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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz


Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Friday, March 20, 2009
Taking A Week Off!
Yay! I may post, I may not - I dunno. What I do know is I am going to be spending some time with my little ones, and I look forward to it. See y'all in the funny pages.

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posted by Daniel @ 4:00 PM   1 comment(s)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Looking Back, Looking Ahead.
This is the ninety fifth month I have been blogging at Doulogos. At the end of next month, on April 29th, to be exact, I begin my fifth year here.

What have I noticed in all this time? I have noticed that after blogging for a few years most people start to repeat themselves, myself included. Most of my posts are musings on how to live the Christian, and now not to live that life. I have discussed things I think every believer ought to know, and how they ought to understand them, and more importantly apply them. I have never seriously regarded my blog as a ministry; though I am persuaded that it has likely ministered to others from time to time. Mostly it has been a running dialog of various theological thoughts which I wanted to articulate for my own sake, surrendering them, if you will, to the public consumption of my peers whose interaction has helped to sharpen and focus my thoughts as well as correcting and shaping some of my doctrine.

All in all, it has been a pretty passive journey. I think I am a better writer today than I was in April of 2005 - though perhaps not as interesting. I think the tone of my blog has changed over the years, unintentionally trading a former charm for a latter sobriety - but c'est la vie. I have no regrets.

Probably because I was a bright but smallish boy growing up, and to avoid being bullied, I learned to use what wit I had to direct attention away from myself and at others - by fostering a remarkable ability to cut other people down in a way that is funny for everyone else. When I came to the Lord, I loathed that about myself, and begged Him to free me from it. Funny how we often throw the baby out with the bathwater. Whenever I have the urge to say something witty, clever, and funny - I typically shrink away from it in a sort of pavlovian revulsion. I suppose that plays itself out by the sombre tone I imagine my blog has, but really, self evaluation is, well, so one-sided, it is often off the mark. So I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Anyway, I expect I will continue blogging for another couple of months at least. I will probably sign off at the end of May, or maybe in Early June.

To put these past years into perspective, the three blog posts I get the most hits on - almost daily are:

Can you sell your soul to the Devil?
White Nose Hair
The Nautilus Machine.

That says a lot, ...doesn't it?
posted by Daniel @ 11:28 AM   11 comment(s)
Monday, March 16, 2009
Walking With My Son
I forgot to renew the insurance on my van last week. Guess when I noticed? That's right, on Sunday morning. We live about three and a half kilometers from church (that's about two miles), so it isn't a very long walk, unless you have four children under the age of twelve, and snow everywhere.

I had already decided to walk with my eldest to church, and leave the remainder at home, when our Pastor called and offered to give our family a ride. I was quite grateful for that, but also a little disappointed, as I was looking forward to the walk with my son.

After the service, I asked my son if he would prefer to walk back with me, and that was his preference. So we walked. The snow was (thankfully) melting, the sun was quite bright in a blue sky - it was like a spring day. In Manitoba, these sorts of days don't happen till May, but we enjoyed this meteorological hiccup nonetheless.

Along the way back home we talked about something I would like to share.

My son's Sunday school teacher, Peter, is one of the fellows in my congregation I most respect and admire. He loves the Lord, and lives the love with such consistency and grace, I am glad that he is teaching my son. Peter wanted to take the whole class out to a local restaurant as sort of a celebration together, but my son didn't want to go.

My son has a job that pays about $12 a month. On this meagre income, He saved up and bought himself a $140 PSP, bought our family perhaps $45 dollars in gifts this last Christmas - buys birthday presents for his siblings on their birthday - and gives generously to charities such as world vision, etc. Unlike my other children, who typically spend their money on candy as fast as they get it, my son regards such things as frivolous, and not the greatest use of a limited commodity.

So when Peter made the offer to take my son and his classmates out for lunch, my son was concerned that Peter would be spending his money on him frivolously, and honestly didn't want Peter to use that money on him in that way. I say this without even a hint of exaggeration - my son was near tears at the thought that dear Mr. Peter might suffer want later on by this generous act, and in my son's thinking, the most loving thing he could do would be to reduce the financial burden he imagined he was placing Peter under.

That's gotta be my fault. Seriously, I have gone to great pains to teach my son the value of a dollar, to explain stewardship, and impress upon him the notion that saving money is better than spending it frivolously.

