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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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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Thursday, January 31, 2008
Another Five Minute Post.
As I was teaching Greek to my little ones yesterday morning, I began to correct the translation work of my eldest girl. She has been quite good at learning her vocabulary, and learning how to conjugate regular and irregular verbs, how to decline nouns of the first and second declensions, and a multitude of adjectives and prepositions. I say: she can work on this stuff without much supervision. But when we start to do the actual translation she has a miserable time with it.

She knows how to inflect a noun so that it is, say, in the Dative Plural, but she doesn't know when to use it or why you would ever give it that particular inflection.

Now in part this reflects upon my teaching. I have been focused on making sure we are all done our stuff before I go to work in the morning, and that has caused me on more than one occasion to project a "get this done at all costs now" sort of message, and this has been amplified by my daughters own task oriented focus. She is missing the big picture because she is focused on finishing and perfecting the little picture.

Now, it is good and right - and even critically necessary that she completely grasp the little picture; yet one need not do so at the expense of its application, in fact, to do so at the expense of application is a great misunderstanding of the very reason we are studying Greek. The ability to parse a noun or conjugate a verb is critical to correct translation - but seriously, it is just one piece in the translation puzzle. You must know why and when to use these words if you are going to translate from English to Greek or vice versa.

I take from this a lesson for the church. I see that to a greater or lesser extent, many Christians are more focused on the Sunday service than they are on the point of Sunday service. They come on Sunday, but they don't really know -why- they bother showing up - except because "that is what we do when we are Christians".

For some this is simply a habit, for others they are concerned about what people would think if they didn't show up, and for still others they come because it makes them feel good about themselves (less guilty), and some even come just to be entertained or to visit friends, and no matter how pious we personally happen to be, our old man is tuned in to one or more of these reasons. It is far easier to come to church in the flesh for the Sunday sermon than it is the Wednesday prayer night. On Sunday we can see and be seen, yet remain more or less anonymous, fulfill what is expected of us, and go home. But on Wednesday we are actually expected to participate - and frankly, talking to God is best done without hypocrisy, such that guilt will keep most people at home.

My encouragement this morning - brief as it is because I have to get going here - is to make certain that your religion sees the big picture. We do not congregate with other believers in order to "put in as much time as we feel obligated to surrender" -fostering a "just get it over with" mentality betrays our own ignorance of who we are in Christ. When a believer mistakes the reins for a pull rope, the church becomes a burden that he tries to drag around to satisfy God, but when he sees the reins for what they are, he gets on that pony and rides.

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posted by Daniel @ 6:27 AM   5 comment(s)
Monday, January 28, 2008
K790 plus SanDisk 8GB M2 Memory Stick equals Success!
I am a Christian. I mention that because I know that many of you reading this post will have been searching google to find out if Sandisk's 8GB M2 Memory stick works in your Sony Ericsson K790, and I while I delight to offer you the service of letting you know that it worked fine in my phone - seriously - no problems whatsoever - I see all the memory, didn't have to format the card or anything - and it is working like you would expect and hope - absolutely no problems - period. I will post some screen shots later today.

But I have better news that just that. In the top right corner of my blog is a menu item that says "gospel", and if you click on it and read it, you will be reading my understanding of what the bible says about sin, Jesus, and how we know whether we are going to go to heaven or hell when we die. I tried to make it an interesting read, and not to judgmental, so if the info for the phone helps, I should like to do you a much greater service - check out the gospel.

Typical Status Pic...UPDATE: Here is the first pic. At this point, I have actually used up about 1.5GB of space on the card, so I should expect to see something like 6500MB available on the Memory Stick. So I go to the menu, select the settings menu item (lower right corner), and scroll down the "General" Tab to the "Phone Status" menu item, and click on it. What do I see? I see that on the phone itself I have 69 MB free. The K790 has 80 MB of phone memory in total, but a lot of it is used up by garbage that came with the phone. The thing that probably strikes you, and depending on how much you know about programming, even may frighten you - is that the "memory stick" is showing only 4095 MB free. My quick math above suggested there should really be about 6500 MB free. Am I missing 2500 MB?

Here is the thing. Whoever wrote the function call that checks to see how much memory is used up on the memory card had to store that value in a variable. The 4095 MB Free tells me (a programmer) that the type of variable they used was an unsigned integer - a 36 bit variable that stores a number anywhere from -34,359,738,368 to +34,359,738,368. The number 34,359,738,368 represents the number of bits. There are 8 bits in a byte, so if we divide that number by 8 it tells us how many bytes we are talking about: 34,359,738,368 / 8 = 4,294,967,296 bytes. to find out how many Megabytes that is, we divide it by 1024 x 1024. which gives us 4096 MB.

That tells us a few things. If the phone couldn't see the card, or was presuming it to be a 4GB card instead of an 8GB card, we should expect to see it telling us that there are only 2500MB (or so) free, since I used up about 1500 MB already. But because we don't see that, but instead see 4095 MB, my presumption is that the phone actually sees the memory on the stick, but the function call that returns the value to the "phone status" program isn't big enough to hold the whole value - so it just returns the biggest value it can: 4095.

