Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Or so I’m told. The awesome, amazing, astounding, and always adorable “Authentically Aurora” nominated me for this award a few days ago, and I am pleased to accept. Thank you, Aurora, from the bottom of my heart.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same number of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you nominated

 

Having already thanked AA, I will now comply with rule number two. The final three steps will have to wait until the end of the week, but I am working on it, I promise.

And, by the way, this happens to be post number 300 on Salvageable.

What is your biggest dream?

My biggest dream is to be a successful writer. By successful, I do not mean rich and famous. I want the things I write to be meaningful and helpful to readers. I would like to believe that at least one thing I have written will have enduring value—that it will be meaningful and helpful even after I have long shuffled off this mortal coil.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

My first inclination is to say that I would like to return to my childhood home. Readers of last week’s posts will know that such a visit is no longer possible. I have no burning desire to visit any one place, but I would like some day to see the major sites of Europe, west Asia, and Egypt. On the other hand, China and Japan also interest me. And India….

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Undoubtedly an introvert. On a scale of one to ten, where one is totally introverted, ten is totally extraverted, and five is purely ambiverted, I would probably score a two. Maybe one and three quarters.

Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?

“Always” is a big word. As a boy, I dreamed of being an astronaut, a preacher, a police officer, a professional baseball player, and an author. As I grew older, author became the main dream. Then I realized that, whatever I did, I wanted to do for Christ and the Church. I received a proper education and began full-time work in the church. After two moves, I realized that what I was doing was not what I really wanted to do. Mid-life crisis? Near nervous breakdown? I’m not entirely sure. I found a different full-time job in the secular world, one that sometimes involves writing but is not focused on writing. I also have two part-time jobs, which keeps me busy. Having the opportunity to write, to teach, and to share the Word of God, I think I am doing what I was meant to do, and that’s good enough for me.

Do you usually follow your heart or your head?

My head. I am Mr. Spock in human flesh. Even my career change, mentioned above, was carefully calculated, not an impulse or a whim.

What are you most thankful for? 

I am most thankful for redemption through Jesus Christ. Without his saving work, nothing I have and nothing I do would have any value.

What’s on your bucket list this year?

I am not a bucket-list kind of person. I tend to live more I the moment, one day at a time. That said, I will have the chance next summer to see something I have always wanted to see—a total eclipse of the sun. Missing that would be an enormous disappointment, so I hope the sky is clear that day.

What’s your favorite food ever?

That depends upon a great many things. At this moment, I am going to say a traditional German dinner of sauerbraten and several sides. The best German food I’ve ever eaten was in the Amana Colonies in Iowa, not far from Iowa City. Over the years, I have learned how to make a respectable sauerbraten in my slow-cooker. In fact, I made some last Sunday.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

When I was preparing to go to college, heading towards a career in the Church, my father said, “J., don’t go to a Christian college. Go to a school where you will learn about the world and about how people think in the world outside the Church.” I took his advice. In religion classes I learned about the historical-critical method of studying the Bible, and in other classes I was exposed to a wide variety of thoughts and attitudes. I also learned how to defend the Christian faith in a hostile environment. As a result, when I began graduate school, I knew what the professors were talking about when they warned us against those things. And I have known how to discuss these things with more light and less heat than happens among many Christian apologists.

Which of the places you’ve traveled to inspired you the most, and why?

When I was in high school, my grandparents gave money at Christmas to my parents so the three of us could have a nice vacation in the summer. We went twice to the Grand Tetons near Yellowstone National Park and twice to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, staying on guest ranches each vacation. Being up in those mountains was truly inspiring, and I have enduring memories of those trips.

 

My job is not complete until I have nominated other bloggers for this award, but I am done writing for today. More will come later in the week. J.

sunshine-blogger-award

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Christ in Genesis: Raising Cain, Raising Abel

Because of their sin, Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden and were not allowed to return. Yet they left with a promise that they would be rescued by a descendant of Eve who would crush the serpent’s head and would reconcile them to God. Adam and Eve’s children faced the same burden of sin that their parents had brought into the world, but they also inherited the same promise of forgiveness and reconciliation.

