Friday, April 29, 2005

The mountain we are come to

Hebrews 12:18-24
“18For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20(For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." 21And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.")
22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

Whenever the apostles or prophets introduced something by speaking negatively about something else, it always gets my attention. This is usually because the positive that will follow is something great. Here, the writer of Hebrews is contrasting the old covenant with the new covenant. This makes sense of course because a good portion of Hebrews is about how gloriously bright the new is compared to the old.

The imagery is meant to draw out this contrast. The old mountain is black and dark, and the words spoken from it are very hard to endure. So hard to endure, that when God spoke to Israel out of the fire that they told Moses “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” If we are honest with ourselves, we probably want things this way too. Those few men that actually stood in the presence of God never had a super-fun experience (see for instance Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 4). They had God speak to them in great thunderings and lightning flashes; it is a terrifying thought to stand in the presence of a Holy God who calls himself a consuming fire. Not only this, but the content of the message was impossible to keep. All it did was amply demonstrate the complete and utter hopelessness they had in themselves (and if we are honest about it today--ourselves).

Thankfully, that is not all. We are not come to such a mountain. The imagery here is much brighter. Mount Zion is not a mountain of darkness and blackness, nor are those who approach to be stoned. Mount Zion is the city of the living God. It is not a city of death and destruction, it is a city of life. Instead of a voice that cannot be endured, we have the spirits of just men made perfect; these men were not able to keep the law themselves, instead, they trust in the Mediator of the new covenant. And this mediator, he is not like Moses who was exceedingly afraid to approach, “but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” This mediator’s blood speaks much more than the blood of Abel. The blood of Abel cried to the Lord after Cain had murdered him, but Christ’s blood cries all the louder. Christ’s blood cries out that the sinner has been forgiven. I don’t think I could say it any better than Charles Wesley did:
Five bleeding wounds he bears, received on Calvary
They pour effectual prayer, they strongly plead for me
"Forgive him, oh forgive!" they cry,
"Forgive him, oh forgive!" they cry,
"Don’t let the ransomed sinner die!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Proverbs 31

First off, I must preface this with a few warnings. One, I’ve gotten myself into many a pickle in commenting on this passage in conversations. Second, I’m not an expert on wives by any means since I don’t have one. Lastly, I’m sure there is room for multiple positions on this matter; I don’t claim my position is the only one (or even the only Biblical one).

What is modern-American men’s obsession with looks? These definitions change with each culture and time. The Victorian age’s definition of physical beauty isn’t what we look for today. Physical beauty is not unmentioned in the Bible either. Sarai was beautiful and so was Rachel we are told. We are also told that “Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.” So we even have details down to the level that Leah had gorgeous eyes, but Rachel was all around beautiful; “in all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job.” BUT, there is no exhortation to seek out a physically beautiful wife. It seems that God in his infinite wisdom figured men really wouldn’t have trouble with that aspect.

On the other hand, there *is* an exhortation to find a virtuous wife. Proverbs 31:10 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” In my thinking, this means that I ought to value virtue quite a bit above looks. The passage goes onto describe a woman that is clothed with strength and honor. She is a wise woman who knows how to manage a business well. She is also one that speaks with both wisdom and kindness. Then, as if the speaking on virtue wasn’t enough, the author goes onto say “charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Beauty is passing. This should be a sobering phrase. You are going to have to live with your wife long after she is not the 20-year-old hottie anymore. Consider that now! Are the few years of having a trophy wife going to be worth the many more years of having a quarrelsome wife? I think not. When you are old, you won’t be saying “Man, I wish I had a cute wife when I was younger,” you’ll be saying “Man, I wish I would have had more peace in my house.” Of course, this assumes you have a life long commitment idea about marriage.

If you manage to find a virtuous wife that is drop dead gorgeous--more power to you. It just seems to me that as in Jesus’ age, the gospel was hidden from the wise and prudent as seemed good in the sight of the father, that in our day and age these things have been hidden from the beautiful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

In the days of thy youth

Ecc. 12:1 “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;”

It is an interesting thing that Solomon told youth to remember their Creator. Why is this? Moses was constantly reminding the Israelites not to forget the Lord,
Deuteronomy 4: 23-25 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger
but it usually is in regard to the parents teaching the children.