To test that theory, I exited the "settings" menu, and instead went to the "file manager" menu (that folder on the left side of the first menu third from the top?), and as soon as I was in, I selected the "more" option on the right, and scrolled down to the third item on that little list - "Memory Status". The screenshot here tells a different tale altogether doesn't it? Whoever coded the call to the memory stick here did a better job, because it is reporting the actual remaining memory - 6593 MB.

I haven't had any problems with the card. It does take a little longer to start the apps because there is more card to read - but that isn't really all that annoying. You may note that in the background of the last screenshot some of the content on my card - SpongeBob videos, two Star Trek (The Original Series of course) DVDs that I ripped from my personal library, etc. Yes. I am a geek. I made the theme too, though these particular screen shots don't do the theme justice.

posted by Daniel @ 7:00 AM   8 comment(s)
Don't Have Time For The Lord Today?
Perhaps today is the day when your schedule is really, really lean. You have to shave off some prayer time, some study time, some meditation time, in order to make all your commitments..

If you are in Christ, let me remind you that God is your commitment buddy - God is your schedule.


posted by Daniel @ 6:57 AM   5 comment(s)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
A Black Belt...
One of the leaders in our church works in the aerospace industry. As part of his job he was trained to the level of "black belt" in the Six Sigma approach to improving improving business performance. I know this because he stores all our meeting notes in the coolest looking binder you have ever seen - a binder he received as a result of this Six Sigma training.

Now, as a IT professional myself, I have been to all sorts of business standards training, and what not, and I have my own binders, but none were as cool as this one, and frankly after noticing it a few times in our meetings I couldn't help but ask what this black belt thing was. I mean - let's face it, calling it a "Level 4" certification sounds nice, but calling it "black belt" certification makes it sound far more gritty and cool than something as synthetic sounding as "such and such certified".

In the course of describing what exactly this black belt designation meant, he described one of the underlying principles behind the whole process. The idea that if a business can perform any task "right" once, there is no good reason why that same task cannot be done right every time, so long as the process is understood, captured, and thereafter adhered to. This is not really a theory, but a reality.

Not really rocket science, if I dial the same number on my phone, from the same location, I will connect every time without fail. Once I have established the way to do a thing - I can do it every time.

That simple formula is true of pretty much any process you can think of, and not only is it true, but it is also intuitive - we know that if we solved some puzzle once, we can solve it again if we follow the same solution. It is this intuitive, experiential reality that causes many of us to embark upon a similar course when it comes to sin in our lives. Whether we have ever articulated it or not, the default approach to dealing with sin amounts to little more than trying to find the right and repeatable solution to the sin puzzle.

The instruction given in the law and the prophets boils down, we are told, to one simple commandment: to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But even when we boil down all that is required of us to one simple requirement - yet that one requirement is not something we can ever do even once in our own strength, for if we could, we would not need the cross to be free from sin - why, we would only need the recipe, or solution to the sin problem, and thereafter we could follow that and be free from sin.

The greatest hindrance to your holiness is the idea that you can be holy by doing the right things. The greatest hindrance to loving your neighbor as yourself is imagining that you are able to do so. If you were ever able to do so Christ serves no purpose in this world. That is a truth that must not only be chewed on, but fully digested.

The truth is, if you could love even one person the way God commands you to love every person... then Christ would not have had to die to save you from your sin - since you could save yourself from sin by following the right prescription all the time.

You see... cookbook solutions work only in situations where you can correct the problem by correcting or perfecting the process. But they do not work where the problem does not originate in the process - a broken limb will heal right every time if it is correctly set every time - but only if the limb is attached to a living person. A broken limb will not mend no matter how pristinely it has been set, if it is in fact a severed limb, or the limb of a dead man. The problem is not that the limb is broken, it is that the limb is dead.

Sin is like that. The commandment is to love others as you love yourself. It isn't that you cannot do that all the time, it is that you cannot do that at all. You cannot love anyone at all, any time - at least not in the way we are commanded to love one another.

Now, don't get me wrong - you can have profound affection for another person - you can dearly desire good for them, etc. etc. But you cannot love them like you love yourself, it isn't in you - or to be doctrinally precise - it isn't in your "old man" to do that. It never was, and becoming a Christian will not change that.

What happens is that Christ in you, can love - and if you surrender yourself to Christ you will appropriate His love through that surrender and, in doing so, Christ will love another through you, and thereby (and only thereby) you can and do keep the commandment. You do not keep the commandment by your own ability to make yourself love someone else, but rather you keep it when you allow Christ in you to love through as you surrender daily to Him.

I wonder if that makes sense to anyone else but me?
posted by Daniel @ 7:11 AM   5 comment(s)
Friday, January 25, 2008
Oh How Splendid We Are - Part II
In my previous post I mentioned a passage from Ezekiel that is often understood to be a description of what Satan's fall looked like. The prophet is certainly comparing the king of Tyre to a very exalted angel who fell, and I think it is no stretch to presume the comparison is being made to Satan. The comparison Ezekiel uses tells us in comparative language exactly how God regards the King of Tyre - the passage is certainly about him - but because every comparison is compared against something - we end up learning a lot about Satan's fall secondhand as it were. It is good to remember that the verse is about the King of Tyre - but it would be a matter of very poor discretion to therefore ignore what scripture teaches us about Satan's sin.

