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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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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.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Jeremiah 7:8-10
I was struck by these verses the other day, and considered strongly writing a post on the subject found therein, but put it off for other things. It struck me as significant therefore when my pastor preached from this very text this past Sunday.

Here is the text (ESV):

"Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'—only to go on doing all these abominations?


In the context, God is speaking to the people of Judah who, even though they have stopped following God in their hearts, never the less continue to perform all the religious duties associated with Judaism.

Sound doctrine is always best, but it in the hands of the unregenerate, it can give false hope; that is, those who call themselves Christians, but have never actually been reconciled to God by a repentant faith, will (for instance) use the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to bolster them in their unbelief. They will tell themselves that it is okay that they sin and what not, because - hey - they're saved and going to heaven ... right? The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints provides the downhearted, but truly regenerate believer, strength to obey the Lord, as he will not look to his own feelings as the measure of his justification, but rest his hope continually and consistently on the finished work of our Lord at Calvary, and in the trustworthiness of our Lord's promise to those who truly repent in faith. But in the hands of a false convert, the idea of an ultra-secure salvation becomes a cloak for liberty.

It is all nice and good to have assurance that one's salvation is eternally secure, as long as one is actually justified - but to have that assurance when one is deceived by a false faith will only make a false faith more deadly.

When a modern Christian reads (therefore) a text like Jeremiah 7, I wonder about those who think nothing of the passage as they pass over it. Here is God calling Judah a bunch of murderers, adulterers, liars, and thieves. We read that and go, "Yeah, dumb old Judah! Why won't they get it?" rather than hear God's word as a living challenge to the remnants, large or small, of our own passing, besetting decay.

That is, I worry about any Christian who reads such a passage without a fearful, trembling reflection upon their own walk. When I read that I quake at my own sin because, while I believe in the perseverance of the saints, I do not for one moment tell myself that --because-- I am a Christian I do not have to worry about God's harsh words directed at my sin. Instead, because I am a Christian, I regard God's words as though they were directed at me, and I examine myself under the naked light of God's righteousness.

I read that passage and I don't muse about what a mess Judah was making of the old covenant. I read it and ask myself whether the slackness in my employment isn't a form of stealing? I ask myself about those things that persist in my life - things that I continue to give my energy and time to - are these not idols? When I think of any person who hates our Lord, is not my first impulse to desire that God would deliver them over to His wrath rather than to His mercy? Isn't this a form of hatred? Isn't hatred as the sin of murder? Is God always my first love in everything I do? If He is not, am I not committing spiritual "adultery" in my heart the moment I put any other thing before my relationship with God? When I consider such things I find myself trembling before God's word; not that I worry that my profession is false, but that I see in the reflection of God's word who I truly am, and worse, who I continue to be. I see therefore that unless God continues the work He has begun in me I am without hope in the world. Why I am like that? Here is the thought that came to mind: You have not because you ask not, or you ask in a way that would require God to bolster your flesh.

I am convinced from scripture that, because I am His child, God will refine me. I reason that in order for sanctification to happen to me as a believer, there must be something of rebellion in me - that is, there must be something in me that actually needs sanctifying! I also know that my sanctification will not happen spontaneously through passive indifference. When scripture says to work out your own salvation - it is talking about salvation from sin - Jesus came to save His people from their sin (c.f. Matthew 1:21) - Paul explains that we are to work out this same salvation with fear and trembling knowing that as we do so it is actually God who is working the desire to do his good pleasure into us, and more - even giving us the ability to do it. Every believer who sits like a bump on a log and waits for God to eliminate the sin in his or her life demonstrates a dangerous lack of understanding.

It works this way: We are motivated to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts (to use the words of James) by a God given desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him. If we act on the desire that God gives - the desire to draw near to him through pursuing holiness, we are given grace to do so when we seek to do so with a singleness of heart. If we attempt to draw near to God in some half hearted way, we shouldn't expect grace, and frankly, whatever me managed to muster up usually won't suffice, leaving us pretty much where we started.

The work of sanctification is a work of whole heartedness, but sadly, the pursuit of religion is something any half hearted believer can master and excel in. That includes such things as "Christian education", teaching, preaching, going to seminary, programs at church, etc. etc. It amazes me, and if you stop and consider it, it will amaze you too, that we are able to do as much as we do -- without any real holiness to speak of.