When Eve gave birth to her firstborn, a son, she uttered a sentence which consists, in Hebrew, of three words: “I-have-gotten, a-man, the-LORD.” Most translations add helping words to her sentence, rendering it as, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” Even the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek more than twenty-two centuries ago, adds the proposition “apo” in front of the Name of the Lord. A few Bible scholars believe that adding words to this sentence is a mistake. For example, Martin Luther taught that Eve had said, “I have gotten a man, the LORD.” Luther believed that Eve understood the promise of her descendant, who would crush the devil’s head, would be God taking on human form, as Jesus took on human form from his mother, Mary. If indeed Eve thought that her firstborn son was the promised Savior, what a dreadful disappointment occurred when Cain instead became history’s first murderer.

When they had grown to manhood, Cain and his brother Abel both offered sacrifices to the Lord. God accepted the sacrifice of Abel but rejected the sacrifice of Cain. Much needless speculation has tried to discover the difference between the two sacrifices. The answer is found in Hebrews 11:4. Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice “by faith.” Cain evidently did not offer his sacrifice by faith. No sacrifice to God has any value if it is not offered by faith.

All the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were pictures of Jesus suffering and dying on the cross, having his heal bruised as he crushed the head of the serpent. No sacrifice, other than Christ, ever purchased mercy and forgiveness from God. No human act, other than the work of Christ, can purchase God’s forgiveness. God hates the times when people go through the motions of worship or sacrifice apart from faith in him. (See Isaiah 1:14, Amos 5:21-23, and Psalm 50:7-11.) He wants these things to be done by faith. When people do these things without thinking about what they mean, God is displeased. When people do these things thinking that they are earning something from God, putting him in debt to them, God is angered.

The animals that died so Adam and Eve could be clothed were pictures of Jesus. Likewise, the firstborn animal offered by Abel—and the countless animals offered to God by his people over the centuries—were pictures of Jesus. It appears that Cain forgot this important truth. He offered a sacrifice to God, but not by faith. Therefore God did not accept the sacrifice Cain offered. The fact that Cain was angry to have his sacrifice refused shows that he expected to gain something from God by that sacrifice.

Jesus warned Cain of the dangerous temptation lurking in his anger. Cain ignored the warning. Instead, he acted in violence, murdering his brother. He thought that his crime would be secret, but no one keeps secrets from God. As God had given Adam and Eve the opportunity to confess their sin, so Jesus also asked Cain about Abel.

Cain lied to God. He said that he did not know where Abel was. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asked. The answer to that question is “yes.” We are all commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and a brother is a very near neighbor. We are all expected to help one another, to bear each other’s burdens. Obeying God’s commandment not to murder is not as simple as never violently taking another’s life. We are not to hurt or harm our neighbors, but we are to help them and care for them. Neglecting a neighbor in his or her need is sinful, just as violently striking him or her is sinful.

Jesus challenged Cain’s lie. “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground,” Jesus said. Other Bible verses also describe the blood of victims as crying for justice. Because God loves each of us, God is angry when any of us are hurt by a fellow human being. All the blood of all victims in history cries for justice, and God hears those cries. On the Day of the Lord, the justice of God will be revealed. Those who have harmed their neighbors will finally receive what they deserve.

Cain knew what he deserved. He had taken away his brother’s life; now he deserved to be killed. His parents, his other brothers and sisters, his nephews and nieces all had the right to take vengeance on the killer of Abel. Yet God did not give Cain what Cain deserved. Instead, Cain was marked by God so that no one would kill him, even though he deserved to be killed.