Typically, the distillation of this passage that I most often hear in sermons or conversation is that pride was behind Satan's sin therefore we should be on guard against pride so that we don't likewise fall. That is, of course, a very sound conclusion - but perhaps in the Spirit there is room for more instruction. Time will tell.

When I last read that, I began to meditate on what it means to corrupt one's wisdom. First I am careful both to see the relationship between wisdom and intelligence, and to keep what distinguishes them clear in my understanding. Wisdom is like the arm that wields the sword of intelligence. A very sharp and well balanced sword will cut - even if wielded by an unskilled and weak arm. A very powerful and proficient arm will be able to cut with even a dull and clumsy sword. One could extend the metaphor I suppose to war. A cunning general can make great use of even a small band of soldiers, but a dimwitted general will require a large army to do anything of substance. Satan corrupted his wisdom and in doing so compromised his ability to make sound decisions.

The student (studying to be a doctor) who routinely cheats on his exams may well become a doctor one day, but his short term success will only result in long term failure. The exams are not meaningless hurdles to be vaulted over (in any way possible) as one hurries headlong to their doctorate - they are opportunities to demonstrate to one's self and one's instructors that one is fit for the same office one is ascending to. Wisdom causes good students prepare for the job, and lack of wisdom allows bad students to reach for things they are by no means prepared to receive. Their desire to "receive the prize" becomes more important to them than whether or not they deserve the prize. Their wisdom is corrupt - they believe that because they desire a thing it doesn't matter whether they deserve it or not, what matters is that they receive it.

Now we have a lot to learn from such things I think, on a personal level. There is certainly room for each of us to examine our own desires and see how they corrupt our wisdom - for as sure as there was a yesterday they do, and there is much to be gained should we do so - but today I was thinking more about a corporate, congregational application.

When our Pastor resigned in July, we lost a few of the adherants who had been coming to our church. You know the sort, they haven't plugged into the church yet, but they have plugged into the pastor. They have no connection to the core people, but they like to hear the pastor speak. When he steps down, suddenly they have no connection to the church. They want to follow the pastor, and if he isn't preaching somewhere, they go elsewhere in the hope of finding some new person to listen to on Sunday mornings. We are a small congregation, and not immune to this phenomenon. Our core group hasn't dwindled one whit since our pastor resigned, if anything it has grown a little - and I consider that a good thing (the growth of the core). Yet some may well be concerned in seeing the rust fall from the iron because it means a loss of weight to the whole, and in this I see the application of this passage in Ezekiel to whole congregations.

How many congregations compare themselves with the big church over there? They talk about how big and new and fancy their building is, what a magnificent audio and video set up they have, their gymnasium, their bookstore, their school, their city-wide sunday school program, etc. etc. They also compare themselves doctrinally - that church is only big because it is shallow and catering to the world, and we are small because we refuse to do that! Sounds like the Pharisee praying beside the tax collector to me. Thank you God that we are not a big church filled with people and riches and shallow worship and bad doctrine - thank you God that we are not like that, but are instead solemn and faithful ...

You see, if in your heart you compare your small church to the megachurch and find your church wanting, you are looking at your own splendor, such as it is, instead of looking to the Lord, and when you do that you corrupt your wisdom just as surely as if your church was magnificent. You really do. You corrupt it in this way - you are beginning to forget who is building the church - Jesus.

Scripture doesn't teach us to turn every church into own own personal tower of Babel, but there is a corrupt wisdom out there that does. I would write more, and I want to, but my time is limited. Whether you find yourself in a big congregation or a puny one - it's Christ's congregation. When a multitude of disciples turned away from following Jesus (at the end of John chapter six), though the numbers went down in a drastic way, yet Christ hadn't lost a single soul - it was just the falling away of rust. It wasn't that Jesus lost them, it was that they were never His in the first place, His teaching revealed -that- to them when they found themselves no longer able to enjoy what He was saying.

Looking at the splendor of our congregation and comparing it with the splendor of other congregations whether our comparison is about numbers, holiness, elders, young people, or any dynamic you can imagine - it is all vanity. God gives the growth, our job as individuals and congregationally is to keep our eyes off ourselves and on the Lord. Amen?
posted by Daniel @ 6:16 AM   2 comment(s)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Oh How Splendid We Are!
Ezekiel 28:17 says,
17Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. [ESV]
Because the language in the passage speaks of the garden of Eden, and being the covering Cherub etc. many have believed that regardless of who is being spoken of, they are being compared to Satan and his fall.

For this post it doesn't really matter whether you interpret those verses to speak primarily about Satan or not, but it does matter that you chew on them. There is a way to corrupt your own wisdom, to warp entirely your spiritual perspective and it begins by becoming convinced that you are more than you really are.
posted by Daniel @ 7:49 AM   2 comment(s)
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Still Learning Flash...
Yeah, it'll take a few months I suppose before I can put anything tasty on the blog - you know, like links that roll up when you arn't using them, and, well generally "useful" things, as opposed to "hey look what I learned how to do!" sort of things - but either way, it is still fun.

