Saturday, December 22, 2012

God and Science

As someone who majored in a hard science (physics) in college and who also holds to a Biblical worldview, I find it interesting how post-modern Western society has bifurcated scientific knowledge from a theological understanding truth. One of the best treatments of this topic in print that I've read is Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth. I was also greatly impacted by two of her other co-written works many years ago, and I highly recommend The Soul of Science and How Now Shall We Live.  The recurring metaphor in all these works by Pearcey is borrowed from her mentor Francis Schaeffer.  The two story bifurcation of truth prevents a wholistic understanding of reality. I recently ran across a web site that helps restore a more wholistic understanding of God and science.  Check it out here:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another View on Sandy Hook

Last Friday Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The 24 x 7 news cycle has been churning out stories about the shock and outrage over this terrible tragedy. And it is a terrible tragedy.  However, I'm wondering where the shock and outrage is for the 491 children born alive then left to die in Canada between 2000 and 2009. Almost nobody heard about this decade long slaughter of babies. Twenty murdered children is a tragedy, but why isn't an average of more than 49 intentionally killed babies every year for a decade not newsworthy? We rightfully mourn for the 20 small children killed by a deranged gunman in Connecticut. But where is the mourning for the 491 children born alive and then left to die because they were the product of a failed abortion?

Is the only difference between the 20 and 491 that the 20 were fortunate enough to have families that wanted them? Do we mourn the 20 because they were loved, but neglect the 491 because they were targeted for destruction before they crossed the birth canal? President Obama gives a moving speech and wipes a tear from his eye over the 20 while simultaneously supporting the continued murder of millions by funding Planned Parenthood and promoting a "health care" program that intends to provide free abortions. How is that not a death sentence rather than health care for the babies? If we are killing our own children as a matter of policy, why are we surprised when some lone gunman does it too?

As a society we ask ourselves why school shootings and mass murders are on the increase. We blame the guns, and call for better regulation. Perhaps we should consider outlawing the scalpel and suction machines which have sown into our social conscience a disregard for human life. I mourn for the families who have lost children in this terrible shooting, but I mourn even more for the millions of men and women who have been deceived into participating in the genocide of abortion in North America that has killed 55 million innocent babies. We know about 491 live born babies who were left to die in failed abortions in Canada. How many more do we not know about who have died in failed late term abortions since 1973 in the USA?

Science tells us that life begins at conception, yet North Americans have legislated a morality that makes it socially acceptable to kill a baby before it crosses the birth canal. Why are we surprised when God allows such awful tragedies like Sandy Hook? Perhaps God is just giving us a small glimpse of what we are already doing to ourselves.

The Santa Myth

I wrote about this back in April in the Christian Traditions post.  Dr. Lydia McGrew, who holds a PhD from Vanderbilt University, seems to agree in her article on "Why I Don't Teach My Kids That Santa Claus Is Real."  And here is an article in The Washington Post by one of my favorite preachers, Mark Driscoll, on the same topic:  "What We Tell Our Kids About Santa."  So, my general exhortation to all parents everywhere is to be truthful with your children. If I had it to do over again, I'd do it differently, so I certainly cannot judge others who have perpetuated the Santa myth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Selling


A couple months ago I switched professions after being a software technologist for 22 years.  I started the transition about 10 years ago when I moved from being a software engineer to a sales engineer. I've fully made the transition into sales now in a new role with my current employer.  I'm still in the software business, but now I'm selling the professional services around deploying enterprise application software.

Selling as a profession sometimes has a bad reputation because nobody likes being "sold," as in manipulated into buying something they don't want or need. That sort of "sales" gives true sales professionals a bad image, and it isn't really sales, and it certainly isn't professional.

In this article on 8 habits of remarkably successful people, I was pleased to see that habit 7 is selling. Successful people know how to sell even if they aren't sales professionals. Here's the excerpt from the article:

I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell.

Keep in mind selling isn't manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks.

Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with "no," to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships...

When you truly believe in your idea, or your company, or yourself then you don't need to have a huge ego or a huge personality. You don't need to "sell."  You just need to communicate.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Suffering


A friend of mine told me he got this quote from a Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.
Suffering is, directly or indirectly, God's punishment for sin. To deduce from such suffering that there is no God is to deny instrumentality. One might as easily prove that a child has no father by the fact that his father spanked him.
Suffering and the problem of evil is one of the leading reasons why people claim they do not believe in God.  If these same people would put a little thought behind their emotions, they might be able to reason through to the truth.  Suffering and the existence of evil is one of the best evidences FOR the existence of God.  Now, if you want to reject God as being mean or uncaring because of the existence of evil and suffering, that is another matter all together.  That too is irrational once you learn the facts about God's character, but to deny God's existence due to his instrumentality in dealing with human disobedience and sin is just outright foolish.

Here are 35 proofs of the existence of God so if even if you don't buy into the existence of suffering and evil as solid evidence for God's existence, you'll still need to explain away at least 34 more good reasons to believe. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." (Psalm 14)  Unfortunately, in our post-modern culture people have believed the lie that reason is the opposite of faith.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The opposite of reason is irrationality.  The opposite of faith is unbelief, and it is unbelief in the face of the evidence that convicts non-believers who persist in the irrational viewpoint that God does not exist.

Friday, November 02, 2012

America - Wake Up! Get Smart or Get Left Behind


Many people decry the loss of the low skill manufacturing and textile jobs to China and other low cost labor markets.  What these people don't seem to understand is this isn't what is hurting the USA economy.  The USA has to import skilled labor because our schools are producing kids who can't read, think critically, or function in the world of high skilled, high tech engineering.  A lot of community colleges have to teach adults basic reading and writing before they can do freshman level college work!  Our K-12 education system has some bright spots, but on the whole the system is broken.  That's another blog entry for another time.

I work with a lot of brilliant people from India, other parts of Asia, and a growing number of Eastern Europeans who are highly educated software engineers, electrical engineers, and trained scientists.  American schools are not producing enough intellectual talent for high tech companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Intel, and Texas Instruments, so we import these skilled workers.  Why can't we produce these skilled workers here?  Rather than crying about lost low wage labor jobs and creating protectionist policies to protect low skill labor markets, the USA needs to refocus our efforts on education and moving into the 21st century of knowledge work. Here's an excerpt from an article on how both Romney and Obama flubbed this point in a recent debate.  Below is what I wish I had written, but Arik Hesseldahl said it much better than I could have.

Source:  How Obama or Romney Should Have Answered the iPad Question

...some people might get frustrated when they see Chinese workers assembling iPhones.  It’s easy to think that those jobs rightly belong in America.  The reality is a little more complex, but when you understand it, there’s a surprising amount of good news for American workers.

