Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sick Again

So now I have a cold. This year has not been a good one health-wise. In January I came down with the flu and would've been sick longer had it not been for the Tamiflu medicine. I've missed days due to my back, my ears (tinitus), my lungs (bronchitis), my head (migraines). While some of these are more prevalent due to the fact I'm becoming older, I keep thinking that one day I will be fairly free from exposure to cold germs. Afterall, I've been experiencing headcolds for 45 years, you'd think I finally run into one I've had before and therefore resist it with my hardwon immunity. But wait, there are thousands upon thousands of variations on the common cold so maybe this will apply when I'm 200 years old (NOT!).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Deutschland Ueber Alles! (Or Me as a Country)

This link came from Laura's blog. And to think I was just telling someone yesterday that my personality is so German. I don't know about that Green Party stuff -I'd be more at home in the CDP.



You're Germany!

You have a really ugly past, one that defies description.
 This gives you tremendous guilt, but you've coped with it and flourished
into an awfully good person, considering.  You've finally made peace with
yourself, in so many ways, and you've been able to build on that for a bright
and capable future.  You've become so enlightened that you're probably
a member of the Green Party, or at least listen to their demands.



Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

The Ant & The Grasshopper

My officemate sent the following to me, I think it illustrates quite well the victicrat mentality that seeks to rule this country :


OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!


MODERN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, "It's Not Easy Being Green"
Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome."
Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.
Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share."
Finally, the EEOC drafts the "Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act," retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.
Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.
The ant loses the case.
The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Vote Republican

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Random Musings

- This month has seemed to go on forever-maybe it's because I'm looking forward to the two weeks off at Christmas.

- I told the High School girls in my small group that I had read their "My Spaces" blogs - you should've seen the look on their faces. Priceless.

- Still reading Ann Coulter's book "Treason", finished her book "Slander", still to go "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Really Must)". Bought them all on the cheap at Costco.

- Went to the Sea Empress Restaurant for Dim Sum today. Yummmm!

- Contributed to the Member Forum on the ABE website for the first time, I'm getting braver in the blogosphere.

- Time to go to bed, I have an early meeting (8:30 am is early for me, don't laugh).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Face We Have

Abraham Lincoln once said that you’re not responsible for the face you’re born with, but your face at fifty is all your fault. Every once in a while you run into someone that illustrates this truism. Laura has remarked that our Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a perfect example of Lincoln's comment. Although Waters' website shows a smiling, relaxed countenance, I have seen her press conferences on TV where she more resembles a snarling dog, with her bitter, paranoid ramblings (she proudly asserted, and still does that the CIA sold crack in Los Angeles and that the minority rioters in 1992 were practicing "civil disobedience" when they burned and looted their own neighborhoods. BTW, I should know - I live there and the folks running down the street were not carrying "essentials" from the liquor store. They looked a lot like they were stocking up for a huge party with their fifths of whiskey.) Anyway, she seems to carry so much rage at all her perceived injustices that the angry look has frozen permanently on her face. Perhaps she is proud that her face bears the marks of her suffering and if that is all that has caused it, I will comment no further as I have now discovered a better example of Lincoln's statement.

Recently, I shared an elevator with a woman I worked with about 18 years ago. I don't rightly know this woman's exact age, although I can estimate it as close to my own (+/- 3 years) based on conversation during the time we worked in the same building. She was then, pretty and petite, but with a mouth on her like a longshoreman (sorry longshoremen). You could hear her halfway down the hall, swearing at some guy that had crossed her. Because she had such an outspoken manner, everyone was aware that she liked to party. She was hard-drinking and hard-smoking; she often stood in the pouring rain to get that one last drag on her cigarette before she'd have to come back into the building. Someone had mentioned to me a few years ago that she had gone through a number of marriages/relationships since I first knew her.

Anyway, when she got on the elevator last week, I almost thought that she had been crying -her eyes seemed red and puffy, her face crinkled with lines (what they call the tracks of the tears). On further observation, I realized she hadn't been crying at all, but that her face bore instead the imprint of a very hard life. It was very sad that this once pretty woman had been disfigured by stress. Furthermore, she had tried to cover up the lines and such with make-up techniques that seemed to have been learned at the Tammy Faye School of Cosmetology.