Once I have a better working knowledge, and some serious time - I will try and do a template that is a bit more connected.
posted by Daniel @ 7:44 PM   2 comment(s)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Chatting Up The Kids...
I try and spend 90 minutes each weekday morning with my two eldest children. Roughly two thirds of that time is spent reading then discussing a chapter of scripture, and the other third in studying biblical Greek. During our time together this morning, we were examining 2 Samuel 12, the chapter where [1] Nathan confronts David about his illicit affair with Bathsheba, and of course the cover up of that sin through the premeditated murder of Uriah, and [2] the God afflicts the child of that adulterous union with an illness that eventually (on the seventh day) kills the child.

As we sat down we rehearsed again the way in which two passages in scripture affect our time in God's word. The first passage being found in the second chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: the natural man cannot comprehend spiritual things. We rehearsed again how if we understand anything spiritual it is not because we are so smart, but because God in His grace has deigned to allow us to comprehend a spiritual truth, thus our attitude is one of thankful dependence upon God's Spirit to teach. The other passage is found in the second chapter of James' epistle wherein we are reminded that God gives understanding liberally to those who ask him for it without doubting.

Because I wanted to make sure the children weren't simply aping what I was doing, we briefly discussed the difference between seeking God in prayer, and running from God in prayer. A man can very well ask God all the right things - please open my understanding, please keep me from error - but in his heart he doesn't want to know the Lord in what he is doing, rather he has been trained that this is what you ask, and if you don't perhaps God will punish you, or fail to bless you. This sort of heart is trying to "do the right thing" for the wrong reason - either to avoid God's disappointment, or to appease some requirement. Instead one must come to God because one wants to be with God - that is the purpose of the prayer. I used as an example the way my children rush to meet me each night when I come home from work. The did so because they love me, and they take joy in my coming home. But what if they believe that they had to run up and greet me? That if they failed to do so I would love them less, or maybe punish them - or perhaps withhold from them some privilege they presently enjoyed? Would running up to greet me be the same? In the same way, or so I explained, you can come to God in prayer and not really be "seeking" Him, but rather seeking something for yourself, that is, seeking to satisfy some requirement that you believe with either benefit you or at least keep you from something unfortunate.

We then prayed, and began to read the text previously mentioned.

The illicit affair was easily explained to the children - we focused first on how wrong David's conduct had been, secondly on how David reacted when Nathan confronted with his sin - that David did not continue trying to hide it, but confessed immediately. We noted how immediate and complete God's forgiveness had been, and mused by extension how God forgives our sin just as thoroughly and quickly.

But the discussion about the death of that child who was born of David and Bathsheba's adulterous union took some time. The text plainly says that God made the child sick, and that the child died on account of that sickness. I asked - does God ever take a man's life? They weren't sure so we looked at the last plague in Egypt, and again at the plagues that filled the wilderness with the corpses of disobedient Israel, and even Nadab and Abihu, and Uzzah, and lest we imagine God was any less holy in the NT I could mention Annanias and Saphira. The point was, God most certainly took life.

My question at that point was, "Is God evil for taking life?" The knee-jerk reaction (of course) is to reason that God is not wicked in ending the life of a sinner, since every sinner's life is forfeit on account of sin. The trouble with that however is that David sinned, not the baby - and God's word is very clear about putting to death the son for the sins of the father - God will not do that. So we are left with the idea that God put the child to death for its own sin - even though reason tells us that the babe was by no means capable of sin.

After some discussion, I brought the matter into perspective by asking whether God is required to give life to anyone, and if having given it - is God required to sustain it? Although we find ourselves on the receiving end of an unpleasant truth - yet the truth is that God is not morally obligated to give us life, nor is he morally obligated to sustain our life. The only reason murder is murder is, after all, because we are taking away something that isn't ours to take. If God takes away life, He is only taking back what has always been His.

This fundamental difference between ourselves and God is a very important lesson for us all to learn if we are to understand grace with any depth. If we cannot fathom how God can take any life and every life and still be righteous - we neither understand who God is, nor do we understand who we are, and having such a crippled understanding of these things - our religion is going to be very person-o-centric.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:49 PM   10 comment(s)
Friday, January 11, 2008
I would like to be more spiritual,
But I don't have enough time...
On judgment day God is going to show many of us that we actually did have enough time, we just weren't willing to let go of a multitude of worthless things in order to do what God was calling us to do.

"I don't have enough time" translates for many of us into, "I don't have enough time to do all that God calls me to do because deep down given a choice between what I want to do with my time and what Christ calls me to do with my time, I consistently and continually choose what I want to do, and thereby grieve that Holy Spirit that calls me to surrender myself..."

Walking in the flesh is the default walk for all of us. It simply means choosing to live out the desires of the flesh - whatever the flesh demands, that is what the will agrees to do. If the flesh says you don't have enough time to gratify me and God both, you choose to gratify the flesh and leave God wanting. That is what walking in the flesh looks like.

The immature believer wants this: the flesh to desire godly things. They pray for that in their ignorance - Dear God, please make me patient, make me obedient, make me more loving, make me ... the list doesn't end.

