H  O  M  E          
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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The Nashville Statement
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.
My complete profile...
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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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Seminary or Feminary?
Just kidding. I like provocative titles.

Really, today I would rather talk about how we often try to do what God wants us to do, rather than (or instead of) trying to be with God.

Guilt and fear make me want to try to do what every good Christian ought to do; to obey God. I think in terms of doing what is right, and that usually ends up being a matter of habit rather than conscious thought. More than this, it ends up being driven by sin rather than love, as I am not drawing near to God in love, rather I am trying not to sin in order to avoid making myself God's enemy. In this mindset I am driven whenever temptation comes upon me to act according to what I know is right, and it makes my walk with the Lord reactionary; that is, it becomes a passive thing. I react to temptation, because I want to avoid real or imagined consequences.

Love however, causes me to want to be with someone. I mean, that is what love produces isn't it? Remember when you first fell in love? You "moment by moment" day wasn't consumed by trying to avoid doing things he or she hated, and making sure you did a few things he or she liked. No, all you wanted was to phone that person up, and talk for hours, or to hang out, or anything - you just wanted to be with that person. Likewise with your children, siblings, parents or even just close friends - you just want to be with them don't you? I mean, that's the point of it all isn't it? To be with the ones you love and to enjoy their company?

God wants to be with us and enjoy our company, and we, when love is motivating us, want to be with God and in His company - and not just for a daily visit here and there when we are tempted or whatnot - but throughout the whole day. Love is like that.

The Christian, rightly motivated, is driven to seek God because love demands it of him or her. They want to be with God. They hate their sin because it mars their fellowship with God; and they obey and seek to obey because God cannot fellowship with disobedient children. They don't simply try and do good, they try and stay in fellowship, and there is a world of difference, motivationally speaking, between doing something to avoid or pacify God's wrath, and doing something because one doesn't want to be away from (in the sense of broken fellowship) their God.

Which sounds a little like a dichotomy, do one or the other. The truth is that if one seeks God for any other reason than love, that seeking will consist only of trying to do the right thing - and doing so will never satisfy the one who does it for long, because the joy of the Lord is our strength, and operating from a position of duty rather than joy offers no strength to anyone except what they can muster up from the well of their own resolution - which isn't much. But that isn't to say that one ought not to form good habits or deal with sin and temptation as it comes up - it will come up, and that part of our walk has to be reactionary to some extent - but it was never meant to be by itself, representative of that walk we are called to.

I think we are supposed to seek the Lord for our own joy, and when we do our disciplined habits work with our desire to be or remain in fellowship with God, rather than stand in the place of fellowship as though these things were by themselves the purpose of our walk. The purpose of our walk is joy in daily and living fellowship with our God.

I still liked the provocative title though.


posted by Daniel @ 9:12 AM   2 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday Morning.
I will be waking up the kids in about ten minutes to start Greek, I just got back from a wonderful time of prayer at church, and its about 6:50 a.m. It was pouring rain last night - somewhere between one or two inches, and I go to work in about an hour.

Prayer time was awesome, and I look forward to teaching the kids - then riding my bike 10 miles to work in the cold (I live in Canada) September rain. In fact, I am sort of looking forward to the ride in, as I have rain gear, and can plow through the puddles and don't really care about getting wet or cold.

My thoughts this morning are about doing a good job at work - working to the best of my ability, that God might be glorified, and again, as my wife plans on entertaining a woman's group this evening, on coming home and spending some quality time with the kids.

My back is pretty sore too.

Well, pitter-patter, let's get at her.
posted by Daniel @ 6:54 AM   2 comment(s)
Friday, September 19, 2008
His Overlooked Ministry
Thanks to all the sappy love songs of previous decades gone by, most people think of a broken heart as that sad empty feeling we get when love goes sour, or something we really hoped to have is withheld or even lost to us.

A broken heart, in our culture, is a little red thing with a crack in it on an "I miss you" or a "forgive me" card.

I want you to consider the heart in Luke 6:45 where we read
"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." [NASB]
Here scripture paints the heart as more than the center of emotion; here the heart is the center of our driving desires. A man who desires good things will from those desires draw forth good out of his heart, and a man who desires wickedness will draw forth the same from his heart. No big surprise there, I suppose, as I think we all can see that plainly enough from the text.

