Thursday, February 28, 2008

Couldn't have said it better myself...

“From a child I was taught to love and reverence the Scripture, the oracles of God; and, next to these, to esteem the primitive Fathers, the writers of the first three centuries. Next after the primitive Church, I esteem our own, the Church of England."

-John Wesley
From the Works of John Wesley, ed. Thomas Jackson, Vol. XIII, p. 234

Sunday, February 24, 2008


"There is generally upon my heart such a sense of my unworthiness that sometimes I dare hardly open my mouth before a child of God; and think it an unspeakable honor to stand before one who has recovered something of the image of God, or sincerely seeks after it. Is it possible that such a sinful worm as I should have the privilege to converse with one whose soul is besprinkled with the blood of my Lord? The thought amazes, confounds me; and fills my eyes with tears of humble joy."

- John Fletcher - Anglican Priest, Associate of John Wesley and early Methodist leader

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

God's Power in the Darkness

I just finished reading an excellent book last night. It is one that had been recommended to me many times and perhaps because of the many recommendations I had held off on reading it until now. But this book overwhelmed me again and again by its testimonies of God's love and power, much like The Cross and the Switchblade has done as I've read and re-read that book. The book is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. If you've read my blog for very long, you know that one of the philosophical issues I'm most interested in is the problem of theodicy, that is, justifying a good and all-powerful God in a world where so many horrible evils occur. I feel like this book adds something to the whole theodicy conversation. It is clear that God was at work even in the midst of the worst evil of the last century. God did not step in and limit the freedom of the Nazis as they committed their heinous crimes but God did use those who would be obedient even to the point of death to save some of His chosen people, the Jews, and to bring comfort and salvation to some of those in concentration camps who were about to go to the gas chambers. I was struck by the centrality of Scripture for the ten Boom family, how the Bible was the authority when it came to life and belief. I was also struck by a statement by Caspar, Corrie's father when, as a little girl, she asked him what "sexual sin" was. Caspar said something like, that is a knowledge that is too dark for you to be burdened with. Later that same line of thought is applied by Corrie to the problem of evil itself. I think that is one of the hardest things for us in this scientific age to accept that in this life we may not get pat and satisfying answers to our deepest, darkest questions. Even in the midst of this ambiguity we must find the ability to live a life of trust in God. If we can't learn to live with the things that don't make sense, I think we can only go down the road of despair or of dishonesty where we try to convince ourselves that the easy answers really satisfy us. When it comes to things like horrible diseases or the holocaust, no answer really satisfies me. But we must continue on, seeking to bring God's light, love and healing into the dark places and believing that these "present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

San Gorgonio Mountains - Momyer Creek

On Saturday, after a week of midterm exams, I felt the need to get away so I headed east to the snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountains and found a hiking trail, Momyer Creek, east of Forrest Falls, California. It was a beautiful day and the hike was very enjoyable. I had my best hiking companion with me, my Bible, and I was able to read and pray some Psalms in the solitude of the mountain. Here are some pictures I took with my new digital camera:
This shot shows some of the common flora, an Opuntia cactus and in the background the dry flowering head of an Agave.

I don't know what I'd do with out the time-delay option. It is always interesting trying to find something to balance my camera on in the wilderness though.

Looking back down at the valley of Mill Creek. The hike starts at the valley floor.

The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys. - Psalm 104:18

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Joy of Thanksgiving

Okay, I know, I know, - it's February and Thanksgiving is in November but something hit me today as I walked out of my anatomy and histology midterms. The exams went well and as I walked to my car I quietly sang a hymn of thanks and praise to God. And I realized that it is a great blessing to have Someone to thank. If I were an Atheist I guess I could find some happiness in feeling lucky or something but it seems like something would be truly missing not to be able to praise God for the blessings of this life. I had read someone else saying the same thing before, that they felt sorry for Atheists because they couldn't be thankful to God. For some reason when I first read that it didn't make much of an impact on me but today it just hit me for some reason.

Of course, the hard part is being thankful even when things don't go well. Not being a Calvinist, I think that things happen in reality that are truly contrary to the will of God. I don't think that God willed horrendous evils like the holocaust to take place. So I think 'giving thanks' for the holocaust would be wrong. But I think that as Christians we should always be able to give thanks. When the very reality of our existence is that we are sinners saved and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, I don't see how we can be anything but thankful in all situations.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

As though they were our own words...

In some of my rare moments of free time I have been reading St. Athanasius’ Letter to Marcellinus. The letter concerns mainly the Psalms, one of my favorite parts of Scripture, and I think what I read the other day in this text is one of the best and truest statements about the Psalms I have ever seen:

There is also this astonishing thing in the Psalms. In other books, those who read what the holy ones say, and what they might say concerning certain people, are relating the things that were written about those earlier people. And likewise, those who listen consider themselves to be other than those about whom the passage speaks, so that they only come to the imitation of the deeds that are told to the extent that they marvel at them and desire to emulate them. By contrast, however, he who takes up this book – the Psalter – goes through the prophecies about the Savior, as is customary in the other Scriptures, with admiration and adoration, but the other psalms he recognizes as being his own words. And the one who hears is deeply moved, as though he himself were speaking, and is affected by the words of the songs, as if they were his own songs. And for the sake of clarity of expression, do not hesitate, as the Apostle says, to repeat the very things they say…

…remarkably, after the prophecies about the Savior and the nations, he who recites the Psalms is uttering the rest as his own words, and each sings them as if they were written concerning him, and he accepts them and recites them not as if another were speaking, nor as if speaking about someone else. But he handles them as if he is speaking them from himself. For not as in the case of the sayings of the patriarchs and Moses and the other Prophets will he be cautious of these things, but he who chants these will be especially confident in speaking what is written as if his own and about him. For the Psalms comprehend the one who observes the commandment as well as the one who transgresses, and the action of each. And it is necessary for everyone to be constrained by these, and either as a keeper of the law or as its transgressor, to speak the words that have been written about each.

I remember how years ago when I began praying the Psalms how I was often amazed by the fact that the Psalm put into words what I needed to say to God so much better than anything I could come up with. What a wonderful thing it is that in the middle of God’s Word we have this prayer-book for His people through which we can praise our Maker and receive much blessing from him.