So on our walk home I wanted to explain to him why it is wrong to refuse another persons act of charity.

I began by asking my son, where does his money come from. He explained that he worked around the house, and had responsibilities for which he was remunerated each week. When I pressed him however, he said that it was I who paid him. I then asked where I got the money from, and he replied, "from your job."

"But who provided this job for me?", I asked. God did. My son knows that.

"What about your teacher, where does his money come from?"

God.

"When I feed you, who is feeding you?"

God.

"If your teach feeds you... who is feeding you?"

...God?

Do you see it son? Do you understand that I am just one of many vessels the Lord is using to bless you? If you accept the Lord's blessing from my hand, but refuse it from the hand of another, are you being wise or foolish?

Foolish.

What about if we invite a family over for supper. Do they owe us supper after that? Should they feel guilty because they are eating "our" food? Has God provided for our family and not theirs also? If I have two loaves and my brother has none, does God really intend for me to have two loaves, or does he intend to minister to my brother through me?

When scripture describes the early church as having all things in common - it wasn't describing communal living, it was describing this attitude that recognizes every good gift as coming to us from the Father of lights - and not necessarily for our own benefit - but for the benefit of those with which we are brought into fellowship.

It was a fruitful discussion, and I think my son has a better understanding of who provides for him. One of the duties of any father, is to wean his children off seeing him as their provider, and recognizing who has really been their provider all along. I take great joy as my little ones begin to see what I have known already - that we truly are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have our roles and responsibilities - but God alone deserves the glory. Anytime we lose sight of that, we feed the notion that men are actually beholden to this world and the things in it for their life.

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posted by Daniel @ 2:26 PM   1 comment(s)
ΟΜΟΛΟΓΕΩ
οτι εαν ομολογησηs εν τω στοματι σου Κυριον Ιησου και πιστευσηs εαν τη καρδια σου οτι ο Θεοs αυτον ηγειρεν εκ νεκρων σωθηση

That if your mouth has confessed the Lord Jesus and you have believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be being saved. - my translation.

Clearly, by using a Greek title, starting off with a Greek verse, then translating the Greek text myself, I must be trying to intimidate anyone who couldn't do the same...

But, no. You don't need to be a student of Greek to read this post. Likewise, I do not intend to appeal to the Greek in order to suggest that this verse means something different or more than our standard translations provide.

Homologeo simply means, I assent, acknowledge or agree. We often translate it using the word confess, because we know what a confession is an open acknowledging of some truth.

The verb form we find in this passage however is not homologeo however, but homologeses - the aorist active subjunctive. The aorist/subjunctive tense/mood defines an action that has happened in a moment of time if some condition has been met. Here then, we write, if you have confessed, meaning that if you have in the past confessed then what follows is already true.

When the text says sets forth the condition: if we have confessed the Lord Jesus with our mouth; what does it mean by that?

First - let's think about what "with our mouth" means for a second. We could have translated that "by the means of your mouth" or "in your mouth" - but those don't add anything to our understanding, and can muddy our understanding in English. But does this mean that mute people cannot be saved? Does it mean that only those able to make audible vocalizations are saved?

I don't think so, and neither do you. It is speaking in colloquial language about being in full, open, agreement with something.

So the text is saying that if you are in full and open agreement with the Lord Jesus...

Stop there. What does it mean to be in full and open agreement with the Lord Jesus?

If I told you that I
[1] believed that a set of laws existed for my country, and furthermore, I
[2] believed them to be exactly as described in our latest law books, but also that I
[3] refused to live by those laws.

Would it be fair to say that I was in full and open agreement with those laws?

I don't think so. Agreeing with the law implies that I believe the laws are not only real, not only true - but that it is right for me to be subject to them.

Now, if I believe:
[1] there is a "Lord" named Jesus and
[2] that what scripture says about Jesus is true, but
[3] I deny His right to rule over me

I hold that when scripture says we are to have confessed with our mouth the Lord Jesus, it means that we have in a moment of time agreed fully and openly to the rule of Christ in our life. That is what it means to confess the Lord Jesus. It doesn't mean that you merely assent to the facts about Jesus - it means that you fully and openly accept the Lordship of Jesus - you acknowledge His right to rule over you and have submited yourself to His rule.

