Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Easter, and the Ascension

For me, the Easter story is not completed until Jesus ascended to Heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father. Here is the final scene from our upcoming Easter presentation. More will be added to fill in some of the details, but here is the bare bones.

The Ascension

Before leaving their sight for the last time, Jesus made a promise to send “another Comforter” to live IN us, to comfort us, to empower us to be witnesses, to guide us, to teach us. This was to be the Seal of the New Covenant. It was the earnest of our inheritance. Jesus was coming again, but until He comes the Holy Spirit will abide in us forever!

Each one had a choice to make. Go back to their “normal” lives, or begin a new life of telling how “I once was lost but now I’m found.” Each one that took on the New Covenant with its sign of baptism, and its seal of the Holy Spirit, has the God-given purpose of being Ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now our heart’s cry is Maranatha! He has come, and is coming again!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Words, Words, Words

I know it will never happen. In fact, I think it will probably get worse as our devolves due to texting shortcuts and pure apathy toward spelling and diction. But, for us purests out there that still care, here is my latest set of words that give me pause.

Choose vs. chose (present and past tense of the same verb)
Loose vs. lose (following the above set of words the spelling is similar, but pronunciation is totally different)

English is hard!

On another note, do you recall the movie Bambi? Other that the infamous "We are always in danger when man is in the woods", there was another scene that came to mind recently. When spring arrived all the animals began to pair up. I forget the character's name, but I believe it was the owl that explained the phenomena as being "twitterpated". Today, that word would have a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Half-attempts Are Not Enough

Yesterday I went to Walmart to find a humidifier. With the cold weather comes drier air which causes issues for sinuses (or should it be sini?). I entered the store and wandered toward the pharmacy area where this sort of thing is normally sold. I located the aisle and was surprised to find several different styles and models from which to choose.

I picked up the box of the model that caught my eye so I could take a closer look. On the front of the package there was a marketing blurb that said, "Be sure to pick up replacement filters." It then listed three different filter Model Numbers that would fit this particular humidifier.

I thought that would be a great idea, and the replacement filters were conveniently located right next to the humidifiers. There were several filters available, so I proceeded to locate the Model Number of the filter to ensure I chose the correct one. There was not a Model Number printed on the box!!

On the front of the filter box it also had a marketing blurb that said, "Use with xxxx, xxxx, or xxxx" which were the Model Numbers of the humidifiers that it fit. "Ah!", I thought. So I began searching on the humidifier box, only to learn that there was no Model Number on the humidifier!!

Someone had a great idea: place the corresponding Model Numbers on the packaging for easy matching. Someone else had a very bad idea: there is no need to place the Model Number of this device on the box. Two people, working for the same organization, made diametrically opposing decisions, leaving their potential customers frustrated and confused.

It is so important to have someone that sees the big picture review the process to ensure continuity. Be accountable to someone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Aspiration or Aspiration

Many who know me are aware of my fascination with words; specifically English. There are many things that make me wonder about our language. It is almost as if some tried to make it hard just for fun. (Probably an English teacher.)

One of these words is “aspiration”. Look at the varied definitions of this simple word:



A hope or ambition of achieving something.
The object of one's hope or ambition; a goal.

The action or process of drawing breath.
The action of drawing fluid by suction from a vessel or cavity.

The action of pronouncing a sound with an exhalation of breath.

The thing I find odd about it is this: the same word that describes our reason for living is also a way of causing death. On one hand it is the inspiration causing us to soar to new heights of accomplishment, and the other ending our life before its time.

It seems we could find a way to limit the use of such terms. I realize it is because the root-meanings are the same. When achieving great things it tends to cause you to take a deep breath (aspiration), and choking to death also can be cause by taking a deep breath.

It’s just they have diametrically opposed outcomes. I know nothing will change because of my rants, but it helps me to vent them from time to time. Let me know some of you personal word pet-peeves.

Until then, keep on enunciating!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Virtual Reality and Gender Neutrality

Gender neutrality is not a new thing. There have been attempts to remove male/female reference from language for a long time. Some examples: aviator/aviatrix is now pilot, waiter/waitress is now server, steward/stewardess is now flight attendant, chairman/chairwoman is now chair, etc. There were, and probably still are, attempts to remove gender language from interpretations of the Bible; things like replacing "man" (when speaking of the human race) with "all people".

Most of this is quite harmless and does not adversely affect things. However, the latest movement toward gender neutrality has a much deeper reach and is potentially harmful.

A coworker recently made an observation about the current debate regarding gender identity. He said, "When the debate came up regarding creation versus evolution, the mantra of the day was, 'We have science. We can prove evolution. You only have emotional feelings regarding creation.' But now with gender, we have science to prove the gender of an individual, but the mantra has changed to, 'It's based on how we feel (identify).'" Diametrically opposed arguments.