The young usually think they are invincible. They can get up faster from a fall, and it doesn’t take them as long to heal. Some of these things are no doubt true, but we should not translate that into living in sin while we are young and only worshipping the true God later on in life. We ought to be living soberly and Godly lives now. Matthew Henry’s comment on this passage is worth ending on.
It is the greatest absurdity and ingratitude imaginable to give the cream and flower of our days to the devil, and reserve the bran, and refuse, and dregs of them for God; this is offering the torn, and the lame, and the sick for sacrifice; and, besides, old age being thus clogged with infirmities, it is the greatest folly imaginable to put off that needful work till then, which requires the best of our strength, when our faculties are in their prime, and especially to make the work more difficult by a longer continuance in sin, and, laying up treasures of guilt in the conscience, to add to the burdens of age and make them much heavier.

Falling down the stairs

I was told that my recent falling down the stairs was funny. I didn’t really think so at the time, but I’ll record it here for posterity.

The last section of stairs in my house is wood without carpet. We were watching my Dad’s dog Q at the time, so I was going downstairs to see why Q was whining in his crate. With cereal in hand, my heal slipped off of one of the first stairs and I came crashing down on my back. After sliding down the stairs, I crumpled over onto my stomach at the bottom. At this point, I could not breath, so I figured I would just lie down in the splattered milk and raisin bran until I could breath again. As I look back now, I’m sure this was a pretty funny sight. Here I was in my nice work clothes lying on the floor in a puddle of milk and raisin bran. You know when you can’t breath time goes by very slowly too. I distinctly remember thinking “Sooo, this is how it ends.” Given that I couldn’t yell, and the fact that my housemates are unlikely to get out of bed unless there is an earthquake, sitting there was pretty much my only option.

Slowly I began to breath again, so I pulled myself up and cleaned up the mess. I guess raisin bran is not poisonous to fish because they didn’t seem to die from the little bit that spilled into their tank. I later asked by sister and cousin if they had heard anything that morning. My cousin heard nothing, but my sister just decided not to get up. That is comforting.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Suing over what?

An interesting article on an abortion that failed. She is suing the hospital that performed the procedure because they only “terminated” one of the babies (who were twins) instead of both.

The author’s comment is great:
Dow is basically suing because her three-year-old little girl is not dead.

Absurd. But I'm guessing the hospital will wind up paying something.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Patience is a hard thing

Patience never seems to accompany youth. Young people are always eager for action; sometimes this is good, but not always. This problem is only accentuated by the modern-American “fast food” culture. “We want it now” could be the motto of my generation. What is the sense is waiting for something when you can have it now. Premarital sex runs rampant in our culture because of this. Who cares about the marriage bond? Who cares about fidelity? We want it now! Instant gratification. I suppose the TV caters to this idea as well. Most shows are only 30 minutes long so no one develops a decent attention span. Modern Christianity bows to this too. We can't be expected to sit through a sermon—15 minutes might be pushing it. We need to be up “worshiping” and dancing around to some praise song's chorus sung over and over again. There is no time for real substance to our worship; we want to feel God now.

I'm the sort of person that likes desert last. When I was a child, I could never understand the kids around me that wanted their cookie before the meal. I always wanted to save the best for last, and since the desert was the best part, I would prefer that last. If I could carry this attitude over into other parts of life, I suppose I would be much more content. It is so easy in the trivial things, why is it so hard in the important things?

In the sermon this week, the pastor read a good portion of Psalm 62. It seems that patience didn't really come naturally to the Psalmist either. Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Strong's definition of expectation includes the idea of “the thing that I long for.” As I considered the Psalmist's words, I couldn't help but think how hard this was to do. Think about it; this means that the thing I long for most is from him. It isn't from me; I can't make it happen in my own power. I have to wait on God's time. Everything in my flesh recoils at this idea. I want to go my own way; to pull myself up. Why do I need to wait on God?