It doesn't imply perfect obedience, but it does imply a changed heart. If you believe in your heart (not the blood pump, but the center of your being) that God raised Jesus from the dead - you will be being saved.

The gospel is this: If you turn from your self rule, and accept the rule of Christ whom God raised from the dead to save you from sin - you will be being saved from sin.

That is good news indeed.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:35 AM   2 comment(s)
The Bible As Entertainment...
Genesis. Exodus. Judges. First and Second Samuel. Jonah, Ruth, Esther, Acts.

I find the narrative books more entertaining than the genealogies, and so do you. Simply put, there are portions of the bible that we don't have to chew first, we can pretty much swallow them right off the page. If the whole bible was like that, I expect more than five or six percent of all (professing) Christians would have read it, and I suspect as well that more than five percent of those who read it once would read it again.

That is because I have a very low opinion of people I guess.

I suspect that in our culture we worship our own leisure, and the only thing we will give up our leisure for is, well, more leisure. We invented TV trays so that our meals could be spent watching television instead of talking with one another - a value trade - I mean, we can talk to our family anytime, but television has a schedule.

The point of the post is an observation, and it isn't directed at those who never read their bible, because (frankly), they aren't going to listen. But to you, the one who desires to read scripture but your reading is sporadic and undisciplined - and getting worse or staying the same.

Hear me: The reason you can't find time for scripture is not because you don't have time, rather it is that you have come to regard reading scripture as just another something you can do. Why read the bible now when you can do that anytime? Surely there is something more entertaining we could be doing.

"Not me," says the peanut gallery, "I would read the bible more, but I really don't have the time!"

There was a man who refused to buy the load of tuna because it was actually a load of carp.

The idea that you don't have enough time is a load of carp, and deep down, you know it.

Stop treating the bible as just another thing you do to fill time in. Think of it as more necessary that your daily food. You feed this body three times a day, and it is going to die - but you starve your soul daily? Hello? Don't you know that the world blinds you? Do we walk by sight or by faith? If we miss a meal - boy we know it. If we haven't eaten all day, we are ravenous at the supper table - why?

Because our carnal selves do not like having an empty stomach.

Guess what? Your carnal self couldn't care less about your starving soul - it isn't aware of it, nor would it care if it was. The only One in you who cares about your spiritual starvation is the Spirit of Christ in you, and rather than giving you hunger pangs, He sends pangs to your conscience. But unlike your stomach, which protests all the more loudly as you ignore it - the longer you ignore your conscience, the easier it becomes.

Don't treat scripture as just another leisure activity. Just has you have appointed times to eat - and seldom miss them without making up for it - do as much and more for the food that actually matters.

I am rambling on this morning because I chose to sleep a little while longer instead of rising early and reading the bible. I stayed up later last night, for no good reason - and decided in that groggy moment when I ought to have woken up - that I "needed" more sleep. I traded spiritual nourishment for a few winks. Don't even wonder how Esau could sell his birthright for a bowl of soup - many of us sell something far more precious than an earthly birthright, for something far less valuable than a bowl of soup. Seriously, if we understood our spiritual economy, I think most of us would be aghast at how wasteful we are.

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posted by Daniel @ 8:52 AM   7 comment(s)
Friday, March 13, 2009
What If?
By now you have probably heard of the archaeological dig at Gobekli Tepe; if not, Google it, and read all about it.

I just finished reading a week old liberal article in the UK Mail Daily (H/T: Church Leader Links). Though the article is intended to generate hype for the writer's own up and coming conspiracy-themed novel, and though you have to stomach a lot of speculations dressed up as conclusions - yet, the article was interesting because it came with a lot of pictures.

For those of you who don't want to click through - Gobekli Tepe is an (est.) 11,000 year old temple, complete with carved monoliths depicting animals etc. - this from a time period that "experts" have described as, pretty much, ultra-primitive - no wheel, no written language, no farming, no agriculture - which in itself calls us to question pretty much everything that has been speculated about the roots of civilization as handed down to us by those experts our current experts regarded as expert.

What is especially intriguing about the site, apart from its (apparent) age and how that thrashes a whole bunch of sacred cows - is the location. This is pretty much around the place we expect to find the "Garden of Eden."