Here is where I see things at the moment. I'm a computer programmer so I see much of my world through technological terms. There are simulators where you can create any computer you can imagine. However, these simulators are running on a physical computer. There may not be any similarities between the physical computer and the virtual computer that it's running. The virtual computer becomes whatever we want it to be.

In similar fashion, each person is born male or female (I realize there are some born with both sets of genitalia). The chromosomes determine male or female. If there is a Y chromosome your body (physical computer) is male. Your brain (the virtual computer) can imagine anything it wants about who you really are, but anything other than, for example, a Male in a Y chromosome body, will be in conflict with itself. Surgery cannot correct it. Hormones cannot correct it. Both only apply a modification to the virtual computer.

I don't know the answer to the current issue of gender neutrality. I know demonizing speech is not the answer. If someone says, "Ma'am or sir", to someone whose virtual self does not "identify" as their physical self, there is no hate intended. We used to call that "being courteous".

There is an entire vocabulary being created that everyone is expected to adapt so we do not offend anyone. You can get some idea of it here. The challenge with this is knowing which virtual computer is running inside the physical one. It is impossible to know, based on outward appearance, whether someone is "identifying" as something else.

I hope we can find a way, on both sides of the argument, to deal with each other in a civil manner. I know I say this often, but if we can just talk to one another without veins popping out of our neck it would be a great start.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Leap Seconds

You are probably not aware of this, but since January 1, 1900, there have been 37 seconds added to "official" time. The most recent was added on December 31, 2016. The reason they are needed is because the earth's rotation is slowing at the rate of about 300 meters per year.

In other words, if you marked the exact location of the sun relative to the equator, then marked it again 365 days later, the mark would be off by about 300 meters to the East.

If you apply the same logic to that of microwave ovens, 37 seconds is a long time. Perhaps this is the cause of global warming? :)

The real question is, what are you doing with all this extra time?

You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_second

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Always Write It Down

I came across something amazing this morning. I found a book idea that I had years ago that is absolutely incredible. I'm going to start on it today.

If I had not written down the idea when it came it would have been lost forever, perhaps. Don't rely on your memory, even if it is still working well. :) Life tends to erase many of our thoughts.

One of the best gifts I ever received was from my daughter on Christmas of 2017. It's a book about writing a book about me! I need to get back to it and finish it, at least up to this point in my life. I plan to write many more chapters before I'm finished!

I know how much you hate writing. Even if the English is not perfect, or the syntax. Those things can be corrected later by people that actually enjoy that sort of thing. What no one else can write for you are the ideas in your head.

You may never publish a book, or a blog, or even random posts on social media, but someone needs to hear the thoughts you have. They are important. They are what makes you ... you!

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Simple Case for God

I attended a Christian school during my high school years. We had chapel services every day where one of the teachers or faculty would share a message. Occasionally we would have guest speakers. On a beautiful Spring day when a guest speaker was scheduled we moved our chapel service outside. The students gathered on the bleachers at the football field to hear what this man had prepared for us.

He gave us three arguments outside of scripture that he claimed proved there is a God. I was intrigued. His first argument focused on the Bible, but not using its contents to prove his case for God.

1. He stated that it is in the nature of mankind to make ourselves look good. However, the Bible, if merely written by men, would not condemn man for disobedience, and would instead make themselves out to be God; or at least go to heaven. Instead, the Bible describes man as sinful, unable to help themselves.

His second argument used logic.

2. If someone claims there is no God, then they are claiming to be God. The reasoning is that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and omni-present. If you say, "There is no God", then you are claiming to have all power. Because the power you have may be the power of God. You are claiming to be all-knowing, because the knowledge you lack could be the knowledge of God. And lastly, you are claiming to be omni-present - all places at the same time. Because, if not, then the place you are not could be the place where God is.

The last argument was more of an emotional argument.

3. If I live my life believing that the Bible is true, and that God is who He says He is, and follow the example given to us in Jesus - helping others, loving others, doing good to our neighbor, etc. - and die only to find out that it was for naught, what have I lost? I would have lived a life of happiness and joy, and helped others along the way. But, what if you live your life not believing the Bible is the Word of God, and that God is not real, living your life as you please with no regard for anything other than your own satisfaction, then die to find out you were wrong? What have you lost?

I know these are rather simplistic, but the Bible describes faith to be child-like. We simply believe without having all the facts, trusting in what we believe about God, that He is faithful even when we are not. That He loves us even when we are unlovely. That He pursues us even when we run from Him. Regardless of your reason I hope you find a way to believe.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Altar

There is a place in most houses of worship that is referred to as The Altar. Sometimes it is made of special wood or ornate metal. Others are simply the front steps of the stage or even the floor area in front of the podium. Regardless of what it looks like, it is usually considered a revered place where people encounter God.