The other verse that really struck me was Psalm 62:11: God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. For some reason this verse stood out to me in the passage. This makes sense of course because we want to wait on the God who has the power to bring about our most longed for desires, but why is the phrase emphasized so much? God spoke it once, but the Psalmist heard it twice—he had to hear it with physical and spiritual ears. If I'm honest, I realize I need to hear this twice as well. I confess that God is infinitely powerful, but I don't always want to wait on him. This conflict between what I say and what I believe needs to be reconciled. It must needs be that this idea soak in; it needs to gel in my heart and mind. Power belongs unto God.

Patience ought not be absent from youth, but I have no easy answers. Everyday I pray for the thing I desire, and everyday I come home with no progress made. I comfort myself with the thought that it, like desert at dinner time, is the best part. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Patience is a hard learn.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Jewish belief summary

This discussion over on LJ, has a good summary of one Jew's beliefs. I find it very informative. Scroll down to phaedra_amunet's comments.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cancer causing meat

Well, it looks like I might need to change my daily lunches. I was just getting used to my sandwitch, chips, cookies, and a drink lunch. According to recent article eating too much processed meat or red meat gives you cancer. What really doesn’t give you cancer though? I’m reasonably sure my cell phone probably will--although they say not; now my lunch will; I wonder if it is possible to live in modern society without consuming cancer causing goods.

A conservative pope

This article has some interesting quotes on the new Pope.
Others see his election as widening the global religious "red-blue" divide between conservative moral absolutists and liberals of all faiths who say religion must be more inclusive.

The only way to make religion “more inclusive” is to destroy the differences of each one. Only when we say that the words have no meaning can we all be agreed as to who God is and what he requires.
In his last homily as a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI said that "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."
Benedict has dismissed anyone who tried to find "feminist" meanings in the Bible, and last year told American bishops it was appropriate to deny Communion to those who support abortion and euthanasia.

I’m by no means a Catholic supporter, but I like this statement. At least someone is blowing the whistle on modern relativism, feminism, and the like. They are all errors.
"He is clearly a person who believes in absolute truth and the clarity of truth - and the possession of truth by the Roman Catholic Church" says Chester Gillis, chair of the theology department at Georgetown University in Washington. "He is very unbending about that."

Well, at least he believes in absolute truth, I’ll go with him that far. I don’t think the Roman Catholic Church really has possession of it though.
The views the new pope has expressed in the past, however, suggest that he is not willing to deal with members of other faiths as equals. "Any notion that we are on a level playing field, and dialogue with other religions under the assumption that they have the same access to truth, would not be something he would be happy with," says Paul Lakeland, a professor of Catholic studies at Connecticut's Fairfield University.
Benedict XVI "has very clear views, that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, and it makes it difficult to have a dialogue of equals if you do not regard everyone as equal before God," adds Tissa Balasuriya, a progressive Sri Lankan theologian whose run-in with Cardinal Ratzinger in 1997 led to his temporary excommunication.

This is relativism in a nut shell my friends. If all religions “have the same access to truth,” then they are essentially the same. This is nonsensical. Allah and Jehovah are not the same god. They’ve said different things and their writings are different--what more do you want? Christianity is the only religion that says there is nothing you can do to appease God. No Holy War, no keeping his law, no ceremonies can make you clean before the One with whom we have to do. God saves his people from their sins; they do not save themselves.

Those who are cleaver among us will be quick to point out all the similarities: creator, similar prophets, moral codes, etc. This is to be expected. Man was originally made in the image of God:
Romans 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (NKJV emphasis mine)

Satan’s deceptions are rarely totally black. He much prefers to take a bit of truth and mix it in; that way he can appeal to the image of God in man while he feeds them the lies. The similarities argument doesn’t fly.