I found it interesting at least. I do hope that they find some carvings of dinosaurs too, for obvious reasons.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:10 AM   15 comment(s)
Monday, March 09, 2009
Drawing the Wrong Line.
In Greek Mythology, the titan Prometheus tricked Zeus by setting two sacrifices before him, one of which would henceforth be the accepted "sacrifice" to the God's from humans. Prometheus hid the meat of a bullock in the unappetizing stomach of an ox, and set that as one "option". He then took the bones of the same kine, and wrapped them in glistening fat. Zeus looked at the two, and imagining the one to be worthless, and the other valuable, selected the (seemingly) valuable option as the de facto "required" sacrifice from that day forward.

Even though Prometheus and Zeus are just the runaway concoctions of long dead pagan minds, yet as I read that Obama wants to "restore scientific integrity to government decision-making", I was reminded of this bit of paganism.

It wasn't that Zeus was blind, rather it was that he was deceived. He thought he was choosing one thing, but in reality he was choosing another. He looked at the situation, and from his perspective at least, the one choice he was making looked to be the sound, right-headed choice to make. Had he known that the ox stomach contained choice meat, and the glistening fat only bones - he would have chosen differently - but he failed to look beneath the surface, and that failure, though a boon to mankind in Greek mythology - was still a tragically avoidable mistake - at least as it relates to him.

In the same way, I think it is tragic that the US president sees himself as being a champion of scientific integrity, when in fact he is championing his own ethical opinion - and in doing so, he trespasses upon the very thing he imagines himself to be putting away. He is imposing legislation that resonates with his own ethical opinions, just as Bush did - the only difference being, I suppose, that Bush's ethical opinion gave human dignity the benefit of doubt, where Obama's choice (in the name of scientific integrity), well... you know.

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posted by Daniel @ 3:47 PM   6 comment(s)
If You Don't Believe It All
You Don't Believe At All.
"If you don't believe all the scriptures, you don't believe the scriptures at all, no matter what you think, and no matter how zealous you appear to be."

I am paraphrasing what Jesus said to the Jews who were seeking to kill Him in the fifth chapter of John's gospel. Recall how Christ explains their rejection of His testimony: (v. 38) "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent." [NASB]. Don't picture these Jews as slackers either. They were not slackers, they were students of scripture at a time when scripture was copied by hand at great expense. If the individual had a private copy of scripture, he likely had to pay the wages of the scribe who copied it for him - a task that would take months. These people were serious about their religion - dead serious. So when Christ says of them, (v.39) "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." [NASB], Christ is describing the deeply religious Jews.

How is it that these religious Jews failed to see their Messiah? Bad interpretation? Poor schooling? None of the above. Christ plainly says,(vs.46-47) "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

Had you asked these Jews whether or not they believed Moses' writings, you would have received a zealous and resounding "YEA AND AMEN!" They regarded themselves as people who believed Moses. But here Christ shows that they didn't believe all that Moses wrote, because Moses wrote of Jesus, and they denied Him. They were convinced that they were the real deal, even though Christ showed them that they were not - and he showed them that they were not by pointing out that they didn't believe all that Moses wrote.

Do you believe all the scriptures? Or do you believe as much as seems reasonable to you? What would our Lord say of your faith?

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posted by Daniel @ 10:49 AM   0 comment(s)
Friday, March 06, 2009
Friday Fun..
The Great Haiku Palindrome Challenge!
Easy enough; create an ORIGINAL haiku (a three sentence poem, whose first and last sentences have five syllables each, and whose middle sentence has seven syllables) which is simultaneously a palindrome (reads the same forwards as it does backwards).

Here are three of my own (original) examples...

I'm a live denim,
regal no? Bob on lager
mine Devil am I!


a video dry
trample here madam ere help
martyr doe diva


I saw thou lusting
I bare paper a big nit
Sulu oh twas I


This is not a challenge for the timid, or weary.

Have at it. It's Friday.

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posted by Daniel @ 3:19 PM   28 comment(s)
Not Bad, but Evil.
Don't call sin bad. I can get a bad haircut, but sin isn't bad, it's evil. Call the sin you do "evil" Let your conscience drink in that truth, and don't squirm out from under it. Sin is evil, and every time you sin, you bring more of it (evil) into the world.

You need to be saved from it, and not merely in it.

