Thursday, March 30, 2006
  Ephesians Meme...
My buddy Bear and his friend Doug are gonna do some hard core study of Ephesians. I think I'll join in.

Here's what they're going to do:
1. Find out the history of the Ephesian church in Acts. This provides some context.
2. Use whatever resources you have (except commentaries) to discover when and where it was written.
3. Read the book in one setting.
4. Answer the who and what questions. (I have to keep in mind that this is an overview, I can get bogged down in minutia this early.) For example, who are the Ephesians? What is the author saying to the original audience? What situation is the author addressing? What does Paul say is happeneing to himself? Whom does he address specifically? What does he say about God?
5. Go through the chapters and answer the why questions. Why is Paul saying this to them? Why did he use this example? Why does he mention certain people?
6. Lastly, after going through chapter by chapter, review your notes and ask How does this apply to me?

Here goes.
  To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo...
Not really a funny post per se, but I don't have a more appropos icon. I've had a though flit through my head from time to time over the past few months and I'm using my forum to put these thoughts down. The though is, whether or not to get inked.

I love good tattoos. I think it's an art form, one that is filled with a lot of bad art like any other. They can be sexy, stirring, disturbing, horrific, inspiring, etc. Up until now I've never put serious thought into getting one for myself though. I'm against pain. They're awfully permanent (though not absolutely). Good ones are expensive. Getting one carries with it risk of infection, or worse. I understand that it hurts. I don't have a rock solid idea for one. I'm afraid of looking lame, getting one at my age (not that I'm old). Did I mention that I don't care much for pain?

Anyway, I'm curious not so much what you think of me getting one (this sort of decision in one of the most personal), but what you think of them in general.

Why I would get one. I think that if you get a good one and put some looooong thought into it it's a great personal statement. It would be a good expression of my individuality (I wouldn't get one that the artist had "on the wall"). That's all I got right now.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
  Human Nature...
We're still looking at the Westminster Confession in our leadership training and today's reading was on Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the Punishment thereof. The commentary talked about the common notion that man is basically good vs. the Bible's depiction of the Fall.

I agree with what Smith said in the book. Because man is made in the image of God we are capable of extreme good. We can be generous, courageous, loving, all the good things that God is. To be made in the image of God, he says, has little or nothing to do with intelligence, communication, etc. It is our ability to act as moral agents. What the Fall has done, is to take that ability and flip it. Not only are we able to do all that is good, we are unable to do solely that. We are as capable of committing murder, lying, stealing, disrespecting others and do so (to varying degrees) every day.

I don't think that the Bible teaches that man cannot be "good", it is that we cannot be good enough. The measuring stick is longer than our field of vision allows us to see. There is no part in us that is not tainted to a degree. That's what the total depravity that Calvin spoke of is all about. It's not that we are all as bad as human beings can be, it's that there is no part of us that is spotless.

People often bring up Mother Theresa in these discussions. "Wasn't she good? Wasn't Gandhi good?" Well of course they were. But I'm sure that they got angry. I have no doubt that as children or even adults they struggled with lusts of the flesh, or even pride (easy enough to do when your time is consumed with your good works). So the question is not "Weren't they good" but instead "Did they sin?"

The answer to that is of course they did. People sin. Even the "best people" do. It's unavoidable. Even Christians do. That's why they felt the need to put
This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
n the confession. We followers of the Way too often forget that.

Thankfully there came a man who is able to deal with that sin. In some fashion (one that is a Mystery) he was able to live without sinning. He had the perfect human nature. He showed us what it looks like to live in a state of being permanently plugged in to God. If you think you are "good enough" you look at Christ and then you come back to me and we'll talk. I know I'm not there yet (and won't ever be).
  Holy Hotties...

JC's Girls is a ministry to women that are in the sex worker industry. Heather is a former stripper that wants to share the gospel with women that are where she was.

Their website includes links to XXXChurch (a ministry that helps those who struggle with pornography) and other groups to help men as well. I can see how this ministry is needed and I'm glad to see it. They are supported by a mainstream Baptist church in California which is surpising.

And it seems that these women have a healthy attitude towards sexuality in their marriages. Heather still strips but only for her husband. One user on gr.org said
The LA interview included that she teaches the women in her church how to strip for their husbands. Note to Lifeway: produce an instructional video, and it will outsell Warren and Eldredge combined.