I’m not Catholic, but some of what this Pope says is very good. I guess I kind of think that modern relativism, feminism, humanism and the like are more dangerous than orthodox Catholic doctrine, but maybe I’m wrong on that; I would almost like to hear an argument that orthodox Catholic doctrine is more dangerous than humanism. Too much defending Catholicism lately for me--it is very unlike a Reformed person ;-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The new pope

I posted a response to this. It was a LJ I found that "The German" posts to frequently; I probably shouldn't have posted at all, but I couldn't drop it once I started LOL

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Outsourcing: time to pay the piper?

I’ve written on outsourcing before.

Outsourcing is always a hot topic amount IT professionals because it has to do with their job security. Since I became a software person, I’ve thought that the outsourcing will probably not continue indefinitely. Eventually the costs will rise high enough that it won’t be cost effective.

This article provides some survey facts from Deloitte and Touche about recent outsourcing data:
"-- 70 percent of participants have had negative experiences with outsourcing.
-- One in four respondents realized that they could handle certain functions better in-house, and yanked those back inside the corporate walls.
-- 44 percent did not see cost-savings from outsourcing.
-- 57 percent ended up absorbing costs that they believed were included in the contracts with vendors.
-- Nearly 50 percent cited hidden costs as the biggest problem"

Please forgive me for my next extremely pro-American comment, but it seems like this shows that globalization is not always a good thing. For some of the companies that jumped on the bandwagon, it is time to pay the piper.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth

Sometimes it is good to step back from the daily grind and consider the bigger picture. It never ceases to amaze me the depth of insight the Bible has into man. This shouldn't amaze me of course because the Bible itself told us it would have such insight.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

In my daily readings, I usually have the doctrines of grace reaffirmed and applied to my life, but every so often, I stumble across something that I just seem to understand better. Maybe it is because of how it relates to life or maybe it is something I'm supposed to learn.

Luke 12:15 was the latest verse that stood out to me like that.
Luke 12:13-15 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Christ has a way of going right to the heart of the sinner. He doesn't do a whole lot of dancing around the issue. Christ went right to the sin of greed and made it blindingly apparent to this man.

Of course by stating the negative about something, Christ directs us the the positive about it. The natural question to ask is “What does a man's life consist of?” I believe Christ answers that question in the next parable.
Luke 12:16-21
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

A man's life does consist in being rich toward God. How exactly to be rich towards God could probably lead many places, but for some reason, I'm lead to the parable of the talents. Each man's task on earth is going to be slightly different, and some men are going to have more gifts (remember the 5, 2 and 1 talents?). We are to glorify God with what we've been given. Then we'll be rich toward God.

A black heart

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride is a deceptive beast. It appears in the strangest forms, but if you search hard enough it can be found almost anywhere. My Pastor is fond of saying that every drunk at the bar knows he is better than someone. “At least I'm not like So-and-So” he'll say. People that you'd think were the humblest could very well be the proudest people.

Some kinds of pride are good. I think it is good to take pride in your work; it spurs you onto good deeds. As long as you don't think that such works can save you that is. They are still filthy rags before the holy God.

I clearly see two instances of pride in my own life right now. I'm sure there are people who aren't proud and hold these same positions, but I'm not one of them. Looking into my own heart, I can see their real root. It is a scary thing to look into my own life and see the blackness of my own heart. In all honesty, I would much prefer not to do it a whole lot. In this specific case, I can clearly see my thinking. I believe that my way is the best, and that my activities are the most important. The more sophisticated I get the more complicated I can make my justifications. Proverbs 26:16 says “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.” Could that be true of the proud man as well?

Case #1
As I'm playing some Frisbee golf with some good friends, my mom calls my sister and requests our help with moving some rock for her yard. I had already made plans to play through this game and then go shooting with another friend. I like to keep my word, but I knew that my mom's request was just her nice way of saying that she needed help. I've heard it before; she always tries to ask in a much nicer manner than she should. I figured I could help later, after I was back from shooting. We drove up to the range and found it completely packed--there were no open places, so we ended up not getting to shoot. I should have known it would be that way on a Saturday afternoon. It was pretty late when I got home; I called to see if anymore help was needed, but they had completed the work that day.