So when you read a passage like this one in Jeremiah - don't just say, "I am saved, ...what has this text to do with me?!" and move on. Drink it in, and examine your walk. Are you pursuing the holiness without which no one will see the Lord? Are you satisfied in your religion even though deep down you know it is empty? Let's be even more direct: Are you ready for judgment day, or do you think you have some things to make certain of before you die?

It is good and right to have no hope in our flesh, and to place all our hope in the finished work of Christ on calvary - and it is that alone that we rest on when it comes to our justification - but what kind of faith is satisfied with a mere "pass"? Consider the magnitude of slackness heart-hearted and bitterly sinful laziness it takes to willfully coast when you should be pedaling with regards to God's call for personal holiness. How thick must be the callouses on one's heart be to allow one to flippantly set aside the commandments of God (i.e. pursue holiness!) simply because one is certain that Christ's sacrifice covers their sin.

I burn with indignation at the thought of that. I bristle at Christians who scuttle past those words in scripture which, when rightly understood and applied would breath life into their dead bones. No, let me drill down on that so I am understood - I bristle at the bondage that makes that possible. I hate sin, I hate it in my life, and I hate it in your life too. I hate how it enslaves the world, and I especially hate it when Christians writhe and toil under it, trying to free themselves from it's rule, and fail because they're trying to free themselves from it by every other means than what scripture prescribes: faith from a full heart.

Do they never realize that the reason they fail is because they aren't fully committed to success? How many times must they put their hands in the fire before they learn it burns them? They are hungry, and willing to put their hand in the bowl, but then they become too lazy to bring their hand to their mouth in order to feed themselves. They want the crop, but refuse to go and plow, plant, and harvest, and then admire their religion because in it they have a desire that is good, even if they never answer that desire by engaging in the good work God has given them the desire to pursue. Yet, because these things are spiritual, and because ignorance is rampant in the church, many put off the pursuit of holiness because they really do presume that something mystical is supposed to happen so that they don't have to actually pursue holiness, it will just fall out of the sky and land on them one day. Of course, when that fails to happen, instead of adjusting their impotent religion, they surround themselves with people who make them feel at ease in their spiritual failure. Misery loves company after all.

The problem is almost always faith.

Listen, those who come to Christ because they have seen themselves as wretched the sinners they are, who see how they deserve death for their rebellion, and see how the Lord is entirely just in condemning them, and in the silent wake of that truth cry out to God for reconciliation, cry out, I say, to be taken out of their rebellion and put back into a right relationship with God - the kind where you obey God as you ought to - that is, who cry out to God from the well of their own brokenness not holding their hearts aloof from God, but presenting them to God as His to direct, own, and command - that is, they cry out to God in full repentance; these continue to pursue God because they haven't yet attained their goal - to be with God.

Yet those who come to Christ to escape their own damnation, whose interest is driven entirely by their own desire for self preservation - the very moment they are convinced that they are saved from hell - they believe themselves to have attained all that they came to Christ to secure, and once they have it, they care little for all the frills. Why pursue holiness, if you already have what you came to Christ to get - a ticket out of hell? They don't love God, they would be just as satisfied to live forever in their earthly flesh as is, and have there be no God at all.

Here then is a good, diagnostic question: Why did I become a Christian? Was it to escape hell, or was it to be reconciled to God? What is my desire? Do I desire God for God's sake, or do I desire God because I reason that is a better fate for me than hell? Is my desire for God nothing more than a selfish desire to avoid a miserable afterlife, or is it a desire to be loved by, and received into the family of, God?

Love the Lord your God is the first commandment, and I think it is first for a good reason. The bottom line is this: if you find that you are not at war with sin in your life - if you find that you have no loathing of sin, and no desire to fellowship with God - no aching for righteousness, it is no wonder you gloss over the verses that speak directly to you. You are a corpse - and unless the Lord breathes life into you, you will remain so.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Repentance follows.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:51 AM   7 comment(s)
Monday, August 24, 2009
If Jesus is delaying in order to save everyone, can Jesus ever return?
In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." [ESV].

