Finding God

Have you ever opened your eyes to God literally?  God has designed his creation with a wonderful ebb and flow that can be observed, measured, studied and cataloged.  Have you ever opened your eyes and truly seen it?

Have you ever managed to get far enough away from city lights and other distractions to look up and admire the majesty of the universe.  Where I live, I could probably count the number of stars in the sky that are visible in a short amount of time.  When I first experienced an awe-inspiring moment of the grandness of creation (remember, we are but a speck) I was a teenager.  As a boy scout, I had spent dozens of nights out under the stars, but I had not yet opened my eyes.  For once, I did. I looked up and opened my eyes and God opened up the heavens and let me see how insignificant I really was when compared with trillions of stars, and it seemed like I could see them all.

At that age, I didn’t really know how to interpret what had just happened so I just mentally filed it away as “cool” and a “moment to remember.”  What astonished me is how God didn’t stop opening up the beauty of creation to me.  I had another such moment a few years later on vacation.  Imagine standing on a dock, without a visible light except for the stars and no visible moon in the sky, and a crystal clear night with trillions of stars reflecting off the warm waters around and below the dock.  The sensation was intense.  It was indescribable.

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

I have always been amazed by creation.  I believe we can learn quite a bit about God just by observing nature.  There is a logic to it.  There are rules and order.  There is Truth.

When Dan Brown wrote The DaVinci Code, he made a passing mention of something called the Fibonacci number (Golden Ratio, Golden Cut, Golden Mean, Golden Section, or Divine Proportion are all names for the same thing).  It came up a few times throughout the book, but when it first came up was the most profound. This ratio is found throughout nature in very divergent things. You can find it in DNA molecule size, shell growth patterns, seed propagation on sunflower heads and pine cones, to body ratios in ants, human beings, dolphins, the rings of Saturn, and the orbital constants of every planet in our solar system. This ratio is everywhere, even in the dimensions of the greatest works of architecture on the planet.  While I don’t ascribe to numerology, I do believe that God is just, orderly, and constant, so His creation must reflect those attributes and this ratio is just one example of His constancy.

Do you ever just stop and think about the little clues that God left in creation that point toward Him?  Do you ever open your eyes and look for it?

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voicegoes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:38-40)

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Love and War

Are you ready for war?  Are you certain?

In my first opine on pacifism, I made the case that pacifism is a failure to love fully.  As the most powerful of all emotions, love is capable of harnessing human energy and sudden violent action in amazing ways.  Everyone has heard of amazing feats of strength such as people single-handedly lifting cars off people trapped underneath, or amazing resistance to pain like a husband taking multiple gunshot wounds and continuing to fight his attackers long enough for his wife to escape, but what is it that drives our bodies beyond their threshold?

What empowers you in moments of crisis?

Some would say it is merely adrenaline.  Adrenaline is incredible.  It conveys amazing benefits to the body and mind in fight or flight situations.

Your mind focuses like a laser beam on the threat and time slows down so much that police officers in the middle of a firefight have reported being able to watch their shell casings ejecting from their weapon so slowly that they are able to read them… in the dark.  This is not part of their training, it is an autonomic response of the body fully stimulated by adrenaline.

Your body simply shuts down the brain’s pain receptors.  Terrible damage can be endured without even feeling it.  The side-benefit of this is that it also enables your body to fully utilize every microjoule of energy in massive expenditures of strength or speed (such as lifting a car off someone) despite the long-term damage done to your body as a result of the expenditure (torn tendons, etc).

Some of the other effects are more interesting as well. Vein dilation as a result of blood pressure and heart rate spiking mean that your extremities are more ready for battle and taking damage.  Less blood is reaching them so the chances of bleeding out from a wound on your arm is decreased.

There are so many effects to that hormone dump, that it would take too much space to list them, but that is merely the how.

Why would God design our bodies to be ready to react to such a crisis if we are to rely on Him wholly by faith?  What does the book of James say?

An evolutionist would say that it is the fight or flight instinct of all animals.

Could it be more than that?  Could it be that the supercharging of your body by an adrenal dump be God enabling you to act out your love fiercely?

 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Would you move heaven and earth if your wife or husband was threatened with imminent harm?  Your children?

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

God gave you the tools to fight and win, both physically and spiritually.   Think about the battles you are prepared to fight and those you aren’t.  Train, condition, and strengthen your weaknesses – both physically and spiritually.

If you love something enough to die for it, then you must be willing to fight for it also.  Are you ready for war?  You better be – it is upon you.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Defiance

To follow Christ, at its core, means to stand in defiance and resistance to this world and its systems. ArcticPatriot

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. – John 15:18-19

To what do you owe your allegiance?