Case #2
I've complained a lot about the lack of eligible single women in the Church, and yet I don't bother to take good opportunities that other friends and relatives provide. You could say that I don't like being set up. Why is this? Mainly because I don't want to be indebted to someone; I want to be independent--to go my own way. I don't like the feeling of needing someone else's help. If I can't do it myself, or pay for it myself, then I don't want it. Maybe this is the key thing I must learn before I find the one. Maybe I have to learn that I can't do it alone.

I hope that GI Joe was right when he said “Knowing is half the battle.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My 2005 Mustang GT

My 2005 Mustang GT

A car analogy

In my conversation with the German today, I developed the following analogy for my life.

My life is very similar to the German’s car. His car was recently hit, and the rear bumper was damaged. Not as bad as it could have been, but the bumper did need to be replaced. I can tell you that he was definitely concerned about it. I’m sure he worried about how to get it fixed a lot before it was fixed.

Well sometimes, I view my life like that. Most of the big things seem to be working. I like my job, and where my career is going. I like my house; you always would like a bigger house, but this one is working well now. I don’t mind my car; it does well ;-) when there isn’t any snow. But I’m missing that significant other (to use a politically correct term). It is like that damaged bumper; it probably consumes more of my thoughts that it ought to. The car overall is running well; life is pretty good, but something is missing. I like my Church and friends here. Over all life is actually really good; I just wish I could fix that bumper...

Update: At the request of the German, here is a more accurate picture of my car (i.e. it has the same rims, although my car has red interior).

Politically correct again

I was watching FahrenHype 911 recently. As a side note, this is a pretty right wing movie. I liked it. It is good to have these "mainstream" left-wing movies counterbalanced.

What I really wanted to share was a line from the movie. It was something along the lines of "we need to realize that Norwegian women in wheel chairs are probably not a threat to national security."

Couldn't have said it better myself; that is awesome!!!

There was also a cool story on the movie a congressman told about rattlesnakes, but I don't remember it well enough to summarize. It was hilarious though!

The Calvinist’s dilemma

I was reading Psalm 127 last night, and it occurred to me how perfectly that illustrates the Calvinist position. The Calvinist position is sort of strange in this way. We hold that God is omnipotent and that he absolutely controls everything that comes to pass. We also hold that man is indeed responsible for his sin against God; Adam was not some cosmic robot on whom God was playing a sick joke, and neither are we. Humans are moral creatures created in the image of God, and they have real responsibility to obey his commandments.

That being said, I entitled my post "The Calvinist’s dilemma" for a reason. defines a dilemma as "A situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive." This is usually how those of a Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian position attack the Calvinist doctrine of Predestination. They would suggest that God lets man have the final say in his own salvation; this implies of course that God does not. They say that if God has the final say in the salvation of individuals, then we are mere robots on Earth. We have no real freedom, and we are just puppets. However good this sounds from a purely logical point of view, the scriptures do not present it that way. On the contrary, the scriptures take Calvinist position on the matter. It is not my goal here to present a total defense for the doctrines of grace. For this, I recommend Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion especially Book 3 or (if you don’t have that much time) Luther’s Bondage of the Will. There are many other good summaries as well, those are just the older works of note.

So, we have this dilemma it seems; man is free and responsible and God is totally in control. Consider Psalm 127:1-2
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.(NKJV)

Could it really be said any better? Unless the Lord actually does the building, unless he raises up the house, the men who are building it will not succeed. It isn’t that they are robots doing the work--they are really doing the work; they are really responsible to do the work, and yet the Lord still absolutely controls the building. The second part of verse one reiterates the same point with a different example.

Verse two takes the idea in verse one and applies it. The people that realize that God is in control don’t have to worry--He gives His beloved sleep! Once you realize that God works all in all, you can stop your constant worrying. This doesn’t imply of course you can stop working. That isn’t the point at all, but that you don’t have to worry about whether or not your work will succeed. That is in God’s hands. The watchmen can watch and the builder construct, but they need not worry constantly about their job. The Lord watches the city and builds the house!