There are a few words in this sentence that point us elsewhere for context. The word, "promise" for instance. In order to understand the verse, we need to know what promise Peter is referring to. The context answers that question for us - the promise Peter is referring to he mentions only a few sentences earlier: the promise of Christ's return.

Peter starts off here by saying that the delay in Christ's return is by no means due to slackness on the Lord's part. God's promise has not been set aside because of some slackness in God, but it is God's will to put Christ's return is on hold until all to come to repentance.

Hold up here for a second.

If I say that the ball is not green, we know only one thing about the ball - that whatever color it is, it isn't green. We could have said that the ball was entirely blue, and it would follow that the ball was not green - but if we say that the ball is not green, we are using the language of negation to stress the balls lack of greenness and typically we use this sort of expressive tool when our context is more fully expounded by the former rather than the latter. If I am in a room and everyone else has a green ball, and some authority asks each of us to describe the color of our particular sphere, and twelve people in a row say that their ball is green, I could say my ball is blue, but if I say that it is "not green" I emphasize the contrast far more fully than I would if I merely said my particular orb was of the bluish persuasion.

When Peter says that the "Lord is not slack" - he could simply said that the Lord -is- disciplined concerning His promises; or maybe, the Lord is hard working concerning his promises; but Peter chose to tell us that the Lord was "not slack" concerning His promises. Typically, we use that sort of negation when what we want to say about a thing is that it isn't like some other thing.

Peter has just mentioned that in the last days scoffers will heckle the idea that the Lord is going to return. They will reason that because everything continues as it ever did it is foolish to think that Christ will return, and that judgment will come. Yet Peter says that this is just as it was in Noah's day, just before the flood.

So when Peter says that God is not slack, he is answering beforehand, as it were, the charge that these scoffers will make - and his answer is that the coming of Christ is not delayed, as though God were slack, but that the Lord is not going to come until all should come to repentance.

Now, here is where some people get into the mire a bit.

The text clearly says that the reason Christ hasn't come back yet is because He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. If we lift this verse out of Peter's epistle and examine it by itself, we could actually dismiss the very argument that Peter is trying to make. Peter is arguing that Christ -will- return, but if cut this verse out and separate it from the text in which we found it, it seems to suggest that Christ will not come back until there are no more sinners left who might repent. In fact, if Christ returns at all, He will damn all those sinners who would have repented had he waited another year. Thus if the Lord is --truly-- not willing that any should perish, and is in fact waiting for more and more men to repent - then there are only two ways for the Lord to return - either all men die, or all men repent.

We can't get wishy-washy here. Either the text says that God is holding back until all men repent, or it doesn't - we can't have it both ways.

Yet if we are willing to put the text back in its context, we will not have this difficulty.

First of all, let's be clear on what Peter is arguing:
[1] Christ will return
[2] Christ is purposely delaying His return
[3] The reason for Christ's delay is that He is not willing for "any" to perish, and that "all" would come to repentance.

One question we must ask ourselves, if we are to continue, is whether God's will here can be thwarted. Sure we could just quote Isaiah 46:10 ("...My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please..."), but if we do that, we have to go there and make sure that the meaning we are pulling from that verse is the same one the verse puts there, and not just a convenient phrase that fits our argument.

So we ask one rational question: If Jesus is delaying in order to save everyone, can Jesus ever return? Maybe we worded that too strongly, let's water it down and see if it makes a difference: If Jesus is delaying in order to save "as many as possible" can Jesus ever return?

It should be evident, that is Jesus is trying to save as many as possible then he cannot return so long as there is the possibility that even one person might repent. Right?

Now, let's water it down just one more step: If Jesus is delaying in order to save "a goodly amount", can Christ ever return?

Why did we ask the last one? We asked it because it is the first one that changes the clear meaning of the text. The text says that there is a delay, and the delay has a reason, and the reason is that the Lord is not willing that any should perish. The only way we can allow Christ to return is if change the reason for his return from "not willing that any" to not willing that too many"

But as I said, if we put this back in its context, we don't have this problem.

Let me 'splain.

Ask yourself a question, who is Peter referring to when He says that the Lord is longsuffering toward us.