The fact is, assembling iPhones and iPads is the final step of a complex process, and is really a low-skill, low-cost kind of job.  China has spent decades building much of its economy around these low-skill jobs, in part because it has such a large labor force and plenty of workers who are willing to do the work.  And, frankly, here in America you wouldn’t want to try to support a family on the kind of wages a job like that would pay.  I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.  So I know this may sound odd when I say it, but I ask you to hear me out: I’m perfectly comfortable letting those kinds of jobs go to China or somewhere else.

In fact, some researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that for every iPad or iPhone manufactured, Chinese workers add $10 or less to the value of an iPad or iPhone.  On an iPad, they found that American workers add $162 worth of value, and on an iPhone it was more than twice as much.

In America, when we talk about manufacturing, we should be talking about advanced manufacturing jobs for highly skilled workers that require a solid education and pay wages on which you can support a family.  And the fact is, there’s a lot of American work that goes into an iPad or an iPhone or a Mac.

For one thing, there’s our semiconductor companies, like Intel, an American company that makes the most advanced and complex device ever created — the microprocessor — and that does it better than any other company in the world.  It makes the primary brain that goes inside the Mac, most of the world’s personal computers and most of the servers that power the Internet.  And most of those chips are made right here in California and Arizona and Oregon.  Some are made in Israel, too.  But most are made here in the U.S.A.

And the microprocessors that go inside the iPad and the iPhone are made right here in America, too.  Apple doesn’t make its own chips, and when it went looking for another company to help it do that, it picked a Korean company called Samsung.  And where did Samsung decide to build these chips?  Some place in Korea?  No.  The answer will surprise you: Texas.  That’s right.  Samsung operates one of its very biggest chip factories in Austin.

Then there’s the shatter-resistant glass that you touch every time you use an iPhone or iPad.  It was invented in America.  And it’s made in America, too, by American workers at a company called Corning, in Kentucky and New York.

And that’s just one piece of it.  There are a lot of other great jobs held by American workers.  Apple has a lot of smart designers who sweated over every little detail of how the iPad and iPhone look, and how they feel in your hand, and how the button works.  Teams of software developers slowly, painstakingly designed and built and tweaked and refined the software that makes it so fun and useful.

And we’re not done there.  If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you have a favorite app.  Right now, my favorite app is the one created by my campaign staff.  And when I take a break on the campaign bus, my wife and I like to relax for a few minutes playing Words With Friends.  She beats me every time.  And how many apps are there?  A million?  A zillion?  But that’s an example of another American company, Zynga, creating jobs for the people who create game software.  And there are lots more Zyngas, some of them really small companies with just a few people, and some a lot bigger.  Apple once counted, and said that there were more than 200,000 people working at jobs just making apps.

And let’s not forget that just a little more than five years ago, this branch of the technology industry didn’t exist at all.  Apple brought out the first iPhone in 2007, and the first apps started coming to the marketplace in 2008.  And don’t get me started about Google and its Android phones and tablets, and the chips and software that go into those.  Or Facebook, and all the interesting things it’s doing.

...I’m not terribly worried that American workers aren’t assembling iPhones and iPads in America.  They’re busy doing more important jobs, and earning good wages doing it right here in America.  [We must] do everything in [our] power to help encourage the creation of more jobs right here in America, and to encourage entrepreneurs to start new companies so they can create the next Apple or Google or Intel or Facebook.

It’s something we in America do better than anyone else.  And we can argue about the details of how we should go about doing that.  ... [W]hen I look at the iPhone and the iPad, I see something that could only have happened in America.  And I feel pretty good about the role the American worker plays in it.  And so should you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Truth Divides

These are the 8 points from the message delivered 28 October at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas, as an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

1. Truth always divides.
2. Jesus is the truth.
3. If you reject the truth, you are judged already.
4. If you keep rejecting the truth you will soon be more wretched than you can imagine.
5. If you know the truth – share the truth.
6. If you share the truth you will be loved as no man is loved and hated as no man is hated. It doesn't matter-share the truth.
7. Rejection of truth is a spiritual problem not an intellectual one-be prayerful, patient and kind.
8. Acceptance of truth is a spiritual blessing not a sign of personal brilliance-be humble, grateful and kind. Worship him.

Everything hinges on #2.  The premise of this blog, even the name itself of "discover truth" is all about determining if #2 is true and then following up with #6 of sharing what I've discovered. There are no shades of gray here.  Jesus is who he claimed to be, or he isn't.  What do you believe?  What are you going to do about it?

Audio and video available here:  http://www.watermark.org/media/series/252/

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eastwooding Richard Dawkins

I saw this live at the Watermark Apologetics conference. Dr. Craig was the key note speaker. The line of up speakers for the event on September 29 was impressive. More videos will be posted soon.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

An Atheist's View on Life (and its opposite)


These 20 phrases describe the typical worldview of an atheist:

(1) I will live my life according to these beliefs
(2) God does not exist
(3) It is just foolish to think
(4) That there is a God with a cosmic plan
(5) That an all-powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world
(6) Is a comforting thought; however,
(7) Is only wishful thinking
(8) People can do as they please without eternal consequences
(9) The idea that
(10) I am deserving of Hell
(11) Because of sin
(12) Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power
(13) “The more you have, the happier you will be”;
(14) Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose
(15) In a world with no God
(16) There is freedom to be who I want to be
(17) But with God
(18) Everything is fine
(19) It is ridiculous to think
(20) I am lost and in need of saving

However, the atheist has it exactly upside down.  Read these same 20 phrases in reverse order:

(20) I am lost and in need of saving
(19) It is ridiculous to think
(18) Everything is fine
(17) But with God
(16) There is freedom to be who I want to be
(15) In a world with no God
(14) Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose
(13) “The more you have, the happier you will be”;
(12) Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power
(11) Because of sin
(10) I am deserving of Hell
(9) The idea that
(8) People can do as they please without eternal consequences
(7) Is only wishful thinking
(6) Is a comforting thought; however,
(5) That an all-powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world
(4) That there is a God with a cosmic plan
(3) It is just foolish to think
(2) God does not exist
(1) I will live my life according to these beliefs

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." (Psalm 14:1)

Source: One of those random emails that people forward.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Dishonorable Disclosures

This video has over 3.4 million views, but I think it is important enough that everyone should watch it. For those of you who don't know, President Obama doesn't believe in the traditional American values of our founding fathers. Obama is not an American patriot in any normal definition of the word. He was basically unknown and unqualified when elected. He skated into office on his feel good rhetoric and race. We know from his own writings in Dreams from My Father, a father he only met once, that his odd behavior and policies as president can be explained by his hidden agenda of dramatically changing America into a country that is no longer the sole world superpower. This video is further evidence of this truth.

Should he get re-elected, be prepared for Obama to take off the gloves and let the hidden agenda out of the bag since he will have nothing to lose with his second term being his last. For the record, I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I used to be a card carrying Libertarian, but I no longer have any party affiliation so I suppose that makes me an independent - whatever that means.