I would like to point another place where this same idea is presented. Consider 2 Kings 19:25-26:
Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.
Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.(NKJV)

A little bit of context might be good. The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, had sent a messenger to Hezekiah, King of Judah. Basically the messenger told Hezekiah to surrender Jerusalem because there was no way the city would be able to stand against the might of Sennacherib. Hezekiah, though, took the message into the temple and prayed to the Lord. 2 Kings 19:25-26 is part of the Lord’s answer to Sennacherib’s threats through the prophet Isaiah.

Sennacherib had actually done these things. He had also assumed that his power and his ability to destroy nations was because of his own greatness. His own choices had brought him here, he thought. Sennacherib was only partly right. His choices had brought him there, but God had ordained that it should be that way. God had it planned from the ancient times--from eternity, and now He had brought it to pass. Is it not arrogant of us to assume that even our salvation was simply and ultimately because of our own choice? I submit to you that it is. God alone sits on the throne.

In closing, Isaiah 45:5-13 should also be considered, but I won’t comment on it.
5I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
6That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
8Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
10Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
11Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
12I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
13I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts. (KJV)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Reporters run amuck

The title is much worse than my comment actually is. Somehow, the NY Times got a hold of some of President Bush’s iPod playlist. Some quotes are in order:
As for an analysis of Mr. Bush's playlist, Mr. Levy of Rolling Stone started out with this: "One thing that's interesting is that the president likes artists who don't like him."

Wow, this is amazing isn’t it? If I only listened to the music by artists I agreed with, it would definitely be a slim selection. I don’t know that I even know of any Reformed/Presbyterian artists…
From CNN’s version:
The playlist does reveal a rather narrow range of babyboomer tunes. Writing in the London Times, Caitlin Moran noted: "No black artists, no gay artists, no world music, only one woman, no genre less than 25 years old, and no Beatles."

Way to make sure your political agenda gets into the news Caitlin! I’m sure that statement will fire up a liberal somewhere. Maybe I shouldn’t have even bother to comment on this--it is probably more than it deserves.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Politically correct and McLintock!

You know, sometimes I think this politically correct thing has gone too far. I’m as much for watching out for other people’s feelings as the next guy (well, maybe this is debatable LOL), but sometimes it seems like you have to walk on eggs all the time just to keep from offending people.

Recently, at my monthly meeting with my manager, we did a “diversity” scenario. This one was about how to not offend people with a disability. The specific case was opening the door for a blind person. The question posed was what do you do to not offend the person. For once, I actually responded. I told my boss that I thought the proper course of action was just to pick and side and see how it worked. Either chose to hold the door for him or don’t; see how he reacts to this. Obviously if he huffs and appears visibly angry at holding the door for him (or not doing so), you can make the proper correction the next time. Do we honestly live in a time now when this is a huge deal? Please tell me it isn’t so.

I was watching an old western that I loved as a kid last night. The DVD version of it is really poor quality, but that is off the subject a bit. The film (McLintock!) was made in 1963, so it shows some transitioning to political correctness. On the other hand, there are some parts in the movie that are very politically incorrect. I’ll try to remember some of my favorite quotes/scenes.
The main character wants to hire a new cook--mainly to give the widow a better life, but also because she is a very good cook. The previous cook is an old Chinese immigrant; as they approach to ask him about “retiring” the question is phrased something like this: “So, what do say you old Chinese reprobate?” (my sister got a real kick out of that if you know her). His response to this is “You fire me? I kill myself!” The whole scene is just hilarious, but it is not very politically correct.

Another great scene is when the daughter (Becky) comes to her father after a long wild ride in the stagecoach from the hired hand (who is obviously interested in her romantically). She immediately demands that her father shoot the young man. She says "her honor has been slandered." John Wayne’s reaction to this is awesome. "Oh, You’re your honor has been impugned!" (say it very sarcastically) He then proceeds to take out a gun and shoot the guy. The gun is loaded with blanks though. After this the daughter is very nurse-maidy (is that a word?) to the guy (she is obviously interested in him as well); she fawns over him “oh you poor dear!” This attitude reversal is capitalized on by the young man; he tells her that what she needs a good spanking! As he lays her over his lap to give her some discipline, the father hands him the fireplace scoop made out of cast iron. This will serve better!

