Tuesday, April 25, 2006

someone tell me how it's possible to like someone so much that just seeing them makes you feel lonely, almost homesick.

so, i really hoped i wouldn't see That Boy any more (no, not that boy...heavens, not this one either; you blog-people don't know him). but, i did. several times. and it wasn't even my fault! anyways, in light of this traumatic event, i've compiled a partial list of ways for cruel boys to engrain themselves in girls' minds forever, even when she doesn't want to think about you, ever again.

- when you're talking to her, stand slightly closer than is socially common.
- appear very interested in her summer plans, even if you don't understand a word she says because she's talking so fast. (or, tell her to slow down so you can understand her.)
- tell her it was good to see her again.
- don't break eye contact when she's talking.
- give her a hug or pat her shoulder.
- above all (this is very important) always wear t-shirts that exactly match the shade of your eyes.

yep, she's doomed. :P when you've used these simple tips, let me know how things are going for ya. :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

summer plans

notwithstanding the transitory state of my blog (never mind that you might not be able to read this) i thought i'd let you know how my summer plans are shaping up.

my college group is going to ecuador this june....and, it looks like i'll be going too! i officially turned in my passport application this afternoon, and paid the obligatory *sigh* $172. i think i'm still not quite grasping that i seem to be going. (however, a great way to make you'll follow through with something is to throw some non-refundable money at it.) there's something so final and...official...about a passport.

the purpose of the trip is to encourage the missionaries our church has down there, and also to help with some other things (ok, i'm not real clear on a lot of this yet). we will stay the first week in Quito, the capitol, and then (if it works out) we'll get to go into the JUNGLE sometime during the second week. like, the real jungle with snakes and primitive tribes and mosquitoes as big as the airplanes we'll use to get there. i really can't wait to see what God will do while we are there. your in-advance prayers are appreciated.

the day after i get back from ecuador is when City starts. this will be my 5th year! i hope that i will be able to get some rest from my below-the-equator foray before city starts and i have to be responsible for the spiritual, emotional and physical lives of my "campers" for an entire energy-sapping week. :)

after that...no folks, we're not done yet...i think i might be going to London! a friend is staying there for a month or so and said we (another friend and i) could visit her. so this means that there will be som castles to keep the jungles in this summer's crystal ball company. after all, we will certainly have to go to scotland and ireland, as long as we're that close. i'm tentatively planning a week, maybe, for that trip. or more like as long as i can possibly get off work. :) i just can't believe it's finally....possibly??....happening. i have wanted to visit that area for as long as i can remember. and in the summer too. nigh unbelievable.

after that, who knows? i will probably have used more than my unspoken allotment of unpaid vacation days at work. so i doubt i'll be able to go to california. i've wanted to visit my friend(s) there forever too, but maybe it'll have to wait until next year...or until i've replenished my savings account. :S thanks for reading, people!

Monday, April 10, 2006

darn these car payments!!

so i started making payments on my little '03 Alero this year. and guess what people...drum roll...by June or July, i'll have the whole thing paid off! which means this cute little piece of metal and unfathomable machinery, complete with its inexplicably appealing spoiler and aluminum rims, will be ALL mine, FOREVER. or at least until i trade it in towards an Audi or BMW. :D

i'm paying it off in triple payments (sometimes quadruple) so i can un-factor those payments from my life as soon as possible. plus, i might go back to school next year, so it's good to think about eliminating large expenses for that tenuous period of just-scraping-by. and, i'm saving nearly a thousand dollars in interest (!!!) by doing it this way. which makes me happy. but i still hate to make that ginooooormous transfer each month on a car which, notwithstanding its young age, has a great amount of road-experience, in the area of 85,000 miles.

but it's always kind of nice to let the triple-payments sit in my bank account for at least a little while before shuffling those precious digits off into the cold expanse of cyberspace.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

a nugget from the retreat

[i've also posted this on truth is narrow.] and i have no idea why some of the text is white and refuses to be black.

this weekend i went to a Ladies' Retreat with some people (ladies) from my church. the retreat center was actually really nice (not quite what i was expecting) and we even got prime rib and salmon for dinner. that was an excellent meal. plus there was a 24-hour snack room, stuffed to the gills with all manner of chips, ice cream, candy, pop, juice, soup, and fruit; as well as a coffee/tea bar.

in addition to the excellent food, and apart from the ladies-only atmosphere and corresponding activities, i actually enjoyed myself. now usually, when there aren't guys there to equalize the hormone balance, i don't enjoy girls-only things because they get too catty and chatty and emotional. :) anyways....we had a choice of short sessions to attend on saturday morning. i went to one called "The Rest of God." at first i thought it meant something like "more of God" but actually was about "Sabbath rest." very, very interesting. while the book she used in our short study didn't seem to be very thorough, i was thoroughly convicted: the concept of weekly rest is indeed almost completely foreign to our culture, and to my own lifestyle.