Vulnerability

I believe I've uncovered the source of the vulnerability fad in the feeler church.  The popular business fable book by Patrick Lencioni called Getting Naked advocates "vulnerability" as a positive virtue.  I didn't read that book, but Mr. Lencioni spoke at the most recent Global Leadership Summit.  It was a good talk.  I bought another of his books called The Advantage.  I haven't read it yet, but I hope to learn more about his popularization of vulnerability.  His new book is apparently the non-fable version of his various leadership principles previously published in fable form.  I didn't read the fables.  I figure they are probably like that fad book Who Moved My Cheese. It made a lot of money as it sold millions of copies, and fables are fine, but when we start looking to fables rather than truth, I start wondering who cut the cheese.

Vulnerability came up again last night in a small group meeting within my community of church friends.  "Vulnerability" seems to be gaining popularity along with "Authenticity" and "Missional" as buzz words in Evangelical Christian-speak. It concerns me when the church borrows values from the business world. It isn't the first time I've seen it. I blogged on this same concern a while back regarding emotional intelligence in my church's leadership training curriculum. I'm wondering if Christians are borrowing worldly wisdom to our own detriment. [See 1Cor 1:18-20]

I don't see vulnerability being any more virtuous than poverty. Poverty is a state you might arrive at if you gave all your possessions to feed people more impoverished than yourself. This would, of course, be virtuous; however, it isn't very smart. Once you impoverish yourself how can you help others in need? Isn't it also possible to be rich and virtuous? Everyone in the USA is rich by world standards. I'd like to think some of us could also be virtuous!

Similarly, vulnerability is a state you might arrive at if you cast away all your defenses to help another person out of danger, but is that smart? Isn't it also possible to have good defenses and still be virtuous? Isn't it possible to maintain a posture of humility without being vulnerable?

If the only way you can escape pride is to cast away all defenses, then in the spirit of Matthew 5:30, by all means do so. But, Hezekiah [2Kings 20:15-18] and Samson [Judges 16:17] tried vulnerability with miserable results. Fortunately, Jesus was smarter. He went through some serious cloak and dagger gyrations with Peter and John in Luke 22:3-13 to avoid being vulnerable to the Enemy.

Vulnerability to the Enemy or his minions of lackeys is not a virtue. And, how do we know who might be the Devil's emissary? Unlike Jesus, we don't! None of the disciples suspected Judas. He was trusted enough to carry the money bag for the twelve. So, when in doubt shouldn't we be wise as serpents while being gentle as doves and keep up our defenses?

I'd like to think the church would look to the Bible for what we believe to be virtuous. I have not yet seen any Scriptural evidence that vulnerability is virtuous, but I have an inkling on why it is so popular in the post-modern American church.  Vulnerability "resonates" (that's another one of those buzz words) with the MBTI Feelers.  My friend, Dr. Tom Pittman, has developed a theory that the modern American church has been "feelerized" while "thinkers" have been ostracized. In the modern Amercian feeler church, relational affirmation is prized above almost all other virtues. It therefore follows that vulnerability is valued because it is a form of affirmation. Affirmation is the highest value for MBTI Feelers. (Truth and justice are the highest values for MBTI Thinkers.) The person making himself "vulnerable" is in effect saying "I trust you." That's affirmation.

Along with "missional" and "authentic" the concept of "vulnerability" seems to be a persistent fad in the slice of the evangelical church I'm exposed to most. The Bible teaches virtues like honesty, humility, love, justice, and mercy but so far I've found no virtue anchors for vulnerability in Scripture. None. I'm hoping the vulnerability fad will fade and die unless it finds some Biblical anchors. I understand the attraction worldly wisdom has for obtaining worldly virtues, but shouldn't those of us in the church put our emphasis on what Scripture teaches instead?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Religion vs. the Gospel

I enjoy trying to figure out how atheists and agnostics think. They generally think I'm a "religious" person, but the "R" word carries a lot of baggage. The "secularist," as some atheists would prefer to be called since "atheist" has baggage of its own, has no need for religion. They even write books like god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher "Hitch" Hitchens. An atheist friend of mine gave me a copy of that book. I read it. The religion Hitch is mostly talking about can be poisonous. I'm not religious like that, nor is anyone who really understands and lives by the Gospel.

Religious zealots who fly airplanes into tall buildings are evil, and I find it interesting that most atheists pick more on Christianity than Islam regarding the evils of religion. They also seem blind to the treachery of evil atheists like Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin. Clearly, evil is not limited to the religious or irreligious. What matters is the truth, and the Gospel is Truth. The Gospel is literally the "good news" of Jesus Christ.

Religion and politics go wrong when human beings look to them as cures for the problems of our world. Religion alone is just as impotent as political solutions or human ingenuity and technology in solving the problem of evil. These are all false paths to utopia either here on earth or for providing a portal to eternal life in the hereafter. True Gospel religion in the sense of James 1:27 is actually good. The Gospel of Jesus is the only solution to all these problems. The True Gospel can cure the ills of the world, and it provides a way, the truth, and life eternal. That's the difference. It matters.

Below are two lists that compare the good news of Jesus, the Gospel, with the "religion" that atheists rightfully hate. I hate that sort of religion too. So did Jesus. In fact, it was pious religious people in cahoots with the political ruling class who hung Jesus on the Cross, so both camps can take credit for that atrocity. The good news is Jesus willingly took a bullet (actually nails) for all of us.

The first list was created based on the second with the perspective that second list has the "baggage of a fundamentalist theological framework that deifies and worships Jesus so much that his actual message is lost." I don't think that is true. Both lists have their problems, and I'm simply offering them here as evidence that religion and the Gospel are very different regardless of whether you're seeing the Gospel through a progressive liberal bent or a more conservative Biblical view. Both lists help make an important distinction between religion and the Gospel which should help any honest truth seeker find True North.

List 1 Source: Google's cache of http://www.faithprogression.com/2007/06/religion-vs-gospel.html as it appeared on Aug 15, 2012 03:31:49 GMT.
  1. Religion defines rules that must be obeyed but can never be obtained. Gospel defines hope for a life that is in reach.

  2. Religion draws lines to separate “us” from “them”. Gospel is the good news that community is available for everyone.

  3. Religion values tradition. Gospel values transformation.

  4. Religion claims justice through sanctification and belief in our own set of doctrines. Gospel creates justice for all regardless of beliefs.

  5. Religion has the goal of gaining God’s favor. Gospel has the goal of favoring people who have rarely been favored.

  6. Religion sees hardships as divine punishment and prosperity as divine reward. Gospel seeks to eliminate hardships and grant prosperity.

