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|Thursday, August 11th, 2011|
|Can't we all just get along?
Howdy folks, remember me? I know seeing a post from me may come as a shock to anyone with me still on their friend page but yes, I'm still here. And as often happens, it is politics that gets me to post again.
I hear a lot on the media about how the people want their politicians to get along. About how the Republicans need to work with the Democrats to get things done. I personally find that to be a load of you-know-what. I don't know about you, but to me it seems that, while government has done some good things and there are tasks to which it is well suited, to a large extent the problems in our country can be traced directly to the doorstep of government getting things done. I am personally a huge fan of gridlock in government because that means they are not sticking their fingers where they are not wanted.
But let's look at the idea of Compromise. Sure there are certain things that one can safely compromise on. For example, where are we going to eat lunch today? I really like Mexican but we did eat there yesterday so I suppose I could be talked into eating elsewhere. That is a topic upon which I am willing to compromise. However, I am not willing to compromise on basic tenets or beliefs. For example, if a thief breaks into my house, I am not willing to reach any kind of compromise agreement with him over how much of my stuff he can take with him. I shall offer him the use of my door or some high velocity lead but beyond that we have no grounds for compromise.
And that is the thing. We have two political parties because there are two very disparate views on how government and the country should be run (yes there are more than that but they all generally try to fit themselves into one of the two major parties so, for sake of simplicity, we shall assume only 2 - see, compromise). To my mind, there are certain basic tenets of both parties on which there really is little to no ground for compromise and when one party says that the other party needs to compromise on x or y issue what they really mean is that they need to capitulate.
Compromise tends to lead to such things as the recent debt deal. Republicans had a wonderful opportunity to push forward a conservative agenda. Yet, for the sake of compromise and seeking the middle ground they instead passed a ridiculous piece of legislation that gave Obama spending power that led to him spending more money in a single day than what many commentators say will actually end up being saved over 10 years by this deal. Yay for compromise.
I believe that there is something to be said for standing up for what one believes and refusing to back down. Our country, I believe, has gotten into the horrible mess it is in today because too many people are too eager to seek compromise with their opposition rather than make the hard choices and stand firm.
|Wednesday, January 26th, 2011|
|Knowing the Outcome
I was listening to a pastor on the way home from work last night - James McDonald I think it was. He was giving a sermon about the promises of God. As part of his message he talked about stress in people's lives and made the observation that a lot of stress that people experience is because they do not know what the outcome of events in life are going to be. It is this uncertainty that stresses folks out. But, and this is something that I have always held to as well, if we are Christians then we are can look forward to the promises of God. He is faithful and always keeps His word. The things of this world are fleeting but the promises of God are eternal. If we are His children then we know the ultimate outcome of our lives and that should give us great comfort. Yes, it can be hard to remember this at times when life is really dumping on us. But God has promised to help us in these times as well if we will accept His help.
|Monday, December 20th, 2010|
|Monday, December 13th, 2010|
|Going to See
Sunday's lesson to the youth was about the birth of Christ - shocking I know at the Christmas season. One of the things that I have enjoyed about teaching Sunday School is that, even with such a well known bit of scripture as this, I so often come out of my preparation for the lesson with something new that had not occurred to me before.
This week's revelation concerns who was and was not there to see the Messiah. This revolves specifically around the wise men. When the wise men came to Israel following the star they did not go straight to Bethlehem and the manger. They went to Jerusalem to the court of King Herod to ask him if he knew where they might find Messiah.
Now first of all there was the question that I had never asked myself before about how the wise men would even know about Messiah. I figure that, most likely, this was a result of the scattering of the Jews that came about when the nation was conquered and sent into captivity. Even in this tragic event in the history of Israel we find God working for the good of the world - spreading the knowledge of Him. Of course, it could just be that they saw the star over Israel and tradition of the day had it that such an even heralded the birth of someone important. So they hit up the medieval Google and found out that the most significant birth that could happen in Israel would be the prophesied Messiah.
