Monday, December 22, 2003
Saturday, December 13, 2003
I forgot to say this. My class schedule is set for next semester. Here are my classes:
Algebra & Trigonometry for Physics
Theology of the Bible II
Western Literature I
History of the United States II
It's 18 credits, which is one more than I did this semester but I think I can handle it. It sure will be different without Biology and R&W. Much better without R&W. ;)
My last class of the semester ended yesterday afternoon. I am glad to be moving on, but have really enjoyed learning what I learned this semester. All my papers are turned in, quizzes are taken, and most of the proficiency tests are over. They all went pretty well. Next hurdle: FINALS. So I'll be studying all today and Monday, focusing on History, Latin, and Logic.
Even with all the papers and quizzes, Daniel was able to shoot two final (for this season) episodes of Hitman over the last week. They resolve the story, to some extent, and are the best episodes so far. I think so at least. The fifth episode includes a great fight scene between the Hitman (Daniel) and Red Fox (Me). Last night and this morning Daniel is finishing up editing episode six, so it can be premiered at the cast party tonight. We have about 40 people involved in the show (mostly actors) and will be celebrating tonight by watching all six episodes and some outtakes as well. Anyway, Hitman has been a good outlet for our creative side and a needed break from studying.
Now I'm looking forward to finishing my last final on Friday afternoon and going to see Return of the King Friday night. And one week from today I'll be getting on a plane bound for Phoenix! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Thursday, December 04, 2003
It's 28 degrees outside and supposed to snow in the next couple of days. Brrrrrr!
Yes, I am back and have been all week. I just haven't taken the time to post anything. My Thanksgiving break was great. I spent most of my time playing video games with Daniel, watching TV, and hanging out with Daniel's family. We went to a steakhouse for our big meal on Thursday and I had ravioli, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I also took my first taste of wine - three sips - and it wasn't that appealing to me. It tasted like grape juice mixed with rubbing alcohol, I guess because that's sort of what it is. Anyway, dinner was good, except for the service at the restaurant. The poor waiter couldn't get the orders right and took forever to bring some of the meals. Oh well.
On Saturday, we took a train into New York City and walked around for a couple of hours. We walked down 34th Street, up Broadway, through Times Square, to Rockefeller Center. The tree was big, but the lights weren't on. The sidewalks were extremely crowded, so we had an interesting time getting through. Oh, we also went into the Toys R Us at Times Square which is three stories high and has an indoor ferris wheel! We had very good pizza as well. The weather was cold, but not unbearable.
I've been working on papers and getting through the second-to-last week of regular classes. Tuesday was my Theology presentation and my topic was the atonement. I tackled the controversial debate over the extent of the atonement and I think it went very well. Now my next hurdles are my Logic paper on Locke and my Research and Writing paper on Internet piracy.
My fingers are now more comfortable typing on a Dvorak keyboard layout than a QWERTY. It has slowed me down temporarily, but I'm confident that it will improve my speed in the long run.
Well, I better get to studying. I'm reading Alvin Plantinga this morning for Logic class. It should be interesting.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Sunday, November 16, 2003
I finally have pictures from the Fairfax campaign, so here they are:
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Last weekend I was given the opportunity to work for the Mychele Brickner campaign. Brickner was a conservative Republican running for the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Fairfax County, VA. About twelve PHC students worked on the campaign at various times throughout the weekend. Since Fairfax county is about an hour from PHC, the campaign put us up in the very nice home of one of their supporters. After arriving Friday evening and getting to know the office and the people a little bit, we got to work. Our first job was to pound wooden stakes into the ground in the median of one of the main streets and staple campaign signs to the stakes. That was Friday night. Jeremiah and I were the only ones that packed Friday afternoon so we stayed the night while everyone else drove back to PHC. Saturday morning, we went to the office and got our assignments. For most of the day, we knocked on people's doors, handed them literature, and asked them to vote for Brickner on Tuesday. Saturday night we went out to eat with some of the campaign staff at a Mexican grill that was very nice. Sunday morning, we hit the churches with literature. Jeremiah and I had time to put literature on the cars of church members in 3 services at a Catholic church, 2 services at an Episcopalian church, hang out in Starbucks, and attend an English service at a Korean Presbyterian church as well. It was a fun morning. Some of the other groups got kicked out of the church parking lots, but we didn't. We walked around neighborhoods all afternoon and evening, hanging door-hangers on all of the Republicans' doorknobs. Monday morning, we stood outside the train stations that filled up with commuters heading for DC and handed out literature reminding people who to vote for the next day. The rest of the day Monday was spent doing more lit-drops in neighborhoods. Jeremiah, Christy, Allis, and I found that we were a pretty good team so we stuck together. Aaron, Jeremiah, and I went out to a nice Italian restaurant Monday night. We got up early Tuesday morning and joined Mychele and her family at their polling place. There were I believe four or five television stations there, covering her vote and we waved signs in the background as she was interviewed. Then we went out to neighborhoods and reminded the Republicans to get out and vote, dropping off literature about Brickner of course. At about 3pm, Jeremiah and I were assigned to a fairly busy polling place and we got set up in a system. There was a Republican gentleman running for the local school board, shaking hands with the voters. The Democrat lady running against him was also there. So Jeremiah would greet the voters and funnel them to the Republican, while I stood directly in front of the Democrat, handing out Brickner literature. After they shook hands with the Republican, there was a girl handing them sample Republican ballots, and then I handed them my flyer. We hoped that by the time they got to the Democrat, they would be so tired of the whole thing that they wouldn't stop and listen to what she was saying. The Republican ended up losing, but it was a lot of fun. Tuesday night we stopped by the Brickner party for a short time, and then went back to PHC.
Unfortunately Brickner ended up losing too, so it was the second year in a row that I've worked on losing campaigns. :( I had hoped to be posting pictures from the weekend when I wrote this, but I can't seem to get them from Allis. Once I get them, I will post them.
The rest of last week was pretty much playing catch-up. The Biology quiz on Wednesday, Latin exam on Friday, and History quiz on Friday all went pretty well. I feel confident that I knew what I was supposed to know.
Last night, I went to see PHC's Eden Troupe in their last performance of Arms and the Man, by George Bernard Shaw. They did a wonderful job. The convincing acting, stunning makeup and costumes, and beautiful sets combined to produce a very enjoyable presentation. The show is a romantic comedy and everyone in the audience found it hilarious. The message was to be always true in life and love, and it came across very well. Well, I better get ready for the 12:30 church service...
Friday, October 31, 2003
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Last night was the "Hoedown." It is basically an old-fashioned country dancing party held in a barn and is one of the two school-sponsored social events held yearly. So as of Friday, I didn't have a ticket and wasn't going. This was mainly because none of my closest friends here were going. But, for various reasons, Daniel and I decided to buy our tickets and try it out. So your next question is...did Paul dance??? And the answer is: Yes I did, and it was a lot of fun! When Daniel and I arrived early, there were a few people that wanted to learn the Virginia Reel. We joined in and so I learned that one pretty quick. Throughout the night they always explained each dance so that those of us who didn't know what we were doing could join in. We did a lot of dancing in a circle and a few times I got pretty dizzy. It was great exercise though. The only dance I didn't join in on was the waltz, but I want to learn it and try it at some point. I can't wait until the Liberty Ball, and I might even try going to one of the contra dances they hold locally before then.
My Biology exam on Friday went very well. I got my grade on my Theology exam and it was very good. This weekend has been pretty slow on the school side because we don't really have any exams or papers coming up this week. On Monday I'm meeting with my advisor (Dr. Gruenke) to register for the Spring semester. Tuesday is my birthday, of course, and I'm looking forward to the start of 24 Season Three! Speaking of action drama television, we filmed some more Hitman scenes this weekend. I am actually in the next couple of episodes, and there are some really funny parts coming up. Well, I better get to church. We turned our clocks back this morning - what a stupid thing that is! I will admit that it was nice to get an extra hour of sleep. Later...
