Thursday, May 31, 2007

10C's: no idols, ever, part e!

Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (NET)

i'm sure it's tempting for teachers of Exodus to mumble over the negative results of God's jealousy but articulate well the positive results. "Jealous" seems so petty and the NET Bible offers a clarification on the word,
The word “jealous” is the same word often translated “zeal” or “zealous.” The word describes a passionate intensity to protect or defend something that is jeopardized. The word can also have the sense of “envy,” but in that case the object is out of bounds. God’s zeal or jealousy is to protect his people or his institutions or his honor. Yahweh’s honor is bound up with the life of his people.

God isn't petty, it's simply that he's always right and he keeps the lights on and keeps everything running. God has set these people aside, partly because of the faith of their ancestor Abraham. He is showing his love to them, who are many generations removed from Abe, because of Abe's righteousness that came by faith (see Romans 4). They are being warned and encouraged, a stick and a carrot. Four generations is tough, but i think it is a key to understanding the atrocities God ordered Joshua to carry out against the inhabitants of the inheritance of Israel. Later on God told Jeremiah (ch. 31) and Ezekiel (ch. 18) that families would be off the hook for the sins of their parents, he now treats people individually. Some sins are so bad collectively that punishment lasted several hundred years. i read Nehemiah yesterday and at the end of the book they turn out certain foreigners,
Nehemiah 13:1 On that day the book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing 1 of the people. They found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite may ever enter the assembly of God, 13:2 for they had not met the Israelites with food and water, but instead had hired Balaam to curse them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into blessing.) 13:3 When they heard the law, they removed from Israel all who were of mixed ancestry.
Now this wasn't an idolatry issue, but the point is, God is consistent in punishing down through the generations. He did it to his own people. Achan (Joshua 7) and Eli (1 Sam 3:13-14) for example. Those of us who have lived under the new covenant for so long, who are justified by our own faith and not our parents', this punishment on succeeding generations is so wrong. But for those who are not part of this covenant, it only makes sense. An example of mercy by the enlightened Greeks before the time of Alexander the Great was after conquering a city to kill all the men and selling the women and children into slavery. That's moderation apart from God. When Joshua started wiping our cities and killing everything and everyone, no child was left behind, so to speak. no city marked for destruction by God was to have anything breathing by the time the Israelite army finished. Yes, it is abhorrent. there are many attempts to justify Joseph's total war philosophy. But really the only justification is God's direct instruction which God will never instruct again, because no longer are children directly judged for their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents sins. However, they will suffer the consequences of their sins. If a parent spends all their money on alcohol, the children suffer. If a grandparent spends time in jail, the generations that follow have a higher likelihood too. In the same way, families who live well often reproduce that in the subsequent generations, as long as those don't fall into a sinful path. It's not much unlike seeing families who produce lawyers or doctors or carpenters or musicians. Exposure conditions the easily molded children. It seems that idolatry never fully exited the fabric of the Israeli household. They fell back into it over and over again, even worshiping items that God used, including the Moses' snake (Numbers 21:9, 2 Kings 18:4). Even after the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, those who were left fled to Egypt and started worshiping false gods again (Jeremiah 44). They reasoned,
44:16 “We will not listen to what you claim the Lord has spoken to us! 44:17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 44:18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation.”
Sigh. Egypt, in contrast to Israel, is a type of the world, tangible, immediate, easy, enslaving. The land of Israel is promised, comes with struggle, and is free as long as enemies are not allowed in, alot like the life of the Christian. Our struggle is the temptation to return to Egypt, a land of idols and abundance and slavery. We are called to a life of rejection, abundance, freedom, and true worship of the one God. In Egypt, even the children are enslaved and can be killed at whim of the king. In Israel, generations can thrive and blossom, as long as they stay away from Egypt. Egypt and Israel need to stay separate. In Israel, there is no other God and there are no images of Him. The reward of faithfulness is a blessing on our descendants, a much better inheritance than a chunk of corruptible stuff.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

great runner's tool is my new friend. for week 5 of barefoot running, i wanted to start out the week by not missing Monday's run. so i made a 3 mile loop and set off with the dog, who did remarkably well. also, i happily found out that my supposed 3 mile run at work is actually 4 miles. my plan is to do this 4 mile run for 4 days this week. now that it is warming up around here, i'm running right after my bike ride. 5 mile bike commute followed by a run. the muscles are a little different so it's not that insane. also, the road is a little cooler on the feet. i learned this morning that scraping your big toe on tar is far less damaging than scraping it on cement. my other big toe took 2 weeks to heal from a skin raking scrape on a cement sidewalk.
speaking of bicycle commuting...i have a future recumbent in mind, the cruzbike. if gas gets up to $4 a gallon i'll have my current bike paid for itself sooner and can justify this next one.

Monday, May 28, 2007

book report - Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg

Epicenter is a nonfiction book by Joel Rosenberg. Essentially, it's a Bible study on Ezekiel 38-39, from which he has based his political thrillers, two of which i have reviewed here and here. He makes a case for current headlines aligning with Zeke's prophecies, such as Russia and Iran allying, Israel making peace with neighbors such as Egypt and Jordan, and totalitarianism rising again in Russia. If Ezekiel's record is this good then Rosenberg expects to see a couple more things; a peaceful and economically strong Iraq that will rebuild Babylon, Israel becoming a oil and gas producer for the world, and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He doesn't deal with the rapture, as Zeke doesn't but he mentions it a couple times. Some Christians think this reading of Biblical prophecy is a bunch of bunk, but I don't and I think Rosenberg makes a good case. Rosenberg is quite ecumenical in his work. He seeks the positive in all religions and reports on amzing conversations with Jews and Muslims. The book is a quick read, and the sources are abundant, although very selective, which is necessary in a short book. I enjoyed it and I recommend it to all geopolitical hobbyists. btw, the epicenter is where an earthquake originates from. He considers Israel the epicenter of geopolitics. in light of this, he makes no mention of China, he concedes the US has no part in biblical prophecy, and North Korea is not on his radar either.

Memorial Day 2007

here's a link to the History Guy with a list of U.S. war casualties through the Republic's existence.

one item of interest is that the current war has a similar amount killed (3391) as the Philippine-American war (3216) at the turn of the last century.

war is tragic, even more so for those who have lost fathers and brothers and sisters and children. i am thankful and grateful to those who have served in our country's military.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

10C's: #2 no idols, part d

Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (ESV for all quotes)

idols are a big thorn in the side of the children of Israel. it's a habit they can't kick so God spends a lot of time refreshing their memory. he comes back to it a couple times in Exodus. in fact, before Moses can come down the mountain with these commandments the people have given up on him and ask Aaron to make something for them. the golden calf was this Sunday morning's lesson for my 3rd and 4th grade class. he made it from gold earrings. the thing that strikes me about idols is they are never cheap. why can't an idol be made of dirt? why the investment? perhaps its a frontloading of worship. unlike the living God who requires our entire life and every facet of it idols, perhaps, are satisfied with a glitzy upfront payment with small daily payments thereafter.

yet God keeps reminding them.

Leviticus 19:4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.

i like the solemn conclusion God puts on that statement. "no idols BECAUSE I'm God!" i don't think God was worried someone would make an idol out of spam. but He made us worshipers and Adam's sin blinded us to true worship. and even when the truth is revealed our sinfulness brings on a spiritual dementia. so He keeps reminding us. He is spirit and he has no form to imitate.

Deuteronomy 4:15 "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth .


Deuteronomy 5:8 "'You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

now a curse on the idolater.

Deuteronomy 27:15 "'Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.'

at the end of the Israel's existence, before they are carried off by Babylon, after they've seen Israel to the North get carried off by the Assyrians for the same sins Jeremiah comes on the scene and tries argument of absurdity ...

Jeremiah 10:3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. 5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good."

Jeremiah 10:14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. 15 They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish. 16 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name.