  7. Religion is about a greater sense of self. Gospel is about a greater sense of community.

  8. Religion seeks to formulate behavior. Gospel seeks to transform character.

  9. Religion imagines a God that judges us. Gospel imagines a process that changes us.

  10. Religion looks for God in deified messengers. Gospel observes the kingdom of God which is within us.

  11. Religion worships sacred texts. Gospel worships the sacred in life.

  12. Religion competes to declare its own ideas as divine truth. Gospel celebrates truth wherever it exists.

  13. Religion spreads guilt and failure. Gospel spreads hope and promise.

List 2 Source:  Mark Driscoll, a pastor in the Seattle area.
  1. Religion says, if I obey, God will love me. Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.

  2. Religion has good people & bad people. Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.

  3. Religion values a birth family. Gospel values a new birth.

  4. Religion depends on what I do. Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.

  5. Religion claims that sanctification justifies me. Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification.

  6. Religion has the goal to get from God. Gospel has the goal to get God.

  7. Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin. Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction.

  8. Religion is about me. Gospel is about Jesus.

  9. Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key. Gospel believes that being honest is the key.

  10. Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God. Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.

  11. Religion sees Jesus as the means. Gospel sees Jesus as the end.

  12. Religion ends in pride or despair. Gospel ends in humble joy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Big Bang and the Bible

This 5 minute video below explains how the Big Bang theory supports a Biblical worldview. A lot of people don't know steady state theories of the universe were a reaction to the undesired implications of the Big Bang. Then again, unless you're interested in cosmology and the history of science, you might not have even heard of steady state theories of the universe. Almost everyone has heard of the Big Bang theory. Winners are immortalized. Losers are quickly forgotten.

According to astrophysicist Sarah Salviander, a research fellow in the Astronomy Department at the University of Texas at Austin:
"The steady state theory was natural product of the limited information available prior to the 1920s. It really did appear that the universe was infinitely old and unchanging. When Georges Lemaitre found a solution to Einstein's general relativity equations, he realized that the solution allowed for a universe that's finite in time. Then Hubble found evidence for an expanding universe, which also logically implied a universe with a beginning. By the 1960s, with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background, the evidence for a big bang was so overwhelming that the physics community gave up on steady state."
Steady state theories were popular with scientists because an eternal, unchanging universe allowed for the "billions of years" required for Darwinism to work its magic of "evolution." When the scientific community arrived at the consensus that the universe had a beginning, Darwinism had a serious problem. There simply isn't enough time for evolution to work, presuming it can work - which I'd argue is a false presumption - but that is another blog entry for another time. 

As a reaction to the undesired outcome of a universe with a beginning, some physicists tried to come up with an alternative theory; however, not only couldn't they get the math to work out as desired, the physical evidence discovered by Penzias and Wilson (accidentally, by the way) of the cosmic background radiation blew away steady state theories. They are now on the ash heap of failed attempts to use science to remove the possibility of God.  

Many Christians struggle with issues like Darwinian evolution, the Big Bang, and how science relates to the Bible. I used to struggle with this a lot too, but I don't so much any more.  Here's why.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Atheist Faith

I do not have enough faith to be an atheist. That statement bothers atheists because they like to believe they are free from faith, but they are not. You cannot believe something except from the position of another belief, and the atheist view is generally held with tenacious conviction rather than the scientific incredulity that is open to new facts, logic, and evidence. At least this is true of the atheists I have met and interacted with personally. Here's a quote from Mark Mittelberg that explains this even better.
This might surprise you, but even atheists live by faith. ... They operate in the belief that there is no Creator, no higher moral law to which they are accountable, no divine judgement and no afterlife. They can't prove any of these things. They don't know for a fact that there is no God, spiritual standard, day of reckoning or existence after death. In fact, most people in the world believe that denying these things goes against the evidence as well as human experience and therefore requires more faith.
Most atheists I've met seem to believe they are more rational and reasonable than people who do believe in God. That seems more like arrogance or ignorance (or both) wrapped in pride to me. I guess that's why I've never met a truly humble atheist. Those that are humble move into agnosticism, and the truly honest agnostics don't stay in that questioning state indefinitely. They get off the fence and either go back to being prideful atheists, or they evolve into people who believe in God and pursue truth in humility, at least in my experience. I'm sure there are exceptions.

The atheist worldview is generally based on a form of scientism, which is "a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints." [Source: Wikipedia]

How much an atheist's scientistic view excludes other viewpoints is fluid, but every atheist I've met or interacted with personally has a worldview informed by secular humanism and buttressed by some form of scientism, without exception. Atheists like to believe they have a scientific understanding of the world, but they have mistaken the materialistic presuppositions used in doing science with materialistic conclusions. They use bad logic to justify their willful denial of the evidence for God. In the end, that is how atheists roll. It isn't a matter of evidence at all, but a matter of the will. They don't want to believe in God, so any argument or endless series of arguments is sufficient to remain willfully ignorant of the many dozens of arguments and plentiful evidence in favor of God.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mitt's Money

"Romney's $100 million IRA is remarkable in its size. Even under the most generous assumptions, Romney would have been restricted to annual contributions of $30,000 while he worked at Bain. How does this grow to $100 million?"
AND
"For 2010, the Romneys enjoyed a federal tax rate of only 13.9% on their adjusted gross income of roughly $22 million, which gave them a lower federal tax burden (including payroll, income and excise taxes) than the average American wage-earning family in the $40,000 to $50,000 range."
Maybe it is just me, but this was quite a bit out of alignment with my previous view of Romney.  Sure, I knew he was a wealthy guy, but Swiss bank accounts, $100 million IRA, and the fact that his father was the one who started the tradition of financial transparency adds up to something nearly as odd as the Obama birth certificate issue.  What's going on here?

Source:  http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/18/opinion/kleinbard-canellos-romney-tax/

Friday, July 20, 2012

Make Disciples not just Decisions

This is from the book description on Amazon.com for The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight:
"Contemporary evangelicals have built a 'salvation culture' but not a 'gospel culture.' Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh."
I haven't read the book, but it sounds interesting.  The individualist American culture tends to focus on self to a fault.  Our idea of the "Gospel" seems very self-centered about personal salvation and eternal life compared to what I read in the Bible.  If anyone has read this book by Scot McKnight and has comments, I'd be interested in hearing them. I'm considering buying it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obamacare for Dummies


Cato Comments on SCOTUS Ruling for Obamacare

by Roger Pilon, Vice President for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

ObamaCare was a mistake from the start, a massive effort by the federal government to take over and control one-sixth of the economy – indeed, the part that concerns the most complex and intimate details of life, our health. It’s the most ambitious example to date of the political hubris progressives have displayed for over a century now, the belief that government can solve all of our problems.