Yet I want you to do your best in the next moment to set aside all your Hallmark™ pre-conditioned thought, and consider for a second what it really means to have a broken heart. Not an, "ouch, my emotions hurt" heart, but an, "Something is wrong with my heart" heart. Think past the clichés and think instead that your "heart" is supposed to be producing right desires and right thoughts all the time (not the muscle/blood pump, but the "you" that you are at your core).

How is your ability to love? How about forgiveness? Bitterness? Do you find yourself freely able to forgive others, yet crippled when it comes to gossiping about someone? Or maybe you are deeply empathetic, or even magnanimous, yet you can't seem to fight an underlying bitterness. I am not trying to be provide an exhaustive list of heart conditions - I just want to give some fodder to start the thought-ball rolling.

Is your heart whole and sound, or has sin broken it in some way? Many ways?

Allow me to be transparent for a bit. One of the reasons, I think, I am not ready for pastoral ministry, is because I lack empathy. If I hear that someone I am acquainted with is in the hospital dying, I accept (intellectually) that this is a difficult thing, yet my heart isn't moved to compassion as I believe it should - as I see others do. There seems to be something broken in me, and scripture says it is my heart.

Now, I want to face that head on; there are some things that we could fake - but doing so would be more dishonest to ourselves than to anyone else. It is wise to sit down and take inventory sometimes, to ask God why it is that you are so bitter, so gossipy, so depressed, so angry, so cold - whatever it is - then listen over the days, weeks and months to the rhythm of live God brings you through - listen to His answer as he unravels the knot for you, and perspective comes to you so that whatever your intellectual capacity happens to be, you will begin to note that you are broken, and you may even know or suspect in what way sin has broken what you were supposed to be.

When you are able to "own" the fact that the heart in you has been broken by sin, then there are some verses that may have profound meaning to you. Verses you may have skipped over as poetry or warm fuzzy, but for-all-intents empty. I hope that given this briefest of introductions to the thought, the Lord's Spirit will move to bring these passages to open up your hope in Him.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. - Psalm 147:3 [NASB]

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; - Psalm 61:1 [NASB]
I could post more like these, but all I want you to do is know that our God binds up the broken hearted. There is more there than putting a smile on a forlorn face, I think. We serve a God who is in the business of making crooked roads straight, sick bodies well, and wrong hearts right.

If you know yourself and your need, get to know your God, for He is able to do for you, abundantly above all you ask or think in this matter. In fact, the first step down this road, I think, is that God has opened your eyes to see it. That's what we call setting a path beneath your feet. You still have to walk it.

I could be mistaken of course - maybe it is all about feeling nice. But I suspect more.


posted by Daniel @ 6:50 AM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Are You As Sad And Geeky As Me?
A quick survey to see if you are as sad a Geek as I am/have been. Give yourself zero points for every [A] answer, one for every [B] answer, two for every [C], and three for every [D].

1. When someone mentions the "fight music" from "Amok Time" you:
[A] Stare blankly at them as though they were speaking another language.
[B] You recognize "Amok Time" as being a Star Trek reference
[C] Like [B], but you know the music
[D] Like [C], but you have the music as the ring tone on your cell right now.

2. When someone asks "Mary-Anne or Ginger?" you:
[A] You wonder whether Mary-Anne is a spice.
[B] You recognize the reference to Gilligan's Island, but have no opinion
[C] Like [B] except you say, "Ginger!"
[D] Like [B] except you say, "Mary-Anne!"

3. Do you know how to "Safety Dance"?
[A] Like with work boots and a hard hat?
[B] I remember the tune, but that's it...
[C] Yeah, I can still do the weird, epileptic hand gestures to this day.
[D] Like [C], only I can do it to Weird Al's "Brady Bunch" and sing along.

4. I used to play a CN FTR-MU-TF:
[A] Is that some kind of musical instrument?
[B] Is that one of those role playing games?
[C] I played Dungeon's and Dragons too, back in the day...
[D] multiclass? Pfffft. Dual class first baby... Ranger to 10th, (for the HP) then Thief till like 16, (you want the quad back-stab; Magic-User till 18 (now that you have the HP), then settle down as a bard for even more HP.

5. 10 OPEN 2,1,0,"D"
[A] Is some cryptic thing I don't understand.
[B] Looks to be a computer instruction.
[C] That's Commodore Basic!
[D] ahhh, sweet memories. That OPENs the commodore 64's cassette drive for reading.