Thursday, October 23, 2003
I keep having this irrational fear before I take an exam that I will somehow bump my head and forget all the information I need to know. Thankfully it hasn't happened. :) I just came back from Logic and I'm very happy with my midterm grade. Logic and Latin are my best subjects right now I think. My last exam this week is Biology tomorrow. I feel pretty confident with the material. The only thing I'm a little worried about is the genetics word problems. We learned all about how genes are passed from parent to child, and we have to figure out what the chances would be of a trait appearing in a generation given the genetic makeup of the parents. It's interesting, but I don't have a good grasp on it quite yet. I will be going over that this evening in depth. Logic class was very interesting today. We analyzed the argument of Peter Singer in his article called All Animals Are Equal. He basically argues that modern philosophy has no justification for inherent human dignity, and so there is no real moral difference between humans and animals. Our conclusion as a class was that Singer's argument helps clarify the stark contrast between theism and atheism when it comes to the value of human life by cutting out the middle ground position that "human dignity" can exist without God.
The weather has been getting colder. Today has been really cold. In fact, right now it is only 48 degrees outside. Brrrr! This weekend is looking to be somewhat uneventful. Jeremiah is out of town at a debate tournament. Tuesday is my birthday. 21 years! :) And next weekend we get Monday and Tuesday off of school because of the election. It doesn't look like I'll get to go to Mississippi; I guess the RNC had too many applicants. So I'll probably hang out around here and help with local campaigns. Maybe I'll study a little too...
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Well, I wish I could say that my quizzes went fine, but in actuality I don't feel too good about them. Especially the History quiz. Oh well, at least it won't destroy my grade entirely. I know what I need to do to study History better. I just need to read Johnson more actively, highlighting the key points and creating my own study guide rather than depending on the ones that other people make. For Latin, I just need to spend more time reviewing the paradigms.
Last night, I went to Scott and Kim Walker's house for dinner. They are a local family who has "adopted" me, and three other guys here. John couldn't make it, but Kyle, David and I went over and had a great time. We met the Walkers' two kids. After eating chili for dinner, we each took a turn playing tag with their 2 year old son. Then, for most of the evening, we played two board games. The Walkers are huge board game fans and have some really cool games that most people don't know about. First, we played Settlers of Catan, which is a strategy game that reminded me somewhat of Risk except that instead of conquering nations we were building cities. It was complicated, but I enjoyed it. Then we played another game (the name escapes me) in which we tried to gain points by owning castles and farming lands. I won the second game.
This morning I got up early and worked all morning with other students at a home for elderly people. We did yard work and I just got back. I'm now going to lunch and this afternoon I will probably be working on my Latin workbook and studying Logic.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Well, I got an A- on the "Eating Meat" essay in Logic class. Academically, I'm doing pretty well. I have three quizzes tomorrow: in Latin, Biology, and History. Next week will be Logic and Theology midterms as well as a Biology exam. Research and Writing class has gotten a little better because we've started to work on our research paper. I'm writing about intellectual property rights, specifically the legal issues relating to pirating media on the Internet.
When I'm not studying, my friends and I have moved on from just watching movies to making them. My roommate, Daniel, and friend Matt have started a series of short, continuous, dramatic videos called Hitman. I'm one of the main actors, and it's been a lot of fun so far. I'm looking forward to quite a lot of twists in the story as we continue through the semester.
Naomi gave me an early birthday present: 24 Season Two!! Daniel, RJ, Jeremiah and I finished season one a couple of weeks ago, and we just started season two. The third season starts on my birthday (Oct. 28), and I'll definitely be watching. To be completely honest, 24 did inspire Hitman to some extent and Daniel has borrowed from it just a little bit.
Coming up in two weeks is election weekend, which means two days off of school. RJ, Jeremiah, and I applied to work for the RNC in Mississippi on the governor's race there. If we get accepted, the RNC will fly us out and pay all of our expenses while we help out on the campaign. Plus, we can earn a college credit for our major.
Today is Logic and Theology. Tonight is studying for the quizzes tomorrow. Tomorrow night I've been invited over to a local family's house for dinner. They've adopted me and a few other students through their church's "adopt-a-student" program. I'm looking forward to it. Saturday, I am doing ServeAmerica, which is a project to help out the local community. We'll probably also film another Hitman episode this weekend and watch more 24.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Eating Meat: Is it healthy?
Cooked animal flesh is a part of the diet of most human beings. Americans, in particular, eat a large amount of meat every day. In fact, the American culture is such that most people expect the main course of both lunch and dinner to contain primarily meat. However, there are many people who exclude meat from their diets entirely, and this practice is growing in popularity. Some of these object to eating meat because they care about animals and believe that killing animals is murder, while others simply argue that eating meat is not good for the human body.
My position is that eating meat is unhealthy. I will not argue that meat should always be excluded; rather, I will say that eating meat can be excluded from a human’s diet without consequence to health. Furthermore, I contend that meat contains harmful elements and since meat is both unnecessary and harmful to the body, it is therefore unhealthy. The following is my argument in standard form:
1) If a balanced diet that excludes a food still provides the body with enough of the nutritious elements within that food, then that food is nutritionally unnecessary.
2) A balanced diet that excludes meat still provides the body with enough protein.
3) Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
4) If a food often contains substances that harm the body and it is nutritionally unnecessary, then it is unhealthy.
5) Meat often contains substances that harm the body.
6) Meat is unhealthy.
Certain foods are not needed for a healthy body to function. Ice cream is a good example. While many people eat ice cream, they recognize that it is not a necessary part of a balanced diet. There are no special vitamins or minerals in ice cream that are essential to the human body. The same could be said for tomatoes or blueberries. Actually, most individual foods can be excluded from one’s diet without ill effects, as long as the nutrients found in those foods are gained by eating other foods. One of the blessings of God’s creation is the abundance of nutrients in a variety of foods.
While people realize that avoiding the ingestion of ice cream or tomatoes would not be harmful, they often believe at the same time that meat is essential to the body. This is simply not the case. The element in meat that our body needs most, protein, is present in many kinds of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains. The best sources of protein outside meat are beans, nuts, lentils, and legumes. These plant proteins contain the same twenty-three amino acids as animal proteins contain, which is evident when you consider that an animal’s body builds its protein from the plants it eats. So, animal proteins are in no way superior to plant proteins. As long as people eat a wide variety of healthy foods, their bodies will be provided with enough protein even if they do not eat meat.
Meat is not essential to health. Since the part of meat that the body needs, protein, is found plentifully in other types of foods, meat is unnecessary just like ice cream and tomatoes. Meat and tomatoes are different in that the term “meat” encompasses many individual foods, while tomatoes are a particular food. However the principle stays the same. Since no single meat contains any nourishing element that cannot be found elsewhere, there is no dietary reason that people have to eat any meat. There may be reasons to eat meat, but nutrition cannot be one of them.
Ice cream is distinguishable from tomatoes in that ice cream contains substances that can harm the body. This is why health-conscious people feel a twinge of guilt when eating ice cream that they do not feel when eating tomatoes. Most people know that ice cream is an unhealthy food because it is both unnecessary and harmful. Tomatoes, on the other hand, are not unhealthy because though they are unnecessary, they are not usually harmful to the body. But if a food is both unnecessary and harmful, it is considered unhealthy.
Animal flesh is a food that often contains harmful elements. Meat is usually high in both cholesterol and saturated fat. The body needs very small amounts of these, and so it is not very hard for us to provide our bodies with the necessary amounts. The average meat-eating person is eating too much cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which contribute to heart disease and obesity. Additionally, other chemicals such as pesticides and preservatives are found in most meat products which can have adverse effects on body chemistry. According to a study done by the American Cancer Society, harmful chemicals in grilled meats can increase the risk of cancer. Lastly, eating meat that is not fully cooked is risky because of diseases like E. coli. While nutritionists often differ on their recommendations, most would agree that meat often contains substances that harm the human body.