From GetReligion's article:

Every month, JC’s Girls (JC is for Jesus Christ) and a few female volunteer church members visit strip clubs, where they pay for lap dances. While alone with a stripper in a booth, they forgo the dance and share the Gospel. In January, JC’s Girls went to Las Vegas for the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, regarded as the nation’s largest trade show in the porn business, and handed out more than 200 Bibles wrapped in “Holy Hottie” T-shirts. Veitch, 31, who was a stripper for four years, founded the outreach ministry last March.

I love her answer to Alan Colmes' question “Can you be a stripper and a believer at the same time?”.

“The question,” she answered, “is can you be a glutton and a believer at the same time? Can you be a liar and a believer at the same time? Yes.”

Too often we see "sinners" as being other instead of remembering where we were and were we are now, sinners ourselves saved by grace.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
  Holographic Drives,,,

515 Gigs in a square inch? Sounds good to me. Between this and the 32 Gig flash drives I read about recently the "click of death" is on its way out. Of course it will no doubt be replaced by something silent, but just as deadly.

All I know is that my inner geek says that this puts us a step closer to those cool cards they had in Star Trek (they had no moving parts so they weren't floppies and no holes for pins so they weren't like flash memory).
  God's paintbrush...

Psalm 19
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;[a]
4 yet their message has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.
The sun lives in the heavens
where God placed it.
5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom
after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete
eager to run the race.
6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the LORD are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear,
giving insight to life.
9 Reverence for the LORD is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the LORD are true;
each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to those who hear them;
there is great reward for those who obey them.
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep me from deliberate sins!
Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Monday, March 27, 2006
  Travel Plans...
News of a personal variety. I'll be traveling to the great states of Tennessee and Georgia in a couple of weeks. My company has a business office in Dalton, GA. I'll likely fly into Chattanooga, TN and stay two nights there. I understand that they have a choo-choo there. Hopefully I'll find something fun to do in the evenings.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
  M.C.F.A.T. Volume X

1) You loved it, but critics hated it, or vice versa. Who’s right?
Well taste is a personal thing, so if I like something then no critic can take that away from me. However if you are trying to tell someone else why something (say... The Mummy or Armageddon) you better bring more to the party than that.

2) What’s the most expensive hobby you’ve had?
If I had actually spent money on it (and I want to) the Society for Creative Anachronism. Most expensive that I actually have spent money on? Beer making.

3) What sports, if any, have you played as part of an organized team? What sports, if any, have you played for fun?
Baseball and Bowling as part of a team. Volleyball, basketball, football (touch), foursquare, tennis (badly).

4) What would you do if you had a pet monkey?
Sell it.

5) Which is better: extreme heat or extreme cold?
Extreme cold. In theory one can always put on more clothes.
  Dell Renegade...
This is probably about as close as I've come to using "real profanity" on this here blog. Dell has a computer that costs ten grand! Mother #$(*$#(#!!!

Here's a picture:

This thing can have a terrabyte of HD space, 2 GIGS of RAM, an overclocked processor that's like six GIGAHERTZ. This is for playing GAMES! WTF!!!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
  My V for Vendetta Review...

Mine's up click here and scroll down to check it out. One more review and I'll have my own spot.
  Dilettante Missionaries...
Click the title for an interesting (and challenging) take on short term missions. I don't think he's sayign that all short term missionaries are useless, but a lot of folks do treat it as a mini-vacation.
  Happy Blog-iversary To Me...
I started this joint back in March of last year as a way of dealing with moving, a new job, and other junk. Who'da thunk it would last this long.
  Westminster Confession...
I posted a few days ago that we're going over the Westminster Confession of Faith in a leadership class at my church. It's a document that was written in the 17th Century. (A little wiki history) It isn't inspired by God so it's not considered infallible, but it was written by a large group of scholars who studied and prayed over it for years so it does carry some weight (at least in Reformed circles).

So last night's class went over the first five chapters. It was challenging to cover that much material in a rather short time and we had some good discussion. I thought I'd share the ones that challenged me the most as a way of working through them.

From chapter one...
Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;[1] …

This is a big struggle for me. What it says basically is that creation itself shows us God's nature in such a way that no man should be able to say, "There is no god." This is called "General Revelation". It doesn't mean that nature is enough for us to now that this creator god is the Christian/Jewish God. That's "Specific Revelation" and is given to us in the Bible. The reason I have a hard time with it is I know that there are people that don't see any kind of creator as having been necessary to get us here and now. My friend (and Assoc. Pastor) Ben says that anyone who says that is really lying to themselves. I'm not so sure.