6. "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike"
[A] these words mean nothing to me. Is that a poem or something?
[B] hmmmm. I think I played a text game once....
[C] Zork - "Colossal Cave Adventure"... I remember it well.
[D] I typed in "Xyzzy" to teleport out of them.

7. Off the top of your head, the value of Pi is:
[A] approximately 3
[B] approximately 3.14
[C] approximately 3.1415
[D] approximately 3.243F (Hexadecimal)

8. True or False: I have used a wire to ground out a pay phone to make a free call
[A] I never ever heard of that.
[B] I didn't think that would work.
[C] I tried it, but never got it to work.
[C] Yeah, and I gave all my friends free phone calls too. Wretch that I was...

9. My favorite subject in High School was:
[A] Drama!
[B] English!
[C] Math!
[D] Physics!

10. Final year of Chemistry in High school:

[A] I didn't take Chemistry.
[B] I failed.
[C] I passed.
[D] I didn't do a stitch of work for the whole year, read the text book cover to cover the night before the exam, walked into exam room the next day and -aced- the exam to get an overall "50" in the course - passing with a "D", and felt quite smug about it afterward.

Now, if you scored 27 or higher, I would say you are pretty sad and geeky. If you scored between 20 and 26, you are probably still sad and geeky, just not as much. If you scored between 10 and 20, you're a little geeky, but really, not impressively so. If you scored less than ten, you probably were dating in high school, and if less than five, you were probably happy too.


posted by Daniel @ 2:15 PM   16 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Encouragement In Prayer
When we get together for prayer, it happens that some are laboring in the strength of their sincerity, and in the hope of their piety, to move God to look upon their request with mercy.

Yet others come to prayer filled with joy in this act of worship and fellowship - not trusting in their own piety to open God's bowels of compassion as though they could encourage God to answer their prayers by being especially sincere, or especially pious, but these have learned that they are not calling God into their work, but have been called by Him into His work. They regard themselves as His ministers, working in His field, and trust that it is His work they are about, and not their own. They do not fret about whether or when God will do His work, for it is God's work, and they trust that He is a fit Manager.

I encourage you, especially when you come to pray for something that seems impossible or difficult, to consider whether this is God's work, or your own - and if you can say with certainty that this is God's work, and that you are His worker - then take courage brother, sister, for you are not laboring to move God, rather He is laboring to move you. Believe therefore that you are not calling down heaven to do your bidding, but heaven is calling you to do its bidding. Have the heart in you that is a servants heart, and not a beggars.

Do not imagine it a noble thing to beg of God, as though God were some tyrant who is withholding good - rather imagine yourself a soldier, and God your general, and know that your prayer is just your communication to your Commander explaining what you will need, or others will need, in order to see His plan completed.

You are not the Initiator of prayer, God knows already what you will pray, prayer is for -your- benefit, and you should enter into it with praise, because it is worship. Yes, there will be broken hearted prayers, yes, there will be tears, yes, you will feel alone on the battle field at times, and cry out in what seems to you to be intolerable isolation - but you are not alone, and you are not forsaken. No one said that the war was going to be easy, but you are promised victory, and promised to never be left to fend for yourself. You are a soldier in God's army - your battlefield is your own desires, which you are to make war upon daily - and prayer is given you as a means by which you may be edified, and edify others in the struggle. It is not something you do to make things happen, it is something God gives you so that you can be edified in longing for what He longs for, in sharing His deepest longings.

Pray therefore, not timidly wringing your hat in your hands and begging - but as a child of the King of kings, as one of royal blood, who comes into the royal palace seeking what is needed to carry out the will of Him who sits on the throne. You are not a beggar, you are a cherished son, a prince. Have you been asked to pray for something that seems impossible to you? Good gravy!

God doesn't hear you because you are pious, He hears you because you are His child, and if you think a thing is impossible, it is because you forget who God is, or you imagine that prayers are answered according to how well you have brokered your piety. Throw that in the trash heap today, and pray with that Spirit that cries out, "Abba, Father!" - and know that you are entering into His work when you do.


posted by Daniel @ 7:02 AM   5 comment(s)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Though I think Neil said it best, there is something of a difference between the US federal election process, and the Canadian Federal Election Process.

The grandest difference is perhaps summed up in the fact that our Prime Minister, on September 7th, 2008, spoke to our Governor General and requested that the present government be dissolved, and replaced with a new one. The date was set for the vote (October 14th, 2008), and butta-bing, butta-boom; no long drawn out campaign, no roller coaster ride - just a bunch of Cannucks collectively saying, "Hmph? We gotta vote again, eh? Oh well, I hope the weather is nice."