i don't think watching TV and sleeping are the kind of "rest" God originally intended when he commanded the israelites to take a weekly sabbath. it's not physical rest; it's spiritual restoration and "deep cleaning." it gives you a chance to take stock of your spiritual economy, and to take note of what you might do differently next week. in addition to that, though, the concept of a weekly (and yearly, as the israelites practiced) hiatus is inextricable from the practical outworking of trusting God for provision. according to most standards, it is counterintuitive and counterproductive to "randomly" stop working every seventh day (and for every seventh year), yet this allows us to have a fuller experience of allowing the Lord to provide for us. it lets us "rest" in his faithfulness.

the old testamant is full of examples of this. remember how the "manna" the israelites gathered outside would only last one day...yet what they picked up on Friday lasted through friday, and all through Saturday too. what a neat picture of God's faithful provision to his children. and often when the command was given to keep the seventh day holy, it was accompanied by an admonition to "Remember how the Lord brought you out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 5:15). the point is clear: He didn't forget to provide for them back then, and he surely won't forget that they need food on sabbath days. Leviticus 25: 20-22 says that even when you where your sabbath-year food will come from, God will produce enough until the next crop rolls in. also, the israelites were commanded to cancel all debts and release all slaves every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15). and the slaves were to be "supplied liberally" with food and drink. that supplements the concept of trust.

yes, that's all old testamant and all about the nation of israel. however, the underlying principles are not voided by time or ethnicity. the new testamant, particularly mark 2:27, makes clear: the Sabbath was made for man. therefore, it's necessary that christians keep the command of sabbath-ing (resting) even if they have to work or go to school on saturday or sunday (the traditional weekends in this country) because they may take a day of rest some other day of the week. like i said, i don't think this is done very often, or very well, in our culture. i know when i think of a weekend, i think of sleeping, maybe going to a movie, or catching up on books i've been reading...basically, being totally and completly selfish with my time. after all, i've earned it, right? 40 hours is a lot of time to work at my job, so don't i deserve some time to myself? sure, maybe. a nap wouldn't hurt anything. (and let's not forget that our society generally extends not one, but two days of rest from many activities.) but how often do i actually think of my sabbath-day as a time to thank God for what he's done, and to evaluate my spiritual condition? not very much, that's for sure. it probably wouldn't be a stretch to assume that's the case for most people. anyways, i think the outcome of that session has been very challenging for me, and i hope you will think about this too.

Monday, April 03, 2006

worship music overkill!

ChristianityToday had an article about this. actually, it was a bunch of readers' comments put together in one place. i'm taking a few out that i happen to agree with. this is one of my hugest peeves. i hate how the concept of "worship" has been commercialized, and actually made into the label of a genre. isn't worship more of the way you act, than a certain "style" of music? and if it must be a kind of song, shouldn't it be the absolute best there is? none of this eight-minute repetition stuff, with the same generic lyrics. if i had my way, there would be no christian music out there except what the singer/group wrote themselves. and worship would be what you are, not what you sing. (BOCTAOE = but of course there are obvious exceptions.) so on to the comments (which i have, of course, edited)....

I am appalled that worship songs are added to an album because of pressure from a record label. ...I love worship songs, but there are plenty out on the market, and some start to feel homogenized after a while. Why do the record companies assume we all want the same music done in the same way? Any song that can stir my soul toward God and give me pause to appreciate what he did for me is worship music in my mind.

Honestly, I stopped buying worship albums a while ago when I noticed that they were becoming like Christmas albums—everyone has to do [at least] one and they all rehash the same music.

Not that we don't appreciate good worship music, but it seems like it's become a fad and a marketing ploy. The songs are so simplistic, and seem to be something that artists can record quickly to keep beans on the table. I get excited when I learn that one of my favorite artists is putting out a new album, only to groan when I find out it's another worship album. I personally can't wait until the whole phase is over.

...Worship music is the worst quality "music" in existence today! When I see Christian musicians dedicating songs that offer little in the way of creativity, it makes me grieve for what I think God deserves. Music that is truly worshipful should be our best efforts, not dumbed-down melodies that someone wrote in a ten-minute session. Worship music is severely boring and melodically tedious at best, so let's move on in spite of what the trend is!

