Sunday, December 22, 2013

Songs of Christmas and Christ's Kingdom

At this time of year, many are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, singing songs of praise to God for his gift of the Savior.  In many of those songs, another concept surfaces: the concept of Christ's rule over the world, now and for all time, without any interruption from an Antichrist, e.g. Philippians 2:9-11
9Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.
10 That at the Name of Jesus should every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father.

Take, for example, the well-loved "Joy to the World."  The 3rd and 4th verses state:

"No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found."
Verse 4
"He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders, wonders, of His love."
Here Christ's coming is connected very clearly with the removal of the curse (see Genesis 3) and His ruling the nations in "truth and grace."  But this song is not alone. 

"O come, Desire of the nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind; bid every strife and quarrel cease and fill the world with heaven's peace. (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)"  This verse states that Christ will banish all sin and the world shall glorify God.

But the last verse of the song "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is the most explicit of them all.

"For lo!, the days are hastening on, By prophet bards foretold, When with the ever-circling years Comes round the age of gold When peace shall over all the earth Its ancient splendors fling, And the whole world give back the song Which now the angels sing."  

The poet states that an "age of gold" is coming.  But it would not have been possible without the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Request of My Blog Readers

2013 has nearly ended and the new year is almost upon us.  For 2014, what would you like to see on this blog?  Please leave comments and be as specific as possible.  Do you want more coverage of a certain time period (e.g. War of the Polish Succession 1733-36)?  Or do you like a certain kind of post (e.g. art galleries)?  Or are you entirely pleased with the way things are now?  Your feedback is very important to me.  Thank you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gallery of AWI Marines

These paintings are from the book "Marines in the Revolution", available for free at  While most of the book's illustrations are of the Continental Marines, there are a few which deal with other marines.  All paintings are by Major Charles M. Waterhouse.

 The first (chronologically) shows panicked American troops trying desperately to salvage something of their beached gunboat during the Battle of Valcour Island.
 The next painting shows John Adams and John Paul Jones reviewing men of the prestigious Regiment Walsh (previously Regiment Rooth, and before that, James II's Foot Guards).  Men of Regiment Walsh served aboard the Bon Homme Richard in its battle with HMS Serapis.
 This picture is of an oared galley, the Miami, plying the Ohio River.  Its crew of Virginia State Marines are there to keep frontier Indians from taking up the tomahawk against colonial settlers.
And last, a scene so universal in the 18th Century: the training of new recruits.  The new troops hold their muskets awkwardly and not in unison as an officer barks orders at them.  Two other officer stand back, amused, as the townsfolk look on.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reformation Day Faire—After Action Report

Reformation Day Faire—After Action Report

From October 18-20, my family and I went to Providence Church’s Reformation Day Faire.  The theme of this year’s Faire was “Celtic Christianity” and the lecturers were Dr. Marcus Serven, Dr. R. C. Sproul Jr., and Providence’s own Rev. James McDonald.  It began Friday afternoon and lasted until Saturday night.  Pastor McDonald stated his three goals for the conference: “to strengthen your faith, to encourage your family, and to have fun!”
Friday began with a lecture by Dr. Serven.  Entitled “Doctrine Divides,” it was an overview of the distinctive doctrines of the Celtic Church.  For those interested, all lectures are available, for free, at
The next lecture was by Dr. Sproul Jr.  It was titled “Liturgical Worship and Celtic Christianity.”
After another break came Psalm Instruction, where all who desired could learn/practice singing in four-part harmony.  There were two songs this year “Psalm 144” and “We Lift up as our Shield God’s Name,” a shortened version of St. Patrick’s Breastplate.
Next came “The Celtic Church and Missions” a lecture charting the amazing missionary endeavors of the Celtic Church.  St. Brendan and others were featured in this lecture by Dr. Serven.
After this lecture came a dinner break, followed by an informal “jam session” from Andy Kenway and his two brothers.  Next came a concert by Mr. Charlie Zahm.  The concert closed a fun-filled day, but there was another action-packed day to come.
The first lecture on Saturday was “The Living Theology of Patrick” by Dr. Sproul Jr.  This lecture detailed how Patrick of Ireland’s theology influenced all of his life.
After another break came “One Simple Life: Reflecting on Patrick of Ireland” by Rev. McDonald.  He gave an overview of the extraordinary life of Patrick.
The last lecture of the conference was “From Minister to Parish” by Dr. Sproul Jr.  It was a call to action for all Christians, to go into their parish, the world, bringing Christ’s light.
Dr. Sproul’s was the last lecture, so we dispersed for lunch, but the conference was far from over!
After lunch was “Towne Square”, an ambient area of the parking lot dedicated to hands-on activities from the era.  For example, you could copy a manuscript, or dip a candle, or participate in many other crafts.
When the “Towne Square” had finished, we followed the bagpiper to a nearby park, to participate in Highland Games.  Young men could toss the caber (a large log) or throw a roughly 40 lb. rock.  For younger athletes, a smaller rock was provided.
When everyone who wanted to had sent the caber and rocks through the air, the last event of the Highland Games was announced: the far-famed Boffer War.  A “Boffer” is a PVC pipe, wrapped in foam (to lessen the impact) and then liberally covered with duct tape.  These are used like swords as men and boys run around and try to deck someone else with them.  The rules for the game are very simple: “One hit and you’re out; hit someone on the head and you’re out.”  The head is protected, but this didn’t stop at least one person from getting his glasses hit and twisted on his face.
The most-anticipated part of the Boffer War, though, is the melee.  The players are split into two teams, who then battle it out.  The last team left on the field, wins.  In that round, I managed to lose any teammates I recognized (or any enemies I recognized for that matter) and spent most of the battle wandering around cluelessly.  I was not alone in this confusion, as I walked into a group of perhaps fifteen other baffled Boffer-ists.  Finally, I was hit by an opponent and went out of the game for that round.
After the games came dinner, prepared by the folk of Providence Church.  As always (this is my third year at Reformation Day Faire), the dinner was delicious.
The last event in the queue was a Historic Ball.  The dances were of the English Country sort.  This was an enjoyable end to a very enjoyable weekend!  Pictures will be forthcoming.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1745 Gallery by John Everett Millais

Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 expedition to reclaim the British crown for his father has captured the imagination of British artists for years.  One artist who painted 2 paintings of this era is John Everett Millais.  Millais's paintings are not focused on the statesmen who guided whole countries in this monumental event.  Nor are they battle panoramas, showing the desperate heroism of charging Jacobites and the immovable red coated British.  Instead, these two painting capture something different.  In "An Idyll of 1745" three lasses listen as a young British fifer plays to them.  Behind the fifer is a Loyal volunteer, seemingly enjoying the moment.  In the background is a British Army camp, likely where the fifer and volunteer came from.  It seems to be a welcome diversion for all from the business of war.

The next painting deals with the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden.  An imprisoned Jacobite has been released and allowed to return home to his wife and bairn (young child).  However, he is not without scars as his right arm has been badly injured.  The British soldier gives the wife the "Order of Release", the title of the painting.

Millais's two paintings are in honor of the civilians of 1745.  The war affected them, no matter which side won.  Homes were burnt, crops destroyed or stolen, and loved ones maimed or killed.  They show the friendship between the two sides of the rising, that despite political differences, love and friendship can transcend them.

"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."--Luke 6:35

Sunday, October 27, 2013

God's Master-Fencer

"Grace withereth without adversity.  The devil is but God's master-fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons."--Samuel Rutherford