoices when it receives the unexpected.

So true.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tis the Season

Thankfulness is seasonal? Well, yes, actually. At least in my life.

The thankfulness season starts around Halloween/Reformation Day, and runs until January 1st. It encompasses "the holidays," as people call them these days--the holiday season.

Thanksgiving makes me thankful. My birthday, and my oldest son's birthday fall during this time. Christmas makes me thankful; my wife's birthday falls during that time as well.

The problem with all of this is something rather simple: a believer's life should be marked by thankfulness all the time. There is no season for thankfulness, any more than there is for joy, peace, patience, etc. Those are the fruit, and they should always be in season in our lives.

So how do we cultivate this? Well, I think a good first step is just thinking about it.

In Philippians, it talks about thinking on things that are true, pure, holy, and so on. I would add to that list things to be thankful about. Dwell on those things, and they will become a part of life.

So my challenge to you (and to me) is to make this season the start of a lifestyle of thankfulness. Thankfulness is something that's always in season.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Brief Defense of Free Markets

Why Capitalism and Christianty are eminently compatible

We've been having an interesting coversation over at Cent's place about a bishop in the Anglican Church who supports what amounts to infanticide. In the meta, frequent commenter David has posed some questions.

One of his more recent questions asks this:
If we assume that to live with believers as in Acts 2 should be normative for us, why do we want a govermental system that is so antithetical to that lifestyle?

(Note: this is actually a two-part question, because David then wants to apply it back to our debate about health care; however, I'm only going to tackle part one now.)

First, let's admit right off the bat that no system is perfect. The main problem with all systems is the same: sinful man always finds a way to abuse the system and use it to his own advantage.

With that in mind, then, we must ask ourselves "which system best takes into account and compensates for man's nature?" I would answer that capitalism is such a system.

At its core, Capitalism operates on a simple principle: it rewards people based on their contribution to society. Sound familiar? Paul said something similar in his second letter to the Thessalonians. In Chapter 3, he states that he didn't have any handouts, and worked for what he received, and then says of the lazy man "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat" (2 Thes 3:10, ESV).

Now, Capitalism certainly works better in a society founded on Biblical principles, and absent those principles, there can be lots of unhappy consequences. Take pornography, for example. In a free society, it is allowed. In a perfectly moral society, there would no demand for that product, and therefore the market would snuff it out of existence. As it stands, it is a huge blight on our society. (And though it is beyond the scope of this brief post, I would assert here the government's role here--passing laws to prevent sinful people from taking advantage of the system, but also in upholding moral standards--something that used to be taken seriously but now has become rather passe to most people.)

"What about the person who is unable to contribute to society," the astute observer will ask. And this is a truly excellent question. How do markets deal with people, and doe businesses have a responsibility beyond mere business? One of the most prominent free market economists, Milton Friedman, has famously stated it this way: "So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not."

We can certainly debate whether business has any responsibility whatsoever (and being newly self-employed has given me a new perspective on this, which perhaps I'll share at a future date), but on the whole, I think it is at least fair to say that business' primary responsibility ought to be business. I don't think it is the responsibility of business to take care of society; neither do I think it is the job of the government. It is the church's job.

Again and again, throughout the Bible, God's people are commanded to take care of the poor, and widows, and orphans. Those who can't effectively take care of themselves. Or, to put it another way, those members of society who aren't able to contribute.

See, if the church takes care of those who are less productive members of society, that frees up business to do its job (make money flow throughout society), and leaves government in the role of making and enforcing rules to protect society and prevent evil, including the evils perpetrated by sinful businessmen.

So these roles are perfectly compatible. And while some might argue that a passage like as Acts 2 tells us what kind of system we need to have, that must be qualified by understanding that it is speaking of believers that are in fellowship together--or to put it in modern terms, the church. Those passages have nothing to say about government, because at the time, the government was The Roman Empire. Rather, God institutes all governments (including evil, unbelieving ones) for His own sovereign purposes, and we are to submit to them fully (Rom 13), except in an area where the government would command us to do something that would be unbiblical (China's mandatory abortion policy comes to mind here).

Returning to Uncle Milty, I'll throw out one more quote: "What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system." I would qualify this by saying that this is true only to the extent that people are basically evil (sin nature), and that limits must be put in place for this, either through government, or ideally through the hearts of the people (via the church).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Did the Anglican Church really come out pro-euthanasia?

HT: Cent for this article. I'm a little skeptical, since newspapers are known to lead with whatever will sell.

Still, it reminds me very much of this article, which I mentioned awhile back.