As a Canadian, I reserve the right to use Hockey as a teaching tool to explain the intricacies of foreign politics to my Canadian brethren. My fellow Canadians, do you remember when your team was in the running for the Stanley cup that year? Of course you do. Everything looked great, and you were excited about the play offs, right up until your team was disqualified in the first heat. After that, you couldn't really bring yourself to get all that excited about the finals. I mean, sure, you like the Leafs more than you like the Habs, but frankly, neither is your team, and the margin of difference between the two is so minute, you are hard pressed to care one way or the other.

That's the way socially conservative Evangelicals felt when McCain took the nomination. Sure, he's better than "Shrillary" and has more substance than the pop icon "Wham-bama" - but he is about as tasty as those awful, gag-in-the-throat, rice cakes that dieters eat (because they have to). They were lifelessly resigned to go into the voting booth in Novermber, and wheeze out a way-too-dry and dusty, nigh-defeated, sigh as they pulled the Republican lever behind scrunched eyes, clenched teeth, and a sour grimace. Well, most of them anyway.

Yet, when Palin came on the ticket - suddenly there was hope.

Macabre as the thought may be, it is still a thought that many conservatives are entertaining: The odds are not insignificant that a man who has been a senior citizen for pretty much all of the current president's tenor, and is likewise no stranger to re-occurring bouts of cancer - that such a man, however strong his heart may presently be, may well deteriorate (if not expire) in office, as that sometimes happens to old people.

Given this rather dark-horse scenario, grim as it may be, it still offers the conservative base a bone - the possibility, through unfortunate misadventure, of seeing a genuine conservative president in the white house the Poseur Conservative™ they were more or less stuck with.

McCain's choice of Palin put a defibrillator on the flat-lined heart of the conservative base, and I think that is partially why our own conservative Prime minister dissolved Canadian Parliament a week later. I think that a conservative Canadian government stands a better chance of being elected if it looks like there may be a conservative US government as well. It doesn't really matter to our Canadian election who will win the US election - but it sure matters if it looks like a conservative government has a chance...

That is why I am glad that our Canadian elections will now take place two weeks before the US elections. I am sort of glad that our elections are dull and boring compared to the US elections, as I have a bigger stake in our elections, and frankly, I don't like suspense, much less two years of posturing, and mud slinging.

Stay tuned, and I will tell you who wins up north.


posted by Daniel @ 1:16 PM   6 comment(s)
Monday, September 08, 2008
Consider the scene:

A judge is presiding over a murder trial. There are 1000 eye-witnesses who say they saw "Hugh" pull a gun and shoot "Dean" in the head - killing him. Every eye witness comes and gives this same testimony. It seems unlikely that Hugh is going to get out of this one - but when it comes time for the defense, Hugh's smarmy lawyer steps forward, and giving the jury a condescending nod and a wink, explains that:
"...the reason Dean died was not because Hugh shot him, ...it was because the bullet from Hugh's gun entered Dean's brain." -- wink, wink.
Can you imagine any jury being hood-winked by this kind of "revelation"? I don't think so either.

Yet just today I was reading a comment made on another blog wherein something was said that was far more serious than our lawyer in the previous (and priming) example, it was said:
"...the reason [sinners] are condemned is not because of sin but because of death without the Son."
Here then is a very similar appeal.

Surely, no one who rejects Christ as their Savior is going to go to escape God's wrath; unless one is a universalist, one must conclude that some will escape God's wrath, and some will not, and those who do escape God's wrath, will be the same ones who did not reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Yet the question here is why is God's wrath coming upon anyone?

The quote suggests that God's wrath comes upon a person, not because they sin, but because they reject Jesus. This ...magnificent claim is founded upon a myopic focus upon John 3:18, which ignores, pretty much, everything else scripture has to say about why God's wrath is coming.

I plan on making my point only from the New Testament, not because the OT isn't instructive, but in order to keep this post of a manageable length, I thought it best to restrict my meanderings to the NT.

When God's wrath is first mentioned in the gospels it is not being poured out by God because men are failing to come to Jesus. It is proclaimed as what waits for every man who fails to repent (c.f. the first mention of wrath in Matthew 3:7, and likewise in Luke 3:7).