Since meat normally contains damaging materials and is not essential to health, it should be placed in the same category as ice cream. In other words, meat is unhealthy. Certainly, some types of meat are worse than others, but I am speaking generally of meat as a category. To summarize, animal flesh does not have to be eaten, and is generally detrimental.
Some may object to the idea that meat is harmful to the body. They might say that any food can be harmful to the body, if it is overeaten. Take the example of tomatoes. In and of themselves, tomatoes are not harmful to the body. However, if someone were to eat five pounds of tomatoes in one sitting, then his body would obviously react negatively. Eating small amounts of meat, just like tomatoes, is not a health problem.
In response to this objection, it is important to remember that I am speaking of the average meat-eater in America today. If someone were to eat only one small organic fish a week, the fish would probably not harm the person’s body. On the other hand, eating meat as the main dish in both midday and evening meals on a consistent basis is eating enough meat to cause adverse effects. If ice cream was the main course at a daily meal, most would recognize this as a health problem. Since meat is unhealthy like ice cream is unhealthy, there is a problem with the amount of meat being eaten.
Once again, my contention is that eating meat is unhealthy. Meat is unnecessary nutritionally because protein can be found in many other foods. Meat is harmful because it is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. These two facts combined lead me to conclude that eating meat is bad for the human body. I am a vegetarian for this very reason. However just because meat is unhealthy does not mean it has to be eliminated. Ice cream is unhealthy too, but people still eat it. I understand that many people enjoy the taste of meat and could not give it up entirely. But I hope that people will at least think about eating less meat as a result of the argument I have made.
 Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, “Harmful Chemicals in Grilled Meats,” 2003, <http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_11_1_Harmful_Chemicals_in_Grilled_Meats.asp> (7 October 2003).
Saturday, October 04, 2003
What is going on with me? Here's a synopsis by class:
Research & Writing - Wow, this class is boring. It's only one credit and all we've talked about is grammer and writing with "style." Some of the content has been useful, but most of the time I get the feeling that Dr. Smith isn't quite sure what to say next. We've written 2 one-page papers, corrected the grammer of a long list of sentences, and rewritten a paragraph. This Monday, the "research" part of the class starts so we are taking a field trip to the Library. I wish I could sleep in on Mondays...
Latin I - Latin is going very well. It's a lot to learn and sometimes confusing, but the language really does make sense once you understand the paradigms and memorize the vocabulary. Dr. Noe is a wonderful teacher and I always look forward to attending class. We've had 3 quizzes and an exam, and I've done pretty well. Actually, Latin is my best class right now when it comes to grades. The midterm is next Friday, so I know what Daniel and I will be doing on Thursday night. :)
Biology - This class has been very good. I really like Dr. Gruenke and I'm learning a ton of stuff. Most recently, we tracked the transfer of energy all the way from sunlight through photosynthesis, through aerobic respiration, to animal cells. It was fascinating. We had our second exam yesterday and I feel better about it than I did about the first. Bio lab has been fun also. We've used microscopes to see what's really in Lake Bob and last week we walked around campus gathering and identifying tree leaves. The Lab midterm is on Tuesday, and I really need to study for it...
History - This class is my focus this weekend, because the first exam is on Monday. My three quizzes have been OK, but I would like to do better. We just finished talking about the War for Continued Self-Government (a. k. a. American Revolution). I especially enjoyed learning about the importance of the Great Awakening. We have to write a critique of a book called Vindicating the Founders, which makes some good arguments defending the Founding Fathers against modern attacks by revisionists. I also have to write a research paper on John Jay, and I am looking forward to reading about him. Dr. Snyder is a good teacher, and this class rivels Biology in the amount of knowledge it is pouring into my head.
Theology - This class started slow, but has really started to get interesting the last week or so. Each student has to give a presentation on a particular doctrine, and we've started to touch on some controversial issues, like the age of the earth. Next week we will discuss God's providence, which I'm sure will be very interesting. We had our first exam already and I did pretty well. My report isn't due until December. It will be on the atonement and I wouldn't want to trade that topic with anyone. It's going to be a blast.
Logic - This is my favorite class right now. The homework is pretty easy, and the class time is very stimulating. We've learned the basics of streamlining and evaluating arguments and talked about how Christians should interact with culture. Next Thursday, one of the four assignments is due. I have to write an argumentative essay and I've chosen the thesis that meat is unhealthy. Here's my basic argument in standard form:
1) If the only nutritious element within a particular kind of food can be found in most other foods and a balanced diet excluding that kind of food provides the body with enough of the nutritious element, then that kind of food is nutritionally unnecessary.
2) The only nutritious element within meat, protein, can be found in most other foods.
3) A balanced diet excluding meat provides the body with enough protein.
Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
1) If a food often contains substances that harm the body and it is nutritionally unnecessary, then it is unhealthy.
2) Meat often contains substances that harm the body.
3) Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
Meat is unhealthy.
That's all of my classes and as you can see, I'm pretty busy. Amazingly, I've still found enough time to squeeze in some fun times with my friends. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I went with a group of 7 others to see the movie Luther. It was very enjoyable. The story was historically accurate yet very compelling. The acting was good as well. It's one weakness was the editing; there were a few glaring mistakes. I recommend it highly, if it's playing in a theatre near you (that sounds cliched). Last night we finished 24 Season One. It was an awesome last episode. Too bad I don't have Season Two... Today is Daniel's birthday, so we'll probably go out and do something tonight and then watch a movie. Now I will go study History...
Thursday, September 25, 2003
I was in DC last night at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. They held a special event honoring the life of Jonathan Edwards and the guest speaker was...John Piper! Probably about 20 or so PHC students went and it was wonderful. Dr. Piper gave a brief history of the life of Edwards and then expounded upon his own encounter with the God-glorifying vision in Edwards's theology. The conclusion was the central point in all of Piper's works: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. He gave five points of application, and here is what I wrote down:
1. To spread the delight of God is our solumn duty. Truth from God produces right and full affections. Our spiritual appitites should not be bound, rather they should be enflamed. The object of our delight is infinitely greater than our longings.
2. It is hypocracy to make much of God only because He makes much of us.
3. The gospel is clarified: God is made able to be enjoyed by us. He is the treasure that we seek.
4. Christ died in order that we might come into God's presence to enjoy Him.
5. Love is doing whatever possible to enthrall people with the ultimate satisfaction of their souls, namely God.
6. Heaven is eternally enjoying God and that which displays God.
His presentation was compelling and inspiring. I especially appreciated two other points he made:
1. We should not hinder the pursuit of intellectual knowledge of God in order to maintain a level of mystery in our worship. Rather, diving into the depths of God's truth will enliven and enrich both our ability to and enjoyment of worship.
2. Seeking to find pleasure in God alone is an ongoing struggle. We must fight to make Him central to our affections.
Needless to say, I had a wonderful evening. It was the first time since I came to PHC that I went into DC and on the way to and from, I could see the Capitol building and some of the monuments. I was excited to realize how close I live to our nation's capital!
School has been great. I had my first Latin exam yesterday and I think I did well. This afternoon is the first Theology exam, so I'll be studying all morning. The sermon on Jonathan Edwards last night was very timely and not just because of Theology class. In US History, our next topic of study is the Great Awakening. Very apropos, wouldn't you say?
My old laptop was found in the San Diego airport lost & found department. My brother had borrowed it this summer to vacation in SD and apparently left it in the food court at the airport. It's been sitting in lost & found for something like 3 months, and they finally looked at the tag and called my house. Pretty weird.
This weekend I might be helping at the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign and will probably start working on some of the papers that are due in the next month or so. I'm also looking forward to reading Right Behind and Supergeddon, parodies of the Left Behind series written by Nathan Wilson. They are apparently hilarious. Thanks for visiting and reading!
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Last Monday night, I played ultimate frisbee with my wing against another wing. We lost, but it was a close game. I am really out of shape and after playing non-stop for about an hour I was really worn out. The next day I was fine, but Tuesday evening my body decided to rebel. Clogged sinuses, overall weakness, and a fever came over me which made the next few days miserable. My need for rest overrode my need to study, so I got a little behind. I'm still trying to catch up and still recovering.