The last quote I really liked from the movie was from the beginning. “You have to be a man first before you’re a gentleman, he fails on both counts.” This sort of attitude is all but lost in our society these days. Society would prefer men communicate like women and deny their God given responsibility. This is off the subject though, as modern society’s obsession with feminism is a topic in its own right.

One of my friends used to say that they wished we could just go back to being politically incorrect. Call things like they are. In some ways, I whole heartedly agree. I think we can leave out some ethnic slurs and such, but we need to make some distinctions.

Obviously, in our current situation, people of middle-eastern decent should be searched more frequently at an airport than others. Should they be rounded up and put in camps? No way! But lets understand where the most likely threat comes from and leave this politically correct nonsense behind.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Subjective history

History is usually told by the winners--at least that is usually how it goes. Anyone who denies that there is always some subjectivity in the telling of history is flat out lying. There is always some subjectivity. Does this mean that it is not possible to have an accurate understanding of what happened? No, but it does mean you need to consider who is writing the history. Every writer is going to have a purpose in writing the history. They are going to tell the story in a specific way for a purpose. Does this mean their history is always wrong or inaccurate? No way! It does have a slant to it though. Including certain events and leaving certain others out adds to this.

Presenting history is true even of the Biblical writers. Each of the different gospels presents Christ in a slightly different light. John writes that we might believe on him and have life through his name. The other gospels have different focuses. The writers have an agenda; is it a dishonest agenda? No. Not all subjectivity is bad; on the other hand, some is.

Evidently China and South Korea are up in arms about a new Japanese textbook. The Japanese are trying to gloss over some of their more atrocious actions during WWII. This might very well be an example of a subjectivity gone wrong; I’ll let those Asian nations fight this one out themselves.

We do need to be weary of making serious distortions of history. If we do that, we are bound to repeat it. Nations need to recognize their faults (liberals seem to get this one). Nations also need to recognize their great contributions(liberals usually miss this part). Lastly, nations should recognize the contributions other nations have given them. Many Americans died freeing Europe from the tyranny of Hitler in WWII; I wonder how long that will still be recognized in French textbooks? The U.S. also needs to remember how some of the great basics of our freedom flow from the struggles of the British (sorry, but I don’t think the French Revolution helped us much).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Requiem for a dream

Sorry to steal the title from a movie. The movie is OK, but it is very graphic and depressing. When I first saw the movie, I didn't realize what a requiem was. defines a requiem as a mass for a deceased person, or a musical composition for the dead. In other words, the movie is about the dreams of a bunch of different people and how they died (the dreams first, and henceforth the people).

The scriptures tell us that "where there is no vision, the people perish." People tend to live and die by their dreams--their goals. Perhaps these goals are high noble undertakings, or perhaps they are very specific, low level things. Most people have some of all kinds of goals. Its like how they always ask you where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, etc. Usually people have somewhere they would like to be tomorrow, next weekend, and so on. Eventually, this will get to the level of the reason people keep on "chugging" in life. In the end, you must answer the question "why do I exist?" For what purpose was I placed here? Is there actually a purpose or is it all by chance?

These high level questions have been examined throughout the ages, and it is not my purpose to examine them now. I'm reasonably sure what I'm ultimately here for; I'm also reasonably sure where I want to be next weekend. It's all those pesky in between goals that have died. What do you do when you just don't care where you are in 5, 10, or 20 years? I guess I've never been without these goals before to have an answer.

When you loose sight of the big goals in life you can have a nice soul searching session and make some hard decisions. As a Nihilist you can demonstrate the vanity of life in everything; as a Christian you can live to the glory of God. What happens when these high level goals can no longer be translated into more reachable day-to-day activities? It seems as if death is the only thing to look forward to anymore; it is all that is left. It is nice to think that "what we do in life, echoes in eternity," but in the end all we are is "shadows and dust." Didn't Job have it right? "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue." Or David? "As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."

What happens when at the beginning of the race, I already wish I could say with Paul "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith?"