Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where Credit is Due

You may have noticed that over the last couple of months I've used a lot of art in my posts. I guess Lent kind of put me in the mood to do some more "devotional" type posts and I find that a good painting often goes very well with a more devotional post. So I wanted to give credit to the source of most of the paintings I've put up on my blog and the source is my favorite painter, the great Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt's art appears in posts from April 10th, 12th, 19th and 26th.

With my admiration of his work one would think that I would have read something about the life of Rembrandt but up until preparing to write this blog post I hadn't. And as with most subjects I want to be quickly educated on, my source was Wikipedia.

Rembrandt was born in Leiden in the Netherlands and lived from 1606 to 1669. He lost three of his four children to early deaths and also his wife, most likely to tuberculosis. The aspect of Rembrandt's life I was most interested to learn about was his religion. I had expected, with the amazing Biblical scenes he is known for, that Rembrandt's religious side would be explored in the article on Wikipedia but I found that not to be the case. In fact, Rembrandt seems to be a little mysterious spiritually. His father was part of the Dutch Reformed Church and his mother was Roman Catholic. I read one site that speculated that not much was known about Rembrandt spiritually because he didn't want to completely embrace or reject either the faith of his father or mother. Whatever the case may be, I think his paintings have been a spiritual blessing to many people.

Rembrandt is not the only artist that has shown up on my blog. I also like to occasionally use Gustave Dore's Bible illustrations among many other sources. But lately I've used a lot of Rembrandt so I wanted to focus on him in this post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Did Not Our Hearts Burn Within Us?

Another favorite Resurrection story of mine comes from the Gospel of Luke where we find two of Jesus' disciples walking to the village of Emmaus when they are joined by the Risen Christ Himself, but do not recognize Him at first. I like this story so much because I think it reveals how some of the disciples might have felt after the crucifixion and after they had heard news of the Resurrection from the women.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" - Luke 24:28-32
When the two disciples had reached Emmaus, and were refreshing themselves at the evening meal, the mysterious stranger who had so enchanted them upon the road, took bread and brake it, made himself known to them, and then vanished out of their sight. They had constrained him to abide with them, because the day was far spent; but now, although it was much later, their love was a lamp to their feet, yea, wings also; they forgot the darkness, their weariness was all gone, and forthwith they journeyed back the threescore furlongs to tell the gladsome news of a risen Lord, who had appeared to them by the way. They reached the Christians in Jerusalem, and were received by a burst of joyful news before they could tell their own tale. These early Christians were all on fire to speak of Christ’s resurrection, and to proclaim what they knew of the Lord; they made common property of their experiences. This evening let their example impress us deeply. We too must bear our witness concerning Jesus. John’s account of the sepulchre needed to be supplemented by Peter; and Mary could speak of something further still; combined, we have a full testimony from which nothing can be spared. We have each of us peculiar gifts and special manifestations; but the one object God has in view is the perfecting of the whole body of Christ. We must, therefore, bring our spiritual possessions and lay them at the apostle’s feet, and make distribution unto all of what God has given to us. Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul.
-CH Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten Lessons From Great Christian Minds

I thought this was a pretty cool post from the blog Between Two Worlds. I've read works from all of these men and Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, a Kempis, Wesley and Dostoyevsky have all done a lot to shape my thinking. The one Christian writer not on the list who has also had a big influence on me is John Bunyan and his work, The Pilgrim's Progress.
From philosophy professor
James Spiegel:
  1. Augustine (5th century): Remember that you are a citizen of another kingdom.
  2. Martin Luther (16th century): Expect politicians to be corrupt.
  3. Thomas Aquinas (13th century): God has made himself known in nature.
  4. John Calvin (16th century): God is sovereign over all, including our suffering.
  5. Jonathan Edwards (18th century): God is beautiful, and all beauty is divine.
  6. Thomas a’Kempis (15th century): Practice self-denial with a passion.
  7. John Wesley (18th century): Be disciplined and make the best use of your time.
  8. Fyodor Dostoevsky (19th century): God’s grace can reach anyone.
  9. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (20th century): Beware of cheap grace.
  10. Alvin Plantinga (21st century): Moral virtue is crucial for intellectual health.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). - John 20:11-16
This Easter story, where Mary Magdalene exclaims "Rabboni!" has been one of my favorite Resurrection stories for a long time. I remember hearing this story read when my family would go to Easter sunrise services early in the morning on the banks of the Lewis River. I think what strikes me about this story is the almost palpable emotion of Mary who is at first described as weeping. I always imagined it being dark and Mary having tears in her eyes when she turned and failed at first to recognize her Lord. But Jesus calls her by name and Mary's one word reply of "Rabboni" is a single word of Scripture which has always affected me greatly.

