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Showing posts from 2013

Don't Duck

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Phil Robertson, from Duck Dynasty, blew up the twittersphere, blogsphere, Facebook, and network websites with his interview with GQ magazine. During this interview he made some controversial statements, but this is what had most people talking. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” Because of this interview, A&E decided to suspend Phil from the show indefinitely.
"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty," the network said in a statement Wednesday…

A tale of two King's

Solomon is known as the wisest person to have ever lived. One look at his writings, especially Proverbs, confirms his prodigious wisdom. Most "wisdom" books today are simply impoverished microwaved versions of what Solomon wrote thousands of years ago.

When he became king over Israel, he did not ask for possessions, wealth, or honour, but he asked for wisdom:
O LORD God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great (2 Chron. 1:10)? The LORD was pleased with his request and it  was granted to him. He was even given the privilege of building the house of God, something his father desired to do and was forbidden, because David was a man of war, but Solomon was a man of rest. Solomon asked for wisdom, but David asked to dwell in the heavenly house.
One thing I have…

Look Up

My eyes start watering as the cold winter morning air blasts my face. Tears form and I tilt my head down until I can only see the toes of my feet. I hurriedly move down the sidewalk only glancing up to get my bearings. The plans of the day cycle in my mind as I make my way to my destination. I come to a bridge and the glint of the sun causes me to look up. There before me is a winter wonder land. The sun is bright and reflecting off the snow covered ice on the river. Sparkling water rushes over the falls as a mist rises from the battle between ice and water. Trees tower in the distance with fresh snow floating down from their branches. I take a deep breath, pause, and then look down at my toes again. The plans of the day cycle in my mind.

It is easy to spend most of our lives looking down at our toes, instead of up at the power and glory of God.
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, call them all by name, by the greatness of His…

Back to Work

This Monday will be my first day at my new job. It will have been 8 months since I last worked in a professional environment.  Being unemployed has taught me a few lessons, which I hope to capture in this post.

Job security is an illusion. Nobody is indispensable and most things are outside of your control. Everybody should be looking and preparing for their next job. This could be training, getting certifications, or going back to school. Looking for your next job will show you what is out there and how you need prepare. You may not need a certain certification for your current job, but that does not mean you will not need it to get our next job.

Finding work is difficult. Even though you might be highly skilled, that does not mean the people looking for you are highly skilled. There are a lot of jobs out there, but most people are looking for someone who has already done the job. It was amazing to me that so many people cared more about specific skills that can be learned, then tale…

Speaking about Adam and Even

"As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches (1 Cor. 14:33-34)." Did a pin just drop? This has to be one of the most uncomfortable verses to modern ears in all of the New Testament, but that will not make it go away.

Many people try to argue that first century Corinthian women were crazy, uneducated, and rude. They would interrupt people and slander their husbands publicly, which is why Paul had to rebuke them. It is amazing how many modern women (and men) are so quick to disavow their fore bearers. In any case this verse says nothing of the sort. The main thing we can glean from this verse is that it is a universal command for all of the churches. It is not specific to the church in Corinth. Any arguments regarding specific chaos in the Corinthian church should be dismissed, since it is applicable to all churches everywhere.
"For they are not permitted to speak (1 Cor. 14:34)." The next range of arguments tries to define what…

Miracles

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John Lennox in his winsome way discusses the question of miracles. He discusses David Hume, design, and more more. It is worth your while watching this video if you think miracles are impossible.

Snake Eyes

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD (Prov. 16:33). Looking back on my first interview for a high-tech company, I really should not have been hired. Although I was in Electrical Engineering, I knew nothing about computers. I did not even know how to use Windows Explorer to find files (Go ahead and laugh, it really is funny). Several years later I asked my boss what he was thinking when he hired me, but he didn't remember. It is ironic that I probably would not have hired myself if the roles had been reversed. However, by the end of my time there, I was the manager of Software and Testing for the company.

This situation has always been a reminder to me that it is not my abilities that are solely responsible for my success. There is so much outside of my control:

Being born in Canada to a middle class family.Parents that loved each other and us kids.Brothers and sisters that were good role models.Friends that had purpose in life.A brain that works.et…

Finding Truth

Most people have faith that they are right, but they don't have knowledge that they are right. Looking at three categories of people is helpful to understand this distinction, self-affirmers, extreme fighters, and shallow divers.
Self-affirmers are those people who mainly interact with people of their own persuasion. They don't read books or listen to people who think differently then them, especially if the topic is contrary to what they believe. In this case ignorance is bliss and they intend to stay that way. It is the type of person who tries to give you a book about what they believe, but will not read a book about what you believe. They are sure in their belief because nobody is given a chance to contradict it.
Extreme fighters are those people who take the most extreme position as defining an opposing viewpoint. Straw men and sweeping generalizations are characteristics of extreme fighters, and they don't find it odd that only their perspective cannot easily be dism…