To be fair, there is a textual consideration to deal with here. The oldest manuscripts show the pronoun here as humas which means "you all" - and by oldest I am talking about a multitude of texts dating back as early as the third century. Latter day texts introduce a variance, replacing humas with "hemas" - which means "us". When I say latter day texts, I am talking about texts from the twelfth to fifteenth century. It may be that a thousand years later the Byzantines corrected the much older Alexandrian texts... but frankly, I doubt it. I am more inclined to believe that the older texts (and we have many) are probably more accurate simply because there was less time for variants to enter into the text by copyist errors etc.

So I am going to go with longsuffering toward "you all"...

So who is Peter referring to when he says, "you all"? His readers? Okay, I will buy that - I mean, that is how I would right if I were writing to a group of people, and I wanted to refer to them, I would use a pronoun like "you all" to do so. In fact, just a verse earlier Peter refers to the people he is writing to as his "beloved" - which I take to either mean, beloved of God (most likely), or simply beloved of Peter - which amounts to the same thing, for Peter is obviously not writing an open letter to just anyone, but a letter directed at a specific group of believers.

So when Peter says that Christ hasn't returned yet because He is long suffering towards all of those whom Peter was writing to, if we can find out whom Peter was writing to, we should be able to figure out whom the Lord is delaying his return for, which is presumably the same people whom the Lord desires should not perish, but come to repentance.

Presumably the beloved that Peter is writing to are described well enough in the salutation in chapter one. That was the flow at the time you know - you said who you were, and then you said who you were writing to, then you greeted who you were writing to, then you began your letter.

Looking back at the salutation we read that the recipients of this epistle were those who had obtained like precious faith with Peter and those who were with him by the righteousness of their mutual God and Savior Jesus Christ. That is, Christ was delaying his return in order that those who have and would obtain a similar faith would perish, but would find repentance. But Peter says a helpful thing up in verse one - he says that this is the second epistle he has written this group. Assuming that 1Peter is the first epistle, we can glean a bit more about whom Peter refers to as beloved, and whom it is that Christ delays waiting for their repentance that they may not perish...

Here Peter refers to them as, "...the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ"

Do you see that? Peter is writing to a group whom he refers to as elect according to the foreknowledge of God.

So Peter's argument then is that Christ is not slack in returning, but is waiting for every elect sinner to repent before He returns in order that none of them perish.

As a believer I have a choice from this passage as to what it means:
[1] Jesus is either trying to save everyone, and not only failing to do so, but He is even unable to return because doing so would thwart His own plan to try and save everyone...

or

[2] Jesus has chosen whom He will save already, and delays His return because He is waiting for all His sheep to come in the fold - that is, He is waiting for every elect sinner to be born, live, and come to faith in repentance, so that when the last elect sinner repents, Christ will return.

I am inclined to the second position because I see that all over the bible in every way possible.

I know that some think of election and predestination as God dragging some people kicking and screaming into heaven against their will, and slamming the door at the same time in the face of those who are desperately trying to get into heaven - but that isn't how it works.

The truth is none of us want God. We hate Him, and want nothing to do with Him, and will only grow in that direction more and more as time goes on. Unless God intervenes in our life, we will never, ever desire to be reconciled to Him. We may STRONGLY desire to avoid wrath - but while self preservation will certainly motivate a person to attempt in all ways possible to escape from the wrath to come - it will never motivate a sinner to be reconciled into a right (i.e. obedient and submitted) relationship with God. The sinner doesn't want reconciliation - the sinner wants God to die so that no one can punish the sinner for their sins. The sinner hates God's judgement, and hates the God who has the power to judge. He does not come to God because there is no life in him.

Do you understand that?

When a person believes they believe because God has drawn them to Himself so that what was impossible becomes possible - they come into a God given desire to be reconciled to God - a desire that God doesn't owe any of us, but is given as a gift of grace to those whom God, according to the wisdom of His own counsel, decided to do long before the world was ever created. It isn't that God chooses some innocent people to be born, sin, then go to hell, and other innocent people to be born, sin, and be given grace by which they come to a saving faith in Christ and escape hell. It is that all men are born, and sin, and stand condemned before God, but God has determined beforehand that those whom He foreknew He would elect to extend that grace by which they see themselves as sinners, and desire to be reconciled to God.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea that salvation is all up to me, it is about as humanistic as can be - and since the culture I live in is predominantly driven by the philosophy of humanism - I am quite comfortable with the notion that my salvation depends both on luck (thank goodness I was lucky enough to hear the gospel) and on personal merit (I thank myself that I am not like other men who hear the gospel and ignore it, but instead I chose to repent and believe, and when I did so God saved me in response to my own sovereign choice). I say, I like that me-o-centric soteriology as much as the next guy - I mean, it is pretty much the default isn't it? You don't need a bible to come up with that - it is basically the way every other religion works right? You find the right hoops to jump through, you chose to jump through them and butta-bing, you're in.

