The 10 Strangest Places on Earth – Atlas Obscura

Let’s do one more “Friday Fun” item today, this time book-based and related. A few weeks ago I did another post related to the website “Atlas Obscura” (the Kansas City book spine mural).

Today we feature something Publisher’s Weekly gave notice of today in connection with the book published under the website’s name – Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. The book highlights 700 unique “wonders” found across the globe. In this post, PW features ten favorites of the book’s editors.

Below is the introduction Atlas Obscura gives. Then we give one example from the post, followed by a link that will give you the other nine. Be an explorer and take a little trip to some strange places! That’s another benefit of books and reading.🙂

At Atlas Obscura, we celebrate the global places and phenomena that inspire curiosity, and awe. In our world, “strange” is a compliment—our favorite strange places are capable of surprising even the most seasoned traveler. You may think you’ve seen it all, but have you stared into the doorway of Hell, or picnicked in the mouth of a monster?In selecting the 700 or so places to include in Atlas Obscura, the book, we made sure to prioritize the marvelously strange. Standing in these places, you can’t help but want to stare, explore, and ask, “How did this come to be?” It is this sense of wonder with which we hope to inspire the next generation of explorers.In that spirit, here, selected from our compendium of world wonders, are 10 of the strangest places on Earth.

Source: The 10 Strangest Places on Earth

Published in: on September 16, 2016 at 2:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

Wonders of Creation: How hermit crabs change shells with anemones

Yes, we are going to start this Friday with another video. And no, it does not have anything to do with books or reading.

But it certainly does show forth the “little” wonders of creation and the glory of our Creator, the almighty Maker of heaven and earth  – the Maker of these incredible crabs.

So, enjoy the wonder of these hermit crabs and what they do when they change shells and take their “friends” with them.

And maybe while we are thinking about this amazing “mutualism”, we can ask ourselves: Am I a symbiotic Christian?

Published in: on September 16, 2016 at 6:17 AM  Leave a Comment  

Ground Zero Bible – 9/11 Artifact

Though this 9/11 artifact is only 15 years old, it is certainly historic. And I am glad this small remainder of that horrific event has been preserved in the 9/11 Memorial museum.

Keep in mind this is a photographer’s perspective on this Bible and on what page it was opened to when it was preserved. For all that, it is still a powerful testimony to the truth that God’s Word endures.

With Tim Challies I also say, Why did I not hear about this before?! And, along with that, wouldn’t you like to know what place this Bible had in someone’s life in that south tower? Was it the last thing he/she was reading when the building collapsed?

More significantly, what place does the Bible have in your daily reading and mine?

Love God with All Your Mind – J.P. Moreland

Why have we lost, or neglected, the ability to disciple the mind for Christ?

In part, it may be that we have confused the need for a childlike faith (that is, an attitude of profound trust in God, and a faithful love for Him) with childish thinking. The apostle Paul, for one, had no confusion on this point. Reading any one of his epistles will show you that. And even Peter – the everyday workman, the fisherman – was no intellectual slouch, judging by his writings. What we have, everywhere in scripture, are profoundly intelligent teachings poured out from minds that are also inspired and centered in a love for God.

Step one generation away from the New Testament writers to meet the men who were discipled by the apostles and you will find treatises, apologies, and circular letters of stunning intelligence from those intensely devoted Church fathers.

Faith and a disciplined mental life were not natural enemies then. A well-informed mind held a place of honor. And it was believed that the Christian mind could be the best mind.

love-god-mind-morelandTaken from J.P. Moreland’s Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (NavPress, 1997), p.15.

New and Noteworthy Publication: The Reformed Baptism Form by B. Wielenga

A new and noteworthy publication from the Reformed Free Publishing Association has been released and may be noted here for your profit. The book is titled The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, authored by Bastiaan Wielenga, translated by Annemie Godbehere, and edited by David J. Engelsma.

In a special blog post yesterday (Sept.12), the RFPA addressed the importance of this newly translated work:

The Reformed Form for the Administration of Baptism is one of the most important of all the secondary confessions of many Reformed churches worldwide. It is certainly the most read in the churches. In its original form dating from the late 1500s, soon after the Protestant Reformation, it received its present form and official standing from the Synod of Dordt in 1618/1619.

In various languages, including the Dutch, the Form functions at the baptism of adult converts and of the infant children of believers in many Reformed churches everywhere in the world. By virtue of its use to administer, solemnize, and explain the sacrament of baptism, this form is read in the worship services of Reformed churches more often than any other creed or form, with the exception of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Lacking has been a thorough, faithful, sound commentary on the Baptism Form in the English language.