Meanwhile, the September 11 anniversary rolled around and the college had a classy memorial service. It included a montage of news footage, speeches by a Congressman and a Pentagon official, patriotic somber music, and candlelight. I was moved to tears and reminded of that dark day two years ago.
I got my Latin and Biology quiz results back and was happy with my work. I had a quiz in History on Friday that occupied much of my study time on Thursday. It went pretty well; I think I missed one or two questions. Yesterday I worked mainly on Biology, studying for the exam tomorrow. It it proported to be the hardest Bio exam of the semester, and I'm not surprised considering the amount of information we are required to know.
Friday and Saturday night, we watched the CleanFilms version of Gladiator. It was a great film, although the edited DVD was altered to the point that I could discern a loss in quality. I decided to buy the DVD set for the first season of 24, and it arrived late last week. I'm introducing my roommates to this awesome show and probably watching the first episode tonight. I can't wait until season three starts (Oct. 28), it will be a great birthday present I'm sure.
Church was good this afternoon. Pastor Butterfield preached on Joseph out of Genesis 37 and showed how he was a picture of Christ. The message was to forgive others and rejoice when we encounger suffering for righteousness.
I should go get ready for AWANA this evening. I just realized that I forgot to read the required books for Research & Writing which is at 8am tomorrow morning. Ooops...I guess I'll have to get up early and skim.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
School has been going very well. I have been learning a lot, especially in Latin and Biology. History has been good as well. Last night, I went over to the house of my advisor, Dr. Gruenke, with her other advisees for dinner. We had some good conversations. I went to church this afternoon at the Reformed Presbyterian church again. The message was on the importance of evangelism. It was encouraging as well as challenging. This evening I worked at AWANA with 8-9 year old boys. I'm looking forward to getting to know the guys better and helping them to grow.
I signed up for a free trial with CleanFilms.com, an online DVD subscription service which edits objectionable content out of films. I am looking forward to seeing some movies I've always wanted to see, but didn't because of a scene or two that I didn't want to see.
Now, I need to get to bed early because I have an 8:00 class tomorrow and a Biology quiz to study for in the morning. Good night. :)
Monday, September 01, 2003
Knowledge was pouring into me like a flood last week, but this weekend has been filled with much relaxing. Studies have kept me pretty busy although I recognize that the pace will gradually increase as the semester rolls along. I am enjoying my classes, especially Biology, Theology, and Logic. Latin has been a challenge and somewhat tedious but I think I'm beginning to understand its beauty and value a bit more. History is going to be very interesting as we take apart the origin and founding of America.
Life outside of school is wonderful also. The weather is nice and it rains quite often. My roommates and I are getting along fine and I'm slowly getting to know everyone else. Most of my free time is spent either discussing things with my roommates or watching movies. We just finished watching Star Trek IV, my first real exposure to Star Trek. It was pretty good. I have been taking a nap after lunch during school days and sleeping in on weekends, so I haven't experienced the infamous lack of sleep at PHC as of yet.
I went to a new church yesterday, called Purcellville Reformed Presbyterian. It is certainly different than what I'm used to, but was very good. The worship was simply psalms sung to hymn-like tunes without instrumental accompaniment. What I liked most was the solid expository preaching that delved deep into doctrine while highlighting life application. After the service at 12:30 pm, the attenders all ate lunch together and I got a chance to discuss reformed theology for a bit. Later, I went to the pastor's house where they started a dramatic reading of Pilgrim's Progress. I ate dinner there also. It was very enjoyable and I am thinking seriously of attending this church regularly.
Off to take a walk in the night and possibly in the rain...
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I am sitting at my new desk, just hanging out before Chapel at 9:30. Yesterday was the first day of class. It started with my only 8 o-clock class in the week, Research & Writing. Like most of the classes on the first day, it was mostly introduction, but that is to be expected I suppose. We were given a short essay assignment and informed that we will be doing a research paper this semester. Chapel was at 10 and everyone dressed formally. Dr. Farris spoke on the Kingdom of God and how much of a priority it was to Christ. He sounded nearly amillenial for a bit, until he mentioned the physical kingdom that's to come. Next was Latin class at 11. Dr. Noe went over the syllabus and we started to practice some pronunciation. This will definately be one of my toughest classes, but challenges are good. Biology was next, another class I'm not looking forward to. However, Dr. Gruenke is a great professor. She seems very technologically minded because of all the material she has posted on the course website. Then I ate lunch, and it was Mexican! Yes! I called home after lunch and took a nap. At 3, I went to History of the US I with Dr. Snyder. It was very short because all we did was go over the syllabus briefly and then take an assessment test. I came back to my desk and studied Latin for a bit. Then we went to dinner. Oh, I want to mention that the cooks are very nice about having something for those of us who don't eat meat (I think there are 3 of us). Thus, the meals have been very good. Daniel and I took a walk after dinner and then I studied Latin until I went to bed around 10.
This morning I studied Biology after QT and Breakfast. I am really enjoying life here, and looking forward to Theology and Logic this afternoon. Now, off to Chapel...
Friday, August 22, 2003
I'm here! I just got my computer set up to get online through the PHC network. It works great. Everything is going very well. I've completed unpacking and setting up my desk.
Galen Thorp, the RA for my wing, led a short Bible study for those of us here last night. It was very encouraging and inspiring. This morning we had chapel and then computer orientation. After lunch we took the math proficiency exam, which I could not complete (as expected). This afternoon I have library orientation and academic orientation.
There's so much that I could say right now. I'm trying to get used to living here, but so far it is wonderful. The weather is a bit warm, however, and very humid. :( So much for leaving the heat... Anyway, my roommates are great; everyone I've met has been great. The food is OK because they have enough variety for me to find something I like. So I'm trying to prepare myself for school starting Monday. But I'm really looking forward to this semester.
Monday, August 18, 2003
It started on Thursday. My boss took our team out to lunch in honor of my leaving. I was hired that afternoon as a contractor to support our software online while at school. It is a great deal, and I'm very thankful that my relationship with AOP will continue. Friday afternoon the product development department hosted a party to thank me for my work and to say goodbye. They all bought me a PHC jacket, which will be very useful this winter, I'm sure.
Saturday morning I got a haircut. Then, in the afternoon, we went to my sister Kelley's house for my farewell party. A few of my friends, my siblings and their spouses, and my nieces and nephews spent the afternoon and evening swimming, talking, and eating together. It was an enjoyable and relaxing time.
Yesterday morning, I worked at the church library for the last time, at least for a while. At Family Bible Class, the fathers prayed for me, which was a great blessing. They also gave me the book The Purpose Driven Life, a book I've wanted to read for a while. Later that afternoon, I met with my discipleship group and they prayed for me as well. It's been a weekend of goodbyes.
This morning I went to the MVD and got my driver's license, finally. I had to take the written test, and the driving test. They had me parallel park...on the left side! It was a little different than I had practiced. But I passed. A little later, my mom and I went to a suit shop and I picked out a three-piece navy suit. Dad and mom bought it for me as a going-away/birthday present. It is a good and versatile suit.
Tomorrow is packing...
Friday, August 08, 2003
It's been over a week, so I suppose I should post something. Not much is going on right now. Dad and I are alone at home because Naomi and Mom are at the TeenPact National Convention. My nephew's birthday party is tonight, and tomorrow we're helping my sister move.
At work, we are rebuilding the AuthorTool, and it's a lot more WYSIWYG than the one I built a year ago. Much more solid code, too. I only have 5 more working days left; next Friday is my last day. Dad got a new job at Insight, he's now a "Processor of Special Pricing." I think it has something to do with accounting and getting customers the lowest price possible.
I finished reading Till We Have Faces and agree with Luz, it is amazing. I also read The Silent Planet and Perelandra, the first two books in Lewis's space trilogy. I'm in the middle of That Hideous Strength (the third) and have enjoyed these stories very much.
