Category Archive: Updates

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May 19, 2004


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Yesterday evening, Moriah and I attended the wedding of Woelke Leithart and Megan Turner. Congratulations, Woelke and Megan!

Here is the wedding sermon which Woelke’s father preached. (I’m looking forward to hearing what he’ll preach about five weeks from now.)

Posted by John Barach @ 12:23 pm | Discuss (0)
March 15, 2004

Reading in Red Deer

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Today, I preached twice (morning and late afternoon services) at Grace Reformed Church in Leduc. I drove down to Red Deer, to my parents’ place, on Saturday, pleased to see that Friday’s snow had all disappeared and that the roads were bare and dry. This evening, it started snowing again, but the weather report says that Monday’s weather is supposed to be good again.

While here, I finished reading P. G. Wodehouse’s The Indiscretions of Archie. It was fun in spots, but not my favourite Wodehouse. Though it purports to be a novel, it is very episodic. Each episode is about two or three chapters long, but each has little connection to the preceding or following episodes.

I often felt that I wanted to know more about what happened after certain events. For instance, we meet the Sausage Chappie at a certain point in the book, but he disappears from the plot as quickly as he appeared. So, for that matter, does the waiter Salvatore, though he, at least, makes a brief appearance later on. The unscrupulous but Bible-quoting valet appears in the early part of the book but fades away.

In other novels, Wodehouse has the knack of tying things together. My guess is that The Indiscretions of Archie may originally have been a series of short stories for magazine publication (later slapped together as a “novel”). Either that or Wodehouse just had a number of story ideas all starring Archie and decided to write them up as a quasi-novel.

Oh, well. It was fun. I’m moving on now to Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides.

In non-fiction, I’ve been reading Doug Wilson’s Federal Husband. It’s a quick read, and I was familiar with much of what Wilson has to say already (in part, from Reforming Marriage), but it’s been profitable. Here’s a quotation with regard to honouring pregnancy … or rather, with regard to the way that people fail to honour pregnancy:

We have rejected the contempt the world shows for the results of pregnancy, but we have not yet learned to honor pregnancy ourselves. If a pregnant woman enters a modern gathering of Christians in the condition that Luke describes concerning our Lord’s mother (i.e., great with child), the chances are good that she will hear three rude comments before the evening is out. Two people will want to pat her stomach, as though being pregnant makes one’s body public property, and one person will set up shop as a wit. “Does the doctor know what causes this?” A few more serious individuals will express some concern for her, the kind of concern that baits the snare for discontent. “Is Joe taking care of you? You look awfully tired” (p. 84).

Posted by John Barach @ 1:07 am | Discuss (0)
January 25, 2004

Since You Asked….

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In the comments on the last post, Mike wondered whether the question Moriah said “Yes” to wasn’t “Will you marry me?” but “Should I stop blogging?” Well, no, that wasn’t the question and I haven’t stopped blogging. But the “Yes” did lead to a couple blog-less weeks nevertheless.

Here’s what’s been happening. On January 2, I flew down to Oregon to spend a week with Moriah and her family. That Wednesday, after the whole family had been to see The Return of the King (loved it, including the long endings that bored some reviewers), I kidnapped Moriah. The rest of the family was going to eat at Red Robin, but I took Moriah to Porter’s, an old train station converted into a very nice restaurant, where we had a private booth and where I asked her to marry me.

On January 9, we flew together to Grande Prairie. Moriah stayed at Jamie & Val Soles‘s place, and we spent most of that week together. And then, last Friday, I watched as she walked through security and then out the door to the plane….

Thank you to all of you who have sent us congratulations! Our wedding is scheduled for June 25, 2004, in Moscow, Idaho. Dr. Peter Leithart has agreed to do the service. I’ve updated the stuff in the right hand column on this page. You’ll find our wedding page there, as well as links to various places where we are registered.

Let’s see … what other news can I tell you? I’m currently reading N. T. Wright‘s massive Jesus and the Victory of God, and I’m enjoying it greatly. I recently finished Ray Bradbury’s rather melancholy The Martian Chronicles and now I’m halfway through Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (which is a pretty fun story, though hardly orthodox in its theology).