I say all this, not to mock the poor woman, she is afterall, a person made in the image of God whom He loves dearly ( as is true for Ms. Waters), but it reminded me of an important lesson found in Proverbs 31: "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. ... Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised." (NLT)

When we adorn ourselves with strength and dignity, with "inner beauty" as Paul writes about, we will have an ageless quality that will not need to be hidden by make-up or re-arranged by the plastic surgeon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tithing

I had a very interesting conversation today with a co-worker on the subject of tithing. He was describing a capital fundraising drive taking place at his church. It seems the pastor of this fellowship is pressuring the congregation to "step up" their giving to sacrificial levels (we're talking 20% type) and to record your pledges so that the leadership will "know" that this is happening. There seems to be guilt trip associated with the whole process along with "some name it and claim it" theology - give until it hurts and the Lord will bless you back financially.

While the people of God in the Old Testament did bring tithes totaling 23% in some cases, a model for New Testament churches was found in 2 Corinthians 9:7-9, "You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 'Godly people give generously to the poor.Their good deeds will never be forgotten.'" (NLT) . The focus here was first deciding how much and then doing it cheerfully, from the heart. Unfortunately, this pastor seemed to be encouraging people to go into debt or neglect family responsibilities so that they would have the $3M needed for his plans. If that is not a recipe to drive folks out, I don't know what is. Instead, God calls us to be good stewards of the time, talent and treasure He loans us. In reality, everything we have belongs to Him and we should not hoard it. When, one day, we stand before Him, we want to be able to give a good accounting of how we invested all of that for His kingdom.

How sad that the pastor of that church would have to resort to such tactics to bring in the bacon.
TFB has it faults, but one thing I can truly say, we do not have to go to those lengths to have our needs met. Our pastoral staff and church leadership have no clue as to who gives what. When we have needs, we say so and God directs His people to meet those needs. Churches that try strong-arm fundraising techniques are what cause non-believers to think that we are all about the money. This is so not Jesus.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Blogging for God?

Last week, my roommate Laura attended the GODBLOGCON held at Biola University. (You can visit her blog for more info about the conference). It got me thinking about all the blogs that are out there, particularly the ones I enjoy reading regularly -the ones I link to through Laura's site, my political blogs and online columns I have bookmarked, friends' blogs where I discover what is going on in their lives. I was recently showing someone how they could blog as a means of connecting with others of like interests. All of those things are good; potentially, it makes the blogger into a journalist. The blogosphere is not dependent on the mainstream media in order to get out whatever message the blogger is trying to communicate. There is no editor you have to get approval from prior to publishing. However, some of the messages that are going out need some self-editing. In this I refer to the disturbing blogs I see on the Xanga and MySpace sites. Mind you, I am perfectly content to stay here and blog on Blogger; unfortunately in order to communicate with some of my students, I must enter their world there. What I have seen is distressing, particularly among students claiming to be Christians with "F'ing this", "S... that", "she's a B..." There's pictures of things I care not to describe and an embracing of worldly things that would certainly bring shame to the average believer (laura says no, adults are caught up in the world just as severely as teenagers, their vices are just different.)
While I need to ponder this further, I will make one observation: whether or not they intend to, their blogs that identify the bloggers as "Christians" while simultaneously embracing the hedonistic culture, are in a sense "blogging for God." It's just a very bad testimony for Him.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

What Kind Of American English Do I Speak?



Your Linguistic Profile:



55% General American English

20% Upper Midwestern

15% Yankee

10% Dixie

0% Midwestern


Very interesting since I am a third generation southern Californian. My maternal grandparents were both from the Southwest -although my grandmother was born in Oklahoma territory before migrating as a small child to Texas then New Mexico. My grandfather was born in territory of eastern New Mexico, his dialect was similar to a Texas dialect.
My paternal great-grandparents were German (3) and Norwegian(1) and did not teach their children their native tongues after immigrating to the Los Angeles area over 100 years ago. I don't understand where the Yankee or Upper Midwestern liguistic profile comes from in my background unless that is how the Californian dialect was formed.

THS Homecoming

Last Night I went to the Torrance High School Homecoming Football game - my first homecoming game in 27 years. Although THS lost to PV 22-28 when they allowed the clock to run out with the ball on the one yard line, I had a marvelous time. It wasn't the game itself that so pleasant, but the fact that I was able to reconnect with some High School friends that I hadn't seen since graduation.So many years have passed and yet, deep down inside, the same young girls that left THS for a big, bright future were still there, with a lot more gray hair and a heck of a lot of wisdom gained from our lives since then. It seemed like a lifetime ago and mostly it was -I was the only one of the lot that hadn't married or had children. As I was quickly reminded, many of the classmates our age have grown or nearly grown children. The students on the playing field, the cheerleaders on the track could easily be our own.