Paul points out to the Romans, idol worshippers themselves, that God has not changed, nor has sinful man...

Romans 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

John tells us that it won't stop until the end of time...

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,

Paul gives us a warning...

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

now this is scary, so scary that some translations make idolater a separate descriptor instead of a modifier of the covetous person. perhaps that is a key for us modern idolaters. in case we didn't get it, Paul restates it in his letter to Colosse

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

the thing i most enjoy about the Bible is the recurring, overlapping, and interwoven themes. the 2nd commandment and the 10th commandment are variations on a theme. James touches on this theme.

James 4:1-4a 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?

He even brings in adultery! none of us are clean. none of us are innocent. i'm convinced that was Jesus' point on the sermon on the mount. no one is righteous. even the invalid sins. we are all in need of a Savior.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

10C's: #2 no idols. part c

Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers' sin, to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand [generations] of those who love Me and keep My commands. (Exodus 20:4-6 - HCSB)

God closes all the loopholes.
1 - don't make it
2 - not of anything
a - above
b - below
c - swims
3 - don't bow down to it (see Daniel 3, when Daniel's buddies get busted for refusing to bend their knees to an idol)
4 - don't worship it

i have an idol experience, yes, in america, in the 21st century, at my job. the leader of a project team i was on had spent time in Japan and liked their kickoff tradition which was signing the good luck head. it was a paper mache head painted one color and it represented good luck if everyone signed it. i slipped into the back of the room to avoid it. it seemed a form of idol worship to me, which i wanted no part of. i don't believe in luck. i believe in the providence of God who brings rain and sun to the good and the bad alike (Matthew 5:45). but, the team leader found me and cornered me. i had an opportunity to stand up for Jesus. instead i caved in. i wasn't like Daniel's 3 buds who refused to bend the knee (Daniel 3:12). i signed it without a whimper.
what a crummy ending to that story, huh? i asked the Lord for forgiveness. i did protest later the religious ritual at work that i had to participate in. but, in my view, i broke the commandment. i'm part of the company that John the disciple wrote too, "dear children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21 - NIV) i figured he wrote that because they were having trouble with them.
i'm not sure there are any commandments i haven't violated. but this one isn't that hard to break. if i kiss a wad of cash, aren't i adoring something other than God? if i reverentially caress a brand new car...if i bow to a Christian statue? ooo, now that's a divisive issue in Christendom. Here's the argument in the 8th century
1. Iconoclasm condemned the making of any lifeless image (e.g. painting or statue) that was intended to represent Jesus or one of the saints. The Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum held in 754 declared:

"Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and colour whatever by the evil art of painters.... If anyone ventures to represent the divine image (χαρακτήρ, charaktēr) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema! .... If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, let him be anathema!"

2. For iconoclasts, the only real religious image must be an exact likeness of the prototype -of the same substance- which they considered impossible, seeing wood and paint as empty of spirit and life. Thus for iconoclasts the only true (and permitted) "icon" of Jesus was the Eucharist, which was believed to be his actual body and blood.

3. Any true image of Jesus must be able to represent both his divine nature (which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed) and his human nature (which is possible). But by making an icon of Jesus, one is separating his human and divine natures, since only the human can be depicted (separating the natures was considered nestorianism), or else confusing the human and divine natures, considering them one (union of the human and divine natures was considered monophysitism).

4. Icon use for religious purposes was viewed as an innovation in the Church, a Satanic misleading of Christians to return to pagan practice.

"Satan misled men, so that they worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. The Law of Moses and the Prophets cooperated to remove this ruin...But the previously mentioned demiurge of evil...gradually brought back idolatry under the appearance of Christianity." [20]

It was also seen as a departure from ancient church tradition, of which there was a written record opposing religious images...
The iconodule response to iconoclasm included:

1. Assertion that the biblical commandment forbidding images of God had been superseded by the incarnation of Jesus, who, being the second person of the Trinity, is God incarnate in visible matter. Therefore, they were not depicting the invisible God, but God as He appeared in the flesh. This became an attempt to shift the issue of the incarnation in their favor, whereas the iconoclasts had used the issue of the incarnation against them.
2. Further, in their view idols depicted persons without substance or reality while icons depicted real persons. Essentially the argument was "all religious images not of our faith are idols; all images of our faith are icons to be venerated." This was considered comparable to the Old Testament practice of only offering burnt sacrifices to God, and not to any other gods.
3. Regarding the written tradition opposing the making and veneration of images, they asserted that icons were part of unrecorded oral tradition (parádosis, sanctioned in Orthodoxy as authoritative in doctrine by reference to 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Basil the Great, etc.).
4. Arguments were drawn from the miraculous Acheiropoieta, the supposed icon of the Virgin painted with her approval by St Luke, and other miraculous occurrences around icons, that demonstrated divine approval of Iconodule practices.
5. Iconodules further argued that decisions such as whether icons ought to be venerated were properly made by the church assembled in council, not imposed on the church by an emperor. Thus the argument also involved the issue of the proper relationship between church and state. Related to this was the observation that it was foolish to deny to God the same honor that was freely given to the human emperor.

i'm not convinced by the iconodules. the Protestant iconoclasts even knocked down crosses in the 1500's which the iconoclasts of the 5th through 8th centuries were fine with. i'm a protestant. i'm not cool with praying to saints or icons. i understand there is a fine distinction made by those theologians of those religious streams, but it's too fine for me. but i'm still guilty of worshiping idols. we all are. Jesus forgives. it's all about right worship, how to worship correctly.

why bent bikes are good for the barefoot runner

not only do i run barefoot but i also bicycle commute on a recumbent bike. since barefoot running involves a forefoot strike, the balls of my feet tend to be sore. but since my bent bike places my feet forward from my body instead of under it, they bear much less pressure.

the Proverbs 31 husband

what do we know of the Proverbs 31 husband?
he has full confidence in his wife and lacks nothing of value (v. 11)
he is continually brought good by her (v. 12)
he provides her with servants (v. 15)
he has enough money for her to buy a field (v. 16)
he goes to sleep alone and wakes up alone (v. 15, 18)
he has enough money for her to be generous with (v. 20)
he has enough money for her to clothe the family in nice clothes (v.21)
he is respected among the city leaders (v. 23)
he blesses her and praises her(v. 28)
he gives her the reward she has earned and lets her works be praised publicly (v.31)

Monday, May 21, 2007

week 5 barefoot running

i need to up the mileage this week. i went for three or four miles today. i was very slow but i did it. i'll go back to two miles then another 3 miler. i still plan on running 5 days this week. but some will be longer than others. the weekend off did wonders for my feet. i need to pick my feet up more though. now my right big toe is bleeding.

tips for married guys

when us guys were courting our wives we would make them mix tapes, sing them songs we learned from Bon Jovi, or even attempt our own poetry. and they married us anyway. wouldn't you know it, our wives still appreciate the effort, except we don't know any new songs, we couldn't afford to buy music after all the money went to paying for diapers, plus what does an 18 year old know about love? our voices are not nearly as angelic as we imagined them. and poetry doesn't feel masculine. it's only ok for men trying to woo a girl.
well, she still likes to be wooed. and there is a poetry for older dumb guys. Shakespeare and his sonnets can take a leap. the Japanese invented this form called haiku, and it works. 3 lines. 5 syllables, then 7, then 5 more. it doesn't rhyme. it's easier than a limerick. it impressed my wife enough that she put the ones i wrote for her this Mother's Day on her blog. dudes, it is so easy to impress your wife with your haikus written for her. i think they won't get you out of opening your wallet for her, but the personal touch covers a multitude of sins my friends.