As for music, Emmylou Harris’s new Stumble Into Grace is good, though not, I think, quite as good as her earlier Red Dirt Girl. Daniel Lanois’s “Falling at Your Feet,” in which Bono joins Lanois in singing praise to God, is excellent; the rest of the album, Shine, hasn’t grabbed me (yet).

The weather? Well, when Moriah was here, it was quite decent for January in Grande Prairie: just a little below freezing. On Thursday morning, we had freezing rain (so much that they cancelled mail delivery), followed by light but persistent snow. That snow continued through last night. On Friday morning, I went out to shovel the driveway but discovered that when you stand on sheer ice and shovel, your feet have no traction. Having wiped out once, I gave up and went in.

Today, it cleared off a bit, giving us glimpses of Grande Prairie’s usual bright blue sky. But the removal of the cloud cover went hand in hand with a drop in temperature. It’s about -35 this evening, and even for us winter-hardened Canadians, that’s cold. We cancelled congregational singing this evening and, though I’ve been invited to join Tym at Alex, Calvin, and Steve‘s place tonight, I think I’ll stay inside where it’s warm, eat some good food (or whatever I can cook), drink some hot tea, wear the sweater my fiancee bought me, read a bit, and then … make a phone call.

Posted by John Barach @ 7:27 pm | Discuss (0)
January 11, 2004

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

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She said yes!

Posted by John Barach @ 10:08 pm | Discuss (0)
December 20, 2003

Christmas Cookies

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This week, I received a package from my grandmother containing a boxful of her shortbread cookies. Along with them, she sent a note passing on wisdom from my late grandfather: “Grandpa Phillipps always said one should start eating Christmas cookies before Christmas to gradually get used to Christmas goodies.” I’ve been munching ever since.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:15 pm | Discuss (0)
November 28, 2003

Home Again

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Today, after dropping Moriah off at the airport, I drove back home to Grande Prairie. From Red Deer to Edmonton and even some distance farther north, the roads were great. From Mayerthorpe to Valleyview, however, they weren’t. (A strange geographical fact: it seems that the weather is almost always bad near Fox Creek. On the trip down, it was clear and sunny … except for some distance before and after Fox Creek.) The last leg of the journey was better, though: the wind had died down, the snow had stopped, and the only problem was that some of the people in the bare lanes didn’t want to go the speed limit.

I was supposed to have a dress rehearsal tonight, but it was moved earlier, so I missed it. I’ll have a practice with Jubilate, my singing group, tomorrow morning and a dress rehearsal early tomorrow afternoon, and then I’ll be in two concerts, one at 4:00 and the other at 7:00. Jubilate is helping the Grande Prairie Boys Choir and Opera Nuova with Amahl and the Night Visitors and we’re also doing a short concert before each of the two performances. Besides the Amahl stuff (we and the boys are shepherds) we’re doing Bach’s “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light,” Niles’s “Carol of the Angels,” Gibbons’ “Vive in Pace,” Purcell’s “Fairest Isle,” and three Hungarian folk songs.

Add to that a concert for the Festival of Carols on Monday night, a concert for the Rotary club on Friday night, and a presentation (on the social implications of the doctrine of the Trinity) for Varsity Christian Fellowship at the Regional College on Wednesday, besides my two sermons and two Bible studies, and it looks as if next week will be pretty full.

Time now to relax, drink some tea, and read before bed!

Posted by John Barach @ 10:32 pm | Discuss (0)
November 26, 2003

How I Spent My Fall Vacation

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Last Thursday, November 20th, I left Grande Prairie, accompanied by Alex, and headed for Edmonton, where we met up with Dick and two more of his sons. That evening, we went out to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

On Friday, we took part in Classis Western Canada (URCNA) Fall 2003. Several aspects of that meeting were very encouraging, not least the withdrawal or defeat of some of the overtures. It was also good to be able to visit with some old friends, one of whom, like me, was also dressed like a minister.