I continue to look forward to PHC and am starting to seriously think about what I should pack. I'm attempting to prepare myself for the impending academic rigor. I really want to establish good study habits this first semester, and be excellent in all that I do.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Paz referred me to a site the other day about which I would like to make some comments. The site is Dial-the-Truth Ministries. When I first saw the URL - AV1611.org, and read the top of the homepage, I knew that I would have problems with the site. You see, this site does not stand on the sole authority of the Bible. No, it stands "on the sole authority of the King James Bible (AV 1611)." In short, this "King James Only" view is contrary to both history and logic. For more info, see this article and this site. Despite this erroneous view, I was (and still am) willing to consider their writings on other topics when the arguments stand alone.
What interested me most about the site was their wholesale and rigorous attack on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). In their article Bible Guidelines for Christian Music, they claim that at least 95% of CCM does not "pass [Biblical] guidelines." While they spend a lot of time attacking the content of CCM based upon their apparant belief that all music should be explicitly Christian worship music, I was more interested in their attack on the musical form of CCM or, as they put it, "rock music." They define "rock music" as music in which "the rhythm or the beat literally takes over the music" or "music in which the bass drum carries the melody." Since scripture speaks of making "melody" when it talks about music, they argue that melody should dominate. And since CCM often emphasizes the rhythm over the melody, it is therefore "noise" not music. Next, they point out that even though the drum was a common instrument in Biblical times (a fact they never really prove but I'm willing to accept), the drum is never mentioned in the Bible. So, they conclude, "one simple guideline for Christian music is NO DRUMS!"
Of course, I fundamentally disagree with their complete rejection of rock music. I certainly think that this style can be misused, but when performed skillfully it can reflect God's beauty in form and therefore be glorifying to God. And just because drums are not mentioned in the Bible doesn't mean they shouldn't be used. Last time I checked, tamborines don't contribute much to the melody, but instead are primarily rhythmic instruments just like drums. I think the key error in their thinking on musical form is their contention that God "refers to music as - MELODY." While the word "melody" does appear in the KJV, I looked up the original Hebrew and Greek words and they don't really mean the primary line of notes. The word translated melody in Eph 5:19 for example, actually means "to pluck off, to pull out" or "to cause to vibrate by touching" clearly referring to stringed instruments. If this word was meant to specifically require a particular music style, wouldn't that mean we should only use stringed instruments? Too bad all you flute, clarinet, and trumpet players! Obviously, by using the Greek word "psallo" when advocating the use of music in worship, the Apostle Paul did not mean to prescribe a particular style or particular instruments in that music. Rather, he was using what was probably the common word for "music" at the time. Is a fugue less "Christian" because it emphasizes the harmony of two or more melodic lines interwoven together? Certainly not. Musical style is important, but it's hard to make a case for the inherent godliness of one over the other.
In the past, I have leaned towards the view that rock music (especially harder forms of rock such as heavy metal) is inherently flawed, and am still not convinced that it cannot damage the brain. However, I do not see a biblical reason to reject it entirely and I recognize a bias in my thinking caused by my general distaste for it.
I do enjoy much of CCM, on the other hand, and believe that whether it is explicitly worshipping God or just communicating truth, music can glorify God. I do not listen to a lot of music done by non-Christians, however I do not discount their ability to reflect God's truth and His beauty even while personally rejecting Him. I acknowledge that if skillfully done, a non-Christian musician could theoretically produce music that is more glorifying to God in it's form than the mediocre music of a Christian who uses all the right words.
There seems to me to be two sides to the issue. On the one hand, you have the work of the musician and whether it glorifies God. On the other hand, you have the heart of the listener and whether it glorifies God. Both are important, but I'm more concerned with the latter right now. I want to be a consumer of good art, but even if I listen to mediocre stuff I can glorify God with my heart. Certainly, both should be emphasized.
Anyway, I found the Dial-the-Truth Ministries site to be full of straw-man arguments, hasty generalizations, context-ignoring (there has to be a better way to say that), and many other logical fallacies. Furthermore, the constant use of capitalizations, exclaimation points, and large colorful fonts hurt my eyes. It did get me thinking about music, however, and I don't expect this posting to be my last on this topic.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Riding a Blessing
I do not hide
that the bus I ride
to work each day
and in a real way
though I have to pay
I'd like to say
that riding the bus
is a blessing because
while the driver is leading
I can be reading
a really good book
or I can look
out the window and stare
at what I see there.
So when I must wait
for a bus that is late
or when as we go
our movement feels slow,
I'll remember my book
and the glance that I took
at the beautiful sky
as I thought with a sigh,
"How blessed am I
by the Lord Most High!"
Monday, July 21, 2003
Good morning. It is a cloudy day today. Perhaps we will get some rain soon. That would be good. I am spending most of my time at home reading all the C. S. Lewis I can find. I finished The Silent Planet and am nearly through Till We Have Faces. They are delightfully imaginative and profound as expected. I am also reading Boy Meets Girl by Josh Harris. I have always appreciated his writing and the insights and stories in the book have been helpful as I continue to ponder what it means to love. I especially enjoyed his chapter on being a man.
Yesterday I viewed two of the latest Hollywood productions. First, I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Though the special effects were pretty good, that’s about all that was. The character development was weak and the worldview was pantheistic. But the worst part of all was the destruction of the story of Jekyll and Hyde. By creating a good heart in Mr. Hyde, the writers turned him into a Frankenstein. AAAAH! Overall the movie was unbelievable and dull.
The second film I saw was Pirates of the Caribbean. Now it was definitely entertaining. The characters were interesting, and the humor enjoyable. I liked the sword-fight scenes as well. But the movie was ruined by a terrible message at the end. I suspected throughout that they would idolize the "good" pirate, but kept hoping that the story would shift. Unfortunately, the movie mocked absolute morality and order while upholding the use of evil in doing good (the ends justify the means).
PHC is less than a month away. My excitement and anticipation is growing, along with a level of anxiety. It is something I have looked forward to for so long, and I trust that God will change me the moment I arrive even as he is already changing me now. I will need His help in all areas of my life at college and I pray that I would learn to serve him humbly and love others truly.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God's will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness... We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it." - from The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
Read that quote again. And again. And again. And again. I did last night....and God used it to change my mind.
Why did it affect me? Because it hit me square in the face. In the name of safety, I myself have wrapped my heart carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoided entanglements, and locked it up. It has not been broken. But it has begun to change. It has started to become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. Thankfully, I don't think I've reached that point, and I am confident that God can undo the damage I have done.
What am I talking about exactly? When I was about 13, I was introduced to the teachings of a man named Jonathan Lindvall. I listened to his tapes and attended one of his seminars. One of the primary beliefs I accepted from his teaching was that I should avoid and suppress romantic emotions before I make a lifelong commitment with my future wife. Notice that the idea was not that romantic emotions should be understood and controlled, but rather avoided and suppressed. My rationale behind this idea was threefold:
Saving romantic feelings until after commitment would...
1. Make me emotionally pure.
2. Save me (and any women who I would love) from the feelings from the pain and heartbreak of rejection/separation.
3. Ensure that my decision of who to marry would not be based on feelings.
These are ideas that I firmly believed were both reasonable and biblical, until a couple of days ago. Early Monday morning, I got an e-mail from Robin Phillips. He wrote because he saw my website and was interested in my belief in betrothal. Robin is the son of famed Christian author Michael Phillips, whose book on courship/betrothal Best Friends for Life was read and enjoyed by my family a couple of years ago. He directed me to his website, which I have spent the last couple of days reading. On it, he critiques the ideas behind Lindvall-esque betrothal. At first, I dismissed most of his arguments because they were clearly affected by his strong disagreement with both Lindvall and his parents on the issue of parental authority (see his testimony). However, his points about the weakness of Lindvall's biblical argumentation in support of betrothal were very convincing.