Listen: God isn't going to make your flesh suddenly desire godly things. That is a pipe dream, a farce, a lie, a false hope that can keep a well meaning Christian on a rat wheel running but going nowhere for decades. Learn this from scripture - the only thing God does with the desires of the flesh is tell you that the thing that is producing them died with Christ on Calvary, and that you no longer are it's slave on that account.

You see, we have our own opinions about what freedom from the bondage to sin should look like. Most of us start out thinking that freedom from the bondage to sin is going to mean that we no longer have sinful desires. We presume freedom from means an absence of desire. But God did not such the sin out of our lives as one sucks poison from a wound. No, "us" that we call "the flesh" is not our skin and bones, it is the part of us that we would call "sin" - and it will -not- be cured by God, it will be destroyed. To be succinct, it has already been destroyed on Calvary two millenia ago.

To get your mind around that, know that what Christ took to the cross includes your yesterdays, today, and tomorrows. Sin is going to be with you until the day you die, and all that sin will do to you every day of your life - all of that Christ took to the cross. If you are in Christ, it is a matter of factual information that you have been crucified with Christ, it is a factual matter that the thing inside of you that continues to rebel against God and demand that you obey its desires - that -sin- no longer has dominion over you, but that doesn't mean sin is absent from you, it means that Christ Who overcame sin abides with you, is in you, and is Lord over you, and through your union with Christ, you now have been set free from that bondage: you are longer "owned" by sin, but owned by God in Christ.

Hear me children, brothers, sisters - You will never overcome sin by seeking its absence, you over come sin because you have a new indwelling Master who by Himself has defeated sin and death. You overcome sin not by gritting your teeth and suppressing it, but by surrendering to the Lordship of Christ. If you are in Christ you now have two desires - the "old", default desire of the flesh, which we often simply think of as "our own desires", and now a new desire to please God that came upon us the moment Christ entered into us. Moment by moment we are given the choice of surrendering what we do to one or the other desire. If we surrender our will to the flesh and obey its desires we are walking in the flesh, but if we surrender our will to the Spirit of Christ and obey His desires, we are walking in the Spirit.

The mind that makes excuses for, and justifies a continued obedience to the flesh scripture describes as being "set on the flesh" - it is a "carnal mindset" - not living in subjection to the will of God, but expressing its enmity for God in an open disdain for, and subsequent setting aside of, God's will.

That is why the Christian life is war.

We are at war with the flesh and its desires. It writhes on the cross, flesh from the cross - refuses to regarded as a defeated foe. It makes its demands of us as though it still owned us, and only the defeated and ignorant make a habit of laying down their sword, and making camp under its banner. The duty of every Spirit filled believer is to know who they are in Christ - to know that they are called moment by moment to this battle - to take the fight beyond putting band-aids on the symptoms and start dealing with the disease.

The part of you, if you are in Christ, who wants to obey God - the part that convicts you that you ought not to surrender yourself to this sin or that sin? That is the will of Spirit you received the day you believed, and resisting that will is far easier when we are ignorant and full of lies. When scripture says that the devil seeks to devour people, let me tell you, although the father of lies devours in many ways, I think a very common way is to keep believers ignorant or deceived about these truths I mention today. The Romans six through eight truths - the "Christ is in you now, you must obey Him now" truths.

If the devil can keep you convinced that you aren't there yet, you will continue to chase the wind thinking that you are pursuing a righteousness that you never seem able to obtain. No, you must learn that the battle isn't about being free from sin's desire - because you won't get free from sin's desire, that isn't how it works - you are set free from sin's power, from its authority, from its ability to own and rule you. In -Christ- who defeated sin you can (if you obey Christ) deny even the desires that your sinful flesh today is calling you to obey. He has defeated sin, you won't unless you surrender to the one who has defeated sin, there is no victory for you. Know Christian, that the thing that is producing sinful desire in you is dying right now Calvary 2000 years ago in Christ, the same Christ who defeated it - who is in you - who is FOR you, and who is directing you this moment and every moment down the path - HIS - path, to victory. You cannot defeat your sinful desires, but Christ already has. Your job therefore is to stop trying to defeat sin, and instead obey Christ and in doing so He will defeat sin in you - not by your power to resist sin, but by His victory 2000 years ago over that thing that is presently demanding you to obey its sinful lusts - that condemned foe who would continue to rule you.

Every moment you live Christian you must choose whom you will obey, that which is killing you, or that Him who is freeing you from that death. Do you want to fellowship with Christ - learn who Christ in you is. You cannot fellowship with a person you consistently and continually ignore and disobey - learn who it is you are shunning when you obey the flesh - listen - the love you have for Christ isn't supposed to be some amorphous thing that your affections can't quite pin down. Like trying to hang a sign on a wall that lacks a nail - that isn't how your relationship with Christ is supposed to be. He is here, if you are in Him, and nearer than a brother. The problem is you are so busy obeying the flesh, and resisting Him, you never fellowship with him except when you pray and beg him to change your flesh, which He will never do.

