Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Not? Have A Couple More...

It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one second; but you must suffer it for all of eternity. There will be no end to this extreme horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains.

- Jonathan Edwards "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" (emphasis mine)

This would be BAD - bad on the scale of crossing the streams in Ghostbusters. In fact, that really doesn't even touch on how bad that would be. It will happen to some because they foolishly reject the provision that Jesus has made for them and their sin. Do not let that happen to you.

A much better option follows...

It would be blissful to experience this fierceness of love and pleasure of Almighty God one second; but you shall delight in it for all of eternity. There will be no end to this extreme glorious ecstasy. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will be absolutely astounded by the certainty that there shall be no end, no mitigation, no cessation at all. You will know certainly that you must expend long ages, millions of millions of ages in absorbing and basking in this almighty limitless adoration; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains.

- Jonathan Eller from his essay "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God"

This would be GOOD. In fact, good really doesn't even come close to describing what this will be like. May I suggest this path? It will probably be more difficult on this side of death, but the trials faced are always for our good. And I can assure you that the final outcome will be far FAR FAR better.

Quote Of The Day

Squints Palledorous"Michael Squints Palledorous walked a little taller that day. And we had to tip our hats to him. He was lucky she hadn't beat the CRAP out of him. We wouldn't have blamed her. What he'd done was sneaky, rotten, and low... and cool.
Wendy PeffercornNot another one among us would have ever in a million years even for a million dollars have the guts to put the moves on the lifeguard. He did. He had kissed a woman. And he had kissed her long and good. We got banned from the pool forever that day. But every time we walked by after that, the lifeguard looked down from her tower, right over at Squints, and smiled. "

One of my favorite movies of all time...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Milestone

I recall one morning -- early on in our unemployment, the Lord spoke, "Isn't it interesting that you will 'trust' Me with your eternity, but you struggle to believe I will take care of you in the 'now'." Ouch! Yes, that hurt when He said it. But it was corrective truth! The irony is that many of His children are in exactly this place. His desire is to bring the reality of our 'trust' to the present such that it is no longer ethereal --- but walked out in the physical -- right here, right now.

- Deborah from her post His Hold on the blog Joy In The Morning

This was a timely quote from a friend's blog that I read today. And when I was getting ready to post it I realized that I had hit a milestone of sorts. My last post was my 777th post on this blog. I don't suppose that is anything too major, but it is a number associated with the Lord quite often, and I thought it worthy of mention. I suppose that there will be many more posts before I am finished with this blog, but it is nice to mark the ones that seem significant along the way. Actually, it is hard to imagine that I have hit the publish button that many times.

There will be some more posting here soon. I haven't had much to write about lately. I've still been trying to get myself back into the disciplines and routines that I had established before I left for Japan. We're getting closer, but still not quite there yet. And I am trying really hard to not gripe and complain about the administration incessantly here. I really am trying hard to be nice. Politics makes me mean.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Still A Class Act

Even though the press will never treat him as one - at least not while he is alive - President Bush has once again shown himself to be a man of great class and honor. A news article reported on a speech that he gave in Calgary today:

CALGARY, Alberta – Former President George W. Bush said on Tuesday that he won't criticize Barack Obama because the new U.S. president "deserves my silence," and said he plans to write a book about the 12 toughest decisions he made in office.

Bush declined to critique the Obama administration in his first speech since leaving office in January. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that Obama's decisions threatened America's safety.

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," Bush said. "He deserves my silence."

Bush said he wants Obama to succeed and said it's important that he has that support. Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has said he hoped Obama would fail.

Perhaps Presidents Carter and Obama should take a few notes....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Um, Can They Do That?

In an article titled Livid Democrats Demand AIG Return Bailout Bonuses I read today,

Whatever the process, lawmakers of all stripes said, the money — generally "retention payments" to keep prized employees — belongs back in the government's hands.

"Recipients of these bonuses will not be able to keep all of their money," declared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an unusually strong threat delivered on the Senate floor.

"If you don't return it on your own, we will do it for you," echoed Chuck Schumer of New York.

Not all Democratic leaders were racing in that direction. Penalizing people with the tax code could be inappropriate, declared Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the taxwriting Ways and Means Committee. He said, "It's difficult for me to think of the code as a political weapon."

I don't think that they can do that. How can the government legally target specific individuals for taxation penalties? If they can, then things are worse than I thought, and we might as well change the flag to a solid red field with a gold sickle and hammer crossed in the upper left hand corner.