Later that same chapter:
which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;[5] those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.[6]

I can't quite track what that last bit means. What has ceased. It seems to me that it's referring to God manifesting himself in physical ways (pillar of fire, burning bush, etc.) or through His prophets.

From chapter three:
I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]

I agree with what is said here, but this is one of those apparent paradoxes that comes with a belief in God's sovereignty. He ordains everything but didn't author sin, intrude on our free will, or interfere with second causes (natural laws).

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praised of His glorious justice.[17]

This is more interesting than difficult to me. The language regarding reprobation here is more passive than the language regarding election. God "withholds mercy" and passes by the reprobate.
  Bush and the Apocalypse...
President Bush on a trip to Ohio was asked a rather interesting question. Interesting if for no other reason than it wasn't a softball.

One woman asked Bush whether he saw terrorism as a sign of the biblical Apocalypse,

to which Bush said:

"I haven't really thought of it that way. ... I guess I'm more of a practical fellow."

and proceeded to lay down his usual talking points.

Now I think his answer was BS, but this is one of those no-win situations for him. He answers "Yes." and that just confirms what everyone thinks about him. He answers "No." and everyone thinks "Liar."

Personally, my eschatology doesn't follow along those lines, but if Bush's does then that's fine. As long as that wasn't the sole criteria for us going in, I don't have a problem. Even if it was just in the back of his head that'd be okay.

So here's a question, is it a bad thing necessarily for a politician's religious beliefs to influence his policy decisions? I say not in every case. As a Christian, almost everything I do is somehow influenced by my faith. If I were Senator Roche or God forbid, President Roche (though that does sound rather nice) I wouldn't check my Bible at the door. What do you think?
  Tom Lehrer and the Elements...
If you don't think you know who Tom Lehrer is then maybe mention of the "-LY" song or the "Silent E" song that ran on the Electric Company will jog your memory. If not, then watch this bit of Flash animation set to his song about the elements and if you defenitely still haven't heard of him then seek him out. If you have then you're welcome for this trip down memory lane. Thanks to Kathy R. for the link!
Monday, March 20, 2006
  V Review...

Mine's not up yet but click here to check out some other takes and this is where mine will be.

Afghan Man Faces Death for Allegedly Converting to Christianity

Rahman, who is believed to be 41, was charged with rejecting Islam when his trial started last week, the judge said.

During the hearing, the defendant allegedly confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago when he was 25 and working as a medical aid worker for Afghan refugees in neighboring Pakistan, Mawlavezada said.

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which states that any Muslim who rejects their religion should be sentenced to death.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty."

Good thing they're not against any particular religion.

Oh and to make sure I do this thing right, shout out to Dan @ Cerulean Sanctum for originally bringing this to my attention.
Friday, March 17, 2006
  Pretty, Pretty PC...

This is kinda cute:

The specs are nice with an Intel Duo Core T2300 at 1.66GHz, an Intel® 945GT with Embedded 3D engine Video Chipset, DVI and S-Video out, 1GB of DDR2-533MHz RAM, Wireless a/b/g, a 80GB SATA HDD, a DL and RAM DVD burner, Bluetooth, 3 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, a TV port and Windows Media Center Edition.
(from AkihabaraNews)

But cuter than the Mac Mini?

You be the judge.
  V for Very Excited...

Provided all the stars line up I will be seeing V this weekend.

I am very excited in spite of its cool reception among some critics. I've not read the graphic novel it's based on (probably a plus). I'm seeing it with some fellow movie/comics geeks and I'll be writing a review for HJ.com sometime this weekend.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
My first review for HollywoodJesus is up and it's one of Firewall.

  The Samchillian Keyboard...
Okay this is pretty dang cool. From Gizmodo:

an experimental musical keyboard by Israeli industrial designer Eitan Shefer, which is a MIDI controller based on relativity. The Samchillian keyboard takes a novel approach to a musical instrument, where you play music not as specific notes but select how they relate to the ones before them. For example, if you're playing a C and then want to play a D, you just push the +1 key. There are two directional keys, 16 keys and eight finger positions, and when you want to bend the pitch or manipulate the filters, you tilt the unit from side-to-side. It's also customizable for large or small hands.

  Local Terrorism Part the Second...
The Charlotte Observer has this to say about the recent events at UNC.

Triangle-area Muslim leaders on Wednesday denounced a letter from a 22-year-old man who wrote he staged an "attack" on UNC Chapel Hill students out of a love for Allah.