Today, the Supreme Court had an opportunity to put a brake on that hubris. Four justices, led by Justice Kennedy, would have done so. But Chief Justice Roberts joined the four justices who are Exhibit A of the modern hubris, writing for the Court to uphold almost all of this monstrous intrusion on our liberty and on the very theory of the Constitution. And he did so on the flimsiest of rationales for deciding a constitutional question – precedent. If precedent carried the weight Roberts gave it today, we’d still be riding in segregated trains and sending our children to segregated schools.

So let’s look a bit more closely at this decision – which, to be clear, will take some time to fully digest. The Court rejected the administration’s main argument for the individual mandate, based on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce: "The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated." But that’s a slim victory for those of us who’d argued that “not buying insurance” is not an act of commerce. How often does Congress try to regulate “non-commerce” under its power to regulate interstate commerce? As best anyone could tell, this was the first time Congress had ever tried such an expansion of its power.

And because there’s no “commerce,” the Court rejected the parasitic Necessary and Proper Clause argument, too, which affords Congress the means to carry out its other powers.

But Robert’s bought the administration’s second fallback argument – that the penalty for not buying insurance is a tax, even though the administration abandoned that argument during the course of litigation, and even though calling it a “tax” would seem to implicate the Anti Injunction Act, which would preclude the Court from even deciding this case until someone was forced to pay the tax, which won’t happen for another couple of years. Yet the Court apparently brushed aside that AIA impediment – talk about lawlessness – in its rush to uphold ObamaCare.

And so there’s your foundation for the decision: the individual mandate is constitutional based on Congress’s power to tax: Congress can “tax” those who don’t buy government approved health insurance. Don’t ask what kind of a “tax” that is! It’s not an income tax. Nor is it a duty, impost, or excise tax, the only kinds of taxes recognized under the Tax Clause of the Constitution, where Roberts purports to rest Congress’s power; and it certainly isn’t “uniform throughout the United States,” as is required for those taxes. It’s sui generis, which is a polite way of saying it’s unconstitutional – if we take the Constitution seriously.

But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? As James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, and virtually everyone else at the Founding made clear, the power to tax, the first of Congress’s 18 enumerated powers, like the power to borrow, Congress’s second enumerated power, was designed to enable Congress to obtain the funds needed to carry out its other enumerated powers or ends. It was not, as Madison made clear in Federalist 41, and often on the floor of Congress, an independent power to tax for any purpose at all. Search as you will through those 18 enumerated powers and you will find no power to enact ObamaCare or anything like it. And please don’t say that the taxing power serves the commerce power which in turn authorizes the individual mandate, because the Court nixed that second leap today.

But all of that was lost in 1937 when the New Deal Court, cowed by Roosevelt’s infamous Court-packing threat, suddenly “found” that Congress had an independent power to tax and spend for the “general welfare,” a power that had escaped the Court’s attention for 150 years. That’s the “precedent” for today’s decision – which, like the precedent itself, turn’s the Constitution on its head, giving us effectively unlimited government.

It will fall to Congress, then, to undo this monstrosity, if it can. Under the Constitution, as written, health care would be provided like any other service that’s stayed largely free from government control. But starting with World War II wage-and-price controls and the tax advantages that were given to employer-provided health insurance, it’s been one government intrusion after another and a textbook example of how government can completely mess up what free markets plus voluntary charity can efficiently order while respecting the rights and dignity of people in the process. That’s a vision, the Founders’ vision, that Congress can restore, even if this Court has failed to do its part today.

Source:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/06/28/it_now_falls_to_congress_114643.html

For further reading:
Insurance Is the Problem, not the Solution
How to Fix the Health Care Problem


Financial Failure in Government Education

I can't say I'm surprised.  It has been proven over and over that the private sector is better at education than the government, but it seems we as a culture just aren't paying attention to the facts.  Or, maybe the teacher lobbies are too powerful, or probably some of both.  I've spent a good bit of time in New Orleans over the years since Katrina tore up the city.  The charter schools there are an amazing success story compared to the horrific public (read: government) school system prior to the hurricane.

Here's another story out of our nation's capitol that proves the answer to better education isn't more money, but less government involvement.  The US Census Bureau confirms Washington DC Spends $29,409 per pupil.  This spending figure is about triple what the DC voucher program spends per pupil—and the voucher students have a much higher graduation rate and perform as well or better academically.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/census-bureau-confirms-dc-spends-29409-pupil/

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lame Math Jokes

Mathematicians never die, they just lose some of their functions and disintegrate.

When she told me I was average, she was just being mean.

A mathematician came home at 3am and his wife got angry. He responded by saying, 'I'm right on time. I said I'd be home by a quarter of twelve.

What did one math book say to the other? Don’t bother me, I've got my own problems!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Ron Paul Still Matters

Party power politics annoy me.  They are about coercion and fear mongering. People who vote for a party over principal out of fear of "the other side" winning just don't get it. Fortunately, as Ron Paul says in this video, an idea whose time has come cannot be stopped.

If you are against everything Obama stands for, then voting for Robama is going to get you more of the same. Romney is just Obama spelled with an "R", and he's not a conservative no matter how hard conservatives try to fool themselves into believing that. If you're part of the "hope and change" party, a vote for Roboma is going to get you four more years of the same undelivered promises you got in your first four years of hope and change.

If you think someone who votes for and supports Ron Paul is "wasting their vote" the Republicrats have successfully buffaloed you with power politics and fear. You've been duped regardless of which side of the aisle you support. Spend 8 minutes and 44 seconds watching this video to find out why Ron Paul matters, and why any lover of truth, justice, liberty and the United States of America should thank him for his service to our great nation.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ideas or Feelings

Over the weekend I watched The Iron Lady where Meryl Streep plays an elderly Margaret Thatcher.  I was hoping for more of a historical documentary, so I was a bit disappointed that the movie was primarily about a confused old woman talking to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband. However, I was intrigued by this comment she makes to her dead husband.
People don’t think any more, they feel. One of the greatest problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas. Now, thoughts and ideas, that’s what interests me.
She then goes on to quote...
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
I've seen this quote attributed to various sources, including Ghandi, and it generally includes a first statement to "watch your beliefs for they become thoughts."  Either way, it is a good quote.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Update From My New Orleans Friends

I've been going to New Orleans since 2007 and working with these people to bring the light of Truth to their community, usually twice a year in February and October.  It is amazing what God is doing through this ministry.  If you've never been to New Orleans come join us.

  
New Orleans Church Plant - Diversity from Chase Oaks Video on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Okay, I'll Just Confess Later

Back in April the worship arts pastor at my church preached on sin.  It was the best sermon I've heard on sin, but I have to confess I don't really remember very many sermons on sin - ever.  Sin isn't a popular topic for the post-modern church.  It seems to me that a lot of church leaders in America spend a lot of time thinking about how to be attractive in their ministries, and avoiding any topic that might make someone uncomfortable is often a result of this effort at attracting the unchurched - but that is a blog topic for another time.

