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Thankful Thursday

Well, for those of you who know what July 1st means here in Canada, you may know what I'm thankful for today.

Today, is the 143rd birthday of Canada.  I am thankful to have been born and raised and to live in this country.  I am actually quite a patriotic person, even if my patriotism doesn't look that of others.  I pray for my country, learn about my country and support my country.  Hey, I even watched the Canada-U.S. hockey game at the Olympics this year.  I mean, who could resist watching them beat the U.S. in such an exciting way?

There are many good things about living here and as with other countries, there are bad things.  There is no perfect government system.  Me, I prefer a theocracy, but currently that won't fly here in North America.

I'm thankful for some time this afternoon we're going to spend together as a family with my in-laws.  I have two kids who have to work tonight (yes, stores and businesses are open even on a holiday here) so the time will be brief, but precious nonetheless.


Facebook in a book form

I've been thinking a lot about writing and leaving pieces of ourselves behind.  I bought a book recently called Canada:  A Portrait in Letters.  It is a book that shares contents of letters written to and from ordinary people.  There are letters written by those who were settlers in the early days of Canada's history, letters written during two World Wars, and letters written in the post War era.  As someone who is very interested in social history, I didn't hesitate to buy this book.  The lives of ordinary people, doing ordinary things, is an important part of a country's history.

I recently read an article in The Globe and Mail about the decline of journal writing; and by journal writing, I mean the paper kind of journals.  There are certainly on-line journals, but the nature of them being online means that they are intended to be read.  I have a blog, and I hope people read it.  I have a hard backed notebook where I write that isn't meant to be read by people, although I make it a rule not to put anything in there that I would be ashamed of thinking.  Maybe my future grandchildren will read my blog; I don't know.  But what if technology has changed to the point where that is not possible?  

The Globe article also talked about the honesty of journals in a paper format as opposed to online journals.  We can certainly scratch out what has been written in a paper journal, or tear out the pages, but the reminders of those removed sections remains.  The author speculated about how historically honest a personal journal could be if it was able to edited.  I wish I had saved the article; it was good.

I thought about how Facebook status lines, and probably Twitter status lines can document what a person is thinking and doing.  I could follow someone's Facebook status lines and see what was occupying their thoughts.  Well, why could someone not do that in a book?  It wouldn't have to be a journal entry, documenting deep thoughts (although, there is something about a blank page and a pen which works well that makes one end up saying more than she intended), just a brief comment.  I have decided to start doing that in my personal journal.  I have reading journals where I keep track of what I read, and where I record passages I liked, but this would be different.  Short and to the point is I'm thinking.  Who knows? Maybe my future grandchildren -- assuming that people are still literate, haha! -- will have a glimpse into an ancestor through it.


What about retribution?

In the book A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D.A. Carson discusses the prayer of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12.  Paul is thanking God that their faith is growing and that love is increasing.  The Thessalonians were enduring persecution, and Paul was thankful for their perseverence in the midst of persecution.  He goes on to remind them that "God is just; He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well" (v. 6-7)

Carson points out the reality that retribution in some form is consistent with who God is:

In fact, the Christian gospel is solidly based on some elementary notions of retribution.  Where evil occurs, it must be paid back, or God himself is affronted.  If God forever overlooks evil, ostensibly on the ground that he is loving and forbearing, is he not also betraying the fact that he is pathetically unconcerned about injustice?

The truth is that every Christian who has throught long and hard about the cross begins to understand that God is not merely a stern dispenser of justice, nor merely a lover who lavishly forgives, but the Sovereign who is simultaneously perfect in holiness and perfect in love.  His holiness demands retribution; his love send his own Son to absorb that retribution on behalf of others.  The cross simultaneously stands as the irrefutable evidence that God demands retribution, and cries out that it is the measure of God's love (see Rom. 3:21-26).  That is why, in the Christian view of things, forgiveness is never detatched from the cross.  In other words, forgiveness is never the product of love alone, still less of mawkish sentimentality.  Forgiveness is possible only because there is a real offense, and a real sacriice to offset that offense.

In a ladies' Sunday school class recently, one of the challenges put forth by the teacher was for us to think each day upon our salvation and appreciate what it has done for us.  I commented at the time the one of the ways to become more thankful for our salvation is to reflect on the reason why we need it:  our sin is an offense to God that needs forgiving.  Aren't we always more thankful when someone gives us something we really need?  I don't see how we can appreciate salvation truly unless we know what it a salvation from.


Heart Aflame - June 27, 2010

Psalm 78:38-71

Yet he was merciful ... and did not destoy them.  The Israelites no doubt deserved to be involved in one common destruction; but it is declared that God mitigated his anger, that some seed of them might remain.  That none might infer that God had proceeded to punish them with undue severity, we are told that the punishments inflicted upon them were moderate - yea, mild, when compared with the aggravated nature of their wickedness.  God kept back his hand, not looking so much to what they had deserved, as desiring to give place to his mercy.  We are not, however, to imagine that he is changeable, when at one time he chastises us with a degree of severity, and at another time gently draws and allures us to himself; for in the exercise of his matchless wisdom, he has recourse to different means by which to try whether there is really any hope of our recovery.  But the guilt of men becomes more aggravated, when neither his severity can reform them nor his mercy melt them.  It is to be observed, that the mercy of God, which is an essential attribute of his nature, is here assigned as the reason why he spared his people, to teach us that he was not induced by any other cause but this, to show himself so much inclined and ready to pardon.

He remembered that they were but fleshFlesh and spirit are frequently contrasted in the Scriptures; not only when flesh means our depraved and sinful nature, and spirit the uprightness to which the children of God are born again; but also when men are called flesh, because there is nothing firm or stable in them.  In this passage, flesh means, that men are subject to coruption and putrefaction; and spirit, that they are only a breath or a fleeting shadow.  As men are brought to death by a contnual wasting and decay, the people re compared to a wind which passes away, and which, of its own accord, falls and does not return again.  God, in the execise of his mercy and goodness, bore with the Jews, not because the deserved this, but because their frail and transitory condition called forth his pity and induced him to pardon them.


Words really do have power

I was interested to read this piece by Justin Taylor discussing the announcement made by Liberty University.  Ergun Caner's stories of his past were first passed off as "theological leverage" by the university, and now, after his admission to being less than honest, they are saying that he made "factual statements that are self-contradictory."

Wait a minute ... what is the definition of a fact?

Words really do have power.  They can convince, mislead and damage.  The fact that Liberty University is choosing to twist words is more than just being creative with their vocabulary.  It's about what is true and what is not.  Apparently, they like to err on the side of truth being a little greyer than is perhaps the case.