But that isn't what I read in scripture. What I read in scripture is that God is sovereign, and that while I am perfectly free to deny or indulge any desire I have - I cannot cause myself to have desires that are not there. I cannot choose to "no longer experience temptation" for instance. I mean, I can choose how I react to sinful temptations, but I cannot change my spots any more than the leopard can. I am truly limited in my moral free agency. I am not merely spiritually sick in my trespasses and sin, I am dead - and dead does not mean that I have a wee sliver of life. I am not neutral, but at enmity with God, we all are. So that when scripture says that no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him - I don't rinse that away, but nod in agreement. Of course I cannot come to God - if I could do that, I could do it all and wouldn't need to come to God.

Yet I know this: sin is not merely something we do, it is something that owns us - and the person who thinks they can walk out of that cage all by themselves in order to come to Christ, doesn't understand who it is who sets the prisoners free. I cannot walk out of the cage of enmity, the cage of my spiritual deadness - and suddenly have faith - any more than a corpse can rise from the grave of its own accord.

I am not an innocent man, but guilty - we all are guilty. The reason people go to hell is because they hate God and reject Him. they don't want to be reconciled to Him because that would mean giving up their rebellion - giving up their (imagined) right to rule themselves - giving up their sin. No one is willing to do that because that, my dear reader, is the leopard's spot they cannot change. We are condemned because each and every last one of us refuses to come to God - indeed, we hate God. God isn't being mean when He sends such a one to hell - He is being just, for hell is the only fitting place for anything that refuses to subject itself to God, that is, to anything that refuses to be reconciled to God in repentance.

So I don't think God is picking innocent people to go to hell, and other innocent people to escape hell. I believe that God has determined to put His mercy and grace on display in electing some of us guilty, condemned already sinners to salvation, so that in spite of our selves God makes himself known to us even as Christ did to Paul on the Damascus road. He comes to us, loving us while we are yet sinners, and regenerates us and gives us a new desire - or to extend the metaphor - He changes our spots so that we can do by grace what previously was impossible for us - repent and believe. Not some trying to get in and being turned away while others are taken in who don't want to be there, rather God takes from amongst those who hate and reject Him, an elect group whom He chose beforehand to grant grace to, and these upon receiving grace respond to it as a duck responds to water - they act in perfect accord with their new nature, and repent and believe.

Period.

Okay I know I got off topic there at the end, but I like to tie up lose ends whenever I can. Sorry about the typos, It is late and I am going to post it without fixing it up. How's that for frivolity?

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posted by Daniel @ 9:11 PM   3 comment(s)
They're Not Programmers!
There is an exercise program called "100 pushups" which basically takes anyone from wherever they happen to be at (fitness wise) and through cumulative increases brings them from wherever they happen to be to the place where they can do 100 cumulative pushups.

There is an iPhone app for it too. Which is how I came to be writing this on this fine morning. My extremely sedentary job doesn't lend itself to anything other than early heart attack, obesity, and atrophied muscles, though it does keep my complexion a nauseating fish-belly white. That's right, I am a computer programmer, and my little girlie arms are not what they used to be.

Now, to be fair, I used to do an hundred pushups each morning - four sets of 25. But that was when I was training in a martial art, and frankly, that was a few years back. I have been more or less without exercise - except for a daily 20 mile ride on my bike - for the past five years. But cycling doesn't give the arms a very good work out, and as such I found it difficult to do more than 15 pushups in a row.

So I picked up this app and determined to slowly work my way back to super strength - or at least, near super strength.