10C's: no. 2 no idols, part b

Jesus tells the Samaritan woman in John 4:23 -24
"the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of woshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth." (NIV)
the first commandment hits the truth aspect. the second commandment hits the spirit aspect. it is impossible to sculpt the non-physical. how do you sculpt wind? wind can be described by words and sensation but not by vision, not by personification.
in the previous chapter of John, Jesus tells the religious leader, Nicodemus,
“3:5 I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (NET)

the Creator of the universe can't be represented in one object. the Israelites tried a couple times to represent God as a golden calf. Moses's brother, Aaron, made a calf and told the crowd, here is your god, the one who delivered you from Egypt, Exodus 32:4. He does this while Moses is receiving this law. he made the idol in response to the people's impatience. Moses had been on top of this volcano for 40 days. they wanted to worship something. worship is part of how He made us. we are made to worship. and i don't think the people believed the golden calf had power in itself, but that it was a correct representation of their deliverer. later on when the northern tribes seceded from the Davidic kingdom of the South, they made two calf idols for the people to worship Jehovah, so they wouldn't go down to Jerusalem anymore. of course they knew the idols weren't God, just visual representations to stimulate their worship. but i think God's point is that he isn't perceived with our eyes, but with our spirits.
Philip asks Jesus in John 14 to show them the Father. Jesus replies,
“14:9 Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?" (NET)
yet, we have no image of Jesus to adore from the Bible. we have a negative image. Isaiah tells us he was unattractive.
53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
53:3 He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. (NET)
he didn't stand out, yet seeing him was seeing God. his image is the only image of God that is acceptable to worship. and we don't have that image now, not the physical one. but we do know alot about God by the record of his life among us. we are prohibited from worshiping a thing of creation, but we are called to worship a creator, a who, or three who's. what do we know about Jesus? as Gayle Erwin summarizes Him,
formed from the Gospels and Philippians 2:5-11, as well as some other lists that have come out of the understanding of the Nature of Jesus:

The Nature of Jesus
  1. Servant
  2. Not Lord It over Others
  3. Lead by Example
  4. Humble
  5. As A Child
  6. As the Younger
  7. As the Least
  8. Last
  9. Used No Force on Us
  10. Was Not Driven by Selfish Ambition
  11. Made Himself of No Reputation
  12. Was Fully Human
  13. Obedient
  14. Unto Death
and we know this about the Father, again from Erwin
We now give you God the Father's description of himself as found in Exodus 34:6:

The Nature of God the Father
  1. Compassionate
  2. Gracious
  3. Slow to Anger
  4. Abounding in Mercy
  5. Abounding in Faithfulness
  6. Maintaining Love to Thousands
  7. Forgiving Wickedness, Rebellion and Sin
  8. Punishing Only Those Who Hate Him
and finally the Holy Spirit
Prophecies of Jesus about the Holy Spirit
  1. Comforter
  2. Abide, live with us forever
  3. Spirit of Truth
  4. Dwell in Us
  5. Teacher
  6. Testify of Jesus
  7. Convict World of Sin
  8. Convict World of Righteousness
  9. Convict World of Judgment
  10. Guide Us into All Truth
  11. Not Speak of Himself
  12. Show Us Things to Come
  13. Glorify Jesus
The Anointing of the Spirit
  1. Preach Good News to the Poor
  2. Heal the Brokenhearted
  3. Proclaim Freedom for the Captives
  4. Release from Darkness for Prisoners
  5. Proclaim the Season of God's Favor
  6. Day of Vengeance of our God
  7. Comfort All Who Mourn
  8. Provide for Those Who Grieve
  9. Beauty for Ashes
  10. Oil of Joy for Mourning
  11. Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness
  12. Trees of Righteousness, the Planting of the Lord
how can this God, just described be reduced to an image? it's an insult. it's a blasphemy. one that God punished the Jewish nations for by Assyria and Babylonia. by that time, they supplemented worship of him with worship of other gods and their idols and the dissipation that followed inevitably. we are conformed to the image of what we worship. and even noble things, though approaching an aspect of God's nature, are limited. why would someone only enjoy one facet on a diamond? it's all those facets together that cause the brilliance and the beauty. any idol is a part. and worshipers realized it and had to supplement their pantheon.
i realize i am only retreading Paul's argument to the Athenians, keepers of the Pantheon. so i will let Paul's conclusion be mine...
Acts 17:22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 17:23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. 17:26 From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, 17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 17:28 For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’
17:29 So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. 17:30 Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 17:31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Saturday, May 19, 2007

10 C's series: busted

this blog by Matt Dabbs notes that Exodus 20 hits 6300 times on a google blog search. i will still finish it though. he points out that tons of passages lack representation, including stuff in the minor prophets.
HT: Jesus Creed

book report- The Peloponnesian War by Bagnall

Nigel Bagnall was a retired British army Chief of Staff when he wrote this book. He died shortly after he wrote it. Most of what we know about the war between the city states comes from Thucydides and Xenophon and Plutarch who Bagnall references frequently, but not slavishly. He freely questions their accounts and contrasts them with other accounts or with the possibilities of reality or the subsequent narrative of the storyteller. For the bible student, hearing about the involvement of Cyrus and Artaxerxes and other Persian kings gives a greater context to understand the world they lived in and the cameos they make in the post-exilic Old Testament stories. For citizens of countries currently at war, the difficulties of democracy, ambition, money, morale, tactics, and their interplay rings a familiar tune.

Friday, May 18, 2007

5 bf runs this week....check

i made a goal for this week to run barefoot every day for 2 miles a day. Monday and Tuesday went well. Wednesday, on the last quarter mile i swept my foot on the ground to rub off something poking into its sole but dragged my big toe on the forward stride. did you know big toe wounds are like head wounds? they bleed alot and are very tender. Wednesday night i wasn't a happy runner, not only did my big toe really hurt but my feet and calves hurt in general. i think they were hurting for the same reason, muscle development. on Thursday i hemmed and hawed. i had many excuses and two band aids on my toe. but my goal was public, to all 11 of you. Guy Muse, the famous M blogger, even commented to encourage me. so i went. the band aid stayed on and the run went really well. i can count on abundant ouchies for the first half mile that disappear within a mile. after a mile and a half my loop is almost done and i usually feel really good. God made endorphins for a reason! today i had a really good excuse. despite the calendar saying it is mid-May and Al Gore telling me the planet is warming up, it is 45 degrees F right now and raining. i brought my cold weather biking gear in. i was in lycra from my ankles to the crown of my head and i stayed warm. starting out was painful. but as in all my previous runs, after that first half mile, the rest of the run was possible. my feet were cold but they did warm up. now my body knows how to do at least this much, barefooted. next week, a little more.

Who is your Creator?

cool creationist site at Who is your Creator?

10 C's: #2 no idols, not even American Idols?

Here are the verses for number 2 from the ESV
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

this anti-idol statement can be positively stated as, "only the Creator deserves worship." the ancillary statements point out that God can affect your descendants quality of life, unlike the piece of wood or rock you are praying to. what's with the "jealous" aspect of God? is he petty? the NET bible has a helpful note.
"The word “jealous” is the same word often translated “zeal” or “zealous.” The word describes a passionate intensity to protect or defend something that is jeopardized. The word can also have the sense of “envy,” but in that case the object is out of bounds. God’s zeal or jealousy is to protect his people or his institutions or his honor. Yahweh’s honor is bound up with the life of his people."
i found this helpful. the Jewish people had alot of problems with this command until the return from captivity. somehow, living in the land of idol worshiping oppressors got it out of their collective system.

this morning i was hurtling through the Psalms and hit #135 with these verses
The idols of the nations are of silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear;
indeed, there is no breath in their mouths.
Those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them. (HCSB)

it really seems pretty obvious. and the prediction is pretty harsh. worshiping idols will make you mute, blind, deaf, and dead. that doesn't sound like a good situation.

to be continued...

