Friday, June 7, 2013

"Spiritual Birthday"

The Son of God Loved Me and Gave Himself For Me


The first Friday in June, 1974 at 9:00 p.m.

And there they preached the Gospel. (Acts 14:7)

_That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly, our fellowship is with with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

_This is the message that we have heard of Him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

_If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

_I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I Love Him. 
I love Him because He first Loved me, 
And purchased my salvation on Calvary.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us 
that we should be called the sons of God: 
therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, 

and it does not yet appear what we shall be: 
but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; 
for we shall see him as he is.  I John 3:1,2

Above are some significant scriptures, and a praise chorus, that are meaningful to me,  that relate to that time, 39 years ago.

Monday, April 22, 2013


"Overwhelmed with God's Creative Brilliance"

Painting by Albert Bierstadt

(Click on image to enlarge)

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:

Christ, Our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise

For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and dale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:

Christ, Our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on earth and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild:

Christ, Our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise

For Thy Church that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering upon every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love:

Christ, Our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise

For Thyself, best gift divine,
To our race so freely given;
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth and joy in heaven:

Christ, Our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise

(Lyrics by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)
Here is the tune from Cyber Hymnal (click)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NOT BY FAITH ALONE ? An old objection , revisited

St. James and St. Paul Battling it Out on Justification

 In October of 2010, I wrote a blog post answering an atheist friend who claimed that the Bible contradicted itself by teaching in one place (Romans 3 & 4) that Justification is by faith apart from works, and in another place (James 2) that " works a man is justified, and not by faith only." 

Recently, on the Reformed Forum Facebook page, someone posted the following:
I believed and taught "justification by faith alone" for over 20 years as an elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and as the adult Bible class teacher in my church. But on September 30th 2011, I was looking for the verse in the Bible that said justification is by faith alone. So, I typed "faith alone" in an online Bible search engine. That search has opened my eyes and brought me closer to God. My hope is that searching to find what the Bible actually says about "faith alone" will do the same for you. Here is the link that started my search: May God Bless You

This seasoned Presbyterian elder & bible class teacher apparently had never seen a copy of the Westminster Confession & Catechisms, nor was he aware of the classic Roman Catholic objection to the doctrine of "Justification by Faith Alone" that he had taught for over 20 years. While he approaches the Justification issue from a different direction than my atheist friend (he is not arguing a contradiction between Paul and James), the ground of his supposed refutation is the teaching found in in the epistle of James. So my answer below still applies.

Here is an edited version of the post I wrote two and a half years ago in answer to the atheist's objection.

The question is: Does the Bible teach that we are saved by Faith Alone, or a combination of Faith and Works? It gets complicated when it appears that two authors of New Testament epistles have different views on the matter.

There are two keys to understanding what some claim is a "contradiction" between Paul's and James' teaching on "justification," and they are easily discerned by reading their respective arguments.
1. The first key is the different senses in which each is using the word JUSTIFICATION (and it's variants: "justify" and "justified") Paul is talking about being declared legally righteous in God's sight, while James is talking about a person's actions backing up, or justifying, his verbal profession of faith.
2. The second key is this: What errors are each refuting? Paul is arguing (Romans 1:16-5:2) against the notion that there is something we can do that contributes meritoriously to our being declared legally righteous before God. James is arguing (James 1:22-2:26) against antinomianism. That is the notion that the life of someone who posesses true faith in Christ will not necessarily exhibit works as evidence of (justification of) that faith. "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
Notice also how Paul (in Romans 4) and James (in James 2:21-24) each use different incidents in Abraham's life to illustrate their respective points. See how these two narratives from Genesis 15 & 22, as cited by Paul and James, complement and support each other.
The law of (non-)contradiction is:
"A" can not be "non-A" at the same time and in the same sense.
I have shown that Paul and James were each using the word "justification" in a different sense. Therefore, there is no contradiction.
The debate is still a live issue today however. The slogan of the Reformers, "Salvation by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, because of Christ Alone, for the Glory of God Alone" is challenged  not only by Roman Catholics, but various sects such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons and even segments of Evangelicalism. Skeptics see the issue as a contradiction in the Bible, nullifying it's authority.
Reformed churches have consistently believed and taught that God graciously saves us solely through faith in Christ and His perfect life and His death on the cross on behalf of sinners. We believe that this faith is a gift from God and is a faith that produces works necessarily.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. __Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
Cartoon by Richard Gunther

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The End is Near (but maybe not as near as you think)



Last year we had the flap over the Mayan calendar. But, I've got news.

My copy of the Book of Common Prayer (1892 edition - Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) lists all of the dates upon which Easter will fall beginning in 1786 and ENDING IN 2013. This is no time to panic, however, as the church calendar doesn't turn over until Advent.

 Of course, the P.E.C.U.S.A could have been prognosticating the time of the denomination's own demise; or maybe they were *Dispensationalists and figured that the RAPTURE of the Church had to happen some time before Advent in 2013.

Most likely, though, they figured that a newer edition of the B.C.P. would eventually be printed with an updated Table To Find Easter Day.

*(Spell Check suggest that "Dispensationalists" should read, "Sensationalists.")

Friday, March 8, 2013

We Named Him "Ginger Cat"

An old, beat-up, one-eyed cat came into our lives last year, homeless, and malnourished. We already had five cats, who were all born in our house, and we did not need another. I did remember seeing this same orange cat with a big head walking around the neighborhood from time to time over the years. He was now in pretty bad shape, and apparently unable to hunt, or to defend himself. I decided to give him some water and dry cat food before sending him on his way, but by then it was too late. Ginger Cat had won our hearts.

We fed and cared for Ginger Cat and his condition greatly improved. He resumed patrolling the neighborhood, as he had been doing for many years, but our house was now his home, where he was loved and fed. I made him up a place to sleep in the garage for when it was cold or stormy, but mostly he liked to sleep in the cat-cube on the front porch bench. We sometimes found Ginger napping on the living room sofa, or in one of the beds. He was very affectionate, and always up for a "head butt" or a good scratching.  On many mornings, I would sit on the front porch bench with my coffee, and Ginger Cat would snuggle up next to me and watch the birds in the yard.

Last Saturday afternoon, I watched Ginger head out across the back yard on one of his walks around the neighborhood, and I fixed him up a bowl of cat food for when he came back hungry. I put it in a zip-lock bag and set it in the fridge. I don't know why he didn't come back later that day, but it was not unusual for him to stay out until the next morning. The following day he had still not shown up, and I later found out that on Sunday at about midnight Ginger Cat had been attacked and killed by a dog, about two or three blocks away.

We miss Ginger Cat very much, and we treasure the memories of all the good times we shared with this wonderful friend.

"Good Bye, my beloved, beat-up, old, one-eyed friend. I will never forget you."

Photos by Michael Boyd and Rebekah Fusina

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Said "good bye" to a friend

This is Ginger Cat with me on the front porch bench two months ago.

Saturday, February 16, 2013




Have mercy on me

A sinner

Luke 18:13