As of yesterday, I was still convinced of the basic premise behind betrothal, and still agreed with the three points made above. I was working on writing a response to the arguments Robin made in his articles, and began to critically analyze my own arguments on the matter.
First is the idea of emotional purity. Where does this idea come from? It's not biblical, at least not that I can think of. And when I really thought it through, all it meant was having emotions that hadn't been broken. So it was just an extension of point number two.
Secondly I thought about the idea that the pain and heartbreak of broken relationships should be avoided. Though it seems to make sense at first, especially to the American "safety and security" mindset, it is really a lie. And I recognized the lie when I read Lewis's words in the quote above: "If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one...The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation." Tragedy, pain, brokenness, can all result from giving your heart to someone that isn't fully committed to you. But THAT'S OK! "We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."
This was the clincher for me. The concept was introduced to me when I read Desiring God by John Piper a year ago, that the definition of love was delighting in the delight of another. Dell Cook taught this same concept at WVA AZ this year. I guess what I never fully believed about this concept was the truth that real love always involves emotions. And therefore love without emotions is not real love at all. I realized last night that avoiding or suppressing my emotions is never a good idea, because they are an integral part of why God made me.
So I was left with point number three. The fear here is that if emotions are part of a relationship prior to commitment, then the decision to get married will be adversely affected by the presence of those emotions. In other words, emotions can cloud our thinking. Responding to this argument, Robin's section in his book called "Is Love Blind?" points out that "love on the deepest level [is] love that sees deeply to the intrinsic person." He quotes Peter Kreeft who stated "[Love] is the supreme vision, the supreme wisdom, the supreme enlightenment. God is love, and God is not blind; therefore, love is not blind. When we say 'love is blind', we may be thinking of selfish love, or animal love, or puppy love. That may be blind. But agape love is not blind." The emotion-filled love that should precede commitment is not irrational, as long as it's true.
Additionally, there is the concern that if a couple's relationship is based on emotions, then when the emotions are lost, the relationship will be abandoned. But it is a false dichotomy to say that a relationship is either based on commitment or emotions. Why can't it be both? Aren't married people supposed to cultivate and share deep emotions for one another? And can they not, at the same time, be fully committed to one another? Sure there is the danger that emotions will fade and the relationship will lose its vitality. But that doesn't mean we should abandon emotions entirely! The answer to infidelity is not subtracting emotion, but rather adding commitment to the emotion.
Let me be clear. Neither I nor Robin advocate recreational dating. That is, I still believe it to be extremely unwise to approach relationships with the opposite sex with a cavalier, selfish, and "anything goes" attitude. Young people who are not seriously seeking to get married should focus on developing their relationship with Christ and serving both their brothers and sisters in love. I have still "kissed dating goodbye," to borrow the saying.
What has changed is that the process by which I choose my wife will no longer be devoid of emotion. It will be full of emotion, and risks will be taken for the sake of love. However the change of my mind extends beyond my view of pre-marital romance, into my view of love in general. It's one thing to intellectually assent to the concept of delighting in another's delight. But to believe it deep down and act upon that belief is a completely different thing. Though I've still got a long way to go, I think that God has started unlocking my heart, and I trust that He will redeem the years I've spent trying to keep it intact. I pray that God would help me to "throw away all defensive armor" and that He would make me willing to have my heart broken. May my love be dangerously passionate!
Thank you Robin for writing from your heart the things that God has taught you. Thank you God for transforming my mind and continually conforming me to the image of Your Son.
Friday, July 04, 2003
Thursday, June 26, 2003
This Lawrence v. Texas decision (pdf of majority opinion) has got to be one of the worst in US Constitutional history. I'd say it's up there with Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade. Effectively, the court decided that laws based purely on moral principles are irrational and therefore invalid. So Santorum was right. Not surprising. As Scalia pointed out in his blistering dissent, the majority's decision is completely based on support for the homosexual agenda and not based on any good reasoning or constitutional jurisprudence. What a sad day it is.
The opinion lacks even a hint of original intent analysis, at least that I can see. And the worst part is that only three justices dissented. Bush is going to have to successfully appoint two good judges to the bench before the country will be released from the tyrannical whims of the majority. Wow, is next year's election important!
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Part 3 - Northern Arizona University
After camp was over on Friday the 13th, we packed up the vans. Half of us headed west while the other half went east. Randy and Bill drove the two vans going west and we made it to Amarillo by about midnight. We stayed in a motel that night which had a fairly good continental breakfast in the morning. We drove all day Saturday and made it to NAU late that evening. Everyone got settled in the dorms and went straight to bed.
Sunday morning the 15th, we had a church service and then I helped set up the meeting room. During registration in the afternoon, I directed traffic to the guys and girls dorms. Sunday evening I met with the guys in my small group, who were 13 and 14 years old. Unfortunately, by Sunday night I was feeling pretty badly. I had major sinus pressure and a cough which I'm still getting over right now. Despite my health, however, the Arizona camp went very well. I played a lot of Mafia during free time and enjoyed discussions with the guys in my small group. Witnessing on Wednesday was another miraculous experience for the camp. God saved at least 5 or 6 people, using the kids to communicate the message. Two campers were saved as well! A good time was had by all throughout the week. A highlight for me was when the staff beat the students in ultimate frisbee. I'm glad I felt good enough to play. I think that the guys in my small group were impacted by the Lord and will apply what they learned to some extent. That is my prayer. Most of them are coming back next year, so I look forward to then.
My heart is still, in a sense, at WVA. It was difficult to leave the staff last Friday, and when I staff next year I definitely want to do the whole summer. What I came away with was the experience of leading a small group, a better understanding of what it means to think God's thoughts after Him, and a desire to maintain an attitude of gratitude to God in all that I do. May these and other nuggets of wisdom I received not be lost or wasted.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Part 2 - Baylor University
Monday night the 2nd, Staff Training began. Throughout that week we 40 or so staff members were trained in the WVA curriculum, youth protection, witnessing, how to lead a small group, and ultimate frisbee. :) We also did a lot of packing/inventory work for the products that WVA sells. The highlight of the week for me, and probably for most of the staff was the Galatians study each night. As Brandon led us through the book, he beautifully explained how it was relevant to us today. He showed us how to communicate the essence of the gospel, which is the primary message WVA tries to spread. It was very enlightening and encouraging. Staff training as a whole was a successful week of gearing up for camp and getting to know each other.
On Sunday the 8th, 200 students from all over (mostly) Texas arrived at Baylor for camp. During registration, I assisted with luggage at the girls' dorm. At about 5, everyone got together and after the opening competition, the students split up into small groups. I co-lead a group of 15/16 year old guys with another staff member named Rick. The guys in our group were each unique but they all sought to be godly men and grew during the week. As staff, one of our primary goals was to get to know the guys by hanging out with them during free time. So I spent a lot of time playing billiards and bowling with the guys. It was fu...joyful. ;) Rick led the small group times in the evenings in which the guys shared stories from their lives and discussed Biblical manhood. The lectures by Bill Jack, Jeff Baldwin, Randy Sims, and Mike Schutt were dynamite as always. On Wednesday, the kids went witnessing and I ended up talking with a liberal Vietnam veteran for around 30 minutes. It was a somewhat depressing, but interesting conversation. God did save a few people on campus through the witnessing efforts of the students and Wednesday evening one of the campers trusted Christ. PTL! The food at Baylor was fairly good; I ate a lot of bean tacos, pizza, and pasta. The campus at Baylor was beautiful and I especially enjoyed the "echo chamber" and the bears.
To be continued...
Monday, June 23, 2003
For the last three weeks I have been away from work, away from home, away from the internet. But now I'm back, so I'd like to tell you where I've been and what I've been doing.
The short story:
I went to Worldview Academy Staff Training, staffed the Baylor camp, and staffed the NAU camp.