day of oppression -separate but equal

on May 18, 1896: The Supreme Court affirmed racial segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson as "separate but equal."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

hybrid solar house - enertia

David Pogue talks about these Enertia houses that are made of solid timbers of yellow pine laid on each other but the house is also double walled on the north and south sides. on the south side its like a two story glass enclosed porch which heats up during the day. the hot air pushes into the attic which pushes down the cooler northern double walls into the basement. it generates a convection loop that keeps the house about 70 degrees year round. the houses don't need vapor barriers or anything. the yellow pine stores and releases heat. it's pretty cool in that it doesn't use insulation. like all cool housing ideas it ain't cheap though.

cinema review: The Rosa Parks Story

The Rosa Parks Story is a well made movie dramatizing the life of Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks. the movie is well made. the story is compelling. the scenes of intimidation by racist whites were right out of an horror movie. the good kind of horror movie where the fright comes from the unknown and the unseen.
one scene that was repeated a few times really shook me. periodically the NAACP office would hang a flag outside their office that read "a black man was lynched today." perhaps the conditioned racist would read that and think, "i'm sure he deserved it." even if he did, no one should be terrorized by vigilante justice, not that the white courts brought justice to the African Americans. another incident showed this of a young black man who was caught in bed with his childhood white girlfriend who defended herself by crying rape. he was executed.
injustices like this happen all over the world. as a blogger who notes injustice against Christians in the world, especially in India, i feel i could hang out a flag every day too saying, "an Indian Christian was lynched today."

Interview with Eldredge Cleaver, 1982

interesting interview with Eldredge Cleaver, former Black Panther, part 1, part 2, part 3

he reflects on being used by Communist agitators, that the FBI was right, that he voted for Reagan, that he was enchanted by Sun Myung Moon, that he designed pants with a satchel to accommodate male genitalia...

i noted another interview in 1986 here and a talk by his ex-wife here

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

10 C's: #1 No other gods before me

Exodus 20:3 (King James Version)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

why is this? what's this mean?
"thou" is a formal "you all." so this one, like all the others, is addressed to the community.
"shalt" is a future form. this is a command and a promise, like all the others.
"have," a "being" verb.
"gods," this is the word elohim, which refers to God himself, but also competitors.
"before," instead of
"Me." God
because all other things that we worship are not worth it. every thing else worshipped is created, but not creator, they are shadows, instead of the sun. God is unique.

Exodus 15:11 "Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you-- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (NIV)
Isaiah 43:10 "But you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the LORD. "And you are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God; there never has been and never will be. (NLT) [attention Mormons]
Isaiah 44:8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." (NIV) [attention Hindus]

only this God can save us
Isaiah 45:21-22
Declare and present your case;let them take counsel together!Who told this long ago?Who declared it of old?Was it not I, the Lord?And there is no other god besides me,a righteous God and a Savior;there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved,all the ends of the earth!For I am God, and there is no other. (ESV) [attention universalists]
1 Corinthians 8:6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. (NLT) [attention modalists]

what's it mean to have gods before God? well what's it mean to hold God first?
Dueteronomy 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you (NASB)

Worship is an action.
2 Kings 17:35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. (NIV)

worship is an ascription of honor
Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. (ESV)

worship is desire
Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (NIV)

worship is identity
Psalm 81:9 There must not be a strange god among you; you must not bow down to a foreign god. (HCSB)

worship is trust
Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. (NRSV)

do we worship other gods?
Philippians 3:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (NAS)
Colossians 2:18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. (NIV)

to worship anything else other than God is to lie because only God is worthy of worship.
John 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (NET)
if our worship isn't of the source of truth, the source of everything, the first mover, the creator then it isn't true worship. it we are honest, our object of worship wavers constantly, from hunger pangs to money to alternative philosophy to, ultimately, ourselves. but that's why there is comfort in the command also being a promise.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (KJV)

the first commandment sets the tone for all the rest. i consider the other 9 variations on this theme. its for all of us. its a command and a promise. it's about keeping the first one first.

Monday, May 14, 2007

ten commandments: a series

if you are a Christian blogger who doesn't preach for a living, then when you write something theologically oriented, you'll pick the low-hanging fruit. the stuff within reach. the stuff you can write up in 10-20 minutes. something like the Lord's Prayer. or the ten commandments. i'm i'm running or biking, i'm usually thinking, watch out for that truck/rusty nail/ skunk and occasionally i'll think on spiritual things. today on my run i started thinking about the 10 commandments. i thought on its bifurcation as the upward things and the outward things, how we relate to God and how we relate to each other. but on my run i thought, maybe it's really all about how we relate to God.
but it was enlightening for me. i think God was showing me something. but he wasn't showing me everything, so i'm thinking of blogging through the 10 commandments as a way to pursue these thoughts.

Exodus 20 (NLT)

1 Then God instructed the people as follows: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. 3 "Do not worship any other gods besides me. 4 "Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. 5 You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations. 6 But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations. 7 "Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. 8 "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

12 "Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you. 13 "Do not murder. 14 "Do not commit adultery. 15 "Do not steal. 16 "Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. 17 "Do not covet your neighbor's house. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns."

the corpse flower

about every 1000 days a corpse flower will bloom. it's from Sumatra though. fortunately, my alma mater, UConn, has one, and it bloomed this weekend. my son and i had a free day together so when i saw it announced in the local paper i thought what more fun can be had then taking my boy to go see a giant flower that smells like rotting flesh at the beautiful campus in Storrs, Ct. we packed a lunch and drove the hour north. there was a line only ten people long. it definitely was giant, taller than me, they provided a stepladder to look down into it, but it didn't stink too much. bummer. it's rotten smell attracts flies in search of carrion to walk around on it in frustration and pick up pollen to bring to another blooming corpse flower.

too bad so many people can't appreciate a creator for this amazing design and instead appreciate the lottery called evolution.

we then toured the campus, watched frogs and bluegills and a turtle in a pond while we ate our lunches and ended up at the dairy bar for some huge servings of ice cream from the cows up the hill.

here is the update on the corpse flower.
  • The Titan Arum opened Friday night!
  • It peaked at 68" tall
  • It reached its peak bloom (and stench) around 2am on Saturday AM.

  • As of Monday AM, the flower has closed and will probably topple later today.
  • It will remain on display for a couple of days before we prepare it for another vegetative growth cycle.
  • Regular hours resume Mon 8am-4pm
even without the corpse flower, there are so many cool plants to see in the greenhouse, such as, fruiting grapefruit and oranges and cacoa (chocolate), plus orchids and bromeliads, and its all free.

wk. 4 Barefoot running

some people use blogs as a form of accountability. i don't but it is good to have a goal, and a little gooder to put it in your blog.
i ran every other day last week for 2 miles.
those runs took about 20 minutes
today it took 15.
this week my goal is to run every day for 5 days.
just 2 miles.
if i succeed, i hope to add miles next week.
when i ran shod, i could do 5 a day. i actually ran a nearly-half-marathon a few summers ago. it would be nice to run it barefoot this summer. at some point i'd like to run a marathon, barefoot.