In John 3:36, God's wrath already abides on those who do not obey Christ. For those of you who don't know what "repentance" means, it means surrendering (becoming obedience) to God. Those who fail to obey Christ are one and the same as those who fail to repent.

In Romans 1:18-20, Paul teaches that God's wrath abides on the ungodly because God has made himself known in creation, and men rejected this knowledge - suppressing in in order to continue in unrighteousness. Note that by this passage the Holy Spirit gives the reason why men reject God - they reject God in order to pursue the evil that they are inclined towards. But the text shows that they are not condemned for suppressing the truth in righteousness, they are condemned because they are unrighteous.

In Romans 2:5,8, we learn that wrath is stored up - how? By failing to come to Jesus? No, by failing to repent of sin/by continuing in sin.

In Romans 3:5 God's wrath is linked to our unrighteousness.

In Romans 13:4, God's wrath is described as being upon the one who practices evil.

In Ephesians 5:5-6, Paul doesn't say that the wrath of God is coming upon the son's of disobedience because they fail to believe in Jesus, he lists their sins, and says for this reason wrath is coming upon them. The same idea is again offered in Colossians 3:6.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, God's wrath is again tied to sin.

But it isn't only Christ and Paul who teach that God's wrath is directed at sin; we read the apostle John gives a very expressive description of who will end up where and for what in Revelation 21:8.

The New Testament teaching is not: "Jesus died and paid the price for everyone's sins, so that now no one in the world is condemned by sin, but instead we are now condemned by failing to come to Jesus."

That is, in a (compound) word, ... is ultra-bunk.

God does not pour out his wrath on all sin, then pour it out a second time on all who failed to make the right choice. That, for all its frills and dressing, is still moon-bat theology.

It works like this:
[1] Sin separates us from God such that no man desires God.

[2] (a restatement of [1]) Sin separates us from God such that man cannot will himself to be reconciled to God - for there is nothing in sinful man that can overcome sin.

[3] God, in accord with His mercy, determines that He will not allow all men to perish.

[4] God chooses to reconcile some sinners to Himself

[5] God, being just, cannot excuse sin - sin must be punished.

[6] In order to rescue those whom God has chosen, God must [a] punish them in full, and [b] bring them back to life, without [c] compromising his righteousness.

[7] God sends His Son Jesus to live amongst sinners - incarnate, but sinless, in order that His own life might be the bridge/ark by which those whom God calls can pass through judgment.

[8] God unites the soul/life/spirit of those whom He calls to the life of His Son Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

[9] Because God is just - He is OBLIGATED to pour out His wrath upon those sinners who are in Christ on Calvary.

[10] Jesus, along with the those guilty sinners whom God has Chosen - die as a consequence of God's righteous wrath.

[11] Because God is righteous, He is OBLIGATED to raise Jesus from the dead because Jesus isn't/wasn't guilty.

[12] Because those whom God chose are still united to Jesus, in order to raise Christ from the dead and thereby fulfill all righteousness - God must also raise from the dead those whom He chose before hand to be united with Christ in His death.

[13] God raises Christ, and those whom He chose before hand - and both are alive, Christ having "carried" those whom God chose "through" God's wrath.

[14] Those who were not in Christ when God poured out His wrath, cannot be carried through God's wrath - for there is only one holy Ark into which the sinner can flee God's wrath, and that ark is Christ. Those whom God did not draw, did not come to Christ, and received in full exactly what their sin demanded.

[15] In this way - every sinner receives the full wage of his sin - God is just, and justly punishes every sinner; but also in this way, some sinners - those whom God chose - are united together with Christ in his death and also in his resurrection, in order that they pass through God's wrath.

[16] The whole thing is quite adequately pictured by the story of Noah's ark - in which God hand picked the animals who would be saved, and hand picked the family who would be saved - and poured his wrath out on all mankind - but brought a chosen few, and only a chosen few, through that wrath and out the other side by means of a vehicle that could survive the flood.

[17] The ark pictured our righteous Christ who Was and Is the only Vehicle that could survive the flood of God's eternal wrath - that was pictured by the physical elements here on earth.

Make no mistake, God pours out his wrath on sin - it is for sin that men are condemned, and not for failing to come to Christ.