Do I owe my allegiance to my country?

Do I owe any man or creation of man any allegiance whatsoever?

Do I owe my allegiance to mankind as a whole?

I do not belong to the world. I belong to Christ alone. I have been set apart.  I know where my allegiance lies and I celebrate it.  Do you?

Are you prepared to openly defy the world?

Defiance is a strong word.

1. The act or an example of defying; bold resistance to an opposing force or authority.
2. Intentionally contemptuous behavior or attitude; readiness to contend or resist.

Notice the emphasis on authority in the definition.  In our world, the authority is the government.  Are you prepared to offer bold resistance to the world? To the government?  To what end?

In the words of Patrick Henry on March 13, 1775,  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Act in faith and with the liberty gracefully given through Christ Jesus and defy the world.

Little Black Book

That is what my oldest son calls my Kindle Fire – Daddy’s Little Black Book.  Daddy’s LBB has become part of his bedtime routine for a number of reasons and he loves when he gets a chance to use it, even if just for a few minutes.

I have a few apps that he loves including a “finger-painting” one and a baseball game which he loves to just watch me play.  But the real benefit of the LBB is that it has allowed me to introduce some new books and stories to his bedtime routine that he used to fight. He loves books, but he is fairly picky, so finding that crack in his armor so he would actually pay attention has been invaluable.

We have added a nightly Bible lesson to our bedtime routine from The Dig.  This kid-focused study guide provides lessons for slightly older kids, but they are easy enough to simplify for him based on the short nature of each section as you only deal with a small set of verses at a time.  I even get him to sit and listen to other Bible stories from time to time especially if there are lions in them.

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

As a result, just after a few weeks of this new approach, I have noticed he is starting to participate in bed time prayers more so than before.  He even is starting to change his focus from thanking God for his toys and cartoons to people, such as his grandparents, aunt, uncle, my wife and I, and are other son.  He even thanks God for our dog occasionally.

This summer really has been a good foundation for him and I hope to continue to redefine little black book for my son.  It won’t be associated with loose women and worldly pleasures, but hopefully with goodness and learning about God…. and baseball.

 

Maintenance

Image Source: http://www.jensen-rifle.dk

Anyone who owns a firearm knows how important it is to properly clean and maintain the firearm so that it remains reliable.  There are solvents, oils, meticulous cleaning techniques and procedures in order to ensure that the firearm stays in perfect working order.  If one of these steps is skipped or done haphazardly, then the firearm may stop working or may develop a tendency to jam or become inaccurate.

Do you consider your spiritual life just as important to maintain?

Firearms develop fouling and build-up within the barrel that distort the flight path of the bullet by altering it’s twist rate and that can cause the firearm to become inaccurate and eventually jam.  You can develop a buildup of sin from living in a fallen world, even if you are not the one committing the sin, just being in the presence of sin is toxic to the soul and can wear you down.

To clean the barrel, you need a variety of tools depending on the firearm, most commonly you need some sort of solvent to remove the buildup inside the barrel, a brass brush to scrub the barrel clean, and lots of clean cloth patches and a rod and jig in order to ensure that the barrel is spotless.  Only then can you run a lightly oiled cloth patch down the barrel to provide a protective coat of oil in order to preserve it.

The soul is very similar.  We need to regularly conduct maintenance on our soul in order to protect and preserve it so that we can properly glorify God daily.  If we don’t conduct our routine maintenance, we will stumble, we will fail to strive for all that is good and righteous, and we will make ourselves susceptible to temptation.

We need to be cleaned out to remove the fouling of the world.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

We need to be preserved.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12

The question you need to ask yourself is this – do you try to do the cleansing and preserving of your soul yourself, or do you throw yourself at the feet of God to cleanse and preserve you?  If you do the former, stop!  Only God can purify you.  Only through grace and mercy can you be cleansed and preserved.

Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:2-5

Are you conducting your regular maintenance?

Diversions

There are a multitude of things in life to divert attention. Sports, television, movies, music, art, hobbies, and the like.  The world bombards us with those various diversions and while some are wholesome, and some are degenerate, they are all diversions.

One of my personal favorites is a video game that has quite a following around the world called Halo. The game itself was an instant hit and has spawned numerous sequels, books, toys, parodies, and other such distractions.  Whether you like these games or not, you cannot discount how popular they have become.  The game itself helped drive forward a style of game that has become incredibly popular with the likes of Gears of War, Call of Duty, the many Battlefield iterations, and many more.

(Those of you tuning in to hear a culturally significant discussion or a political angle, bide your time, I’m getting there.)