Friday, May 11, 2007

automobile review: 1997 Crown Victoria

if you drove a car that only got 17 miles to the gallon you'd bicycle commute too! fortunately, my commute is only 5 miles, so that's 3 trips to work per gallon, or 3 gallons per week, but that isn't the only driving i need to do. so if i can eliminate driving 50 miles a week for work, like i did this week, then those 3 gallons and $10 can go towards other errands.
there i got that off my chest. my guilt is absolved.

i did buy it used, 3 or 4 years ago, for 6 grand. when i bought it i needed a car that could accommodate 2 car seats, a 3rd child, and my wife. did i mention i make a little rental income from the family who lives in the ginormous trunk? i'm ahead of any Prius owner as far as cash flow for at least a couple more years. it will get 25 mpg on the highway. it has 8 cylinders. the thing only has 100k miles on it and that monster engine could last another 200k.

this isn't my first Ford. after i graduated from UConn, my grandmother downsized and gave me her 1984 LTD. it was the economical luxury Ford with only 6 cylinders in a nice shade of brown ("nice" in a hog farmer's sense). it had a leaky oil pan which made it thirsty for oil but it was a great ride.

my current Ford comes in the lovely shade of Florida golfing retiree yellow. what can be bad about this monster ride? not much. the electrical system behaves unlike something of Japanese quality. the issue is mostly with the interior dome spot lights, the map reading kind. it's somewhat frustrating to have the promise of utility laughing at you and mocking you by not working except for once a year when the the distant star Betelgeuse aligns with Saturn during a solar storm. When that happens i panic and worry that they will light up while i'm sleeping and burn out the battery. hasn't happened yet.
not only is there abundant space and power and durability and invincibility (no wonder the cops buy these), but you scare people when you pull up behind them on the highway and they stick their tails between their legs and drive real slow around you. this car gives you authority until the other drivers figure out no state cop would drive a yellow Crown Vic. it is my regular experience to have a speeder pull up right next to me, give me a look over, then re-accelerate. the thing that most frustrates the timid speeders is that i drive the speed limit, unlike normal state cops. if i had the appropriate hat i could do more for gas conservation than blogging about it, because driving the speed limit saves gas and if no one will pass the ugly Crown Vic with a driver who wears the official looking hat and must be someone who can issue speeding tickets, the roads will be slower and safer.
based on all these advantages and the potential for saving the earth by reducing auto emissions by reducing traffic speed i recommend everyone get a Crown Vic.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

documentary: In the wake of Choice

interesting movie. the trailer is on the site. the DVD can be orderd for $15.

In The Wake Of Choice

Documenting The Effects Of Abortion In A Pro-Choice World

Filmmaker Miguel S. Campbell follows Ann Marie Cosgrove as she talks with people affected by abortion. Women, men, families and friends bravely share their stories. See the pain of living with a terrible secret. Come to understand the suffering in silence. Experience the journey toward healing. Find the hope that begins to grow. We live in a world full of choices. This film documents the effects of abortion in a pro-choice world.

3rd visit from the mormons

they came back last Saturday and we chatted for an hour. i spoke more this time. we sat in the backyard so my kids drifted in and out of the conversation. they don't know their church history. i showed them quotes about Joseph Smith's drinking. they never heard of it. i asked them how come Jesus says what goes in our moths doesn't make us sinful, it's what comes out of our hearts, but you claim Jesus now says, well coffee, smokes, and alcohol in your mouth will make you sinful. their answer to all changes is God can do whatever he wants to. it's the same position of the Muslim. i contrasted their theologies, LDS and Muslim, frequently. how can they say one is better if their is no way to determine truth except by feelings or fiat?
i did bring up the polygamy issue. they got upset. i then showed them a printout of contradictions between the book of Mormon and other LDS scripture, completely avoiding the contrast between the Bible and LDS books, and they got really uptight. they said all those verses are out of context. in the book of Mormon, their god abhors polygamy in a couple places. and the context doesn't change any of that.
i tried to be fair and go to a mormon apologist site (FAIR) with a mormon wiki. they attempt to address problems the critics point out. i figure, these guys have their act together, they aren't a couple 20 year olds without a clue. unfortunately, the quality of responses were not improved. it's hard to defend exposed lies. the best response is to deflect and answer a question not asked.

we ended up exchanging numbers. they haven't called me yet. i did, once again, appeal to the simplicity of the good news of Jesus. He did it all. i repent and believe, he sends his Holy Spirit to dwell in me to begin the process of making me holy. i don't have to abstain from foods, i don't have to wear special clothes, because the righteous live by faith. it's really good news. part of what makes it good is it's simplicity. in order to graduate from college, i had a sheet of classes that needed to be taken. i couldn't graduate till all those boxes were checked. with Jesus, it's one box. do you believe in Him?

more alternative house construction options

i don't know if i will ever be building my own house but if i did i need my blog to keep track of this interesting technology.
Nascor walls look interesting, basically vertical engineered wood i-beams with 5 inches of polystyrene between them. i'm not too satisfied with their explanation of reduced thermal bridging though. i still like the fiberglass homes of Composite Building Structures, but their website doesn't update too frequently. they periodically answer comments at their blog. i can't find too much about them online that's not their own PR.

another cool thing is shetka stone, countertops or tiles made with recycled post consumer paper.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Church life in India

from Compass Direct...

Recent Incidents of Persecution

Maharashtra, May 8 (Compass Direct News) – Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) beat two Christian workers in Shahpur village, Kolhapur district before a television camera and a large crowd on May 7. According to the Christian Legal Association (CLA), the victims, Ramesh Gopargode and Ajit Belavi, were conducting a baptism service for seven local people when the attack took place. A private TV channel, IBN 7, showed a mob led by the VHP beating the evangelists and dragging them to the police station, where they were arrested and booked for fraud and hurting religious sentiments. According to the local superintendent of police, the seven converts had complained that they were not informed about the “conversion ceremony” and felt they were “tricked” by the evangelists. Dr. Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, told CLA that the attack was “pre-planned” and those baptized were seemingly part of the plan. Local sources later told CLA that the VHP had pressured the seven to lodge the complaint.

Karnataka (Compass Direct News) – A mob of some 50 to 60 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh wearing saffron headbands attacked a newly-dedicated Marthoma Church in Narasapur, in Kolar district of Bangalore on May 6. As believers left the church at 10 a.m., the mob shouted curses at them and demanded that the church be shut down within 10 days, Dr. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Compass. The mob then demanded that two evangelists identified only as Jaya Raj and James be handed over to them. Since the evangelists were not present, the mob beat several believers including three identified only as Santosh, Philip and Govindappa. They also destroyed the electrical circuitry in the church building. Church members filed a complaint with police, but at press time no arrests had been made.

Chhattisgarh (Compass Direct News) – A group of Hindu extremists launched an attack on about 20 Christians while they were gathered at the home of Dr. Vijay Pradhan late on May 3 in Chhattisgarh state’s Sarguja district, according to Dr. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. The attackers beat the Christians with clubs and hands before fleeing the scene. One believer suffered a broken leg, and others received minor internal injuries. According to Arun Pannalal, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, “The believers went to the police station that same night at around 11 p.m. and tried to lodge an official complaint, but police refused to register it until I phoned them and threatened them with a sit-in protest.” At press time, no arrests had been made.

Uttar Pradesh (Compass Direct News) – Seven Hindu extremists vandalized a Christian school and beat a staff member on May 1 in Sikandara area in Agra, Uttar Pradesh state. The Rev. Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said members of the Bajrang Dal arrived on motorcycles and tried to break into the Grameen Mission School while a board meeting was underway. “When the school guard tried to stop them, they beat him up in a brutal way,” Howell said. The board members escaped injury by locking themselves inside the room. Infuriated, the assailants then vandalized school property. Police have since told the Christian Legal Association of India that they arrested two suspects and sent the school guard for a medical examination.

Orissa (Compass Direct News) – The Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has accused Christian missionaries of “inducing” more than 500 Hindus to convert during the last three months in the villages of Rajnagar Tehsil, Kendrapara district, Orissa; and of planting three churches and a dozen prayer houses. “We have so far come across around 100 families that have embraced Christianity. And there is prima-facie evidence of offer of inducement by missionaries to carry out these conversions,” Golakh Behari Behera, general secretary of the district RSS, told the Kalinga Times on April 26. “We are of the view that the number of converts may increase threefold,” he added. The local paper said District Collector Kashinath Sahu was investigating the charges. The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act requires that all conversions be reported in advance to district authorities, otherwise both convert and clergy can be fined 1,000 rupees ($23).