The only reason anyone has for imagining that people are condemned for failing to come to Jesus, is because they believe that Jesus not only died for everyone, but paid for everyone's sins - the logical problem with that is that if Jesus did pay for everyone's sins - how is it that sinners who do not come to Christ are still required to pay their sin debt? Answer? Invent a new, extra-biblical debt: Failing to come to Jesus.

Listen: Don't buy that stuff, even if they are giving it away free.

Read the bible. You will find that scripture teaches how and why people forfeit eternal life, and you will find that what was true in the garden of Eden is still true today. Jesus came, as scripture said, - to save HIS people (c.f. Matthew 1:21) from sin. Word like "election" and "predestination" are not words that theologists made up - they are words taken straight out of scripture, and are only offensive to those who do not fully understand them.

Listen: until a person has a high view of God, and a low view of man - they will by no means comprehend election.

I don't encourage smoking, but if one is inclined and cannot be dissuaded by logic, I suggest this to be a good one to put in one's pipe and smoke.


posted by Daniel @ 10:32 AM   17 comment(s)
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Maine Man
I love these guys, and this one was so catchy, I just had to post it...

posted by Daniel @ 8:10 PM   6 comment(s)
Shall I Be Given Wide Berth?
I had a dream last night, well, really this morning, in which I was walking with a godly man who on our walk expressed that this was going to be his last walk - meaning he was about to die.

The man was decrepit, full of physical pain and suffering from his age and the resulting deterioration of his body. It was the sort of thing we pray about with our congregation - you know - Dear God, please ease the suffering of so and so. Yet the fellow in my dream looked at me as, in my dream, he saw the thought crossing over my mind, and said:
"shall I walk this last walk girded on all sides by a wide berth wherein no calamity falls? What end did our Lord send our predecessors to?"
I quoted some passage of scripture incorrectly to him, by way of trying to answer his question, and in my dream he generously and warmly corrected my error by quoting the passage rightly to me, after which it became evident that my answer was not really applicable, and after a pause he answered his own question for me:
"to the lions, beloved, to the lions..."
I had, until this moment, never thought of the slow decay of old age as being sent to the lions, but it is a difficult course for those who must endure painful, physical deterioration as they walk that last mile (or ten miles).

The thought that was impressed upon me in my dream was that this saint had contentedly surrendered to the process by a patience and peace that were grounded in a deep well of faith and trust in God's sovereignty - the same sort of trust that has emboldened martyrs; but rather than for an instant which passes, it is drawn out over years.

There are a few aging people in our congregation, and some of them are struggling with and suffering under age related pains - week after week, some of whom begin to question why? Why does my God let me suffer so?

This was certainly on my mind and in my prayers as I fell asleep, and I like it when a dream comes along and puts a thing into perspective for me, which this one did. Did not our Lord deliver Peter from prison - saving him from execution after Herod had him arrested? Yet the same Lord allowed Herod to put James to death.

Were not prayers offered for both? I believe they were, but the Lord had appointed one death for James, and another for Peter. Each had their own road to walk, as it were, to their demise - and so it is with us today. Some are appointed that they will live to 110, and die quickly and painlessly on their death bed with their family and friends all around them, and some will linger on in poor health increasing their suffering day by day, until they waste away. Some will die accidentally, some by disease - we all die, and most of us will physically suffer in the process - yet if the process is slow, we will be inclined, I think, like Hezekiah, to call out for healing and mercy - to avoid our appointed end, and to travel to a new one with a wide berth around us wherein no suffering or calamity can be found.

I mention Hezekiah, to put that request that God spare us this end into context. Hezekial was the only person in recorded history who had such a request granted. Which isn't to say that God won't do it again - but rather to say that Hezekiah should have accepted the Lord's timing and means rather than reject them in favor of his own desires. In that moment of weakness Hezekiah demonstrated a lack of trust in God's timing - in God's plan, and bluntly and ultimately, in God. Yes, God relented and allowed him fifteen more years, and surely that was God's intention from the start - to give Hezekiah an opportunity to trust, and maybe even reward that trust in some way - but that trust didn't happen, and instead he got the desires of his heart - which (I believe) was the poorer deal.

The joy of the Lord is our strength! We read that in Nehemiah. Yet if we suffer without trusting the Lord in our suffering, there will be no joy - and if no joy, no strength to endure it. No one thinks of the suffering of old age as the furnace wherein many of us are given the opportunity to deal with the residual dross of unbelief, instead we keep our eyes and thoughts on our flesh and its suffering. It is a natural thing to do, but there is a better way.
posted by Daniel @ 7:24 AM   4 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
It's Not A Question Of Black And White
Each dot on your monitor represents one picture element (one pixel).