That evening, Moriah flew into Edmonton. We visited that evening with some friends of mine in Edmonton, and then on Saturday we drove down to Red Deer to visit my family. (My sister also flew into Edmonton that Friday evening.) It’s been an enjoyable week. Last night, Moriah and I went out to see Master and Commander and enjoyed it (in my case, enjoyed it again, even though it was the second time I’d seen it in a week). I highly recommend it, and I’m looking forward now to reading the novel(s) it was loosely based on.

While here, I finished Iris Murdoch’s The Unicorn, on which my jury is still out; I’m not sure what to think about it. Now I’m reading Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill and loving it. Here are a couple of quotations from this delightful novel:

That which is large enough for the rich to covet … is large enough for the poor to defend.


He knew the secret of the passion, those secrets which make real old national songs sound so strange to our civilization. He knew that real patriotism tends to sing about sorrows and forlorn hopes much more than about victory. He knew that in proper names themselves is half the poetry of all national poems. Above all, he knew the supreme psychological fact about patriotism, as certain in connexon with it as that fine shame comes to all lovers, the fact that the patriot never under any circumstances boasts of the largeness of his country, but always, and of necessity, boasts of the smallness of it.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:56 pm | Discuss (0)
October 20, 2003

Response to Christian Renewal Interview

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Because some people who read this blog also read Christian Renewal and may have read a recent interview in that magazine, I thought it might be wise to post a response to that interview here. This letter will be appearing in the Nov. 10 issue of Christian Renewal.

Dear Editor: We read with sadness the interview with Messrs Godfrey, Venema, McDade and Johnson (CR, 10/13/03). While we want to honor the editor’s desire to close this discussion in CR, we do wish to point out that the interview does not represent our views or our statements accurately.For instance, Mr. McDade attributes a statement concerning Esau to Mr. Barach, when in fact the statement was made by the magisterial Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli. Nor is Mr. McDade’s summary of it correct. Those interested in researching what Zwingli actually said may find the quotation in Peter Lillback’s The Binding of God, p. 105.

Nor were our doctrinal views represented accurately. We subscribe to and teach from the Three Forms of Unity (Barach and Schlissel) and/or the Westminster Standards (Wilkins and Wilson).

We affirm that God has predestined a fixed number of people for eternal glory with Christ and that none of them will fall away. We affirm that not everyone in God’s covenant and church in history is foreordained to inherit eternal glory with Christ.

We also affirm that we can never merit justification (or anything good) from God. We affirm with the Westminster Confession of Faith 11.2 that while “Faith … is the alone instrument of justification…yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”

We appreciate CR‘s willingness to publish these clarifications.

John Barach
Grande Prairie, AB

Steve Schlissel
Brooklyn, NY

Steve Wilkins
Monroe, LA

Douglas Wilson
Moscow, ID

Posted by John Barach @ 5:14 pm | Discuss (0)
September 23, 2003

GPRC Bible Study

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As I mentioned a couple entries ago, I’m still not the official chaplain at Grande Prairie Regional College, but I do go there twice a week now. When I have office space, I may need to stay in my office during my “office hours.” For now, however, I’ve been sitting among the students near Bernie’s, the coffeeshop near the college theatre, drinking Tazo Chai tea and reading — Steven Garber’s The Fabric of Faithfulness last week and Jean Danielou’s wonderful From Shadows To Reality: Studies in the Biblical Typology of the Fathers this week. (I’ll try to remember to say more about both books later.)

In many ways — I could probably say: in every way — I prefer being among the students to (the idea of) being hidden away in an office, waiting for a student to make an appointment. I wonder if I can keep office hours in my office when I do have appointments, and sit near the coffeeshop whenever I don’t have appointments. Surely the receptionist could direct walk-ins to find me there….

Today, I also started my Bible study on the college campus. Three people showed up: one from Canada, one from Taiwan, and one from Korea. More may join later (I hope).

We’re going to be doing a survey of the Old Testament, with the help of Peter Leithart‘s A House for My Name. (Rich Bledsoe‘s advice: “Tell them stories.”) We spent the hour today talking a bit about reading the Bible and, in particular, about the challenges of reading the Old Testament. We touched on literary features of the Bible (e.g., chiasms) and on symbolism and typology. I was a bit worried that I might be going over their heads a bit, but they said they really enjoyed it. One said that the study seemed more interesting now than he had expected it to be!