You start off by doing as many pushups as you can in a row - which is supposed to set the baseline. So I did. I did 14 in fact, but felt that if I really, really wanted to, I could have squeezed another one in there. So I entered in 15 as my base. I didn't read the instructions really, so I sort of messed up my start. the first day I was supposed to do the initial test, then wait a day, then after that day of rest start the program. But I clicked on ahead, and started the program early. Okay fine. It tells me to do ten pushups.

I figure my 14 that I just did was good enough, so I clicked through. Rest for 60 seconds. Okay... Resting. Now do 12 pushups. Okay......eleveeeeeeeeeee<grunt>eeen, .... huff, huff, Tweeeelllllveeee. Rest another 60 seconds. Arms definitely feeling the burn... Beep Beep Beep - huh? 60 sconds already? But I am still wiped from the ... okay,, must do, what? eight? Sure, no problem... one, twooo, threee, ouch, fouuuuuur, ......GAH! ...... seveeeeeeeeeeeeeeen, hufhufhuf... eiiiight. Sixty second timer going.... what's next... arms on fire... TWELVE??? Are they insane? Twelve? Where did that come from? twenty seconds left... the clock is giving me stresss.... BEEP BEEP BEEP, okay... here goes... twelve... gonna start right now... right now.. here we go... one, two, three, ff-ff..... rest a bit... four, five, ... is my breath really that loud? six,... ... ten.. I can't do this....must... go... on... eleeveeeeeeeeeen... arggghhh..... grit teeth for... power...surge..... not working.... twelve... ouch... I am spent... BEEP BEEP BEEP - what? Seven more? my arms don't work any more? ONE, TWO, SPLAT!

At that point my arms stopped working. They literally gave out.

I decided that it was probably foolhardy to try and do the day when I had clearly spent myself on the first fourteen. So I took the day of rest, and on the day after that I hunkered down for some serious push up action.

First up, 15 pushups.

then 12, then 10, then 14, then 4.. I didn't make it. The last set was too much.

I decided that my understanding of the word "gradual" was radically different than the applications understanding...and so I decided to restart the program "properly", except that I would put in a lower value of initial pushups, and thereby ensure a more humane and gradual progression.

That was last week. The first day was a cake walk. Doing like, I don't remember, 6, 4, 4, 6, and 4 or something on day one, then like 8, 6, 8, 6, 6 on day two. Then 9, 11, 11, 8, 9 on Day three... with a day of rest in between each.. By the third day I figured I had found my stride. I could finish the course, and not without grimacing. But the slope in three days didn't promise anything nice for week two.

Well this morning I just barely managed to do the 10, 12, 8, 10, 11 that the program called me to do. I am talking, arms flapping like a chicken on the last set - which isn't exactly the manly posture I was going for. Nevertheless, I am looking ahead to Wednesday's routine, and see that my last set is 13, and I am already cringing.

All of which leads me to believe that the writers of this program, apparently haven't taken into consideration the rapid atrophy of the computer programmer's musculature. Clearly there are some square jawed gorilla-men out there who presume that everyone on the program is taking steroids, or is perhaps half-gorilla.

I was going to post on Jeremiah 7:8-10 today - even wrote up the post, but it needs some work yet. So I tossed this out because it was on my mind too.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:46 AM   6 comment(s)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Dangers of Tweeting
So I was waiting for me wife to come to bed last night, both of us were a little too awake to sleep; she had gone out to read and I turned on the old iPhone to pass the time.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised, and morbidly flattered, to find a young and flirty college student from California had become a follower of my Twitter tweets, how did she find me?

Well following her profile I soon figured out that she was not someone a Christian ought to be looking into - and moreso a married male Christian! I was however powerfully tempted to examine her profile pic more closely - even in an image smaller than half a postage stamp it was clear that she was fit and attractive. I didn't give into that temptation (thank God) but instead found out how to block her tweets and stop her from showing up in my followers list. Why soak myself in gasoline when I live in a world where there is fire all around?

I honestly hadn't considered the possibility that tweeting might be a doorway to temptation - though I should have seen it coming. No man in this world can escape the pornifying of our culture. We can live outside the culture, but it is always at our doorstep waiting for the chance to draw us in.

