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24 June 2014

Guest of Sinners

Luke 19:7 says, "When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, 'He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'"

Thank God that He came to be a guest among sinners! Sometimes I get irritated on Sunday mornings when others aren't dressed to my standards, or don't praise to my standards, or don't fellowship to my standards... but I don't do any of those things to God's standards either, and He still comes to meet with us. Thank the Lord!

23 June 2014

Call Them "Sir"

I Timothy 6:2 says, "Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles."

I have been really uncomfortable lately because most of the men with whom I worship on Sundays and labor through the week outrank me, yet they don't want to be called "sir" at church. Perhaps they should simply give God glory that I believe, and I should certainly continue to respect them in every way and give God glory that I have bosses who believe!

23 August 2013

Speeding

Just a quick observation today, brought on by being back in the United States (after three years travelling the world) for almost a month:
Everyone here speeds. I mean really, constantly, without even thinking about it. It's just a normal thing. Seth Godin mentioned speeding today, noting that "rushing," as he calls it, rarely has any advantages and often ends in tragedy. But we all still do it in our cars, every day, all the time.
Here's the gist of my observation rewritten:
Everyone here breaks the law, putting their own safety and the lives of others in jeopardy, on a daily basis.
Whoops. Here's what R.C. Sproul has to say about that as far as Christians are concerned:
The principle is not difficult to understand: If I am willy-nilly and careless in my obedience to authority at the lower levels, I am therefore implicitly placing myself in a posture of disobedience to the ultimate authority that stands above and behind the earthly. It is the law of God that we disobey.
Or we could just look to Paul:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Romans 13:1)
So when you get stuck behind a little white Toyota Tacoma doing the speed limit today, it's probably me....

20 August 2013

Some Thoughts About Salt

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." (Matthew 5:13)
What does Jesus mean by that? (Or in Mark 9:49-50, Luke 14:34, or Colossians 4:6?)
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From Wikipedia:
[S]alt has been the best-known food preservative, especially for meat, for many thousands of years...
 And again:
Salt's ability to preserve food was a foundation of civilization...
But also:
Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death.
So is salt good or bad?
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Salt is a representation of God's covenant with us (Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19), specifically of our obedience and God's cleansing. As a representation of God's power, we know salt has the potential for devastation:
‘All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.’ (Deuteronomy 29:23)
God's response to sin is wrath. Oversalting. Destruction.
He changes rivers into a wilderness
And springs of water into a thirsty ground;
A fruitful land into a salt waste,
Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. (Psalm 107:33-34)
So how can destruction be good? Why would we want to be salt? Why would we want salt in our speech?
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)
In the covenant of Christ (Matthew 26:27), God forgives our sins, but He prunes us that we might bear fruit for His glory. Every son He receives He scourges (Hebrews 12:6). The prophet Elisha purified the spring at Jericho by applying a jar of salt (II Kings 2:19-21); by the same application of God's discipline, we are purified - sanctified.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
So like Christ, we are to have grace and truth in us. We are to have the salt of the covenant - the body and blood of Christ - in ourselves, and respond to God's calling to be holy and set apart. In our relationships with those around us, we are not to throw stones (John 8:7) or oversalt those around us, but we are meant to apply salt for cleansing (II Timothy 4:2)... for the preservation of ourselves, our loved ones, our civilization, our world.

04 January 2013

Standard Capacity Magazines - Call Your Congresspeople!

Here is the bill: https://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h308/show

This link will take you to a website where you can quickly and easily email your Senators, Congressmen and the President: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/mail/?alertid=61046526&type=ML

I just sent the letter below to President Barack Obama (D), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Representative John Carter (R-TX).

I'm writing out of a deep concern regarding the upcoming bill to be introduced by Congresswoman DeGette that will ban firearm magazines larger than 10 rounds. My wife and I are law-abiding citizens with military training and we each legally carry pistols for self defense. Every single weapon we own holds more than 10 rounds in the standard-capacity magazine that comes with the pistol. Even my subcompact pistols hold at least 13 rounds. I cannot help but believe that the framers of this bill are oblivious to the fact that many, many handguns come standard with magazines holding almost twenty rounds and many rifles have standard magazines that carry even more - there is nothing "high capacity" about these devices. This law will effectively cripple my constitutionally protected right to carry by banning every single standard magazine on the market for all of the firearms I own. Please, do the research and you will see that this bill does nothing to deter violent crime while making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Vote against it.

20 November 2012

Laptop Gears Grinding

You know what really grinds my gears? I bought a new laptop four years ago, and now I'm in the market again, and the market hasn't improved. Yeah, so Mac introduced a backlit keyboard four years ago - I'm sure someone else did it first, but it was the first one I saw - and now, four years later, backlit keyboards are still not mainstream. My first laptop, a 17" Dell monstrosity, had a 1920x1200 (WUXGA) display. Guess what? Today, you can get a 1920x1080 display in a five-inch cellphone, but there aren't many options in a reasonably-sized laptop. If you add those three requirements together - high resolution, 13-14" screen size, and backlit keyboard - you've got a product that no one makes. That really grinds my gears. And don't even get me started on PC touchpads....