The long story:
On Sunday June 1st, I took a flight from Phoenix to San Antonio along with Andrea Lambros. It was a pretty short trip and I didn't do much on the plane. After we arrived and got our luggage, we met Liv Booth, Brandon's wife. She took us to the curb. Brandon drove up with a 15-passenger van and we all got in. We drove from San Antonio to New Braunfels and I saw signs for Boerne which was exciting after studying the Boerne v. Flores case in ConLaw. We got to the home of Randy Sims and I met their family, along with some other staff members that had come in early. Randy took us all on a tour of New Braunfels and we saw the new WVA headquarters as well as Schlitterbahn. As an aside, I just went to http://www.schlitterbahn.com/ and I am sure that I see nearly all of Randy Sims's family on the main homepage picture. Anyway, we got drinks at Sonic and went back to the Sims home. I was the only male staff member there so far, so I hung out with Brian and Travis for the rest of the afternoon. Mrs. Sims prepared a delicious meal of lasagna for all of us and we had a great time playing silly games in the back yard. Some of the girls and the Sims kids went swimming in the neighborhood pool, while the rest of us just watched and talked. Around 9pm, Randy, Brian, and I drove back to San Antonio and picked up Ben Applewhite at the airport. When we got back to the Sims home, the girls were watching "First Knight" so we saw the end. I slept in Travis's room that night and early Monday morning (like 2am) the crew from Oregon State came in.
I woke up and after eating a good breakfast (thanks to Mrs. Sims), I woke up the other guys. Needless to say, they were not ready to get up. But we loaded up two vans around 9 and drove over to the Sims's church. For most of the morning, I went with a crew to clean one of the vans inside and out and get its oil changed. We came back to the church and ate pizza for lunch. A few other staff members from Texas had arrived and it was about 1pm when we prayed together and left for Waco. It was a pretty long drive, but sometime Monday evening we drove into Baylor University in Waco, TX, my home for the next two weeks. We ate dinner at Pizza Hut that night and the rest of the staff met us there (they had flown into Dallas). We all got to know each other and checked into the Alexander dormatory.
To be continued...
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
I had an enjoyable long weekend. Saturday night we had a Teenpact alumni party, Sunday afternoon I went to my 1yo niece's birthday party, and yesterday was my brother-in-law's birthday party. Now it's back to work...and studying for my ConLaw final this weekend...and looking forward to Texas on Sunday...:)
Friday, May 23, 2003
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3
What are these commandments? Do they include the moral law in the Old Testament (Ten Commandments)? Or are they limited to "new covenant" laws?
The commandments we should keep are the totality of God's Law, in both the Old Testament and the New. Matthew 5:18 - "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Yes, Christ fulfilled the symbolic portions of the law and the prophets. But the principles of morality and justice found in the Law cannot be brushed aside because we live in the "age of grace." Was grace nonexistant before Christ? Surely not. Salvation has always been by grace through faith. But what is salvation if it is not the forgiveness of sin? And what is sin if the Law no longer applies?
The Law does apply today and should be kept, but Christians will continue to violate God's Law in this life. Thanks be to God that our lawless acts are forgiven by Christ! Only by His grace can we glorify Him by forsaking sin and growing in love. That's gospel-driven sanctification. That's the Christian life.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Memorizing: Titus 1:5-7 "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,"
Monday, May 19, 2003
I got a package from PHC this weekend which included the "technology options" that they are requiring. Basically, I need a new computer. Now the question is whether I should get one through the college, or buy one from my brother or Dad (they work at Insight.com). The Dell computers PHC is selling are more expensive than the ones Insight has, but if I buy through PHC, they will support the computer for four years. I think I'll take my chances with the support, especially since my brother is offering me a really good deal on a really nice laptop. I'm excited about getting a new machine.
Memorizing: Titus 1:1-4 "Paul, a servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Hey all you AIM and MSN Messenger users - Have you ever wanted to keep a log of your chats? Yes? You need to download these two programs:
For AOL Instant Messenger: DeadAIM
For MSN Messenger: MSGPlus
Both of these work great on the newest versions of the IM programs and include lots of great features besides logging. Oh, and here's the best part: They're FREE! OK, you have to give the DeadAIM guy $1.50...big deal.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
For some reason, I've been finding myself forgetting things lately. Just this morning, I got off the bus at Intel and forgot to take my scooter. (That's the last time I'm setting the scooter behind the back of the chair.) I realized that I had forgotten it right as the bus pulled away, so I ran after it. Even though I stayed right behind it through the Intel parking lot and waved my arms whenever I could see the rear-view mirror, for some reason the driver didn't see me. I guess he wasn't looking for a well-dressed guy with a backpack sprinting behind his bus and waving his arms. Anyway, about halfway to Chandler Blvd, my lungs started reminding me that I am out of shape. But I finally made it, huffing and puffing up to the side door of the bus as he waited at the red light. He let me on and I got my scooter. My heart is still pounding and my lungs are still aching 45 minutes later...
I guess I need the "sound mind" of Titus 2:12 and the "bodily training" which is of "some value" in 1 Timothy 4:8.
Monday, May 12, 2003
I had a good weekend. Saturday night was a Worldview Academy pre-camp get together and I was encouraged by the quality and quantity of kids coming to the camp at NAU in June.
Yesterday, Naomi and I did our best to make Mom's day special. She said it was a great day, so we accomplished our goal. I am so thankful for her. She sacrificed 20 years of her life to raise, care for, teach, and pray for me. What a blessing!
Friday, May 09, 2003
What's been going on -
Sadly, I was released from jury duty on Wednesday. It turned out to be a blessing, however, since Dr. Farris was visiting AOP and I was able to have lunch with him. He spoke at the first annual Alpha Omega Academy graduation, which I attended and enjoyed. Last night, I went to the symphony and heard both Mozart's Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter" and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emporer." The piano was played by Orion Weiss. It was beautiful.
"I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased"
- King David on worshipping the LORD. (2 Samuel 6:22)
A recognition of sin leads to brokenness and guilt before God.
Then the cross takes away the sin and guilt producing gratitude overflowing into worship.
God is glorified when we delight in Him, so worship is the pursuit of the highest pleasure.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Confession time. I've noticed a disturbing thought pattern in my head lately. It's bad and it goes like this: Wow...good for me...I just did something hard that I didn't really want to do but had to...I'm so good...I deserve a break...No, more than a break...I deserve an reward. What's so bad is that the "reward" usually ends up involving sinful behavior. Not good. Very bad.
God, I need Your help. I pray that I would be convicted and that I would take my guilt to the cross. Remind me of the truth of the gospel daily.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Attention all digitally-oriented Christians: This is a call for a higher standard in the area of copyright infringement. Just because the internet has made it really easy to steal music, movies, and software, doesn't make stealing right. I confess openly that I have given into this temptation in the past, but not anymore. Napster has been replaced by Kazaa, but using these tools the way MOST people use them is still illegal and still wrong. We must have the wisdom to discern between "fair use" and taking what's not our own.
I love the technology of digital media, but it will not survive if it continues to be misused. But much more important than the future of the technology, is our witness for Christ and the state of our hearts. What are non-Christians to think when we violate both the law and our consciences by "sharing" media? What does God think?
Saturday, May 03, 2003
I wish I was more creative. I think I will be reading a lot of high-quality fiction this summer, to increase my imaginative thought-processes. Suggestions from anyone?
The Matrix: Reloaded is coming out in a couple of weeks, and though I would love to see it I probably won't because if the MPAA rates it R for "some sexuality" there's probably some stuff in it that I shouldn't put before my eyes. Hopefully scenes can be skipped when the DVD comes out...But perhaps I can still enjoy the movie's success, financially that is. Yesterday I purchased some stock in IMAX. I expect the company to do well because they will be showing the Matrix sequels in the huge-screen theatres, along with some big NASCAR movie coming next year. So everyone go out and see IMAX movies! Thanks.
A question that's been on my mind: Does the Great Commission mandate the extension of Christ's dominion into all areas of life, or is it merely a matter of spiritual re-birth?