But that was really sort of a secondary thing. You see Herod was not a full blooded Jew and was not really very well informed on the religion and prophecies of the people he governed so he had to defer the question of the wise men to the religious leaders. These men were able to easily answer the question - after all this was an eagerly anticipated event. The earliest prophecies of Messiah are in Genesis - the Jews had been waiting for His birth for a long time. You'd think that, having been told that we're pretty sure Messiah has been born, they would have at least sent someone along with the wise men to see if this was true. But no, it was only the wise men who left Jerusalem and went on to Bethlehem. I had just never made the connection before that the wise men had talked to Jewish religious leaders, told them they were pretty sure their long-awaited Messiah had been born, but the Jewish priests couldn't be bothered to follow up.
Of course Herod was a paranoid sociopath who saw the news of Messiah as a threat to his way of life as ruler of Israel so he planned to bump Messiah off once he found out where He was.
Messiah was welcomed into the world primarily by Gentiles and outcasts (the shepherds). So what will you do with the news of Messiah? Will you pan it like the religious leaders of Jerusalem? Be actively hostile toward it like Herod? Will you go and see like the wise men? Will you spread the word and rejoice that He has come like the shepherds? It is a choice that everyone has to make at some point in their lives and is the single most important choice we can ever make.
|Monday, November 15th, 2010|
I love model trains. I used to spend quite a bit of time as a child playing around with the set I had. One of these days I'll have to pick the hobby up again - maybe when the kids go off to college. Here
are some people who have taken model trains to a whole new, very impressive, level.
|Monday, November 8th, 2010|
Yes, the election is almost a week old but I've been busy working long hours at the plant. I was thrilled to see the number of seats picked up by the Republican party in this election cycle. Now my hope and prayer is that they stick to conservative principles and work diligently to roll back the liberal policies enacted over the last 2 years. If not then I imagine there will be a whole new roll-over at the next election cycle.
|Monday, November 1st, 2010|
"That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires
; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:20-24
I am currently teaching a series of Sunday school lessons on the book of Ephesians. During my study in preparation I was struck by those two words emphasized above - 'deceitful desires'. That's what the world and this sinful flesh of ours does - deceives. The world tells us that this thing or that thing will bring us fulfillment, will give our lives meaning or purpose but it never does.
There are several references in the book to sexual immorality and this is, I think, a good example of the idea of deceitful desires. The world scoffs at the idea of abstaining from sex until after marriage. The world scoffs at the idea of holding to just one partner. Heck there is at least one web service out there that is dedicated to helping people commit adultery. The thing is, if you make things sexual your focus, if you make sex the thing that you need for contentment and happiness then you will never have enough. Commit adultery - that other woman will eventually fail to satisfy and you will move to another. Try out polyamory - add another partner and soon you will want more or a different extra. Ultimately these things fail to satisfy - they deceive us into believing that they can and, when they fail to do so then the answer is that we just weren't doing it quite right or weren't trying it with the right people and need to do it a little different or with someone different, or we didn't go far enough and need to delve deeper, go further, try more, etc and down we go in a never ending downward spiral into more and more sin.
There is only one thing that can satisfy that need that is inside all of us - that hole inside us that yearns for something to fill it to make us complete and that is God.
|Friday, October 29th, 2010|
I love playing with magnets. Many years ago my kids and I were endlessly playing with Magnetix
. One of my girls even did a demonstration of magnetic repulsion and attraction for a science project using these fun little things.
Today I have discovered a new magnetic toy that I must have - Zenmagnets
. The demonstration video is a fun watch.
|Friday, October 1st, 2010|
I was listening to pastor Adrian Rogers this morning on the way to work as I often do and he had an interesting view on prayer and how God answers them. He put forth the idea that when we pray for things that God will often allow situations to get worse before he answers prayer to improve them so that when whatever problem we were having is fixed it will be obvious that only God could have done it.