The firstborn animal offered by Abel was a picture of Jesus. Abel himself became a picture of Jesus, innocent before God and yet killed by his brother. Jesus was rejected by his own people and sent to his death. Yet the blood of Jesus does not cry for vengeance. Instead, in his death, Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them.” His blood is more powerful than the blood of Abel. Our sins caused the suffering and death of Jesus, but now he washes us in his blood to redeem us as God’s people. Because of the death of Jesus, we will not receive what we deserve on the Day of the Lord. Instead, we will receive what Jesus deserves—eternal life in God’s perfect new creation.

Like Cain, we have been marked by God so we will not receive what we deserve. He has marked us with the blood of Christ; he has marked us with his own Holy Spirit. On the Last Day, Jesus will see that mark on us and claim us as his people. He has already paid to purchase us. Now and forever we belong to him.

Christ in Genesis: Confession and Promise

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” This sounds so pleasant, Jesus taking a walk in the garden. (How do we know it was Jesus? “No one has ever seen God [the Father]; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”–John 1:18.) I don’t know the history of the translation of this verse, but the original Hebrew has a different tone. The word translated “cool” is ruach, the same word that means breath or wind or spirit; and I do not think “cool” is used to translate this word anywhere else in the Bible. In the first Greek translation of Genesis (in the Septuagint), the translators chose to render the word “fear.” Jesus approached Adam and Eve in the spirit of the Day–that is, the Day of the Lord, the Day of God’s wrath at sin, Judgment Day.

No wonder Adam and Eve tried to hide from Jesus. They had sinned, dying spiritually, rebelling against God. They were guilty. They were ashamed. They tried to cover their shame with fig leaves, but human works cannot cover our sins. Jesus called them: “Where are you?” When Adam confessed his shame, Jesus asked him, “Did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?”

The Lord gave Adam and Eve an opportunity to confess their sin–to repent. The topic of repentance can be confusing. On the one hand, God wants us to repent and calls upon us to repent. On the other hand, nothing we do earns God’s forgiveness. There is nothing you have to do for God to forgive your sins. The best resolution of this seeming contradiction is to know that, when God commands us to repent, he also gives us the ability to repent. (Compare this to Jesus telling a lame man to walk, or telling a dead man to come out of his tomb.) Repentance (like faith) is something God does in us, not something we do for God.

Adam tries a sly sort of repentance. He says, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.” He points a finger of blame at Eve, and subtly even tries to blame God. (“If you hadn’t made this woman, we wouldn’t have this problem.”) If Adam had been thinking more quickly, he might have added, “She gave me fruit from the tree you made. Why did you make it if you didn’t want us to eat it?” Many of Adam’s descendants have tried the same sort of escape from guilt, blaming God for making sin possible.

When God questions Eve, she shows herself to be a quick learner. She also points a finger of blame, this time at the snake. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The poor serpent has no fingers to point, and Jesus does not give him the opportunity to make excuses. Knowing that the serpent is Satan in disguise, Jesus essentially says, “You chose that form for your rebellion–now accept the consequences. You are going to crawl on the ground. You are going to eat dust.” In other words, “You are the loser in this contest.”

Jesus adds that there will be enmity between the woman and Satan and between their offspring. This means more than that women generally fear snakes. It means that the devil did not gain allies in his rebellion against God. He merely broadened the battlefield. When the key battle in the war between God and evil would be fought, a descendant of Eve would win, and the devil would lose.

“He shall bruise your head.” Those words promise victory over Satan. “You shall bruise his heel.” Those words speak of the pain the Savior must bear while defeating the devil. The cross of Christ is described with these words. God is addressing the snake, but his message is for Adam and Eve. Through their descendant, God will win the war against evil, reversing the consequences of their sin. God’s words to the snake are the first preaching of the Gospel.

Meanwhile, the consequences of their sin remain. Family relationships are distorted because of sin. Work in the world is hard labor (whether physical or mental, whether challenging or boring) because of sin. Physical death is a consequence of sin. Jesus created Adam from dirt. Through physical death, Adam will return to the dirt. The ground itself is cursed because of the sin of Adam and Eve.