Church Framing

There are beliefs that we take for granted. We absorb them from our parents, friends, and society. They are not analyzed because they are assumed to be true. One of those beliefs is our understanding of church structure. I was recently in a conversation with a "pastor" who said that the church should be lead by "a male in a plurality of elders." The problem with this perspective is that there is no biblical evidence for it. There is nothing to indicate that there is a primary leader of any church, except for Jesus Christ. That same week I was in another conversation with someone and they mentioned that they don't identify overseers at their church. This practice also does not follow the pattern found in Scripture of identifying overseers by their qualifications. Both of these conversations inspired me to look more closely at how a church actually should be organized.

The minimum structure of a church is fairly straightforward, there are overseers (elders), deac…

John Lennox

John Lennox is one of my favourite speakers on the creation of the world. In the video below he outlines his view. It is worthwhile considering his thoughts on this issue.

Godly Desires

It is hard to trust in God when you are trusting in yourself. I had committed to a job in Colorado when I discovered the opportunity was not what I expected. The manager who was supposed to be my boss when I was down there was no longer going. The contract negotiations had fallen through. I decided to ask if it was a possibility for me to stay in Ottawa instead of going to Colorado. They said, yes, but I asked for the rest of the day to think about it before I gave my final decision. During this time I went up to my parents cottage to think and this verse came to mind. Commit  your way to the LORD; trust in him, and He will act (Ps. 37:5).  As I read this verse I began to get frustrated. What does it mean God will act? I am the one who has to make the decision at the end of the day. After all, He is not going to answer for me! These were my true feelings and I even wrote them down at the time. I wasn't mad at God, it just did not make sense to me.

The next day I went into work to …

Tongue Twisting

Speaking in tongues has caused controversy for as long as I can remember. For those of you who may not have any idea of what I am talking about, let me explain. Speaking in tongues, as it is commonly understood, is a phenomenon by which people make ecstatic incomprehensible sounds. Some people consider it to be a form of worship, but others believe that is only an emotional release or something worth. But, what does the Bible say about it?

The division point of this controversy rests on the interpretation of the word tongues. If you believe the word refers to different languages then you are most likely to be against it, if you believe it is a form of ecstatic speech then you are probably for it. Personally, I do not support the modern tongues movement, because I believe the Bible teaches that it refers to different languages.

On the day of Pentecost we are told that the disciples began to speak in "tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4)." The interpretation of…

Infinite Relationship

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Growing up in the Church has its advantages, but it can also cause you to go along with expectations rather then searching for the truth. The environment that I grew up in expected that you read the Bible and prayed every day. Being someone who enjoys consistency this came naturally to me. Unfortunately it masked a deeper problem, I did not have any desire to understand what I was reading. I read the Bible like someone who wanted to complete a task, not learn more about the Creator of the Universe.

This all began to change one day when I saw my brother reading a commentary on the Bible. My dad had studied the Bible my whole life, but it was not until I noticed my brother studying that it caught my attention. I began to devour commentaries and listen to sermons but there was still something missing. I then read this Bible verse, "this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3)." My purpose up to that point had been to…

Cars vs. Bicycles

This week a man was killed while commuting to work on his bike in Ottawa, which renewed the conflict between drivers and cyclists. In my youth I use to be a driver who did not like cyclists. I wondered why they were on the roads and would get angry when I saw them, then I started to cycle myself. The roads are a very dangerous place for cyclist because it only takes one bad driver to end their lives. It is true that some cyclist disobey the laws in an irresponsible manner, but most cyclist follow the spirit of the law. Here are a few misunderstandings between drivers and cyclists that need to be understood.

1) Cyclists don't stop a stop signs. Most cars do not stop at stop signs and don't follow the speed limit. It is hypocritical for car drivers to complain about these kind of laws when they are the biggest offenders. One of the reasons cyclists don't stop at stop signs is because they are picking a car to cross the intersection with for protection. Drivers often do not s…

Heavenly Economy

I lost my job at the end of March, 2013 due to a site closure of General Electric Intelligent Platforms. At the time they asked my wife and I to move to Huntsville, Alabama, but we decided that we were not supposed to go down there because we did not have any reason to. We did not want to make our decision based on where we would make the most money, because that is not what is important to us. It has been roughly 7 months since we made that decision and we still think it is the right one, even though I still don't have a job. This experience has brought to life a passage from the book of Matthew in the Bible.
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (6:20-21). When you make good money it is very difficult to know your true motivations. It is one thing to say that you don't love money, but it is another thing to not have it and say that.…

Angry Love

Love is not easily angered, but it is angered. "Be angry and do not sin (Eph. 4:26)." There are things that happen in this world that should genuinely make us angry, and they are not playing sports or driving a car. Pornography, divorce, and abortion are all examples of things that should make us angry.