Chhattisgarh (Compass Direct News) – Eight Hindu extremists attacked a U.S. Christian businessman on April 30 in the Pandri area of Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state. Steve Allison, a furniture dealer who is married to an Indian citizen, was attacked while out for an evening walk. The assailants shouted slogans against Christian missionaries, accused him of being involved in forced conversions and asked him to leave the state immediately. After beating him severely, they left him in the street. Allison, a diabetic, sustained head and abdominal injuries. Eventually a passerby informed Allison’s wife, Purnima Singh, who rushed him to a hospital where he received treatment. Senior Superintendent of Police B.S. Marawi told The Indian Express that no arrests had been made, although “a case has been registered against unknown people as the victim was unable to identify the culprits.”

Rajasthan (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal severely beat Pastor Walter Massey following a church service held at his home in Jaipur district on April 29. Massey’s wife Joyce said initially three people came to the door and engaged Massey in conversation but soon started beating him. Other men with covered faces joined the attack; they thrashed him with wooden clubs and kicked the pastor when he fell to the floor. The mob also broke plastic chairs, utensils and furniture in the house. A television crew was present to film the assault, and many national television channels aired footage at 4 p.m. that day. Massey was admitted to the Sawai Man Singh medical College Hospital in Jaipur for treatment. Another local pastor, the Rev. Rakesh Malachi, told the Times of India that the attack was planned and “we have received information of other possible attacks on Christians.” On April 30, police arrested five people in connection with the attack.

Andhra Pradesh (Compass Direct News) – The Congress Party government in Andhra Pradesh state on April 27 decided to enact a law against propagation of other religions in certain places of worship belonging to a particular religion. The law provides for three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 5,000 rupees ($114) and was enacted in response to complaints that Christians were preaching at a Hindu temple in the Tirumala hills, Chittoor district. The Indian Constitution provides for enactment of an emergency law at a time when the Assembly is not in session. “The law will be misused by anti-social elements to book any Christian they find in Tirumala,” Dr. Sam Paul of the All India Christian Council told Compass. In addition, the Bharatiya Janata Party has accused Christian missionaries of forcibly converting Hindus in the university and hospitals inside the Tirupati-Tirumala area.

Karnataka (Compass Direct News) – Twelve Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal barged into a Christian prayer meeting in Christoppara Colony, Karwar, on April 20 and began shouting tributes to Krishna, according to Dr. Paul Ciniraj of Salem Voice Ministries. Ciniraj said extremists armed with wooden clubs approached evangelist Anthony Dasa, who was leading the meeting, tied his hands and feet and then gagged him. They then ordered the congregation to stop singing and praying, and forced the believers to repeat Hindu devotional chants, finally threatening to wipe out Christianity from the village. A Christian who arrived late for the meeting witnessed the assault and went to inform men in the fields, who arrived with farm implements and stones; the extremists then fled. Ciniraj said the group had been meeting for eight years but that intimidation from the RSS and Bajrang Dal began only last year.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ezekiel 33, righteousness, and the NPP

if i understand the NPP correctly, and i may not, but, to them, righteousness is more about community standing than about judicial declaration of an individual. righteousness is ecclesiology before soteriology. this doesn't seem possible in light of my reading of Ezekiel 33 this morning, which says, in part,
11 Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

12 "Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, 'The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.' 13 If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. 14 And if I say to the wicked man, 'You will surely die,' but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right- 15 if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die. 16 None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.

17 "Yet your countrymen say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. 19 And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so. 20 Yet, O house of Israel, you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But I will judge each of you according to his own ways." (NIV)

The immediate context is about who will survive the destruction of Jerusalem, i think. but its about individuals and not community. some will be sheep and some will be goats, and goats don't fare well in Jesus' parables. here we see the goats can become sheep and the sheep can become goats if they get proud and rest on their laurels. the difference is repentance. we are goats until we repent. when we take credit for our righteousness, succumb to pride, we prove our unrighteousness. Jesus pointed it out to the Pharisees over and over again. "look," he'd say, "you keep complaining that all these drunks and whores and taxmen are coming into relationship with God and you can't be happy for them? isn't this what God wants? and you guys only want accolades because you can pray for a long time and divide up your spices so that God gets a 10th. knock it off. stop doing evil yourselves." or something like that.

these guys in Ezekiel were in community, presumably circumcised, but their hearts weren't circumcised. what does it take to live? v.15 says he must follow the decrees of life. what is the decree of life? how does one get life? we are dead in our sins. only the lifegiver can resuscitate us. only He can give us life. and He gave His life so that we could live. how is this not about salvation of the individual? He leaves the 99 to find one.

my son, who is 9, asked his playmates, our neighbors, if they have Jesus in their hearts. they said they go to church so that proves it. he told them No. they said how does Jesus get in our hearts then. he said ask him to come in and forgive your sins. they did. the good news is that simple. NPP doesn't pass the simplicity test. can a child understand it?

barefoot running week 3, 2007

i took off a long weekend. 3 days of no running. went out today and did 2 miles with no foot damage. technique and conditioning are the answer to soft foot vs. rocks and prickly macadam. very little grass running today too, but it sure feels nice.

book report: Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world

Maybe Genghis Khan is the worst killer in human history after all. In fact, maybe life wouldn't be the way we know it now if it weren't for the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 1100's AD. This is the argument made by Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World 2005 is a fantastic read on the Mongol empire at the turn of the first millennium AD. He is an admirer of the empire and downplays somewhat the horrors of Mongol warfare and pumps up the politics of free trade and freedom of religion.

The research on Genghis's life consists of research into a document called The Secret History of the Mongols, an authentic Mongolian history, and correlating it with the terrain in Mongolia today. From these sources Genghis's life before becoming Khan is analyzed. Of interest to me is finding out that some neighboring tribes were Christian as well as Buddhist and Muslim. Genghis himself was an animist.

Genghis's first major campaign was against the Jurched in Northern China which set the tone for all his campaigns.
Instead of being followed by mobs of refugees as was typical for the armies of the time, the Mongols were preceded by them, and the Mongols also used the displaced peasants in a more direct way as shields and as living battering rams against the city gates. The Mongols showed little concern for the loss of enemy life so long as it preserved Mongol life. As the captives fell in battle, their bodies helped to fill in the moats and form pathways over defensive holes and structures made by the enemies. Trapped inside their cities, the Jurched and their subjects starved; and in one city after another, they resorted to cannibalism. Discontent grew, and urban mutinies and peasant rebellions broke out against the Jurched officials, who proved unable to protect, feed, or manage the massive numbers of refugees. in the worst such rebellion, the Jurched army eneded up killing some thirty thousand of their own peasants. (p.93)
Genghis understood that war booty was more than pretty, shiny things. War booty included skilled and knowledgeable tradesmen, clerics, scientists, and engineers. Their abilities either served the empire back in Mongolia or on the battlefield.
People without occupations were collected to help in the attack on the next city by carrying loads, digging fortifications, serving as human shields,being pushed into moats as fill, or otherwise giving their lives int he Mongol war effort. Those who did not qualify even for these tasks, the Mongol warriors slaughtered and left behind. (p.112)
Worse off than the peasants were the aristocracy. They rebelled if left alive, so he killed them. Of course, those city leaders were never the first to offer surrender. But Genghis offered peace in reward for surrender but annihilation as a consequence for resistance. This is where history presents us with such high death tolls.