And now, I must put all that stuff about reading Scripture into practice and write a sermon on Judges 11 (Jephthah preaching peace to Ammon).

Posted by John Barach @ 4:29 pm | Discuss (0)
September 17, 2003


Category: Music,Updates :: Link :: Print

On Monday evening, the music group I sing with began its new season. I joined Jubilate earlier this year (in March, I think) and scrambled to learn a couple Arcadelt madrigals and a piece by John Rutter. After taking the summer off, we’re now back to practicing. There are six of us, two sopranos, two altos, a tenor, and a baritone (me).

We have several performances lined up already, some more tentatively than others. The first is at the Gala Concert on October 18, which is only a month away. And, since it’s the Year of the Baroque here in Grande Prairie and since we haven’t learned any baroque pieces yet (the madrigals were renaissance), we have to find a good baroque piece and learn it fast! Any recommendations, preferably with a fairly straightforward bass line?

Posted by John Barach @ 12:07 pm | Discuss (0)
September 16, 2003

I’m Dreaming of a White … September?!

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Well, it looks as if winter has come to Grande Prairie. Yesterday morning, I woke up to snow and it’s been snowing on and off ever since. The snowflakes have been light and there’s been little accumulation. Still, it’s too early for winter, isn’t it?

Mind you, I have to admit that I like fall and winter. The cold of winter makes it a perfect setting for wearing your favourite sweater, reading a good novel, and drinking hot tea.

But having said that, I must now head outside. I’m off to the Regional College. I haven’t yet become the official chaplain of the college, though that’s in the works, but I’ve decided to start getting in the habit of keeping “office hours” on Mondays and Tuesdays. Here I go, out into the cold. I’m taking along Steve Garber’s The Fabric of Faithfulness to read, in the hopes that he’ll help me in my chaplaincy endeavours. Any other recommendations?

Posted by John Barach @ 12:59 pm | Discuss (0)
August 29, 2003

Busy Week and Pirates

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It’s been a fairly busy week so far, but today is my day off, so I figured I could afford the time to blog. I’m currently waiting to hear from someone about the possibility of getting my (future) lawn hydroseeded.

Ever since I moved into this house in March, the lawn has been a mess. At first, of course, it was covered with snow. Later, it was covered with construction junk. Now the houses beside me are finished and occupied and the last of the debris and detritus has been cleared up, leaving only dirt and, in the back, weeds. That wasn’t so bad when everyone else’s yard looked the same. But this week, my neighbours had sod put in and now my yard stands out like a sore, black, muddy thumb.

Some of the guys in the church are figuring out how to get topsoil for me. There is a large pile of it near here, and the owner says that it’s free. But how should we transport it? We could rent a dump truck, I suppose. Or Alex could just borrow a payloader and drive the thing back and forth repeatedly (his idea). Once we get it, we’ll have to find a time when someone from the church can come over to backhoe the stuff and rake it into position. Before we get the topsoil, however, we should probably deal with the weeds, and for that I’m waiting to hear from another guy from the church.

And then comes the big question: seed or sod? Sod looks good right away, but it’s quite expensive and it’s a bit of a job to put it in and cut it to fit the yard. Seed tends to let a lot of weeds grow up with it and sometimes doesn’t look like a lawn for years.

The other option, I’ve discovered, is hydro-seeding. With hydro-seeding, the guy sprays a mixture of stuff, including (you guessed it) seed, onto the ground, turning the whole ground green like paint. It takes less water than regular seed or sod because the water stays close to the seed in the cellulose mixture. It also germinates fairly quickly and comes up pretty evenly. The quicker germination also prevents the weeds from coming up as fast. At least, that’s the theory. I’m waiting now for the guy to come by and give me his free estimate. It’s supposed to be about a third of the price of sod, he says.

In other news from this week, we had a congregational meeting on Wednesday night. I wrote two sermons. And today I met with some people involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the Regional College. I’m planning to lead a Bible study on the college campus this year, and we’re also working on getting me installed as the college chaplain.

And finally, last night I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: not, by any means, a deep movie, but a lot of fun.

Posted by John Barach @ 3:55 pm | Discuss (0)

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