If nothing else, it shows what happens when the Church aligns itself too much with any government.

Friday, November 10, 2006

From the Blogroll

I'll be adding Theologian of the Cross shortly. HT: Sebold. Check out Lazarus and the Glory of God. (As an aside, the topic of John 11:5-6 is something I hope to return to in a future post.)

Speaking of Charlie, he said he plans to blog less. I hope not. It's not like his testimony is all he has to say about Christ, any more than any of us are limited to that.

Also, check out my buddy Rulerman's post on DNA. He was disappointed that only 6 people came to read that post, and 5 of them were related to him.

And finally, despite the death of his own blog, it turns out my buddy Chris Pixley has found time to write, under the group blog Expository Thoughts. Too bad I had to find out from a CD of a Phil Johnson's message. Oh well. Check out Avoiding the Homiletical Hermeneutic--turns out even pastors have to remind themselves about context sometimes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mercy and Grace (and Justice)

I read this story to the junior high group tonight.
There was this guy named Horace.

Horace had never been an especially “good” guy. He’d been a bully at school. He stole money from his parents, from his grandmother, from the offering at church, from the Salvation Army Christmas kettle, from his best friend, from his best friend’s mother, from his brother, from the Pastor, from a visiting missionary, from a six year old kid, from the convenience store, from the grocery store, from the music store, and from the Gospel Lighthouse Bookstore. Horace stole tickets to the fair, and then he stole one of the big stuffed animal prizes. Horace’s neighbour asked Horace to feed his dog while he was on vacation. Instead, Horace stole his neighbour’s dog’s food and gave it to his own dog. Then he kicked his own dog. Then he went back to the neighbour’s house and kicked that dog too. Then he hung his neighbour’s cat up by the tail. Then he broke a window, went inside the neighbour’s house and stole some jewelry, cookies, and beer. Then he watched the wrong sort of movie on the neighbour’s tv.

That was when Horace was a kid. But now Horace was all grown up. He still stole things, because he needed money for his various “habits”. He stole from his boss. He stole from his boss’s customers. Horace had a wife and kids. He stole from them. He hit his wife. He abused his kids. Horace told his kids that he hated them. Horace beat up his wife’s parents.

One night, Horace had been drinking heavily after work and was on his way home. Horace was driving too fast, and was all over the road. Then before Horace knew what was happening, he had hit a pedestrian. The front bumper of the car snapped the pedestrian’s knees at 110 km/h. The pedestrian was launched over the hood, the pedestrian’s head was smashed on the windshield, and then the pedestrian flew 80 feet through the air before landing on the pavement.

Horace decided not to stop. He drove home, put the car in the garage and washed it. He told his wife to shut up when she asked him what he was doing. Then he shut the barn door, set the barn on fire, and went for a walk.

Two firefighters died that night fighting the blaze. A third one was horribly burned and mutilated, and spent eight months in the hospital, and had to get skin grafts and all sorts of nasty procedures. Three of his fingers were burned right off.

As for the pedestrian, she lived. But both her legs were amputated, and she never came out of her coma because of her severe head injury. She had a husband and three small children… She had also been pregnant, but the baby was lost because of her injuries.

No one figured out that Horace was at fault. The insurance company paid him for the barn and the car. Then Horace went to Niagara Falls and gambled the payment away.

When he came home, he decided he had enough of his kids and especially his wife. While she was sleeping he slit her throat. He murdered all of his children too. Then he went on the run, terrorizing and stealing wherever he went.

But Horace is finally being brought to justice. The bailiff read out all the lengthy charges against Horace. The trial was straightforward. Horace is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. The judge passes sentence:
“This court shows mercy to Horace, and does not require him to receive any punishment for his crimes.”

The judge doesn’t stop there.
“This court extends grace to Horace, and grants him a life-lease on a $2 million lakefront home, and also grants him a $10 million trust fund sufficient for all his heart’s desires.”
The laughter tailed off uncomfortably partway through the story, and soon the silence thickened. The kids were very distressed by this story. When the sentence was pronounced, they were not happy. “He deserves the death sentence,” was a common complaint. But Horace was not being punished for his crimes. On the contrary, he was being rewarded. A couple kids would not rest until they found out if this story was true. The unsatisfied justice worried and outraged them. When I assured them that it was completely false, the relief on their faces was immediate.

Mercy entails me not getting the punishment I deserve. Mercy is not just.

Grace entails me receiving good things that I did nothing to merit. Grace is not just either.