Yet, as God curses the snake and curses the ground, he does not curse Adam and Eve. He has promised victory through the cross; even the promise itself reverses the curse of sin. Adam and Eve did not have to wait for Christ to be born, to suffer, to die, and to rise again, before they could be spiritually alive again. Believing the promise of the coming Savior and the coming victory, they were already given saving faith. Even though their bodies would die, they already had eternal life.

 

Nothing left but memories

The house in which I spent my childhood no longer stands. Nothing is left of it but memories.

Here is the history of that house. Late during the Great Depression, my grandparents bought a farmhouse on three acres of land; they also acquired a barn and a chicken coop with that purchase. Their house was half a block from a one-room schoolhouse, about two blocks from a railroad station, and several blocks from a tuberculosis sanitarium. The village had fewer than two hundred inhabitants.

My grandparents bought three acres because they wanted their son and their daughter to live next door when they were grown. After my mother (their daughter) and my father were married, they were invited to choose between the northeast and northwest quarter of the property. They chose the corner on the quieter street, and they had a house built. It was a ranch house with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, dining room, and kitchen; it also had a full basement. A spring-fed creek ran along the property line to the north.

Over the years, the village grew. The sanitarium became a major regional hospital. When my mother graduated from eighth grade, she had one classmate; when I graduated from eighth grade, I had ninety classmates (separated into three homerooms). Since my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousins were neighbors, holidays and birthdays and wedding anniversaries were all family events. I walked to school, even in the rain and the snow, and at the end of the day I walked home again. Each of these uphill journeys involved passing three other houses.

The summer I turned ten, we had a forty-year flood. (Since there have been five such floods since that time, you can calculate my age.) Due to heavy rain, the creek rose over its banks, inundating the property. Four feet of water rose in the basement. I spent the next few days playing with “driftwood” that had washed onto the property. About the only benefit from the flood for my family is that it helped us locate precisely a leak in the natural gas line in front of the house by the bubbles that rose through the floodwater.

The next forty-year flood happened in the early spring after a winter of record-breaking snowfall. One day the temperature reached sixty degrees and it began to rain, melting the upper layers of snow while the lower layers remained frozen. Since the creek was also frozen, all that water had nowhere to go except for the property and the basement. Overnight lows dropped into the forties, which is memorable since the basement flooding had required my family to turn off the furnace.

After those two floods, my parents were required to purchase flood insurance. When flooding happened, the insurance company would pay money to replace damaged equipment such as the furnace, clothes washer, drier, and deep-freeze. They would also pay a set amount per square foot for cleaning what had been flooded. They did not cover furniture, hobby and craft equipment, or other improvements people might make in a basement.

By the time I was an adult, my father was ready to move out of that house. Understandably, my mother was reluctant to move. That difference of opinion created some tension in the family over their later years, although most of the time we handled it well. My mother’s opinion prevailed; the two of them remained in that house until the last week of her life, when she was hospitalized until her death.

Since that time, my father has moved to a different state. A government agency bought the house and property. Because it is in a flood plain, they have destroyed the house and will allow the land to remain undeveloped. I doubt that I will ever see the lot; I have no reason now to return to my hometown. Only memories remain of my childhood home. J.

Christ in Genesis:The Better Garment

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, disobeying God’s command and bringing sin, evil, and death into his creation. Their first sin did not happen when their teeth touched the fruit and they bit and chewed and swallowed. Their first sin did not happen when one of them reached out a hand to pick the fruit. Their first sin was the decision to doubt God’s word, to believe that he had been less than truthful with them, and to test him by breaking his commandment.

Genesis describes the tempter as a serpent. Revelation 12:9 gives us his full identity: “the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” Satan was one of the good angels God had created, but through pride he rebelled against God. A Muslim tradition states that Satan rebelled when God told him to worship and serve Adam. I suspect that the devil’s pride and arrogance are the result of a lack of understanding. He has contempt for the love of God. He understands power and authority, but not love. He thinks that he can run the universe better than God is running it, so he is trying to take authority over creation. One of his first acts of rebellion was to invite Adam and Eve to join his rebellion.