 So anyway, moving on, here's what I'd like to see in a new laptop (click here for what I wanted four years ago):
  • 13.3-14.1" matte display (Worst Macbook feature? Glossy screens.)
  • 1600x1200 (UXGA), 1920x1080 (1080p), or 1920x1200 (WUXGA) resolution
  • Long battery life - I get four-ish hours right now, and I'm not going to give that up
  • 8 or 16 GB RAM
  • 3.0 GHz quad-core processor, or faster
  • Discrete graphics with at least 1 GB RAM onboard
  • Worthwhile multi-touch touchpad (see MacBook for definition of the category)
  • Backlit keyboard
  • 512 GB or larger SSD
  • USB 3.0 (at least two ports), 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • DVD±RW drive (why on earth anyone buys an "ultrabook" is beyond me)
  • Linux (Arch) compatible
Anybody know of any good options? (If I had to buy a new one right now - thanks goodness I don't - I'd buy a Lenovo ThinkPad T430 and max out all the internals. But the resolution still isn't high enough, the SSD isn't big enough, and I'll bet money the trackpad sucks.)

P.S. - If you want to know what I think should come next in laptop technology, how about making a laptop where the screen doesn't have a ginourmous (technical term) bezel around it? The chart at the right shows the dominant screen resolutions along with estimated dimensions of an actual screen of any given resolution in 13.3", 14.1", and 15.4" screen sizes. How awesome would it be to have a 13.3" laptop, at 1600x1200 resolution, that's the same dimensions as a sheet of paper (8.5"x11")? It's possible!!!

11 October 2012

Lonely Places

The Kuwait City International Airport ranks highly among the most interesting places on earth.

The building, certainly an architectural marvel, is neither particularly wonderful nor particularly unique; as such, it might be at home in any major city of the United States. Curved ceilings and tiered lighting, Starbucks and Cinnabon facades, and a thousand Ikea-esque chairs serve as nothing more than a simple backdrop to the sensory overload that is the people. A group of African businessmen in Italian suits and traditional caps crowd the check-in counter. Two men - obviously relatives, if distant, of the royal family and marked as such by their well-tailored white desert clothing and silvery-edged headress cloth - bypass even the first-class only line and argue quietly with an airline representative who asks them to wait their turn; a youth in blue jeans and an oversized hoodie who trails behind them produces official-looking documents from his pockets which the two wave about, demanding recognition of their station. Women, all of whom would be dressed modestly by American or European standards, nevertheless run the gamut from flight attendants and tourists in pants or knee-length skirts and slightly less than demure blouses to dedicated Muslim women veiled to the eyes and carrying authentic Coach purses who order muffins - only speaking to their husbands, of course - at the more expensive coffee bar and whose hands sparkle with jewelry as they sip their lattes.

The airport security setup involves an initial secure area for check-in and ticketing, with a full complement of metal detectors and x-ray machines (although, thank goodness, none of the TSA's ridiculous full-body imaging or mandatory sexual assault). Just beyond the security line - indeed, so close as to be nearly a part of it - stand dozens of porters, each of whom scouts a likely victim coming through the line and collects their luggage from the x-ray belt before the passenger has a chance to stop them. "What airline, sir?" they ask, and it is a positive struggle to inform these panhandlers that yes, I intend to carry my own bags the 30 feet to the check-in counter. Once divested of checked bags and entrusted with boarding passes, passengers again move to the unsecured terminal area before entering the second secure area where the gates are located. Once again, belts come off, pockets are emptied, and boarding passes are checked. Beyond this checkpoint is passport control and then the airport at large.

Again, the resemblance to every other airport in the world is at once comforting and dissonant. Duty free shops line the hallways; salespeople hawking watches, eau de cologne, and candy line the shop entrances. Inside one, a Romanian (perhaps, although I have a tendency to think I know more about accents and languages than I actually do) family picks out boxes of hard candies. A ...curvaceous... woman passes by, struggling to walk in five-inch heels and painted-on jeans which no one of her ...figure... should wear, even in private, along with a head scarf. A young Middle-Eastern man sits near one gate, wearing a bowling shirt emblazoned with the logo of an auto body shop in California and a name tag that reads "Steve" - he is clearly ignorant of his own ironic (hipster) genius. The piece de resistance is a pair of janitors, who must have, surely, been of Latin American origin, judging by their western boots and concho belt buckles, but perhaps my eyes decieved me.

Through all this, not one person looks around and truly sees anyone else. There is none of the studious ignorance of one's neighbors common to Manhattanites, nor the desire not to see that's common when one culture abuts a "less-civilized" neighbor. No, there is simply nothing remarkable here, in the eyes of anyone but the final outside observer. Perhaps there is nothing to see, or perhaps each group is so engrossed in their own movements that they have no desire to notice others. Indeed, I am nearly run over twice - once by a middle-aged Oriental woman in the traditional uniform of a Chinese tourist, who simply pretends that I am not there the first four times her luggage cart impacts my calves as she forces her way to the front of the security/check-in line, and again by a screaming four-year old who belongs to a portly, middle-aged African American in a Yankees cap and his Asian wife. Being ignored by small children in airports is nothing new to me, but it is fascinating to observe a check-in, security, and boarding system built without the concept of waiting in lines or queing, seemingly so fundamental to the Western model of efficiency in public spaces. Perversely enough, I make no effort to shoulder others out of my way or move with any sense of urgency, and I make it through to my gate faster than I have managed at any other airport, anywhere in the world.
"Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen." John le Carré