In Old Testament scripture, an altar unto Jehovah was always built after an encounter with Him, His “angels”, or even pre-incarnate visitations of Jesus. These were constructed to mark, or remember, something that God did in their life that changed them in some way; changed to the point that they never felt the need to return there.

However, in most Christian churches there is an expectation, even a requirement, for Believers to return to the altar again and again. They are compelled to come for many reasons, but most return for the same issue, expecting God to do something about their circumstances. It seems the longer one stays there the deeper the change that is expected to result from the experience.

This is very foreign to what scripture teaches. I cannot see anywhere in the New Testament where the altar has a place in the life of the Believer. There is an experience at the Cross, where one becomes born into the Kingdom of God, is made a new creation in Christ, and is baptized into His Body, the Church. From there, we are to then live a life of obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to transform us by the renewing of our minds, as we study the Scripture and fellowship with our Father. From this place of regeneration, we are to be ambassadors of the Kingdom to our world, sharing Jesus with those whom we live, work, and play. None of this occurs at the altar.

All references to altars in the New Testament are those found in the Old Testament, with one exception. Paul, at Mars Hill, mentioned an “Altar to the Unknown God”. He then used that as an opportunity to preach Christ to them. I believe there is a good reason we do not find altars in the life of the Believer. There is no need for them. The Holy Spirit lives inside the Christian. You do not have to “go down” to the altar to meet with Him. You do not have to be in church to have an experience with Him. He is always with you, ready to release Heaven into your experience when you are ready to receive it.

For more along these lines read this post: 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Möbius Strip - The Tale of One People

The Möbius Strip is an interesting phenomenon in math. Even though it is a 3D object it only had one side. See image below.

It is formed by taking a flat rectangular object and joining it at the ends after rotating one end through 180 degrees (flip it over). I believe this is an excellent example of what the human race looks like.

It appears there are two sides (e.g. Left/Right, East/West, Black/White, Liberal/Conservative, etc.) but if you follow the strip you eventually wind up on the same side. You see, we are all in this thing together. We can either remain on "our side" or we can engage others in useful dialog and try to make sense out of our world.

When you split hairs long enough you begin to lose sight of the boundaries that divide us. We know that we disagree, we are just not certain where the disagreement starts and stops. I believe if we will just talk, and listen, we will find we have more in common that we do differences. After all, we are all human!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

What If We're Wrong?

A friend posted an article today about the need for Christians to admit that "we are wrong" about certain things regarding Biblical interpretation. A few years ago I started a book on this very subject. Below is the Introduction from the text. Perhaps I should revisit this project.

Things are not always as they appear. The human brain is an amazing organ. It has the ability to store information and retrieve it in an instant. It controls involuntary functions of the body like heartbeat, breathing, blinking, hormone levels, and many more. The mind is constantly processing information from the five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. When information is received it quickly ciphers the data to determine if it is a known impulse (and safe) or unknown (and potentially dangerous). If safe, the body responds positively. If dangerous, it calls on either fight or flight and prepares the body for either one.

There are many ways this process can end poorly. If a police officer mistakes a toy gun for a real weapon an innocent person could be harmed. If a friend mistakes a kind response for something dishonoring it can damage relationships, sometimes irreparably. The difference is how our mind responds to the stimulus.

Optical illusions are phenomena where our mind is tricked into believing something that is not true. Magicians use slight-of-hand to distract our attention away from what is really happening to make it appear “magic.” There are images, such as the one shown here, where the image seen by the beholder is determined by the focus of their attention. One will see a young lady while another will see an old hag. Both are present in the picture. Once you see both you can then mentally swap back and forth between the images with no problem because your mind knows the “truth.”

How does all this apply to our study of scripture? If we hear a teaching on a particular passage of scripture our minds become conditioned for a particular response. As soon as we recognize the passage our minds retrieve the stored translation and inserts it into our conscious thinking. We “understand” the passage because of past experience.

What if we’re wrong? What if the person we heard give the translation of the passage did not know all the facts? Perhaps they are simply repeating what they were taught, and so on. Acts 17:11, speaking of those in Berea, declares, “These were more noble … in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” It is incumbent upon each of us to find the truth and follow it. We cannot simply take what we hear from Bible teachers and preachers to heart and follow it blindly. Remember, these people are human and have to live out the Bible message just like everyone else. Be noble and find out what it means for your self.

One of my favorite songs from the musical group TRUTH is “Living Life Upside Down.” The chorus of the song says,

“What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain? What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell thinking we’re heaven bound? 
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves when we should have been thinking of each other? 
What if we reach up and touch the ground to find we’re living life upside down?”

One of the worst states in which people can find themselves is deceived. The true horror of deception is that you do not know that you are deceived.