Monday, April 30, 2007

A Little Bit of R&R

This past weekend I spent in the country at my G-parents house. It was so nice to sit outside in the warm air with a just-cool-enough breeze blowing. It was quiet. In the distance one could hear the cows mooing, birds singing away, dogs barking, occasionally you could hear a horse whinny and a car go by on the road. The bees were buzzing, lizards were running around, and flowers were blooming gorgeously. Occasionally the wind chimes would go at it, both the store bought and home made ones - they harmonized nicely. In the solitude a lot of work was accomplished, and I met all of my goals for the weekend. Very nice indeed. The atmosphere was very different from the city where it is always light and the traffic never stops except for construction. Sure there was fly bothering me part of time (he is no more) and a bee flew into my folder, which was funny to say the least - especially as his flight path was unsteady for the next minute, but that's a part of life. And there were actually surprising few insects out and about. I wish I could get away to the country more often. Shake out my brain.
The atmosphere is intense with emotion. It can move you from tears to laughter in a second, from loneliness to contentedness. The environment is very conducive to sorting our feelings and thoughts and it is helpful in prioritizing. Yes, this weekend was very nice indeed. Family, laughter, food, good times, accomplishment, and quality time with God these are the memories of this past weekend.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Someone Had a Vision

  • Samuel Morse - Morse code and telegraph
  • Robert Fulton - Steamboat
  • Alexander Graham Bell - telephone
  • Eli Whitney - Cotton gin
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright - Airplane
  • Thomas Edison - phonograph, Light bulb
  • Benjamin Franklin - Lightning rod
  • Cyrus McCormick - The reaper
  • Francis Bacon - Calculus
  • George Washington Carver - Peanut butter
  • Mary Anderson - Windshield wipers
  • Willis Carrier - Air conditioning
  • Harry A. Cole - Pine-Sol
  • Robert Dennard - RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • James Fergason - Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
  • Henry Ford - Assembly line
  • Thomas Jefferson - Swivel chair
  • Alfred Nobel - Dynamite
  • Konrad Zuse - First freely programmable computer
  • Marconi - Wireless telegraph

    What's your vision?

    picture credit
  • Thursday, April 26, 2007

    "I Don't Know That I'm Missing ..." Additional Thoughts

    So, as mentioned in my previous post there are a lot of things that we don't know we are missing. Things we cannot know we are missing, at least until we find out about them. I've been thinking about this in a different light as well. What would we be missing if certain past events had never happened?

    For instance, what if Tolkien had never had The Lord of the Rings trilogy published? What a rich legacy we would be missing out on (and subsequent movies). The scary part is - we wouldn't miss it! We would be content with our lives and continue living without these books. Not that the books should be the source of life for us, but they do impact us, the way we think, phrases we use, our understanding about human nature.

    Or what if Beethoven had never been born? Think of all of the wonderful music we would missing ... and not even know it. It really is quite sad to think about.

    How many have been passed over, given up themselves, or been aborted so that we are missing something that would radically change our perspective about life, or the way we understand history, or found the cure for cancer?

    This is all mind-boggling. True, we don't know that we are missing what will come that is "better," but, almost worse, we don't know that we are missing what never was (for various circumstances) and probably never will. As we probably "will never know what could have been."

    This post does contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission for referring business. Thank you for your support!

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Earth Day

    It has been brought to my attention that today is Earth Day. Now this requires an in-depth discussion of Christian stewardship and responsibility to the environment. Unfortunately, I do not have that kind of time right now. The short version must suffice.
    Christians have a responsibility to care for the environment. This is not a bad thing at all, indeed God put creation in our care for us to manage. Our actions should not abuse the creation, but should help preserve it. That being said it should not become a god or an idol. Yes, we should care for it, but there is a balance. I am not on the tree-hugging, hybrid, don't-use-napkins, there's-global-warming bandwagon. That is extreme. And there are some Christians there.

    Many Christians are also at the other extreme of well-God's-gonna-destroy-it-all-one-day-anyway-so-what-we-do-really-doesn't-matter. That is also wrong. There is a balance. It must be found. So I encourage you to celebrate Earth Day by celebrating God, not His creation. Rejoice in his creation, in the birds singing, in the air, in the plants, but cause them to cause you to look upward to the heavens. To glory in the glory of God. To praise Him for his marvelous deeds. For He has done it.

    original image source

    I Don't Know That I'm Missing...

