January 8, 2012

Book Review: Convenant and Election

Title: Covenant and Election in the Reformed Tradition
Author: David Englesma
Publisher: Reformed Free Publishing Association
Genre: Religious

Among other things, it appears that this book is written in response to an issue that is rearing itself within the modern church world. "The federal vision is the avowed development of the covenant doctrine that teaches that the covenant is graciously made by God in Christ with all the physical offspring of believers alike, but is dependent for its continuance with a child and for its fulfillment in the salvation of a child upon the works of the child." (page 2)

Covenant and election are doctrines that have their roots in the Bible. The covenant being the promise that God has made with his elect. And election being God's actions of having "chosen us in him [our Lord Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him." (Ephesians 1:4) This unconditional covenant is governed by election. These truths are defined and upheld in the Baptism Form of the Dutch Reformed churches and the Canons of Dordt; both of which are upheld by Scripture.

Many theologians have distorted the scriptural teachings of covenant and election. This book wades thru the teachings of others and picks apart their errors. It also defends the stance of John Calvin.

For the importance and depth of the doctrine discussed, the book is a surprisingly easy and quick read. It gives the reader a sharp understanding of God's promise to His elect and uses Scripture and the teachings of wise and godly men. In this book Englesma justly criticizes erroneous stances, but it seems, in at least one case, that the criticized beliefs are not properly defined making the denunciation easier to point out.

January 2, 2012

Hike Review: Sheep Hole Mountain

Location: Twentynine Palms, CA
Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation change: 2200 feet
Time of year best to hike: Fall to Spring
Recommended maps: Dale Lake, CA USGS Topo Map
Video: Summit Attempt

Trail-Head: From Twentynine Palms, the trail-head is about 25 miles east on Amboy Road. As Amboy road turns north between Sheep Hole Mountain and the Bullion Mountains, there will be several dirt roads leaving the paved road to the east. The trail-head that used in this case was the dirt road at the top of this pass that leads to an easy to identify Microwave tower. The short dirt road that leads east from the paved road that leads to the microwave tower is passable to all vehicles. This tower is the trail-head. See the video linked at bottom of the summary for a view of the tower.

Summary: From the trail-head, set out directly east up the gradual desert floor. A fairly deep wash interrupts this trek at the base of the mountain. Follow the draw to the mouth of the rocky canyon from which the wash and the ascent begins. The trail quickly vanishes and scrambling begins. It is a grueling 1.5 miles of class two rock climbing to the top.

From what I have been told the view from the top is amazing. The desert air is very clear. The colors are vibrant. The contrast between desert and sky is stark. Unfortunately, I did not finish the hike. My dogs accompanied me on this hike. We got a mile into the scrambles and as we climbed, the rocks were getting bigger, more jagged, and the grade was becoming too steep for the dogs. They wanted to push on, but the best way to avoid disaster is good judgement. It is difficult for me to say this, but...I did not complete this summit. A video of my attempt is posted here: Sheep Hole Mountain Summit Attempt.