We all know that sin is evil, but somehow, when it comes to our sin, then sin is just a mistake, or a bad habit. We gotta stop playing games like that. Call sin evil, meditate on what evil really is, and allow the weight of your participation in it to affect your conscience. You will need a tender conscience if you ever hope to battle evil.

Don't look at the world and image it became evil without your help.

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posted by Daniel @ 12:14 PM   2 comment(s)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Obed, son of Boaz or son of Elimelech?
In Ruth 1:1-2 we read, "Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there." - [NASB]

Ephrath, by the way, is just the older name for Bethlehem, so that an Ephrathite was just someone from Bethlehem in Judah. Don't let that confuse you.

A famine in Judah prompts Elimelech to move his family to the land of Moab. He dies in land of Moab but Noami, his wife, and his sons Mahlon and Chilion continue to live in the land of Moab. Both sons of Elimelech wed Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah), and they too die in the land of Moab. Naomi then hears that the Lord has blessed Israel in giving them food, and determines to return to Israel. She sends Ruth and Orpah away, each to the house of their respective father, but Ruth clings to her and refuses to leave her - choosing the land, and God of Naomi over the land and Gods of Moab.

When they arrive in Israel, Ruth sets out to provide for Naomi by going into the fields behind the harvesters and gleaning what they leave behind. She ends up gleaning the field one of her deceased father-in-law's closest relatives, a man named Boaz. Boaz has heard all that Ruth is doing for Naomi, and instructs Ruth to stay on his land where she will be protected, fed and treated well. Ruth does so, and for the rest of the harvest provides for herself and Naomi in this way.

When the harvest has ended, Naomi returns the favor by seeking provision for Ruth by instructing Ruth in how to present herself to Boaz. Naomi tells Ruth to go the the threshing floor after dark find out where Boaz is sleeping, uncover his feet and lie down. Ruth does as she is told, and when Boaz discovers her, Ruth declares that she is his close relative, and Boaz agrees to redeem her, if possible, since there is a closer relative whose right to redeem the wife of Mahlon, Elimelech's son takes precedence over his own.

The closer relation, upon learning that in order to redeem Elimelech's land, he would also have to redeem the wife of Elimelech's son (and according to the levarite law, raise up children for Mahlon who would then inherit the land), declined, and so Boaz redeems Ruth.

Then Boaz and Ruth are wed, she gives birth to Obed, and Naomi becomes the wet nurse, and we are told that this same Obed ends up being the father of Jesse, who in turn is the father of King David.

Reading through the genealogies of Christ, both in Matthew and in Luke, we see that Obed (King David's grandfather) is indeed listed as father of Jesse, and the grandfather of David. Yet here I stand a bit confused. You see, Obed is listed as the son of Boaz in both these genealogies, but what I would expect to find would be Obed listed as the son of Mahlon, the son of Elimelech - since according to the levarite law, Boaz redeemed Ruth in order to raise up a son for Mahlon.

Who wants to shed some light on this for me?

Update: I think I figured it out.

In order to understand it, pretend that Boaz was already married when he met Ruth, and already had sons. Were this the case, whatever sons Boaz had through his "normal" marriage - these would inherit the lands of Boaz, and whatever sons he had through the levirate marriage to Ruth - these would inherit the lands of Mahlon. The sons of Boaz through the "normal" marriage would be called the "sons of Boaz" and the sons of Boaz through the levirate marriage would be called the "sons of Mahlon".

I think anyone familiar with the law of levirate marriage can see that plain enough.

But Boaz did not have a another wife at the time, nor did he have an existing heir.

I was looking at this whole thing in this way: since Obed was Mahlon's rightful heir through the legitimate levirate union of Boaz and Ruth - legally speaking, Obed was the son of Mahlon.

That is clearly true. Obed was the legal son of Mahlon.

Here is where I was overlooking something that became obvious only after I saw it. I was so focused on obed as Mahlon's heir, I forgot that Boaz had land too.

What happens to Boaz's land when he dies? Does Boaz's land become the property of Elimelech's family when Boaz dies just because Obed is the legal heir of Mahlon's land?

The answer is, quite obviously, no. Because Boaz wasn't married, Obed becomes not only the heir of Mahlon, but the heir of Boaz as well. Obed is the legal son of both Mahlon and Boaz, but he is the natural son of Boaz as well.