God had commanded Adam and Eve to do several things: to be fruitful and multiply, to care for the earth and its living creatures, and to rest every seventh day as God had rested on the seventh day. Any of these commands was an opportunity for temptation to disobey. Satan chose the fruit as the easiest way to challenge Eve’s faithfulness to God’s commands. His suggestion that God had forbidden them to eat from any tree in the Garden seems ludicrous, but it shows his usual procedure. He wants to make God seem overbearing and unloving. By twisting God’s commands, Satan hopes to inspire resentment and rebellion in our minds.

The devil misquoted God’s command. He showed that he knew exactly what God had said—when Eve said, “lest we die,” Satan responded, “You will not surely die.” Even as he calls God a liar, Satan corrects Eve’s recollection of what God had said. Of course they did not physically die the day they ate the fruit; Adam lived another 930 years. There are worse things than physical death. Spiritual death is separation from God. Adam and Eve spiritually died with their first sin. Whoever is spiritually dead when he or she physically dies will be eternally dead. Whoever is spiritually alive when he or she physically dies will have eternal life. Jesus experienced spiritual death on the cross when he was forsaken by his Father; he went there so that Adam and Eve and each of their descendants would not have to go there.

Satan persuaded Eve that eating the forbidden fruit would make her and Adam more like God. They had already been created in God’s image. There was no way for them to become more like God. Eve saw that the tree was good for fruit and pleasing to the eyes. Believing that it would also make her wise, she ate and she gave some fruit to Adam and he ate. Being separated from God by their sin, they observed their nakedness and were ashamed. Therefore, they made loincloths for themselves from fig leaves.

A fig leaf loincloth will not last very long. The leaves quickly wither and crumble, leaving the maker naked again. All our efforts to fix our own lives are equally futile. We cannot hide our sins from God, even if we think we have hidden them from ourselves.

After God had confronted them about their sin, he also provided for them. In place of their fig leaf loincloths, God gave them garments of animal skins. The clo0thing that God provided was more useful than what Adam and Eve made for themselves. However, this gift from God meant that some of the animals Adam and Eve had known now were dead, just to provide them with clothing. Physical death was made real to them in this way, now that they had experienced spiritual death. The animals gave their lives to clothe Adam and Eve for their protection and for the sake of decency.

These animals that died are images of Jesus, who would also die to cover our sins. We are clothed in his righteousness, which makes us acceptable in the sight of God and protects us from evil. Throughout the Bible, clothing takes special significance, picturing a life that is pleasing to God. Jesus was stripped of his clothing on the day he died; it was claimed by the soldiers who executed him. Yet Jesus has also clothed us, surrendering his life so we could inherit his righteousness.

Christ in Genesis: A Tale of Two Trees

The Garden of Eden included an orchard of fruit-bearing trees. Perhaps there were apples, oranges, cherries, or mangoes–the Bible doesn’t say. The only trees it names are the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Evidently the fruit of the Tree of Life provided its eater with unending life. I am not a biochemist and cannot explain how it did that; but, after their sin, Adam and Eve were barred from the Garden so they would not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. Although this ban seems like a punishment, it actually was a blessing. Living forever as sinners in a sin-polluted world would not have been heavenly; it would have been the opposite of heaven. By making death available to Adam and Eve and to their descendants, the Lord is able to lead his people through the valley of death and beyond it to the house of the Lord–a new creation unstained by sin and evil.

The notorious Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was named in retrospect. It had no magical ability to impart knowledge; the Bible does not say what purpose God had for this tree. Whatever its purpose was, it was not yet ready, so God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of that tree. To suggest that God was testing Adam and Eve, wanting to know if they would obey him, is ludicrous. God knows all things; being timeless, he has already seen the future. Moreover, God does not tempt people to sin. The tree was created for a good reason, but we have not been told what that reason is.

