Saturday, July 30, 2005

You know you live in Phoenix adjust your speed and lane position in order to drive in the shade of a semi.

I'm praying for Sierra and Danny. I think they were saved tonight on the street before my eyes. Glory to God!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Weddings (July 17, 2005)

KITTERY, Maine - Rebekah Shippy and Timothy Bogert, both of Fall River, Mass., were joined in marriage at Faith Baptist Church by the Rev. Daniel Moore. A reception followed at the Lions Club.

The bride, daughter of Dennis and Kathy Shippy of Kittery, was given in marriage by her father, to the son of Rich and Pat Bogert of Yarmouthport.

Tiffani Shippy was the bride's maid of honor. The bridesmaids were Kouri Hastings, Rachel Starkey and Jen Byron. The junior bridesmaid was Téa Shippy, and the flower girl was Tatyanna Shippy.

Peter Raymond served as his nephew's best man. The ushers were John Bergman, John LaMontagne and Chris Terrell. The ring bearer was Timothy Paul Shippy.

The bridegroom graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in 1994, from Cape Cod Community College in 1999 and from the New England Tractor Trailer Training School in 1996. He is employed by Brockton Hospital as a certified nurse's aide.

Mr. and Mrs. Bogert honeymooned in San Francisco. They are residing in Fall River.

(from, emphasis added)


No, it wasn't me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"By a narrow 5 to 4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down this portion of the Violence Against Women Act and second-guessed the judgment of Congress on this remedial cause of action...Sadly, it was not enough to save this important aspect of our legislative program from a declaration of unconstitutionality by an activist Supreme Court." --Senator Patrick Leahy

I just love it when liberals twist things around. The pejorative term "activist Supreme Court" is commonly used to criticize the court's tendency to create new laws by substituting their own judgment or the judgment of the "international community" for the rule of law. But in this statement, the honorable Senator accuses the conservative side of the court of being "activist."

The case was United States v. Morrison (2000) . The law under consideration was the Violence Against Women Act, in which Congress attempted to impose harsh penalties for gender-based crimes under the interstate commerce clause. Congress argued that since women affected commerce, they could regulate violent crimes against them. The conservative/moderate side of the court (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, Kennedy) struck down the law and denied Congress's ability to regulate whatever it wants. The law was clearly unconstitutional and by striking it down, the Court made a small step toward affirming the principles of federalism laid down by the founders.  Thank you Supreme Court. And thank you President Bush for appointing an "activist" judge yesterday who probably would have joined the majority in limiting the power of the federal government in Morrison. I hope the Court continues to be "activist" in limiting federal power, if "activist" means upholding the Constitution as written.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The End Can Justify the Means

The ends justify the means. This statement causes shivers down the spine of most thinking Christians. Why? Because it is often used to validate deplorable actions. The end of eradicating poverty does not justify the means of communist totalitarianism. The end of perfectly healthy and wanted children does not justify the means of abortion. And the end of conquering the world for Allah does not justify the means of terrorism. But there a sense in which the statement, "the ends justify the means," is true. It all depends on what kind of means you mean.

If the means are evil, wrong, and/or sinful, then they can never be justified. But if the means look foolish, sound crazy, seem insane, involve pain, bring suffering, or even cause death, they can sometimes be justified by the ends. This is because ends reveal the motive for means. In order to be morally good, action must be done for the right reason. If the ends are wrong, the means, no matter what, are wrong. But if the ends are right, the means, however bizarre, can be justified by them.

Let me provide an obvious example. A man pushes his way, almost violently, through a crowd. This action on the surface, seems, well, pushy and may even hurt the people the man is bumping into. Without knowing the end for which the action is taken, it is impossible to discern whether the means are justified. If, for example, the man is a sports fan trying to push to the head of a crowd to catch a glimpse of his favorite player, the violent pushing is probably not justified. But if the man is a doctor rushing to save the life of an accident victim, the violent pushing is very justified.