To describe a pixel we use numbers. The simplest pixel is a monochrome one - a binary one, if you will, represented by the equation: 21 = 2. It has two states [1] on (white), and [2] off (black). Monitors which were Red/Green/Green (RGB) had four states 22, [1] Red, [2] green, [3] blue, or [4] off (black). We would describe the first pixel as having one bit per pixel (a bit is a binary digit that allows two states, so one bit = two states) or 1 bpp; the second example would be as 2 bpp, allowing two binary digits with two states each for (2 x 2 = ) 2 bits per pixel (bpp). If we allowed 3 bpp, that would mean 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 states, (seven colors, plus an off state (black)). You get the picture.

Given that a binary digit (i.e. a "bit")can have only two values on ("1") or off ("0"), a pixel that was 4 bpp could have sixteen "states". Each bit represents an on or off state of a color (red, green, or blue) or the intensity (normal, bright):

[01] 0000 intensity = off, red = off, green = off, blue = off, color = black
[02] 0001 I = off, R = off, G = off, B = ON, color = blue
[03] 0010 I = off, R = off, G = ON, B = off, color = green
[04] 0011 I = off, R = off, G = ON, B = ON, color = cyan
[05] 0100 I = off, R = ON, G = off, B = off, color = red
[06] 0101 I = off, R = ON, G = off, B = ON, color = magenta
[07] 0110 I = off, R = ON, G = ON, B = off, color = brown (dark yellow)
[08] 0111 I = off, R = ON, G = ON, B = ON, color = white or (light gray)
[09] 1000 I = ON, R = off, G = off, B = off, color = gray (bright black)
[10] 1001 I = ON, R = off, G = off, B = ON, color = bright blue
[11] 1010 I = ON, R = off, G = ON, B = off, color = bright green
[12] 1011 I = ON, R = off, G = ON, B = ON, color = bright cyan
[13] 1100 I = ON, R = ON, G = off, B = off, color = bright red
[14] 1101 I = ON, R = ON, G = off, B = ON, color = bright magenta
[15] 1110 I = ON, R = ON, G = ON, B = off, color = yellow (bright "brown")
[16] 1111 I = ON, R = ON, G = ON, B = ON, color = bright white*
* to see the last item you have to highlight the text with your mouse

We start to notice that only when all the bits are on ("1111"), do we get bright white. No matter how many bits per pixel we have (24 bits per pixel is called "true color" because it allows 16.7 million colors to be represented in a single pixel - only one of which has -all- the bits turned on ("11111111 11111111 11111111").

Mathematically speaking, no matter how many bits of information a colored pixel represents, (32 bit color represents four billion two hundred and ninety four million nine hundred and sixty-seven thousand two hundred and ninety six colors, while a 64 bit color pixel would represent over 18 quintillion colors (18,446,744,073,709,551,616), but for all these - only one of them would be bright white.

in a 64 bpp color environment, there is only one "pure white", then there are over 18 quintillion colors which are not pure white. Some are arguably "very close" - but they are not pure white.

Have you ever been working with a graphics program, and you have an image and you go to select a color, and though the background looks to be white, you select it and only patches are selected? That's because it is selecting these colors, not by how they appear, but rather by whether or not they match exactly with the exact color you selected. If they match - they are selected, but if they are off by even the smallest hint - they do not match.

When I think of good and evil, I find it useful to think, not in terms of white and black, but in terms of white vs. everything that isn't white. Not shades of white, or any such thing - but in terms of one and only one state of purity and endless degrees of corruption thereafter. One is either uncorrupted, or one is corrupted to some degree, the level of corruption even if undetectable to us, is not the issue, the issue is whether there is corruption at all.

I find that illustration useful when speaking about sin, holiness, surrender, etc. You are either there or you are not - you are either seeking with your whole heart, or with something less than your whole heart.

What happens when we think in terms of black vs. white, is that we start to think in terms of a middle road - anything darker than the median is pretty much black, and anything lighter, more or less good, or worse, we introduce an area in the middle where something is neither good nor evil - but neutral, and reserve the fringes for good and evil. I like to use the 18 quintillion colors model and say, that one color is good, and all the others are evil.

It keeps it simple for me.

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posted by Daniel @ 4:36 PM   3 comment(s)
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