He gave a few examples from scripture, most notably Abraham and Sarah. They wanted a child very much. They prayed to God to give them a child. They waited as year after year went by. God did not answer their prayer until they had both reached an age where it was considered basically impossible for them to have children. If God had answered their prayer when they were young then certainly the child would have been a blessing but how much more glorious for God to make them fertile when they were well past the age for having children.
Another example he used was that of Lazarus. Lazarus was very sick and many of those close to Christ begged him to go to Lazarus and to help him but Christ delayed. Christ delayed his arrival until after Lazarus was dead. If Christ had arrived while Lazarus was alive and healed his illness then that would certainly have been a sign of His power. But how much more glory came to God by the raising of Lazarus from the dead?
Dr Rogers' conclusion was that God answers prayer in the way that brings the most glory to Him.
|Monday, August 30th, 2010|
|Thursday, August 26th, 2010|
|Monday, August 23rd, 2010|
|Plain Old Bad Taste
There has been a lot of controversy lately over the building of a mosque at the Ground Zero site in New York. Today I have seen it pop up on a few friend pages here on LJ and so thought I would comment further on it. The backers of the mosque certainly have the right to build wherever they want to do so as long as it breaks no laws. So they certainly have the right to build at Ground Zero. (It is however interesting that their mosque has no height restrictions and will be built taller than the WTC monument whilst the Greek Orthodox Church, the only church destroyed in the attack, trying to rebuild on a new, larger site had its site denied because, in part, its proposed building would be taller than the monument.)
This is not about what they do or do not have the right to do. It is about what is right to do. The building of a Muslim mosque is in exceedingly bad taste at the site where thousands of Americans were killed by Muslims. The case for the exceeding poor taste is well stated by this excerpt - sadly I saw no author name on the original article
so cannot give credit to whoever wrote it.
To grasp exactly why the “Ground Zero mosque” / Cordoba House / Park51 is so objectionable, it is useful to consider a range of hypotheticals, in which a site of an infamous slaughter is appropriated by promoters of the group that perpetrated that slaughter. Ask yourself whether any of the following would be morally acceptable, if not simply rejected by an outraged world:
# A League of the South monument in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
# A Turkish-culture office at Deir ez-Zor.
# A Shinto shrine in Nanjing, China.
# A Serbian Orthodox Church on the fields outside Srebrenica.
# Or even, for that matter, a Catholic convent outside Auschwitz.
There are undeniably good and laudable things about the cultures and faiths of the Southern United States, Turkey, Japan, Serbia, and European Christianity in general: yet promoting them at the very sites of their historic crimes is rightly repellent. These sites ought to be places of apology and repentance — not promotion.
Rauf, Khan, and el-Gamal don’t grasp this, and in their failure to do so, their pretensions to be peacemakers, bridge-builders, and conciliators are laid bare as propagandistic frauds.
History-minded readers will note that the final “hypothetical” in this list is not actually hypothetical at all: there actually was an effort to establish a Catholic convent outside of the Auschwitz death camp from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. The parallels between this episode and that of the “Ground Zero mosque” are striking — and the differences are instructive. Roman Catholics per se were not the perpetrators of the Holocaust — to put it mildly, if you truly understand the history of Nazism and the Catholic Church — whereas Muslims acting in purported glorification of their faith were the perpetrators of 9/11; yet the late Pope John Paul II, in 1993, ordered the Auschwitz convent closed not because he felt Catholics were culpable for the Holocaust, but out of sensitivity to Jewish concerns. He understood that for Jews, this ground had been consecrated by the suffering of the victims of Auschwitz and rightly should be sacred to them and to their faith.
|Thursday, August 19th, 2010|
|Friday, July 16th, 2010|
|Paid in Full
In Christ's time there was a practice in regard to people who could not pay debts. These people often ended up in prison due to failure to pay. A note would be nailed to the door of their prison cell with an accounting of why they were there and how long their sentence was. When their time was done, they were taken to a judge and this list was presented to him. The judge would write "Paid in full", tetelestai in the Greek, across the accounting and return it to the man. The man would keep this with him and, if anyone confronted him regarding the debt for which he served time, he could present this document to show that he was no longer under that debt.