You must come to the Christ that is in you Christian - you cannot make up another Christ and try going to Him. Don't waste your time imagining that you must build a bridge by your own righteousness to God, Christ is the bridge, and He is in you, and if you would only learn to obey instead of forsake Him, you would know fellowship with him - and truly, that fellowship will be a fire in your soul the next time the flesh calls. You were never meant to walk alone brother, sister, you were meant to walk in the Spirit.

May God open eyes to His truth, to His son, and do a work in our generation.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:25 AM   10 comment(s)
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
It's Finally Eventually Here!
If you will recall, sometime in September of last year I began perusing amazon.ca in an attempt to secure for purchase a used copy of Macromedia Studio 8. Specifically I wanted a newer version of Macromedia "Flash".

I managed to find a copy of the whole studio for $150 CAD, and quickly put in an order, only to find the seller's PayPal account was all messed up or something, and Amazon cancelled the transaction after a couple of days.

Not lightly discouraged, I found another seller, this time selling the package for $190. I bit the bullet again, and again the deal fell through. I wanted version 8 because it was the last version put out by Macromedia before Abode bought out the company, labelled it Adobe CS3, bundled it with Photoshop and raised the price higher to that of purchasing a small Mediterranean island. Even just the stand alone Flash from Adobe is currently priced at $900.00 CAD - which is frankly $750 more than I am willing to shell out for a piece of software.

I tried again, and this time the transaction went through. Then I waited. A month of silence passed in which the seller did not reply to any of my email, and eventually I had to apply to Amazon for a refund - which the politely and promptly gave. I tried again, and my transaction went through again. This time the vendor promptly sent me a CD copy of the software he had burned himself, along with a note explaining that he didn't have the serial number yet, but planned to email me it as soon as he got it. Sigh. Can you say "Pirate?" I applied to Amazon again for a refund, and again promptly got one.

I realized that I hadn't been praying about this, so at some point I talked it over with the Lord. I had been faithful in that I didn't want to use stolen (albeit cheaper!) software, and that my intentions were good (one thing I thought I might use it for is a ministry project with my kids - making a gospel tract together, since the planning of project would require much godly conversation, and be fun at the same time), and I left it at that.

Two weeks ago I was browsing again, and saw an older version (version 7) being sold for $50 CAD -brand, spanking new (still in the box!). Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004. To give you an appreciation for what a deal that is, if I had purchased an even older version and wanted to upgrade it to this version I could pay upwards of $350 US. Needless to say, it seemed too good to be true, but I jumped at it anyway.

It arrived in the mail today - real, legitimate, and impossibly cheap.

Thank you Lord.

I shall be playing with it over the next few months, so look for some refinements to the blog's look and feel eventually.


posted by Daniel @ 9:27 PM   2 comment(s)
Weekend Creampuffs.
You have a good, consistent devotional time - at least during the week. Getting up for work, or going to bed early or whatever it is exactly - having a schedule that you cannot escape allows you to plan and keep your devotional times daily.

But it is the weekend that shows you how much of your devotion is habit, and how much is love. Do you find yourself skipping out on prayer and bible reading on Saturdays and especially on Sundays?

Good habits are good, don't get me wrong, but if this brief post tweaks something in you, pay attention to that. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to examine whether you do devotions or are actually devoted.
posted by Daniel @ 7:46 AM   3 comment(s)
Sunday, January 06, 2008
As we were preparing to retire for the night, my wife and I were chatting last night. I have an outstanding obligation to our church that I have had ample time to conclude, but haven't started yet, and she, being a good wife, a good Christian, and a concerned member of our congregation, challenged me on why I was procrastinating.

My knee-jerk reaction was not the norm for me. While I could not deny that I was in fact procrastinating, yet I wanted her to agree with me that my procrastination in this instance was understandable. It certainly isn't, but that part of me that wants to be justified in everything it does - that part wanted to silence my wife's protests by showing that my conduct was "acceptable" given the demands upon my time.

But as we began to discuss it, I was praying because I know that I am wretch who is inclined to ignore anything the Lord would say to me through others, and especially through those who are closest to me; I didn't want to miss the truth by following my ever present self justifying nature, but asked the Lord to open my eyes to the truth in the matter.

My wife wanted to show me that this was not an isolated incident, but that it was a pattern in my life that I was not dealing with. I had to agree. When it was clear that I understood that there was something there, I told her that I needed to examine it for myself before the Lord, to see what it was and where it came from, etc. This post is the fruit of that examination.

The first possible cause for this behavior that I gave my consideration to was the idea that this was some deep seated psychological residue from my upbringing. Perhaps this was the lingering residue of that old resentment I had so passionately felt when as a young man my father was micro-managing my life? After some meditation it became clear that this was not the source - what happened in my childhood did not produce this, but was in actuality the same reaction my wife was identifying - I absolutely hated it when anyone told me what to do, or made me obliged to do anything that I didn't feel like doing.

I thought about the truth of that. How there really is only one thing that gets me angry: being imposed upon. Those three words ought to be unfolded lest I leave a smaller impression than I mean. I began to examine myself, asking myself the question, "Why do you get angry when you are imposed upon? What is it about obligation that riles you so?"

I concluded that unless I desired to do a thing, being obligated to do it was poison to me, that is I wanted to do only what I desired to do, and to avoid anything I did not desire to do; which is really just saying, I want to do whatever I want, and only what I want.