Video games as a whole provide an interesting lens to view the world.  They can amplify reality and allow a conduit to the inner working of our true self.  If you believe that we are made in the image of God, than we share a great number of traits with Him.

Games like SimCity, the Sims, Black and White, Age of Empires, the Civilization series, etc appeal to our creative side.  God created the entire universe, and we share a desire to create majestic things just as He did.  These games in particular appeal to that side and allow us to imagine using the power of God to create.

Now those particular types of games are just one subset of the whole.  There are other games that are just pointless and complete wastes of time with a null to less than a null effect on your mind.  For example, the various instances of Leisure Suit Larry or Mortal Kombat.  These games have no redeeming quality and appeal directly to the sinful side of our nature.

Going back to Halo and it’s various sequels.  The games are presented from a first-person perspective of a character in the midst of a war for survival against an alien onslaught bent on the eradication of humanity.  The outcome is bleak as humanity has been defeated almost entirely.  Is that any different than the state at which the world is currently – fallen and defeated at the hand of a demonic onslaught bent on our completely eradication?  Could it be that games like this don’t appeal to our blood lust, but rather our desire to be a “savior?”

God is triune, which means He exists as Father, Son, and Spirit simultaneously.  We are made in the image of God, thus the savior trait runs in us as much as it does Christ Himself.  I personally believe that it is this trait which drives men to dive on grenades in combat to save their fellow soldiers, for someone to dive in front of a moving car to shove a child out of the way, and drives us to indescribable feats of strength and stamina in order to save those in need.  Those acts are not human or random, but divinely inspired by the spark that God breathed into us at creation.

Could the appeal of such video game that place the character in a position to be “the savior” be that they appeal to this innate Godly trait?

Virtue

Pacifism is cowardice masquerading as virtue. Pacifism is simply an abjuration of responsibility toward our fellow human beings, a stance of incomparable selfishness.

I don’t recall where I found this quote, but it struck me way back when I did as a well-reasoned approach to violence and the necessity of violence in the world.

Now many who have started reading here will probably stop and say “Wait a minute… I thought you were a Christian?”  I am.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.Luke 22:36

Steel on steel (Colt 1911 and sword blade)

 

If Christ meant for us to be defenseless, why would He instruct the apostles (Peter, Mark, John, Matthew, and all of the rest) and by extension, us, to sell something of great value (in those days, a cloak) in order to obtain a weapon of war?  Later that evening, in the garden of Gethsemane, when Peter cuts off the ear of the Chief Priest’s son with his sword, Jesus did not admonish Peter to drop the sword, but rather to “put it back in it’s place,” (Matthew 26:52).  There is an important aside here though that needs mentioned – Christ did not want his message spread “by the sword.”  Elsewhere in the Bible, self-defense is lauded as permissible and justified in a number of circumstances.  Christ is simply reaffirming that which has been true since time began – your life is precious enough to merit defending.

If Christ made it a point to mention the modern tool of self-defense at the time he walked the Earth, would it not be important to consider it’s implication?  He meant for us to keep it (at that time a sword, now you would impute a gun) ready for use in defense of ourselves and others.  He treasures us.  He places value in us despite our horrible, sinful state.  He instructs us to love one another (John 13:34) which reaffirms His command to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).

The crux of pacifism is that violence for any reason is immoral, but if we are to love others as ourselves, then failing to come to their defense is a failure to put love into action. If you elect to live a pacifist life in regards to yourself, that is your own choice and you are free to make it, but in regards to others (neighbors, family, friends, etc), it is immoral at the core.

The central point of the quote leading this discussion is that pacifism is immoral, because it places your life as more valuable than someone else’s.  If you fail to act to defend a child you are a coward.  Is that child any more or less valuable than anyone else in the eyes of the Lord?  Are you?

Vincit omnia amor.

Intensity

Have you ever felt something so intense that you knew your life would never be the same again?

Most people experience few true revelations in their lifetime, but one of the largest is having your first child.  A child is a blessing in so many ways that it would take far too long to list.

When I get home from work my oldest son, who is rapidly approaching four years old, charges across the house to me.  He is so excited to see me that he runs right into my legs every time and just holds on like I’ve been gone for months. I am even starting to see this behavior from my youngest son who is only eleven months old.  The pure intensity of this adoration is mind-blowing for me.

(Courtesy: Suzi Eszterhas)

I never really “got” what Christ meant when he told the disciples in Matthew to let the children come to Him.  I understood with my head, but in never found it’s way to my heart until I got to experience it firsthand myself as a father.