Another example is actually a real life situation that in some ways prompted this writing. My sister and I spent the evening last night practicing an evangelism technique on a public sidewalk in our city. Yesterday afternoon, we took a crash course through a ministry called The Way of the Master led by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. The technique was to show people how they have violated God’s law and deserve to go to hell before sharing the grace of the cross with them, and I am convinced that it is a Biblical and effective method. More specifically, we were taught by example to use Gospel tracts as a way to attract attention and start meaningful conversations. The primary tract we used was the "million dollar bill." It is printed in the shape, color, and features of a real bill but is actually a tract with the gospel printed on the back. As we stood on the street corner, we would go up to pedestrians and say, "Would you like a million dollar bill?" or "Did you get a million dollars yet?" and proceed to hand them the tract. Then we would say, "and here’s the million dollar question," and hand them another tract with the words, "Are you good enough to go to heaven?" printed on the front. This was meant to spark their interest and if we were quick and persuasive enough, we could start a conversation with them. We had a great time and some very powerful, maybe even life-altering conversations. But as I was thinking about this afterwards, I was wondering whether the trickery and deception involved in handing out fake million dollar bills was OK.

I thought about whether our questions and tracts were, in fact, lies. They were certainly deceptive, as we had no intention of actually increasing each person’s net worth by one million dollars. But were they lies? I decided that in order to be a lie, a falsehood has to be presented with the intention of deceiving. While we did mean to attract attention, we did not mean to deceive. It was obvious to everyone on the street that we were not really passing out million dollar bills. While people may have perked up their ears when they heard us and saw the tracts, no rational person would actually believe that the pieces of paper were really that valuable. And when people would ask us what the "million dollar bill" really was, we would gladly admit that it was a gospel tract. After all, our entire reason for handing them out was to open the door to preach the law and share the gospel. Let me be clear. I’m not saying that the end of sharing the gospel justifies the means of lying. Lying is always wrong. The reason that the questions were not lies had nothing to do with our motives. The questions and tracts were not sinful and then justified by the end of sharing the gospel. That would be good ends justifying bad means. But were they lies? No, they were a clever trick meant to divert attention. Is it wrong to use this kind of deception as Christians? I don’t think so. The question goes beyond my purpose in this writing, but I would point to passages like Matthew 21:23-27, Acts 23:6-10, and Luke 16:1-9 to show that the Apostle Paul and Jesus Himself both used and recommended using shrewd means that involve deception and diversion. I could very well be wrong on this, and am open to further discussion. But assuming I am right, using the tracts in this way is not wrong inherently. At the same time, going out on the street and handing out tracts like this may seem foolish or confusing, and the actions would be wrong if the motive was not right. But since our motive was to plant seeds of the gospel of Christ, our actions were right. In that sense, the end justified the means. While right ends can never justify wrong means, right ends can justify strange means.

The ultimate example of this is the cross. God allowed His perfect Son to endure unfathomable pain and suffering even to the point of death. That seems strange. More than strange, it is awful. Scripture even speaks of the cross as "foolishness" in 1 Corinthians 1. But no matter how strange, awful, or foolish it may be, the means of the cross is justified by the end of our salvation. To justify is to prove right. The cross seems wrong but is proved right when we know why it had to be. The incredible pain and suffering Christ experienced was worth it because of the incredible joy and blessing it brought to us whom He loved.

In following Christ, we must be ready to endure tribulation, trials, and temptations on the path to gaining Him. Paul said that he "suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that [he] may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). The actions of a faithful Christian may sometimes look foolish, silly, or even insane, but they are made right by right motives. And the pain and suffering involved in the Christian life is utter foolishness to the world but the power and wisdom of God to us. Why? Because it will all be worth it in the end.

"If the burden seems too much to bear
the end will justify the pain it took to get us there."
--Relient K

Monday, July 11, 2005

Call me crazy. I'm learning Python. It's a high-level interpreted programming language named after Monty Python. Why? AOP is building yet another author tool, and the Python guys are putting it together. Since I built the last two author tools (and I'm not very busy) I volunteered to help with the project. I'm excited. This is really the first time I've jumped into the open-source non-MS world. It's scary, but there are some pretty cool features to the language and according to the homepage, Google uses it. It seems to me that whatever Google does is cool, so it must be cool. So it's going to be a mix of VB.NET Windows Forms (I'm still on the SOS 2.0 team) AND Python for the next month.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Awana camp was GREAT! I was very blessed by the opportunity to serve as a counselor and encouraged by the constant focus on the gospel. Here are the (VICTORIOUS) Red Team counselors:

More pictures here