Contemporary Christian music is definitely too formulaic. I would love to see more airplay of music that doesn't fit the so-called "worship model." It's getting so that as you drive across the country and scan the radio stations, you can clearly tell when you've hit a Christian station, even if you don't know the song that's playing. It all sounds the same.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

a preview of the Predestination post

[updated 9-sept-06]

i've put this up on both blogs.

i haven't had time to work on Predestination-Free-will writing as much as i'd wanted to. i started it, but i wanted to give you a little taste of the great and awesome wonders that are in store, to be revealed when i finally finish it. (which is probably going to be never.)

some friends and i had a really, really good talk about this last night. it was 4 a.m. but i'm usually at my best then anyways. it was a little daunting because most of the people (there were 7 or 8 of us) were pretty much against what i was saying. on the other hand, though, that's when i can really test myself. sometimes i say things not because i'm certain they're true, but because i want to see how they hold up to the ruthless attacks of my friends.

the main point i was making:
free will must be a factor in our lives and our understanding of the Scriptures.

i see no way around it, however humans might want to credit themselves with something significant. and i know people can definitely make that quantum leap and say "oh look, i chose God, i must be pretty wise." but in my opinion, this is a result of human pride, and (at least in this context) the theology behind the existence of free will isn't to blame for the conclusions made by peoples' prideful natures.

so first of all, i think the terms foreknowledge and foreordainment must be kept separate. yes, it's true: this means some things happen that God didn't plan ahead of time. don't get too upset. this doesn't mean he didn't predestine anything; it simply means he didn't predestine everything. the reasoning is clear: to avoid making God the creator and perfector of our sin and sin natures, we must concede that at least in some cases, there is a difference between His knowing and planning something before the fact. if you're prepared to make God the ultimate author of sin and evil, go ahead.

God doesn't have to plan something for it to happen. he still knows it's going to happen, but it's apparent to me that he's chosen to restrict some of his power in his dealings with us and with the devil. did God want his head angel to rebel? does God want us to turn from him? does God get a kick out of us killing and hating and lying to each other? no!!! clearly these are things which are contrary to his nature and it's absurd to suggest that he set them into motion.

of course our actions are not
out of God's ultimate control. but i think he could have simply chosen not to exercise his right to control it. i don't know if i have scripture to back that up at this point, but i don't see it as contrary to anything i've ever read. and of course God always retains his sovereignty -- even when he chooses to allow us to make our own choice. (in fact, i think God is more powerful when he can allow us to have genuine choices, yet still be all-sovereign.)

besides, since when does God's sovereignty trump everything else? the calvinist and elective-grace folks don't like talking much about God's compassion or justice...because all those must be left out to make room for a distorted, bloated view of ONE of God's characteristics. you won't find me denying that God's all-powerful, but i don't think it's somehow superior to everything else. all is balanced.

so as far as i've been able to tell, the theology of elective grace essentially and necessarily denies the existence of free will. some people will try to make them fit together, but usually end up fumbling with semantics. every conversation with an elective-grace person will include a bit of back-and-forth but will end up with me pointing out some faults. at this point, the elective-grace person will pull out his trump card and say "but we can never understand God. who are you, oh clay, to sass back to the potter?"

is this whole issue just my puny mind trying to understand our majestic God? yes and no. indeed we have the mind of Christ (
1 Corinthians 2), but i believe this to be an issue of what scripture does or does not say. so it's therefore not relegated to the unfortunate jurisdiction of "it's difficult therefore we should not try to understand it because we cannot understand God."

if we don't have free will, we...don't have it. at all. i have yet to learn how one can deny being a "fatalist" (ie, everything's already mapped out and we're just following the track already carved for us) while insisting on total predestination. you can't "only have the choice to sin" because that is not a choice (and if it is, our concept behind the word choice is meaningless). if we don't have any free will, then God himself is the author of our sin...because if we're programmed to sin, we could not even truly have chosen that.

so here's my original little gem from last night. keeping in mind the reality that the theology of elective grace deems God creator of sin, think about this: God is perfect and holy, and everything he does is perfect and righteous. He does not do wrong because it is not in his nature or character. so if God is the originator of evil, then sin is not a bad thing...actually, it is a very good thing! and if sin is not bad, then we have no basis for claiming any morality or conscience, or even a real sense of the distinction between good and evil. i tentatively believe this conclusion to be necessary, and i should hope its absurdities are obvious to my intelligent readers.

so i have no problem (intellectual, spiritual, or Biblical) in asserting the existence of free will, if for no other reason than i cannot, cannot, cannot accept the alternative, and hold it as glaringly inconsistent with (and inherently contrary to) Scripture and God's revealed nature as i understand it.

one final, crucial thought. many people fail to understand the importance of this issue. they might write it off in the above ways. but the sanctity of scripture is at stake here. if this isn't resolved, then scripture is full of holes. what else are we to think of "God programmed us for salvation, yet we still get to decide"? believing this is believing scripture to be absurdly contradictory, meaning none of it should really be taken seriously...meaning our faith is worthless. that's the real gravity of this, and that's why even though it might not ever be completely clear this side of eternity, we owe it to our own faith, to unbelievers, and to the God we serve to believe and demonstrate that scriptures are perfect, holy, and inerrant.

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