If the people in Congress and the White House had intended for these funds to not be used that way then they should have had the foresight to stipulate that. Or even better they should have let capitalism do it's thing, letting the companies that have been competently managed thrive and the ones run by boobs sink. The share holders in these companies ought to be out for scalps.

According to the article it would seem that these bonuses were contractual.

Administration officials said Geithner did all that he legally could to avert the payments.

Geithner urged AIG's Liddy last week to renegotiate the contracts that called for the bonuses.

"He recognized that you can't just abrogate contracts willy-nilly, but he moved to do what could be done," Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser, told the AP in an interview Tuesday.

How do I get in on a contract that will pay me million dollar plus bonuses if I run the company into the ground on top of a multi-million dollar salary? I need to get me some of that. How is it that the share holders allow this sort of thing to go on? Something stinks like five-day-old road-kill. The "little people" don't get deals like that. No wonder American business is floundering. Toddlers are sailing the ship. Wait, toddlers would probably do a better job.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reality Check

China's premier didn't say it in so many words, but the implied warning to Washington was blunt: Don't devalue the dollar through reckless spending. Premier Wen Jiabao's message is unlikely to be misunderstood at the White House. It is counting on Beijing to help pay for its stimulus package by buying U.S. bonds. China already is Washington's biggest foreign creditor, with an estimated $1 trillion in U.S. government debt. A weaker dollar would erode the value of those assets.

"Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried," Wen said at a news conference Friday after the closing of China's annual legislative session. "I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets."

I wonder what might happen if Washington were to NOT honor its words and hurt the Chinese economy and government. Would they consider that worthy of a military retaliation? Would our government - if it were in a position to default on those treasuries - be able to field an army if it were that broke? Or would the Chinese merely use it as an opportunity to attack Taiwan to bring it back under the authority of the homeland? The US certainly couldn't do anything but yell and scream if they did under those circumstances. And if China "annexed" Taiwan what are the chances that Russia would maintain its borders? And what about Venezuela? And Iran? Things to be considered.

Man, I Feel So Much Better After Hearing This!

Turning more upbeat, President Barack Obama said Friday his administration is working to create a "post-bubble" model for solid economic growth once the recession ends. He said that means the days of overheated housing markets and "people maxing out on their credit cards" are over. But first, Obama said, "We've got to get through this difficult period."

Find out more about his plan...

Wow! That's amazing! How will you do it Mr. President?

"Well, uh, well you know it's like, um... like that time when I was, y'know, um, uh... and there was the bubble and all... um... and we're going to take all of the land and... um... this one kid kept stealing my ice cream cone and I said to him, 'Hey mister, you can't do that 'cause it isn't nice.' and, um, after that, well, he kicked my butt, but ha ha, I won the election, but because the government will take it all we will never have people maxing out credit cards again."

Right... And how are you going to be helping small businesses, Mr. President?

"Well, um. You see, we're going to raise taxes on people who make over $250,000 (but not Democrats) uh, or married couples that um, well, ah, make $300,000 and well, then that money will, um, be given to other people who will make, er, well, it will make things all better. It's redistributing the wealth.

I see...

Another Brilliant Idea From The Genius Trust In Washington...

A wounded soldier salutes during one of President Bush's State of the Union AddressesAhhh, liberal doublespeak. Don't you just love it? I swear, sometimes I think I've stepped into Orwell's 1984.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance. Full Article

I really am starting to wonder if our President and his staff are directing their policy by reading the latest book by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad titled, The Complete Idiot's Guide To The American Presidency. It is really getting to the point of absurdity - like one of those really bizarre, horrible dreams that you just can't seem to wake up from.

Our servicemen and women deserve absolutely everything that we can give them. They aren't paid nearly enough and frankly, if it were up to me, all people who have served honorably in the military, fire department (even volunteers), or police department would receive health care for life. I would even go so far as to make them tax exempt during their time of service and would probably even give them a veterans' tax break after they got out or retired.

Yet, instead of something as worthwhile as that, we are wasting money on a fictional problem like global warming. Or on immoral programs like embryonic stem cell massacres and the exportation of infanticide. Or on billion dollar programs whose money goes God only knows where and derives no benefit to anyone except the bureaucrats that are embezzling the money.

It just disgusts me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Pleiades

The PleiadesI have often heard the name The Pleiades before, but I had never seen it (knowingly) before today. It is shockingly beautiful. To me it looks like an angel. What do you think? Once again, I am constrained to acknowledge that God does mighty fine work.

This past week we watched a video in our Sunday school class that talks about the stars in general and the star of Bethlehem in particular. I've always been interested in the night sky. I can see the stars at my parents' home pretty well - especially in the winter.