This lack is now met by a translation into English for the first time of the authoritative, if not definitive, commentary on the form by the highly qualified and esteemed Dutch pastor and theologian, Dr. B. Wielenga, Ons Doopsformulier (in the English translation of the commentary, The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary. Kok of Kampen published Wielenga’s commentary in 1906.

The 448 page commentary includes chapters on “The Doctrine of Baptism in General”; “The Doctrine of Infant Baptism in Particular”; “The Prayer before Baptism”; “Admonition to the Parents”; and the “Prayer of Thanksgiving after Baptism.”

The commentary sets forth the Reformed doctrine of baptism as sign and seal, the doctrine of the covenant of God with the children of believers, and other vitally important truths related to the sacrament, including the relation of the covenant and election. 

It is also intensely practical, considering such matters as whether the officiating minister should sprinkle once or three times; whether it is proper to make of the administration of the sacrament an occasion for the gathering of relatives and friends; and, more significantly, whether parents and church are to regard and rear the baptized children of believers as regenerated, saved children of God, or as unsaved “little vipers”—in which (latter) case, of course, no rearing is possible.

The author was determined to explain the language itself of the form, avoiding the temptation to introduce convictions of his own. Written clearly and simply so as to be of benefit to all Reformed believers, the commentary also gives the Reformed pastor deep insight into the sacrament of baptism and its administration. This is a book that will help all Reformed Christians, pastors, and churches to be Reformed in thinking and practice with regard to the sacrament of baptism, especially with regard to the baptism of the infant children of believing parents.

To order the book, visit the RFPA website, www.rfpa.org, or email them at mail@rfpa.org.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — The Reformed Baptism Form

The Gospel Solution for Our Society – Rev.K. Koole

StandardBearerThe September 1, 2016 issue of the Standard Bearer is now out, and in it Rev. K. Koole has an editorial addressing the need our current society has (and has always had!) for the true gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

He speaks to the bitter enmity, division, and violence that are openly on display in our land, and speaks to the root problem and the only solution: man’s enmity against God and repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Here is how Rev. Koole addresses the problem:

One can talk about ‘loving the neighbor’ all one wants, loving even those who seem to be your enemy and returning good for evil, but for all that, one has not proposed the Biblical solution for ungodly man.  Such is not the solution that is going to resolve the enmity that permeates our society.

Why not?

Because the root of the problem in our society so filled with violence and division and with hatred and abuse of others is not the lack of love for the neighbor; rather it is rooted in our society’s hatred for God and for God’s good commandments

And when the news media begins to ask us what we think the problem is in our society and what’s the solution, before we start talking about people learning to love their neighbors in a more Christian way, we must point the questioners and reporters to God and our society’s relationship to almighty God.

We must remind those who interview us that we are living in a society that has turned its back on God, denying any truthfulness in Him, and that in a most public and arrogant way.  There is, they say, no God to whom we must answer.  So who cares one iota about His laws?

And where that spirit rules and becomes embedded into a nation’s laws, judgments will follow matter of course.

That’s the problem, the evil let loose in our society.  And our society is reaping a harvest of thorns.  When you go to war against God (and have no humility before Him), you will, matter of course, go to war against your fellow man.

So it is today.

And this is what he has to say about the only solution:

So, what is the solution?

Our answer:  as things stand now, as our society despises Jehovah God, there isn’t any!  At least not along the lines society is looking for, namely, men learning to love their neighbors as themselves and living in unity and peace.  There is only one solution in the end, namely, repentance from the sins of despising the things of God, and turning in faith in Christ Jesus.  Otherwise, all this call for love, and learning to live in love, is doomed to failure.  It’s nice talk, but it is not Biblical Christianity.

Our answer must be along those lines.

There is plenty of other good content in this issue as well. For information on subscribing to the “SB, visit the homepage linked above.

Zion’s Blessedness in the Covenant of Grace – John Newton

IsaacNewtonOn Sunday, April 30, 1775, John Newton preached a sermon on 2 Samuel 23:5. on God’s covenant of grace with His people in Christ Jesus. In the evening he continued his sermon on this passage and also tied it to a hymn he had written on the glory of Zion, God’s church.

On this second Lord’s Day in September – also the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 (Sept.11, 2001 – Sept.11, 2016) – he has good words for us to consider, both in sermon and in hymn.