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
I've been having deja vu lately...perhaps there's a glitch in the...never mind. The weird thing is that I don't think I really remembered the situation, it just seemed that way. It's like my short-term memory is playing tricks on my mind...did I say that out loud?
On a completely different note...Where is the line between freedom in Christ within the bounds of His moral law, and living God's ideal? When making decisions in life, should our inquiry as Christians end at the moral law? Or should we seek a higher standard? What is that standard? Who determines it? How is it discovered? Questions to ponder...
A good article on the subject: Recovering the Art of Christian Prudence
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Last night I went to an CAP event with my family which featured Craig and Janet Parshall. Mrs. Parshall gave an inspiring speech about impacting culture by speaking the truth in love. It was very good. Mr. Parshall, who I found out is a Christian lawyer, spoke about the crisis in the Middle East. It was very interesting to hear about the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the rumors circling about Bush's plan for a Palestinian state which is expected to be revealed very soon. Parshall, an obvious dispensationalist, was concerned about the U. S. State department's lack of support for Israel. Though it would be easy for me to dismiss his statements because he obviously believed that it was all a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that the Rapture was near, I agree with supporting of Israel as a representative government of freedom among all the Islamic dictatorships in that region. Clearly, the Jewish worldview is superior to Islam when it comes to culture and politics. However, I do not believe that physical Israel has a God-given right to the land, because the land promises were fulfilled way back in the book of Joshua (21:43-45). And physical Israel has no real future in Biblical prophecy, because God rejected the nation forever in 70 AD.
My question regarding the Middle East crisis is: What is the best way to establish freedom in the Arab states, like Iraq, where the people are used to bondage? Will the people of Iraq really elect representatives that will uphold freedom of religion, speech, and press when given the chance? Somehow I doubt it. I guess I'll have to trust this nation's leadership for now. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn when it comes to foreign policy.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
In view of the love of God and joy of worshipping Him, I am amazed at the presence of sin in my life. How is it that I seek pleasure in earthly things when the only true pleasure is found in Him? Why do I spurn His grace and abuse the freedom He has given me? Oh, the depth of my depravity...
Father, convict me to the point of sorrow over my sin. Thank you for conquering sin through the death of Your Son. Give me the grace to daily reorient my thoughts and actions towards what is best. Help me to repent. Humble me and make me a servant.
Thanks be to God for His great and abiding mercy! By His grace I can have real life, an adventurous life of transformation.
Monday, April 21, 2003
My Easter weekend was relaxing and enjoyable. Saturday afternoon and evening, we had all of the family over for games, hunting for eggs, and watching the Suns WIN! Sunday morning was church, of course. The music was very good because the choir was so huge (90 people or so). The message on the other hand...
I am seriously concerned about the "gospel" Pastor Jones preached. He focused on the hope that the resurrection of Christ gives us. He spoke about the hope of heaven and pointed out that Christians can use this hope to cope with the problems of this world. Then he used that point to motivate people to believe in Christ. While I agree that hope is a blessing of Christianity I hardly think it is the Biblical gospel. Conspicuously absent from the message was any conviction of sin through the preaching of the Law. Like Luz said, sinners need to be told that they are sinners. The only mention of sin was in the closing "sinner's prayer" that Pastor Jones led...not quite the emphasis on sin I would expect in a gospel message. I will be praying for the elders and pastors and will probably e-mail Pastor Jones to express my thoughts and see if I misunderstood what he was saying.
Friday, April 18, 2003
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
I want to comment on another topic before everyone thinks all I ever write about is eschatology.
Last night my dad and I went to a meeting for the Family Bible Class (FBC). The FBC is a Sunday school class at Grace Community Church (the church I've attended my entire life) where families worship together on Sunday mornings. The teaching is done by a rotation of fathers with that gift.
Anyway, I am excited about a new teaching series that FBC is starting. It's called "How can God love _____ through me?" Each week a new non-Christian religion or cult will be inserted in the blank. So one week the topic will be "How can God love muslims through me?" And another week "How can God love atheists/humanists through me?" etc. While a general overview of the particular religion/cult will be taught, the focus will be on methods of evangelism.
I am looking forward to this series because of my personal interest in apologetics/evangelism and worldviews. I hope that we learn not only how to defend our faith better but also how to challenge the beliefs of non-Christians in a loving way. Most of all I hope that we will be inspired and emboldened to get out there and engage people in conversations.
After rereading Matthew 24 and the interpretation of it by Russell in the above link, I realized that Engelsma's argument is against a straw man, at least in regards to my view. Engelsma argues against Kik's interpretation and specifically attacks the hard line Kik draws at verse 34 between what is fullfilled and what is still to come. My understanding, like Russell, is that there is a continuance of thought throughout the chapter and that throughout it all, Christ was speaking of pre-AD 70 events. Once I reaffirmed this, Engelsma's argument blows up in smoke in my mind. All of his points are either circular logic or straw-man arguments, at least in my mind.
So, what does this mean? It means that I am once again a dedicated believer in partial preterism. And it is going to take something better than Engelsma's article to convince me otherwise. Jesus words are so clear, so it's difficult for me to conceive of a rational argument against preterism.
I have yet to be convinced of postmillennialism however. To theonomy, I say probably, to reconstruction, maybe. As I keep saying, more study is required.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Well, I found it. I've been looking for a couple of weeks for a comprehensive and free online article which refutes postmillennialism from an amillennialist perspective. The two views (postmil and amil) have been of interest to me ever since I realized that inserting thousand-year gaps of time into the biblical prophetic timetable in order to support a wooden literal interpretation of apocalyptic literature (dispensational premillenialism) is not a good hermaneutic.
Up until this evening, I have been a dedicated believer in partial preterism, but after reading relavent parts of the page linked above, I'm not so sure about Matthew 24 anymore. And I've always had doubts about the postmillenial promises of world domination by Christians. Clearly, the postmillenial optimism is undergirded by the partial preterist interpretation of Matthew 24. If the tribulation was over and done with in AD 70, most of the gloom and doom passages in the New Testament can be explained away. But if Jesus was really using AD 70 as a picture of his future coming, much of the trials and tribulations predicted can be expected today.
The main problem I have with amillennialism is that it seems to propogate the same sacred-secular dichotomy that is common among evangelicals today. Christ's kingdom is spiritual, so His Word only applies to spiritual things in the here and now? I don't think that this is exactly the amil position, however I'm having trouble squaring my presuppositionalism (assumption of an all-encompassing Christian worldview is critical) with the limited nature of Christ's kingdom in the amil position. I need to keep reading and studying.
Can I be a theonomist amillennialist?
Thank you Lord for the time to study these things. May I know You better because of it. Remind me to rely upon Your Word as the final source of truth. Give me wisdom to rightly divide your Word. And, especially this week, help me to focus on the central point of all history: the death and resurrection of Your Son. Thank you for loving me that much.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
What does the Great Commission mean? Specifically, what do the words "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew 28:19 mean?
Do they mean that we are to take all the people that become Christians after we preach the gospel to them (Mark 16:15) and make them fully-devoted followers of Christ? That's basically what I've always been taught.
Or, does it mean this:
"He is simply commanding that we work to expand His kingly influence over the affairs of the world, and that means we must make disciples of the nations — leaving the question of their regeneracy and election to Him." (from chalcedon.edu)
In order to accept this alternative interpretation, one must have a specific understanding of the word "disciple" in this passage. I've always understood "disciple" to mean a follower of Christ who is already born-again. But the referenced article states that "although every born-again believer is a disciple, not every disciple is necessarily born-again." Is this true? Can one be a "disciple" without being regenerated?
The other very interesting point in this article which I've been considering is the idea that "discipling the nations" is more than discipling individual people...much more:
"[The] Great Commission seeks the comprehensive influence of Christ's sovereignty over every facet of a nation."
That's pretty deep. Did Christ intend for his command to be understood in such a corporate way? It does say "disciple all nations" not "disciple all people." If this interpretation of the Great Commission is true, it changes a major part of the mission of Christians in my mind. More study of this topic is definitely a must...