So when I ask, why doesn't the NT genealogies call Obed the son of Mahlon? The answer is because even though he was legally the son of Mahlon, he was just as much, if not more, the son of Boaz, and it quite understandable that he is called by the more well known, and closer tie.

Problem solved, I think.

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posted by Daniel @ 2:17 PM   17 comment(s)
Dyshidrotic Dermatitis
A close up of my right ring finger tip.My camera phone is actually a 3.2MB Sony cybershot, with a flash and a macro setting, so I was able to take a fairly clear photo of the tip of the ring finger on my right hand. The skin here is actually more translucent that the photo shoes, for what barely shows up in the photo is far more visible in real life: Beneath the surface of the skin there a number of vesicles (hard, fluid filled "pockets").

I remember the first time I had this. I was examining an itchy irritation on one of my toes only to discover (just beneath the surface) a number of tiny, more or less hard "mini-blisters". The smaller ones were colored yellow, and the bigger ones were darker, almost brown. There were many of them, close together, and over the course of a few hours they even started to join and form larger vesicles. My toes were pretty dry to begin with, and eventually, because I wouldn't leave them alone, the skin broke, and cracked, and peeled wherever these vesicles had formed. It was pretty itchy after that, and annoying, but eventually, after about three weeks or so, they went away.

Every now and again I get them on my toes, or on my fingers, and have learned that it is in my interest NOT to prod them until they burst, but to ignore them until they go away.

I asked a doctor about them one day, but, not having any at the time to show him, he wasn't really sure, and suggested maybe it was some sort of virus or something. So when I noticed them this morning, I thought I would check the net and see if anyone knew what it was.

I quickly discovered that the condition is called Dyshidrotic Dermatitis, or Dyshidrotic eczema. No one knows what causes it yet, but there are a lot of things that can bring on an outbreak.

One such thing, or so the legends go, since there isn't a lot of hard science in this area to say with certainty, is caffeine.

Now, I don't normally drink a lot of coffee; but I do like to sip an occasional hazelnut blend, but this weekend we picked up some instant coffee (hazelnut of course) as a treat, and I have had a half dozen cups or so since. Note this, on weekdays, at work, I usually drink a Diet Dr. Pepper or two, only because the only other diet choices are colas, and I am not a cola fan. I don't care for caffeine, but I am not afraid of it either.

Now this coffee purchase has certainly augmented my caffeine intake of late, and perhaps (in hindsight) that is why I have noticed the occasional vesicle here and there. I have learned that if you leave em alone, they go away a lot faster. So I don't really pay attention to them any more. But, as I say, in hindsight, my increased caffeine may have brought them on if the link between the outbreak and caffeine is a legitimate one.

But here is where something even more interesting comes into play. The other day my wife came home from visiting a friend with a plastic bag full of tube shaped, individually "foil" wrapped, coffee packets from some Korean company. We didn't know it at the time, but this particular product had been recalled in Canada just after the melamine thing because it was discovered that the creamer it used contained milk, and milk wasn't listed as an ingredient on the label. Whether the milk was also (possibly) tainted by melamine is any one's guess, since it was recalled for the one reason, it solved the other. Either way, ignorance is bliss, right?

They packages said, "Mocha" on them, which it turns out was a misnomer, they contained no chocolate, and frankly, after having sampled one, I have to wonder what the Koreans think coffee is supposed to taste like. I had a pretty standard mug, and poured out a glass of boiling water, and dumped in a packet, and found myself to be drinking a very watered down version of almost coffee. I tossed in another packet or two, and while it still tasted watery, at least I could tell it was supposed to be coffee.

The info on each packet was written in Korean, having only the product name in English, so I couldn't tell if these were supposed to be added to an existing cup of coffee as a "mocha-fier" or if they were intended to be coffee all by themselves. Having tasted it even doubled up in a glass, I concluded that this could not be intended as a stand alone beverage, and therefore decided I would use them as mocha-fiers (that was, of course, before I learned there wasn't actually any mocha in them).

So last night I had a couple of cups, of regular coffee, adding a couple of these Korean coffee supplements to each - wasn't terribly sure if they were good or not (I was adding them to my pre-hazel-ified coffee after all) and instead brought a bunch into work. I figured I could try them out on regular coffee here.