Our God is merciful and full of grace. But he is also holy and just.
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.
--- Romans 3:21-27a
In my black heart, I am Horace. I am Horace to the core. But the righteous Judge has extended me mercy, and has granted me grace. He did this and satisfied justice by taking the punishment on my behalf, by becoming the substitute for me.

Read that again: instead of sentencing me, the Judge satisfied justice by taking my punishment Himself. That is astonishing. Words are insufficient to communicate how boggling this is.

There is nothing for me to boast about. There is quite a bit for me to rejoice about.

Praise the Lord!

What's a Political Junkie to Do?

It's election day here in the States, and we've just completed our civic duty. I took one of my sons in with me, and let him push all the buttons on the voting machine for me. It went fine--except that he kept wanting to vote for the Green Party Candidate. But you can't expect perfection from a four year old.

So now I'm back home, and ready to watch the returns. But since most of the election coverage has moved to cable news stations, what's a cheapskate like me (who refuses to pay for TV) to do?

I've checked the local news channel websites, but they aren't exactly helpful. And one of my standbys from last election, NPR, doesn't hold the interest because there's too much national coverage, and too little local.

So right now, I'm listening to 840 WHAS out of Kentucky (through the magic of radio propagation and clear channel stations), which is running Fox News Radio programming. For local coverage, all of the stations have the returns on the bottom, but unfortunately no good programs to watch while we're doing it.

Oh, did I mention that this year I'm pulling for gridlock?

You Tell Me

How busy is someone really when he says he has no time to blog, but has time to stop by your blog and make a mutinous post like this?

Well, fine then

If Matt hasn't resurfaced by the time we get home from the youth group tonight, then we will simply have to post a coda.

Hear that Matt? It's only a matter of time before we wrest complete control of Still Reforming from your tenuous grasp.

Come back while you still can...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Well, that's all

We're all done. Sorry for breaking your blog, Matt. See you in the funny papers. Nora may or may not have some parting words of her own. She's never let me speak for her before, so why would she break tradition on this occasion?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Learning to decrease

As I was starting my morning get-ready-for-the-day routine, a verse came floating into my mind, from John 3:

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

This was spoken by John the Baptist after some malcontents came to him to complain that Jesus was baptizing others. Perhaps they were a little confused that this man Jesus was interfering with the work of John. Of course, John knew exactly how to respond, and he humbly informed all who were listening that it was his job to decrease, while Jesus increased. Jesus was the reason John was preaching in the first place. He was to prepare the way for something better. John's assertion that he must decrease whereas Jesus was to increase was the correct way of thinking.

I was thinking about how this applies to me as a Christian woman. This principle of decreasing is not something that is restricted to John; it is for all of us. Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 2:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, thought he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

This passages echoes what John says. To have this mind of Christ, we must make ourselves nothing; we must decrease.

But what does this look like in every day life? Where can we see this put into practice? I was thinking about this today with regard to my children. My kids are 17, 14 and 12. The natural course of things is for them to increasingly become independent. While we will still have a relationship, the future of our relationship is one where we must give up time with them, where we must give up control of some of their decisions, to trust them to do things on their own. Sometimes, it means seeing them widen their circle of friends, and spend time with other people who mean a lot to them. It means, eventually, allowing a spouse to become more important than their parents. How is this an example of me decreasing and Christ being increased? Because it is putting someone ahead of myself. Seeing my children become more independent can be a sacrifice, because it may mean that I have less time with them. It may mean that they don't follow my advice; it may mean that they make a decision that I don't like, but which they feel is the one God would have them make. It means allowing them to be guided by Christ on their own, without me harping at them and reminding them. It means trusting God that the way we have raised them has been a way that they will continue to embrace on their own. Ultimately, it's an act of faith. We relinquish control because we trust that God loves our children more than we do and wants what is best for them.

When our children are little, we as parents are often larger than life. We begin to shrink a little as they get older. Actually, when they are teenagers, we really shrink. The nice thing is that as our children get older and have children of their own, we get a little bigger again. However, the ultimate goal is not for me to be bigger in the life of my child than Christ. My desire for my children is not to see myself reign supreme in their lives, but for Christ to do so. The goal for both parent and child to be continually decreasing as Christ increases in our lives.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This Is Where I'm At Right Now--My Worst Nightmare!!

Checking in from the road. I'm at the lovely Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University taking my class right now.

Unfortunately for me, the campus is a Pepsi-only campus--no Coke anywhere!

Someone save me.

The War of the Five Sacrifices

There are five basic types of sacrificial offerings described in Leviticus: the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering, the Peace Offering, the Trespass Offering, and the Sin Offering.