The entire essence of God is love.  Pure, unadulterated love.  As humans, we can love with ulterior motives, impure hearts, and insincerely, but God is incapable of those things because of His holiness.  Christ was relishing the pure, unadulterated love that the children were showering Him with at that moment and it was the closest thing to being reunited corporally with the triune Godhead.

When me children charge at me when I get home, it’s not out of malice, fear, jealousy, or any other ulterior motive or impure thought.  It is pure.  It is so pure that I consider it an intense outpouring of love.  If it washes over me with such intensity, how dare I give any less to my Father?

Be intense.

(Courtesy: Suzi Eszterhas)

Guest Post: Shhhh… It’s Even Worse Than The Great Depression | ZeroHedge

Can’t hardly say this any better. Hope and Change in practice here.

The Grey Enigma

Velocity of money is the frequency with which a unit of money is spent on new goods and services. It is a far better indicator of economic activity than GDP, consumer prices, the stock market, or sales of men’s underwear which Greenspan was fond of ogling. In a healthy economy, the same dollar is collected as payment and subsequently spent many times over. In a depression, the velocity of money goes catatonic. Velocity of money is calculated by simply dividing GDP by a given money supply. This VoM chart using monetary base should end any discussion of what ”this” is and whether or not anybody should be using the word “recovery” with a straight face:

via ZeroHedge.

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Dollars and Sense

The recent debate in the news between Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan and the current administration is interesting.  I am an avid reader of Karl Denninger’s blog The Market Ticker for a while and believe he is closer to the truth in terms of all of the social benefit programs than either major political party wants to admit.

Simple arithmetic, which Denninger does a fantastic job displaying repeatedly, shows the unsustainable fiscal path that we are on.  Simply put, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, and all of the other “safety net” programs are bankrupting us as a country.  Add the monetary fiddling that the Federal Reserve Board does in to the equation, and not only are we bankrupting ourselves through expenditures, but we are destroying the purchasing power of our currency through quantitative easing.

Medicare is done as we know it.  There is no palatability for higher taxes to fund social programs rife with fraud, bureaucracy, and terrible accounting practices.  The reason for this lack of desire to fund these programs also comes from the simple fact that those that produce wealth for our nation in private industry (whether corporations, small businesses, or single entrepreneurs) refuse to see their margins squeezed any more as it will put them out of business.

Quick aside for business economics lesson.

Let’s say I work for myself out of my house. If I make under $250,000 a year, it makes more sense for me to file my taxes personally rather than go through the difficulty of filing a separate business tax return.  Let’s say that I make about $115,000 a year doing this, which places me in the top 10% of the country in terms of income with an average federal income tax of 28% (as of 2011).

I make a widget that costs me $1 to make in terms of material.  I want to turn a profit.  Since I pay taxes on income, those won’t come into play until I am turning a profit, but I have other hidden costs such as utilities, my housing costs, transportation, marketing prices, etc that will impact my bottom line.  Let’s say that altogether, that makes up $2.00 per widget made.  So my break-even price is $3.00 each.  I don’t want to break even though, I want to make a profit as I stated earlier.  So I price my widget at $7.00 each.  For each widget sold, I earn $4.00.  The federal income tax I pay on those $4.00 is $1.12 each. Let’s say my state taxes are 7%, so that’s another $0.28 each.  Before I can reinvest a penny, I am already down $1.40 per widget.  That’s almost 75% of my base-line cost to make another widget.

Let’s expand that some.  I stated that I made $100,000 selling these widgets pre-tax. In order to make that amount, I had to sell 25,000 widgets during the year.  If my demand goes up the next year, how many more widgets could I make if I invested every penny of profit into making them?  16,250 is the answer because taxes ate up 35% of my income before I could use them to grow my business.  So basically, taxes knock my reinvestment potential down 35% right off the bat.

Reinvestment equals jobs. Jobs in manufacturing my raw materials, jobs in transportation, jobs in marketing, jobs in sales, and jobs in manufacturing.

Bringing it back now.

So how do Medicare and other social welfare programs impact small businesses?  They simply increase the cost of doing basic business through increased taxes.

What I hope to see happen in the very near future is an honest breakdown of where Medicare currently is, where it is going, how taxes will be impacted, how that will impact the federal budget as a whole, and how the demographic onslaught that is about to happen will impact everything.  Oh yeah, the onslaught is the baby boomers – they’re at or nearing retirement age now.  Fiscally, this is a train wreck for us.  We can not kick this can down the road or offset the spending any longer as it is upon us, and unfortunately for the liberals in Congress and the current President, they’ve been caught with their hands in the Medicare cookie jar and the jar is empty.

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