It was interesting to note how much the students and the trappings of the Homecoming celebration have changed since we were there. The band was much smaller and the cheer squad (or whatever they call themselves now) much larger than what we experienced in our day. At the game, there were no differentiation among Varsity, JV and Songleaders, the Mascots were cartoon-like and there were no drill teamers, majorettes or small flags.The crowd was somewhat small for what was once considered the most important football game of the year. Despite the "differences", there was a moment when I felt like I was seventeen again -thinking about classes,teachers and students, wondering what the future would hold for us.
Twenty seven years from now, I will be 72, Lord willing, old by anyone's estimation. Perhaps then I will attend the homecoming game and marvel how things have changed again. But then there will be a whole new generation comparing that day to the homecoming game of 2005 -the band will be different and so will the cheersquad. They will say, "Remember how they drove the HC queen in her fluffy white dress and all her court in those classic 'Stangs." It will be fun and amusing.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Brain Pattern

Your Brain's Pattern

Structured and organized, you have a knack for thinking clearly.
You are very logical - and you don't let your thoughts get polluted with emotions.
And while your thoughts are pretty serious, they're anything from boring.
It's minds like yours that have built the great cities of the world!
Another interesting test I got from Laura. The shapes reminded me of the anechoic chamber at work. As always, the nerd in me wins out.

Friday, October 07, 2005

ABCPSW Withdrawing from the ABCUSA

One of the more interesting news items has been that of our region -the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest beginning to separate from the "Mother Ship", also know as the ABCUSA over the issue of Biblical Authority with respect to homosexuality. In simplistic terms the ABCUSA, despite having an official policy condemning homosexual practice as contrary to Christian teaching, has permitted openly homosexual individuals to serve in leadership positions and allowed "welcoming and affirming" (AWAB) pro-homosexual churches to remain in cooperating relationship with the denomination despite their having been "kicked out" of their regions for their practices.
The deeper issue is not the pro-gay side versus anti-gay, but rather a sharp difference on biblical authority. The folks in the PSW see the national board as rejecting the ultimate authority of God's Word and replacing it with (substituting) "soul competency" and local autonomy.
For some in-depth analysis of the issues involved, I direct you to my former pastor, Dr. Dennis McFadden's blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What is Supernatural?

Some recent comments to me have appeared to imply that I do not believe in the supernatural or that I am a skeptic concerning the power of God. Those "jabs" at my expense I find offensive and are untrue. Often in ministry we get very excited when things go our way and rightfully we want to give God the credit that is His due. However when things don't go our way, we have a tendency to blame Satan and his demons as the cause of our failure. I have seen both the power of God and demonic forces at work, yet it has not been demons that have caused 90% of our TFB High School students to abandon the faith. Their quest for fleshly pleasure and worldly approbation have claimed by far the majority of those that have bailed. This why the Bible warns us against the world, the flesh and the devil -the world is conforming us constantly unless we are being transformed, our flesh is seeking its own way and warring against our spiritual nature, while the devil prowls about like a roaring lion , seeking to devour weak Christians.
In the MTV generation, the world system is much more nefarious than Satan himself. He sits back and laughs that we focus so much on his works when the world, all the world lovers, and lovers of self do his work for him. Although he is a powerful fallen angel, he is not omnipotent and has already been defeated by the blood of Christ.

Praying against Satan is insufficient if we ignore the other two sources (world and flesh) that work to cripple faith. If we want something to pray about, let's pray that Jesus breaks people's attachment to things that entangle us and keep us from fixing our eyes on Jesus(Hebrews 12:1,2).

Here's my view on the subject:The word "supernatural" refers to "anything relating to a deity", so anything relating to God is by nature, supernatural. A miracle is an "extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs" or "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment". Miracles are not births of babies or finding good parking places (as wonderful as those things can be) and are instead things like blind men seeing, Jesus walking on water, feeding 5000, parting of Red Sea and are very rare (by definition). To call births of babies and finding great parking places miracles "cheapens actual miracles- it degrades the definition" (this is from a statement made by Laura). I do not deny miracles, I suggest only that they are quite rare.