Well that set me off in prayer, which is what I ought to have been doing in the first place. The danger, or one danger out of many, in being connected 24/7 is that those temptations which I have in years passed identified, and removed all provision for have found new and unanticipated inroads into my life again. I thanked the Lord for keeping me from sin, though I spoke to Him about the pause in between the moment I realized the temptation, and the decision to turn away from it. Somewhere in the middle there I know I was seriously entertaining the thought of giving into the temptation - the old lies were raised again as if new - it's okay! You're just going to satisfy your curiosity, you know - like an anthropologist, you're just going to survey the culture with academic indifference... Yeah right.

This morning as I thought back on that, I was reminded again of just how reliant we are (and must remain) on our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Without Christ, sin would rule over us, but in Christ - in the love that overcomes every competing desire - there is peace born of grace.

So I decided to encourage my fellow tweeters to give no place to our enemy, to allow no root of evil to twist it's way into the soil of your walk. Be vigilant, lest you stumble - being connected to this sinful world electronically puts us ever more in enemy territory - and always in harms way! Now, more than ever before we must take care to walk circumspectly.

Don't let sin in through the window just cause you're so used to only having to guard the door.


-- Post From My iPhone
posted by Daniel @ 11:33 AM   3 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Noise levels at work
One of the neat apps available for the iPhone allows me to measure (in decibels) the sound level at my desk. I sit pretty much right below the A/C for our floor, so there is a constant droning all day long.





As you can see, the buzz bounces around 50 decibels. At first I thought that was pretty high - but it isn't all that much - about as loud as a normal conversation.

This was disappointing need since I have made it out to be (along with my coworkers) something that is both annoying and taxing.





Now it seems my airport-Tarmac sound suppression muffs are a little over-kill.

-- Post From My iPhone
posted by Daniel @ 11:28 AM   4 comment(s)
My iPhone Review
OK, seriously. It's a great phone.

The sound is the best I have ever heard for a cell, and the interface is quite intuitive. Let's face it, when it comes to "being pretty" the crew at apple Apple know their stuff.

So as a phone, I give it a big thumbs up.

But no one buys an iPhone just because it is a great handset. We buy it because you can put everything from games to sermons (text, audio, or video) on it. Olive tree has a very slick bible program too - I have the entire ESV study bible (images, notes and all) happily installed, along with an NASB, a Greek NT, and several free books (such as Calvin's Institutes). But there are apps for all kinds of stuff. I never have to worry about where the nearest coffee shop is - zap! There it is with a map to show me how to get from where I am to where I am going. Do I want to surf the net? Read the feeds? Send/receive email? It's all there, and slick too. In fact I am posting this from an app that let's me post posts to my blogger account right now. I can even post screenshots from the phone directly:





It's not all roses however, being a computer, it can crash if an app doesn't know how to handle some unforseen mangle of UI commands, and that can cause a reboot. Which is kinda scary, but even then you just pick up where you left off usually. I expect as much. The OS is solid, but some apps, particularly some of the free ones, can come in ... Let's say ... under-tested.

As far as Internet usage goes, I am a power user. I connect all the time with frivolous abandon, and in two weeks I am still under a gigabyte of data. My plan gives six gigs a month, so I think I am safe for a while at least.

Anyway, I gotta get to work. Sometimes I turn on GPS tracker so the kids can watch my ride in realtime on a google map over breakfast (looks like dad is on the bridge now), but the novelty of that has already worn thin.

Bottom line? If you love toys that go beep, this is the ultimate toy.

-- Posted From My iPhone
posted by Daniel @ 7:34 AM   7 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Mind Sets, and Double Mindedness...
Scripture speaks of the man who has his mind set on the things of flesh, and again of the man who has his mind set on the things of the Spirit. It also speaks of the double minded man who is unstable in all his ways.

Sometimes I like to connect the dots for people.

The double minded man is the man who refuses to set his mind on either, and because it is not set on one or the other, he flips and flops between both depending on how he is feeling.

The double minded man is really an immature believer, and you can be immature even if you have the whole bible memorized, and someone in their ignorance has made you an elder or a pastor. In fact, let me vent a bit on that last note. Somewhere along the road we started choosing pastors based on interviews and resumes - as though God suddenly started raising up leaders everywhere else but in our own congregation. We started qualifying our candidates based on their academics, and their table manners. The bible sets the standard at "must be filled with the Holy Spirit" - but since most of the people on the pastoral search committee aren't spirit filled, and don't even know what that really means, they just assume that every sincere believer is spirit filled, and the main qualifier becomes a no-show.