While the destruction of many cities was complete, the numbers given by historians over the years were not merely exaggerated or fanciful - they were preposterous. The Persian chronicles reported that at the battle of Nishapur, the Mongols slaughtered the staggeringly precise number of 1,747,000. This surpassed the 1,600,000 listed as killed in the city of Herat, In more outrageous claims, Juzjani, a respectable but vehemently anti-Mongol historian, puts the total for Herat at 2,400,000. Later, more conservative scholars place the number of dead from Genghis Khan's invasion of central Asia at 15 million within 5 years. Even this more modest total, however, would require that each Mongol kill more than a hundred people, the inflated tallies for other cities required a slaughter of 350 people by every Mongol soldier. Had so many people lived in the cities of central Asia at the time, they could have easily overwhelmed the invading Mongols.
Although accepted as fact and repeated through the generations, the numbers have no basis in would be physically difficult to slaughter that many cows or pigs, which wait passively for their turn. Overall, those who were supposedly slaughtered outnumbered the Mongols by ratios of up to fifty to one. The people could have merely run away, and the Mongols would not have been able to stop them. Inspection of the ruins of the cities conquered by the Mongols show that rarely did they surpass a tenth of the population enumerated as casualties. The dry desert soils of these areas preserve bones for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years, yet none of them has yielded any trace of the millions said to have been slaughtered by the Mongols. (p. 118)

The author's defense of the Mongols has some merit. Are the remains missing? Ok. Perhaps they washed down rivers. Perhaps they were burned. Would propaganda perpetuated by the Mongols worked a greater offense than their siege machines? Yes. Were there that many people to begin with? who could know. but could they kill that many? Not in hand to hand combat, but in siege warfare which allies with starvation, disease, and cannabilism to achieve victory,yes they could kill a hundred enemies for every soldier. The tone of the book seeks to see past the hyperbole and see the accomplishment. Genghis accomplished much in battle. It was his grandsons, and Khubilai in China receives the focus, who accomplished much by politics. What none of the Mongols could do by force, take southern China, Khubilai did by persuasion. He made himself Chinese. He made his capitol in Baijing. He built the forbidden city so that the Mongols could let down their hair and speak Mongolian and live in their gers. After reading this i was desired to be a part of the Mongol empire, since so much of the atrocity was swept under the rug.

What was the undoing of the Mongol empire, the plague, which undid much of the Eurasian world. How did the plague spread around Eurasia? The Mongol trade routes. It started in Khubilai's southern Asia and eventually killed more than Genghis ever did. Eventually trade was stopped to stop the spread of disease and the empire, without the wealth or the army or the population had to return to Mongolia, suffer insurrection, or intermarry and lose their identity. A couple descendants continued to reign until the British and Soviet empires dethroned them from India and central Asia.

I enjoyed the book and appreciated the intermingling of Europe's and Asia's history and commerce. I think the history shows that the world has been flat a long time and is not a new internet phenomenon.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Turkish martyrdom corrections

the first report was more gruesome than reality. here is an updated report. i'll point the previous post to this one and delete the gross stuff....

Dear partners,
I know that many have been deeply upset by the killings of our brothers in Turkey, and some particularly gruesome accounts have been circulated. Our brothers died bravely for their faith and I trust that we would have been able to do the same. Reports though are circulating about over statements and misinformation as to the extent and nature of the brothers' wounds. I submit this account for your information and for the integrity of the reports, so that we as people who love the truth can be clear about these things and pass on what is true and right .

Please do continue to pray for the families of these brothers and if you would like to give a love gift to the families I am sure that would be appreciated.

Chris Jones
International Facilitator

Network of Azerbaijani Partnerships
4741 Zealand Ave N
New Hope
MN 55428

Cell 763 300 8183
Office 763 971 5102
Home 763 383 8849

Our Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The following is an updated report on the massacre in Malayta (Turkey), written by Ahmet Guvener, one of the eyewitnesses.

Thank you so much for your many thoughtful emails, prayers and tears for our brothers and sisters in Turkey.

Name withheld for their security.

From: Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Church

30 April 2007 Diyarbakir, Turkey

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you in the peace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord abundantly bless you, your families, your churches, and your work.

We know and appreciate very much your heart for us.

Brothers and sisters, in the last ten days we have experienced very painful moments, which words cannot begin to express. Our painful experience has shown us that our lives are as the Lord describes: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” For this reason we have understood one more time how holy and close to the Lord we should live our lives.

We have also understood that our society is easily given to emotion and that in such painful moments some people, whether intentionally or not, report certain events inaccurately and we have not prevented this or have not been able to do so.

When the Malatya massacre happened we, the brothers from Diyarbakir, besides those already on the scene at the time of the crime, were the first to get there. When we got to Malatya our brother Ugur was still alive, but his condition was critical. Around 5:30 PM Ugur entrusted his spirit to the Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, that painful moment has slowly come into perspective for us so that now we have begun to see some things as we should. For example, it appears that those who murdered or arranged for the murder of these brothers are getting what they hoped for. By means of our reactions we may unwittingly help them. If we do not bring the facts into the light, these people will end up getting what they desired.

Brothers Tilmann, Necati, and Ugur were murdered in a bloodthirsty way. This is a fact. But there are also some inaccurate claims about this massacre and one of these is the extent of the torture. According to rumors brother Tilmann was stabbed with a knife 156 times. Brother Ugur had countless knife wounds, it has been said. These rumors, however, are unfounded. At the morgue we wanted to put brother Tilmann’s body, which was in a plastic bag, into the coffin, but the officials and police did not like this. “It is sinful to do it this way, we should wrap the corpse in a shroud,” they said. I accepted this idea and did what was right in their eyes. I asked them for a shroud (white cloth) and the officials moved Tilmann’s body out of the plastic bag, which they placed to the side. I took advantage of this opportunity to examine brother Tilmann’s body as far down as his stomach. I did not see any knife wounds. Only Tilmann’s throat had been slit 8-10 centimeters and there was the stitched autopsy incision down the middle of Tilmann’s chest. Unfortunately there are very different rumors circulating about brothers Tilmann and Necati. It has been said that their noses, lips, and ears were cut. These rumors do not reflect the truth. I telephoned our brother Ed Grudier in Adana because I knew he had seen brother Tilmann’s body. I asked him about the knife wounds on brother Tilmann’s body. Ed said to me, “Brother, I came across three or four knife blows in the chest area. I didn’t see his back. On his face I can’t say there were knife wounds, but scratches, maybe from hitting his face when he fell down.” I knew that Ihsan Ozbek from Ankara had seen bodies. I asked him which bodies he had seen and he said, “I saw the chest area of both Tilmann and Necati. I saw purple [from bruising] on Necati’s lips and chin, but I did not see knife wounds. I looked at brother Tilmann’s chest, but I did not see knife wounds.” These are the statments of those you saw the bodies of these two brothers.

It is true that our brothers were knifed and tortured. But it was not to the extent of statements such as “too many wounds to count, beyond description.” Apparently Ed Grudier looked more carefully than brother Ihsan and I did. Ed saw three or four knife wounds in the chest.

No one saw brother Ugur’s body because on the night of the same day the murder happened, around midnight, his family took his body for burial.

I believe that brother Ugur had knife wounds similar to those of our other two brothers. It has been said that Ugur was stabbed all over his body, including his genitals. I do not believe this. You may ask why I don’t beleive this. I think someone stabbed this much would die on the spot. Ugur would not have been able to remain alive until 5:30 PM if he had been stabbed so much. That nothing abnormal happened to Ugur can be understood [from the fact that] exaggerated statements have been about our other two brothers, too.

Therefore we reach the following conclusion: yes, these brothers were tortured, but not to the extent that has been explained.

We are sons and daughters of the truth. Unfortunately unfounded news reports and media exaggerations have now gone out all over the world. Our brothers and sisters and people sensitive [to such news] have been misinformed. We do not intend to offend anyone. But whether the true facts are, let us report them without exaggeration. Let people everywhere think about the plain facts.

Who started these exaggerated facts [about the Malatya massacre]? We purpose two possibilities:

1) Those who perpetrated the crime planned this [the spreading of exaggerated facts] from the beginning and the murderers were simply tools for these people [who had planned to blow the murder into exaggerated proportions]. The goal of those who planned this murder and the exaggerated claims was both to frighten the Christians living in Turkey, causing them to shrink back and be timid, and to humiliate Turkey as a country that invites and causes such bloodthirty massacre, thereby damaging Turkey’s chances of entering the European Union and making matters worse in the country. Furthermore, [the planners of this massacre] wanted to give the government and our people the impression that Christians distort and exaggerate everything.