The offerings are all so foreign and strange to our current-day sensibilities. If you're reading this, then your daily activities likely concern computers, electric toasters, electronic fuel injection automobiles, a hot shower, processed meat and perfectly symmetrical loaves of bread. You don't keep a sword at your side in case a band of unruly Arameans come over the hill, you don't depend on capricious wadis for your potable water, light pollution prevents you from seeing the glory of God in the dazzling stars every night, and you don't speak with your child in the heat of the day about the laws of God, because before the heat of the day arrives you have commuted to your job to earn money to pay for the electricity to run the toaster.

Nevertheless, those offerings are meaningful. They are brim full with meaning for us today.

Those five basic types of offerings described in Leviticus all foreshadow the life and the single, once-for-all-time death of Jesus Christ. And they do it in myriad ways. The apostles who were inspired to write the New Testament said so, and Jesus said so himself.

The offerings are bloody and gory and smelly and greasy and smoky and messy. Most of them involve the terrified death of the sacrifice. Believe it or not, but the offerings are incredibly beautiful!

Each one of the five describes specific and distinct functions performed by the savage torture and crucifixion of God, the man Jesus Christ, in approximately 30 anno domini. And at least one of these offerings (Grain Offering) also describes the real physical actual bodily resurrection of the broken body of the Christ.

Obviously Jesus Christ didn’t die five times, once for each offering. He died once, at the consummation of the ages. The five different offerings show us five different views of the cross, and communicate five different efficacies of Jesus' horrible death that day.

The first three are known as the “sweet savour” or "fragrant aroma" offerings, and they actually brought pleasure to God. The imagery we are given is the smoke of the offering ascending up as a sweet savour to the nostrils of God. He enjoyed them. That's right... God enjoyed the death of Christ in a very real sense, and he enjoyed the ancient Israelite Burnt Offerings, Grain Offerings, and Peace Offerings that foreshadowed this death.

What a horrid notion! How and why could God enjoy Christ's death?! The answer is to be simply found in the narration of the offerings.

In Leviticus 1, we find that the Burnt Offering was voluntarily presented, and was a sacrifice without any blemish whatsoever. It was perfect in every way. It was examined inside and out to assure this. And it was completely consumed upon the altar. God accepted it completely. It's a wonderful picture of the perfection of the Son of God, his voluntary determination to walk to Jerusalem to present himself for examination by God and man, the inability of mankind to find true fault in him despite looking for it furiously, and the delight that God displayed when He found no fault in the Christ. The Burnt Offering describes the love that the perfect Son had for the Father. Only God could fulfil the ultimate spotlessness required by the Burnt Offering, and only God could love enough to make such a holy and pure offering. The Father absolutely breathed in and reveled in this display of love by the Son. The cross was the voluntary goal of the Christ all the days of his life.

In Leviticus 2, we find that the Grain Offering was the fruit of the field, tilled by human hands and offered in gratitude for the harvest. Leviticus is chock full of types, words and themes that are consistently used throughout the Bible to represent other words and themes. The Grain Offering is the celebration of a human life, the loftiest human life ever lived (grain and fruit are a common type for humanity), one that was without sin (leaven), one that was empowered and anointed by the Holy Spirit (oil, and in fact the very names Christ and Messiah mean "anointed one". The Grain Offering was literally doused with oil.). The Grain Offering was used to celebrate the Feast of First Fruits (when God planned from the foundation of the earth for Jesus the human being to arise from the dead), and was used to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost (when God planned from the foundation of the earth for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fall upon his Church). Where the Burnt Offering celebrates Christ the Son, the Grain Offering celebrates Jesus the sinless human. The Father absolutely breathed in and reveled in this memoriam of the human life as perfected in Jesus the second Adam. The cross was the culmination and end of this human life (at least until the third day!).

In Leviticus 3, the Peace Offering celebrates the reconciliation of God and man. It marks the end of war, the assuaging of the wrath of God that formerly abode upon man. In this offering God's heart's desire is realized: the sweet fellowship of man and God, unbroken by sin and death. How could the Father not enjoy this aspect of the crucifixion? The cross was the end of the enmity between created and Creator.