Christians can sometimes make it seem that love is spelt t-o-l-e-r-a-n-c-e. This is nothing less than idolatry. God's anger toward the sin of people has never changed, and someday it will be drunk in full measure by those who do not know Jesus.
He also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus) (Rev. 14:10). It is not right to tell people who are not Christians that God is love without properly defining it, because it will not do anybody any good to only accept half of Jesus. Is eternal life given to those wh…

Parenting Miley Cyrus

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Miley Cyrus has been in the news recently because of her sexually provocative show at the MTV music awards, and her riding a wrecking ball without clothes on. She has been in the media regularly since she was 14 years old, but her Hannah Montana image has been replaced by our cultures disgusting sexuality. I wrote previously that Miley Cyrus and others display amplified characteristics of our culture, but they also show the well meaning failure of parents.

Billy Ray Cyrus said in an interview in 2007 with Glenn Beck that he does not discipline his daughter (he leaves that to his wife), he just wants to be her best friend. Unfortunately, he did not see that as a problem then, and is apparently not too concerned about the results now.

Thankfully there are other parents who are concerned about their kids but look like they will be making the same mistakes. In a revealing article on the CBC on how parents should deal with Miley Cyrus, Janet Davison, demonstrates societies failed logic when…

The Dawkins Delusion - Chapter 6 - The Roots of Morality: Why are we Good?

Richard Dawkins is up to his usual tricks in chapter six. He starts off by showing how hateful Christians are who write to him and other atheists. Does he really mean to convince people of "christian" hatred because he picked the most extreme demonstrations of it? Should we use Stalin and Hitler as representatives of all atheists? Richard is deliberately trying to make Christians look bad.

Dawkins' purpose is to show that people can be moral without God. He argues that there are four good Darwinian reasons for individuals to be altruistic, genetic kingship, reciprocation, reputation, conspicuous generosity (pg. 219). Whether these reasons are true or not is not really of interest to me, since this is not the objections that people have with regards to morality.

The question is not whether people can be moral without God, it is whether there is any morality at all. Richard finally talks about this at the close of the chapter, but spends most of the time beating down a str…

Revelation - Jericho

The Bible teaches us in many different ways, but one of the most common in the Old Testament is through types. For example, the lamb sacrificed as a sin offering foreshadowed Jesus Christ being the sin offering for us. Therefore, our understanding of Christ's sacrifice can be understood in part by the type in the Old Testament. In other words patterns in the Old Testament help us understand the New Testament.

We find one such pattern in the story of Jericho. Jericho was the first city that the Israelites conquered when they entered the promised land. They had spied it out beforehand and avoided capture with the help of a prostitute named Rahab. God commanded Joshua, which is the same name as Jesus in Hebrew, to walk around the city once per day for six days. The men of war went first with the seven priests, who had seven trumpets, following behind with the ark. (Josh. 6:4). During this time the people were not supposed to shout or make any noise until the day they were commanded (…

The Dawkins Delusion - Chapter 5 - The Roots of Religion

I have to admit that reading Richard Dawkins book again has become quite a chore. It wasn't very good the first time, and it is even worse the second time. Chapter 5 sets out to answer the question, "what pressures or pressures exerted by natural selection originally favoured the impulse to religion (pg. 163)."

Richard explains that, "Darwinian benefit is not restricted to the genes of the individual organism (pg. 165)", but there are three other alternatives, group selection, parasitic properties, and replicators. Group selection could be based on something like in-group loyalty (pg. 170). Parasitic properties are when an individual "may be working on the manipulative influence of genes in another individual (pg. 165)." Replicators are units of cultural inheritance that are passed on like genes. Richard affectionately calls these "memes."

Dawkins admits that religion needs an evolutionary explanation because of its universality, and his ana…

Revelation - The Heavenly Temple

The book of Revelation in the Bible is one of the most difficult books to understand. It is full of symbolism and mystery that requires an in-depth knowledge of the rest of the Bible. There are 4 major interpretive frameworks for understanding Revelation but each of them have their difficulties. It seems that the framework determines the interpretation more than the actual content of the book. This might not be a fair assessment, but it is the motivation for me to try to understand the book of Revelation on its own before adopting a framework. In the next couple of months I will be writing about different aspects of Revelation as I explore this amazing book in the Bible.