2) In every situation we see that the media either totally disregards something we say or totally exploits it. We investigated the bloody clothing that was submitted to the public as the underclothing of our brothers. None of this clothing belonged to our brothers. That clothing had been taken off the bodies of people shot to death weeks earlier. But what did the media do? They took this clothing and presented it as freshly removed from the bodies of our brothers. Is there anyone who does not yet know about the exaggerations and sometimes boldfaced lies of the media?

Therefore, brothers and sisters, if we do not explain the true facts to you our hearts will not find peace. I have written this report because I have read exaggerated or unfounded facts in news both home and abroad. The true facts are those in this report. Before sending these facts to you, as you will see below, I have requested statements from our brothers Ihsan Ozbek and Ed Grudier. I have had these statments translated from English in order to pass them on to you.

May the Lord bless you abundantly.

Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Church

Brother Ihsan Ozbek’s remarks:

“Brother Ahmet,
Your report of my testimony is entirely accurate.
I have no problem with anything else you have written in this report.
Thank you for writing this report. It would be good for everybody to read what you have written.


Ihsan Ozbek”

Brother Ed Grudier’s remarks:

“Brother Ahmet,

Thank you for writing this report. It is necessary for wrong information to be corrected.
Everything you have written is correct.
May the peace of the Lord be with you,


Zekai Tanyar’s remarks:

“Dear Ahmet,

I cannot make any firsthand comments on the subject. But I have spoken in person with Necati and Tilmann’s wives, Semsa and Susanne. Their impressions link up best with yours.

Unfounded exaggerations about the wounds and torture are circulating and apparently some brothers and sisters, still affected by the shock of the massacre, are repeating these exaggerations to others everywhere. This is unfortunate.

The report that you have prepared in order to correct wrong information has been done well and at the first opportunity should be sent to all interested people at home and abroad.



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

4th barefoot run of 2007

it looks like a habit may be forming. i used the same short route as yesterday so i can focus on conditioning and technique.
my feet started out a little tender. i was glad for a cloudy cool day to keep the ground cool. no excursions on the grass today. no new blisters. my feet are less happy after the run. my left ankle got a little sore but my feet weren't tender after a few minutes.
as i tire, i lose my form. what is the form for barefoot running? it's the forefoot strike. the pose method is another name. when i get tired, i need to focus on marching and bringing my knee up higher and falling forward more so that i have to land on the balls of my feet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

return of the Mormons

if you prayed for me, thank you. they did return. i hope you can pray for them too. the good news is they will come again on Saturday. usually by the 2nd visit they have given up on me. i will share what i tried and what i learned and what i hope for next time.
what i tried...
it's part of my nature to listen to people's stories so i served them some juice and a peanut butter sandwich and let them pray, without me joining, then reported on the homework assignment they gave me. they asked me to read Joseph Smith's introduction to the book of Mormon. i told them Smith's assertion that it is the most perfect book and his church is the church for this age were very strong and somewhat offensive. their response kept coming back to making a leap of faith and asking god to confirm it's truth. i told them i would never ask someone to do that with the Bible. i would encourage people to see if the people and places are real. in contrast, i noted, the geography of the BoM is not geographically possible. they asserted it was and it had prophecies that were close to fulfillment this day. i didn't pursue the geography difficulties because it's hard to refute hearsay. i felt really sorry for these Utahans who believe that Smith's imaginary country was real and their confidence was in an unknown authority. i might come back with the DNA evidence that Amerindians can't be a Semitic people.
i think they almost gave up on me then. but something i said opened up an opportunity for them to show me the history of creation.
it seems the missionaries who aren't from Utah and are exposed to LDS critics in their upbringing are less enthusiastic about Mormon theology. so i was surprised that these Utahans dived right into being spirit children of an embodied God who wanted his children to become like him by having his experiences so he made a planet for us and sent Adam and Eve to try it out. and their sin was actually a good thing because they couldn't have children unless they sinned first!!! and the fall was for their joy. i kept saying, yeah, but sinning was a bad thing. and they kept asserting yes but it was for a greater good. they said it was all part of God's plan. i agreed that God had a plan but it was to bring glory to himself by demonstrating he great love and mercy by sending his son to die for our sins. i told them they made it sound like the fall was for our benefit.
we moved onto Jesus's life and death and the atonement and salvation. they were upfront about our need to persevere to maintain our salvation. i asked about someone who was a good Mormon but died smoking a cigarette. they winced, not too good for that guy. but when you die there is a purgatory like place where bad people can shape up before the final judgment. we talked about 1 Peter 3 a bit which mentions Jesus descending to hell after his crucifixion to proclaim the good news. its a difficult passage. but Joseph Smith's nephew received a prophecy explaining it for them. apparently Jesus trained some missionaries down there so that everyone can hear the good news and join the church down there, which they said was fair of God. i told them God is just and that His word tells me that some of us were predestined for eternal life and nothing would obstruct that. Justice would send us all to hell. Mercy rescues some of us despite our unworthiness. they acknowledged that.
we ran out of time. again they asked me to pray to god asking if the BoM is true. i told them i wouldn't. then i slipped a little. i told them praying for that is like praying to find out if the Easter bunny was true because the BoM is a complete fantasy. i regretted that analogy right away, so i added or praying that the Quran is true. There's enough reason to not need prayer to make a determination.
time was up and i wanted to present the good news to them in case they never came back. so i told them, Jesus died for my sins, i've repented, i've believed in Him and he's saved me. I will spend eternity with Him. i added that i was baptized too because that is important to them though i debated a bit with them from the Gospel of John, verses of their choosing.
they countered that was all good but i still lacked the right church, circling back to the beginning when i told them Smith's intro was offensive. so i said which church. their are plenty of LDS churches. they snorted. none are as wealthy as theirs.
i closed in prayer for us and made an appointment for Saturday afternoon.
i learned more of their theology. each pair have different theology values. one approach will not fit all. where others have shied away from the theology details, these guys are unashamed.
i will try to find Smith's official biography and show them he was smoking and drinking when the lynch mob came for him. i will assert the grace of Jesus. i will ask them what is truth. i will warn them about their path. i can't imagine they will last another session with me.

3rd barefoot run of 2007

another short 20 minute run to focus on conditioning and technique. i chose a different route that had less grass to tempt me.
my lungs and legs are ready for more and the soles of my feet are getting there. no new blisters on the balls of my feet. i did get a new one on a toe but those don't hurt.
i tried to focus on short strides, direct strike and quick release. the better the technique the less the condition of the running surface matters. i did notice the macadam was almost hot. temperature sensitivity is another conditioning aspect for the foot sole.

someone else's conversation with mormon missionary

Keith Walker logged onto an LDS e-chat with a Mormon missionary. Here is a highlight....
Keith: So, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?

Jason: I do. I pray every day to Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ's name.

Keith: So you don't talk to Jesus?

Jason: Jesus Christ's atonement as stated earlier is the central part of our Heavenly Father's plan. Without the sacrifice Jesus made we would not be able to return with Heavenly Father.

Keith: OK, but do you talk to Jesus?

Jason: Yes.

Keith: So like, you pray, "Dear Jesus thanks for a beautiful day?

Jason: No.

Keith: I'm confused. How do you talk to Jesus then?

Jason: We open in the name of our Heavenly Father and pray to Him. However as stated before we do this in the name of Jesus Christ for he is the bridge of our relationship to God.

Keith: So then you don't really talk to him?

Jason: So I do have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Keith: But, you don't talk to him like the example I gave then, right?

Jason: We believe that God hears our prayers. However God and Jesus are one in purpose so he also hears our prayers.

Jason: No.

Keith: How do you have a personal relationship with someone you don't talk to?


it goes downhill from here for the LDS guy.