Anyway, my point is that setting your mind on the Spirit means you stop acting like obedience is going to fall out of the sky one day and find you. Instead you get judgment-day-honest with God about how carnal you are, and make it your point to beg God daily to strengthen your "inner man" - that is, to strengthen your resolve to set (as in setting something in concrete) your mind on the things of the Spirit, then you do it. Taking up your daily cross means never giving in to the flesh and its desires. That is what setting your mind on the Spirit looks like. Here is the kicker - your mind is set on the flesh by default, so you don't have to make a choice to set your mind on the flesh - if you aren't struggling day by day to keep yourself in the Spirit at all times - then (by default) your mind is set on the flesh.

When your mind is set on the flesh, your spiritual life is reduced to little forays into obedience - you aren't perfectly obedient to the flesh, but have little fits of spiritual obedience - usually just until a good habit is formed, but once you have formed enough good habits, your spirituality starts to fade in power, since your more concerned with pacifying God by your good deeds than you are about fellowshipping with Him through ascending the holy hill. When we are like that, carnal with fits of spirituality - we are double minded and unstable in all our ways.

It isn't rocket science. How does scripture say it, again and again? Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve - then serve whom you choose. Here is a little life wisdom for you, gleaned from a walk that has taught me this: You can't serve God half heartedly, if you try you will only (in truth) serve the flesh, and pay lip service to God. That little nudge there... that's the Holy Spirit saying, Amen.
posted by Daniel @ 6:41 AM   3 comment(s)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Let not many of you become teachers...
...knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

If the one who teaches does not live out himself the truths that he is teaching, what will the one who hears these truths think of them?

Why do you think it is, in this century and the last especially, or perhaps, "peculiarly" Christians are almost universally regarded as hypocrites? It is because our profession is not found in the way we live, but on our lips only. How does that happen? How many of us excel beyond what we see those in authority do? If the one teaching the truth walks apart from it, we learn that walking apart from the truth is "okay" since "pastor" does it too.

I want to encourage all of us who read the word of God and tremble, to take note of this encouragement - if you can't live it, you really aren't qualified (yet) to teach it. You can pass along the truth with your lips, but it will be hindered profoundly by the testimony of your life.

Sadly, I suspect that those who would benefit most from such an encouragement are probably so far into it, they wouldn't be able to do much more than nod and say amen.

May His grace find everyone who teaches, and make them fit for it.
posted by Daniel @ 7:16 AM   3 comment(s)
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Been Slack Lately
I have been a little slack in the posting department lately it seems.

To be sure, I have written several posts, I just haven't posted anything. Anyone who blogs knows that not everything you start off writing ends up on the front page, as it were, and so it is with me. Sometimes I will write several things, but just not feel comfortable posting them. Usually that happens when I find that explaining what I mean would make the post wearisome to read. When that happens I reason that I should hold off on the topic until I can articulate my point both succinctly and with as much brevity as can be expected.

Either way, I thought I should post something. So this is that something.

I picked up my new iPhone on Wednesday. I have logged a whole 29 minutes of talk time on it since then. The quality of this device is breathtaking - though, as a programmer, I am at odds with the lack of options in the user interface at times. So far I have used 179.8 MB of my 6GB data plan. Really, it being only Saturday morning, and having received the iPhone on Wednesday night, that puts most of that data usage on Thursday and Friday. I admit, I am something of a power user, so I expect that this will probably be about my average - maybe 90 MB a day. that's around 2.7 GB a month - about half my plan. That gives me plenty of room to play with. Video podcasts anyone?

I also started a twitter account. Not that I even care to twitter - but hey, there is a bunch of free twitter apps, and I love free stuff.

I am not sure how to set up the twitter stuff as a side thing on the blog just yet, but I am planning on doing that soon - maybe even sprucing up the place at that time. I am sure there is a widget that does it, but I am not using the canned templates, and that means a bit more work for me.

Anyway, I am off to the day. Gotta make our Saturday morning crepes.

Enjoy the day.

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posted by Daniel @ 10:29 AM   4 comment(s)
 
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