Greg's sermon was titled, "It's Okay, I'll Just Confess Later." You can watch it here.  He dealt with attitudes about sin using some very vivid word pictures.  Unfortunately, I believe the idea captured in his sermon title has so permeated post-modern evangelicalism that persuading the listener to adopt a Biblical attitude about sin is only one small step toward transforming our lackadaisical behavior when it comes to overcoming sin in our personal lives.

From talking to my Christian friends, the general consensus seems to be that overcoming sin is a good ideal to strive for, but since it probably isn't going to happen in this lifetime it doesn't get a lot of focus.  The highest value in the post-modern American church seems to be geared around personal relationships more than personal piety.  We strive to be accommodating, attractional, and relational and above all avoid offending anyone.  Criticism is a definite no-no.  Being nice often trumps being truthful.  It seems to me that holiness just isn't high on the agenda because, after all, I can just confess it later. As Greg points out in his talk, Jesus took personal piety a lot more seriously.  If we are going to be fully devoted followers of Jesus, then shouldn't we take it more seriously too?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Is Gold Worth Its Weight as an Investment?

I lifted this Warren Buffet quote from an insightful article on gold as an investment by my friend and financial advisor, Brent Everett, Chief Investment Officer for Talis Advisors. Read the full article here.
Today, the world's gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If it were all melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side (fitting within a baseball infield). At $1,750 per ounce, it would be worth $9.6 trillion. With the same amount of money, you could buy all US cropland (400 million acres with output of $200 billion annually) plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world's most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually), and still have about $1 trillion in cash.

 A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops -- and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the currency may be. Exxon Mobil will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The 170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.
Source: Warren Buffett, "Why Stocks Beat Gold and Bonds," Fortune, February 9, 2012.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Richard Dawkins: A Logical Theist

In this two and a half minute video, William Lane Craig shows how self-proclaimed atheist Richard Dawkins is logically a theist. This sort of cognitive dissonance and/or intellectual dishonesty is not uncommon with the "new atheists." Ironically, Mr. Dawkins would like us to call him a "bright" instead of an atheist. Call me silly, but if someone who fancies himself as an intellectual cannot even hold a consistent world view, why would I consider him to be bright, much less *a* bright? If Dawkins wants to be a "bright" and avoid the ridicule and negative consequences of holding to the unpopular, illogical, and philosophically untenable worldview of atheism, perhaps he should openly embrace the theism he's already unwittingly acknowledging. Then he'd be truly bright and enlightened. The irony of the ill conceived "bright" movement is they totally miss or stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the True Light that could illuminate their darkened minds.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quotes on Decision Making


For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. 
 - H.L. Mencken

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits. 
 - Robert Louis Stephenson

Only one thing is certain - that is, nothing is certain. If this statement is true, it is also false. 
 - Ancient Paradox

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. 
 - Will Rogers

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. 
 - Goethe

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. 
 - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. 
 - Henry Ford

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.  
 - George Patton

Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness.  
 - Cullen Hightower

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.  
 - Sun Tzu

Planning without action is futile; action without planning is fatal.  
 - Unknown

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. 
 - Sun Tzu

Confidence is what you feel before you comprehend the situation.   
 - Proverb

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
 - Mitch Ratliffe

Monday, May 28, 2012

Father Profit vs. Mother Nature

"There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit, and we have not even begun to enlist him in this struggle."

- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman in Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America, p. 291

This book changed my thinking substantially. I no longer look at global climate change the way I did before, and I believe I'm much better informed on the topic having read this book. Friedman's treatment of climate change within the context of several interrelated issues such as petrodictatorship, energy poverty, biodiversity, ecology, and the ethics behind the issues makes for not only interesting reading, but a much more compelling overall argument on why a green revolution is not just needed, but inevitable.

Additional quotes I found insightful:

"...'fuels from hell' - coal, oil, and natural gas. All these fuels from hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are burned for transportation, heating, and industrial use. These fuels are in contrast to what Lefkowitz[1] calls 'fuels from heaven' - wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above ground, and are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions." p.69
- [1] reference to Rochelle Lefkowitz, president of Pro-Media Communication

"I don't believe in evolution - I only believe in intelligent design. We need intelligently designed policies to give us the best chance possible to produce the breakthroughs we need." p.293
- Amos Avidan, a principal vice president of Bechtel Corporation and expert on building big power stations

"Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth." p.308
- Oystein Dahle, former vice president of Exxon for Norway and the North Sea

Friedman's book confirms my belief in TANSTAAFM which is a term I coined which plays off of TANSTAAFL.  Replace the final "L for lunch" with "M for market".  There ain't no such thing as a free market. As much as I'm a free market advocate, the truth is no market of truly free. Government regulation and special interest influence on government regulation is a fact of life as long as human beings with their penchant for power and money are in the equation. That is why the quote at the top is the one I found the most insightful. The only way to put market forces to work for good is to have price incentives and profit motives that support good stewardship of our planet's resources.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quotes on Honesty

Regardless of policy, honesty is easier on the nerves.

The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. 
- Thomas Jefferson

The badge of honesty is simplicity.

It matters not what you do—
Make a nation or a shoe;
For he who does an honest thing
In God's pure sight is ranked a king. 
- John Parnell

Even a little lie is dangerous; it deteriorates the conscience. And the importance of conscience is eternal, like love. 
- Pablo Casals

Not keeping an appointment is an act of clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person's money as his time.

It takes an honest person to admit if he's tired or just lazy.

He who loses honesty has nothing else to lose.

There's one way to find out if a man is honest--ask him. If he says yes, you know he is a crook. 
- Groucho Marx

An honest man is the noblest work of God. 
- Alexander Pope

Source: http://www.gcfl.net/archive.php?funny=6676

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Does Prayer Change God's Mind?

Brian Jones believes prayer changes God's mind.  I disagree because the Bible is clear that God is eternal and does not change.  My comment on Brian's blog was as follows:
I believe, but cannot comprehend, that God exists outside the universe of our space-time experience, i.e. space & time are part of God's creation so He's transcendent above them.   So, in the context of this belief which I cannot comprehend, I find the question about God changing his mind to be irrelevant or meaningless from God's perspective as he knows our future interaction with Him with as much or more certainty as we know our past interactions with Him.
A follow up comment from Chris states:
What compels you to assert that time is a thing that's been created by God, and that He is transcendent above it (i.e., exists outside of it)? Of course, I've heard this all of my life, but have lately found the evidence for this assertion to be less than intellectually satisfying. But you're likely aware of data about which I'm not familiar. (I hope this doesn't constitute a hijack of the thread here.)
First, I'd ask what evidence Chris finds "to be less than intellectually satisfying"? And, I'd ask why he believes that the evidence needs to be satisfying.  The longer I live the less certainty I have about what I really know about God, and the more mysterious and transcendent I find Him to be. Isaiah said "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts than your thoughts." We're not promised intellectually satisfying answers, and we're told flat out by the prophet that we cannot comprehend God's ways or thoughts.