One of the symbols found in Revelation is that of a heavenly temple. Temple imagery is found throughout the book but there are three main references that all come from the throne of God. In chapter four we find that from the throne come"flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder." This same ima…

Family Dinner

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Is your table empty? The wall street journal had an interesting article on the advantages of having a family meal. Many people think they don't have time for it, but the research shows that you don't have time not to do it. The benefits of regular family dinners include "better grades, healthier body weight, lower rates of cigarette and alcohol use, stronger relationships with parents and better overall mental health."

The article goes on to discuss the optimal length of each dinner. No definite answer is given, but there are indications that even incremental differences make a significant advantage.
One study of mealtime characteristics and kids' weight found just 3 1/2 extra minutes at the table made a difference. In the study of 200 videotaped family mealtimes, children in families where dinner lasted 16.4 minutes on average were at greater risk for being overweight compared with families that sat for an average of 19.9 minutes. Regular mealtimes also have a …

The Dawkins Delusion - Chapter 4 - Why there almost certainly is no God

In this chapter there are 3 major arguments the Dawkins addresses: (1) The argument from improbability, (2) irreducible complexity, and (3)the anthropic principle. The Argument from Improbability Dawkins states this argument as follows: "The argument from improbability states that complex things could not have come about by chance (pg. 114)." He debunks this argument by saying, "Natural selection not only explains the whole of life; it also raises our consciousness to the power of science to explain how organized complexity can emerge from simple beginnings without any deliberate guidance (pg. 116)."
It is a major overstatement to say that natural selection explains the whole of life. Natural selection is a mechanism that only works when there is already pre-existing material. Although there may be some evidence of natural selection in terms of "micro-evolution," but there is nothing believable in terms of "macro-evolution." Richard's explan…

Church Enemies

You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing that others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:43 - 48). Many people stop going to church because they believe it is full of hypocrites. They can no longer handle the people and decide to practice their "Christianity" on their own. Their "church" is now just the people they like to be around.

Loving the church is one way to love our enemies. This text is not only talking about enemies who want to take our liv…

Head Coverings

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians addresses questions that the Corinthians had with regards to the church (7:1). One of the questions which is addressed in the first part of chapter 11 is, should a women pray or prophecy with her hair uncovered? This question has caused controversy in the past but in recent times it has been considered irrelevant. This is unfortunate since it was obviously included in the Bible for a reason. On the other hand it must be kept in perspective, wearing a symbol on your head is not greater than applying the symbol to your heart. It is for the latter reason that it is important to discuss this topic.

Paul's purpose in taking up this subject is to make sure the Corinthians understand that "the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God (11:3)." In other words, there is an authority structure that governs our relationships with God and our spouses. It is noteworthy that he also incl…

The Holiness of God - Part 2

God being set apart in regards to sin has been displayed since the beginning of the world. Adam and Eve were expelled from their garden paradise for being tricked by a snake. Not only that, but their sin is the cause of death for all mankind. This punishment was because of what we would call one mistake.
Moses, whom God spoke to as a friend (Ex. 33:11), was punished for his disobedience and not allowed to enter the promised land, because he did not treat the Lord as holy (Deut. 32:51 - 52). The actual event appeared inconspicuous. God had asked Moses to tell the rock to yield its water, instead Moses struck the rock twice with his staff (Num. 20:6 - 11). Moses' punishment seems disproportionate to the actual infraction.
God's expectation is not "good enough," it is perfection. Not even one "mistake" is acceptable. Christians have a tendency to forget this frightening aspect of God's character. Unintentionally salvation has become the focal point instead…

The Dawkins Delusion - Chapter 3 - Arguments for God's existence

In this third Chapter of "The God Delusion", Richard attempts to quickly destroy all the arguments that have ever been put forward for God's existence. Considering the amount of debate and scholarship on this question, it is obvious that he cannot do it justice in only one chapter. I will look at each of the major arguments that he makes individually.
Thomas Aquinas Richard's first order of business is to tackle the proofs that Thomas Aquinas makes for God's existence. This initial arguments shows exactly the path that will be taken. Instead of interacting with the most powerful arguments for God's existence, he takes arguments that were made in the 13th century. This is a pattern that can be found throughout the book. Richard asserts that The Unmoved Mover, The Uncaused Cause, and the Cosmological Argument arguments all involve an infinite regression with God as the terminator. However, the main thrust of all these arguments is to show that material needs a …