That was when I thought I would check out the nutritional information on them. What I found was that these were not meant to be used as supplemental - but each was intended to make an unsatisfyingly weak cup of coffee; weak in flavor that is. They had as much caffeine in them as any other cup of Joe.

Now, it is funny that the two unrelated google searches I did this morning should cross over one another, because in the search for information on these brown vesicles on my finger, I came across a page that linked outbreaks, in some people at least, to too much caffeine over a short period of time. Sort of a caffeine induced stress that weakens the system allowing the outbreak or something like that.

Then I learn that over the course of the last two days I, who rarely drink coffee, have had the equivalent caffeine intake as if I had drank a couple of pots to all to myself.

All things being equal, that has been the only real change in my diet these last couple of days, so I may have discovered one of the triggers for this sort of outbreak - at least, one of the things that triggers the outbreak for me.

Your mileage may vary.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:28 AM   11 comment(s)
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Talents and Barns and Living Application.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5, 3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. - [NASB]

1 Corinthians 4:19, 19But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. - [NASB]


Let's do a thought experiment together in the wake of these verses.

Pretend there is a fellow who was born with a brilliant and confident intellect coupled with a profound insight into the human condition. Later when this same fellow becomes a Christian he is found to be the recipient of spiritual gifts that complement his natural ones: discernment; the ability to preach and teach, and a love for God's church.

In the imagery employed in the parable of the talents, we should expect that this fellow I am describing would likely represent a man who has more talents than others.

Let us keep this same fellow in our thinking as we consider another parable, the one about the rich man whose barns could no longer contain the abundance of his land's produce. What did that rich man do with the excess of his wealth? Recall, he planned to build bigger barns, not having understood the purpose of his surplus. We was called a fool because he didn't realize that he had not been given a surplus to furnish ease in his own life, it was given to him, in order that he might employ it on God's behalf.

The link between the two is not one of interpretation, but of application, for there is some crossover in application between the two parables - both are describing what we do with what we have received.

The standards our pretend fellow had to meet in his pretend public school were geared towards the middle of the bell curve, and being nothing more than a trifling to him, he never had to apply himself to make the grade. Through this he learned that he didn't have to apply himself to anything in order to meet the standard, and this great intellect becomes the seed of procrastination, and laziness. When he becomes a Christian, the word of God opens to him immediately truths that take others decades to see. He quickly is recognized as a teacher, and because he understands scripture better than most is welcomed into the ministry, as a senior pastor.

But in spite of all his gifts and abilities, he ends up being a very poor pastor.

Why?

Because he has learned when you can get by doing the minimum, it leaves you more time to do what you want to do, and being in bondage to sin by default, he falls prey to this snare. His intellect, his gifts, every good thing that he has received from the Lord is being co-opted by sin, to serve self. He preaches Sunday mornings and evenings, and gives counsel, and visits - but his heart isn't even half in it. He is sincere, and loves the Lord, he just loves himself more, and doesn't see it.

You see, everything that God gives us is meant for service. Not just our money, but our time - our every resource. Has God given us five talents - let us use all five in his service, and not reserve some for ourselves. Has he given only three? Let us use all three. One? Let us use it to full advantage. Every moment, and every effort that is spent on self is a moment or effort not merely wasted, but stolen from God. We were bought, we are slaves, we cannot live our lives anymore for they are no longer ours - we have died, and are supposed to be living out new lives in Christ's service.

That isn't to say that everyone is supposed to be a missionary, or a pastor - but it is to say that everyone is to serve the body in the fullest capacity they are able to. Don't be fooled into thinking that God has opened your eyes and heart in order to give you ease and comfort in it - don't regard your Christianity as the sort of blessing God wants you to build bigger barns to contain - it's not for your ease brother, it is for His service.

Which brings us back to the opening scriptures. Note that Paul was not threatening to come and preach good sermons to these people. He wasn't threatening to give them a good tongue lashing. He was threatening to evaluate their faith and see if it was the kind that overcomes sin, and self, or the kind that just talks a good talk. Living faith, or blind arrogance.

When we encourage one another to examine our faith let us not simply examine whether we believe the correct arguments - let us instead examine our selves and see if we have a faith that is changing us, driving us to abandon the self life, and cling to Christ. Do we see progression or stagnation - power or just words?

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posted by Daniel @ 9:02 AM   2 comment(s)
 
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