The reason I assert that space-time, or without the hyphen as spacetime, is created is the nature of time as proposed by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.  The best theory we have so far about gravity shows time is just another dimension in the universe and distorted by gravity just like spatial dimensions.  If God is truly the creator of the universe then we have to look at the created order as it is, and it appears that spacetime is not space and time.  It is spacetime - one word, one thing.

So, could there be time outside of our spacetime? That is, could God exist in a time continuum outside of our four (or more) dimensional universe? I suppose, but when you start throwing in philosophical ideas like multi-verse theories, we quickly get into the speculative realm of philosophy and away from the physics. My training was in physics. I try to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and I'm skeptical of anything beyond our immediate experience and reason. So, why does this mean God doesn't change his mind? If every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows, then I tend to believe what James says.  It is in the Book.  God does not change like shifting shadows. Period.

Brian Jones says that Genesis 18:17-33 is about prayer, and how God responds to it.  I can agree with that.  If you broadly define prayer as any conversation with God, then this negotiation with God could be seen as a prayer.  However, I've played the same game with my kids.  I'll let them negotiate with me about some purchase they want to make or some permission they are trying to obtain, but this "negotiation" with my kids is not changing my mind.  I'm selectively letting out the information about my firm and fixed position.  It may appear to them that I'm changing my mind if they didn't know my answer to begin with, and I'm simply letting them work through the issue and come to my conclusion.  I think God was doing exactly this with Abraham.

God didn't change his mind.  In fact, the entire negotiation could have been cut off at the beginning if God had just told Abraham that there were not even ten righteous people in Sodom.  God knew that from the beginning.  He knew he was going to destroy the wicked city.  Abraham didn't succeed in getting God to change his mind.  Sodom still went up in smoke.  So, we have no evidence of God changing his mind in this story, or anywhere else that I know of.  Still, I'm willing to change my mind about prayer changing God's mind if someone can provide a compelling argument.

Comments anyone?


Obama Care EMS Unit



...and to answer the question on the back of this truck: "No, I don't miss Bush, 41 or 43."  George Wallace famously said "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats."  He said that in 1968 when a dime was still worth something.  The same statement is still true, and a dime is worth far less today than in 1968.  So, I just refer to our current duopoly as the Republicrats.

On the whole, the mainline Republicrats don't have solutions to the problems facing the United States of America, and the duopoly has done a very good job of keeping good ideas out of the conversation.  Neither Romney or Obama will save us.  We need better choices at the polls, and as long as people vote to win rather than voting on principle, good ideas like those of Ron Paul will be kept out of the conversation.

We are doomed to repeat the same stupid mistakes under our current Republicrat duopoly.  So, vote for some real change.  Don't vote for either of the main parties.  Vote for truth.  If you still vote to win rather than voting on principle, wake up!  Fear of "losing" is False Evidence Appearing Real.  See past the FEAR.  Stop thinking about the "next four years" and think about your children and grandchildren.  Romney is just Obama light.  If you want real change, it starts with voting for what you believe. Otherwise, the "big tent" of duopoly politics is simply not going to change much.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Truth Seeking Information for the Thinker

Secularists counter prayer day with National Day of Reason http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-04-29/national-day-prayer-reason-atheists/54583658/1?fb_ref=.T51vivaIGw8.like&fb_source=profile_multiline

Mathematics of Eternity Prove The Universe Must Have Had A Beginning
Cosmologists use the mathematical properties of eternity to show that although universe may last forever, it must have had a beginning. Published by MIT.
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27793/

Stephen Law on the Non-existence of Jesus of Nazareth
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/stephen-law-on-the-non-existence-of-jesus-of-nazareth#ixzz1tKxNO6In

Dr. Gary Habermas' Dissertation
Michigan State University, 1976
The Resurrection of Jesus:  A Rational Inquiry
http://garyhabermas.com/books/​books.htm

Ancient Non-Christian Sources for the Life of Jesus Christ
http://garyhabermas.com/books/​historicaljesus/​historicaljesus.htm#ch9

Atheist Arizona State University Physics Professor Lawrence Krauss debates “A Universe From Nothing” with an astrophysicist
http://​winteryknight.wordpress.com/​2012/04/29/​lawrence-krauss-debates-a-unive​rse-from-nothing-with-an-astro​physicist/

"Who Are You to Judge Others?" by Dr. Paul Copan
http://www.paulcopan.com/​articles/pdf/​who-are-you-to-judge.pdf


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spiritual Discipline: Study

by Kent Perigo (from Vertical)

Study is defined as “the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge; as by reading, investigation, or reflection.” We study to prepare for tests, our careers and hobbies, so why shouldn’t we study what is most important to us: God, those close to us, ourselves and life.  When you are around people long enough, you will come to know how they are feeling, what they mean to say, and what they need.  With God this becomes more difficult, which brings us to Scripture.

The Bible reveals God in a way that nature can’t.  While we can’t fully comprehend all that God is, He has revealed plenty to give us a reliable framework through which to understand Him and ourselves.  Will studying remove the wonder and mystery of God?  No.  It will actually increase it as you discover all of the facets of His nature and works.

So to be able to obey the command to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, you need to both know God and know about God.  Throughout the Bible, God emphasizes the importance of knowledge as a necessary part of our maturity so that we would be effective and fruitful (2 Peter 1:3-9).  The Bible is a magnificent treasure just waiting to be explored and mined.

Thankfully, God has blessed us with access to many good Bible study resources.  This is extremely important because before you can apply what God is teaching you in His Word, you need to discover what He was saying to the original readers in their culture and situations.  Once you know what God has revealed to them (and then you), what you should believe and what He wants you to do (or not do), I encourage you to learn how to pray and meditate on Scripture.  Christians have long understood that when we set our minds on the things of God (Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:2) the Spirit takes what we have learned and applies them to our minds and hearts.

You might also find it helpful to write down what you have learned and keep your notes organized, constantly adding to them as you continue to grow in Christ.  This will be invaluable as you go through trials and need to review what you have learned for reassurance and comfort, without sorting through all of your notes in the margins of your Bible.

“True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self.”—John Calvin

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Christian Traditions

When I was a little kid I was very perplexed about the whole Santa Claus and Easter Bunny mythology. I remember polling my school mates in 3rd grade one spring in order to figure out who still believed in the Easter Bunny. I was pretty much over it, but I wanted to be sure I wasn't the only one. One kid swore he'd actually *seen* the Easter Bunny, and I didn't know what to do with that. How can you argue with an eye witness account?