Throughout this meditation I was in and out of prayer, and when I woke this morning I continued to meditate and prayer about it, and began to put the pieces together. The word of God that continued to echo in me was from Romans 7:18, 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. [NASB]. I knew that this "thing" in me that didn't want to obey any other desire than its own had a name - sin.

My wife had seen the symptoms, but I was distilled it in my meditation down to the cause. When Paul speaks of what Christ took to the cross in Romans six, He is talking about this very thing - the part of me that not only calls me to obey its every desire but also convinces me that these same desires are in fact my own. Paul drags that lie out into the light in Romans six and seven, and here are the weapons and armor for this fight.

I should make a distinction between what I am talking about and simple temptation in case some dear soul reading this imagines I am only speaking of dealing with temptation, I am not, I speak of something greater. Temptation is like an enemy scout who has been sent into your camp to draw you out into a battle you will likely lose. Temptations will always come, but they have the greatest power in those areas of your walk where you are still struggling for victory. If you have been a Christian for some time, (unless you are "emergent" of course) I expect the temptation to use corrupt speech or coarse language isn't something you deal with day in and day out. You have moved the fight "inland" as it were, into Canaan - beyond the border skirmishes of your early Christian walk.

No, I am not speaking of temptation here, but rather, like the Israelites entering Canaan, I had come to a fortified stronghold deep in the territory that the Lord on the cross has purchased for me, deep into territory that is by promise mine, but territory that is still held entirely by the enemy. I am speaking about the whole of the war, and the nature of the enemy, and of the means of appropriating the promised victory.

As I considered the words that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Christians in Rome, and by extension, to all Christians everywhere - and in particular - the words that the Holy Spirit intends for me not only to understand but to use in my Christian walk - as I superimposed these words upon my meditation, I began to be as a man who, in putting together a jig-saw puzzle, find those pieces of similar color and design, and groups them together so as to begin applying himself to the task of piecing them together.

I must digress momentarily into a small discussion on the way Satan has employed a "sleight of hand" technique. He is the master of misdirection, and if there is a greater blindness in the church than the one which obscures the facts of our union with Christ on the cross, I am not aware of it.

In Romans 6:6, which is by far the most precious verse in all of scripture by my reckoning, it says, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; [NASB]. That is my dying with Christ frees me from sin's power. That was the purpose of my death in Christ: to save me from sin.

But most Christians I meet have been pabulum fed a misrepresented understanding of this verse, or if not pabulum fed it, they have come to that same conclusion through their own failure to make practical use of the verse. You see, this verse cuts to the core of what we are as believers, and if it is twisted and misunderstood, it can be absolutely crippling to one's walk in Christ. Our Christian experience tells us that sin is still with us. So when we read this verse which says that we are no longer slaves to sin, we instinctively filter it through our own experiences. We must admit that we are very much still sin's slave in practice so we conclude that the verse is speaking of some forensic truth, that is a truth that is true but not experienced. We are then inclined to conclude that while the verse says we are no longer slaves to sin, it means that we are no longer slaves to sin in some sense that allows us to continue to be slaves to sin in the "here and now". We conclude that we are no longer slaves to sin in the sense that we are going to heaven when we die and not to hell; in the sense that we are no longer slaves to sin's penalty. I believe that is a gross, satanic perversion.

In attempting to open my eyes to the magnitude of what my wife and I were discussing last night, my wife mentioned that the same thing that drives my procrastination likely feeds my penchant for delegation. You see, when she asks me to do something that I think can be done by the children, I delegate the responsibility to one or more of the kids.

As I thought about that, and began to see a connection far more complex than my wife was getting at. She was trying to show me that I was just plain lazy, and there is good reason for her to do so. She wanted to show that my procrastination and my penchant for delegation both sprang from the same well - laziness. But as I considered it, I saw that the rabbit hole was much deeper than that.

My desire to delegate household chores is certainly motivated in part by some degree of laziness, I don't deny that. My wife however was unaware that one of the reason I delegate some of the things she asks me to do is because I think she should be asking me to do only those things that cannot be delegated to others. That is, my expectation is that if a task doesn't require me personally to do it, then because I have enough responsibilities elsewhere, and because the children need to learn responsibility - we should get one of the kids to do it - and so as soon as my wife would ask me to do a thing, I would call the kids together and delegate the task out, and in doing so, show my wife that it was my expectation that she should delegate to the children instead of burdening me withe the superfluous task of being her middle man.

It was this train of thought that really opened the door in my meditation this morning. First of all, I am called to love my wife as Christ loved the church, and I don't think the delegation model covers that. I could really spend some time discussing the ways in which I could improve as a husband, for there are many, and surely you who are reading see some room there, but I don't dare digress on that at this point, for my main point is already delayed by all this intro. It is suffice to say that I saw something "wrong" about my delegation that I had always ignored before: I hated it when my wife told me to do something.

I hated it whenever anyone imposed upon me to do anything.

This is when I began again, as I have done many times in my walk with Christ, to look at who I am. I asked myself why I liked doing one thing and not another? How did I choose what I would enjoy doing, and what would be repugnant to me? I didn't ask those questions in the exact words stated but they were the raw cry of my prayerful inquiry.