Other writers have compared the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to a large pot of soup being heated on the stove. Mother tells her three-year-old son, “Don’t touch the pot, or you’ll be burned.” Against her warning, he touches the pot, spilling its contents upon himself, and he is burned. In fact, he is so badly burned that she must rush him to the hospital for treatment. She did not heat the pot to test his obedience; she was making lunch for the family. At the hospital, though, she does not explain that to him. Treatment for his burns is more important than explanations. In the same way, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, we all got burned. God has provided a way to be healed, but he has not told us why the tree was in the Garden.

Trees, like gardens, are frequently mentioned in the Bible. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 proclaims a curse on anyone who dies hanging from a tree. The first Psalm compares a righteous man to a fruitful tree. A rebellious son of David was killed while hanging from a tree. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus, but Jesus called him out of the tree. Jesus was going to hang on the tree of the cross, receiving the curse deserved by sinners, dying to grant eternal life to his people. He called Zacchaeus out of the tree because he–the ultimate Son of David–would go to a tree for Zacchaeus.

Jesus wants his people to bear good fruit. His orchard is filled with trees, but by ourselves we bear no good fruit. We have sinned, doing what we should not do, and failing to perform the good works we were created to do. Of all the trees in the orchard, only one tree bears good fruit. That tree is Jesus Christ. This one fruitful tree accepted the curse of the barren trees to reverse the condition of the orchard. Now all the trees in the orchard bear good fruit except for one dead tree in the middle of the orchard–Christ’s cross.

His cross is our tree of life. Through the cross where Christ suffered and died, we receive eternal life. Because he has given us life, we are now able to bear fruit; we are able to become the people God intended when he created us.

Jesus once told a parable about a fruitless tree. The landowner was prepared to remove the tree and change it into firewood. The gardener asked for one more year; he offered to prepare the ground around the tree with the hope that it would bear fruit (Luke 13:6-9). Each of us is that tree, and Jesus is the Gardener who pleads for us. He does all the work necessary to make us able to bear fruit so we will not be thrown into the fire. Instead, our future home is the garden of the new creation. According to Revelation 22:2, the Tree of Life will be available to us there, ensuring that we will live forever.

An unexpected allegory

“What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.”  Douglas Adams

I was writing an essay about thankfulness, how the Bible says that we should be thankful in all circumstances. We are not thankful for all circumstances, of course. We are not thankful for sin or evil or suffering. But in all circumstances we can be thankful and we should be thankful. I remembered a quip from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series on that topic. When I couldn’t find it in the books, I explored the internet, and I discovered the version above, which was used in the radio show before it appeared in a different form in one of the books and in the movie. I would have preferred that he spoke of being thankful rather than lucky, but I think that the illustration is valid.

I meant the quip to be no more than an attention-gathering introduction. As I wrote the essay, I listed many reasons we should be thankful—food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, and so forth. I pointed out the number of times we complain about these things instead of being thankful for them. I added that I didn’t intend to make people feel guilty for their times of ingratitude. After all, when we stand before God for judgment, he has much bigger sins to call to our attention. Ingratitude is hardly the greatest of our sins. But, all the same, we should rejoice in God’s blessings even in the hardest of situations.

I wanted to make a transition from the blessings of creation, through the idea of the coming Judgment, to the blessings of redemption. Something was missing. Then the introductory quote from Douglas Adams reappeared. We are trapped in a hole in the ground. That hole is our sins of omission—the times that we have not done those things God commanded us to do. We are trapped under a giant boulder. That boulder is our sins of commission—the many times we have done those things God commanded us not to do. We cannot remove the boulder or emerge from the hole. We are truly trapped. The best we can do is count our blessings, whatever they may be.