Just think about it for a minute. What does a fat guy in a red suit have to do with baby Jesus? And what is the whole cookie and milk exchange for presents all about? Why do rabbits lay decorated eggs in hidden places for little kids to find on the day we talk about Jesus dying on the cross? For a while, I wondered if rabbits actually laid eggs until I was taught about mammals in elementary school.

Most of all, why would my parents lie to me on supposedly sacred holidays? The lies aren't malicious, but why is there this big conspiracy to fool little kids during a time they should be learning the truth of their faith? Does that not seem weird to you? It made no sense whatsoever to me, but no little kid is going to complain about getting presents and candy, so I just went with it. And that's what people do. We don't usually question our traditions. It still seems odd to me that if you want to raise your kids in a religion purported to be true, then why lie to them on the two most holy days of the religious tradition? Am I the only one that sees the irony here?

Many years ago, sometime back in the early 90s, I learned about the Christianization of the pagan festivals that eventually became known as the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter. In a recent conversation with a friend named Jon, he summarized this as follows:
The early church merged their festivals celebrating the resurrection of Christ and Christ’s birth with pagan agricultural festivals (spring and mid-winter) in order to ensure a smooth transition of pagans into the religion. That’s why – specifically – those two festivals are packed with pagan iconography – Eostre is thought to be a pagan goddess. Eggs and rabbits represent fertility. Decorating trees was a pagan custom during the mid-winter festival of Yule (hence Yule-tide). And there’s a lot more where that came from.
Jon is right. There is a lot more to this if you dig into the history. It still bothers me that the two holidays (Holy Days) most celebrated and identified with Christianity across the planet are two "Christianized" pagan celebrations, not the designated feasts or celebrations outlined by God in the Bible. I'm not the only one. Some "fundamentalist" Christians really get hot and bothered by this. Their core complaint does have some merit even if their outrage is a little over the top in some cases.

The commercialization of the Easter and Christmas seasons used to bother me too, but I'm over it. Christmas doesn't come earlier every year like everyone says. Commercial enterprises move out their Halloween stuff to make room for Thanksgiving about the same time every year because Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are big drivers in their Q4 sales. It's just business. And after all these *are* pagan festivals at their core. So, wouldn't it make sense that pagans celebrate in pagan ways? If we want to "put the Christ back in Christmas" perhaps we should also remember that Christ wasn't in Christmas to begin with. I'm just saying...

Monday, March 19, 2012

25+ Thoughts about Guns

  1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
  2. A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
  3. Colt: The original point and click interface.
  4. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
  5. If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?
  6. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
  7. Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
  8. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.
  9. Those who trade liberty for security have neither.
  10. The United States Constitution (c)1791. All Rights Reserved.
  11. What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?
  12. The Second Amendment is in place in case the politicians ignore the others.
  13. 64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
  14. Guns only have two enemies; rust and politicians.
  15. Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.
  16. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.
  17. 911: Government sponsored Dial-a-Prayer.
  18. Assault is a behavior, not a device.
  19. Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.
  20. If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.
  21. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.
  22. You have only the rights you are willing to fight for.
  23. Enforce the gun control laws we ALREADY have; don't make more.
  24. When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.
  25. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.
Those are some pithy little aphorisms. Emotionally I resonate with all 25 of those comments. I live in Texas, and I own guns and support the Constitutional position on the right to bear arms. However, I'm interested in understanding what the Biblical view is regarding the use of force.

Jesus chided Peter for whacking off the high priest's servant's ear, but on a later date he encouraged the disciples to take along a sword but yet with moderation (Luke 22:38b).  Matthew 26:52 is a sobering statement. God obviously sanctions just warfare with plenty of Old Testament battle accounts, stories of good confronting evil with violence, and the End Times with Jesus' return. On the other hand, we are to be subject to our governing authorities (Romans 13).  Does Jesus' statement in Matthew 26:52 relate more to Peter's impulsiveness and emotional response to the situation, or is it a guiding principle for all times and all cultures?  After all, it was Jesus who told them to start packing weapons just before Gethsemane. John MacArthur's study Bible adds that it could be Jesus reproaching vigilantism because Peter was taking the law into his own hands.

Comments welcomed...

Aside: Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling a drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist "

World's Largest Army: The American Hunter


I received this in an email forward.  I haven't checked the numbers, but it sounds reasonable.  If someone finds any factual errors in the info below, please leave a comment.

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After the Japanese decimated our fleet in Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, they could have sent their troop ships and carriers directly to California to finish what they started. The prediction from our Chief of Staff was we would not be able to stop a massive invasion until they reached the Mississippi River.  Our two million man army and war ships were all fighting the Germans.

So, why did the Japanese not invade?

After the war, the remaining Japanese generals and admirals were asked that question. Their answer:  They knew that nearly every home had guns and the Americans knew how to use them.  The world's largest army is American hunters!

I had never thought about this...

A blogger added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states and arrived at a striking conclusion:

There were over 600,000 hunters this season in the state of Wisconsin. So, in effect, over this past deer season Wisconsin's hunters became the eighth largest army in the world with more men under arms than in Iran. This is more men under arms than in France and Germany combined.

These men deployed to the woods of a single American state to hunt with firearms, and no one was killed.  That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania and Michigan's 700,000 hunters all of whom have now returned home.  Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world!

The point?  America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower.  And, we haven't even touched on the number of men under arms in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and all the other states.  Hunting -- it's not just a way to fill the freezer.  It's a matter of national security. That's why all enemies of the United States, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.

Food for thought when next we consider gun control.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ron Paul schools Ben Bernanke on Economics - Part 4

This is Part 4 of 4.  Here are the links for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  This video is included in Part 3 after 3:45 into that video so if you watched all of Part 3 you've already seen this.  I'm keeping this video here since sometimes these get taken down off YouTube.  If you watched all four of these or at least the first three and got to this one, I'd be interested in your comments.

Do you think our fiat money is debased to the point of no return?  If you don't know what fiat money is or where it comes from, then you need to know "The Truth about the Fed" and "The Truth about Money."  Just click on those two links for more free information and education on money.

Ron Paul schools Ben Bernanke on Economics - Part 3

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series.  Here are the links for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4.  At 3:45 in this video it fades into the Part 4 video, so if you watch this one all the way through, then Part 4 will be redundant.  I'm keeping Part 4 up because these videos sometimes get taken down off YouTube.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Five Thoughts on Socialism

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, The creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery..." -- Winston Churchill
  1. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
  2. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  3. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  4. The government cannot give anybody anything that it does not first take from somebody else.
  5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

10 Life Truths for Adults

1. There is nothing worse than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

2. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

3. Was learning cursive really necessary?

4. Google Maps really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

5. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died. (Okay, that’s morbid, but true!)

6. Bad decisions make good stories.

7. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

8. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection ...again.

9. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

10. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys and finding their cell phone, but I'll bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from three feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

Adapted/Edited from: http://www.gcfl.net/latest.php