This cluster of stars is close to my favorite constellation, Orion. In fact the three stars that make up his "belt" generally point to this star cluster. (They actually lie a little below the area that the stars in his belt point to.) The next time I have a clear night I will have to look for it and see if I can find it.

One day I would love to go out West, far away from all of the light pollution of the East, and spend a night out under the stars. They say that they look close enough to touch. What a glorious God I serve!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Haka

This is pretty cool. I saw this the first time a few years ago when I saw some Maori Christians perform it at a church conference. It will get the juices flowing for sure!

A New Habit?

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in ages. I wrote a real bona fide letter and mailed it. I think that I may try to develop the habit of writing at least one a week.

You never get real letters anymore. I guess that email has pretty much done away with the need for it, but it sure is a thrill to go to the mailbox and get something out that is not a bill and is not a form letter or junk mail. They are so rare they jump right out at you. You can spot one on the bottom of a stack of mail.

I love getting personal emails too. (Unfortunately the first person to ever send spam wasn't hung, drawn, and quartered. It may have prevented people from polluting that form of communication the way that the mail has been.) But I find that the whole texting revolution has cheapened e-mail. I suppose that it is understandable that folks don't really put a whole lot of effort into most of their e-mails (although I have some friends who do) there really isn't any cost associated with sending an e-mail besides time, and time is what e-mail is supposed to save.

I suppose that is the beauty of a real, bona fide letter. If you are going to spend 43 cents to mail something (or whatever the rate is now) you figure you'd better make it worth the expense. You might as well write one a couple pages long. Heck, you get a whole ounce before the rate goes up! I find that is good for about 4 standard sized pages, and if you write front and back that makes for a pretty long letter.

I like letters better than cards too. I mean, a card is better than nothing, but just barely, when all the person does is sign their name to a generic greeting card. It is nice to be thought of and nice to get something in the mail that isn't asking for (or demanding) money, but I am generally not moved. Of course you can spend an hour looking for a card that actually says what you want it to say and then pay $5 for it plus postage. That's almost as good as a letter. I'll keep a card like that, but it still isn't quite up there with a hand-written letter.

I suppose that there are some down sides to the old-school letter. It can be hard to read the handwriting. I tend to make mistakes which gets messy. And I generally like to keep a copy of what I write. This has a tendency to slow down the reply process for me to either hand write a copy or find a copy machine somewhere. Still, I think that the benefit will outweigh the cost.

So, I think that I am going to pick someone I know and write a letter to them - a good, old fashioned letter - every week. It will be a different person every week. If they write back then they'll get another one! It can be my way of spreading a little love in this impersonal, electronic world that we live in. If you want to be included and you aren't sure if I have your mailing address, you can leave your address in a comment on this post and I'll write to you. I won't publish the comment so that you don't have to worry about your information being out there for all the world to see. Let's see if we can revive letter writing!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ahhh, A Normal Routine

One of the keeps in the Imperial Compound in Tokyo, JapanIt is so good to be back to a somewhat normal routine. Today is my 4th whole day back in my home and only the second that didn't involve a bunch of running around.

After I got back from Japan I had to go almost immediately up to the mountains to visit my uncle who was dying from cancer. He had been fighting for almost nine years and everyone knew that the time was short. I was very happy to get the opportunity to speak with him and visit a couple of times before he died this past Monday.

Of course, the snow came Sunday night and between the snow and the cold temperatures I ended up staying most of the week with my parents. The funeral activities began on Thursday and went through Friday.

A snow covered crepe myrtle back lit by the morning sunFriday night I had to come back home and prepare for a band rehearsal with some folks that will be helping me to put on a worship seminar at my church this weekend. The rehearsal was in Apex (since half of the band members live up there.) I got home about 11:30 Saturday night.

Sundays are always busy for me too. There is church in the morning and Youth Band practice in the afternoon. I finished up the night at a friend's house watching the National Geographic Channel special on blue whales. It was interesting. We had a lot of fun making fun of the scientists and some of the dumb things that they said. It seems to me that there ought to be a better way to do things than they were doing them.

Monday was my first day to get back towards my normal routines. I won't say that I really hit them, but at least I was in familiar territory and was able to do some of the things I normally do in the course of a day.

Today has been much closer to a normal day, although I still haven't gotten back into my schedule totally. Perhaps tomorrow?

Rocks in the bed of my pickup truckOr perhaps not. It is gardening time again and I need to take a good portion of my day tomorrow and get my garden ready. I am already running late. (Can you believe that we are a third of the way through March already? Where does the time go?)