    Have you ever wondered what you're missing, or realize that you've missed something after you had it?

    There was a time when "snail mail" was the new thing, and the fastest way to keep in touch. They never knew they were missing e-mail. We have e-mail, text messaging, IM, etc... but I don't know that I'm missing the "newest" innovation of 50 years from now. I wonder what it is, but I don't know. And I can't "miss it" though (in theory at least) my life will be better with it. I wonder what you're missing...

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    High court backs ban on disputed abortion method

    Here's the story... [source]

    High court backs ban on disputed abortion method
    The ruling marks the first time justices have upheld such a measure, and opens the door for more in the future.
    By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
    April 19, 2007

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court changed course on abortion Wednesday, upholding a national ban on a midterm method of ending pregnancies. The decision clears the way for states to pass new laws designed to discourage women from having abortions.

    In a 5-4 ruling applauded by antiabortion forces, the court said the "government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life." In 2000, the court, also by a 5-4 margin, struck down a nearly identical state law on the grounds that it could force some women to undergo riskier surgery during the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. But the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 2005 and President Bush's appointment of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to succeed her tipped the balance the other way.

    It was the first time the court upheld a ban on an abortion procedure. Though Wednesday's opinion does not overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion, the majority said it was prepared to uphold new restrictions on doctors who perform them and women who seek them.

    Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the court, said that the government may not forbid abortion outright but that it "may use its voice and its regulatory authority" to dissuade women from ending pregnancies. The ban on what opponents call "partial-birth" abortions will "encourage some women to carry the infant to full term, thus reducing the absolute number" of such abortions, he added.

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito joined Kennedy's opinion. In a separate statement, Thomas and Scalia said they would vote to overrule Roe vs. Wade entirely.

    The decision is likely to elevate the abortion issue in the 2008 presidential campaigns. Two of the court's strongest supporters of the right to abortion are also its oldest: John Paul Stevens will be 87 on Friday, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 74. The next president might have to nominate one or more new justices.

    Ginsburg, the court's only woman, called Wednesday's decision "alarming."

    It "cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this court," she said.

    She said this dispute was about how, not whether, abortions would be performed during the second trimester. Despite Kennedy's talk of "promoting fetal life," the ban on the procedure "targets only a method of abortion," she said. "The woman may abort the fetus, so long as her doctor uses another method, one her doctor judges less safe for her."

    She also called the decision demeaning to women. It "pretends" to protect them "by denying them any choice in the matter," she said.

    Stevens and Justices David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer joined her dissent.

    The ruling culminates a 12-year campaign by the National Right to Life Committee to outlaw the procedure, which its leaders were the first to dub "partial-birth" abortion. They said the procedure was akin to "infanticide" because the fetus is killed after being extracted partly from the uterus.

    Bush praised the decision as a step toward "protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of human life." Congress enacted the ban and he signed it into law four years ago, but it was struck down as unconstitutional by three lower courts.

    Abortion rights advocates voiced outrage over Wednesday's decision. It "is a stunning assault on women's health and the expertise of doctors who care for them," said Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This court believes that members of Congress — not doctors — are in the best position to make medical decisions for their patients."

    In one sense, the ruling may have more symbolic than practical significance. By most estimates, the disputed procedure is used in fewer than 5,000 of the more than 1.3 million abortions performed nationwide each year.

    However, the legal battle turned on the question of whether a woman and her doctor, or elected lawmakers, should decide on abortion.

    Most abortions — 85% to 90% — are done in the first three months of pregnancy. In those cases, the fetus is removed through a suction tube.

    Later in pregnancy, however, some form of surgery is required. Most doctors give the woman anesthesia and use instruments to remove the fetus in pieces. This procedure is known as dilation and evacuation, or D&E, and remains legal.

    Some doctors who perform second-term abortions said it was safer to remove the fetus intact because that method is less likely to expose the woman to injury, bleeding or infection. Usually, doctors collapse the fetus' skull, or drain its content, to permit its removal. This method is known as dilation and extraction, or D&X.

    Congress criminalized D&X in the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The law permits doctors to use the procedure if it is necessary to save the woman's life. However, there is no exception for instances where doctors say it is needed to preserve her health.