When Christ died on the cross for us, some of His final words were, "It is finished" - which, interestingly enough, is this same Greek word, tetelestai. In presenting Himself as the perfect sacrifice for us He paid all our debts in full. Once we accept Him as our Lord and Savior we gain the certificate of payment for our sins. The debt has been paid in full for us and when God looks at us, that is what He sees.
What an amazing gift.
|Monday, July 12th, 2010|
|Tuesday, July 6th, 2010|
|On the Radio
This morning on the way to work I was listening to part of a sermon from Dr Adrian Rogers on a Christian station. As part of his sermon he talked about the meaning of a few words. I'm not sure I've heard it put in quite the way he did:
Justice is a person being given what they deserve.
Mercy is a person not being given what they deserve.
Grace is a person being given something wonderful that they don't deserve.
What follows is what I take from those three definitions and is not from Dr Rogers' sermon. God is just and the wages of sin is death. So, purely from a standpoint of justice, we all deserve death and a sentence that lands us in hell. However, God is also merciful and so has provided for us a way to avoid the sentence that we deserve. But even more than that, God extends to us grace such that not only are we able to avoid the sentence that justice demands but we are allowed to be adopted into His family.
|Monday, June 21st, 2010|
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
by: Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head.
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
|Thursday, June 10th, 2010|
Stealing a page from torainfor
with her 'Overheard' posts.
Setting: My youngest child is letting the dog out in the early evening.
C: Okay Oscar, catch lots of lightning bugs to see if you can glow too.
And then, a couple of days later, to the cat.
C: Chang, you need to catch more lightning bugs so it's easier to clean your litter box...
|Tuesday, June 8th, 2010|
Economist, Dr Walter Williams of George Mason University, recently told an anecdote to serve as an illustration to demonstrate part of what is wrong with government spending for things such as TARP.
A man owns a bakery. Someone throws a brick through the front window of his bakery. The baker has to pay to have his window replaced. This provides employment for the glazier - he is the seen beneficiary of the incident. Because someone broke the baker's window, the glazier now has work. However, what might the baker have done with that money had he not had to replace his window? Perhaps he was planning to buy a new suit. So, because someone broke his window, he has to spend the money he was going to use to buy a suit to buy a new window. Thus the tailor loses employment - he is the unseen victim of the incident. But in addition, the baker now only has a repaired window whereas he would have had a window and a suit.
This is what happens with government spending on all of its programs. Government takes money away from the people to spend on what it deems to be suitable recipients of the money. Such as the people who want 1.6 million dollars to study why pigs stink. What might people have done with their money had it not been confiscated from them by government? They very likely would have spent it - thus helping both the business where they chose to spend that money and providing benefit to them in the form of some new purchase, or night of entertainment, or whatever.
The country is full of the unseen victims of government who have lost out on business because people had to give their money to government so government could spend it and say - 'Look what we have done, look who we have helped'. Government likes to be able to show off their seen beneficiaries and for all their victims to be unseen.
Edit: I have found that this is a paraphrasing of the parable of the broken window (also, the broken window fallacy) that was created by Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay "That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen".
|Monday, May 24th, 2010|
I have recently become aware of a really nice software program for studying the bible. The program is called E-Sword
. It is a free program that contains the whole bible in the KJV with the Strong's Concordance built in. It supports a myriad of add-ons allowing you to add different translations of the bible (the list of available translations is vast), various commentaries on the bible, and additional bible dictionaries. A lot of the add-ons are free - I downloaded a Modern KJV translation and half a dozen different commentaries this weekend all at no cost. There are paid add-ons as well - not all 3rd parties are willing to let go of their work for free but the paid add-ons tend to be very reasonably priced. If you enjoy spending time studying God's word - this is an excellent tool.