The greatest blessing is a Redeemer who lifts the boulder from us and bears it away. He takes it on himself to set us free. How far does he remove our sins? “As far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). The earth has a north pole and a south pole, but if a traveler starts heading east or west, that traveler can go on forever without ending—there will still be more to the east or more to the west. Our sins are removed from us by an infinite distance.

Jesus pulls us out of the hole in the ground, cleans the dirt off us, and puts us on our feet. His forgiveness is complete and unconditional. The boulder is gone, and we have been taken out of the hole in the ground. The blessings of forgiveness, of life, and of victory over all our enemies belong to us because of the work of our Redeemer.

And just imagine: a quip from the atheist, Douglas Adams, became an allegory of the work of our divine Savior! J.

The Versatile Blogger Award

Last month depressionistheenemy was very kind to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger award. I am grateful for this nomination, and I thank him for it. That is one of the four rules for accepting this blog, but my thanks are sincere. The other rules require that I share the award on my blog, share seven random facts about myself, and tag ten bloggers with fewer than 1000 followers and let them know they have been nominated.

Seven random facts about myself:

  1. I consider myself a “cat person” and share my house with pet cats. However, I also get along with most of the dogs I know. When I was growing up, my family always had one cat and one dog as pets.
  2. In my opinion, chocolate is an essential nutrient and should be consumed daily. After all, chocolate rests at the top of the food pyramid, and we always put the most important things on top, don’t we?
  3. I was recently interviewed as part of a project for National History Day. Two junior high students are learning about Saladin, and part of the History Day requirements is that they interview an expert about their topic. They chose me because one of them has an older sister who has taken history classes from me in college. It’s flattering to be considered an expert, and it’s great that I had a few days to read up on Saladin before the interview.
  4. I am right-handed, but I do certain tasks with my left hand, such as operate the mouse on my computer. I do this because of a pinched nerve on the right side of my neck that causes occasional pain along my right arm. I have had physical therapy for this condition, and still need to practice stretching exercises to reduce the pain (although some days I forget to stretch).
  5. I think of politics as a spectator sport, although three years ago I was considering a campaign for the United States House of Representatives. Among the politicians I have met and shared conversations are my current United States Senator, my former United States Senator while he was still in office, my current United States Representative, my former United States Representative while he was still in office, a former Governor of my state while he was still in office, my current state Senator, my current state Representative, and the mayor of the largest city in my state. I also have spoken with a former President of the United States (and there is a photograph of our conversation.)
  6. I have a strong behavioral addiction to Sudoku and play it online, sometimes several times in a day.
  7. As a child, I took piano lessons and can still play the piano. In junior high and high school I played trombone in the school band and orchestra. Also in high school, I taught myself to play the guitar—acoustic guitar, rhythm (strumming the chords). I have written a few songs over the years.

Ten blogs that I want to nominate for this award:

This was hard for me to decide, but I am leaving off those blogs whose authors do not accept such awards, such as Wally Fry, dawnlizjones, and insanitybytes.

With that in mind, I nominate:

  1. “What Katie did next” at https://katiereablog.wordpress.com/
  2. “Maria, a gentle Iconoclast” at https://pilgrimsprogressrevisted.wordpress.com/
  3. “Messages from the Mythical” at https://madelynlang469.com/
  4. “The Dictionary Dutch Girl” at https://dictionarydutch.wordpress.com/
  5. Elihu” at https://elihuscorner.com/
  6. “pearlgirl” at https://infjramblings.wordpress.com/
  7. “Ally” at https://mylittlepieceofquiet.wordpress.com/
  8. “Authentically Aurora” at https://authenticallyaurora.wordpress.com/
  9. “kaleidoscope49” at https://kaleidoscope49.wordpress.com/
  10. “Clara’s Coffee Break” at https://clarascoffeebreak.wordpress.com/

I admire all of you for your writing ability and for your perspectives on life. I wanted to say a few things about each of your blogs, but this post was getting too long already. J.

 

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