I concluded that there was a part of me that not only desired things and not only was only satisfied when its desires were answered, but was violently opposed to doing anything other than its desires. This "thing" I understood to be sin. Not that it "was a sin" but that it was "sin" itself. This was the very thing that died on Calvary with Christ.

With these thoughts in my head, as I still lay in my bed, I pulled out my Sony Clié (palm pilot), and cracked open my bible reader, and quickly read the passage from Romans seven that seemed most relevant to my thoughts: Read these verses through, especially if you are inclined to skip over them - read them with your heart focused on the fact that there is a part of you that is still in rebellion against everything except self...

1Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. 4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. Romans 7:1-6 [NASB]

How these verses tugged at my understanding this morning! To be sure I read more than just these verses, but they make a good start.

The point here is really a continuation of what Paul began chapter six of Romans - you have been set free from sin, you are no longer sin's slave Christian. Oh, but my heart objects! I -am- a slave in practice, I rage against that slavery, it is the source of a mountain of woe, confusion, and fear. It hangs me daily with that damning epitaph - "Hypocrite!" What strength I have is found only in driving the fact that I am a grand hypocrite far from my mind by speaking platitudes about how God loves me, and how I am certainly His child. But the fact remains, I am at odds with what I expect myself to be.

Here then is where I found some joy this morning, a joy that I am sharing with you in my own way. You see, Paul spells it out quite literally, and even clearly, but it is our confusion about our experience that makes it obscure. Paul says that sin still dwells in him - and that echoes your experience and mine. Sin does dwell in us. The verb dwell there comes from the Greek noun for house (oikios), and coupled with the prefix (en) it conveys the idea of being inside a house, that is, of living or remaining in a place - or to use the colloquial - being "at home". Sin remains in us, it is at home in us. That doesn't change because we are Christians, all that has changed is that Christ has taken that thing that is at home in us to the cross and there defeated it forever.

But, as my wife would say, where is the practical application? How do I take something like that and apply it to my Christian life?

Here is how.

That thing inside of me that is only satisfied with its own desires, and rages against any other obligation - the thing that gives rise to the symptoms of anger, laziness, procrastination, etc. - that thing that hates to be told what to do - that thing that didn't suddenly become powerless or disappear the moment you became a believer, and has been the source of all your secret dread ever since - that thing is the thing that we are simply supposed to identify as condemned, and foreign to our new standing in Christ.

Have you ever wondered what it means to walk in the Spirit? It means that the sin inside you that continues to make demands must not be allowed to rule you. You must see it for what it is, the last remnant of who you were, a condemned thing whose continual rebellion is death itself - you must see this thing not as the "you" that you assume it to be, but as the "old you" - the thing Christ took to the cross, the thing God destroyed. It isn't destroyed yet because your life is not yet over, but at the end of your days here on earth, all that you were is going to be back 2000 years and partake of Christ's death on the cross. In the here and now that thing is alive and well, and it is your job Christian to know that it only ever earns the wage of death.

Separate yourself from it in your understanding. The old you is condemned by God, and you must in the here-and-now agree with that condemnation by warring against it in your spirit. When the part of you that desires only itself rises up you must see it for what it is, and go to war - that thing must be condemned- it must be put on the cross. When you agree with God against the "old you", you are putting to death the deeds of the body. When you see the new you as foreign to the old you, you are starting to understand what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit means not obeying your own desires, but obeying God's desires. Brother, sister, ask yourself this - why do I obey one desire above another - plumb the depths of that and you will see that your will is not part of the "old you" that you can choose to give that condemned thing freedom to rule you, or you can deny it and obey what scripture informs you that you should be doing. One was is the way of the flesh, and the other is the way of the Spirit.

Christ died to free you from sin - to free you from sin's power. Your job on the earth is nothing more than to walk in the fullness of that freedom that was purchased so dearly for your joy. Get about being free!

Ignorance is darkness - let God's light shine, let his words be the lamp that guides your feet (conduct). Learn how to be free, and be free - then rejoice in your Savior.
posted by Daniel @ 7:06 AM   3 comment(s)
Friday, January 04, 2008
The World Famous
Word Verification
Free Association Game™ #3
Well, it is Friday, and a new year, and that means verification word acronym haikus.

Today's haiku speciality will be rhyme - you must make your haiku rhyme. I know, I know, Haikus aren't supposed to rhyme, but that is the order for the day.

If you have never played before, all comments must be in the format of a three line haiku poem (the first line has five syllables, the second seven syllables, and the last line five syllables), and you must furthermore use blogger's word verification as an acronym for your haiku - such that if your verification word was ssxpbii, your haiku would have to have seven words each beginning with (in order) the letters of the verification word. To add pizazz, this week the haiku's must rhyme somewhere:

thus: [verification word] SSXPBII

(5 syllables) Sufficiently slow
(7 syllables) Xylophone players blow (note the rhyme)...
(5 syllables) Internal items.

Okay, it isn't very good, but it is quite a job making it rhyme and using all the letters of the verification word

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posted by Daniel @ 6:10 PM   15 comment(s)
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