    In 2000, Dr. LeRoy Carhart of Bellevue, Neb., successfully challenged Nebraska's law. He also sued to strike down the federal ban, but was on the losing end in Wednesday's ruling in Gonzales vs. Carhart.

    The Supreme Court's opinion sets out two major changes to abortion law.

    Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, justices have examined abortion measures before they go into effect and have struck down those that might threaten the life or health of some women in the future. These pre-enforcement challenges are referred to as "facial challenges."

    Now, the court said it would allow such abortion laws to go into effect first when they do not raise a broad constitutional concern. Challengers still may bring an "as applied" suit, Kennedy said. For example, if doctors can show D&X is needed for women who have a particular medical condition, they could seek a court order that exempts them from the law, he said.

    Second, the court in the past said it would strike down abortion laws that might threaten the health of some patients. Kennedy's opinion acknowledged that some nationally recognized medical experts testified that the ban on D&X could "create significant health risks" for some women who undergo midterm abortions.

    But that alone is not enough to void the law, Kennedy concluded. There are other safe methods of performing these abortions, he said, and doctors are not entitled to "unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice."

    The ruling highlights Kennedy's central role on the court, particularly on the issue of abortion. In 1992, he cast a decisive fifth vote to preserve the right to abortion.

    Though he is personally opposed to abortion, he has said he was not willing to overturn a long-standing constitutional right. But he has said the government could strictly regulate abortion and seek to dissuade women from ending their pregnancies. He reiterated both points in Wednesday's opinion.

    He also left no doubt that he found the disputed procedure abhorrent. Announcing his opinion in the court, he said some women regret their decision to have an abortion. A woman would suffer "grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child," he said.

    For Roberts and Alito, the ruling was their first major decision on abortion, and it made clear both would support stricter regulation. However, it remains unclear whether they would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade if given a chance.

    That chance could come in a few years if Stevens or Ginsburg was replaced by a staunchly conservative justice.

    Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate said the ruling underscored the importance of elections.

    Conservatives said support for Bush and his Supreme Court nominees had paid off. "At last, a modest decision based on principles of judicial restraint: allowing 'we the people' to make laws supported by a clear majority of Americans without interference from unelected judges," said Wendy Long, counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, which rallied support for Roberts and Alito.

    Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, agreed that "elections matter."

    "An anti-choice Congress and anti-choice president pushed this ban all the way to the Supreme Court."

    original image source

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    The Task at Hand

    "In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus' call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the gospel, and His word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious maryrdom. But in service we are banished to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial." - Richard Foster
    I must admit this cut right to the heart of me. Have you ever been truly startled and dr-r-aw-w-n your breath in (while your mind blacks in and out rapidly with the dashes the whole ordeal lasting .5 sec)? That's exactly what happened to me. I serve, and I enjoy serving ... most of the time. However, I am guilty of this exact thought "Why does God never ask me to forsake all I know, to sell all my possessions, to go into an land unknown? I want to do something besides just help other leaders out. Why doesn't he lead me to serve him in some way more exciting? (I mean, it's not like I'm not willing.)" OU-OUCH.

    Consider this situation presented by John Newton:
    If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth's grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God's will.

    That is why I am where I am. It matters to me. Quite frankly it matters. That now bothers me and vexes me a great deal. I must learn to be humble. I must humble myself. You know God doesn't tell us to ask him to humble us. He tells us to humble ourselves (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6). My pastor once said "when God humbles you it's called humiliation," and such is true. I need to be content in my place, if God sees it proper to move me elsewhere he will. In his time, and in his way. It need not matter to me whether I minister in the jungles of Africa, in the palaces of Britain, in the slums of LA, or in my own backyard. What matters is that I am serving Christ.

    Robert Rodenmeyer once said, "There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, "I have to'; duty giving says, 'I ought to'; thanksgiving says, 'I want to.'" I am often a dutiful giver in many areas. I know I ought to do something so I do. I want to become a thanksgiver, indeed such is what God desires as well.