Feel free to read the rest, but what jumped out at me (and Brad and Britt on FM Talk 101.1) was the use of the word attack in quotes. What's up with that? They weren't really quoting him. It seems that they're saying that it wasn't an attack at all. Crazy.
  Child P*rn Ring...

U.S. and international authorities have charged 27 people in connection with an online child pornography enterprise, federal authorities said Wednesday.

These psychos were dealing in stuff that involved 18 month olds. I know that as a Christian and a Democrat I'm probably supposed to believe that these people can be reformed and find forgiveness, but right now all I feel is a cold rage and a fervent hope that their future cell mates introduce them to a world of pain and humiliation.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
  Peter Jackson...
is a genius. Here he gives us some great outtakes from Kong after having won another award. (Thanks to Chest Rockwell for the link.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Testing 1,2,3...
This is a test of the categories I'm setting up.

The buttons on each post now take you to a list of posts in that category.
  Local Terrorism...
Maybe you folks outside our illustrious state have heard about it and maybe not. On March 3rd Mohammed Taheri-azar, a student at UNC - Chapel Hill, drove into a cluster of his fellow students attempting to kill them. He did this, he said, in retribution for what the US has done in other countries and to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.

I heard on the news this morning that this act may or may not be be defined as terrorism, legally. It could be that he's suffering from a mental disorder and that he did it not as a terrorist act, but because he's sick. I can agree that whether or not he's a terrorist would depend on his mental state. Just as murder isn't murder (legally) if you are temporarily insane, I would say that terrorism isn't legally terrorism if you aren't in your right mind. (Though how you could kill a building full of people and be in your right mind is a topic for another discussion.) I'll leave that up to the judges.

Or I would if this person could be tried as a terrorist. Because he didn't commit a federal crime and because Norht Carolina doesn't have increased sentencing guidelines for terrorist acts not involving WMD's, the worst he can get is attempted murder. No doubt he will do some jail time, but it would be nice if he could stay in jail a little longer as a terrorist, since that was his expressed motive. All of this of course applying only if he isn't crazy in the legal sense.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
  Swiss Beat...
Man this thing is cooool:

And at 169.99 for a 1 gig MP3 player with FM radio AND a pair of cool scissors that's not bad. ;-)
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
  Church Stuff...
I'm taking a class on leadership at my church. As part of that, we're reading The Westminster Confession: Enjoying God Forever. Or reading this week was on Chapter I of the Confession and Psalm 19. Expect thoughts on both as the week progresses.

Also I'm working on getting our church a blog. I think it would be a great communications tool.
  Dark Chocolate...
I should get a "Food" button. Anyway, my wife bought me this:

and WOW! This has a really complex flavor, a little tart, a little bitter. It melts WONDERFULLY on the tongue. Not your father's candy bar. Good stuff for a serious chocolate eater.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
  X-men III...
The Last Stand

Click the pic for the trailer:

Looks pretty awesome to me.
Monday, March 06, 2006
  Ice Cream and Beer...

Proof of God? Maybe not, but two tastes that taste great together.

Thanks the Ms. Gubbins of NYCE who tells us that Ben and Jerry are unleashing this:

pint o' goodness (it comes in a pint natch) just in time for St. Patty's day. I can't wait!
  Classical Guitar...
Crank it up and rip the nob off!

(Thanks to Razorskiss!)

Friday, March 03, 2006
  I Believe in Miracles...

Do you?

Dan Edelen over at Cerulean Sanctum does and posts some stories he has heard.

Some of it (all of it really) is hard for me to believe. How much of that is "healthy skepticism" and how much is my Western mind at work? I mean if I believe in a literal bodily resurrection, healing by the disciples (and Jesus), etc. then why not believe that it still happens? I'm not a cessationist. I've seen a thing or two that I qualify as miraculous, but nothing like what he writes.

What do you think gentle readers?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
  A Flawed Creation...
cross Over on CodeMorse I had this discussion based on this post.

Morse then asked this:

Why would God intentionally allow a flawed creation?

My answer:

When God created the Earth it was good. So the question would be, "Why would God allow sin into his creation, thus corrupting it?". A question for the ages this one. A brief answer is that Adam and Eve are the only humans that truly had free will. Absent of the taint of sin they could make a free, moral choice. They choose badly. For God to have prevented that would have made them automatons.