This is part of what he had to say in his sermon:

… we can promise or perform nothing. Therefore it is called a covenant of grace… This covenant of grace was established with and in our Lord Jesus Christ… making atonement for transgression with his own blood.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but they have a sure refuge and strong consolations provided in the covenant of grace. This secures them so that their enemies have no reason to rejoice over them. When they seem to fall they shall rise again. This is a balance to all their sufferings.
Believers – rejoice in this Covenant. Walk about this Sion, consider her foundations and all the towers thereof and mark well the bulwark. See how it is fixed upon an immoveable rock, guarded by almighty power, encompassed with infinite love, and enriched with all desirable blessings, and then with a holy indifference to all the trials of the present hour, rejoice and say, Although my house be not so with God, yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered and sure, etc.

During the evening service of that date, Newton tied his sermon to this hymn he had written based on Isaiah 33:20-21. We know it as “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” It is from Book 1 of the “Olney Hymns.”

Zion, or the city of God

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for his own abode:
On the rock of ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the Lord is near:
Thus deriving from their banner
Light by night, and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which he gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God:
‘Tis his love his people raises
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, his solemn praises
Each for a thank-offering brings.

Saviour, if of Zion’s city
I through grace a member am;
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name:
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure,
None but Zion’s children know.

 

Of Brats, Ping-pong, and Cherry Trees

Our “Friday Fun” feature has a Part II today. It just had to be after second-year seminarian Matt Kortus sent me this photo of what was really happening as lunch was being prepared today.

brats-ping-pong-sept9

You see, each Friday during the school year we share a brat cookout lunch, and today was our first one. The students usually do the grilling and today was no exception. What was the exception is that, unbeknownst to any of us, they moved the ping-pong table outside!

Yes, indeed, students of all ages and institutions are always students, given to non-convention and invention.

So while Darren Vink kept diligent watch on the brats (and I assume, Matt Kortus too), Jacob Maatman (left) and Josiah Tan (right) carried on a tense match. Who won? You will have to check with them.

As for the brat lunch, it was delicious! Topped off with ice cream with fresh peaches and strawberries, compliments of Prof. Dykstra. Now you know why we look forward to Friday lunch.

And I didn’t even mention Mrs. Judi Doezema’s famous Friday coffee-break snacks. Today’s platter: blueberry muffins and poppyseed bread. Yes, we are spoiled (blessed).

downed-crabapple-aug-2016

Now, what about these cherry trees I mention? Just one, actually. A new Kwanzen Cherry tree planted by Kregel’s Nursery this week, to replace the crab apple that was uprooted by the tornado that passed near Seminary on August 20 (above photo).

new-cherry-tree-sept

We look forward to Spring and the beautiful pink blossoms this tree will have.

Published in: on September 9, 2016 at 9:54 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Furry Faces of Bookselling: Bookstore Pets

chickens-at-wild-rumpusFor our first “Friday Fun” item today, we feature an article on pets in bookstores. These are obviously not your bland, boring bigonomous bookstores, but your local, friendly, personal, indie ones – the ones who, because they are owned by your neighbor, may have their pets in their stores.🙂

So enjoy this list of bookstores with pets of all kinds – yes, chickens and pigs too! Below is the introduction that goes with the article. Be sure to click on the critter pictures on the right and see what you may find in your local bookstore!

With bookstore companions ranging from cuddly cats and friendly dogs to guinea pigs, birds, and potbellied pigs, indie booksellers around the country foster a sense of warmth and community in their stores while also setting themselves apart. Bookstore pets — like the collection of chickens, ferrets, chinchillas, and more at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis or the litters of kittens looking for “furrever” homes at Horton’s Books & Gifts in Carrollton, Georgia — inspire an extra smile from customers browsing the stacks for their next great read.

Source: The Furry Faces of Bookselling: Bookstore Pets | American Booksellers Association

Published in: on September 9, 2016 at 6:44 AM  Leave a Comment  

Justin Martyr – Apology (3)

Twenty-first-century Christians can learn much from the lives and writings of the early believers and church fathers. Especially is this the case when it comes to facing persecution – and facing it biblically.

Justin-MartyrThe “Apology” (that is, defense of the faith and life of Christians) of Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is a model of Christian witness to the unbelieving world and the persecuting state. In this installment we continue our posts from some sections from his apologies (first and second). For links to his writings, visit this site.

This is taken from chapters five and six of Justin’s first apology (and follow from my previous post where we quoted chapter four):

CHAPTER V — CHRISTIANS CHARGED WITH ATHEISM.

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment. For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself. And when Socrates endeavoured, by true reason and examination, to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that “he was introducing new divinities;” and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ; and in obedience to Him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue.

CHAPTER VI — CHARGE OF ATHEISM REFUTED.

Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.