    Until my pride is removed, until I am humble, until I am a thanksgiver I doubt my walk with Christ can go much deeper. Now I resolve to work on these problems in my life and this I can be assured of: Satan will try and prevent me on every side. Any prayers offered on my behalf are much appreciated.

    original image source

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    I Walk Up the Stairs in Darkness

    I love the thought of abandon houses. I love the thought of plantation homes of the Deep South. I love the thought of an old log cabin. I love the thought of a castle. And I love the thought of old Western ranch homes. Essentially I love the thought of any place that I think has the potential for (1) and adventure (2) a hidden room/store place or (3) lots of history. Places to hide your gold. Places to hide from the Indians. Places to store valuables from greedy relations. Places for future generations to find.

    I want to explore these places. I want to find their secrets. Their dungeons. Their hidden staircases. Their secret closets.

    I pretend and dream. And sometimes when its dark outside and the wind is howling I walk up the stairs. Pop. Squeak. Crrrreeeeek. Sometimes I wish I had a flashlight. Sometimes I wonder what's waiting for me at the top of the stairs. Will someone jump out? Will I fall through the floor? Alas, its only my house. And I know where the lightswitch is when I reach the top of the stairs. But sometime, sometime, that story might be different. I have prepared myself mentally. An abandoned house. A dreary castle. A lone log cabin. Those buildings call my name.

    original image source

    Monday, April 9, 2007

    My heart is not a box with a lock in a five and dime store.

    Many people today sell their heart to others on a whim.

  • "Oh he's different"
  • "She would never break my heart ... we're perfect for each other ya know?"
  • "I learned my lesson last time"
  • "But he's just so cute!"

    The concept of purity, saving--not just your body--but your heart, emotions, thoughts, and such for one person and only one person, is outdated. This is evident in the movies being made today, in the songs on the radio, in the books published. American Idol should be enough evidence in and of itself.

    What did Haley do last week? She took a song meant for one person and turned it into a flirt session singing to seemingly multiple people: "I'm gonna save my love for you ..." Taking a stand is hard: whether male or female, old or young, rich or poor. It is easy to just go with the flow, and not stir up trouble. But if you hold something dear you shouldn't sell out what you hold dear. Not only is it not good for you, but you will regret it one day. I'll promise you that. I pray that you all take a strong stand for purity. It will not be a decision you eternally regret.

    picture credit
  • Thursday, April 5, 2007

    The Easter Night Sky

    Mel Gibson's stunning motion picture, "The Passion of the Christ," opens with a dramatic close-up view of the Full Moon. From there, we see Jesus and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the subsequent events from the Gospels are shown set against the pale brightness of the Moon's light.

    The Moon is shown several times in that opening scene, as if to impress upon the viewer that these events did indeed take place on the night of the Full Moon. In this astronomical way, as in so many other ways, the maker of this remarkable film accurately depicted Biblical truth.

    After all, Jesus was indeed crucified on the day following the Passover. And we do know from Scripture that the Passover is to be celebrated during the Full Moon of the current season. This particular Full Moon is commonly called "The Easter Moon," or more properly, "The Paschal Moon" and occurs on April 2 in 2007.

    The Astronomy of Passover
    The first Passover was celebrated by the Israelites in their last night in Egypt. The Israelites were instructed by the LORD to kill an unblemished lamb, and place its blood on their doorposts, so that the angel of death would "pass over" the house and not kill the firstborn of that family. In this way, the firstborn children of Egypt were killed, after which Moses led the children of Israel from slavery to freedom.

    The LORD commanded that the feasts of the Passover and unleavened bread be celebrated by Israel forever. And the timing of the Passover celebration is given as follows:
    In the fourteenth day of the first month at even, is the Lord's Passover. - Leviticus 23:5
    In our culture, if we hear "the fourteenth day of the first month," we would think this to mean "January 14." Our modern, western culture still uses a variation of the old Roman calendar, originally established by Julius Caesar in around 45 B.C. Our calendar is strictly a solar calendar, timed around the annual cycle of the Sun through the seasons, and oriented so that the solstices and equinoxes fall on the same dates each year.

    In our calendar, "months" are simply arbitrary units used to divide the solar year. So the dates within our months are just numbers, with no reference to the Moon or its phases. But the Hebrew calendar used by the ancient Israelites and the modern Jews today is a lunar calendar. And in this lunar calendar, the "months" represent complete cycles of the Moon's phases. In this way, each date of the month represents a certain phase of the Moon, so that the same phases will fall on the same date from month to month.