The final two sacrifices are not about enjoyment. We are not told in Leviticus that God enjoyed them. They merely did the job. I say merely, but were it not for the sin-atoning nature of the Trespass Offering in Leviticus 4 and then later and finally the Sin Offering, nothing else would really be of note for us sin-infested humans. The Trespass Offering atoned for "minor" or "unintentional" sins. But the Sin Offering covered it all. The cross of Calvary was a place where God conducted great business, and that fraught with justice, mercy and grace. The Trespass and Sin Offerings were Jesus Christ taking on the sin of his friends, friends who as yet did not know they were his friends. The Trespass and Sin Offerings were Jesus dying for his enemies, showing greater love than has ever been shown. These aspects of the cross were Jesus becoming sin behalf of His friends and imputing His righteousness to them. This didn't bring pleasure to God, because it involved meting out justice for sin. The wages of sin is death, and death had to be delivered to God's own Son before the gift of God, eternal life, could be put under the Christmas tree.

That spring day in Jerusalem approximately 1,975 years ago was the moment that all the violent evil of mankind perpetuated from Eve right on down to you and me (and our great-great-great-grandchildren should the Lord tarry) came to a head . No, God is not bound by time. Remember, He created spacetime. The sins of all time were addressed on that day. That was the day for action. It was the culmination of the glorious Son's mission as a sinless human being to reconcile humanity to God.

Slaves to our depraved wills, we were at war with God. Nevertheless, while we were yet sinners, Christ the helpless crucified warrior battled with our slavemaster Sin. Leviticus describes the five-pronged attack.

In a thrust completely unforeseen by human eyes, Christ won the war by dying. Then he proved the victory by rising.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Explode the Code

That title is actually the name of a homeschool phonics program. I have never used it, but I'm told it is pretty good.

However, the kind of code I am talking about is a language that looks like code to a 12 year old boy. I'm talking about Koine Greek.

I am a very verbal person. Words appeal to me, and I find using them not difficult for the most part. I have come to see over my years of learning, that having a grasp of language as a whole is very beneficial to all learning. I am a firm advocate that children should be provided with instruction, even very basic instruction at that, in classical languages. English is not a pure language. It's a mongrel. There are a plethora of influences in our language. We are famous for adopting words from other language families and making them our own. However, the basis of English remains Greek and Latin, especially Latin.

I have taught Latin to my children. There are excellent programs out there. Latin Primer is one that I tried to use, but it isn't fun or user friendly. I used Latina Christiana also, which is published by Catholics. Now, don't get all fussy on me here. You don't have to teach transubstantiation alongside Latina Christiana. One fact remains about Catholics teaching Latin. They know the language; they have a lot of experience using the language. It was a good program, and even though it was odd hearing Latin being spoken by someone from Kentucky, my kids learned a lot. For my own self-study, I chose to use Henle Latin, which was written by a priest. It is very Catholic, but I'm a big girl, and was able to filter it out. Its teaching approach is pretty good. Lots of repetition and practice, which is needed when you study a language.

Latin, despite its benefits, however, does not always appeal to young boys. They find it dry. They find those boring Latin phrases a little too much. Who wants to read quotes by Ovid or Augustine when you're 12 years old? My #1 son suffered in silence through both levels of Latina Christiana, and was happy to be done with it. My #2 son did pretty much the same thing. Despite their Latin loathing, however, they did learn something, and it is apparent in their ability to recognize roots of words. They can protest all they like, but I know that it was beneficial to them.

Koine Greek is another story altogether, or at least it has been with my 12 year old son. At first, when I told him that he would be getting introduced to Koine Greek, he resisted. Another dead language; what for? As we began learning the alphabet, his view began to change. As we began memorizing John 1:1 in Greek, he began to show an interest. He started enjoying it. I can only chalk it up to the fact that learning a language that has a different alphabet must feel more exotic to him. It's like deciphering a code. I could have told him that translating Latin is like deciphering a code, too, but I guess it's more like a code when the letters look strange. I think another element of interest is that occasionally, from the pulpit, our pastor will talk about what a word means in the original Greek, and knowing a little of Greek may seem to have more of a use than Latin. Understanding Latin means that we can read original documents, such as untranslated versions of Dante or Augustine, but what young boy wants to do that? He may some day, but he doesn't want to now. Koine Greek can assit us in our study of Scripture, so perhaps there's more incentive to do well with it.

The Greek program we are using is called Elementary Greek, and it could be used by someone as young as 8 or 9 years old. My 12 year old can race through an entire week in a day if he so chooses, but memory work is still important, so we shouldn't race too far ahead. I also have Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, which I try and pick away at just to refresh my memory. I took Koine Greek about 15 years ago, so my memory is dull.

I know that technical subjects and math and all that are important in our technical world, but I think being as verbal and literate as possible can only be a good thing. I think if I had to do it again, I would start classical language instruction with Greek as opposed to Latin.