I like what Calvin has to say in his commentary on the passage. On Jesus calling Mary by name Calvin writes, "That voice of the Shepherd, therefore, enters into Mary's heart, opens her eyes, arouses all her senses, and affects her in such a manner, that she immediately surrenders herself to Christ." On Mary's reply to Jesus, Calvin writes, "The efficacy of the address [Rabboni] is evident from this circumstance, that Mary immediately renders to Christ the honor which is due to him; for the word Rabboni is not only respectful, but involves a profession of obedience. Mary therefore declares, that she is a disciple of Christ, and submits to him as her Master. This is a secret and wonderful change effected on the human understanding, when God, enlightening her by his Spirit, renders her clear-sighted, who formerly was slow of apprehension, and, indeed, altogether blind. Besides, the example of Mary ought to serve the purpose of exhortation, that all whom Christ invites to himself may reply to him without delay."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

He Shall Bruise Your Head

I went for a hike in the Loma Linda hills Monday when I noticed a sound I hadn't heard before just off of the path. I was surprised to see a large rattle snake, about 6 feet long, a couple of feet from me. I know he's a little hard to make out in the picture but if you can imagine him being about 6 feet long you can imagine that he was quite impressive.
I was going to call this blog post "rattle snake" or something boring like that. But in close proximity to Good Friday and Easter I decided to refer to what many believe is the first messianic prophecy in the Bible where God curses the serpent shortly after the fall. In Genesis 3:15 God is speaking to the snake and says, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Is Risen!

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet he shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
-John 11:25-26

Friday, April 10, 2009

Christ: Sacrifice and Victor

Yet we must not understand that he fell under a curse that overwhelmed him; rather - in taking the curse upon himself - he crushed, broke, and scattered its whole force. Hence faith apprehends an acquittal in the condemnation of Christ, a blessing in his curse. Paul with good reason, therefore, magnificently proclaims the triumph that Christ obtained for himself on the cross, as if the cross, which was full of shame, had been changed into a triumphal chariot! For he says that "Christ nailed to the cross the written bond which stood against us . . . and disarmed the principalities . . . and made a public example of them" [Col. 2:14-15]. And no wonder! For "Christ . . . through the eternal Spirit offered himself," as another apostle testifies [Heb. 9:14]. From this came that transmutation of nature. But that these things may take root firmly and deeply in our hearts, let us keep sacrifice and cleansing constantly in mind. For we could not believe with assurance that Christ is our redemption, ransom, and propitiation unless he had been a sacrificial victim. Blood is accordingly mentioned wherever Scripture discusses the mode of redemption. Yet Christ's shed blood served, not only as a satisfaction, but also as a laver [cf. Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5; Rev. 1:5] to wash away our corruption.

-John Calvin, Institutes 2.16.6

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday and Our Mandate From Christ

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

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 who 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, early Methodist and Associate of John Wesley.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.
-John Piper

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Four Feathers

Last night I watched the 2002 movie, "The Four Feathers," with one of my housemates. It's one of his favorites but I had never heard of it. The film is set in 19th century England and also in the Sudan where the British are fighting against a rebellion led by "the Mahdi," a messianic figure for the Sudanese Muslims. It's about a British officer who leaves the army and then, out of shame for being perceived as a coward, goes to the Sudan on his own where he rescues some of his comrades. There's also a love story involved but I didn't care too much about that.
I thought it was an excellent film and it has definitely become one of my favorites. I think it's such an interesting time period and I love anything having to do with British history. I also liked seeing how the lives of officers in the British army were portrayed and also the fighting techniques used in the Sudan. As with most "historical" movies I assume there were probably a lot of inaccuracies but it was still very enjoyable to watch.