Now I believe that every human since then has been a slave to sin and the creation has suffered as a result. Spiritual radioactive fallout if you will. Some believe that people still have free will enough to choose God and break free of sin's grip. I believe that the Holy Spirit is the one that does the freeing. That aside (as it isn't the point of the question) creation still suffers from the fall.

Continuing our cross-blog discussion Matt raises some more questions (he's good at that, being a lawyer and all ;-)).

Why is this necessary?

Well the way I see it, God didn't take away free will (by enslaving man to sin) or extend that sin to his offspring. It was a natural consequence of Adam's (and Eve's) actions. They opened the floodgates of sin. As a result of their sins, we all now live in a tainted world.

If, in a flawed and sinful world, people are still trying to do the right thing, then doesn't that show an innate and willful desire to rise above our anger, our sin, our base humanity, and be better than?

It shows to me God's fingerprint on his creation. We desire to be like our creator. And he has given us a way to do that. He has a plan that will redeem his creation.

What purpose does it serve, to stain a person at birth? Why tie weights to a runner’s legs before he begins the race?

Is it because God is training us? Forging us into better people through suffering?

Or is it because God is whimsical, and capricious?

God didn't put the sin on people. It's like being born in a post-apocalyptic world full of harmful radiation. It's a natural consequence of being born into the world. God has given us the cure for it though.

Now God does use adversity to train his children (note: we aren't all God's children) but that discipline isn't sin itself. Rather he uses the consequences of our sin to shape us and make us stronger.

Update with more good questions.

Without the prodding of a third, serpentine, party, would Eve have eaten from the tree? Maybe, but it seems doubtful.

Well let's look at what happened (according to Genesis).

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

Eve was already adding to her orders. God didn't say that merely touching the fruit was bad.

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

Odds are she would have come to that conclusion on her own, eventually. Not sure why it seems doubtful. I think that God knew about the snake and he also knew that Adam and Eve would fail. I think he knew this for absolute certain (being omniscient and all). I give my children orders all the time knowing that sooner or later they will disobey me. That doesn't mean I should stop giving them orders, fail to punish them if they disobey, or tie them to a chair of they can't obey.

Their actions were their own (free moral agents). Creation was perfect, spotless and without blemish. That doesn't mean that any human in that same position wouldn't be tempted when it came to having new knowledge. I don't think giving her and Adam free will made them imperfect in any way. Perfect in form does'nt necessarily mean unable to sin or even unwilling to sin. If temptation wasn't there then after all how could we resist it.

Radiation sickness could come from being too near a naturally occurring radioactive material. Happened all the time in the old days of mining. And that's how Mmme. Curie died, no bomb required. It was in her environment naturally, just like sin.

Re: your child/pot/stranger analogy

Adam and Eve weren't children. They were adults who God enabled to make their own decision. If my grown child made a bad decision when I told them not only that the decision would be bad, but that it would have consequences and they made that decision anyway then it would be their fault. Now if that does happen (and I'm sure that it will) I will still love my child and provide for them (as God has done). I would try to undo any damage that has been done (again God has done that). None of that would change a natural consequence (them being burned/Adam and Eve recieving knowledge that was their undoing) or even a logical consequence (not being allowed around a stove/being cast out of the garden).

God didn't decide that all of Adam's descendants were inherently sinful. They just are. It is their nature. They are separated from God. God didn't wave a wand and make them that way. All God did directly was tell them that life would be hard for them and their descendants as far as labor, childbirth, and eventual death. As far as "original sin" is concerned I look at it this way, if Adam who walked with God daily, talked with him, saw him, had perfect relationship with him was capable of sinning then I don't really see how anyone else would be incapable. That may not be the "Church"'s definition, but it's how I read the Scripture.

And we aren't all God's children (again as far as Christianity/the Bible teaches) because nowhere does it teach that we are. If you want to believe that we all are then I can't convince you otherwise but I'd be interested in knowing why you think so. I'll tell you what the Bible does teach.

Romans 8:15
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, " Abba! Father!"

We (Christians) have been adopted into God's family. Only in that way (a very important way) is anyone other than Christ, God's son. Christ is God's only begotten. Begotten from the Greek monogenes, means single of its kind, only used of only sons or daughters (viewed in relation to their parents), used of Christ, denotes the only begotten son of God.
  Buttons Take 2...

Buttons2, originally uploaded by capteucalyptus.

Herr Logan designed some suuuuh-weet buttons. Here's a test to see how they look. We might customize the color. Let me know what you frink.


This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from capteucalyptus. Make your own badge here.