    So when the LORD commanded Israel to celebrate Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, it was understood that this day was two weeks after the New Moon, which is to say, the night of the Full Moon of the first month. The Passover is called pesech in Hebrew, and in the Greek of the New Testament, this word is rendered as "Pasch." For this reason, the Full Moon of Passover is called "The Paschal Moon." (Ironically, this point is flubbed in Cecil B. DeMille's film classic, "The Ten Commandments" with Charleton Heston. In the scene of the night of the first Passover, the "destroyer" was shown as smoke, flowing past the Moon in the night sky. The problem was, the movie showed a waning crescent Moon!!! This is actually quite a serious mistake, since Scripture is clear that the Passover occurs at the Full Moon. It is amazing that such a blunder could sneak into this classic movie, a multi-million dollar production that drew from the labors of numerous researchers and consultants, including prominent scholars and rabbis. It is perhaps more amazing that very few people today would notice such a detail, and even fewer would care. This illustrates the extent with which the most commonplace facts of astronomy are ignored and misunderstood in our high-tech world.)

    The Full Moon

    In our generation, very few people bother to notice the phases of the Moon. We might notice the Moon when outside in the evenings. But most of us never bother to observe the progression of the Moon's phase as we scurry around living our busy little lives. But even 100 years ago, most people lived close to the earth, and it was natural to follow the Moon's phases over the course of the month, increasing each night to the Full Moon, and decreasing in the weeks after. And this was certainly true in Biblical times.

    For those of us who still follow the Moon's phases, we notice that the Full Moon rises in the east just as the Sun is setting in the west. The Full Moon crosses the sky all night, and reaches its highest point at midnight. The Full Moon finally sets in the morning, just as the Sun is coming up. So the Moon truly does "rule the night" as we read in Genesis 1:16. Here's an excellent classical description of the Full Moon:

    Now God commanded the Sun to measure the day, and the Moon, whenever she rounds her disc, to rule the night. For then these two luminaries are almost diametrically opposed; when the Sun rises, the Full Moon disappears from the horizon, to reappear in the East at the moment the Sun sets. - from the "Hexaemeron" of Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea, circa A.D. 360

    On the night of the Full Moon, after it has risen high into the sky, it casts plenty of light! You can see very strong shadows under the Full Moon. Actually, the Full Moon is only one-millionth as bright as the Sun. But our eyes have been designed by the LORD to record a light level difference of one billion! So moonlight actually appears quite bright, since we can still see in light only 1/1000 of that level! This is still another manner in which our bodies are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

    Moon Over Jerusalem

    So the LORD in his provision had the children of Israel depart Egypt under the light of the Full Moon. We read in Exodus 12:29 that the LORD smote the Egyptians at midnight, and that that Pharaoh released the Israelites sometime afterwards. So the LORD gave His Chosen People plenty of bright moonlight for traveling as they left Egypt on foot.

    From this night forward, God commanded that Israel celebrate the Passover on the evening of the Full Moon. So it only follows that Jesus and the disciples ate the Last Supper in the Upper Room as the Full Moon rose over Jerusalem. And in the night, the bright Full Moon shone down upon Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, as depicted in "The Passion." This astronomical fact of Scripture is often overlooked. In fact, this also illustrates the extent of which the common astronomy of the Moon's phases is poorly understood in our generation.

    We read in the Gospel accounts of the darkness that fell over the land during the crucifixion. Some rational-minded thinkers have attempted to explain this away as a Total Eclipse of the Sun that occurred during the crucifixion. However, such a solar eclipse can only occur during a New Moon, when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. However, the Paschal Full Moon occurs in exactly the opposite side of the sky as the New Moon, the completely wrong phase!

    Also, a solar eclipse can only last as long as eight minutes, not the three hours of the darkness that happened during the crucifixion! So as we see, this miraculous darkness defeats any ill-informed attempts to at a rational, scientific explanation, again showing the folly of the "wisdom" of this world.
    The Easter Night Sky
    by: Jay Ryan
    This article is from the Classical Astronomy Update, a free email newsletter for Christian homeschoolers. Jay Ryan is also the author of "Signs & Seasons," an astronomy homeschool curriculum. For more information, visit his web site
    Article taken in its entirety from