I had been somewhat dreading the start of the gardening season, but I am about over that now! I am ready to get some stuff in the ground and smell that great smell of freshly plowed dirt. Plus I get to play with dad's new tractor! Whoo hoo! That in and of itself makes it all worthwhile.

I am sure I'll be adding to my rock collection - yippee. You would think that eventually you would run out of rocks. Seriously, how many rocks could possibly come out of one small patch of dirt? If it were all rock you shouldn't even be able to plow it. I think that they are growing like potatoes - they must be! So you can expect to get some new garden pictures soon.

I may be also playing in a new band soon. An old acquaintance from high school is interested in getting a band started to play out and we are going to explore the possibilities. It should be fun. I don't know what we'll end up playing yet, but perhaps it will be a combination of cover tunes and Christian music. It sounds like a lot of fun. We need a guitar player or two, a keyboard player, and a drummer.

And that is the latest from Lake Woebegone! More to come soon.

Another Good Quote From Sowell

The same politicians who have been talking about a need for "affordable housing" for years are now suddenly alarmed that home prices are falling. How can housing become more affordable unless prices fall?

The political meaning of "affordable housing" is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit.

Affordable housing produced by market forces provides no benefit to politicians and has no attraction for them.

Study after study, not only here but in other countries, show that the most affordable housing is where there has been the least government interference with the market-- contrary to rhetoric.

- Thomas Sowell from his article Subsidizing Bad Decisions

Why Am I So Not Surprised?

It has been a while since I have posted anything political here on the blog. I honestly have been staying as far away from it as I can overall, but I thought I would break my silence here briefly to talk about the state of the Union a bit. I do mean briefly too.

I have had no stomach for the news of late. Every time I hear about one of the "brilliant" "new" ideas coming out of Washington I have had a simultaneous urge to be sick, yell, and smash inanimate objects. Each tidbit of news that I have gotten is further proof that our commander-in-chief is like the second woman of Proverbs 14:1. God help us.

In truth, I am avoiding the news to make it possible to pray for this man at all. Because the overwhelming urge that I feel when I see what he is arrogantly (or foolishly - you can take your pick) doing to our nation is that I want his policies to reap the full reward of their misguidedness so that no one will EVER try to implement such utter foolishness in our nation - or anywhere else in the world - ever again.

The only problem with such a desire on my part is that all Americans will end up paying the price by reaping such consequences, and that hardly seems right, considering that not everyone is as much in wholehearted devotion and agreement to "the one" in Washington as the American press seems to be. And even though his disciples seemed to think that he was some great "messiah" he has done more walking into walls than walking on water so far.

Case in point is the interesting article written by John Hawkins that enumerates the top ten major blunders by the Obama administration so far. If President Bush had committed even one of these errors he would have certainly been impeached.

Does President Obama deserve to have some slack cut to him? Perhaps the answer is yes. (I know you are shocked that I would say so.) But he is doing precisely what someone with no executive experience could have been expected to do. It will certainly take some time for him to learn the ropes. Too bad the people surrounding him are as unprepared as he is. No, I don't put the full responsibility of all of this on the President's shoulders - I lay this burden squarely at the feet of all of those misguided souls who voted for someone wholly unqualified for the job of President. Thanks, y'all. Lots of people told you it would turn out like this.

I like what Thomas Sowell had to say in his article today.

Even in an era of much-ballyhooed "change," the government cannot eliminate sadness. What it can do is transfer that sadness from those who made risky and unwise decisions to the taxpayers who had nothing to do with their decisions.

Worse, the subsidizing of bad decisions destroys one of the most effective sources of better decisions-- namely, paying the consequences of bad decisions.

In the wake of the housing debacle in California, more people are buying less expensive homes, making bigger down payments, and staying away from "creative" and risky financing. It is amazing how fast people learn when they are not insulated from the consequences of their decisions.

Seems to me that the Utopian "change" that was promised during the campaign has turned Orwellian on us. Not that I am surprised, mind you - I knew that is what he really meant all along.

Do I pray for the President? Yes I do, but my prayers are aimed wholly at him committing his life to the truth of the Scriptures instead of to the whims of his "intellect." Until he begins to recognize that God may know more than he does ,we can expect him to continue to turn our country into a nosedive that will end up destroying us.

The Symphony Of Heaven

I just saw a really incredible sermon. I would like to go back and verify some of the claims that he is making, but it is intriguing at the very least. Besides that I love that his voice sounds a little like Johnny Cash. It makes me want to go back and rethink my take on some of the scriptures that I have just considered metaphoric or simile.

The sermon lasts about 1:10:40 but it is worth the watch if you have the time.