While miracles are supernatural (something done by God), not everything done by God is a miracle. Exercising one's spiritual gifts is supernatural, but if it happens regularly (normal part of one's Christian experience) it is not necessarily miraculous. The things God is doing in our ministries are often supernatural as well, but, as I was sharing with some co-workers, it is no longer necessary now(as I had prayed for years in the past to see one) for me to see a actual miracle in order to have faith. In fact, seeing a miracle would not create faith because faith is the evidence of things unseen. Jesus (John chapter2) sees people following Him because He performs miracles. The passage says , "But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew what people were really like. No one needed to tell him about human nature."

Let's be careful not to see demons under every rock or a miracle in every sunset. Instead, let us have faith in the Creator and Sustainer of all things who has crushed Satan's head under His heel, fixing our eyes on Him instead of the world system.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More On Prayer

These are some recent thoughts on prayer.

On placing an emphasis on prayer as the "number one priority" in the believers' life:

We are to "pray without ceasing" but that is the outflow of our growing
relationship with our loving God. In a marriage relationship, it would
be silly for a husband to say, "My number one Priority in my marriage is
to talk to my wife." If he never listened and only talked, she might soon
leave him. He instead needs to love her by getting to know her better,
listening, spending time, praising her, doing the things that make her happy. This holds true with our relationship with Christ -it is a reciprocal, loving
relationship.

Sunday, Pastor Charlie played a clip from Bruce Almighty where Bruce goes to heaven and meets God. God asks Bruce to pray and Bruce starts out using "church language" (thees and thous). God stops him and tells Bruce to tell Him what is really on his heart. Bruce tells God from his heart that he wants his girl to truly find happiness and the love of a man who will love her the way she truly deserves to be loved. God's reply? "Now, that's a prayer."

Our public prayer life is not some sort of test of spirituality or fitness to be a worker in His kingdom. The most bizarre prayer I ever heard was from a former Associate Pastor praying on cable TV, "Thy throne, Oh God is so great and powerful that should all the armies of the world should assail against Thee , Oh God, it should have as much effect as the faint mist on the distant Rock of Gilbraltar." While the prayer was true, it did not reflect the way the man normally spoke or lived.

We should not boast about how much we pray in private either -most modern Christians cannot even compete in terms of time spent in prayerwith those giants of the faith that prayed for hours and hours before they began their day (James was called "Old Camel Knees" from praying so much). We also do not often practice the accompaning spiritual discipline of fasting either. When we broadcast to others our private prayer practices (except to encourage the people for whom we are praying), there is far too much temptation to judge, "Ooh she's praying", or "tsk, tsk, she's not" -it's all that "don't do your deeds before men" thing. Jesus tells us not to.

Paul, when he does pray for believers, lists "knowing and comprehending the Lord Jesus Christ and His love" as being the most important thing that he desires for them. (Eph 1 & 3.) Using the words of Jesus Himself in John 15, we are to "abide (or remain) in Him and His love". Only when we are first abiding in Him can we "ask whatever we wish and it will be given you."
Jesus further explains that abiding means obeying His word.
In Acts 2:42 the disciples were" devoted to the Apostles' TEACHING,
FELLOWSHIP, BREAKING OF BREAD, AND PRAYER." (prayer is listed 4th).

On "prayer is powerful, it is our weapon against Satan..." :

In "our battle against spiritual forces" we are told repeatedly to "stand firm" in the power of God. Prayer is not listed as part of the armor of God, but once fully outfitted ,we are to pray in the Spirit with alertness at all times for the saints. The only offensive weapon listed is the Sword, the Word of God. In fact, we are told merely "to resist the devil and he will flee"; Jesus resisted Satan's temptation by THE WORD OF GOD.

There seem to be many people in evangelical circles who appear to me to be taking a somewhat "magical" view of prayer as if somehow the frequency, content or fervency was what made prayer effective. In a recent conversation with a friend. we talked about prayers resembling more of an "incantation" rather than actual pouring out to God of our heart's desires.

The power of prayer rests in Who we are talking with, not in the act itself. (this is what separates Christianity from Shamanism and other false religions; let us certainly not adopt their view of prayer.) We have a conversation with an all-powerful God. We cut off that conversation when we are not "being transformed by the renewing of our minds, not being conformed to image of the Son." It is then we are powerless and no amount of prayer, unless it is confessional, can change that.

Bottom line:
Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue that is a reflection of a healthy relationship with our God. Prayer is not powerful words, but words with a powerful God. Abiding with Him and becoming like Him should be the things that gets our priority.